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Island Escapes: Why Batam Should Be Your Next Vacation

There’s nothing more satisfying than taking time off and spending it with loved ones or friends in a tropical paradise. It would be even better if the destination is nearby, and you don’t have to spend a large portion of your holiday travelling in a cramped and uncomfortable manner. 

This is why Batam should be on your itinerary. Travelling there is a breeze, as this Indonesian island is no more than one and a half hours boat ride away from Johor Bahru. 

Batam may not be as popular as other island destinations in the region, but is slowly gaining attention as a vibrant and exciting destination for families, couples and lone travellers. 

Batam: An Island Like No Other

Batam is the largest and most developed among the islands in the Riau archipelago in Indonesia. It sits among many other neighbouring islands, and provides administrative powers over neighbouring isles like Rempang, Galang and Buland. 

Batam enjoys a special free trade zone status in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore growth triangle. Apart from being a popular tourist destination for Malaysians and Singaporeans due to its proximity, it is also a popular spot to start industrial and transport based businesses. 

Batam covers an area of 715 square kilometres, and boasts a population of 1.2 million. The island is an eclectic mix of urbanised areas and stunning natural attractions. 

The Top 5 Attractions in Batam

If this is your first visit to Batam island, there are several destinations you should check out in order to give you a comprehensive experience. Here they are in no particular order:

1. The Barelang Bridges

This is a complex of 6 bridges linking the main Batam island with its neighbouring Riau islands. A drive across any one of these bridges will give you breathtaking vistas of the sea and coastlines. 

They offer you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some stunning pictures across rolling natural backdrops. The best time to visit is in the evenings, as you’ll be able to watch the sunset unhindered from any of these bridges. 

2. The Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Temple

Dedicated to the Buddha Maitreya, this is one of the largest Buddhist temples in all of Southeast Asia. The temple covers a spacious plot of land, and is dominated by a large main prayer hall. 

Visitors can explore the 5 sections of the temple, all of which carry carved statues of the Buddha and other deities, as well as various artworks. All in all, the grounds are serene and peaceful, suitable for contemplative visitors looking for a calm and peaceful experience. 

3. Nongsa Beach

One of the beaches closest to Batam Centre is Nongsa Beach. This lovely seaside attraction boasts many water sports, like jet skiing and boating. Alternatively, you can take things slow and unwind here at your own pace. 

4. Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall

Nagoya Hill is considered the largest mall in Batam, and here you’ll be able to find a plethora of retail brands, both local and international. This is where you head to if you’re craving some familiar fast food brands, or want to shop for clothing, accessories, gadgets and more.
The Mall hosts an outdoor food court which comes alive with fairy lights as the sun goes down. 

5.Galang Vietnamese Village

On Batam’s neighbouring island Galang are the remains of a Vietnamese refugee camp from the 1980s. The camp is no longer inhabited, and it now serves as a museum showcasing the area’s unique role as hosts to Vietnamese fleeing the Vietnam civil war. 

It offers a rare insight into the island’s history, and is the location of several historical structures built by the United Nations including a hospital, church and temples. 

Batam’s Lay of the Land

Visitors who come to this island will land at the Batam Centre Ferry Terminal, located in Batam’s capital, Batam Centre. This city is located in the north of Batam, and is a well-developed area with modern amenities, hotels, resorts, restaurants and malls. The more business-minded visitor will also find government offices and commercial hubs here. 

When one moves southward, the landscape becomes more serene, filled with residential suburbs, industrial zones, and rolling greenery. It is here that one will find districts like Nagoya, a commercial area known for its shopping and nightlife. 

Towards the south west of Batam are its many pristine beaches, where you can find luxury resorts like HARRIS Resort Waterfront, Batam Marriott Hotel Harbour Bay and Marina City Waterfront. This area is also home to several well known golf resorts and country clubs, perfect for both business and leisure. 

The eastern coast, on the other hand, is filled with fishing villages and local industries, offering visitors a more laid back approach to travelling. Here, you’ll have a chance to observe a much slower pace of life and even enjoy chartering a boat for a relaxing day of fishing.

Those who want to explore further south can take the Barelang bridge to neighbouring islands, namely Rempang and Galang. Here you’ll find impressive viewpoints of the sea, places offering water sports, delicious seafood from local restaurants and even a cultural village in Galang. 

The Cultural Diversity in Batam

Batam’s culture is not too different from its neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore. The population here is a blend of Malay, Javanese and Chinese people who speak mainly Bahasa Indonesia. 

However, you will also hear Chinese dialects like Hakka and Hokkien being spoken due to the significant local population of ethnic Chinese. English is also widely spoken, especially in the more urbanised parts of the island. 

The locals here are majority Muslim, but you’ll also find Buddhists and Christians living on the island. Some of the most popular attractions are Buddhist temples, built to honour different deities. In general, the locals are friendly, and will welcome you warmly, as well as answer your requests for directions or clarify any enquiries you may have. 

As a visitor to Batam, you’ll be enthralled by how much of the island is familiar, yet excitingly new. It is a showcase of how a place can blend both old and new influences in a harmonious manner. 

Batam is Perfect For Your Next Trip

Organising a trip to Batam is easy. There are daily ferry trips to the island, from Berjaya Waterfront Ferry Terminal in Johor Bahru. You can book a one way ticket or return, for a reasonable price. There are six ferries leaving Stulang Laut in JB daily, with the earliest one leaving at 7.15am and the last one leaving at 6.00pm. 

Book your ferry tickets now, and enjoy a flexible return ticket with just an additional 50% fee on your one way ticket. This return ticket can be used any time within 3 months of your arrival to Batam. Travel with Berjaya Waterfront ferries for peace of mind and added convenience. 
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