Batam: The Perfect Escape for Busy Mums?

There are some holidays where you just want to kick off your shoes and spend hours lying at the beach. But we were a party of 3 mums of young kids on holiday, sans the kids. So items on the to-do list simply were : “pig out, pig out, pig out! Big seafood dinner! Spicy food! Non child friendly food!!”

This was our 3D2N holiday. No cultural experiences included, no scenic photo opportunities. We didn’t even venture far from our hotel. Just 3 mums on a makan and massage mission.
Here we go!

GETTING THERE
Batam is a mere 45-minute ferry ride from Harbourfront Shopping Centre in Singapore. It’s SGD$50 for a 2-way ferry ticket. The 1140am (Singapore time) ferry, will allow you to arrive at 1130am (Batam time – Batam is one hour behind Singapore) – just in time to get to your hotel, check in, and head out for lunch.
Tip: be sure to check which ferry terminal you’re headed to. Batam has the reputation of a place where cheeky old men keep their mistresses so I reckon that’s not where you want to head to (unless you’re a cheeky old man and in that case  you’re on the wrong blog). You’ll want Harbor Bay terminal – apparently the other ones are the more um, infamous venues.

GETTING AROUND
There are more taxis than people. Any time you step out of anywhere, there’ll be a throng of taxi drivers calling out to you. There are the standard taxis and private taxis; you’ll even find familiar Silver cabs. There are also little vans that pick customers up along the way and possibly drop them off along a pre-destined route. Or not. I don’t know. We stayed clear of them. Rule of thumb: trust your instinct.

Tip: Ask for prices before boarding and pay what you’re comfortable with. Bargain if you like but remember that you may feel the satisfaction of saving a few cents, but you’re affecting someone else’s livelihood. 

L.I.F.E Batam (11)
STAY
We stayed at Nagoya Mansion in the Nagoya Hills area. It is a fairly new hotel and exceptionally well priced. For a 2-bedroom apartment (1 queen bed and 1 single bed) with a small kitchenette and living area, the three of us each paid about SGD$50 a night. Ok make that amazingly priced. Bed and pillows were super comfortable!
The location is superb. The view is amazing   Breakfast was so-so. But it’s got an egg counter and to me, egg counters are life savers. Pool is a good size and everything’s new and clean.
We’ve heard that Zia Boutique Hotel in the same area is also affordable and clean. Latest prices can be found here.
 

Tip: order a car to pick you up at the ferry terminal. It costs less than SGD$10 and saves you the hassle at haggling with taxi drivers about fares.

Eat
Restoran Sederhana

Windsor Central Blok B No.1 Nagoya

L.I.F.E Batam (12)

 

L.I.F.E Batam (13)

Hands down, our favourite meal of the trip. The plates arrive from the very moment you sit down. Plate after plate after plate they’ll come. Curry chicken, satay, sambal fish, vegetables, beef rendang, curry fish head…

Eat what you want and pay for only what you eat. The rest of it will (guess what) get recycled. As in the next table will eat whatever you’ve not touched. Or even what you’ve touched. Like if there are two pieces of chicken on the plate and you take one, the other one gets passed on. If you’re ok with that, then Restoran Sederhana is a must. The food is delicious and reasonably priced.

L.I.F.E Batam (14)

Must try: Sambal fish, satay with kecap manis plus peanut gravy. Heavenly! And the soursop juice! Oh my.

Warung Cobain
Food Street, Level 1, Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre
 
Sometimes on holiday you do all your research but somehow stumble upon a place that hasn’t made it to any list of recommendations but is so good, you feel like you want to tell the whole world.

Warung Cobain is such a place. It’s located at Food Street on level 1 at Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre.  The prices are fantastic. For 3 hungry Mamas, we each paid only 50,000rp. Which is about SGD6.

 

L.I.F.E Batam (1)
On our menu was duck, grilles catfish, nasi goreng, mie goreng, fried vegetables, and pandan chicken. With drinks. Good? Oh yes. It was our perfect welcome to Batam. Mmmmm… Sedap!
Tip: if you’ve got a weak tummy, make sure you only drink bottled water and don’t take any ice. Because you never know where the water comes from
Caffein Cafe
Komp. Ruko Nagoya Hill blok R3-A3A
 
Just out of the main entrance of Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre Mall you’ll see a block on the right and another on the left. Turn right and keep walking. In about five minutes you’ll hit a turn and a slope. Caffein is not far off.
Prices are not the cheapest but the iced coffees are lovely. The owner speaks wonderful English and is sincerely happy to help when you ask for directions and recommendations.
2 iced coffees, 1 fresh juice, 3 slices of cake set is back SGD20+. Not horrendously expensive, but remember, we’re talking about Batam. In any case, Caffein Cafe is a great place to kick back and rest those tired post shopping legs.

Yong Kee Istimewa Seafood
Komplek Nagoya City Centre Blok E No.8-9 (Nagoya)

L.I.F.E Batam (2)
L.I.F.E Batam (4)

 

There’s a lot of hype about Yong Kee Fish Soup on trip Advisor but in my personal opinion, it’s reasonably good but not worth the effort getting to. The roads are small and windy and it’s quite complicated to get to. But if you insist, hop in a cab instead – it’ll cost 30,000rp from Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre to Yong Kee.

L.I.F.E Batam (5)
The legendary fish soup turned out to be pretty much like what we would get at any regular food court back in Singapore. At about the same prices too.
Tip: the regular fish soup tastes better without being influenced by the presence of noodles. 
 

Wey Wey Seafood

Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal
L.I.F.E Batam (16)

L.I.F.E Batam (17)

When we first got off the ferry, we were hit by a strong stench of – don’t hold your breath…. actually, do – sewage. So we were hesitant about going back to the harbour area for a meal. Thankfully, Wey Wey Seafood was around the harbour but the smell had somewhat faded. It was late and dark by the time we got there, so no pictures, but it was a lovely place for a seafood dinner with friends : twinkling lights, seated on the boardwalk, cheap and good seafood.We had a steamed fish, soup, vegetable, cereal prawn, black pepper crab and 3 coconuts all for SGD$51.

Tip: Ask for prices before you order! Prices are not indicated on the menu. Our waitress was lovely – she weighed our fish and crab then came back to check if we were ok with the prices instead of simply sending them to the kitchen to be prepared.

 

A&W
Food Street, Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre

L.I.F.E Batam (9)

 

If you’re an 80s child and miss root beer floats in big frosted mugs, this is a must do. We had a snack there and were sorely disappointed though. Plus, it was very expensive. 13,000rp for the drink (as compared to 50,000rp per person for a big lunch at Warung Cobain).

 

L.I.F.E Batam (10)
Do: shop!
Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre
Just a 15-minute walk away from Nagoya Mansions is the biggest mall in the Nagoya area. Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre pretty much has it all covered: shopping, food, cinema, hypermarket. SGD$4 to watch Captain America on an awesome screen: score! Matahari is the anchor tenant at Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre.

Shopping wasn’t on our agenda but Matahari persuaded us. Matahari is a well stocked 2-storey department store within Nagoya Hills Mall. You can uncover lots of treasures if you dig. They were having a bit of a sale over the weekend we were there with 20-50% discounts plus buy-2-get-1-free offers.


Tip: the cinema only opens at 12 noon and movie timings change daily!

Do: Massage!
Sakura Massage and Hotel
Nagoya Hill Block G 12B

Right opposite Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre is a whole string of massage shops. We wanted something not sleazy looking nor too expensive. We settled for Sakura Massage and Hotel, where 325,000rp gave us a heavenly 1.5 hour Bali massage. Tips not necessary but feel free to tip your masseuse if you felt she did a good job.

What’s fun is that their room can accommodate up to 4, with curtain dividers that you can draw if you want some privacy when you get dressed, so you can indulge in girly chatter all the way until you float into massaged induced slumber.

Eska Wellness Spa Massage & Salon
Ruko Nagoya Hill Block R4, F3 & F3A

At first glance, Eska with its bright lights and staff clad in luminious green polo tee shirts doesn’t strike anyone as a relaxing massage place. But we went in anyway, and thankfully, the luminiousness ended at Level 1. The upper layers were nice and comfortable and very relaxing indeed. My companions enjoyed their foot reflexology but mine was rather hit and miss. 120,000rp for 1 hour.

Tip: Again, like taxis, choose a shop that you’re comfortable with. 

I hope this has helped you if you’re planning a trip to Batam!

 

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*****

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