Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2D1N Batam City Tour and Stay

This post about my experiences with Batam won't be entirely fishing related but all fishing kakis need somewhere cheap and good to bring their FWAGs (Fishermen Wives and Girlfriends) during peaceful non fishing times. Batam is a great place for this and may include some fishing too (If you are heading to KTM Resort, Shalom Kelong, Batam View Beach Resort or Harris Hotel (think they have their own fishing pond) ) But most of the time, the fishing isn't anything to shout about and us tired fishos would rather laze around and enjoy massage/food. Below are some experiences with and without tours.

2D1N Batam Trips usually come in the form of tour packages these days with Groupon and Big deals offering great deals to hotels like Novotel, Mecure, Harris, Pacific Palace, Harmoni One, Nagoya etc. The tour usually throws in the ferry (so far we've taken only Sindo Ferry), a complimentary tour (Best 933) and the hotel stay with breakfast for a crazy price for as long as $29 SGD per pax! Well, it's not a scam for sure and I've been on a few trips to tell you that I still don't know how they earn money.

Voucher/Booking Issues
As with vouchers, a good deal must have a catch right? The catch is that simply don't book impulsively. There are many vouchers available with different hotels and different cut off dates (for example travel from XXX to XXX). Some deals do not include travelling on Public Holidays or having surcharges on weekends. I always contact the respective tour agent/booking party and ask if my preferred dates are available before quickly buying the Groupon and reserving the dates. Never buy vouchers and then later on find out that you can't go on the dates you want!

Ferry/Accommodation Issues
The ferry to Batam is most likely to be at Harbourfront Centre. When you claim your voucher or book your tour through the agency, the next thing they will need is your passport details so they can book the ferry tickets for you. If you are going yourself, you will have to send these details to your ferry operator by yourself. If you are going on weekends, I recommend to be at Harbourfront Centre 1.5 hours before the ferry departure time because in that way, you can collect your tickets early and head for a quick breakfast before embarking on the ferry.

Agents/Groupons usually have a fixed timing for all customers to board the ferry but I've found out that this can be flexible upon request. For example, I recently changed my 12.00pm return ferry timing to 17.00pm so that I can spend more time in Batam. But you have to be flexible as you are to arrange your own transport to the ferry terminal. There are also taxes to be paid when you depart Harbourfront Centre $20 SGD - 17/12/2013 and 65000 rupiah - 17/12/2013 so do bring extra cash!

As for accommodation, one should not be too fussy or demanding when you check in (for Groupons usually in evening) as the hotels are usually fully booked and there MAY be occasions you do not get what you want (for example, king sized bed not available only two single beds). We faced the situation of not having adjacent rooms at Novotel during our previous trip but they made up for this by offering us complimentary room upgrades so it was great service!

Money Changing
Never change all your money in Singapore. I stand by this because the exchange rates in Batam are so much better than probably all money changers in Singapore. The usual walk in rate for any store at Batam is 1 sgd : 9500 rp... and best of all? You can HAGGLE especially if you change more. So I'd suggest change a little in Singapore for emergency/misc use and change the rest of your SGD when you arrive at the ferry terminal or shopping malls.

Tour Highlights
When you arrive at Batam, the Tour guide will be awaiting for u and will bring you to a variety of places in Batam. It's worth it because you get to cover the tour plus the tour guides usually have a 20% discount when you visit most stores so aunties get crazy over this especially in the dried goods area!

Brief Details
Polo Outlet - Polo fans will love the place as it is cheaper by 50% or more than compared to Singapore but do check with the tour guide on genuineness of the shirts.



First Factory Outlet and Batik Factory Outlet - I usually skip these places and cross the road over to Astro food court penuin for some cheap and good curry puffs ($0.30 SGD) and delicious Bak Ku Teh with pigs blood! ($3.50 SGD).

Swee's curry puff at Astro has curry chicken flavor, yam and sardines. The curry chicken and yam is delicious! We were so impressed that we wanted to buy non cooked ones and bring back to Singapore but the owner only allows us to buy half cooked ones! :(


Swee's Currypuff. A MUST have!

Old Chang Kee size?

Egg included!

Bak Ku The Mee Sua
Batam Chocolate House - Very crowded place where you sample chocolate

Bengkong Dried Goods - My mum went crazy over here. Good for buying atachi, dried food such as dried fish and prawn crackers etc. Highly recommend the Avocado juice at the café beside the dried goods stall as they use milk chocolate for the sweetener instead of brown sugar

Golden Prawn 933 (Golden Tourist shop and Bird nest) - The included meals aren't always that good as its a set lunch. They have live Seafood though and if you fancy some, just let your tour guide know but you'll have to bear the cost! Very nice ambience with fat milkfish in big schools looking at you as you dine.


BCS Mall - Singaporeans come here for the usual A & W but we found out a relatively quiet but great massage place with good ambience. $10 SGD / hour top level of BCS Mall.

Nagoya Hill Mall - Top level has Sawasdee Massage which is always fully booked and good for massage too.

Go Kart, Mini House Golden Beach - Have not tried before but beach looks dirty. Go Kart at $15 SGD/15mins is not that attractive.
Ice Kacang and Chendol near the Go Kart area at the shopping area is not too bad

Batam Layer Cake -  Don't think the layer cakes are awesome but they are freshly baked and delivered to you.

Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple - Awesome temple with 3 large shrines for Buddha, Guanyin and Guan Gong. Very under-rated temple and highly recommended to visit.

Severely under rated temple!
captured outside the temple!
Note: There is a tour guide tip of $2 SGD per pax at the end of the trip

Harbourbay Seafood
If you want a cheap Seafood feast and good ambience, Harbourbay is the place for you. It's located right beside the sea and there are rows of Seafood restuarants including a secondary area where there are rows of al fresco chill out restaurants/dining places which show live big screen soccer. I'd been to Harbourbay twice and firmly recommend Wei Wei (Wey Wey) Seafood restaurant. The price for a plate of gong gong should be around 5 SGD so that's the going rate!

They have everything there from live mud crabs, live flower crabs, live lobsters, tiger groupers, seabass, snapper, pomfret, crayfish, mantis prawns... you name it!


Harbour Bay seafood delights!
Harbourbay is accessible via Taxi - if you're heading from Pacific Palace, Grand Mecure, BCC, Novotel, the taxi fare should be around $5 SGD.

KTM Resort Eging and Guanyin Statue
Fishos check out KTM resort where you can do some fishing and Eging. Click here for my reports...

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