Located only 20km from Singapore and 25km from Johor in Malaysia, Batam is Indonesia's equivalent to China's SEZ's (Special Economic Zones) - a place where the nation's economic planners test new economic policies and ideas. The island is an industrial hub with electronics factories, a large and growing ship repair industry and an even larger oil service sector. Quite a few expats head there for work, and pubs and golf courses have sprung up to serve them.
Most tourists, on the other hand, come from nearby Singapore. While there is a smattering of family resorts, Bintan is more popular for this; instead, the main lure on Batam is the naughty nightlife. However, the new governor of the province has shut down the casinos and taken steps to curb prostitution, and the goings-on aren't quite as in your face as they used to be.
Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is modeled on the version of Malay which originates from Riau on the Sumatra mainland and the Riau Islands. In fact, Riau Malay is regarded as quite similar to the Malay language and visitors from Malaysia will find the Indonesian spoken here very similar to Bahasa Malaysia, which is the version of Malay spoken back home.
Batam also have a large population of ethnic chinese Indonesians, who also can speak Hokkien (Fujian), Teochew and Mandarin. Besides, there are also large population of migrants from various parts of Indonesia who speak many different kinds of Indonesian dialects.
All Batam ports, namely Harbour Bay (Jodoh), Batam Centre, Nongsapura, Sekupang and Waterfront City (Teluk Senimba) are visa-free and visa-on-arrival ports of entry. For detailed information on visas, please refer to the Indonesia page.
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, Pontianak, Yogyakarta and Bandung. Indonesian carriers Garuda Indonesia , Merpati, Mandala Airlines , Lion Air , Riau Airlines , Kartika Airlines , [  Batavia Airlines] and a host of others provide the links. One can travel to Yogyakarta from Batam.
For most foreign visitors though, the most practical way of getting to Batam will be to fly into Singapore and catch a ferry from there. If you want to catch flights from Singapore's Changi Airport, you must be on a ferry to Singapore at least three hours before departure time. See "By boat" section below for details.
Batam Center Ferry Terminal has the most frequent ferry connections to/from Singapore and Johor Bahru and is also the closest terminal to the airport. Sekupang, with ferries from Singapore is further from the airport but can still be used to catch domestic connections to the Sumatra mainland and the Karimun Islands. Waterfront City and Nongsapura mostly serve adjacent resorts while Telaga Punggur is the main ferry terminal for boats to and from Bintan. Harbour Bay is monopolized by Berlian/Wavemaster.
"Penguin" Now known as Sindo Ferry  (Tel: +62-778-467574 in Batam Centre; +62-778-321636 in Sekupang; +62-778-381280 in Waterfront City; +65-62714866 in Harbourfront). S$23/34 one-way/return (May 2013). Virtually hourly ferries to Batam Centre and Sekupang, fewer ferries to Waterfront City.
Batam Fast  (Tel: +62-778-467793/464666 in Batam Centre; +62-778-325085/6 in Sekupang; +62-778-381150 in Waterfront City; +65-62700311 in Harbourfront). Also hourly ferries to Batam Centre, fewer ferries to Sekupang and Waterfront City. S$26/34 one-way/return (May 2013).
Indofalcon  (Tel: +65-62783167 in Harbourfront). This company does not operate to/from Sekupang
Berlian/Wave Master  (Tel: +65-65468830 in Singapore). Frequent service to Harbour Bay. Services to Batam Centre cost SGD$38 for a return ticket.
From Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal: Ferries operated by:
Dino/Batam Fast  (Tel: +62-778-761071 in Nongsapura, +65-65426310 in Tanah Merah FT). Several ferries daily to/from Nongsapura.
To/From Malaysia: Ferries link Johor Bahru with Batam Centre. There are virtually hourly departures betweem 0750 and 1840 from JB to Batam, and between 0750 and 1720 from Batam to JB. Tickets cost RM60/95 one-way/return before taxes to/from JB. For more information, call Tenggara Senandung  (Tel: +60-7-2211677) in Johor Bahru. Ferries also operate between Batam Centre and Tanjung Belungkor in Johor.
Baruna (Tel: +62-778-479162 in Telaga Punggur; +62-771-28578 in Tanjung Pinang) and Sentosa operate speedboats between Telaga Punggur and Bintan's main town Tanjung Pinang virtually every 15 minutes during daylight hours. Tickets cost Rp.25,000 - Rp40,000 excluding port taxes (Rp.5,000).
Frequent speedboats also run between Telaga Punggur and Tanjung Uban on the western part of Bintan.
Getting there/away: Official taxis from Batam Centre to Telaga Punggur cost Rp65.000. On the reverse way, it's Rp. 60.000. You can try and bargain for a lower rate with taxis outside the port area (Batam centre to Telaga Punggur may cost Rp.50.000). Passenger vans or mikrolet (know as Metro Trans by the locals) run between Telaga Punggur and Jodoh/Nagoya. Mind you, they will go back & fro to wait until their van is full before they really depart.
Boats to/from Tanjung Pinang also call at Sekupang at the northeastern part of Batam when going to or coming from the Sumatra mainland such as to Dumai and Pekanbaru, as well as Karimun Island. These are however not as frequent as those leaving from Telaga Punggur. To get to Sekupang, please see following section.
To/From Sumatra mainland, other Riau Islands: Batam's main domestic port is Sekupang, where you can ferries to/from the Sumatra mainland and other Riau Islands west of Batam. You can also use Sekupang for ferries to/from Bintan but the bulk of ferries to that island leave from Telaga Punggur (see "From Bintan" section above). Getting there/away: Numerous taxis make the run between Sekupang and Nagoya. There is also a public minibus service between Sekupang and Batam Center as well as Nagoya.
To/From Karimun Island: Regular ferries operate between Tanjung Balai on Karimun and Sekupang. Some of the ferries originate from the Sumatra mainland or Kundur Island. Boats also stop at Tanjung Balai when going from Sekupang to Sumatra or Kundur.
To/From Dumai: Several companies, including Dumai Express operates several ferries daily to/from Sekupang. Most of these ferries originate from Tanjung Pinang, the main town on Bintan, and also make a stop at Tanjung Balai on Karimun Island after making a stop at Sekupang.
To/From Kundur Island: Several ferry companies run daily between Sekupang and Tanjung Batu on Kundur. These ferries also make a stop at Tanjung Balai on Karimun enroute.
Other ferry destinations include Pekanbaru, Selat Panjang, Bengkalis and Tanjung Buton in Riau, and Kuala Tungkal in Jambi province.
From other parts of Indonesia: Pelni ships which serve various ports throughout Indonesia call at Sekupang.
A legal yellow-plated taxi, illegally parked on a pedestrian crossing
There are plenty of taxis in Batam, but there are no standard color schemes: however, licensed taxis have yellow license plates, while unlicensed ones do not (and are best avoided). As there are no meters, you will need to bargain with the drivers; the first price quoted is often silly, but if there are other taxis around, you can easily bargain them down. Sample fares for reference:
Hang Nadim airport to Nagoya/Jodoh (Rp. 75.000 - fixed price)
Full day hire of a taxi 500.000 (around S$70)
If you feel more comfortable with metered taxis, there are a few of these taxis attached with it, but please ensure that you asked the driver to operate the meter before getting into the taxi, otherwise they will not operate it and may charge you more than the amount that you are supposed to pay.
Recently, Batam local government (known as pemerintah) started a bus service known as "Bus Pilot Project". The blue colour bus plies between Batam Center and Batu Aji for Rp. 4.000 and Batam Center to Sekupang Rp. 4.000. Buy your ticket from the personnel before boarding.
Most hotels run shuttle buses during the day to the ferry ports and to the main shopping mall. It seems that none run a shuttle to airport.
You can hop into a free shuttle bus (yellow in colour) from Megamall Batam Center to the major hotels in Nagoya or Jodoh.
The Kijang, which is generally everywhere in Indonesia, is strangely absent in Batam. Your hotel may be able to arrange a car and driver for you, but be prepared to pay Rp 100.000 or more, which is almost double the rate in Jakarta.
The Waterfront City area of Batam is on the western side of the island. There are several attractions & activities available in this area, such as water & sea sports activities, a fishing pond, go-kart racing track, a football field, as well as a beach for swimming or playing with the kids. There is also a cable ski park, Jet Ski, para sailing and banana boats for the adventurous.
Down at the Barelang Islands, connected to Batam by a series of 6 bridges, there are many good beaches, as well as an old Vietnamese refugee camp, that was occupied for 20 years by Vietnamese boat people, and has now been restored as a tourist attraction. The site is quite overgrown in places by the jungle and takes around 1hour to drive to from Batam Centre. However, on entering the site there are several colonies of macaque monkeys by the road side. This is also a favorite route for cyclists.
Ocarina Park (Kawasan Wisata Ocarina), Coastarina, near Batam Center Ferry Terminal, ☎ +62-778-7880660. Kawasan Wisata Ocarina opened on 28 December 2008, followed by Ocarina Waterpark on 13 December 2009. This is a family-friendly place for fun and entertainment. The large ferris wheel and other carnival attractions are fun, there is a water park and 3d movie theater inside, along with several food-court style restaurants. The entrance is quite a walk from the attractions, but there is a shuttle bus or you can take your car inside. This whole complex has an unfinished air to it and is a work in progress. Perhaps it will be a place to spend some time in the future but disappointing at the moment and only locals would be happy with the facilities and services.edit
Batam Golf (Golf stay and play packages), Batam Island (Via Batam Ferry Terminals), ☎ +6531080729, . 24/7. Batam is a golfers paradise. Batam Island is blessed with 7 great golf courses providing top class championship golf and great hospitality.From $85. (1.1418,103.9135)edit
The Indonesian rupiah may be legal tender, but the Singapore dollar (S$) is Batam's unofficial second currency. Tourist-oriented hotels, restaurants and shops usually quote prices in S$, and they will be accepted by nearly anybody in a pinch. However, if you decide to pay by credit card, by law your bill must be converted to rupiah first -- and the exchange rate is unlikely to be in your favor.
There are many malls in Batam offering a variety of stores and restaurants.
Nagoya Hill Mall, in Nagoya, has a Matahari department store, Hypermart supermarket, ACE Hardware, and a Cinema 21. Restaurants include J.Co, KFC, A&W, BFC, Pizza Hut, Ayam Goreng Fatmawati, chinese restaurant & newtown coffee at the top of the mall.
BCS Mall in Baloi has a Golden Truly department store, a Gramedia and a bowling alley.
If you would like to bring Indonesian delicacy back for your family, opt for the LAYERS Batam Layer Cake, which is available in most of the shopping malls and ferry terminals. They are handmade and has become the iconic takeaway delicacy from Batam.
Unless you're looking for something specific, you don't really have to buy something at Batam, simply because you can get it at Singapore.
Batam has plenty of eating out choices, including great Chinese seafood in the outdoor food courts, such as the Windsor and Nagoya Food Courts, A2 foodcourt and A1 Pujasera.
For seafood over the water, try Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant in Bengkong. They are famous in Batam and known to Singaporeans for their seafood. This large restaurant which resembles several open air marquees, seems inexpensive to touristing Singaporeans but is well-known in Batam to be an expensive tourist trap. The seafood they serve may not be fresh, which they will attempt to mask by deep frying them. There is so many choices for seafood in Batam, Harbour bay also have many seafood from stalls to restaurant. If you want a really fresh seafood you can try to go to barelang bridge (utama seafood right at the entrance of bridge 1, aneka rasa before the bridge 4, or cita rasa after bridge 4 near kampung vietnam) or tg piayu. You can ask the local taxi driver to guide you there.
There is local noodle from riau islands, named tarempa. You can find that noodle at "mie tarempa" restaurant. Their special dishes are tarempa noodle, roti gendang bread (it has fish floss inside) and nasi dagang (small amount of rice with curry and anchovy).
All of the major hotels have restaurants, some better than others. If you come during Ramadan (In August-September), you have your choice of all-you-can-eat buffets of traditional Indonesian fare from every major hotel; prices range from about Rp. 45,000-75,000.
As usual, uncooked foods like salad should be regarded with caution, as not all places follow the most stringent health procedures.
City authorities claim that Batam's tap water is potable, but the rusty color puts some people off. Most people choose to stick with bottled water anyway, about Rp. 10,000 for a 5-gallon jug.
Carlsberg and Guinness are produced locally, as well as Bintang and Tiger beer. Most places have Heineken on tap. Imported beers, such as Corona are available, but prices are high. A normal draft beer should be no more than Rp.25,000.
Wine and liquor is available from the duty-free stores in nearly all of the larger malls, most bars and hotels.
Batam Fresh Beer is the only microbrewery on the island, headquartered in Batam Center near the large mosque (behind Pondok Gurih restaurant). Price is Rp.15,000 a glass for any of their beers (dark and light at 5 or 7% alc or green at 5%).
Upon arrival in the ferry terminal (Batam Centre) you may chose to go to the Hotel Reservation Counter, they will have numerous options for the 3+ star hotels in on the island. These may give you a slightly better value than booking directly with the hotel itself so it is not a scam. In addition, however, there are budget options available such as family apartments.
Batam is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
Batamholiday Apartment, Sekupang (Probably the cheapest accommodation in Batam), ☎ +6531080729, . From only $15. (1.1401,103.9619)edit
Golden View Hotel, Jl. Bengkong Laut, ☎ (62) 778.771.7777, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Rooms in this 4 star hotel are spacious, clean, equipped with air conditioning, cable TV and safe. Also on premises: Bar, water slide swimming pool, gym, sauna, jacuzzi, massage center. Buffet style breakfast is included. Billiard is also available at S$4/hr. There are a lot of leisure places around the hotel, such as kart, fishing farm, flying fox, obstacle adventure, high rope, Replica Cheng Ho Ship, miniature custom Indonesia houses, food courts. There is also performance of swallowing burning coal, chewing bulbs, etc.The Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant is just 2 minute walking from the hotel. This large restaurant is erected over the water. It resembles several open air marquees which is cheap and cheerful in the furnishings. The staff are warm and welcoming. Bird nest delicacy can be found here at S$15/bowl From SGD 92.00. edit
Turi Beach Resort, Nongsa, ☎ (65) 6438 0321, . Turi Beach is located between Nongsa Point Marina and Nongsa Village. It offers different type or rooms such as Tirta Junior Suite, Riani Deluxe Beachfront, Tirta Premier Beachfront, Riani Suite, Tirta Premier, Riani Suite Beachfront, Tirta Executive Suite, Riani Deluxe, Riani Superior, all equipped with Air conditioning, Cable television, Coffee/Tea maker, Minibar, Dressing area w/vanity & sink etc. Some of its facilities and services are Conference rooms, Currency exchange, Laundry service, Massage services, Night club etc. From SGD 121.00. edit
89 Hotel, Jl. Pembangunan Baloi Blok VI Penuin, ☎ +62 778 433789, . Offers rooms equipped with air-conditioning, internet connection, minibar and cable TV. Some of its facilities and services are the L’amour Restaurant, Viva 89 Spa & Fitness Centre, 89 Massage, Meeting rooms and business centre.From USD 39.00. edit
Nongsa Point Marina & Resort, Jalan Hang Lekiu Nongsa, ☎ +62-778 761333, . rooms, suites, and chalets, all equipped with air conditioning, Private toilet and bath and balcony/ deck. Facilities and services are airport transfers, watersports and and an outdoor pool.From SGD 170.61. edit
Nongsa Village, JalanTeluk Mata Ikan, Nongsa, ☎ (62-778) 761111, . The hotel offers two-bedroom wooden villas measuring about 1,700 square feet, cable television, coffee- and tea-making facilities, phone and ironing board. It also has a swimming pool, gym, beach access, and a spa by the pool.Rates on official website start at SGD 181.82. edit
Harmoni One Hotel, Jalan Engku Putri, Batam Center Batam Island 29400, Indonesia, ☎ (62-778) 464-111, . Best rates on official website start at SGD 78. edit
Harris Resort Batam, Jl. KH. Ahmad Dahlan, Waterfront City, ☎ +(62-778) 381142 (fax: +(62-778) 433777), . edit
Harbour Bay Amir Hotel, Jln. Duyung, Batu Ampar, Batam, Riau Islands Province 29432, Indonesia, ☎ +62 778 454855, . Harbour Bay Amir Hotel in Batam, Indonesia is a first-class hotel that offers the ideal base for discerning leisure and business travellers. With its 5 types of lodgings, each of which has safe deposit box, Internet service, cable television, individual air conditioning control and desk, Harbour Bay Amir Hotel's accommodation beckons you to relax and enjoy its well-chosen amenities. And when it comes to facilities and services like room service, restaurant, smoking area, laundry service, babysitting, business center, concierge, meeting rooms, meeting facilities, Wi-Fi in public areas, massage service, sauna and car park, the only thing you have to do here is to make the most of your visit.edit
Panorama Regency Hotel, Jalan Raja Haji, ☎ +(62-778) 433555 (fax: +(62-778) 433777), . S$52. edit
Planet Holiday Hotel, Jalan Raja Haji, ☎ +(62-778) 433555 (fax: +(62-778) 433777), . S$100. edit
Mercure Batam, Jl Raden Patah no 12 (Nagoya), ☎ +62778425777, . start at IDR 399.000 (promo). edit
GGi Hotel, Jln. Duyung Sei Jodoh - Batu Ampar, ☎ +62 778 430 999, . All rooms have air conditioning, hairdryer, high speed internet connection, 32-inch full-HD smart TV, telephone, sitting area, private toilet and bath. Some of its facilities and services are swimming pool, function area, restaurant, open-air atrium, parking, high-speed internet access, laundry service, wake-up call service and 24-hour reception.SGD 54 onwards. edit
Nongsa Point Marina & Resort, Jalan Hang Lekiu Nongsa, ☎ +62-778 761333, . All rooms have air-conditioning, balcony/ deck, cable TV, hair dryer (on request), internet connectivity in room (on request), private toilet and bath. Some of its facilities and services are restaurant, shop, outdoor pool, fitness room, jacuzzi, business centre, conference room, tennis court, currency exchange, car rental, valet parking, watersports, wake-up call, babysitting, massage service, land, city, and airport transfers.Rates start at SGD 140.00. edit
Batam is generally safe during the daytime hours, but at night if you are in the entertainment areas of Nagoya you should exercise caution. Do not walk alone at night, if you want to leave somewhere and it is late, find someone else who is leaving or about to leave, or stay until it closes and then all go together. If you really have to get back to your hotel call the hotel and have them send a car to pick you up. As the taxis are not regulated or owned by a central group (like Bluebird in Jakarta) you may not be safe hiring a taxi off the street either. Walking in groups or two or three is probably okay but do not get into discussions with the locals as you may be asking to have your wallet or purse taken from you. If this happens, don't chase, just walk back to where you were or to the hotel and report to the police later.
Traveling safe is another matter. The roads around Batam are OK, but not maintained to the highest standard. The taxi drivers in particular delight in driving as fast as they can and they really like to overtake on a curve or bend. If you feel at all uncomfortable ask the driver to slow down, tell him you are not in a hurry, usually they are OK, although we did have to yell at one in Indonesian a few times to get him to drive safely.
If you have to drink it is always better to do it in your own hotel or a family restaurant-cum-bar. If you have to go to an ordinary bar, you must opt for a VIP room or you might land up in "ecstasy" which is nothing but drugs. There have been instances where drugs were put in one's bag unknowingly and then trap the visitor in the cop net where it will be really tough to "free" oneself unless you are a localite.
Batam, with its good ferry connections, is an excellent springboard to the other Riau Islands such as the Tanjung Uban and Kijang Bintan Island and the Sumatra mainland. Good air connections also make Batam a good place to get cheap air tickets to Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia.