Batam is likely one of the 3, 000 islands, which make up the Riau Archipelago and is closest to Singapore, which is just 20 km away or fifty minutes by sea – conditioned ferry. It has a rapid – rising population of around 1000. 000. As the island develops into a significant industrial and vacationer area, it attracts an ever increasing population from different Indonesian islands who see Batam as a haven of opportunity. Once nearly uninhabited, save for a couple of scattered fishing communities, Batam ‘ s historical past took a sharp turn beginning 1969, when it turned help base for the State – owned PERTAMINA oil firm and its offshore oil exploration. In 1971 a presidential decree designated it as an industrial area and in 1975 the Batam Authority was formed. In 1978 Batam was established as a bon
During the Second World War Batam was occupied by the Japanese, hence the name for Batam’s main city is Nagoya. Several other names of regions in Batam reflect the occupation of the Japanese, such as Muka Kuning (meaning “Yellow Faces”) which was named by locals at the time.
In the 1970s, Batam underwent a major transformation from a largely forested and unpopulated island into a major harbor and industrial zone, when it was set up by the Indonesian government as a trade free zone. The population quickly grew from a few thousand in the 1960s, into hundreds of thousands today. Located close to Singapore and having a much cheaper labour force, several Singaporean companies have established factories in Batam.
Batam is mainly known for its free trade zone area as part of the Sijori Growth Triangle, and being located approx 20 km (12.5 miles) south of Singapore, it attracts a lot of foreign investment The 715 km² (160 miles²) island had a population of approx 915,000 in December 2008, most of whom are Indonesian (85%) and Chinese (14%). The official language on the island is Indonesian, but due to the sizeable Chinese population, several Chinese dialects are spoken.
Now international standard hotels, as well as numerous budget hotels cater to the expanding demand for accommodation created by tourism. Where virgin jungle once stood are now whole new towns, mosques, churches, temples and supermarkets, as well as reservoirs with enough water to supply the growing population, an airport, a telecommunication system, well equipped industrial parks, and the beginnings of a large new urban center.
While all this change has taken place, Batam has retained pockets of rural charm, peaceful spots with quiet beaches. Fishing villages supply delicious fresh seafood to visitors. White sand beaches are fringed with palms and kampung life carries on almost undisturbed.
The native people of Batam are Malay origin, but with the rapid growth and development of the area, various ethnic groups from all over Indonesia have come here in search for jobs and a better life. Traditionally, most of the people live in coastal villages, while the “Orang Laut” (sea people) continues to live on boathouses and generally fish for a living. Some of their catches are sold to Singapore. ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ is the language used to communicate among the multi-ethnic population here, while many now also understand English, which is commonly used in business communication.
Even if Batam is multi-ethnic it is still the Malayan culture and Islam, which forms the root of the local culture. Both daily life and the ceremonies have religious and mythical elements, expressed in dance, music and other forms of art. Some of the most popular traditional dances are Jogi Dance, unique for Batam, Zapin Dance, which reflects strong Arabic influence, Persembahan Dance, to welcome honored guests and Ronggeng Dance, where the guests can be invited to come up and join the dance and song.
The Mak Yong drama is a dance and song performance, which tells the story about a country named “Riuh”, commonly believed to be the origin of Riau province name. This country is governed by a wise and popular king, who one day to his surprise and embarrassment is told that his princess have given birth to an animal called “Siput Gondang” (the gondang snail). Upset by this event he orders the newborn to be expelled to the jungle.
A couple of years later he is told that the snail has begun to grow, and he asks for the snail to be brought to the Royal Palace where the shell is broken. To his surprise and joy he can see a beautiful princess appear from the broken shell, and he names her Putri Siput Gondang (Princess Siput Gondang), celebrations are then held for seven days and seven nights. But also other cultures contribute to the Batam community, and in the Padepokan Seni Art Center in Sekupang we can see arts and crafts from all over Indonesia, as well as various kinds of performances, which are staged every day for the visitors and tourists.
Another art center in Sekupang is Desa Seni Indonesian Art Village, its main objective is to “maintain, conserve and develop the Indonesian culture”, and also to manage the Cultural Institute where qualified instructors conduct various shows and courses
The main language spoken on Batam is “Bahasa Indonesian” or Indonesian language. English is also widely spoken, so you should have no problems being understood, as most taxi drivers, hotel staff, restaurant staff, etc, can speak English very well. Several Chinese dialects are also spoken, as there is a number of ethnic Chinese living in Batam.
Population & Topography
Batam’s population is currently around 920,000, of which approximately 86% are Indonesian, and 13% ethnic Chinese. The remaining 1% is made up of expatriates from various countries from around the world. Batam is a fairly low-lying island, with only a few large hills; it does not have any mountains as in other parts of Indonesia. It has a few rivers and several man-made lakes, which are used for town water supply. Batam covers an area of 415 square km (160 sq miles). Refer to this Batam Island map for details.
Do’s and Don’ts
When visiting Indonesia, visitors should observe local customs and practices. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:
Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling.A handshake should only be initiated by ladies. The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. The man offers both hands, lightly touches his friends outstretched hands, and then brings his hands to his chest to mean, “I greet you from my heart”. The visitor should reciprocate the salam.
It is polite to call before visiting a home.
Shoes must always be removed when entering a home.
Drinks are generally offered to guests. It is polite to accept.
When receiving and giving things, including money, always use the right hand, however inconvenient it can be at times. Use only the right hand to eat food.
When eating with fingers, clean them in the water bowl provided for the purpose.
Wait until everyone has finished eating before you go to wash your hands.
If using a spoon and fork leave them backside up as a sign you have had enough.
Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors.
Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.
Toasting is not a common practice in Indonesia
The country’s large Muslim population does not drink alcohol.
Don’t touch heads of males, females and even children, as it is considered offensive in the country
Placing the hands on the hips, even casually, is a sign of arrogance or anger.
The whole of the right hand is used for gestures to another person.
It is rude to place one’s feet in such a way that the soles are facing another person.
Don’t point at things with your feet.
Take off your shoes when visiting some one’s home.
If you visit someone’s house, you may be asked if you have already eaten. “Sudah Makan?” The polite answer is “Sudah” (Already).
But if a meal is spontaneously provided, it is impolite to refuse.
When leaving, it is polite to thank the wife, even if she has spent all evening in the kitchen.
And if a single woman is at home, one is expected to politely turn down an invitation to come in.
Avoid visiting Moslem homes during prayer times.
Men touching men and women touching women is commonplace and completely acceptable, but touching between the sexes is rarely done in public.
Don’t throw things to anyone. It is more polite to hand it over, even if it means moving.
“Dress up” when visiting Government Offices. Use shoes, long trousers and shirt with collar. Short sleeves are ok. Women should not show their shoulders.
On the beach, nudity is not in line with religious beliefs. Western style swimsuits are considered outrageous. Please be modest. Use shorts when swimming. Women are better off using a t-shirt.
Transport in Batam
The main ports on Batam are Batam Centre, Sekupang, Waterfront City, Nongsapura and Telaga Punggur. Harbor Bay is now the principle international ferry port for these heading for Nagoya, replacing the outdated Batu Ampar ferry terminal. Batam Center Ferry Terminal has essentially the most frequent ferry connections to/from Singapore and Johor Bahru. Sekupang, with ferries from Singapore is finest used for those catching home connections to the Sumatra mainland and the Karimun Islands. Waterfront City and Nongsapura principally serve adjacent resorts while Telaga Punggur is the primary ferry terminal for boats to and from Bintan.
To/From Singapore: Ferries departing from the Harbourfront Ferry Terminal go to Batam Centre, Sekupang and Waterfront City (Teluk Senimba) while ferries from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal serve Nongsapura.
To/From Karimun Island: Common ferries function between Tanjung Balai on Karimun and Sekupang. Some of the ferries originate from the Sumatra mainland or Kundur Island. Boats also cease at Tanjung Balai when going from Sekupang to Sumatra or Kundur.
To/From Dumai: Several corporations, including Dumai Express operate several ferries daily to/from Sekupang. Most of these ferries originate from Tanjung Pinang, the main city on Bintan, and also make a cease at Tanjung Balai on Karimun Island after making a cease at Sekupang.
To/From Kundur Island: Several ferry corporations run every day between Sekupang and Tanjung Batu on Kundur. These ferries also make a stop at Tanjung Balai on Karimun on the route. Different ferry locations embrace Pekanbaru, Selat Panjang, Bengkalis and Tanjung Buton in Riau, and Kuala Tungkal in Jambi province.
From different region of Indonesia: Pelni ships which serve varied ports throughout Indonesia name at Sekupang.
With Plane, Batam’s busy regional airport is a global gateway to Indonesia by air as it already is by sea. The airport offers connections to many Indonesian cities, including to Jakarta, Pekanbaru, Bandung, Medan and other secondary cities.
Batam’s airport is the Hang Nadim International Airport (BTH). Practically all flights are domestic where you may get direct connections to Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Pekanbaru, Jambi, Palembang and Bandung. Indonesian carriers Merpati, Riau Airways, Kartika Airways and a number of others provide the links.
There are also flights to and from Subang Airport in Malaysia by Firefly Airlines. Flights every 3 days a week .
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.
There are many taxis in Batam however none of them charge utilizing the meter. There is no such thing as a standard price for the taxis in Batam. The taxi drivers are desperate for customers so that you at all times have the bargaining option. You might merely make the price half and sometimes even less.
They may ask you about Rp. 100.000 but simply say Rp. 40.000 or Rp. 50.000. And then walk on if they don’t agree. They will automatically come to you. The taxi conditions are not that good so don’t expect seat belts and a smooth ride.
Sample fares for reference: Telaga Punggur to Batam Center (Rp. 60.000, 25 min). Nagoya to HarbourBay ferry terminal at Batu Ampar (Rp. 20.000, 8 min). Sekupang to Batam Center (Rp. 50.000).
By Minibus (Metro Trans)
Fixed route plies between Jodoh and Telaga Punggur (Rp. 3.000 – Rp. 4.000). Sample fares for other destinations are as follows:
- Jodoh to Sembulang via Sukajadi Rp. 9.500
- Jodoh to Galang Baru via Sukajadi Rp. 12.000
- Dapur 12 to Mukakuning Rp. 3.000
- Dapur 12 to Jodoh via Sukajadi Rp. 4.000
By Bus & Car
Recently, Batam local government (known as Otorita Batam) started a bus service known as “Bus Pilot Project”. The blue color bus plies between Batam Center and Batu Aji for Rp. 3.000. 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 color) from Megamall Batam Center to the major hotels in Nagoya or Jodoh.
Toyota Kijang and Avanza, 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.
Do i need any Visa Entry to Batam?
Visa-free entry countries (effective 19 Nov 2015)
Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China (PRC), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia,
Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana,Greece, Hongkong SAR, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan.
Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman.
Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America.
Vatican, Venezuela, Vietnam.
Are given visa-free entry facility for maximum of 30 days
Countries / Nationals that require Visa-on-arrival (VOA) are as follows:
Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Libya
The visa on arrival is USD 15 for maximum stay 7 days per entry and USD 35 for maximum stay 30 days per entry
Countries/ Nationals NOT listed above are required to apply visa at Indonesia Embassy in your respective country.
As Batam is located approximately 1 degree north of the equator, it is a tropical environment, with a year round temperature range of 24 deg C to 33 deg C (75 deg F to 92 deg F). The monsoon season is from November through to February, during which time it can rain quite heavily on an almost daily basis. The weather is very humid, so it can take some getting used to if you are from a cooler climate.
Electricity Power point
The electricity supply voltage is 220 volts, 50 Hz single phase power. The plugs and sockets used are 2 pin or 3 pin, and use the British standard of plug. Plug and socket adaptors are readily available in shops, you can get multi-combination plug adaptors which will take almost all types of plugs from the many different standards across the world. If you have appliances from the USA (which use 110 volts) you may need to purchase a small transformer adaptor to use here.
2 Pin Plug
3 Pin Plug
3 Pin Socket Outlet
Combination Plug Adaptor
Telephone Area Code Numbers / Cell Phones
The currency used in Batam is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) and is commonly abbreviated to Rp. It comes in notes of Rp1,000, Rp5,000, Rp10,000, Rp20,000, Rp50,000 and Rp100,000. Singapore dollars (SGD) and United States dollars (USD) are also widely accepted in many of the hotels, shops and restaurants. Money changers, banks and hotels can exchange foreign currency for Rupiah, you usually get the best rate from the money changers. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants in Batam.
Telephone Area Code Numbers / Cell Phones
The Country code for Indonesia is 62 and the area code for Batam is 778. Therefore if you are calling to Batam from another country you would dial as in this example:
001 62 778 123 456
If calling from within Batam to a Batam phone number you only need to dial the number as in this example:
Cell phones are very common in Batam; here they are called a “hand phone” or simply “hp”. You can purchase a pre-paid SIM card for your hand phone so you do not need to pay expensive roaming charges. The card can be topped up by buying pre-paid phone cards in denominations of Rp50,000 or Rp100,000. Simply follow the instructions on the card (it is written in English and Indonesian) to top up your credit. When calling from a hand phone to another hand phone you need to include the country code as in this example:
+62 812 1234 5678
or when calling from a hand phone to a land line phone you need to include the country code and area code as in this example:
+62 778 123 456
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