Few years ago, during our visit to BaIi, when we came across Bintang (a popular beer in Bali), I had no clue that there is also a place with similar name “Bintan”. Do you know about Bintan?Although we mostly prefer a laid back beach destination for our vacation. Last year it was Phuket and Krabi. Checkout my blogs about this trip. Phuket in 4 days, Krabi in 3 daysThis year somehow we ended up finalizing Singapore. Sole reason for choosing Singapore was our naughty 2.5-year-old toddler. Short and direct flight from Bangalore (4 hours) and unlimited tourist attractions especially for kids were the reasons compelling enough to zero down to Singapore.This one not being our typical relaxing beach vacation somehow we were having pangs of doubt (Although Singapore dint disappointed us in any way and we had a real good time)One day we discovered from a friend that there are some Indonesian islands in close proximity to Singapore where we can go by Ferry. So I began my search and figured out that Bintan & Batam are the 2 major Indonesian islands near Singapore. And that’s how we decided to split our vacation between the Laid back zone and the Action zone.Out of 2 Islands in Riau Archipelago of Indonesia, we chose Bintan, simply as it offered a wide choice of luxury resorts and some options for sightseeing.Here’s all you need to know about Bintan, Indonesia, a perfect weekend getaway from Singapore.About Bintan, IndonesiaBintan is a perfect retreat for those looking for a peaceful time. Situated in the South China Sea, Bintan is the largest island in Riau Island Province of Indonesia with Tanjung Pinang as its capital. With its high-end resorts, world-class golf courses and proximity to Singapore, Bintan is one of the popular weekend getaways among Singaporeans.Unlike popular beach destinations in Asia like Thailand or Bali, Bintan is relatively lesser known. This sparsely populated island has a glistening coastal line with white soft sand, secluded beaches, tropical forest including mangroves and some historical heritage to discover.Bintan Island is differentiated into northern and southern parts. North of Bintan island known as Bintan resorts is primarily the center of tourist activities, with most of the beachfront resorts and host of recreational activities.
How to reach Bintan
By Sea – Bintan is just an hour away from Singapore through Ferry. There are frequent ferries from Tanah Merah ferry Terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani Terminal, which will take you to Bintan resorts or Sri Bintan Pura Terminal at Tanjung Pinang. Read all about how to reach Bintan and our ferry experience in my next blog.
From Johor Baru Malaysia, 5 ferries serve the daily schedule between Johor Bahru Ferry Terminal to Sri Bintan Pura Terminal, Tanjung Pinang.
By Air- Bintan only has a domestic airport – Raja Haji Fisabililah Airport. From the capital city of Jakarta there are daily flights to Bintan.
When to visit
Given its proximity to equator, hence the tropical climate is dominant all through the year. Temperature ranges between 21° and 32° Celsius, with average daytime temperature of around 28° Celsius. Early November to late March is the monsoon season.
Avoid planning your trip during public holidays or weekends, as it can get pretty crowded. Our stay in Bintan was from Sunday to Wednesday. It was nice as we could enjoy all the facilities to the maximum including the entire beach to ourselves!
Where to stay
During our visit, we stayed in Nirwana Resorts by Nirwana gardens; it was a nice luxury resort with host of recreational activities and an incredible infinity pool. There are many resorts in the Bintan resorts Area. Read my complete review of the Nirwana gardens here. Hotel Review: Nirwana Resort Hotel,Bintan Indonesia
Bintan is primarily popular among tourists (mainly from Singapore) as a weekend getaway. Apart from relaxing, there are some other attractions, which you can add to your list if you intend to explore the island. Here’s listing all the activities, which I found interesting. We couldn’t try all of it due to shortage of time.
1) Explore the Bintan Resort Area
Bintan resort area in itself has so much to offer that you will fall short of time for the other activities. Nirwana Gardens has 5 resorts and a free shuttle. Some of the major activities and attractions offered at the resort were.
Beach – goes without saying! Bintan resort offers access to pristine beaches. An early morning or late evening walk in the palm fringed sandy beaches is a therapeutic experience. The beach at Nirwana resorts was perfect to soak your self into the sea and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Calm sea with hardly any waves and crystal clear water was simply breath-taking.
Variety of theme restaurants – If you love to try different cuisines, than probably exploring the restaurants will be a good option. Nirwana gardens have 9 restaurants offering different cuisines and unique experiences. I am sure other resorts in the area will have many more. Although we could not experience all of them but we particularly loved Calypso floating bar, where you can enjoy your drinks right above the sea.
Enjoy the Pool – All the resorts have beautiful pools and that’s one amenity, which you should not miss.
Try Segway ride –Segway (Ninebot) are available on rental at Nirwana resort. Hop on to Segway and enjoy sunrise experience or catch the stunning sunset through a guided tour. Option to explore the area on your own is also available.
Buggy ride & ATVs – Nirwana gardens also offers exciting All terrain vehicles (ATVs) and Buggies on hourly rental basis. So you can rent one of those and enjoy the jungle trail or ride on the white sandy beaches.
Recreational activities & adventure sports – There are host of other recreational activities like bowling, Air rifle, Archery etc. Get an adrenaline rush through 4 storey’s Zip line.
Enjoy feeding the elephants at Elephant center.
Water activities – There are interesting water activities which you can enjoy including scuba diving, under sea walk, jet ski, parasailing etc.
2) Lagoi Plaza & Lantern Park– Lagoi plaza is a beautiful mall situated at a little distance from Bintan resorts. Mall has many restaurants offering local cuisine at economical prices, spa, departmental store etc. Free shuttle service is available for pickup and drop at regular intervals. Although many of the shops in the mall are still unoccupied, you can visit this place for a different experience. The day we visited, there were very few visitors in the mall, and it was like a movie set with jazz music filling the air and lights all over. We had a very different experience, which I will share in my next blog. Apart from the mall you can also visit Lantern Park, which is unique and will be of special interest to the kids. Try these unique paddling cars decorated with lights called odong odong or enjoy the 3.5km-long beachfront with white sand and azure waters.
3) 500 Lohan temple – or Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, a recently opened Buddhist temple in Tanjung Panang. There are over 500 life-sized, human like (Lohan) statues – each unique and different from the other. The expression on each statue is different.Temple has a huge entrance with a gigantic statue of Buddha. After climbing few stares you reach the main temple, decorated with bright red lanterns etc. We loved spending time in this Calm and peaceful place. Again being a weekday there were only handful of visitors. It’s a beautiful site for photography.
4) Sengarrang – situated at a short distance away from Tanjung Panang is a unique ancient Chinese village built on the stilt along the coast .The rows of old wooden houses supported by the wooden logs have a very rustic appeal to it. A walk across this unique age-old colony of fishermen’s is a unique experience.Sengarrang also has some ancient Chinese temples, which you should not miss.
Tian Shang Miao – Also Popularly known, as Banyan tree temple is a Century-old temple sitting under a massive banyan tree. The Banyan tree temple showcases the marvel of nature where the branches and the roots of the century old Banyan tree has curled itself around the temple forming a peculiar structure.
Vihara Dharma Sasana (temple) – This ancient temple was built to give thank for the safe sea passage of the early Chinese settlers. Temple showcases the co-existence of Gods and Dragons in Chinese mythology. The temple complex houses many ancient temples by the Sengarrang port including Marco temple, Sun Te Kong Temple and Tay Ti kong Temple.
Don’t forget to carry mosquito repellent with you when you visit Sengarrang as the temple is full of mosquitoes and we had a tough time there.
5) Penyengat Island – Situated 15 minutes of motorboat ride away from Tanjung Pinang coast, Penyengat Island has a historical significance, dating back to the 18th Century, when it was established as a fort of the Sultanate of Johor–Riau. Today the island is one of the tourist attractions in Bintan.The Grand Mosque of the Riau Sultanate, near the harbour is one of the landmarks. This tiny island is also home to the ‘tombs of the sultans’, a common stopover that follows on after a visit to Masjid Raya. Unfortunately we could not visit this Island due to shortage of time.
Apart from these there are many more attractions as well as adventure activities that one can enjoy in Bintan depending upon the time available.
Have you already visited Bintan? Do share your favorite attraction or activity in Bintan. In my next blog I will share our 3 days itinerary.checkout more stories on www.madhuonthego.com
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