Karmun is located just off the east coast of Sumatra, guarding the southern entrance of the busy Straits of Malacca. It lies west of Batam and to the southwest of Singapore and is the furthest west of the Riau Islands.
Its proximity to Singapore has made the islands quite affluent and busy. Its main town, Tanjung Balai is a bustling port town with a lot of commerce, boosted by tourists from Singapore and Malaysia. However, like Batam and Bintan, Karimun is also listed as a Free Trade Zone area.
For details on visa requirements for visiting Karimun, please see the Indonesia page. Karimun's Tanjung Balai port is designated as a visa-free and visa-on-arrival entry point.
Karimun does not have an operational airport, so travellers' only option is to get in by boat. Karimun has good ferry connections with Singapore and Kukup in the southwestern tip of Johor, Malaysia as well as the other Riau Islands and the Sumatra "mainland".
Penguin (Tel: +62-777-324300 in Tanjung Balai; +65-62714866 in HarbourFront) and Indofalcon (Tel: +65-62783167 in Harbourfront) ferry companies operate ferries between Tanjung Balai and Singapore's HarbourFront Centre. Between them, they run 3 trips on weekdays (From HarbourFront: 0800, 1420 and 1820. From Tanjung Balai: 0730, 1100 and 1700), increasing to 6 trips on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (From HarbourFront: 0800, 0950, 1225, 1420, 1625 and 1820. From Tanjung Balai: 0715, 0945, 1130, 1315, 1530 and 1700). From Singapore, tickets cost S$63 return before Indonesian port taxes or Rp 110.000 one-way before port taxes (Rp 10.000) from Tanjung Balai. Journey time is about one and a half hours.
Please note that the two companies' code-sharing agreement allows you to board any ferry at Tanjung Balai for the return leg to Singapore only if you hold a return ticket that was purchased in Singapore. If you buy your ticket in Tanjung Balai, you can only board the ferry of the company from which you buy the ticket.
- MV Ocean Indoma ferries leave Kukup at 1145 and 1700. From Tanjung Balai, ferries leave at 0930 and 1430.
- New ferry service operated by Esnergy Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. (Tel: +60-7-4288181 in Batu Pahat, +62-777-324355 in Tanjung Balai) links Tanjung Balai and Batu Pahat, the 2nd largest city in Johor State. From Batu Pahat, ferries depart at 0900, 1200 and 1500. Tickets cost RM70/95 one-way/return (excluding RM10 port tax/boarding fee). From Tanjung Balai, ferries leave at 0800, 1100 and 1400 and cost Rp 170.000/240.000 one-way/return (excluding Rp 10.000 port tax/boarding fee).
From the other Riau Islands
- From Batam: Regular ferries link Tanjung Balai with Sekupang domestic ferry terminal on Batam. Many of these ferries originate from or are heading to the Sumatra mainland or Kundur Island. Tickets cost Rp. 60.000 one-way (excluding Rp. 1.000 port tax & Rp. 1.000 insurance)
- From Bintan: Ferry company Arena operate regular ferries between Tanjung Balai and Tanjung Pinang, the main town on Bintan. The ferries also stop at Sekupang on Batam enroute.
- From Kundur Island: The Miko Natalia 3 links Tanjung Balai with Tanjung Batu, the main town on Kundur Island several times daily. Tickets cost Rp. 46,000 one-way before port taxes. Journey time is over one hour, longer if stops are made at islands along the way. The ferry continues its journey to Sekupang on Batam.
From the Sumatra mainland
Regular ferries link Sumatra port cities like Dumai, Pekanbaru, Selat Panjang (all in Riau province), and Kuaka Tungkal in Jambi with Tanjung Balai. Most of these ferries continue to Tanjung Pinang, the main town in Bintan, stopping at Sekupang on Batam enroute.
From other parts of Indonesia
A Pelni boat KM Kelud leaves Tanjung Balai every Wednesday at 8am for Jakarta, taking 31 hours (Ekonomi/Class III Wisata Rp 255.000/Rp 375.000). The same boat leaves Tanjung Balai every Saturday at 7pm for Belawan, the port for Medan, taking 17 hours (Ekonomi/Class III Wisata Rp 180.000/Rp 260.000). For more information on Pelni departure schedules and fare, contact PT. Biro Perjalanan Karimun at Jalan Nusantara No. 1, Tanjung Balai, Pulau Karimun. ☎ +62-777-324132 (fax: +62-777-327176).
The cheapest way to travel in Karimun is by mikrolet. These small minibuses run a fairly standard route and pick up and drop off passengers anywhere along the way. By the way, the locals call them "oplet".You can get almost anywhere in Tanjung Balai for Rp. 2.000. Tanjung Balai to Meral is 2.500rp.
This would be one of the ideal way to explore Karimun. However, yet to find one bicycle renter in the town. However, most of the ferry companies will take your bicycle for a SG$5 fee, so if you are coming from Singapore, just bring one over.
- Baitul Karim Mosque, Tanjung Balai.
- Vihara Cetiya Vidya Sagara 朱王庙, Jalan Jenderal A. Yani, Meral. This chinese temple was built in 1926.
- Vihara Sasana Diepa 妈祖宫, Jalan Jenderal A. Yani, Meral.
- Palawan Beach, a beautiful beach. There is a nice small restaurant under the palm trees, overlooking the sea. On Sundays and holidays, it is a popular destination for the locals.
- Pongkar Beach, another nice and beautiful beach. It's very refreshing and relax place that you have to visit when you are in Karimun
- Waterfall usually call Air Terjun, climbing to the top of the waterfall. Have a nice and clear water, barbecue at there, etc... Really fun :D
Stroll around Tanjung Balai, which is the main town on Karimun Island, and one of the busiest towns in the Riau Islands. You can walk around and explore on your own or you can take a mikrolet (small public bus) for Rp. 2.000.
To enjoy the rural lifestyle on a tropical Indonesian island, you need to get away from Tanjung Balai and go to some local kampung areas in Meral or Pasir Panjang.
Vist the Chinese temples of Vihara Cetiya, Vidya Sagara and Vihara Sasana Diepa in Meral. Take your time to look at the temple drawings such as "General Xue and Lady Fan" and "Lady Warriors of the Yang Family".
Visit the "Air Terjun" (waterfall in Indonesian) which is not far away from Pantai Palawan. You can bath in the man-made pools built to capture the water flowing from the mountain. It's definitely refreshing.
Karimun's main department store is Indo A. Yani Swalayan & Dept. Store in Tanjung Balai. Pasar Swalayan means supermarket in Bahasa Indonesia. This 3 storey department store offers food, clothing, housewares, stationary and basic necessities.
Padimas Department Store another shopping area in Karimun. Beside it, there is a game centre suitable for the families. Opposite it, is the Padimas Hotel, which is reasonably priced.
You can obtain 250g Karimun Utama coffee (Kopi Karimun Utama) for Rp. 7.150 (Agent: Toko Utama, Jalan Nusantara No. 43, Tanjung Balai, Pulau Karimun. ☎ +62-777-21003), local produced Kerupuk, deep fried fish crackers, can be found at Bona Kerupuk Atom 50 and cost Rp. 7.000 per packet.
Bakso, a meatball made from low quality meat is just as popular as nasi goreng. Both are sold from street side stalls, or push carts that make their rounds through the neighborhoods.
Several chinese restaurants can be found along Jalan Trikora Laut (opposite Holiday Karimun Hotel). This is probably the central area for Teochew-style Bak Kut Teh. Noodles are also available.
The long stretch of open-air food and drink vendors that convenes outside the ferry terminal after 5pm is a great place to try out authentic, cheap Indonesian food.
粿汁( kue chap), address=Pujasera ... Traditional food ala Tio chiu.... Nice and black soup with white kue. Must Try. Two thumbs up. Chiak...
Try Lasegar, an Indonesian refreshing soft drink for Rp. 3.500 per can. One can of Carlsberg beer costs Rp. 5.500. Try Sosro, an Indonesian refreshing tea.
- Paradise Hotel: Jalan Setia Budi Tg.Balai/K, Kepri - Indonesia. Reflecting a warn, friendly ambience make you feel at home. For advance booking: +62-777-23111, 23222, 23333, 23555. http://www.paradise-karimun.5u.com
- Mirama Hotel: Jalan A.Yani No.08 (Sei Lakam) Tg.Balai/K, Kepri - Indonesia. A beautiful and well designed hotel with good quality of services. For advance booking: +62-777-325818, 325828.
- Gabion Hotel: Jalan Nusantara No. 45, Tanjung Balai. Close to the ferry terminal but hotel offers complimentary terminal pickup and drop off. Tel: +62-777-326222, 326250, 31874. Prices from S$22 or Rp. 120,000 inclusive of breakfast.
- Horizon, Jl Setia Budi, ☎ +62-777-324008. '''US$13''' or Rp120000.
- Holiday Karimun Hotel: Jalan Trikora Laut No. 1 Tanjung Balai (very near to the ferry terminal). Tel: +62-777-21065. Between Rp. 120.000 and Rp. 140.000.
- Maximillian: A new hotel opened, it is 7 storeys high, offers a karaoke lounge and much more. Tel: +62-777-328028 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Between S$28 and $S68.
- Paragon Hotel: Jalan Trikora No. 38D, Tanjung Balai (about 200m from the ferry terminal in the heart of Tanjung Balai, straddling one block between Jalan Trikora and Jalan Nusantara). Tel: +62-777-31488. Said to be the best hotel in Tanjung Balai. Between S$25 and S$40.
- Padi Mas Hotel: Jalan Pertambangan, Tanjung Balai (About 1-2Km from the ferry terminal). A night cost $36 for a Deluxe room.
- Victoria: Next to Gabion Hotel.Tel:+62-777-325777. Between Rp.100,000 and Rp. 140,000
- Wisma King Star, Jl Setia Budi, ☎ +62-777-22348. S$20 / Rp:100000.
- Hotel Rasa Indah: Jalan Nusantara No.127 B, Tanjung Balai Karimun-kepri,Indonesia. A 5 storeys Hotel, located near to many local outstanding Restaurants. Awesome services with economy prices from as low as S$18-S$25 or Rp.100,000-Rp.130,000 inclusive of breakfast(prices many varies). For more Information, please contact:+62-777-327687,27689.
- Wisma Top Star. It is located near Bravo and Santana discos.... Hey 17 Enjoy... 歡迎光臨...The night is still young....Rp 70000.
The country code for Indonesia is 62. The area code for Tanjung Balai is 777.
Post office (known as kantor pos in Bahasa Indonesia) in Tanjung Balai is open daily except Sundays and public holidays. Sending a postcard costs Rp. 5.000.
The nearest airport is on Palau Batam, so you'll need to head back there for domestic flights.For International flights heading to Singapore would be the best option.
Connections by sea are limited to one Pelni boat per week and various fast boat services to different Sumatran ports.