Batam Travel Guide: I’ve lived in Batam for almost 8 years and I still visit the place from time to time (to visit my family). The tropical group of islands is about 20 kilometers from Singapore.
Today Batam is an industrial and is popular amongst Singapore’s locals for weekend getaways. Like Bali and most Indonesian tourist islands, people visit Batam for its beaches, resorts, spas, and variety of seafood cuisines!
Bintan and Batam Riau happen to be the two closest Indonesian spots to Singapore making for a budget visit to get a feel of Indonesia. Even for foreign travelers, I recommend visiting Batam or Bintan if you’re looking for a short detour.
Visit Batam for a couple of days for an exotic getaway, for a taste of the crisp air by the beaches.
This post covers everything you need to know about visiting the Riau Islands. Here is my Batam Travel Guide!
Best Things to Do in Batam
I’ll make sure not to overflow this list with the itsy bitsy things you can get out. Let’s get to things Batam is particularly famous for.
There are a handful of places to visit – most come here for Indonesian restaurants, shopping, beaches, resorts, and experiences like Snorkeling. 3 days should be sufficient to get around Batam Riau – but feel free to stay longer :)
Here’s the list of Things to do in Batam Riau:
- Visit the Bareland Bridge
- Go crazy with watersport activities
- Snorkel at Abang Island
- Visit the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery
- Try Nasi Padang, Sate (BBQ), and Mie Goreng
- Eat Seafood at Golden Prawn and Wey Wey Seafood Restaurant
- Check out the Vietnamese Camp
- Get a massage/spa!
- Go shopping at Batam’s numerous malls
- Cafes, bars, and live music
- Relax at Nongsa Point, KTM Resorts, and/or Kiki Beach
Visit the Barelang Bridge
The first must-visit place is the Barelang Bridge in Batam. There’s no way this Batam travel guide is complete without it. This bridge is one of the most scenic views and marks the beginning of the 7 bridges connecting the islands of Galang and Rempang.
Avoid visiting on the weekend and late evenings. The evenings are crowded here making up for a lot of traffic jams.
Corn and coconut by the bridge: Right after the bridge is a bunch of street stalls serving hot corn and coconut water. The grilled corn is a must-try here. The place gets pretty smoky and the varieties of grilled corn flavors are something to look forward to.
I recommend trying the chili for those who can handle the spice!
The locals here are friendly. It’s best to learn some basic Indonesian phrases to help yourself communicate here. Here’s a list I created of basic local phrases for travelers!
Go Crazy with Watersports
To the adventure junkies out there, watersports in Batam are cheap. I’ve seen Jet Ski and Banana boat prices sky-high in Singapore and Bali. Here, it’s relatively cheaper.
Make sure to plan as watersport activities are spread across the island. It takes time to get there so search up a bit on the activities you’re looking for.
Well-known spots for watersports in Batam are Harris Resort (Sekupang), Batam View Beach Resorts (Nongsa), Turi Beach Resorts (Nongsa), and KTM Resort (Sekupang). For specific watersports like Cable Skiing – Waterfront City in Sekupang is a great option.
Note: For snorkeling, keep reading ahead – there’s a special for it in Batam :)
Snorkel at Abang Island
I highly recommend this when visiting Batam! This is an itinerary trip hosted by the locals of Abang Island in the Galang District. This is a fishing village on the Pulau Pengapalap and the only way to get here is via a tiny boat called Bot Pompong.
Snorkeling here is such an offbeat experience (links to post on Bintan) that no amount of money can buy. With the corals and the variety of fishes right under your nose, the clear waters are something of the world.
It’s usually a 1-day or 2-day trip to Abang Island where you stay at their local guest houses and they provide meals. The snorkeling begins early in the morning at the nearby islands – Pulau Abang and Petong Islands.
I’ve visited the place and remember my trip vividly. The best part is the local experience of staying with the locals for an evening. Read my personal Abang Island experience here.
Don’t miss a Massage!
How can you miss a massage in Indonesia? The moment you step down from immigration in Harborfront Singapore, you’re bound to see posts of spa spots in Batam. One of the main reasons is spas are expensive elsewhere.
What costs around SGD 60 for a 1-hour spa in Singapore, costs SGD 20 – 40 here. Some great places are IndoThai SPA, Sakura SPA, ESKA Group Aesthetic, and MediSpa.
The best way to window shop around spas in Batam is at Nagoya. Get to Jalan Nagoya Hill Mall and take a stroll around the loop of spas, restaurants, and bars.
As promised, here are some amazing spa spots for pretty decent rates. Book your slot today!Klook.com
Visit the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Temple
This is one of the few Buddhist temples in Batam, making up for a picturesque spot with gigantic Buddha statues everywhere. No matter how noisy it gets outside, the insides of the temple are always calm.
I recommend trying the food here at the temple’s end for a touch of vegetarian dishes!
Try Nasi Padang, Satay (BBQ), and Mie Goreng
Nasi Padang is the first thing you must know about Indonesian food. If you know well enough, you might land an Indonesian citizenship! Don’t take me seriously now.
Anyway, Nasi Padang isn’t a specific dish: As tradition goes, it’s steamed rice served with pre-cooked sides of your choice. You’ll know the place when you see a pretty arrangement of white plates with different aromas from them.
These Padang spots make up the majority of food courts and restaurants like most parts of Indonesia. But to recommend, some places to check out are RM Sederhana, Ayam Bakar Taliwang (known for their special sambal or chili sauce), and Rumah Makan Ranah Padang.
Satay (or Sate as they pronounce it) is another Indonesian dish where meat is grilled, seasoned, and served with spicy sauce. The meat is cut into tiny pieces and served on sticks. There are many places in Batam for trying out the Satay.
Last but not least, is noodles – Bakso or Mie Goreng (fried noodles with vegetables and sides of your preference). You get these as instant noodles (Indomie) from any supermarket but the stall sheds are something else :)
Eat Seafood at Golden Prawn and Love Seafood Restaurant
I daresay Seafood is reasonable in Batam – it’s comparatively cheaper than most tourism hotspots in Indonesia for the same variety and delicacies. Some even let you choose your crabs!
Back then, Golden Prawn 933 Bengkong by the shores was the most authentic seafood place in Batam and still is among the prominent ones. But many have paced up with tourism – some of them being Love Seafood Tanjung Piayu, Citi Rasa seafood in Galang, Sei Enam, and of course – Barelang Seafood.
However, here’s a detailed piece on all the seafood places in Batam.
Check out the Vietnamese Camp
Take a drive around the Vietnamese camp in the Galang district. Fun fact: During the Vietnam civil war in 1975, people fled by boat to Southeast Asia. And Galang was one of the places they took refuge in!
Some made it, many died. But for those who survived, Indonesia recognized and created a refugee camp. While no one resides here anymore, the buildings and the camp are a tourism hotspot.
The entry fee is negligible (around IDR 35,000) and it’s worth the visit.
The UN recognized and referred Galang to as the Vietnam Village. If you take a drive around the camp today, the area is lush with its forests but you’ll find the buildings, hospitals, and cemeteries that date back to the functioning periods of the camp.
Relax at Nongsa Point, KTM Resorts, Kiki Beach
Then come the resorts… Batam’s got plenty! There are numerous skyscrapers for hotels, if you’re going to relax, I recommend picking a resort by the beach – private chalets overlooking the beach. Some all-time great ones are Nongsa Point Marina Resort, Harris Resorts, KTM Resorts, and Turi Beach.
The newest addition is the Kiki Beach Resort. I recently visited the place and it was amazing!
Here are a few resorts I picked that are best known for their comfort and reasonable rates. Being a partner of Klook.com, our readers get better deals so hurry and grab your Batam stay!Klook.com
Anyway, for budget travel, there are tons of options too. Fun fact, it costs only between SGD 6 – 10 for budget accommodation by Oyo or RedDoorz. Of course, nothing fancy like the resorts – but it’s great for backpackers!
Here’s another resort I checked out in Batam.
Go shopping, clubbing, and live music
Apart from the resort, the water activities, and snorkeling, what’s left out is shopping! You get quality services here at cheap rates. I’ve heard people come here from Singapore to get their laundry done!
Keep a day for shopping in Batam. Some popular malls are Mega Mall, Grand Batam, Nagoya, Batam City Square (popularly called BCS), and Batam One. Oh, and check out the food court at Batam One (I recently visited and loved the Ayam bakar at one of the stalls).
Pubs and live music. Though most locals don’t speak English, you’ll hear them sing English perfectly at live music avenues! Ask them if they know English and they’ll say ‘No I’ve just learned the song!’
Some notable places in Batam for bars are Fresh Beer, Arch Alley Grill, and BlueFire RestoBar (I’ve been to all three of these). Arch Alley Grill and BlueFire are new but FreshBeer with their own brewery is quite a different experience.
That finishes all the things to do in this Batam travel guide. But keep reading for insider tips – it’ll come in handy!
Batam Travel Guide: How to Get to Batam?
Batam is well-versed with its domestic flights and water routes. However, there are only a handful of international flights to Batam. From Singapore, the easiest (and cheapest) way is via ferry from Harborfront or Tanah Merah. From other parts of Indonesia, domestic flights are preferable.
From Singapore and Malaysia, the cheapest option is via ferry. From Singapore, the only ferry ports are Harbourfront (near the cruise point) and Tanah Merah. Get to Batam via the Batam Center ferry terminal, Harbor Bay, Sekupang, Marina Waterfront, or Nongsapura.
Harborfront Center, Singapore is a much larger port than Tanah Mera. Since these are the only few ports, there are a few ferries to choose from. Some are SindoFerry, BatamFast, WaveMaster, HorizonFerry, and Majestic. Different ferries have their schedule and most depart around hourly intervals.
While it cost lesser before the pandemic, it currently costs around SGD 70-80 for a 2-way trip with BatamFast. Check and compare all the mentioned ferry official sites for your preferred timings, pricing, and departure and arrival ports.
For Malaysia, the only available ferry is the Pintas Samudra from Stulang Laut, Johor Bahru.
The Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam is the only city’s airport with a couple of international flights (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia). There are, otherwise, domestic flights from different parts of Indonesia like Jakarta, Bandar Lampung, Jambi City, and Medan.
With water routes too long for different parts of the country, domestic flights are the only option for traveling. Garuda Indonesia, Citilink, Lion Air, and Wings Air are popular flights.
For people traveling from Singapore (if the ferry isn’t available, flying is always an option):
- Fly straight to Jakarta or take a connecting flight from Singapore via Changi Airport.
- Take a flight from Jakarta to Hang Nadim Airport, Batam.
Batam Travel Guide: Things to know before you visit Batam
Before you pack your bags and this Batam travel guide, there are some things to know beforehand. Especially to travelers foreign to visiting Indonesia, knowing these things shall let you know what to expect here.
Best time to Visit Batam
All-time of the year! The seasons don’t change a lot in Batam. Located on the equator line and close to the sea, it’s very humid. It’s hot most of the time. When it rains, it rains cats and dogs!
But try NOT to visit on weekends. The last time I traveled from Batam to Singapore, I thought the Ferry terminal was an entry to a concert show- it took half an hour to queue to enter the departure lounge on a Sunday evening!
The only thing to consider while planning your vacation is the peak times. Singaporeans, being an hour away, love to spend their holidays here by the beach. Prices of stays also go up during peak times.
- Another article for you to check out: Things To Do In Batam (Travelers guide!)
Most Locals Don’t Speak English
Learn some Indonesian language basics when going out to restaurants all by yourself. Most locals don’t speak English in Indonesia. With the booming tourism, you can find guides to help you out – but it’s still a deal-breaker.
Communication shouldn’t be a problem in resorts. But when in malls, local shops, restaurants, and cabs, it’s challenging. Learn some basic Indonesian phrases. Here’s a list of phrases I made to help you out!
It’s hard to Get Vegetarian Food
Being a vegan or vegetarian in Batam is hard. The traditional local delicacies here like the Nasi Padang comprise chicken and fish as their prime ingredients. It’s difficult to get vegetarian food in most Indonesian Cuisines. At least the curry that you eat along with rice would be of chicken flavor.
While I’ve no issues being a non-vegetarian myself, my mom finds it difficult to eat outside. We get groceries from Singapore to make many Indian dishes at home. Luckily, there are many Indian restaurants (and other cuisines) here for vegetarian food. Some of the popular ones are Maharaja Restaurant and Taj.
People are hospitable here
Comparing most places I’ve been to, people here are kind regardless of whether you know Bahasa Indonesia or not. Go walking and strangers will smile and bow at you as a greeting. Feel free to smile back and say hi!
Download Grab or Gojek
Local taxis get expensive and public transport isn’t very reliable in Batam. While taxis had a monopoly on their pricing before, making their rates, Grab and Gojek, similar to Uber, have made it reasonable for transport. Download either of the apps or both for transportation.
Also, consider renting a car/van in Batam – it’s a cheaper option with reasonable fuel prices compared to taking cabs to all places.
Payment in Indonesian currency
It’s confusing to people whenever I explain Indonesian currency to them, so I decided to add it to this Batam travel guide. The Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) always has more zeroes than one expects.
It’s a little tricky, but you’ll get used to it. 10,000 IDR equals SGD 1 (or USD 0.71). There are 1000 rupiah coins and the max currency note goes up to 100, 000 IDR. Thus, the last three digits in the Indonesian Rupiah are similar to the cents in a dollar. It costs around 5000 – 10,000 IDR to purchase a cheap pen here. So it’s pretty much of the same value as most Southeast Asian countries.
Regarding payment methods, cash, and cards are prominent for everyday transactions. Payment apps, like GoPay, are still emerging and are best for paying for your Gojek rides. As for cards, Visa and MasterCards (Maestro) are widely accepted in Indonesia. Citibank and HSBC offer great foreign exchange rates for ATM withdrawal services.
- Another article for you to check out: is Perfect Bali Travel Blog
Batam Suggested Budgets
Accommodation: For budget stays, it costs anywhere between SGD 6 – 12 (IDR 60,000 – 120,000). Look for reasonable stays between this price range and check up on the whole place before paying. Stays by Oyo and RedDoorz have great value for money for private budget rooms. Some trusted sites to book from are Agoda and Booking.com.
Food: Expect to spend between IDR 25,000 – 50,000 per meal. While the local Indonesian food like Ayam Penyet and Kosong Parata costs less. Seafood that shouldn’t be missed out costs higher. But overall, it’s much cheaper than Singapore. IDR 100,000 -150,000 on food per day (SGD 10 – 15) is a reasonable budget.
Transport: This is the tough part to figure out. For solo travelers with just a backpack, I recommend using Gojek or Grab Bike (or the local Ojeks by the road). The apps give better rates than local ojeks, but not all places might have availability. Since most people visit in groups, there are plenty of rental car services with Avanza and Agya being some popular options.
The budget options cost anywhere between IDR 250,000 – 300,000 per day (SGD 25 – 30) depending on the service, car type, and availability. Make sure to book them early. If not, the last resort is the mass transport options such as Carry and Bimbar. Read more on getting around Batam here.
What to Pack for Batam
For Batam, and most parts of Indonesia, it’s best to keep your clothing light – shorts, sandals, flip-flops, and hats should be on your mind when visiting Batam. But to name a few, here are some things to pack for Batam, Riau Islands:
- Light clothes and swimwear
- Flip-flops and Sandals (Shoes and socks only if you’re particular about attires, and trek shoes for some trekking here)
- Sunglasses and sunhats
- Headcaps and sun lotions
- Backpack, of course
- A Camera!
Indonesia, being a tropical country, there aren’t many essentials to carry around. Keep your clothing light based on the length of your stay. Keep fewer clothes in case you’re planning on shopping in Batam.
A good pair of shoes and sunglasses will do. But wear a head cap when you go out, the heat is unbearable sometimes. To those with skin issues, bring sunscreen lotion.
To get the best out of your trip, follow a travel checklist. I’ve built my checklist for itinerary planning and things to do. You can get my FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST upon signup at the end of this post.
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