Waterfront City, also known as Teluk Senimba (Senimba Bay), is a place on the island of Batam, Indonesia, just south of Singapore.
Construction in Waterfront City, with the burned-out hulk of Snow World looming in the background
Don't be fooled by the name — Waterfront City is no city, it's a purpose-built tourist development home to two large hotels and not much else. Construction started in the 1990s with great hopes, but like many of Suharto's big projects, it never took off the way it was supposed and multiple failed developments still litter the area: the first thing you'll see as you exit the ferry terminal is the rotting carcass of Snow World, which lay uncompleted for years before burning down in 2006.
All that said, if you ratchet down your expectations very low, Waterfront City still makes a reasonably pleasant weekend getaway: the hotels are high-quality and affordable, there's just enough to keep you entertained for a day or two, and at night you can dig into cheap seafood and sample the nightlife. Batam as a whole is still growing fast and with Harris's recent expansion and the refurbished cable ski operation, there's even faint hope of a belated renaissance.
The Minangkabau-style ferry terminal at Waterfront City
Waterfront City Ferry Terminal, a striking Minangkabau-style construction with sharped pointed eaves, is a visa-on-arrival entry point for Indonesia. BatamFast  runs three ferries a day from Singapore's HarbourFront ferry terminal via Sekupang to Waterfront, taking about 70 minutes including the Sekupang stop or using Sindo Ferry. If you miss these, there are many more to Sekupang, from where it's a 15-km trip to Waterfront City.
Hotel shuttle buses meet incoming ferries and offer sightseeing and shopping trips around the rest of the island. Within Waterfront City itself, most sites are within walking distance. If you'd like to go further out, there are usually taxis lurking in front of the cable ski park, but you'll need to haggle. Cabbies will ask for S$20 for the half-hour haul to Nagoya, but locals can negotiate that down to around Rp. 75,000.
The beach at Waterfront City isn't much to look at: the water is murky and the views across the bay consist of oil industry installations. The Harris Resort has its own tiny slice, but the rest is within the Waterfront City Marina and an entry fee of Rp. 7000 is charged. Sea sports like banana boats and jetskis are available.
- Batam CableSki Park, . Popular cable-pulled wakeboarding outfit. Has a pleasant little attached bar/cafe and offers day and overnight packages from Singapore. 1 hour S$25, half-day S$55 and full-day S$65. edit
- Tea Tree Spa, Holiday Inn, ☎ +62-778-381333. Well-regarded Balinese-style spa offering Javanese lulur scrubs, hot stone massage etc, set in a faux-Balinese temple courtyard. It's not cheap at S$60++/hour, but there is a 20% discount before 3 PM and quite a few packages for couples, hotel guests, etc. No hanky-panky! edit
Other entertainment options include the ramshackle Step 1 Go Kart Circuit near the Harris (S$12/10 min) and Taman Pancing Fishing Pond. The Batam Flying Club closed down years ago.
80% of the commercial shophouse block next to the ferry terminal is permanently closed, but some of the remaining shops sell drinks and snacks. For anything else, you'll need to head over to Nagoya.
Waterfront City's restaurant and nightlife strip
The shophouse block next to the ferry terminal has half a dozen low-key eateries, but only one has food that draws anything approximating a crowd:
- Delima Seafood Restaurant. Easily spotted, Delima is the only restaurant here with a breezy kelong (platform on stilts) set up over the rocky beach, and they do a roaring trade on weekends. Everybody orders the chili crab (from Rp. 88,000) and with reason, but the rest of the menu is pretty good as well: try the kailan tahu jepung (Rp. 15000), Chinese broccoli with Japanese egg tofu. edit
There are also a couple of very basic warung next to the cable ski park.
The restaurants at both the Harris and the Holiday Inn offer air-conditioned comfort and charge Singaporean prices for the privilege.
- Arirang, Harris Resort. Korean and Japanese food. edit
- Dragon Inn, Holiday Inn. Within the Holiday Inn complex, this slick, upmarket Chinese seafood restaurant caters to both holidaymakers and demanding gourmets with dishes ranging from fried rice to abalone. Dim sum for lunch is popular. edit
The normally comatose waterfront shophouse strip livens up after sundown, with half a dozen nightlife joints ranging from Western-style pubs to relaxing watering holes. The area now boasts a dozen or so bars and restaurants, usually quiet during the day sometimes with a bit of life after the ex-pat workers finish for the day. The loss of industry has caused several bars to close. Most restaurants are expensive and of poor quality
- Queen's Restaurant & Café. Since the slump in the shipbuilding and oil industry Queen Bar has detreated to a sleazey retreat for expat alcoholics. No longer a safe or comfortable place. edit
- Aussie Bar, 126 Waterfront City, Batam (on the main Waterfront road), ☎ 62778381525. 2PM to late. full range of drinks, quiet bar devoid of any atmosphere. edit
- LAST BAR & Restaurant, Roco 132,Waterfront City, ☎ 082284746111. 3pm-2am. Right at the end of the bar strip (away from the ferry terminal), has a warm friendly atmosphere, happy hour, free barbecue each Wednesday. Staff are friendly, boss is best bar owner in the area. Open from afternoon to late. Perhaps the only bay worthy of a night out. reasonable. edit
- <drink name="CASAVA BAR, Small lively bar off the main waterfront, on the way to the Holiday Inn. Friendly staff, quieter than the main strip and without the many pressures of the strip. The bar has a small hotel has clean cheap air conditioned rooms above, can be rented by the hour, the night or long term. Open late and worth a try. Under new management CASAVA BAR has been re-invigorated and is now perhaps the best choice in Waterfront.
- <drink name="Shenanigans Bar. Large but cold and sterile bar on the main strip. Also boasts a restaurant with an extensive but expensive menu of amazingly bland and tasteless food. (Better eat at Delima Restaurant.)
Waterfront City has two large resort hotels. Both offer free shuttle service to the ferry terminal.
- <sleep name="Harris Resort Batam" alt="" address="5 min from ferry terminal" directions="" phone="+62-778-381888" url="http://www.harris-batam.com/" checkin="21/06/11" checkout="23/06/11" price="From S$81" lat="" long="" fax="+62-778-381142">A cheap but cheerful family holiday resort with a predilection for an eyeball-blistering shade of orange, renovated and expanded in 2009. Large pool, bowling alley, a scattering of restaurants and a fairly pathetic beach where swimming is explicitly forbidden. Try to get a room in the new wing.</sleep>
- Holiday Inn Resort Batam, across road from ferry terminal, ☎ +62-778-381333 (fax: +62-778-381332), . Probably Batam's best branded hotel, aging gracefully but solidly maintained under Western management. Weekend-tripping Singaporeans come for the large pool with an extensive kids' area, four restaurants and a well-regarded spa (see Do), while oil industry business visitors are seduced by the promise of broadband internet. From S$120. edit
Some of the shophouse pubs also offer lodging in their upstairs rooms, mostly on a short-time basis.
- Nagoya, the main city on Batam, is 30 min away by car.
- Sekupang, has the nearest harbour with regular ferries, it is just 15 min away by car.
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