Home for weekend travelers, Bintan is a getaway destination for those who are longing for 2-3 days of vacation to rejuvenate from mundane city life of Singapore. Bintan is the northern tip of the Riau Islands which falls within the Sumatra region of Indonesia. Owing to its proximity to Singapore, this island attracts plethora of tourists from Singapore. With my younger brother in town, I wanted a nice beach vacation with him over the weekend and this destination topped my list.
6 To Do’s Before your Trip
- Bintan is quite hot on a sunny day. So, if you don’t enjoy the sun, do check the weather forecast beforehand. A caveat, ‘The Lagoi lake’ looks way more beautiful on a sunny day
- Book in advance if you want a resort with private beach. These tend to get very expensive when booked at short notice
- Cabs are expensive. Look for free shuttle services offered by your hotel and shopping places like Plaza Lagoi to save some bucks.
- Hand carry your luggage instead of checking in to avoid waiting at the conveyor belt
- Carry board games, playing cards etc. if you enjoy indoor games
- It takes about 1 hour to reach Bintan Resorts by ferry and these ferries are available at very convenient times. Click here to book your ferry.
‘The Bintan Resorts’ term refers to the northern coast of the Indonesian Island of Bintan. This part of the island is highly commercialized and houses many privately owned beach resorts, golf courses, and recreational watersports. The good thing about Bintan Resorts is that it makes a great family vacation destination owning to the nature of activities for both adults and kids. The not so good thing is that, everything looks tailor made to attract tourists and is not very representative of Indonesia. Below is my analysis of the destination so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
Re-living Experiences: Food, Vacationing, Photography & More
We took the 9:50 AM ferry from Singapore (Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal) to Bintan (Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal-BBT). It’s advisable to reach the terminal at least an hour before your scheduled departure, especially if you are travelling in the economy class. There are 2 classes of seats (emerald and economy) in the ferry. The emerald class is about 40% costlier. It’s quite debatable whether you want to spend the extra bucks to be in emerald class for just 1 hour of journey time.
The ferry duration was 1 hour (same as the time lag). So we reached Bintan around 10 AM. Most hotels provide a free pick up and drop facility from BBT. The surroundings in and around the BBT Terminal are quite scenic to enjoy and click pictures. While the hotel cab is waiting for the other guests, it might be worthwhile to walk around.
We stayed in Swiss Belhotel which is about 15 mins drive from the ferry terminal. We reached quite early and had to wait for a few hours since the check-in time was 3 PM and our room wasn’t ready. So you can either book a ferry according to your hotel check-in time or you can drop the luggage at the baggage counter in the hotel and explore the nearby areas. Our hotel had a gaming room with X-Box, PlayStation, Foosball, Table Tennis, Billiards and a projector for watching movies so we could pass our time while waiting for our room to be ready. The hotel did not have a private beach and we couldn’t get this information when we booked the hotel through agoda.com. The public beach was about 5 mins away from the hotel. It might be a good idea to just call the hotel and check this information before booking.
Late afternoon, we visited Lagoi Bay lake. The lake is beautiful and we spent an hour enjoying the landscape. It was serene, peaceful and the setting was apt for any artist to immerse in his/her art. The lake looks even more beautiful on a sunny day and is a great place to take pictures. The extension of this lake is used for landing water-planes.
The Lagoi beach is a public beach that is accessible to everyone. We started our beach walk hoping it will last forever but to our sadness, the stretch hit the private beach of Sanchaya resort which is not accessible.
The transition from blue to orange to red at sunset was mesmerizing. At the end of day, we went to Plaza Lagoi. This is the shopping area which includes shops for souvenirs and apparels and also houses various restaurants and bars. We relished the ‘live music experience’ in Plaza Lagoi by upcoming Indonesian bands. The seating is open, so you can relax and dance to the beat. The Plaza also has a supermarket where you can buy daily needs, water, snacks, beer etc.
The following day, we were all set to get soaked in the sea! We saw the advertisement of Treasure Bay in the ferry and decided to go there. We took a cab from our hotel to Treasure Bay (IDR 160,000 for 5-7 kms) . The water sports and activities are in the pool and not in the open sea. There is an entry fees of around S$5 plus each water sport is separately priced (around $50 for Kayaking for an hour, $189 for Jetovator for 30 min etc.). Jet Skiing is not offered here. It is a safe environment for kids to enjoy water sports. But frankly we did not get the adrenaline running and decided against going inside.
Our final call was to go to Nirwana Resort (the receptionist at Treasure Bay helped us to book the cab). The resort has a beautiful private beach with white sands and charismatic greenery all around. The water was so clear that I could see my reflection into it. Moreover, there were hardly any visitors which enhanced our experience. The day was cloudy and hence made a good time to click pictures. This beach offers many water and adventure sports which include Kayaking ($ 50 for an hour), Jet Skiing (S$ 115 for 30 min), Banana Boat ride, All Terrain Vehicle etc. There is about 20% discount for the residents of the Nirwana resort. We enjoyed Jet Skiing and swimming in the sea and then walked around the beach. The scenery had its unique appeal. I sat on the sea and talked to the sea. It was so soothing to feel the winds on my face and slowly breathe in and out. I could feel my mind, body and soul at rest. This was indeed a much needed break!
We returned to the hotel and hogged like hungry pandas. In the evening, we were found reveling in the infinity pool of our hotel.
Since our trip was a leisure trip, we did not go around as much. The Mangrove Tour and Firefly Night Tour are very popular attractions for tourists. The spa is much cheaper in the village so if you have time, you can explore that as well. The following day, we spent most of the time relaxing in the hotel. The check out time was 12 Noon which we got extended to 1 PM. After the check out, we spent a couple of hours in the games room. The hotel provided the shuttle service to drop us back to BBT and before we knew, it was time to say Goodbye to Bintan!
Check out our attempt to re-experience in ‘Bintan in 99 Seconds’