Located just 20 kilometres out of Singapore and easily accessible by plane or ferry, the island paradise of Batam in Indonesia is a popular weekend destination for Singaporeans.
A 40-minute ride by speedboat brings you to great discount shopping, a vibrant nightlife scene, and an idyllic resort town atmosphere that isn’t too far removed from the city comforts that one may be more accustomed to. Below are some of the attractions that have locals coming back to Batam:
Sea Forest Adventure
Sea Forest Adventure at Nuvasa Bay is a premier leisure and recreational area in Batam City: 10 hectares’ worth of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. It is home to several attractions, including Aqua Adventure Track—the largest inflatable playground water sports park near Singapore.
Aside from guaranteed hours of active fun for children and adults alike, Sea Forest Adventure also offers a wide variety of water sports and activities, such as jet skiing, banana boats, knee boarding, open sea canoeing and snorkelling.
For those who prefer to stay dry, Sea Forest Adventure also offers paintballing, archery, and a number of thrilling zipline activities.
Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple
The majestic Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple is the biggest Buddhist temple in all of Indonesia—perhaps, even, in Southeast Asia. Covering 4.5 hectares of ground, it is home to an impressive 16-foot fully gold-plated Buddha statue called the Maitreya Buddha, imported directly from China.
Even if you happen not to be Buddhist, it is a delight to walk the expansive grounds and view the baby Laughing Buddha statues dotting the grass just outside the temple. There is also a vegetarian restaurant at the monastery, a part of the temple proper, which serves excellent deep-fried vegetables and meat-free buns.
This one’s for the Instagram influencer-aspirants: Pantai Viovio or Viovio Beach is a pristine stretch of white sand and blue waters as far as the eye can see, but additional attractions such as a swing set built right on the shallows frames the sunset beautifully, for an epic shot guaranteed to make all your Facebook friends green with envy.
There are numerous such photography opportunities around the area —check out the I ♥ U plank canopies overlooking a ravine of lush greenery, a tourist favourite. Of course, there’s also swimming, snorkelling, and water sports activities.
For a taste of what a truly unspoiled beach looks like, head out to Pulau Tunjuk, one of the islands that surround Batam. An hour-long boat ride will take you to an area as yet untouched by industry or commercialism.
You’ll find little more than a snack bar and a single public toilet here, as well as local villagers going about their simple lives far removed from civilisation. It’s a nice escape from the Batam city proper, which can easily be overrun by tourists and establishments that cater to them.
Montigo Resorts Nongsa
This Santorini-inspired resort hotel is voted number-one when it comes to luxury accommodations in Batam. The hotel’s immaculate white villas are set against the brilliantly turquoise waters of Nongsa.
Here, guests can easily relax and unwind with one of their signature spa treatments or engage in any one of their thrilling outdoor activities: jungle trekking, archery, airsoft, and ATV rentals are all available right on the premises.
Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall
As the biggest mall in the city of Batam, Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall is where many locals and tourists converge for both essentials and souvenir shopping.
It’s also home to more than a few brand-name stores where you might be able to score luxury finds at lower prices, and an A&W Restaurant. The chain restaurant pulled out of Singapore in 2003 but has since returned with an outlet in Jewel Changi, though locals claim that things haven’t been the same. If you feel the same way, satisfy your nostalgic cravings for curly fries and root beer floats in Batam instead.
Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant
Well-known among Singaporeans as a place to score fresh seafood amidst a quintessentially tropical backdrop, Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant ups the ante by setting you up to dine on tables situated right over the water. The al fresco area is an excellent vantage point from which to shoot photographs and experience the breeze coming up from the ocean.
Batam is more than just spas and jet-skiing—hidden gems and exciting adventures await Singaporeans looking to scratch beneath the surface of what the city has to offer. Go off the beaten track and you’ll be sure to find more to take home than just colourful kueh lapis.