Nightlife in Batam - Overview:
Batam is a small island in the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) located about 45 minutes from Singapore by ferry. With a population of 800,000 souls, it is the home to a small community of expatriates
, most of them working in the Oil & Gas or in the High Tech manufacturing. Unlike in other parts of Indonesia, you'll find that Batam is rather well organized and clean. Close to Singapore and very little traffic.
The Indonesian island of Batam has long been one the best kept secrets as a low cost getaway for Singaporean local and expats. The island has seven golf courses, several resorts and the costs are a fraction compared to Singapore and Bali. There is also an expat entertainment area like Blok M / Kemang.
Four – Five Star hotels run from as low as USD $50 - $80 per night and green fees can range from USD $60 - $105 which includes twin buggy sharing & caddy. Beers at the pubs run from USD $2 - $5 and mixed drinks from $3 - $6. Batam also has a fair share of spa’s and traditional massage outlets that will cost you USD $10 for 60 minutes and slightly higher if you want sauna etc.
The Batam nightlife is very active, as you will read on this blog post and our goal is to write comprehensively as possible. We urge visitors to share your experiences, updates and feedback.
Batam for Fun: Nightlife, Massage, Pubs, Golf, Casinos and Shopping:
The main entertainment centre is located in downtown Nagoya: ‘The Nagoya Entertainment District’ or commonly referred to by expats as ‘The NED’. This area attracts a fair number of Indonesian girls working in massage parlours, karaokes, or freelancing in some bars & clubs.
The NED is a bit like Blok M in Jakarta, only bigger, with a decent concentration of nightlife venues, catering to different markets. Generally speaking though, the atmosphere is laid-back and girl-friendly, and you won't find very chic or sophisticated bars & clubs like in Singapore or Jakarta. You may meet all kind of girls there, but you should be aware that most of them are thinking in dollars. Meeting local girls is not easy as they rarely frequent the expat entertainment district although you can meet some in venues like "Noname Club" in Harmoni Hotel or simply in the malls.
During the day, there isn't much to do in Batam, except for golfing, some shopping (cheap clothes, knock-off handbags, Chinese electronics, and liquor is very cheap.(If buying spirits whether traveling back to Singapore or other parts of Indonesia you are only allowed one bottle of spirits and one bottle of wine – they will check at the airport!) The massage parlours / spa’s are popular with Singaporeans. All of these activities will be reviewed below.
|Click on the map to enlarge|
You have to go to Harbour Front ferry terminal and there are about 5 ferry companies with service to Batam. There are several port destinations in Batam: Batam Centre, Sekupang, Nongsa & Harbour Bay (Batu Ampar) The closest location to downtown Nagoya and the entertainment district is ‘Harbour Bay’ which is 5-10 minutes from The NED and all the pubs. Wavemaster has far more ferry service but you’d need to go to Batam Centre which is about a 20 minute taxi ride and costs Rp.50,000.
The ferry ticket from Singapore is SGD $48 for two ways or SGD $42 for one way. This includes the SGD $21 fuel surcharge from the ferry operators. If you are coming from Jakarta, you can purchase a Wavemaster Ferry Ticket at most money changers or in Nagoya Hills mall and the cost of the ticket (2 way) is only SGD $30. (Add SGD $6 if traveling on the weekend – limited promotional price).
By Air from Jakarta:
By Air you can take Garuda, Lion Air etc. The flight is one hour twenty minutes. The air fare on Lion runs about Rp. 380,000 each way (1 week advance booking). On Garuda it can run twice that amount.
Visa from Singapore:
ASEAN nationals can get a free visa upon arrival good for 30 days. Most westerners can get a holiday visa on arrival for USD $35 for 30 days or USD $15 for 7 days. If you need to extend your visa, you can go to the Sumatera Building, 3rd Floor and can extend a 30 day visa for Rp. 300,000. Go in the morning and pick up the same day after 3PM (The Sumatera Building is next to the ferry terminal at Batam Centre).
If you require a visa it is suggested you pay with USD – otherwise you be charged a premium in the exchange rate.
Taxis in Batam are far more expensive than in Jakarta. Although a law was passed to have the taxi’s metered – the taxis installed the meters but disconnected them! Many of the taxis are substandard ‘rust buckets’ and if you are western, the taxi drivers will try to charge you a premium (2 to 3 times the standard rate and they can be aggressive and rude).
Taxi fares from the airport to the downtown Nagoya is Rp 80,000 – and the ride is approx. 30 minutes
Taxi fares from the ferry terminal to downtown Nagoya should be no more than Rp 30,000 – for a 5-minute ride! The taxi drivers will try to charge you Rp 50,000 and show you a paper with a government logo and insist that this is the published regulated price! Negotiate – there are tons of taxis available.
Good News! - Bluebird Taxi is now operating in Batam. They are metered and costs’ less than the others. You can call Bluebird: 0778-421 234 Very professional service.
Hotels in Batam
There are many hotels in the Downtown Nagoya area close to The NED and the nightlife.
4-5 Star Hotels:
Planet Holiday – One of the best with rooms running about SGD $90 2 blocks from the action
Harmoni Hotel - closest hotel to all the pubs. Rooms run about SGD $90 per night
Goodway Hotel - an older hotel but it has big rooms & a nice spa. Rooms will run around Rp, 500,000
SwissBel Hotel – next to Planet Holiday Hotel and you can book a nice room for SGD $50 – including breakfast and taxes.
There are many cheaper hotels near The NED that cost Rp, 250,000 – 350,000. (Lai Lai Hotel is across the street from Harmoni and rooms start at Rp 230,000)
Your best bet it to buy a hotel voucher from Kaha Travel – located in Nagoya next to the Jamsostek Bldg. I suggest you call them before you arrive to ensure availability. Batam often has many government events and the hotels fill up quickly. It’s also wise to avoid Batam during major Singapore holidays.
Kaha Travel in Nagoya: +62 778 703 4790
In the past few years there have been an explosion of pubs! Way too many for a small expat community. A visitor may find many of the pubs empty or with less than a handful of customers. In our Batam Pub Listing below we only added those that are the most entertaining and/or of interest.
There are over 35 pubs and counting with more opening every few months. Only several Batam pubs have "real" kitchens but most can provide you with a menu and will order food for you from the other pubs. The majority of the pubs are ‘entertainment’ driven featuring SPG’s. In the past two years some pubs have adopted a Pattaya / Manila approach. The girls will ask you to buy them ‘ladies drinks’ which can cost anywhere from USD $5 – USD $12. It’s a good idea you ask the girl what kind of drink they want before you end-up with a huge bar tab for enumerable ‘Long Island Ice Teas’ (They will try to coax you into buying drinks for other girls. It is not uncommon for a girl to approach you, introduce herself, and then order a drink on your bill!) .
Several pubs charge a bar fine if you want to leave with one of the girls or you will need to purchase several ‘ladies drinks’ like in Manila. This policy varies from pub to pub. At last, most of the pubs have happy hours from 17:00 – 19:00. Several charge bar fines of Rp 1,2 million during the week and Rp.1.5 million on the weekend – that’s just the bar fine! (not popular with the local expats) At last, most of the pubs have happy hours from 17:00 – 19:00.
Batam Nightlife Pubs listing:
Lucy’s is the oldest expat pub in The NED. It’s a major networking hub for the oil & gas industry. A good place to catch-up with your mates and Lucy’s features the largest selection of Classic Rock. They did away with the Happy Hour but offer discounted drinks all day and night. Beers run 22,000 – 25,000. The have a western menu and a great ‘barbecue pork pulled sandwich and chips for Rp,65,000 and they added a selection of Thai Curries. They have a pool table & free WiFI. A Bottle of Jack Daniels is only: Rp. 660,000.
The New Place – Sports Bar
The New Place has several large screens with global sports events. They have the best steaks on the island, Fried Chicken steak and TexMex, (Texan founder) They have one of the largest selections of wines & spirits. Happy hour till 7pm.
|New Place Batam|
The Hot Spot is a popular traditional British pub known for its curries & pizza. Popular after work and the background music is kept at a reasonable level so you can chat with your mates. Free WiFi.
Cock & Bull
(Formerly known as ‘The Red Cock’): The Cock and Bull expanded their menu but no Haggis. Best known for their pies and mushy peas (cost: Rp.60,000) and has beer for 19,000 per bottle during happy hour – which is from opening till 7PM. Great burgers too. Prices for entree’s range from $6 - $12. Nice ambience, consistent quality and a very professional staff. Very popular. Excellent service.
|Cock and Bull Batam|
Red Rose is one of the oldest landmark British / Scottish style pubs in The NED. With 5 screens it’s very popular for sporting events. Good atmosphere and a ‘home away from home’ for the UK lads. They serve an excellent British style breakfast (all day) Happy hour till 7pm.Goodies / Smiling Hill
Goodies / Smiling Hill is located less than 10 minutes away from downtown Nagoya, tucked-away on top of a hill with breathtaking vistas overlooking Singapore. This quaint enclave has a fully serviced guest house, western standard furnished flats, a large 1st class pool and an open air restaurant offering the best in western & local dishes. Every Friday from 5:30 - 7 PM they provide FREE beer. To expats that affectionately refer to Batam as ‘Tombstone Indonesia’ for its wily, western frontier vibe, Friday’s at Goodies is where the ‘Wild Bunch’ meet – the movers and shakers in the oil and gas industry. THE meeting and networking place for the oil and gas industry on Friday.
On Sunday’s starting at noon, they host a Buffet Roast: Roast Beef, Roast Chicken, Roast Pork and they recently added Southern Deep Fried Turkey. (try to get there around noon - the food goes quickly!) The price is only Rp.150,000 (plus tax) (about USD $13!) Awesome!
Please - Visit their website or better - stop by. www.smilinghillbatam.com
With over 30 pubs within a few block radius, you can easily do a pub crawl and explore many of them in one night, till you find one you like. Some of the most popular are:Fat Willy’s/Dirty Dicks
– Fat Willy’s is a very popular pub with a large staff. It usually kicks-off after 9PM, with crowds coming in at midnight. Attracts a good crowd every night. No pressure if you don’t want to buy ladies drinks and professionally run. (SPG’s must place their hand phones behind the bar!) Very good deals on bottles – ask the owners, who are there nightly.
The Last Pub
|Fat Willy's Batam|
– One of the oldest and most popular party venues. Great music with a DJ and popular with expats and comfortable for couples. No ‘lady drink’ hustles, some freelancers and the occasional local gals from the office. Open Late. Worth checking out.
|Last Pub Batam|
– an interesting pub. Nice ladies and a large selection of wines. Happy Hour house pours only Rp 35,000. No hardcore lady drink hustle.Our Bar
– One of the older pubs in The NED and has a large Singaporean following. Comfortable atmosphere. No pressure from the SPG’s and a pool table.Dragon Bar
– This is relatively new, quite popular and open late. Can get wild…Candy Bar
– Quite a lively staff, plenty of SPG gals and opened late. LOUD & known for their pizza.BB Bar (Bintang Bar)
– Bali style decor and they just opened KTV rooms upstairs.Mad Cow
– beautiful ladies (SPG’s) but be prepared to buy ladies drinks mista…Club 81
– new – ‘mini disco’ with pole dancers. Loud, party atmosphere and the ladies drinks run Rp 100,000 each.
(List of Pubs: 007, 4 Play, Asylum, Bar Fly, BB Bar Bingo’s, Bottles, Candy Bar, Chili’s, Circles, Club 81,Cock & Bull, D’Angels, D’Cents, Dirty Dick’s / Fat Willy’s, Dogs Bollocks, Dragon Bar, Hot Spot, Ice Pub, Java Pub, Lusys, Konings, Mad Cow, New Place, Our Bar, Red Rose, Slainte, Steps,Sullivans, The Last Pub, TiTi Bar, Wallabies)
For free Batam / SE Asia newsletter ‘THE NED REPORT’ – send an email: email@example.com
|Our Bar in Batam (Picture from Our Bar Facebook)|
Please be advised that some bars will attempt to exploit an unsuspecting expat and are rip-offs. Loaded with girls that push expensive ladies drinks and before you know it - you will have spent $100 ++ with nothing to show for it. Insult to injury - if you fancy one of the girls you have to pay a bar fine. (billed as ladies drinks.) The gal will charge you another $100 + for the booking! You may find that in some pubs the gals are older than the women you will find in Blok M or Kemang etc (5 or 6 pubs have this policy whilst others charge Rp200,000 bar fine – best to ask upfront as these prices can change).
ALSO – don’t leave your drinks unattended. A few expats have been drugged & robbed. Better to pay for your drinks as you go to preclude your bill from being padded. Keep your hand phone secure and don’t lay it on the bar..
Noname – Located on the ground floor of the Harmoni Hotel is a popular live music venue for locals and expats. Most of the acts are flown in from Jakarta and one of the best place to meet local ladies.
Java Pub – just reopened, and has live music on Friday & Saturday. Older crowd, (like Jaya pub JKT but smaller) Comfortable place to hang out.
Bingo’s Pub – just opened and has live music on Friday’s & Saturdays. Good place, nice staff and occasional celebrity entertainers popping in for a song or jam. A nice alternative to the usual very loud rap / trance pubs.
Sullivans – Used to be Ria Rita and has live music on the weekends. Mostly a local crowd. Across the street from the side entrance of Lusys (helps to speak Bahasa – mostly local gals).
Discos (Trance clubs like Stadium Jakarta)
Pacific Disco: One of the most famous place for Singaporeans in Batam when in comes to nighlife, it is a huge club with loud techno and girls everywhere. North Jakarta style entertainment, not everyone will like it, especially if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. It has a young crowd and be sure to carry a small torch with you! (pitch black! Beware of pick-pockets, popular with ojek drivers).
- Located in Planet Holiday Hotel. Similar with all One Stop Entertainment nightlife venues in Indonesia.Newton Disco
– located about 10 minutes from the NED is a 4 story entertainment complex. They have hotel rooms and a spa. Newton is more popular than Pacific and is the #1 choice for Singaporeans that visit every weekend (Batam’s version of Malioboro).
WARNING! – using or possessing drugs in Indonesia is a criminal offense and possession can land you 5 years in jail! & a stiff fine! When in these clubs be very careful of women that approach you and want you to buy them ‘obat’ (Xstacy) – you may find yourself being arrested by an undercover police officer… If a police officer wishes to search you – be sure it’s done in front of witnesses and YOU empty your pockets...
Good Restaurants (local food):
As far as 'food' goes – Batam has some excellent local food but is limited in western cuisine options.(aside from the fast food venues) The most popular western food locations in the NED are listed above. Near the Ned are some alternatives worth checking out. They serve western and local dishes: (we will be expanding this list)Citra Rasa
- In the NED opposite Lucy’s side entrance is CitraRasa - great local and Chinese dishes. Sweet and sour chicken costs Rp 35,000, Sizzling ginger beef platter Rp 40,000 – many selections and quite good. Cans of beer 16,000 – 18,000.
|Citra Rasa Batam|
: If you like Indonesian food, on the main drag near the entrance to the Nagoya Hill Mall are several stalls that specialize in satay – very reasonable. Opens after 5PM (about a 5 minute walk from the NED) You can’t miss it – very crowded with seating outside.
Martabak – if you like Indian food – roti prata, tandoori, curries etc. – check out Martabak. Around the corner from Lusy’s, on the main carriageway – corner location. Dishes run 30,000 – 50,000. Wide selection and been there forever.
There are many, many massage parlours / spa’s in Batam. One of the best in the traditional category Adorabella, located in the Pacific Palace Hotel. In the sleazy category, you will find many that offer similar services around the bigger hotels like Harmoni. They offer massage for USD $10 for 60 minutes and are often frequented by Singaporeans. For a little more, you can have private room / spa with a jacuzzi. The most expensive one in that category is Atalanta spa, with high end equipment and the prettiest girls. Very popular with Asian tourists.
Check out the Spa in the NEWTON complex. Upscale: pools, Jacuzzi’s and massage.Gambling and Casinos in Batam
Scattered about the island and in some malls are ‘arcades’ with gaming machines – locally referred to as ‘Jackpots’ (geleper: It should be noted that these types of machines are not electronic slot machines per se). Players buy tokens to use with the games and are paid any winnings in tokens. Attendants outside the arcades exchange tokens for cash, which, according to critics, is done to prevent the impression that the arcades are involved in gambling. You should note that when redeeming your tokens for cash, expect to have 10-20% premium deducted from your winnings! If you win $100 – you will only net $80 -$90.
The payoffs in these machines is very, very low and you should be very careful. Although the operators have a license to operate these arcades, they are subject to being raided and closed and at any time as ‘gambling’ is outlawed under Indonesian Law and clearly, they are operated for gambling purposes. You don’t want to be caught in one in a raid! A no-win situation! Although some of these locations have opened, they can be closed at any time. You DON’T want to be there during a police raid – it will cost you~! (Often raided on a weekend!)
Dangers, Annoyances and Scams:
Taxi Drivers - Be careful. Taxis in Batam are not metered and if you look like a newbie – you’ll be taken for a ride! Across from Lusys there are some local drivers that you can trust or ask some of the pub owners / managers for a reliable driver or CALL Bluebird – 0778 – 421 234.
NEVER take-up a taxi driver on an offer to ‘find you woman mista?’ - !!!
One last thing about taxis: Prepare the correct amount of change if you can to avoid being rounded up...
STD ‘s – ALWAYS use protections. Statistics from 2007 state that 9% of commercial sex workers in Batam re HIV + ~ ~!
Drug Dealers – Western Expats are a far and few in-between in Batam. Be careful. If you are in a club you could be targeted.
A Batam Nightlife Alternative: Golf!
Batam has 7 golf courses and green fee’s run from USD $65 - $105 which includes twin buggy sharing & caddy.
• Batam Hills Golf Resort (designed by Max Wexler)
• Indah Puri Golf Resort (designed by Arnold Fream)
• Palm Springs Golf Resort
• Southlinks Country Club
• Sukajadi Golf Club
• Tamarin Santana Golf Club (designed by Jack Nicklaus)
• Tering Bay Golf & Country Club (designed by Greg Norman)
The Batam Social Golf Society host a tournament the last Sunday of every month. The cost is only S$60 for members or S$80 for non-members. Price includes all green fees, caddy, buggy and buffet dinner! Contact Batam Social Golf Society: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For More Information on Golf Packages you can contact Peter Williams (UK national) from Paradise Golf Holidays by email (email@example.com) or by mobile: +62 813 64 339 449 (Batam), +65 90848070 (Singapore).
We will complete this review from time to time with new information about Batam nightlife. Please help us also keeping this updated by sending new infos or comments.