Taxis are your best
means of getting around on Batam. They generally are clean,
air-conditioned and cheap. Most journeys in and around Batam should
cost no more than Rp20,000 and you can hire taxis by the hour for
Rp35,000 to Rp45,000 (usually three hour minimum).
The drivers, though
few speak much, if any, English, are courteous and helpful.
There are no taxi
meters and you must establish the price before you enter the cab,
and be prepared to bargain. A Bule typically will be asked to pay
twice as much as the fare normally paid by local ñ 75% is a
Make sure also that
you have small denomination notes with which to pay. It is
remarkable how many taxi drivers suddenly find they have no change
if proffered a Rp50,000 note. When they do that I make a point of
having them wait while I go to a nearby shop and get change.
You will never have
trouble finding a taxi in Nagoya - they are everywhere! Step out
your hotel door, exit any shop or walk down any street and you will
be offered taxis, taxis and more taxis. Stand by any thoroughfare
and you will have cars gliding up, perhaps beeping the horn and
flashing their lights with the driver asking where you would like to
Many visitors find
taxis honking and touting for business to be one of the most irksome
aspects of Batam but this intense competition also means that prices
are very competitive.
There are three
broad categories of Taxi
Hotel and Port
authorized to operate out of the major hotels, ferry terminals and
airport. These are usually clean, air conditioned good quality cars
with drivers who speak some English. Book through the hotel taxi
desk, the concierge or door staff or the taxi desk at the transport
terminal. The hotel or terminal concession holder receives a
commission on the business the taxi generates and this is reflected
in higher prices than are available from outside taxis. Typically
there is a standard set of charges for most destinations and an
hourly rate for open-ended bookings or taxi tours. The benefit of
using hotel taxis, apart from the standard of vehicles and the
language skills of drivers, is that they are safe and secure.
-- there are a number of taxi fleets operating in and around Nagoya,
some privately owned and others as co-operatives. A few have radio
communications. Fleets include Pinkie, Barelang, Surya Timur, Trans,
Sarana Melayu, Orange and others. Cars are painted in common livery,
typically clean and well maintained and usually air-conditioned.
Drivers vary greatly in foreign language skills but usually are
courteous and helpful. Generally quite safe to engage and cheaper
than hotel taxis.
-- These possibly represent the bulk of the taxis cruising the
streets of Nagoya and surrounding suburbs. Cars range from clean,
near new, well maintained and air conditioned vehicles to beaten up
wrecks that elsewhere would be in the graveyard. Use at your own
risk and BE CAREFUL, particularly at night. Make a judgment based on
the condition of the vehicle and the demeanor of the driver. Prices
are similar to fleet taxis.
If you find a
responsible, helpful fleet taxi driver or privateer make a note of
his name, hand phone number and regular location. If you keep two or
three of these numbers on hand and call one when you need a car they
will be delighted and you will know what you are getting.
Ojeks are a popular
form of transport for the locals. These are motor cycles which you
can hire to take you to your destination as a pillion passenger
typically for about Rp5,000 in and around Nagoya.
Many of those
delightful and attractive young ladies you see on the back of motor
cycles are not out for a run with a boyfriend -- that's just an Ojek
driver they are paying to take them from Point A to Point B. The
demure side-saddle seating is often out of modesty. It's not so easy
to straddle a motor cycle in a tightly cut dress or skirt!
Many ex-pats use
Ojeks regularly as a convenient, quick and cheap mode of transport
in and around Nagoya Central or their immediate neighborhood.
Others refuse to take the risk of riding unprotected on the back of
a motor cycle in heavy, though slow moving, traffic.
Mini buses or vans
are probably the main mode of transport for the local people. They
are exceedingly cheap, very convenient and very plentiful. Against
this they are quite likely to be somewhat dilapidated, crowded and
possibly hot and uncomfortable and are rarely used by Bules. Regular
mini bus services to distant areas like the Nongsa beach resorts,
Sekupung and Waterfront City will often be of a better standard.
Unlike the majority of mini buses on the road they also will show
the destination on the bus exterior.
generally courteous and helpful though very few speak any English.
On the longer journeys the driver often has an assistant who looks
out for and assists passengers and provides another pair of eyes in
working through the traffic.
Fares are likely to
be in the range of Rp3,000 to a location like Batam Centre or a mere
Rp5,000 to Nongsa some 30 or 40 minutes from Nagoya to the north of
Not a recommended
transport option for the short-term visitor, but quite an experience
and a great way to meet the locals if you want to try something
different. The people will perhaps be shy but quite welcoming,
especially if you try to speak a little Indonesian. Most of the
places you are likely to want to visit in and around Nagoya can be
reached by walking. But the street layout can be quite confusing and
itís a good idea to know how to ask for and understand directions in
Many of the
pavements are in poor condition and sometimes traders use the
footpaths as trading or storage areas meaning you may need to walk
in the streets.
There are some
areas where it is better not to walk at all. As in many Western
cities muggings are a part (though infrequently) of the Batam scene
with knives the preferred weapon. Ask your hotel staff, ex-pat
friends or trusted locals about the area before venturing forth.
You should AVOID
walking around Nagoya alone at night. As a group of two or more you
will be fine in most areas but venture out alone and you are
needlessly inviting risk.
Take care at
traffic lights and pedestrian crossings ñ they do not mean the same
in Batam as in Western cities. Vehicles turning left may drive
through a red light (and this is loosely interpreted to include
streets curving left). Drivers do not feel any compulsion to stop
for a pedestrian. The vehicles turning right also are disinclined to
stop for pedestrians.
In short NEVER
assume that you, as a pedestrian have right of way it could be very
bad for your health.
-The general rule for short term visitors is Don't. Many ex-pats who
have spent some time on the Island and know the layout and traffic
systems own vehicles and drive regularly and safely.
But for the
newcomer who does not know the geography or the system it can be a
frightening, dangerous and very expensive nightmare. You are much
better off hiring a car and a capable driver as taxis and hire cars
are so cheap.
If you really have
to test your nerve by driving yourself then remember that despite
what the issuing authority in your home country may have told you
your International License will not be recognized here. You must
have a license issued in Batam or run the risk of being sued and
locked up in the event that you have an accident.
If you do obtain a
local license and are stopped for an infringement you are likely to
be offered the alternative of going to court or an on the spot
fine (described by the locals as lunch, coffee or cigarette money).
Do not argue. Take the on-the-spot option. The going rate for a
Westerner is up to Rp 200,000.
Even if you can
find one, do NOT consider hiring a motorcycle unless you hire a
full-time security guard with it or have it house and bar trained.
An unattended motorcycle is quite likely to vaporize in seconds,
never to be seen again. You will be left with a sizeable bill (yep ñ
for practical purposes no insurance).