Waterfront City

Waterfront City, also known as Teluk Senimba (Senimba Bay), is a place on the island of Batam, Indonesia, just south of Singapore.

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The Minangkabau-style ferry terminal at Waterfront City
Construction in Waterfront City, with the burned-out hulk of Snow World looming in the background

Don’t be fooled by the name Waterfront City is no city, it’s a purpose-built tourist development home to two large hotels and not much else. Construction started in the 1990s with great hopes, but like many of Suharto’s big projects, it never took off the way it was supposed and multiple failed developments still litter the area: the first thing you’ll see as you exit the ferry terminal is the rotting carcass of Snow World, which lay uncompleted for years before burning down in 2006.

All that said, if you ratchet down your expectations very low, Waterfront City still makes a reasonably pleasant weekend getaway: the hotels are high-quality and affordable, there’s just enough to keep you entertained for a day or two, and at night you can dig into cheap seafood and sample the nightlife. Batam as a whole is still growing fast and with Harris’s recent expansion and the refurbished cable ski operation, there’s even faint hope of a belated renaissance.

Waterfront City Ferry Terminal, a striking Minangkabau-style construction with sharped pointed eaves, is a visa-on-arrival entry point for Indonesia. BatamFast runs three ferries a day from Singapore‘s HarbourFront ferry terminal via Sekupang to Waterfront, taking about 70 minutes including the Sekupang stop. If you miss these, there are many more to Sekupang, from where it’s a 15-km trip to Waterfront City.

Hotel shuttle buses meet incoming ferries and offer sightseeing and shopping trips around the rest of the island. Within Waterfront City itself, most sites are within walking distance. If you’d like to go further out, there are usually taxis lurking in front of the cable ski park, but you’ll need to haggle. Cabbies will ask for S$20 for the half-hour haul to Nagoya, but locals can negotiate that down to around Rp. 75,000.

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