In the 1980’s, Galang Island suddenly became famous. This island was a topic of discussion in the United Nations since it became home to thousands of Vietnamese boat people, refugees who left their country following the Vietnam War. They came here by boat in alarming conditions. 40 to 100 refugees travelled cramped into one small boat. They floated for months in the South China Sea without any clear destination. Many died in mid ocean, but others managed to reach Indonesian territory including Galang Island, Tanjung Pinang, and nearby other islands. The United Nations and the Indonesian Government made Galang a temporary safe haven before refugees were processed for ssettling in other countries. Many Vietnamese in America, Europe and Australia, still keep grateful memories of the time when they finally found some peace on this pretty island, with its white sand beaches.
Here were built houses of worship, a school for their children and a cemetery to bury the dead. At present, this ex-refugee camp is a tourist site.
By visiting this camp, visitors are brought back to the past tragedy, when thousands of Vietnamese left their home country to seek protection elsehwere. Visitors can see a church and a temple built during that era, which are still well-maintained and can be used by tourists.
On Galang visit the Vietnam Village, site of the former refugee camp of the Vietnamese Boat People Village who arrived here between 1976 and 1996. See an exact replica of one of the small boats used in 1975 by hundreds of Vietnamese refugees to cross the seas to escape a homeland fraught by civil war. The Quan An Tu Monastery, built in 1984, is the island's most visited attraction.
To reach this island, take a ferry to any of the Batam’s six ferry terminals. Batam’s Hang Nadim airport serves domestic flights from many cities in Indonesia. See: To get there for Batam island. The Vietnam refugee camp is located in Sijantung village on Galang Island some 50 kilometers from Batam Center.
No restaurant or food stall is available around this tourist site. Restaurants and food stalls are only available in Barelang, Batam Center and Nagoya.
By visiting this camp, visitors are brought back to the past tragedy, when hundreds of thousands of people left their country for protection. Visitors can see worship places built during that era, which are still well-maintained and can be used by tourists.
No hotel is available on Galang Island. You can stay in hotels on Batam .See; Find Hotel in Batam
If you still have time, you can continue your journey to Melur Beach in Barelang, which is located not far from the refugee camp. On this beach, you can enjoy exotic and natural scenery.
Visitors can buy various types of souvenirs such as t-shirts, stickers, pins, etc. From a shop near the complex.
You will get a clear explanation about the daily life of the refugees by visiting a building previously used as a UNHCR office. In this building, you can see pictures of thousands of refugees who once lived on the island. You can also see pictures of incidences incured by the Vietnamese during their time here. This building is now used as a reception office and information center for visitors.