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When one looks out from Singapore’s high towers across the Straits onto the Indonesian islands, there the islands of Batam and Bintan appear very inviting, basking in the sun. Lying less than one hour by fast ferry from Singapore, the islands promise a completely contrasting environment from that of busy metropolitan Singapore.
Batam and Bintan are only two of the more than 2,400 islands that make up the Riau Islands province, stretching from Sumatra, rounding north east all the way to the Anambas islands in the South China Sea.
The island of Batam today is the third busiest entry port to Indonesia next to Bali and Jakarta. Situated so near to Singapore, it is a favorite resort for residents and international toursts in Singapore who wish to get closer to nature, relax for a short vacation of golf or sailing, enjoy mouth watering fresh seafood, luxuriate in a traditional royal spa, go shopping or just for family fun.
Although Batam, Bintan and the Karimun islands are designated an industrial free trade zone, yet there are still plenty of wide open spaces and hundreds of large and small untouched islands in the Riau archipelago where one can have that feeling that one is entirely alone on the island.
Twenty years into its hectic development, Batam has indeed become more crowded, where business mixes with pleasure. With no less than six ferry terminals , wide roads criss-crossing the island , an international airport and clusters of industries, hotels and housing estates, Batam still promises a leisurely weekend getaway offering reasonably priced freshly caught seafood , fine golfing , plenty of duty-free shopping , or an escape to a remote island ideal for trekking, diving, snorkeling and lazy fishing. For shoppaholics, Batam offers the excitement of shopping at the Nagoya Superblock with its 450 kiosks and 170 shops with a Hypermarket on Nagoya Hill.
Batam has six golf courses, a large number of good hotels for businessmen in Nagoya town , beach resorts and Spas at Nongsa, and shopping malls galore. One of the well-known Golf Course is the Palm Springs Golf and Country Club, which is conviniently located only 2 minutes away from Batam's Nongsapura Ferry Terminal. Batam’s own Nongsa Point Marina has berthing facilities for yachts , and sailing and diving facilities for those wishing to explore Riau’s many islands.
The island of Batam itself is connected by six large modern bridges- known as the Barelang bridges - to the islands of Rempang and Galang to its south. On Galang are remnants of the Vietnamese Refugee camp now a museum to the struggles for survival that the Vietnamese had gone through, leaving their country in small, cramped boats to escape brutalities at home.
At Telunas beach on Sugi island, already in the Karimun archipelago, an idyllic resort offers groups of visitors the exhilarating experience of living on a remote island, away from the noise of civilization to listen to the sounds of nature. Here rooms built on stilts overlook blue-green waters. Explore the jungle, enjoy the serenity of white sandy beaches and return home completely invigorated. See www.telunasbeach.com
The easiest way to travel around in Batam is by taxi or rent a car which are best called from the hotel’s desk, or have a travel agency arrange your stay and transportation in Batam. Public buses are rare.
By Ferry to Batam:
There are frequent daily ferries connecting Singapore’s Tanah Merah port with Batam as well as between Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and Batam. The journey from Singapore takes a pleasant 45 minutes.
The island of Batam has six ferry terminals, they are at Sekupang, Waterfront City, Batam Center, Harbour Bay, Nongsapura and Telaga Punggur.
Batam Center receives the most ferries from Singapore and Johor. Ferries to Harbour Bay carry passengers wishing to go to Nagoya, Batam’s business centre, while the terminals at Waterfront City and Nongsa serve mostly tourists visiting resorts. At Sekupang are ferries that ply between Batam and the main island of Sumatra and to the Karimun islands. While Telaga Punggur is the terminal for ferries plying between Batam and Tanjung Pinang on Bintan island.
Batam Fast and Penguin Ferry provide ferry services between Singapore and Batam Island.
click here for Batam Island - Singapore Ferry schedule, while Berlian Ferries provide numerous daily ferries to Harbour Bay , formerly better known as Batu Ampar. For information call the Harbour bay Counter at +62 741 5100, or +65 6272 0501 at the Singapore Counter.
For Singapore side ferry departure and arrival check; www.singaporecruise.com/ferryschedule.aspx
Batam’s Hang Nadim’s international airport, located in the eastern part of the island, receives mainly domestic flights direct from Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Pekanbaru, Jambi, Palembang and Bandung.