I’ve seen this question posed on many online travel boards, the Travelfish.org forum included:
“I need to get from Singapore to Indonesia, but I don’t want to fly. Isn’t there a cheaper way to do it?” The short answer is no. All the budget airlines fly from Singapore to Indonesian destinations like Jakarta and Bali, so competition keeps the prices low. A quick search on AirAsia.com finds a weekday flight from Singapore to Jakarta for S$75 including taxes.
There’s good reason that 99% of travellers choose to fly. Just look at a map — Singapore and Java are not that close together! A significant stretch of water separates them and, considering Indonesian ferries are not known for their great safety record and do, on occasion, sink, flying is the safest, fastest, and most comfortable option.
Of course, it is possible to travel between Singapore and Indonesia without getting on an airplane. Just be aware that it will take a couple of days and not be any cheaper than a one-way flight. If you’re the type of traveller who likes to do things the hard way, then read on:
1. Singapore to Batam
Get a ferry from Singapore’s Harbourfront Centre to Batam Island (Pulau Batam), a small Indonesian island just 20 km away. Ferries depart almost every hour and take about 50 minutes. A one-way ticket costs S$23 and can be purchased at the terminal or in advance by contacting one of the ferry companies like Penguin Ferry or Batam Fast Ferry. Indonesian visas are available on arrival.
2. Batam to Tanjung Priok
A shipping vessel named the KM Kelud stops in Batam on its way to Tanjung Priok, a large port north of Jakarta. The crossing takes about 26 hours and prices range from Rp 252,000 for an economy ticket to Rp 988,000 for a first class cabin. The boat only comes every four days, so definitely check the online schedule with Pelni Ferries.
3. Tanjung Priok onwards
If Jakarta is your ultimate destination, you can catch a taxi or bus the last 13km to the city centre. If you’re Bali-bound, you can continue your journey by another series of ferries that will take more than a day. Are you reconsidering that flight yet?
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 13th November, 2014.