Pulau Belakang Padang, Riau Islands, Indonesia

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
Trip End Apr 19, 2009

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Where I stayed
Mercure Hotel Batam

Flag of Singapore  , Riau Islands,
Saturday, April 18, 2009

This time, on day 2, after finishing my usual chores in Batam during the first half of day, decided to go to Pulau Belakang Padang from Batam, the old administrative capital as I was told I had covered the whole Batam from my past trips. 

This is an article from the Jakarta Post which gives a clear description on the island: 
If not separated by an ocean, Singapore's skyscrapers could be part of Belakang Padang Island. 

But due to the seven-mile expanse of water, Belakang Padang has a totally different landscape from that of Singapore: They are as different as night and day. 

"We used to take a wooden boat to Singapore. No passport was required. We sold fish and they paid in dollars, not rupiah," said Wak Haji Jantan, 65, a resident of Belakang Padang, recalling his heyday as a transboundary trader. 

In the past, people from Belakang Padang could easily travel back and forth to Singapore to sell their products and purchase low-priced electronic goods. Many of them also worked in Singapore. 

But strict security measures imposed by both Singapore and Indonesia in the 1980s cut off their freedom of traveling to the country. 

Belakang Padang is one of 300 islands under the Batam City administration. 

"But it (the development in Belakang Padang) is far behind that of Batam. Luckily we still have a pristine environment and it is not noisy like it is there," Jantan said. 

Belakang Padang, which covers 4,202 hectares and has a population of 19,000 people, is located southwest of Batam and only 15 minutes away by wooden boat, locally called kapal pancung. 

Everyday about 200 such boats serve the Batam-Belakang Padang route, a single trip costing Rp 8,000 (84 US cents). The boats are about five meters long and one-and-a-half meters wide. Life jackets are not available onboard and there is only a canvas roof to protect passengers from the rain or scorching sunshine. 

Strong waves often rock the boats, especially when they encounter the large ferries that go to and fro between Batam and Singapore. First-time riders are usually gripped with fear when the small boats zig-zag up and down along with the waves, as if they could be drawn down into the water. 

But the sailors are local residents who have an amazing ability to control the boats, thanks to their experiences riding the waves. 

On a kapal pancung ride from Batam to Belakang Padang, two islands can be spotted ahead. On the left, with lines of houses along a densely-populated coast, is Belakang Padang; on the right a mile away is Sambu Island with large silver tanks seen at its edge. It is the national fuel depot for Sumatra. 

A long time ago, when Batam was mostly covered by forest, Belakang Padang had already been claimed as a district of the Riau Islands Regency. When Batam built its first industry zones in the 1970s, Belakang Padang was left behind. 

Batam residents would go to Belakang Padang to take care of government or administration matters, but now the tables have turned. 

The existence of the Belakang Padang Special Immigration Office is proof that the island was once a bustling place. Even though it is now under the Batam city administration, which has its own immigration office, the office in Belakang Padang is still in operation. 

Visiting Belakang Padang is like breathing fresh air. The friendly atmosphere is obvious on this island and the thick Malay dialect can be heard from every corner. It is different from Batam, where various dialects are heard. 

There is no noise from vehicles, just the distant roaring of boat engines. 

Only two four-wheeled vehicles are on the island -- a garbage truck and an ambulance. Some residents have motorcycles but none own a car, even though the roads are in satisfactory condition. 


The only other type of vehicular transportation available are three-wheel pedicabs, which are used for public transport along with motorcycle taxis (ojek). 

Many ojek drivers wait for passengers at the harbor, ready to serve people who get off the boats. It takes less than 30 minutes by motorcycle to go around the island for a Rp 30,000 fare. 

Belakang Padang is a place to unwind where many come to relax and enjoy the serene panorama, far away from the madding crowd. The island is known as pulau penawar rindu, or an island to "sooth the longing hearts". 

It has six districts: Tanjung Sari, Sekanak Raya, Pemping, Kasu, Pecong and Terong Island, and is notorious for its red-light district. Most of the clients are older men from Singapore, known as apek-apek, who usually visit on the weekends. 

It is also known as the Island of Amat, the Dutch. Amat was a local man and tall with fair skin like a Westerner. He was probably an albino, but he was often referred to as a "Dutch". 

People prefer to call it the Island of Amat the Dutch as they do not like the island's other name: Pulau Babi or, the Island of Pigs, so called for the many pig farms on the island that produce pork meat which is sold in Singapore. 

Pork is forbidden by Islamic law, so many residents do not like the pig name. 

Belakang Padang is also famous for its gasing or top spinning, a traditional game popular among Indonesians and Malays. 

Jumain, a local resident from Sakanak village, received an award from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2006 for preserving the traditional game. 

He had built a small gasing arena in front of his house, and was dubbed "president gasing". The modest gasing ground attracted many visitors, including the Malaysian culture and tourism minister. 

Jumain died last year, but his love for gasing lives on in the hearts of gasing enthusiasts and the people of Belakang Padang Island. 
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Rizal on

Looks like a great place to do a day trip. I wonder why no one speaks of this island. Should try it my next trip to Batam Island. Thanks.

venoth on

Hi Rizal, yes Belakang Padang Island is a very nice place to relax. Ideal for a day trip. Nothing much to do if your planning to spend a night there. Otherwise, it is something different from Batam Island.

ayen on

my peaceful hometown. iloveit

venoth on

Hi Ayen, its a beautiful place, quiet and nice. I missed visiting that island. Thank you for dropping by.

T A Rahman on

Are there good hotels to stay. What is the average rate of the hotels.How about the food. What are places of interest and entertaintment outlets.

venoth on

Hi Rahman, there are no hotels in Pulau Belakang Padang but there are many hotels in Batam. Yes, food is abundant and entertainment outlets too. Mostly around Nagoya area. What you could do is that you could stay in Batam and do a day trip to Pulau Belakang Padang. Actually, three hours is more than enough for this small island.

Venda on

Hi,, So where u stay for night in belakang padang island??
are u sure there is no hotel right there??

venoth on

Hi Venda, yes, at that time, I am very sure that there was no hotel there. It is just a small fishing village. I stayed in Mercure Hotel, Batam Island.

deni on

how many money did you spend for eat in there for one day ?

venoth on

Hi Deni, Pulau Belakang Padang is quite cheap. I think RPH 30,000 is more than enough for one day meals.

rose on

I am going there soon..and thanks for the info....

venoth on

Hi Rose, your most welcome and have a good trip there.

Robby Batubara on

excuse me sir,
if i may add some info.

1. there is about 2 hotel in belakang padang, Hotel Budi Penolong and Hotel Asia (not a five star hotel, but quite comfy)
2. i dont think 3 hours is enough, it would be enough if you only go sight seeing in belakang padang island only. there are other places or other island that u could explore
3. yes, the food is quite cheap. but, if you want to try local speciality it would cost a bit more
4. i believe there more to try and experiences in belakang padang, the culture, picnic at pulau guci or other small island, night fishing with the local, the gasing, the food, the becak, etc

right now, me and my friends are trying to set up a home stay concepts for tourism.

thank you sir, for promoting and sharing your experience in belakang padang.

venoth on

Dear Robby, thank you so much for the updates. Its great to know that there are now two basic hotels there from the time of my last visit. I do have a lot of people who write to me requesting on the hotels. It would be great if you could provide the hotel names and the contact numbers. If possible, maybe the rough rates as well. Really appreciate your kind inputs. Thank you.

Robby Batubara on

dear sir,

actually, we already got hotel or inn since 1970, it's called Hotel Budi Penolong or Kindness Hotel. it's the oldest hotel in belakang padang, it's was burnt down twice sir, but it's was built again and again.

it's happen that my family own and run that hotel...

regarding the price, it's around Rp. 100.000,- to Rp. 200.000,- per night.
it got AC and TV and comfy bed. bathroom included in each room.

as for contact person :
email : von_muller_01@yahoo.com
hand phone : +6281277160010

by the way, me and my friend are going to held a gasing game for students next month on 30 july 2011. including giant gasing show which weight around 160 kilo and 1.5 meter tall.

wish us luck sir.

venoth on

Dear Robby, thank you so much for the info. Maybe somedays I would like to visit that place again, I could also get in touch with you. It is very useful.

Jeffreysuisrael on

Hi!....Is there a direct ferry service frm singapore to this island...please enlighten me...

venoth on

Hi Jefferey, no but what you could do is from Singapore take the ferry to Batam Island and at that very same ferry terminal, you could take the small boats heading to this island. Many years ago they used to provide the ferry services but in recent years, it has been discontinued.

T A Rahman on

Hi Jeff. I went there last year.I took a ferry from Singapore Waterfront to Sekupang. On arrival, I walked about 100m to another jetty which cater for domestic boat to nearby Island. It cost about IR8000 to go to Belakang Padang.
On reaching you could hire motorised beca(Trishaw) to bring you around the Island costing about less than IR40000( about $5SD.I hope this brief info is helpful.

venoth on

Hello T A Rahman, thank you so much for adding the minute details to Jeff's request. I'm sure it would have helped Jeff enormously. Thank you again Rahman.

jeffreysu on

To:T.A. rahman..thank you so much for your kind info...much obliged..


venoth on

Hi Jeff, glad that you found the solution to your question too.

tony on

does foreigners need a passport and visa to visit Batam island and its surrounding islands?

T A Rahman on

Hi Tony,if you're a Singaporean holding Singapore passport,you do not need to have a visa to visit Batam and othe Riau islands.In fact you only need to have your passport stamped when entering Batam only and from there you can travel to any nearby islands without having your passport but you can only exit to Singapore thro Batam or Tanjung Pinang back to Singapore.



T A Rahman on

Sorry Hilal I'm sure whether you can re enter Singapore from Batam.. Please enquire from relevant authority before leaving for Batam.
Can anyone help to enlighten Hilal on this issue.

T A Rahman on

Hi Robby Batubara, me and friends will visit Belakang Padang this April. I heard that you have started a homestay business there.Can I make a booking for 4 persons on 16/4 to 17/4 and can you arrange for a fishing trip to nearby island for us. Thanks

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