Best Things to do in Batam: Batam has come a long way with its tourism sector and is still growing like most of Indonesia. With tourism hotspots like Bali and Singapore around, Batam is comparatively less popular – thus making for cheaper travel rates! Apart from the tropical beaches and seafood, there are many offbeat things you shouldn’t miss out on!
Like any local place out there, Batam has some of its history marked like the Vietnamese camp on Galang Island and religious spots like the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Temple. There are, I believe, a dozen or so things to do that definitely should be on your checklist when visiting Batam. So brace up and here are the best things to do in Batam!
Ways to get to Batam Riau
Flight and ferries are the only ways to get to Batam – and flight option is limited if it isn’t domestic flight. While the Hang Nadim International Airport has flights coming in from many parts of Indonesia, including Jakarta, the only international flights available are from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Ferry to Batam: As for ferries, I’d say this is the best and cheapest way to Batam. From Singapore, you can get to Batam either from HarborFront ferry terminal or Tanah Merah. There is a handful of options among ferries with some popular ones being SindoFerry, BatamFast, WaveMaster, and Majestic.
Choose your ferry depending on your required time slot and where you wish to enter Batam from. The five main ferry terminals in Batam are Batam Center, Marina Waterfront, Harbor Bay, Sekupang, and Nongsapura. It’s great to get to the terminal nearest to your booked resort, but if you’ve nothing planned yet, I’d suggest the Batam Center terminal.
Best Things to Do in Batam
There are plenty of exotic best things to do in Batam from watersports to late nightclubs. Yet, there are more soothing options such as visiting the Barelang Bridge or having a local snorkeling experience at Abang Island. Considering it all, here’s my list of the best things to do in Batam.
- Visit the Barelang Bridge
- Snorkel at Abang Island
- Have local Indonesian delicacies
- Tour the Vietnam Camp
- Go for Spa
- Have Seafood by the shores
- Relax at beach stays like Turi or Kiki Resorts
- Visit the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist temple
- Shop at a variety of malls
- Go clubbing and live music
- Walk at Ocarina Park
- Jungle-walk at Mata Kucing
1. Visit Barelang Bridge
Barelang Bridge is an hour’s drive from Batam Centre and makes up for Batam’s most prominent landmark. There are 6 Barelang bridges – the first one is the main and most popular Barelang Bridge. However, the specific name for this one is Tengku Fisabilillah Bridge.
The bridge itself is iconic with its cables, but the view from up there is even more scenic. The cables in the backdrop make up for some Instagrammable shots. Right after the bridge are a series of street stalls that serve grilled corn and coconut water and oh, don’t miss this out! They prepare some amazing flavored grilled corn with hot sauces.
While these stalls are open throughout the day, it’s best to visit in the evenings for the local touch.
2. Snorkel at Abang Island
Snorkeling has to be on the list of things to do in Batam! With the snorkeling spot in Abang Island being near a local village on the waters here, the only connectivity is boats – or Pompong Bot.
With such an off-grid spot in the Galang District, local sites offer itinerary packages charged per person where they pick you from Batam center, take you to Abang Island, provide meals, and then also send you back.
They take you around the white sands of Abang Island and Petong Island for the snorkeling spots. Being in a remote area, only a few people visit it. Apart from snorkeling, it also gives a beautiful experience staying with the locals. Read about my Abang Island visit here.
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Have local Indonesian delicacies
From someone who’s lived here, I recommend trying whichever dish you get your hands on! Be it the Ayam Rendang, Sate Ayam, Ayam Bakar, Bakso, and all the Nasi and Mie Gorengs. Oh, and of course the authentic Nasi Padang. Most Indonesian cuisines are made up of rice, meat, fresh herbs, and spices.
For Nasi Padang, I recommend eating at Sederhana in Batam. Be sure to eat the rice and Ayam (chicken) along with sambal (Chili sauce) they give on the sides.
Tour the Vietnam Camp
Leaping back into time, Vietnam refugees fled on boats during the civil war 1975 between Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. And voila, they landed on various islands of Indonesia! Some refugees died on the ships, and others survived.
With Galang Island in Batam being one of the islands they came to, the UN called to make part of Galang Island home for the refugees of Vietnam – Kampung Vietnam. Today, it stands as a historical tourist spot in Batam where you can drive around, visit the museum, and see the vehicles, hospitals, and buildings that were used back then by the refugees.
Go for Spa
The spa is expensive. But not really in Batam! That’s one of the reasons why the spa is so famous here, it’s cheaper for the same treatment! It costs anywhere between SGD $20 – $40 per hour depending on the treatment spot and massage type while it can cost triple the amount in Singapore.
Some well-known spa spots here are ESKA group aesthetic, Sakura SPA, and IndoThai.
Have Seafood by the shores
When you see a restaurant with wooden planks for floors and lingering over the water, you’re bound to be close to seafood! Again, seafood is cheap here. But what’s more important is that it’s fresh. Authentic restaurants like Golden Prawn 933 in Bengkong let you choose your crab, shrimps, and other fish straight from the aquarium before they cook it for you.
With so many people visiting Batam just for seafood, there are tons of places to eat from – Golden Prawns, Cita Rasa Seafood, Love Seafood Piayu, Barelang Seafood (right after the first bridge), and Kopak Jaya Kelong Seafood.
Relax at beach stays like Turi or Kiki Resorts
Apart from just tourism, many come to Batam just for a vacation where they do no more than staying at tropical beach resorts. You can spend a good deal of time at resorts like Turi Beach, Nongsa Point, and Kiki Resorts. Kiki resorts are the newest addition and are quite difficult to get a hold of with their demand.
In this resort, they take you by boat from Citi Rasa port on Rempang island to their private beach on Galang Island. What makes it sweet is that there’s no road connectivity to the place and only a limited number of stays over the waters, thus making it a sweet getaway. Many resorts are inclusive of some watersports like Kayaking.
Visit the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist temple
It’s a long name but when you mention ‘Buddhist temple’, people will know it’s this one. Well, either this or Tua Pek Kong temple (another Buddhist temple). The temple, as the name suggests, tributes to Maitreya Bodhisattva who’s said to be the future Buddha.
Inside you’ll find numerous forms of Maitreya – from his baby form to holding the Chinese zodiac to large bodies of the laughing Buddha. Also, don’t forget to check out the shops and the vegetarian cafeteria at the back! They serve amazing buffet-style delicacies. I found this cool blog with a walkthrough of the temple.
Shop at a variety of malls
You and I both know malls – gigantic places with shops, food, kids amusement centers, and what not. Shouldn’t be a backpacker’s place. But if you’ve got an extra day off, here are some malls to visit: Mega Mall by HarborFront, Nagoya Hill, Batam One, BCS (Batam City Square), and Mega Mall.
Go clubbing and live Music
With the skyscrapers rising with the city, pubs, restobars, and live music have gotten prevalent here. While I’m not much into Batam’s Nightlife myself, here’s a list of pubs and bars around Nagoya and Waterfront City by EnjoyBatam.
Walk at Ocarina Park
Visiting Coastarina (also called Ocarina) isn’t really a bucketlist item. But for skating, cycling, and drone control enthusiasts, this place is perfect. It’s listed as a beach in Batam. Yes, the coastal spot protrudes into the waters but it isn’t a beach for sand castles. The main spot is a vast tiled area in a semi circular facing the water with COASTARINA built in large concrete letters in the background.
However, there’s a bunch of water activities and ferris wheel for kids. It’s nice to walk or jog in the evenings as it gets breezy. It costs IDR 25,000 per person. The evening light up of the bold letters make up for Instagrammable pictures.
Jungle-walk at Mata Kucing
Mata refers to ‘eye’ and kucing means ‘cat’. Yep, the spot’s name is Cat Eyes.This isn’t very popular but if you’ve got time, visit it for a change. I remember going 1-day cross-country trips through the jungles across rope bridges and large wooden logs. It’s not a full-fledge trek or hike, but a mediocre difficulty nature walk.
Located in Batu Aji, it also has a mini zoo with wild cats, orangutan, large birds like cranes and eagles, crocs, and even snakes! They have a large pond where you’ll find some large fish species like a meter-long gold arowana.
Those are all the best things to do in Batam. Singapore is surely a lot more expensive in terms of everything. If you feel you need to ease off from Singapore, then Batam Riau is the perfect spot to visit and stretch your legs without any worries.
Thank you, and have a safe journey! :)
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- Basics of Indonesian Language – Travelers Guide
- Ultimate Bali Itinerary for 7 Days
- Saudi Arabia Travel Guide: An immigrants take!
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