Kepulauan Riau or Kepri (Riau Archipelago) was established as anew province in 2012. Directly bordering several neighboring countries like Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and Vietnam, this province is a popular entry and exit point of Indonesia, especially with Singapore.
The two main islands in this province is Batam and Bintan, both with their own unique charm. Batam is more popular for its man-made attractions while Bintan counts on its beautiful natural settings. As one of the outermost province in Indonesia, Kepri is a great gateway for tourists to enter Indonesia.
It has wonderful beaches, beautiful diving spots, some unearthly scenery, great shopping malls, ease of access and many more. In term of tourism, Kepri is running fast with accelerated development compared to many places in Indonesia.
Nongsa Marina, a Great Gate for Sailors
The Indonesian Government have abolished the Clearance and Approval for Indonesian Territory (CAIT) policy, making it easy for foreign yacht and boats to enter Indonesia via Nongsa. Foreign vessels can register and getting a permit to enter Indonesian water online.
Similarly, getting out of Indonesia is also easy in Nongsa. They only need to make a notice 24 hours before their desired time. The bureaucratic procedure in Nongsa is cut to a minimum to maximize the traffic, making it a great gate for Indonesia.
A Large tourism complex in Lagoi
Lagoi Beach is located on the northern part of Bintan Island. This beautiful area has been developed into an integrated large tourism area. They even build the biggest man-made lagoon in Southeast Asia there.
The attractions choice are also plentiful. You can choose to just enjoy your day with relaxing on the beach or doing extreme watersports in Bintan Wake Park. If you have the guts, you can even enjoy the scenery from above with Air Adventure Flying Club.
Duty Free Shopping
By the decree of the central government, Batam and several other islands nearby are established as free trade zone. That means that any imported items entering this island will not be taxed. Consequently, imported items in Batam is 10 to 15 percent cheaper than in any other place in Indonesia.
That makes Batam an attractive place to shop, especially high end electronic and luxurious branded fashion items. Several big malls have been built to accommodate this shopping tourism such as DC Mall, Nagoya Hill, and Mega Mall.
Unearthly Lakes and Desert in Bintan
There is a rather odd view at the western part of Bintan Island. There is a sand dune, looks strangely similar to sand dunes in African deserts, except you can also see lush green vegetation in the distance. Locals call it Busung Desert and it’s actually not a natural dune.
Busung Desert is the remains of bauxite mine in the area. Going south, another remains of bauxite mine created a wonderful blue lake with white hills surrounding it.
World Class Golf Course in Batam
As a free trade zone, Batam attracts many foreign investments. As a result, there are many company executive expats living in this island. Many of them prefer talking business while enjoying a game of golf. That’s why there are lots of golf courses being built in this island.
To name a few, there are Palm Springs Golf & Beach Resort, Tering Bay Golf & Country Club, Southlinks Country Club, Batam Hills Golf Resort, Padang Golf Sukajadi, Indah Puri Golf Resort, and Tamarin Santana Golf Club.
On the eastern coast of Bintan, there is a stretch of white sandy beach named Trikora Beach. This beach is so long they have to divide it into four parts. The most popular part is Trikora Beach Four, the northernmost part.
This area is not yet fully developed and many parts are still untouched. Apart from enjoying the beach, you can also kite surfing in the water nearby. You can also see how locals catch fish using kelong.
Festival Bahari Kepri
This festival aims to display all tourism potential in Kepulauan Riau. There are many events, competitions, and gathering to connect all stakeholders of Kepri’s tourism. As a start, there are many traditional dances being showcased here.
Yachters from Asia gather here to enjoy the festivities while photographers from Southeast Asia flock Kepri to hunt for marvelous images. The most festive event is probably Jong (small boat) race. Nearly a thousand competitors form the region tried to be the best in this three days race.
Literally means slimy noodle, the name mie lendir is less appetizing than most dishes. However, the slimy part actually comes from the very thick soup of this dish, made from peanut and sweet potato. Mie lendir is commonly served with boiled egg, bean sprout, fried shallot, and raw chili pepper. Mile lendir is usually sold in warungs.
Best place to enjoy mie lendir:
- Mie Tarempa Sungai Panas – Komp. Graha mas Blok J No. 10-11 Sei Panas, Sungai Panas, Batam Kota, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau.
- Kedai Kopi Harum Manis – BLOK F No 10, Jl. Komp. Bumi Indah, Lubuk Baja Kota, Lubuk Baja, Batam City, Riau Islands.
- Kedai Kopi Bahagia – Jl. Imam Bonjol-Nagoya Blok 4 No.50, Lubuk Baja Kota, Lubuk Baja, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau.
Mie Tarempa is a spicy fried noodle from Tarempa Island, Anambas Regency. The noodle are handmade with flour and eggs. It is thenboiled till soft and then fried with special seasonings that gives its unique spicy and savory taste. Today, you can order Mie Tarempa dry, with a little soup, or even ‘make it wet’ with lots of soup.
Best place to enjoy Mie Tarempa:
- RM Mie Tarempa – Jl. D.I panjaitan KM 7, Melayu Kota Piring, Tanjungpinang Timur, Melayu Kota Piring, Tanjungpinang Tim., Kota Tanjung Pinang.
- Mie Tarempa Berkat Tiban – Kompleks Stevonica Ruko No. 6 – 7, Patam Lestari, Sekupang, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau.
- Mie Tarempa Batam Centre – Ruko Royal Sincom Blok D No. 15 – 16, Teluk Tering, Tlk. Tering, Batam Kota, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau.
Luti gendang is a pastry from Tarempa Island. In Malay, Luti means bread. However, this oval-shaped bread is crunchy and more savory than sweet. Luti Gendang is usually filled with shredded fish (usually tuna) that is very soft. This snack is commonly sold in coffee stalls and other food joints all over Kepulauan Riau as there are very few place specialize in this dish only.
Best place to get Luti Gendang:
- Luti Gendang – Panbil Mall Food Street Lantai Dasar No. 8, Kabil, Nongsa, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau
- Mie Tarempa Sungai Panas – Komp. Graha mas Blok J No. 10-11 Sei Panas, Sungai Panas, Batam Kota, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau
- Anambas Kopitiam – Jl. Laksamana Bintan No.1, Sungai Panas, Batam Kota, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau
How to get to Kepulauan Riau
Understandably, there is no road connecting big islands in Indonesia to this province. Thus, there are only two main options to enter Kepri, by air and sea.
By Air. The main airport in this province is located in Batam, the Hang Nadim International Airpot. This is the main hub to enter Batam and Kepri as it is served with flights from many big cities in Indonesia as well as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Raja Ali Haji Fisabilillah International Airport at Kijang, near Tanjungpinang is mainly served with domestic flights although there are some charter flight to China.
By Sea. There are many ports all over the province that connects Kepri with other parts of Indonesia. Sekupang Port, Batam connects with many major cities like Jakarta, Pontianak, Medan, and several others. Kijang port in Bintan is served with PELNI ferries. There are also regular ferries from Johor Bahru, Malaysia to Batam and Bintan. Singapore is especially very well connected with Batam, Bintan, and Karimun Island by ferry services.
Boats are the only suitable means of transportation to explore the archipelago. Hopping from one island to the other, you will have to travel through sea in most cases. Only a few islands are connected with bridges. Thankfully, most islands has good ports and boats are plentiful in the form of public ferry or privately owned boats.
In most big islands and cities, public transport is quite dependable. You can grab a taxi although you must make sure you know how much you will pay before hopping on one of them. Inland transport is easy by renting a car or motorcycle.
In Batam, you can start your exploration by visiting the downtown malls and its shopping centers that is located in the north part of the island. Going south, you will find a well-made road that connect the mainland Batam with several other islands. The scenic Barelang bridges is connecting at least six islands in Batam, making it easy to travel from one place to another.
Bintan also has well connecting roads. You can start your exploration in Bintan from the historic capital of the province; Tanjung Pinang. You can drive to Lagoi beach on the north coast. Moving east, you can then find the long Trikora Beach. In the south, you will find many smaller islands that is reachable by boat only.
Best Hotels in Kepulauan Riau
- CK Tanjungpinang Hotel & Convention Center – Jl. RH Fisabilillah KM.8 No.10, Batu IX, Tanjungpinang Tim., Tanjungpinang, Kepulauan Riau – Starts from IDR 599,415.
- Best Western Premier Panbil – Jl. Ahmad Yani, Muka Kuning, Nongsa, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau – Starts from IDR630,000.
- Aston Tanjung Pinang Hotel and Conference Center – Jl. Adi Sucipto KM. 11, Batu IX, East Tanjungpinang, Tanjung Pinang City, Riau Islands – Starts from IDR516,289.
- Allium Batam Hotel – Komplek Panorama Nagoya, Sungai Jodoh, Batu Ampar, Kota Batam, Kepulauan Riau – Starts from IDR530,611.