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GETTING TO INDONESIA - Time Difference: Indonesia is 1 hour behind Singapore

By Ferry

Unless you have plenty of time on your hands and don't mind taking a slow boat to Indonesia, I'd say the best way to get to there is by air.

To get to either Sumatra or Java by ferry, you must first travel to Batam, part of the Riau Islands of Indonesia. From there, there are PELNI ferries to Belawan (port in Medan, Sumatra) and Tanjung Priok (port in Jakarta, Java). PELNI stands for PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia, a state-owned sea transportation company. They have a website where you can check schedules and fares.

The ferry ride from Singapore to Batam is about 45 minutes, and the one-way fare costs about S$25. There are several ferry operators, one of which Penguin Ferry Services has been receiving good reviews for their reliability. You can catch their ferries to Batam from World Trade Centre Ferry Terminal in Singapore. For more information, contact their sales counter at (65) 6271 4866.


A PELNI ferry by the name of Kelud departs Batam at 5.00 p.m. once every 4 days for Belawan (port in Medan). The cheapest one-way fare costs Rp121,500 (about S$25) and the journey takes about 17 hours (i.e. you'll arrive at Belawan at 10.00 a.m. the next day).

Take a look below for our friend, Fredrik Larsen's advice:

""First, take a boat from the World Trade Centre in Singapore to Batam. S$21 one way. You should take the 7.30am or 8.05am boat to be on Batam in time for the conncection to Sumatra. After clearing immigration in Batam, walk right to get to the terminal for the boats to Sumatra.

I took a boat from Batam all the way to Pekanbaru. It is also possible to catch boats to Buton on the coast of Sumatra (from where you can continue by bus to Sumatra), and to Dumai. The trip all the way to Pekanbaru costs Rp. 186.000 or S$37, and takes almost 9 hours. After I bought my ticket a guy tried to rip me off by demanding a S$50 "port tax". The port tax is Rp. 2.500. I think it is included in the ticket. In any case, don't give them S$50!

Most of the boats from Batam leave in the morning, so even if you take an early boat from Singapore, there is going to be a very tight connection. Because of that, it may be smart to change money before you leave Singapore. At least you should bring water and perhaps some food for the long boat trip.

When you finally arrive in Pekanbaru there is a few minutes ride by minibus into the city centre. If you share bus with other people, this should cost you Rp. 2.000-3.000. If you hire the whole veichle, it is more like Rp. 20.000. In Pekanbaru, there are a couple of places to sleep near the bus terminal. I was told that Poppies Homestay is good.

From Pekanbaru you can catch the bus to Bukittingi. This is a slow 5 to 7 hours trip, depending on the bus. The price is from Rp. 22.000 to Rp. 35.000. The bus drives through some beautiful scenery, so it is quite a nice trip.

You should probably ask other people for feedback on the information I have given you here. Conditions change rapidly in Indonesia, so the next time someone do this trip things may well be different.""

Alternatively, advice from a well travelled hand, our friend, Jerry Drawhorn:

I promised to give you a note on whether it was possible to get from Singapore to Bukittinggi in ONE day! It is...just barely.

If you catch the first ferry from the WTC to Tanjung Balai Karimun you will artrive about 30 minutes before the earliest ferry to Pekanbaru comes in from Batam. Usually clearing cistoms and immigration at Tanjung Balai is fairly efficient, and one can get the ticket from the lokets next to the international ferry slip.

If you miss it there are options to Dumai (as Schelle recommends), or later ferries to P'baru.

However only the first ferry will get you to P'baru in time to catch a minivan on to Bukittinggi. You'll arrive in P'baru around 3 PM and then have to wait an hour or so for the minivan. Arrival in B'tinggi is around 11 PM.


A PELNI ferry by the name of Sinabung departs Batam at 10.00 a.m. once every 4 days for Tanjung Priok (port in Jakarta). The cheapest one-way fare costs Rp177,500 (about S$35) and the journey takes about 26 hours (i.e. you'll arrive at Tanjung Priok at 12.00 p.m. the next day).

If you're heading for Bali, you'll have to take another ferry by the name of Dora Londa from Tanjung Priok to Surabaya. This ferry departs Tanjung Priok for Surabaya at 1.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m., and the cheapest one-way fare costs Rp132,000 (about S$26). Once you get to Surabaya, transfer to a bus to Denpasar.

By Air

Check www.airfares.com.sg for airfares for various destinations from Singapore.

You can also choose to take a domestic flight from Batam to various destinations in Indonesia. A user-friendly website for this would be www.travelindo.com/search/flight/.

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Singapore to Indonesia