The Barelang Islands are in the Riau Islands province, located administratively in the city of Batam, in Indonesia. It includes Batam, Rempang, and Galang Islands. This guide only covers the Rempang and Galang Islands, while Batam Island is covered in Batam and its subarticles.
- 1 Rempang Island - rural island dotted with coastal villages on stilts
- 2 Galang Island - location of former Vietnamese refugee camp
The Barelang Islands are just south of Batam. Barelang gets its name as an acronym from three of the islands' names - Batam, Rempang and Galang. The other four islands are Tonton, Nipah, Setotok and Galang Baru. The island of Batam itself is sometimes included in Barelang, but for this travel guide it refers to the other six islands.
The Barelang Islands are about the following travelling times from these locations in Batam:
- 30min from Hang Nadim Airport (BTH IATA)
- 30min from Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal, Batu Ampar
- 35min from Batam Center Ferry Terminal, Batam Center
- 40min from Sekupang Ferry Terminal, Sekupang
- 30min from Waterfront City Ferry Terminal, Waterfront City
- 50min from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, Nongsa
- Barelang Bridge.
Full day hire of a taxi Rp 500,000 (around SGD70)
The largest of the Barelang Islands, Rempang Island has many nice beaches along the west coast, including Melayu Beach, Pasir Putih Beach and Memory Hill Beach. These beaches are good for swimming and have restaurants serving local food with drinks available.
Vietnam Village, a former Vietnamese Refugee Camp, was built by Vietnamese "Boat People" who escaped from Vietnam by boat after the defeat of South Vietnam in the Vietnam War, arrived at Galang Island in 1976 and occupied the village until 1995. Around 250,000 Vietnamese occupied the camp during its 19-year history, with most eventually gaining asylum in Australia or Canada, while others were returned to Vietnam under emotional circumstances
The Vietnamese built several buildings and temples during their stay; these have now been preserved and made into a tourist attraction. There are some replica boats of the ones used by these "Boat People" to flee from their homeland.
A church and the Quan Am Tu Quil Buddhist Temple (built in 1984) are still used by worshippers today, and are among Batam's most visited attractions. The Khong Pan Su Cam Yao administration building, a clinic and social services complex and youth centre were built and run by the refugees.
View the Ngha Trang Memorial Wall, built as a tribute to the boat people of Vietnam; or visit the Galang Museum with its many interesting artefacts.
Today the camp remains preserved for visitors to stroll amongst, and read & view the camp history from many of the displayed paintings and documents
The site is quite overgrown in places by the jungle and takes around 1h to drive to from Batam Centre. However, on entering the site there are several colonies of macaque monkeys by the road side which are friendly. Unfortunately, there is nowhere around to buy food for them so it is worth stocking up before visiting here if feeding monkeys appeals to you
There is a large seafood restaurant, Lucky Seafood Restaurant on Nipah Island