Karimun is located just off the east coast of Sumatra, guarding the southern entrance of the busy Straits of Malacca. It lies west of Batam and to the southwest of Singapore and is the furthest west of the Riau Islands.
Its proximity to Singapore has made the islands quite affluent and busy. Its main town, Tanjung Balai is a bustling port town with a lot of commerce, boosted by tourists from Singapore and Malaysia, however, it must not be confused with the two Tanjung Balais in North Sumatra province, essentially a much larger city also known as Tanjung Balai Asahan and an international port. Technically, there is both an independent city of Tanjung Balai formerly part of Asahan Regency and an adjacent district still within Asahan Regency, where the port lies. However, like Batam and Bintan, Karimun is also listed as a Free Trade Zone area.
For details on visa requirements for visiting Karimun, please see the Indonesia page. Karimun's Tanjung Balai port is designated as a visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry point.
Karimun does not have an operational airport, so travellers' only option is to get in by boat. Karimun has good ferry connections with Singapore and Kukup in the southwestern tip of Johor, Malaysia as well as the other Riau Islands and the Sumatra "mainland".
Sindo Ferry (Tel: +62-777-324300 in Tanjung Balai; +65-62714866 in HarbourFront) and Indofalcon (Tel: +65-62783167 in Harbourfront) ferry companies operate ferries between Tanjung Balai and Singapore's HarbourFront Centre. Between them, they run 4 trips.From Singapore:0800,1140,1500,1820 (in Singapore time).From Tg. Balai:0730,1100,1400,1700 (in Tg. Balai time). From Singapore, tickets cost S$63 return before Indonesian port taxes or Rp 110.000 one-way before port taxes (Rp 65.000) from Tanjung Balai. Journey time is about one and a half hours. RT tickets to Tanjung Balai are 66SGD each using Indofalcon. You may have to go to the Indofalcon and book in person as their website is down and staff doesn't want to book on the phone.
Please note that the two companies' code-sharing agreement allows you to board any ferry at Tanjung Balai for the return leg to Singapore only if you hold a return ticket that was purchased in Singapore. If you buy your ticket in Tanjung Balai, you can only board the ferry of the company from which you buy the ticket.
Connections to Singapore is by way of Harbourfront Ferry Terminal owned by Singapore Cruise Centre (SCC). SCC Travel Services operates wowgetaways.com [ http://www.wowgetaways.com/ferry.html Wowgetaways.com Ferry Ticket Search] (Tel: +65-6513-2191 in Singapore) has the most complete list of ferry services for sale on its website.
From the other Riau Islands
From the Sumatra mainland
Warning:This info may be confused with Tanjung Balai Asahan
Regular ferries link Sumatra port cities like Dumai, Pekanbaru, Selat Panjang (all in Riau province), and Kuala Tungkal in Jambi with Tanjung Balai. Most of these ferries continue to Tanjung Pinang, the main town in Bintan, stopping at Sekupang on Batam enroute.
From other parts of Indonesia
A Pelni boat KM Kelud leaves Tanjung Balai every Wednesday at 8am for Jakarta, taking 31 hours (Ekonomi/Class III Wisata Rp 255.000/Rp 375.000). The same boat leaves Tanjung Balai every Saturday at 7pm for Belawan, the port for Medan, taking 17 hours (Ekonomi/Class III Wisata Rp 180.000/Rp 260.000). For more information on Pelni departure schedules and fare, contact PT. Biro Perjalanan Karimun at Jalan Nusantara No. 1, Tanjung Balai, Pulau Karimun. ☎ +62-777-324132 (fax: +62-777-327176).
The cheapest way to travel in Karimun is by mikrolet. These small minibuses run a fairly standard route and pick up and drop off passengers anywhere along the way. By the way, the locals call them "oplet".You can get almost anywhere in Tanjung Balai for Rp. 3.000. Tanjung Balai to Meral is 2.500rp.
This would be one of the ideal way to explore Karimun. However, yet to find one bicycle renter in the town. However, most of the ferry companies will take your bicycle for a SG$10 fee, so if you are coming from Singapore, just bring one over.
That is not so easy to find any rentals in Tanjung Balai, although some hostels provide "my friend has scooters" service. The cheapest option found was for 70.000 IDR. You can find it heading from ferry to the west, after church just turn right. There is a hostel on the left side, where you can bargain for the price. Gasoline costs around 15.000 IDR for the full tank. Roads are not that bad, enjoy!
By private car
To have a more pleasant and relax trip, you may wish to hire a local Chinese Speaking Driver. Daily rate is 200.000rp - 250,000rp, or SGD 25-30.
Stroll around Tanjung Balai, which is the main town on Karimun Island, and one of the busiest towns in the Riau Islands. You can walk around and explore on your own or you can take a mikrolet (small public bus) for Rp. 2.000.
To enjoy the rural lifestyle on a tropical Indonesian island, you need to get away from Tanjung Balai and go to some local kampung areas in Meral or Pasir Panjang.
Vist the Chinese temples of Klenteng TUA PEK KONG, Vihara Cetiya, Vidya Sagara and Vihara Sasana Diepa in Meral. Take your time to look at the temple drawings such as "General Xue and Lady Fan" and "Lady Warriors of the Yang Family".
Karimun's main department store is Indo A. Yani Swalayan & Dept. Store in Tanjung Balai. Pasar Swalayan means supermarket in Bahasa Indonesia. This 3 storey department store offers food, clothing, housewares, stationary and basic necessities.
Padimas Department Store another shopping area in Karimun. Beside it, there is a game centre now is beer garden ( restaurant ) suitable for the families. Opposite it, is the Padimas Hotel, which is reasonably priced. There is a new Village Cafe also. Cosy ambiance with reasonable priced food and drinks. A large Heineken beer cost Rp. 28 000 only. Do try their new menu. The Cafe is similar to the ones found in Singapore. Great place to chill out and relax.
You can obtain 250g Karimun Utama coffee (Kopi Karimun Utama) for Rp. 7.150 (Agent: Toko Utama, Jalan Nusantara No. 43, Tanjung Balai, Pulau Karimun. ☎ +62-777-21003), local produced Kerupuk, deep fried fish crackers, can be found at Bona Kerupuk Atom 50 and cost Rp. 7.000 per packet. and famous " Karate Coffee " at Jl Kampung Tanjung No 72 RT/TW: 003/004 ( near nusantara street )
And Asli Mart The new dept.store & restaurant ( jl.kolong < near yonada > ) There is Free WI-Fi Hotspot...
'Fresh seafood', you can try Restoran Andrew's Kitchen (address: Pramuka 42, Phone: 0777-327353). Chinese 'HALAL' food, it means that all kind food is 100% no pork. There are fish, crab, prawn, any kind of seafood and ala carte you can find there.
Bakso, a meatball made from low quality meat is just as popular as nasi goreng. Both are sold from street side stalls, or push carts that make their rounds through the neighborhoods.
Several chinese restaurants can be found along Jalan Trikora Laut (opposite Holiday Karimun Hotel). This is probably the central area for Teochew-style Bak Kut Teh. Noodles are also available.
The long stretch of open-air food and drink vendors that convenes outside the ferry terminal after 5pm is a great place to try out authentic, cheap Indonesian food.
粿汁( kue chap), address=Pujasera ... Traditional food ala Tio chiu.... Nice and black soup with white kue. Must Try. Two thumbs up. Chiak...
Gado - Gado an Indonesian dish or Indonesian salad consisting of boiled vegetables served with a peanut sauce dressing PLus Some Crackers Sold In Kopitiam Beside Apotik Mitra Medika They Sold Tasty Gado Gado THeir Business Always Very Good Operating Hours 7 A.M Until 1 P.M
Try Lasegar, an Indonesian refreshing soft drink for Rp. 3.500 per can. One can of Carlsberg beer costs Rp. 5.500. Try Sosro, an Indonesian refreshing tea, or chinesse traditional herbal tea @ jl.trikora no.15 (next to kedai kopi AHIANG's coffhe shop) only cost RP.2000,-
The country code for Indonesia is 62. The area code for Tanjung Balai is 777.
Post office (known as kantor pos in Bahasa Indonesia) in Tanjung Balai is open daily except Sundays and public holidays. Sending a postcard costs Rp. 5.000.
The nearest airport is on Palau Batam, so you'll need to head back there for domestic flights.For International flights heading to Singapore or Kukup (Pontian, Malaysia)would be the best option. International seaport tax is 60,000 IDR.
Connections by sea are limited to one Pelni boat per week and various fast boat services to different Sumatran ports.
Connections by the sea are various - Malaysia, Singapore and other Indonesian islands. Ferry to Dumai costs 325.000 IDR and takes about 6 hours, only one departure per day, at 08:45 a.m. There are 2 stops on the way. First one is in Selatpanjang, second one in Bengkalis, where you can of course finish your ferry trip. On each stop many food vendors offer you local food, which is a bit overpriced.