DEVELOPED PARTS OF RIAU PROVINCE ACCESSIBLE TO SINGAPORE

BATAM ISLAND

Batam Island (accessible by a 20 minute ferry from Singapore) has developed very rapidly in recent years. It has been declared a free trade zone and bridges connect it with Rempang Island and Galalng island. Great effort has been to attract foreign investors and turn the islands into a major industrial area, serving Singapore, but thus far thing have not happened as planned. An effort has also been made to attract tourists. There are a number of golf courses in the north side of the island, but usually industry and tourism don’t mix.

Ferries run frequently between Singapore and Batam Island. There are regular boat connections to Pekanbaru, where flights can be caught all over Indonesia. Prices are higher in Batam than they are elsewhere in Indonesia. Nagoya the main town has a large number of prostitutes and the highest AIDS-HIV infection rate in Indonesia.

Batam is one of the 3,000 islands, which make up the Riau Archipelago and is closest to Singapore, which is only 20 kilometers away or twenty minutes by air-conditioned ferry. It has a rapid-growing population of almost 1 million and has developed into a major industrial and tourist area, attracting an ever-increasing population from other Indonesian islands who see Batam as a haven of opportunity. Once almost uninhabited, save for a few scattered fishing communities, Batam's history took a sharp turn beginning 1969, when it became support base for the State-owned 'Pertamina oil company' 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 bonded area.

In addition to the oil support industries of Batu Ampar and a fast growing electronics industry, Batam now attracts increasing numbers of tourists. Many come from Singapore for a short holiday with friends and family, duty-free shopping and great seafood. The visitors to Singapore generally hop over for a day or weekend trip.

Development on Batam Island

Batam, which is about two-thirds the size of Singapore, developing in leaps and bounds and fits and starts. Where virgin jungle once stood are now whole new towns, mosques, churches, temples and supermarkets, soon to be followed by reservoirs with enough water to supply a population of 800,000 and for industrial use, an airport-to become envisioned as international gateway, a telecommunication system, well equipped industrial parks and the beginnings of a large new urban center. International standard hotels cater to the expanding demand for accommodation.

Peter Gwin wrote in National Geographic: “If Singapore, just seven miles (11 kilometers) to the north with its glittering skyline and robust economy, is Southeast Asia’s Cinderella, Batam is her dark sister. The two are located across from each other where the Malacca Strait feeds into the smaller Singapore Strait, and a ceaseless parade of ships, more than a thousand a week, passes between them. Most do business in Singapore, home to one of the world’s preeminent free ports and expanding financial and technology sectors. [Source: Peter Gwin, National Geographic, October 2007]

“In the 1980s Indonesia tried to mimic Singapore’s success and began to transform Batam, one of the Riau islands off Sumatra’s eastern coast, from a malaria-ridden fishing outpost into a tariff-free zone for entrepreneurs. Developers carved golf courses out of jungles and built casinos to lure tourists from Malaysia and Singapore. Investors backed factories and strip malls, office parks and apartment blocks. Indonesians flocked to boomtown Batam to find work. The island became a hub for maritime brokers, who hired sailors for shipping companies.

“Batam, however, lacked Singapore’s strict rule of law. Patronage and corruption took hold, and the island quickly became a haven for an exotic assortment of gangsters, smugglers, prostitutes, and pirates. Illegally harvested timber, embezzled diesel fuel, stolen cars, drugs, weapons, and poached animals moved through its ports. Droves of Singaporean men ferried over on weekends to visit the growing number of brothels filled with impoverished girls. Meanwhile, some of the maritime brokers quietly engaged in their own side business: recruiting pirates for Asian crime syndicates. In 1997 the boom went bust when the Asian financial crisis hit. The investment money evaporated from Batam, leaving the island littered with abandoned construction sites. Unemployment rose, driving more people to the black economy. Though in the past couple of years investors had begun returning, the island still harbored a large class of residents who could only be described as desperate.”

Tourism on Batam Island

Batam, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Singapore or 40 minutes boat ride away, is popular with Singaporeans for its cheap seafood, resorts, shopping and variety of golf courses. At least 100,000 Singaporeans visit the island every month. Many head there for a weekend tryst, giving Batam the reputation as the place where Singaporean men go to have romps with nubile girls.

The island of Batam today is the third busiest entry port to Indonesia next to Bali and Jakarta. After years of hectic development, Batam now boasts six ferry terminals, wide roads criss-crossing the island, an international airport and clusters of industries, hotels and housing estates. Although Batam, Bintan and the Karimun islands are designated an industrial free trade zone, yet there are still plenty of wide open spaces and hundreds of large and small untouched islands in the Riau archipelago where one can escape, albeit with some effort or money, for trekking, diving, snorkeling and fishing. Shoppers tend to congregate Nagoya Superblock with its 450 kiosks and 170 shops with a Hypermarket on Nagoya Hill.

Batam has six golf courses, a large number of good hotels for businessmen in Nagoya town, beach resorts and Spas at Nongsa, and shopping malls galore. One of the well-known Golf Course is the Palm Springs Golf and Country Club, which is conviniently located only 2 minutes away from Batam's Nongsapura Ferry Terminal. Batam’s own Nongsa Point Marina has berthing facilities for yachts, and sailing and diving facilities for those wishing to explore Riau’s many islands.

The island of Batam itself is connected by six large modern bridges- known as the Barelang bridges - to the islands of Rempang and Galang to its south. On Galang are remnants of the Vietnamese Refugee camp now a museum to the struggles for survival that the Vietnamese had gone through, leaving their country in small, cramped boats to escape brutalities at home.

At Telunas beach on Sugi island, already in the Karimun archipelago, an idyllic resort offers groups of visitors the exhilarating experience of living on a remote island, away from the noise of civilization to listen to the sounds of nature. Here rooms built on stilts overlook blue-green waters. Explore the jungle, enjoy the serenity of white sandy beaches and return home completely invigorated. See telunasbeach.com

Getting to and Around Batam Island

The easiest way to travel around in Batam is by taxi or rent a car which are best called from the hotel’s desk, or have a travel agency arrange your stay and transportation in Batam. Public buses are rare.

Ferries at Batam: The island of Batam has six ferry terminals, they are at Sekupang, Waterfront City, Batam Center, Harbour Bay, Nongsapura and Telaga Punggur. Batam Center receives the most ferries from Singapore and Johor. Ferries to Harbour Bay carry passengers wishing to go to Nagoya, Batam’s business centre, while the terminals at Waterfront City and Nongsa serve mostly tourists visiting resorts. At Sekupang are ferries that ply between Batam and the main island of Sumatra and to the Karimun islands. While Telaga Punggur is the terminal for ferries plying between Batam and Tanjung Pinang on Bintan island.

There are frequent daily ferries connecting Singapore’s Tanah Merah port with Batam as well as between Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and Batam. The journey takes about 45 minutes and there wonderful views Batam Fast and Penguin Ferry provide ferry services between Singapore and Batam Island while Berlian Ferries provide numerous daily ferries to Harbour Bay, formerly better known as Batu Ampar. For information call the Harbour bay Counter at +62 741 5100, or +65 6272 0501 at the Singapore Counter. For Singapore side ferry departure and arrival check; singaporecruise.com/ferryschedule.aspx

By Plane: Batam’s Hang Nadim’s international airport, located in the eastern part of the island, receives mainly domestic flights direct from Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Pekanbaru, Jambi, Palembang and Bandung. Airlines serving Batam are: Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara, Mandala Airlines, Lion Air, Indonesia Air Asia, Batavia Air and Sriwijaya Air .

Restaurants, Shopping, Nightlife and Food at Batam Island

Freshly caught seafood at inexpensive prices is the main appeal of Batam. Dining options here are amazingly varied. Moreover, there’s fine dining, seafood, fast food, local specialties, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other nationalities and even vegetarian restaurants — you name it, and it can likely be found. Most of the upscale restaurants, particularly international ones, are usually found in the starred hotels. Fast food, Peking duck, steak, and pizza can all be found on Batam.

At Nongsa you can eat in a "kelong," a restaurant built over the sea on stilts. In Nagoya visitors and locals mingle at the night markets or the Pujasera Nagoya food center for traditional Indonesian food. At the Harbour Bay you can eat your favourite food in the open air along the sea front.

Popular offerings include chilli crabs, king prawns, steamed or barbecued fish, and the unique gong-gong sea snails, which can only be found in the waters of the Riau Islands. Best eaten steamed, the meat is fished out from the shell using a toothpick and dipped in ‘sambal’ (locally-made chilli sauce).

At Nagoya, the major city center of Batam, are shops, restaurants, hotels, spas, dance clubs, karaoke, cinema bars, music lounges and shopping plazas. The Lucky Plaza and Jodoh Square. have shops and boutiques selling Indonesian art and crafts, duty free goods, and branded luxury items. Nagoya at night lights up as entertainment facilities spring to life. Nagoya has theaters showing the latest Hollywood movies.

For duty free shopping go to Batam’s own Nagoya, the commercial center of Batam. Here are shops, restaurants, hotels, spas, dance clubs, karaokes, cinema bars, music lounges, shopping centers and plazas. Shopping malls are available mostly in Batam are at Nagoya, Waterfront City and Batam Centre. The most popular on Batam are the DC Mall, Lucky Plaza, center Point, Batam center Mall, Robinson & Ramayana, and Megamall. The Nagoya Super Block shopping complex features several modern shopping malls within one compound. In this pedestrian area, there are 450 kiosks and 170 shops with a Hypermarket on Nagoya Hill. The Nagoya area is located at Sudirman and Yos Sudarso Streets, Jodoh sub-district, Batam, Indonesia.

Golf, Activities and Sightseeing on Batam Island

There are six beautiful golf courses located just on Batam Island alone. The Indah Puri Golf Resort is set in greenery and ringed by water, and is designed by renowned golf architect Ronald Fream. Each of the 18 holes of the championship course is distinctive with its own special character.

The Palm Spring Golf and Beach Resort ranks as one of Batam’s most popular courses with three nine-hole layouts. The Batam Hills Golf Resort has an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Pro Max Wexler. It is part of the Waterfront City development that includes housing, a marina club, campsites and cable skiing. The Clubhouse has picnic and barbecue areas, karaoke lounge, saunas, squash and tennis courts, jungle and jogging treks, and a swimming pool. Other facilities on the island include the Southlinks Country Club and the Tering Bay Golf & Country Club.

Seeing the Barelang Filsabillah Bridges is a must for any visitor to this island. The icon and pride of Batam, especially the first bridge is beautifully designed, and constructed entirely by Indonesian engineers, connecting Batam with the island of Tonton Nipah. The height of this bridge is 38 meters, and is 642 meters long. There are six bridges in all connecting Batam with Rempang and Galang to its south giving one the feeling as if the Barelang islands are one large island.

When you proceed to Galang island, here you will find the Vietnamese Refugee Camp. Here are the Ngha Trang Memorial Wall in tribute to the boat people of Vietnam, and the Galang Museum. Another Batam feature is the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya, one of the largest Buddhist temples in South East Asia which draws thousands of devotees and visitors daily.

At the Padepokan Seni art center in Sekupang you can see arts and crafts from all over Indonesia, as well as various kinds of performances that are staged every day for visitors and tourists. Desa Seni, is an art village built to maintain, conserve and develop Indonesian culture in Batam, and to manage a cultural institute where qualified instructors conduct various shows and courses.

Coastarina, in Pasir Putih, Batam Center, Batam, is an amusement area opened in 2009 with a giant merry go around and other amusements of children Coastarina is a big area with a clean beach at which you can enjoy water sports such as swimming and banana boating. The area also provides a stage for certain ceremonies.

Abang Island

Abang Island (about 50 kilometers south of Muka-Kuning, Batam Island) is surrounded by many other small islands, most of which are conservation areas for coral reefs. The main island of Abang only measures around 10 square kilometers. With relatively shallow waters — around 15 to 18 meters deep it is a good place for scuba diving and snorkeling. The landscape of Abang Island is still pristine with hills dominated by granite rocks. Most of the shores are covered by mangrove forests. Blue Coral is found in the waters along fish such as Selar, Lencing, Red Snapper, Red Sand Fish, Blow Fish, Pinang, and many others.

Abang Island is inhabited by approximately 400 people in 100 families. Combined with its neighbouring islands, the total number of inhabitants can reach 1.200 persons in 300 households. The settlements at the western part of the island are denser compared to the north. Most of their houses are located around the beach and constructed following the coastline. Most residents are fishermen or traders. With all the diving and snorkeling that you will do, seafood is obviously the main highlight when it comes to dining. Smoked crabs, boiled shells, and various kinds of fish can be found in several warungs or food stalls on Abang.

Some of the houses in the fishing villages on Abang Island offer homestays. Prices vary, and can be quite low if you have good bargaining skills. The best time to come to Abang Island is from March to August, and from September to November. In these months, the currents are known to be the calmest. The drive from Batam to Barelang Bridge takes about 1½ hours. From there, the journey continues using motorized boats, which the locals call Bot Pompong on the River Burdusto Abang Island which is about 12 kilometers away

There are nine dive sites in the area. The three main ones are at Pulau Abang Besar, Ranuh Island, and Pengalap Island. To reach these spots you can take fast boats from Galang Baru Island. Besides diving and snorkeling, there are also several spots which are favorites among fishing enthusiasts.

Galang Island: the Vietnamese Safe Haven

Galang Island (50 kilometers from Batam Center) was a refuge for thousands of Vietnamese boat people, refugees who left their country following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. They came here by boat in alarming conditions, often 40 to 100 refugees cramped into one small boat. Some floated for months in the South China Sea and were repeatedly rejected at other ports. Some died. But many managed to reach Indonesian territory including Galang Island, Tanjung Pinang, and nearby other islands.

The United Nations and the Indonesian Government made Galang a temporary safe haven before refugees were processed for resettling in other countries. Many Vietnamese in America, Europe and Australia were settled here first. Many stayed at Galang Island for years and built houses of worship, a school for their children and a cemetery to bury the dead. The last refugee left in 1996. Today, former refugee camp is a tourist site. Visitors can see a church and a temple built during that era, which are still well-maintained and can be used by tourists. There is replica of one of the small boats used by the refugees to cross the seas to escape their homeland. The Quan An Tu Monastery, built in 1984, is the island's most visited attraction.

You will get a clear explanation about the daily life of the refugees by visiting a building previously used as a UNHCR office. In this building, you can see pictures of thousands of refugees who once lived on the island. You can also see pictures of incidences incured by the Vietnamese during their time here. This building is now used as a reception office and information center for visitors.

No hotel is available on Galang Island. No restaurant or food stall is available around this tourist site. Restaurants and food stalls are only available in Barelang, Batam Center and Nagoya. To reach this island, take a ferry to any of the Batam’s six ferry terminals. Batam’s Hang Nadim airport serves domestic flights from many cities in Indonesia. See: To get there for Batam island. The Vietnam refugee camp is located in Sijantung village on Galang Island.

Karimun Islands: Guardians of the Straits of Malacca

The Karimun Islands (west of Singapore and Batam) are regarded both as a guard post of the Straits of Malacca and a hiding place for pirates. Capital of the Karimun Islands district in the Riau Islands (Kepri), is Tanjung Balai, a busy medium town largely built on stilts, with a significant Chinese Peranakan population. Here are found a number of Chinese temples, oldest of which is the Vihara Cetiya Vidya Sagara at Jalan Jenderal A. Yani at Meral, built in 1926. Others along the same street are the Vihara Bodhi Maitreya.an the Vihara Sasana Diepa. Further away at Jalan Athena is the Klenteng Tua Pek Kong. With more people visiting the islands for trade, investment and tourism, Karimun now has also a number of good hotels.

With trade and investments mounting fast in this region, it comes as no surprise, therefore, that this once sleepy town has become a hive of activities, although still retaining its coastal rural character. But, to enjoy rural life on this tropical Indonesian island, you need to get away from Tanjung Balai and go to some local village or “kampung” at Meral or Pasir Panjang.

For holiday makers, the islands of Karimun offer long stretches of white beaches, snorkeling opportunities, and of course succulent seafood dishes of fish, crabs, prawns and oysters all freshly caught from the sea. The nearby Terkulai and Soreh are popular holiday islands, while Palawan Beach and Pongkar Beach offer white sandy beaches ideal for watersports and relaxation under the palm trees. The island of Telunas in Karimun has also been developed into a holiday resort, a favorite with Singapore expatriates and students.

Ferries connect Singapore, Johor in Malaysia, Batam and Bintan with Tanjung Balai Karimun. From Singapore, ferry operators Penguin and Indofalcon operate 4 trips daily from Singapore’s Harbour Front center to Tanjung Balai. Tickets cost S$63 excluding Singapore and Indonesian port taxes. From Tanjung Balai the ferry ticket costs Rp. 65,000 excluding port tax. The journey takes one and a half hours.Since both companies code-share, Singapore ticket holders can board any ferry between the two on your return leg from Tanjung Balai to Singapore. But if you have bought your ticket in Tanjung Balai, this will be valid only on the ferry of the company from which you bought the ticket. For details and booking call: Penguin at penguin.com.sg/, Tel: +62-777-324300 in Tanjung Balai) or +65-62714866 at the Harbour Front For Indofalcon, indofalcon.com.sg/, call Tel: +65-62783167 at Singapore’s Harbour Front

From Malaysia, ferries to Karimun leave from Kukup in Johor. MV Ocean Indoma ferries leave Kukup at 11.45 and 17.00 hrs. From Tanjung Balai, ferries leave at 09.30 and 14,30 hrs. There is now a new ferry service from Batu Pahat, Johor to Tanjung Balai Karimun. The new ferry service is operated by Esnergy Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. (Tel. +60-7-4288181 in Batu Pahat and, +62-777-324355 in Tanjung Balai). The fare is Rp. 170,000 one way or Rp. 240,000 return excluding Rp. 10,000 port tax. There are also regular ferry services from Batam and Bintan islands.

Beaches on the Karimun Islands

Palawan Beach can be reached within 30 minutes by car or motorbike from the center of Tanjung Balai. Palawan has a long white sandy beach, where are available small restaurants. Palawan is a favorite haunt for local and foreign visitors especially during weekends.

Pongkar Island is located in Pongkar village, Tebing sub-district, Tanjung Balai Karimun. This 100 hectare (approx. 247 acres) beach has beautiful scenery, with white sand and blue seawater. Pongkar Beach is another long stretch of beach in the subdistrict of Tebing. The coast is ideal for fishing, sailing and other kinds of watersports. Pongkar is also only half an hour away by car or taxi from the town center of Tanjung Balai. Here is also a stage for cultural performances. Pongkar Island is located in Pongkar village, Tebing sub-district, Tanjung Balai Karimun. This 100 hectare (approx. 247 acres) beach has beautiful scenery, with white sand and blue seawater.

Sawang Beach is only 30 minutes by car from the town of Tanjung Batu. Besides enjoying the beach, visit the village of Sawang to see the local way of life of the fishermen, which is an attraction by itself. Sawang is also famous for its salted duck eggs.

Lubuk Beach is located in the subdistrict of Kundur. The beach is further away, and it will take about one hour to reach from Tanjung Batu by car or taxi. Different from the other beaches on Karimun, on Lubuk Beach are large picturesque rocks on the beach — not unlike the beach at Bintan island - among which grow mangrove trees. Here is also a sacred cemetery built by a Singaporean.

Besides beaches, Karimun also has a waterfall to visit. The Pongkar waterfall is hidden amongst a protected forest area near Palawan Beach and has a recreation park located close to Gunung Jantan. Come to Pongkar waterfall, climb to the top and take a dip into its refreshing cool pool after an active hike of sightseeing, then enjoy a yummy barbecue while watching the waters rush down below.

Bintan Island

Bintan Island (accessible from Singapore) is nicer than Batam and is the largest of Riau’ islands. Yes there is development but the island is bigger and is easier to get away from it, plus there is more charming stuff like an old town, some nice beaches, Chinese temples and traditional villages. Trips to some placed can be organized on sampans Tanjung Pinang (on Bintan island) is the main town in Raiau Island is mainly a way station between Indonesia and Singapore. The old part of town sits on stilts overhanging the water.

Bintan is the home of a $2.5 billion resort and a $10 billion development project undertaken by Indonesia and Singapore and lead by the Salim Group. Indonesia's biggest conglomerate, The development area covers 23,000 hectares on the north coast of the island. The resort features lovely white sand beaches, clear waters, rich marine life. The Bintan Lagoon golf and tennis restort has an 18-hole golf course, a 416-room hotel, a leisure center and 10 restaurants. The resorts attract about 250,000 visitors a year. The developers hope the resort will attract 1 million visitors in the not too distant future.

The resort, Bintan Resorts, et along a long sandy white beach that faces the South China Sea, is Bintan’s chief tourist attraction. The island also has interesting historic remains in Tanjung Pinang and Penyengat, and offers plenty opportunities for surfing, adventure and ecotours for schools and family, but is also ideal for relaxation and wellness.

Bintan has complete accommodation facilities including hotels and resorts at Bintan Resort but also in Tanjung Pinang and around the island For more information on the many resorts in Bintan. Most overseas visitors to Bintan enter by ferry. There are frequent services between Singapore’s Tanah Merah ferry terminal to Lagoi’s Bandar Bentan Telani terminal as well as between Singapore and Tanjung Pinang’s Sri Bintan Pura ferry terminal. For details on Singapore departures and arrivals click: singaporecruise.com/ferryschedule.aspx There are also frequent ferries from Batam to Lagoi, as well as between Batam and Tanjung Pinang. For Ferries to Tanjung Pinang from Singapore, contact: Falcon at +65 6542 6786, Penguin ferries, Tel. +65 65427105; Berlian/Wavemaster ferries, Tel. +65 67869959 For Ferries from Johor Bahru contact: +607 221 1577 Bintan has a relatively small airport at Tanjung Pinang served by Sriwijaya Air from Jakarta.

Seafood is a special treat in the Riau Islands. Freshly caught and reasonably priced seafood is served in quaint restaurants on stilts, called Kelong - overlooking the sea, in street stalls or in posh restaurants.Try the delicious chilli crab, steamed fish, or drunken prawn. The specialty of Bintan is the "Gong Gong" or Pearl conch (Strombus canarium) which can be found only around Bintan and Batam Islands. The huge wet market that is usually teeming with people is definitely worth a visit. It is a true bargains galore for almost everything especially fresh seafood.

Sights and Activities on Bintan Island

On Bitan Island, there are seven international class hotels and 5 fantastic golf courses, some of the best in Asia. Two courses are located at Bintan Lagoon Resort, which is world renowned for its exceptionally designed championship 18-hole golf courses. The Jack Nicklaus Sea View Golf course and Ian Baker-Finch Woodlands Golf course, both offering spectacular signature holes, fast greens, undulating fairways and scenic water hazards. Other courses include the Laguna Bintan Golf Club, and one located at the Ria Bintan Resort. The 27 hole Ria Bintan Championship Golf Course was awarded Asia’s Best Golf Course in 2008.

On the west coast of Bintan lies the town of Tanjung Pinang, once a quiet town, now the province’s busy capital. Here you can still find quaint houses built on stilts at Senggarang. There are Buddhist temples on Senggarang, including an old temple embraced by the roots of a large banyan tree.

Across the Bay, within 15 minutes boat ride from Tanjung Pinang is the small island of Penyengat, once the seat of the Queen of the Johor-Riau kingdom and the place of origin of the fine Malay language, the base for the Indonesian language. Here the Sultan Riau Mosque still stands as testimony to the heydays of the Johor-Riau sultanate. Upon approaching the island, you can see turrets of the yellow mosque peeking above the greenery like a palace in a fairy tale. On Penyengat are the royal tombs of the past Sultans of Riau, while descendents of the Sultan still live on the island until today.

Tanjung Pinang serves some of the most delicious seafood. At night a road is closed off and all kinds of food stalls emerge selling sumptuous dishes of chilli crab, steamed prawn, grilled fish with spicy sauces, and Riau’s favourite gong-gong, a kind of oysters.

While along the east coast of Bintan are more white beaches, azure blue seas and a number of attractive islands. On the island of Nikoi, chalets and outbound activities have been developed, ideal for a perfect getaway into nature. A launch will take you from the Bintan coast to the island of Nikoi. (Click nikoi.com for details). Further south on the Bintan coast, the Loola Adventure Resort offers ecotours and adventure trips for groups and the whole family (Click loola.net/). Along this coast is also the Bintan Agro Beach Resort which promises complete relaxation including special Spa treatment (see agrobeach.com).

In a secluded bay on the northern corner of Bintan Island, the Banyan Tree Spa is located in the luxurious Banyan Tree Bintan retreat. Amidst a beautiful natural environment, intimate spa pavilions offer the utmost privacy during personal pampering services. Banyan Tree Spa takes a holistic approach to physical and spritual wellbeing, providing a sanctuary for the senses. Massage treatments are bassed on handed down techniques, combining East and West. Health and beauty remedies make use of aromatic oils, herbs and spices with ancient healing powers, such as the Royal Banyan massages, Thai Healer, Balinese Boreh, Javanese Lulur, Hawaian Lomi Lomi and many more.

Beaches, Islands and Reefs on the Riau Islands

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Pasir Panjang on the side Rupat island which faces the Strait of Malacca is good for surfing. Good beaches are found on the islands of Terkulai and Soreh which are about an hour by boat from Tanjung Pinang. On the Nongs beach on Batam island one can see the Singapore skyline. Good snorkeling can be found around the islands of Mapor, Abang, Pompong, Balang and Tanjung Berkait.

Located at Pangke, Meral, Tanjung Balai Karimun, Pelawan Beach is the right place for you to find inspiration and peace. This beach has white sands, big rocks, and mangrove forests in its surrounding areas. Its beautiful beach and blue water make it the pride of those living in Tanjung Balai Karimun. It is also a favorite place for weekend and new-year celebrations. The nature of Pelawan Beach is still well-maintained as you could see from its clean sand. It is easiest to reach this beach by airplane. Hang Nadim international airport in Batam city, Kepulauan Riau is its entry point. From Batam, it takes about 45 minutes by ship from Batam port to Tanjung Balai Karimun.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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