Batam compared to Bintan is the less commercialsed of the two Indonesia cities most nearby to Singapore. It recently experienced a revival of sorts with many reasonable groupon offers that drove Singaporeans to batam in the boat loads.
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Batam is a good place for a relaxing, short holiday, the sort where you can get away from hectic life for a day or two. When I went there with my family, it was during the weekends. We took a ferry there, and the ride was only about forty to forty- five minutes. We stayed in the Montigo Resort, and their service is real good!
When we arrived, they greeted us with ice lemon tea, and we rode on a buggy to our resort. The resort is huge, there’s a pool, and even wii controls! You can request any wii games, and as long as it’s not taken up by other people, it’s free! The master bedroom looks nice and spacious, and the bathroom has a nice tub for bubble baths. However, the floor was kind of grubby, and the soles of my feet were black after walking about the house for the whole day.
All in all, I enjoyed my stay in Batam, and I think I’ll be going again in the future!
My group of friends and I had been clamouring for an overseas since a year ago. We planned this trip three months beforehand and departed for Batam just one day after the end of our A Levels examination. Besides marking the start of regaining our "life" from studying, this vacation is also the first one we are taking with friends for most of us. Understandably, we were really psyched!
Batam is a short 45 min trip from Singapore by boat and it is an island around three-quarter the size of Singapore. To give a better idea of the overall experience, I shall split this review into sections.
Having a meal in Batam is really inexpensive. One of the things that this group of friends enjoy most is eating and the average eater in our group eats around one and a half times that of an average Singaporean. No joke! Despite that, our expenditure on food is surprisingly little. Because of how enthusiastic one of us is about food, we scoured and planned our meal places, which included a roadside hawker centre and a seaside seafood restaurant. At the seafood restaurant, we ordered a total of 2 lobsters, 2 crabs and 4 fishes, all of which were really good and fresh, and it only cost S$120, which makes it $15 each for the 8 of us! That's a real steal! Contrary to popular belief (what I hear from my other friends and family members), hygiene isn't that huge of an issue and none of us fell ill throughout or after the trip.
I can't speak for every hotel or resort in Batam, but only the one we stayed in - Nongsa Point Marina. The service is good and so is the hospitality. There is a swimming pool, a bar, a cosy lounge but no gym. Situated near the beach, we got to view the scenery, which is honestly, pretty unbelievable and unbelievably pretty. It was a scene I thought only holiday commercials depicted and seeing it in real life was really amazing!
Everyone we interacted with showed commendable degrees of hospitality (except for the immigration officers, duh!), which made us feel welcomed. I somehow feel that every emotion they show is heartfelt, instead of some form of feigned sincerity. It's hard to explain, but it seems like everyone there loved what they were doing for a living. Perhaps the distinction with the general opinion of a Singaporean was what made me feel that way, but it was something that I feel was palpable in my three day vacation.
In terms of infrastructure, goods and services, Batam is respectably tourist-friendly. It is quite expected of an island in which economy is largely dependent on tourism. It is good in a sense that most Singaporeans will be able to find some form of familiarity because of the existence of chain fast food restaurants and common brands. The flip-side to that is there is little chance to be immersed in the Indonesian culture. Granted, Batam isn't the place to go for experiencing culture, but still, I expected this trip to enlighten me more in the cultural aspect. As for language, Bahasa Indonesia is most commonly used. Most of the locals do not know English and there is a considerably steep language barrier. Good thing one of us is an Indonesian, and he pretty much took the job of being our full-time translator for the three days. I recommend those who are going Batam to go with an Indonesian friend, or learn a few handy phrases in Bahasa Indonesia. Just a head up for those who are expecting their amateurish proficiency in Malay to suffice, you'll need more than that. I learnt it the hard way when I had to resort to making ambiguous hand signals.
*Fun fact: Bahasa Indonesia isn't exactly the same as the language we commonly know as Malay.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed my trip there. I have to admit that my friends and I aren't the sightseeing type of people and we find more pleasure in just relishing around and shopping instead of visiting places of cultural significance (not that there is many to visit in the first place). I recommend it to people who are interested in going on a short vacation and/or have pretty tight budgets (around $300).