I am married to Mr. Unpredictable so from no Easter weekend plans on a Thursday at 7pm, we were booked with a hotel and ferry ticket for Bintan at 8:30 pm. Whew! The planner in me, where art thou? Although it keeps me sane to always have a trusty plan, I have to give it to Gel to always keep me on my toes, always surprised on what’s going to happen next. I guess that makes life a little more exciting. 🙂
Given the spontaneity of this trip, we didn’t have a lot of choices. Luckily, we found Bintan in Indonesia. For people in Singapore, this serves as a quick getaway from the bustling metropolis. It is a tropical destination only 45-minute ferry ride away from SG to Bintan’s sandy beaches.
One can book a ferry ride with Bintan Resort Ferries through their website. The terminal is located at Tanah Merah. From Tanah Merah MRT, board bus 35 and alight at the last stop at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Fares can be seen below:
Remember that it still is an Indonesian territory so make sure to bring the Important Documents Required for Immigration Clearance:
- International Passport (require minimum 6 months validity from date of travel)
- VISA if required.
- Embarkation Card
- Boarding Pass
Given its proximity to Singapore, it is really marketed to Singaporean tourists. This is why most hotels and shops accept Singapore dollars. However, we made sure we had rupiah so we changed at least 50 SGD when we arrived at the terminal.
There are a lot of posh resorts in Bintan like Nirwana Gardens and Banyan Tree but since it was a peak season, our choices were down to a few. Serumpun Padi Mas Resort is located at Trikora beach, about 45-minutes to an hour away from the terminal. We paid 115.38 SGD for a 3D/2N stay inclusive of breakfast. Quite a cheap one but it also means to not put your hopes up! It had the very basic things:
- a queen sized bed with not so comfy sheets
- a television (the box and not the flat one) with local channels only
- an A/C (thank God)
- a shower but no hot water
- no refrigerator
We arrived around 5pm already so we didn’t get to see the beach anymore. We just had dinner inside the resort. They had this canteen but I should warn you that eating there can be a problem. There are way too many pesky insects! Good thing the food was okay. I actually liked the Ayam Penyet (smashed chicken). We also made a new friend in the person of Andreas, a German national who is currently on a 3-month business trip in Singapore. Of course, we encouraged him to go to Boracay!
We spent the following day by the beach. Good thing our new found friend Andreas was able to reserve a hut for us. I must tell you, the beach is just okay. I’m pretty hard to please because I am from the Philippines. We have so many beautiful, pristine and immaculate beaches at home so I can’t help but compare. The sand here in Bintan is not that white nor is it powedery-fine. However, being based in Singapore, this is the closest I’ve got to a natural beach (Sentosa, I am looking at you).
What made the trip fun was getting to know a person who lives halfway across the world from you. His life, his culture is so different from us. I actually found him really nice and proper but he said a lot of Germans are deemed rude since they are very forward. He is a small town boy who actually made it big in the city (Munich) and now the world. I’ve always dreamed to be a small town girl to conquer the world.
During dinner, we wanted to try other restaurants since the choices at the canteen inside the resort were quite few. Since Andreas rented a car, we were able to drive and search for a restaurant to eat. However, there were not too many options. We were on the road for a good 30 minutes to an hour, it was kind of dark and creepy and we were losing hope when we saw this nicely lit hotel. We tried our luck and voila! We were in for a buffet for just 20 SGD! Steal! 🙂
We weren’t able to do a lot of things but when you reach the terminal, you can grab a Bintan Resorts Destination Guide to see all the attractions you can do. In brief, these are:
- Tanjung Uban Explorer – See the seaside fishing village life
- South Bintan Heritage Tour – Visit a little Chinese fishing settlement
- Sri Bintan Kampung Eco Tour – Explore traditional Indonesian village
- Power Paintball
- Reservoir Park for picnics and non-motorised water sports
- Mangrove Discovery Tour
- Jumbo Park – Home of 7 Sumatran elephants where you can go for a ride, feed them or watch them perform.
- Flying Fox
- Water Sports
- Gunung Bintan Adventure Trek
It is also best to rent a car so you can tour the island at your own pace. Here are some Private Transportation Services:
- Indorent Car Rental Counters – firstname.lastname@example.org / +62 770 691992
- Kampoeng Lagoi Taxi – email@example.com / +62 813 7254 8288
I think Bintan is being groomed to be a tourism spot for Indonesia since the spending power of the nearby Singapore is just too good to pass. Lagoi Bay Development is still on going but you may see the grand master plan here. A new international airport is also in the works so in a few year’s time, I won’t be surprised if Bintan becomes Indonesia’s next Bali.