Batam Island: North Sumatra

Batam Island is one of the islands in the Riau Archipelago off North Sumatra and it is one of the fastest growing tourism markets in Indonesia besides the island of Bali. The island is strategically located within an international shipping route between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. The area of Batam Island is 415 sq.-km but since the expansion of industrial areas that included the islands of Rempang and Galang and smaller surrounding islands it has expanded to715 sq.-km. Oddly enough this grouping has been named Batam-Rempang-Galang or Barelang.

The great thing is that all the main islands are linked with the Trans-Barelang Road, which include six bridges. Batam is a great stopping-off point for expats in Indonesia who are on their visa-runs. Not only that, it is only a 40 minute ferry ride to Singapore. Year round warm tropical weather makes Batam a nice place to visit and a good place to chill-out and relax. The people are friendly and most places you go to, you are greeted warmly.

Batam Island boasts six international standard golf courses and two marinas, starred hotels and beach resorts as well as excellent shopping ranging from traditional handicrafts to international branded goods. Well it would be because of its proximity to Singapore!. The neighbouring islands of Rempang and Galang have beautiful scenery, good beaches, and also fascinating coral reefs.

There are boat cruises in the waters between the islands. Rempang Island holds historical significance where the Allied Forces imprisoned Japanese prisoners of wars who were captured at the end of World War II. Galang Island is famous because it was rated the best refugee camp by the United Nations (UN).

Getting There

By Air: Batam’s airport is the Hang Nadim International Airport (BTH). Nearly all flights are domestic where you can get direct connections to Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Pekanbaru, Jambi, Palembang and Bandung. Indonesian carriers Garuda, Merpati, Air Asia, Kartika Airlines, Mandala and a host of others provide the links. Practically all the hotels have some kind of travel agency to assist you in booking onward flights.

By Boat: The main ports on Batam are Batam Centre, Sekupang, Waterfront City, Nongsapura and Telaga Punggur. Harbor Bay is now the main international ferry port for those heading for Nagoya, replacing the old Batu Ampar ferry terminal. Waterfront City and Nongsapura mostly serve adjacent resorts while Telaga Punggur is the main ferry terminal for boats to and from Bintan.

Batam’s main domestic port is Sekupang, where you can ferries to and from the Sumatra mainland and other Riau Islands west of Batam. You can also use Sekupang for ferries to and from Bintan but the bulk of ferries to that island leave from Telaga Punggur.

Pelni ships which also serve various ports throughout Indonesia call at Sekupang.