Taking a ferry from Singapore to the island of Bintan, Indonesia for a relaxing break.
Being a stone’s throw from Singapore those who are time-starved can get some R&R just 55 minutes away by ferry. Bintan Island, Indonesia, offers all the beachside appeal of Singapore without the stress.
Bintan is just 40 kilometers from Singapore and is the largest of the Riau Islands. Tanjung Pinang, the Riau capital, is located at the south-western tip of Bintan. While its sister island Batam has developed into an industrial town with substantial Singaporean investments, Bintan has become the resort playground of the Riau Islands and is a favourite among Singaporeans.
Bintan is blessed with beautiful white beaches and year-around tropical weather. Take a South Bintan tour that brings you to the heart of this island that is Tanjung Pinang, Senggarang and Pulau Penyengat. Explore Tanjung Pinang’s fish and fruit markets; seasoned Singaporeans often haul home snacks and condiments by the truckloads.
Architecturally, Bintan is rich with heritage sites, clustered in Pulau Penyengat, centre of the Malay Riau-Lingga empire. These include an old Dutch fort built in the 18th century and the Sultan of Riau Grand Mosque which is believed to have been built with egg white!
Although Bintan, being part of Indonesia, is a Muslim island, Senggarang is a Chinese fishing settlement and filled with centuries-old Buddhist temples, making it a popular pilgrimage site.
Visitors can even opt for trendy eco tours. Explore a traditional Indonesian kampung (village) and watch how they weave pandan leaves and tap trees for rubber.
The big bintan outdoors
Bintan is built for the sporty traveler. Gunung Bintan is situated at 340 meters, the highest point in all of Riau. Once an active volcano, it’s now called a mountain and a must-trek for the outdoorsy visitor.
Lagoi Park and Reservoir is a large (14,7 square kilometers) reservoir that supplies potable water to all the island’s resorts, and is open to kayak enthusiasts.
For company outings, Bintan offers a menu of corporate training activities. Paintball is a big favourite, with companies playing out scenarios of team rescue and hostage situations.
For a more edgy team-building exercise, there is the Adventure Training Centre. Teams climb up a tower using tight-ropes and rickety ladders. Fastest team to make it to the top (and over the only way down is by flying fox) wins. It is unnerving stuff that is meant to emotionally glue you to your workmates. That may or may not work, but the exercise is definitely fun.
On Bintan Island, there are plenty of hotels to stay at – Mana Mana Beach Club is the choice of backpackers and swinging singles; Angsana Resort and Spa Bintan for girlfriends who prioritise their spa treatments; and luxury hotel Banyan Tree for canoodling couples.
For the family (or families) with multiple kids and maybe even grandparents, nothing beats Bintan Lagoon Resort. This resort is also a favourite with corporations due to its sheer size.
Bintan Lagoon is the largest resort on Bintan Island, covering over 300 hectares of ground, much of which faces the tranquil South China Sea. There are 473 rooms, suits and villas, all tastefully done up in a modern Balinese style.
The Foral Suites are built for honeymooning couples, with a jacuzzi and private sundeck, while the Forest Suits offer separate living areas for parents and an adjoining suite for two children.
For VIPs, there are two huge suits – the Indraloka and Swargaloka, which come with separate living areas, sofa lounges and executive club access.
The best options for families is the villa. There are three types which vary in size and view, and all are equipped with a kitchen and BBQ facilities. The largest of these, the Angsoka villa offers plenty of creature comforts. Watch DVDs indoor all day or dip in the private pool in the back garden. The villas are located a few minutes away from the main hotel, so every villa is equipped with a golf buggy so you can get to the big pool or restaurants for meal.
If you’d rather have your food come to you, full-service in-room BBQ dining is available. For SGD 200, there is enough food for 10 adults. A professional “BBQer” will do the grilling for you.
At the resort, two grand pools, including one with a waterslide, are guaranteed to keep your kids busy for hours. The beach is just a minute away – relax with a book and gaze at the clear horizon.
The resort also offers activities in the unlikely event guests get bored: Archery, all-terrain vehicles, beach volleyball, go-carting, petanque, elephant rides, laserquests as well as seasports such as snorkeling, scuba-diving and jet ski. or just enjoy a massage in the privacy of your own villa or a sala by the beach.
Dinner at Nelayan, the beachside restaurant, is highly recommended. Take your pick from a huge spread of fresh seafood – snapper, prawn, lobster – or sirloin steaks for meat eaters. Your selection is freshly grilled and served with a buffet of salads, starches and dessert.
Work of all that food in the championship 18-hole golf courses. Both are designed by golf legends, Jack Nicklaus and Ian Baker-Finsh. Each offer different terrain, landscapes and water hazards to challenge golfers of all standards.