Located only 20km from Singapore and 25km from Johor in Malaysia, Batam is Indonesia’s equivalent to China’s SEZ’s (Special Economic Zones) – a place where the nation’s economic planners test new economic policies and ideas. The island is an industrial hub with electronics factories, a large and growing ship repair industry and an even larger oil service sector. Quite a few expats head there for work, and pubs and golf courses have sprung up to serve them.
Most tourists, on the other hand, come from nearby Singapore. While there is a smattering of family resorts, Bintan is more popular for this; instead, the main lure on Batam is the discounted shopping and the nightlife. Batam is also known for it’s countless affordable spas and resorts.