Going on holiday is Singaporeans' favourite past-time, and sometimes it can seem like the further and more exotic the destination, the better. Except that your wallet will be squealing in pain each time you take out your credit card to book that flight to Iceland or Peru. But those who are broke but in-need-of-a-holiday can now turn to Batam.
Now, before you sneer and turn away, know that there's more to do in Batam than hang around some resort or go for massages. Here are six reasons Batam makes a great weekend getaway destination.
1. Batam tour packages are more affordable than ever in 2017
Indonesia's Tourism Ministry has decided to put more effort into luring Singaporean tourists to Batam.
As a result, it's now cheaper than ever to visit. For instance, those who buy a tour package from a selection of about 250 packages get return ferry tickets from Singapore to Batam for $20 instead of $48. The offer is good till the end of 2017.
The packages tend to include accommodation as well as other activities such as golfing and spas.
2. You can enjoy water sports for cheap
Fans of water sports such as wakeboarding, kayaking, jet skiing and cable skiing should make a beeline for Batam, as it's generally much cheaper to enjoy all these activities there than in Singapore, or Bintan for that matter, which has practically become a Singaporean tourist trap.
You might also be able to find a tour package which includes your activity of choice. For instance, some packages include a day at the Batam Cable-ski Park, as well as accommodation and transportation to the park.
3. It's a great place for seafood
While many Singaporean visitors don't even leave their hotels, you should take a cab to the atmospheric open-air Windsor Food Court, where you can pig out on seafood, including the super popular salted egg crab with man tou, at much lower prices that you'd pay in Singapore.
There are quite a few other famous food spots in Batam, such as Nagoya Hill Food Street, Harbour Bay Food Court and A2 Food Court, as well as restaurants and cafes in malls such as Batam City Square and Mega Mall Batam Centre. There are also numerous famous seafood restaurants such as Golden Prawn Restaurant and Rezeki Seafood Restaurant.
4. It's a cheap place to play golf
Want to practise your golf swing but can't afford an exorbitant country club membership in Singapore? Then head to Batam on a daytrip or weekend golf package. These packages will take care of your ferry transfer, transportation to the golf course and, if you wish to stay overnight, accommodation.
There are many golf courses including Indah Puri, Padang Golf Sukajadi, Palmsprings, South Links, Tering Bay and Tamarin. If you're really nuts about golf you might want to consider an annual membership - some clubs such as Tering Bay will let you have a membership for as little as $1,500 a year.
5. Check out some temples and mosques
For those hoping for a more cultural experience, Batam has some interesting temples and mosques that you might want to visit in between eating, getting massages and shopping.
Masjid Raya in Batam Centre has an unusual pyramid-shapped roof, while the Dua Pek Kong temple in Nagoya is very colourful and worth a look too. Batam Centre is also home to the sprawling Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Temple and Monastery.
6. Check out the stilt houses
Some of Batam's fishing communities still live in kelongs. Venture along the coast and you might find some of these rickety stilt houses suspended over the water.
While there are several kelongs to choose from, one of the more well known ones is Tanjung Uma. You can rent a river taxi, which will be propelled by the leg power a local fisherman, for less than a dollar, to enjoy a tour of the village.
Have you ever been to Batam? Share your experiences in the comments!