Forming part of Indonesia’s Riau Islands, Batam lies just across the Singapore Strait from Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. It was originally inhabited by Malays in the 3rd century and has flourished as an industrial hub within the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle. Batam is ringed by golden beaches and connected to neighbouring Rempang and Galang islands by a series of small bridges.
Things to do in Batam Island
One of Batam’s most important religious landmarks is the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya, a sprawling Buddhist temple that encompasses 4.5 hectares. It’s dotted with hundreds of Buddha statues and carvings of the 12 zodiac signs and houses a vegetarian cafe. Join the devotees burning incense for good luck in the Graha Maitreya before strolling through the monastery grounds.
For a day on the sand, head to Nongsa Beach, which lies on the north-east coast of Batam Island. Backed by swaying palms, it’s the perfect spot for a refreshing swim and boasts several eateries serving drinks and snacks. Nestled behind the beach is the Palm Springs Golf Club, which is considered one of the most challenging golf courses in Southeast Asia.
In the late afternoon, head to Tengku Fisabilillah, a cable-stayed bridge that is particularly photogenic at sunset. It links Batam Island with neighbouring Rempang Island, home to the Batam Botanical Garden. Continue heading south to Galang Island to visit Camp Vietnam, which tells the story of the Vietnamese who fled their country by boat and settled here during the war.
Getting around Batam Island
Hang Nadim International Airport is the main aviation gateway to Batam and has flights to destinations across Indonesia. Regular ferries connect between Batam and Singapore Harbour Front, as well as to Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Buses and minibuses travel around the island while taxis are readily available for getting around.