My Weekend Escape: Singapore to Nongsa Batam, Indonesia
If you live in Singapore and are thinking about having a quick weekend getaway without having to fly, Nongsa in Batam Island is usually not the first place that comes to mind. I was introduced to the place by a friend of mine who had been there a couple of times, and I was pleasantly surprised by its laid-back and rustic charms.
Even though I was at Nongsa during the December period (which is usually a busy travel period due to school holidays), there was not much of a crowd and I could truly relax and enjoy some quiet time.
The best thing about visiting Batam is that the weather closely mirrors that of Singapore, which pretty much has only one season—hot and humid. Therefore, there should not be major weather concerns when planning a trip to Nongsa. However, rainfall from October to April is usually heavier, so the best time to visit Batam is during the dry season between May and September.
How to Get to Nongsa Batam From Singapore
From Singapore, the only way I know to get to Nongsa directly (Nongsapura Ferry Terminal) is by ferry. You can either book the ferry tickets online from the ferry provider Batam Fast or through online travel-agent websites such as KLOOK and Easybook. Ferries depart from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore and take approximately 45 minutes.
It seems like Batam Fast is the main commercial ferry that goes to Nongsa, but the ferries are frequent enough. The journey is relatively comfortable, and it did not feel like there was a major competition to get good seats (Batam Fast is free seating on the ferry—no assigned seats), as fewer people travel to and from Nongsa compared to Batam Centre.
If for whatever reason you are unable to get a ferry ticket directly to Nongsa, you can try to get a ticket for the more popular Singapore–Batam Centre route. From Batam Centre, it is a 30 minutes ride to Nongsa resorts.
Additional Tips for Visiting Nongsa Batam
1) Better Discounts
For additional discounts on ferry tickets and hotels at Nongsa, you can consider using the website Shopback. Shopback is a very interesting concept where all you have to do as a consumer is to apply for an account and use the Shopback website to visit your usual holiday booking websites such as Agoda, Booking.com and Klook in order to earn additional rebates.
The best part is that you do not need to spend in order to use the rebates that you have previously earned. As long as you have earned the minimum amount required (currently it is 10 bucks), you can withdraw the rebates in the form of cash to your bank or PayPal. You can also use Shopback for other types of purchases (e.g. iHerb and Book Depository).
Shopback is currently only available in seven countries (Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand).
2) Travel With Children and Elderly
If you are traveling with young kids or elderly, I would recommend that you take the Nongsa–Tanah Merah route when traveling back to Singapore, as it is less stressful going on board the ferry. When we took the ferry back from Batam Centre, the waiting area for the return ferries on Sunday afternoon was so crowded and there were barely any decent seats left on the ferry by the time we boarded. However, the downside is that Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal is not very accessible, so you most probably need to catch a private hire car or a cab back home.
The area covering the popular Nongsa Resorts is quite small. So if you are looking for big sandy beaches full of activities and nightlife, Nongsa is not the place for you (I would recommend Boracay instead).
By foot, you can easily cover all the major Nongsa resorts in less than an hour. The beach is also not huge, so most people I see would rather lounge by the pool or their room balcony. The beauty of Nongsa is its simplicity and unassuming charm. There is no pressure to cover any major tourist spots, so you are there to really just enjoy the peace and quiet.
If you are looking for higher-end accommodations, you can also try the Montigo Resorts Nongsa. I saw the hotel shuttle picking up their guests at the Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, and the reviews for this resort are pretty good.
Mega Mall Batam Centre
1. Cheap Massage
If you are heading to Mega Mall Batam Centre (which is 30 minutes away from Nongsa Resorts), you should try to go for a massage. The prices are super cheap for a relatively decent massage parlor and definitely better than the prices at the resorts.
A popular one that I visited is called the Eska Massage, located on the second floor of the mall. The lady who served us said that they are usually quite booked out during weekends, so it is best to call or Whatsapp them to make reservations. However, we did arrive there at 12 pm on a Sunday and managed to book a 1-hour slot for 5 people at 3 pm. So if you did not make any reservations, I think you can still head there once you arrive to try your luck. For onsite reservation, you have to pay a deposit before you can confirm your booking.
Overall, I found the massage OK (I have had much better), but for about 17 Singapore dollars for a 1-hour massage, I am not complaining.
2. Stock up at the Hypermarket
Besides the massage, the highlight of being at Batam Centre is the hypermarket, located in the basement. Things are generally cheaper in this supermarket compared to Singapore. Most people I know love to buy a carton of the instant noodle brand Indomie (the latest craze is salted-egg-flavored noodles) because it's simply delicious and much cheaper in Batam.
Another awesome buy I discovered during my recent trip is personal care products like lotions, skin products, toothpaste, etc. A similar product sold in Singapore is almost double the price I saw at this hypermarket. So if you are in for some serious savings and don't mind some heavy lifting, you should really stock up on such products here.
If you don't mind crowds and a bit of hassle, you can plan a shopping trip here on your last day in Batam and just cross a bridge from the mall to get to the Batam Centre Point International Ferry Terminal.
Weekend Getaway Itinerary
Here is a quick overview of my 2-day quick weekend getaway itinerary to help you better plan your trip to Nongsa:
Day 1 (Saturday)
- 10:25 am (Singapore time) ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Nongsapura Ferry Terminal.
- The ferry takes 45 mins, so we reached Nongsa at ~10:30 am (Indonesia time). Because of the 1-hour time difference between Batam and Singapore, it feels like you gained an hour!
- We took a hotel shuttle to Nongsa Marina Point and Resort (journey ~20 minutes). Checked in and walked from the hotel to the Turi Beach Resort. Had early lunch there and lounged by the Turi Beach Resort pool (we hopped to different resort swimming pools because the service staff either didn't really mind or didn't care to check). The whole afternoon was spent lounging and swimming in the pool. However, you can opt to spend this time doing the sea sports available on Turi Beach.
- Dinner at the Turi Beach Resort Cafe before heading back to the hotel. There is not much to do around the resort at night so we just hung around the hotel room chilling and watching TV.
Day 2 (Sunday)
- Had an early breakfast before hiking from the hotel (using the one and only path) to Turi Beach Resort for some last minute photo taking (the view is beautiful in the morning).
- Checked out of the hotel at 12 pm and took a 12:30 pm bus to Mega Mall Batam Centre.
- We shopped at the Hypermarket before we had a 1-hour massage at 3 pm. As our ferry was at 5:25 pm, we had to reach the ferry terminal at 4:25 pm (1 hour prior to departure), so the timing was perfect.
On hindsight, we should have taken a later ferry because the ~5 pm timing is really popular, which can make the journey a little unpleasant. We also did not have enough time to really explore the mall.
Have you been to Nongsa, Batam?
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© 2019 Kawai