Bintan Island is located within the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia. With its proximity to Singapore, it is often visited via a short ferry ride from Singapore (45 minutes to 2 hours of duration depending on the port of arrival). Other ways of reaching Bintan Island include ferry from Johor Bahru, Malaysia or direct flights from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bintan Island has everything that guarantees a splendid getaway – think luxury resorts, fresh seafood and intriguing cultural aspects. Here is my list of 10 Fun Things to Do on Bintan Island. But then again, I won’t judge you if all you want to do is enter the infinity loop of beach, pool, eat & sleep !
1. Go on a Mangrove Tour
The mangrove forest is a beautiful place to visit on Bintan Island. The reflections of the mangroves on the river is simply marvellous. It is also the place to see wildlife at play – watch out for monkey, snakes and kingfishers. Many hotels help guests to arrange the tour, or you may get in touch with BRC Tours to arrange for you. These tours are usually set around the price of SGD 38 per person.
2. Visit the Senggarang Village
Indonesia is a land of cultural diversity – there’s Javanese culture on the land of Java, there’s Hindu culture in Bali, then there’s Chinese culture on Bintan Island. Chinese immigrants settled in the Senggarang Village hundreds of years ago, built their houses on stilt, and made a living through fishing. The Chinese culture is preserved on the island, with many Chinese temples in the village while the villagers today still speak Chinese dialects.
3. See the Banyan Tree Temple in the Senggarang Village
Don’t miss the Banyan Tree Temple if you are in Senggarnag Village. The temple is characterised by an overgrowth of roots that wrap around the temple inseparably. Also known as “Tian Shang Miao” in Chinese, the temple is more than 200 years old and it is the oldest one in the village. My tour guide told me that the temple didn’t originally start out as a temple; it was a house that belonged to a Chinese captain. When the captain died, his body was buried in the house. When people came to pay respect to him, they had their wishes granted and eventually the house became a place of worship.
4. Eat Local Food at Rimba Jaya Food Court
The Rimba Jaya Food Court is one of the best places to experience local food. With lots of small stalls in the food court, you’ll find a good mix of Malay and Chinese food, while some Japanese food is also seen. A few things to eat here include – ikan bakar (grilled fish), satay (there are halal and non-halal versions), bak kut teh (pork bone soup), otak otak (fish paste wrapped in banana leaf), soto ayam (Indoneisan chicken soup) and shaved ice desserts.
5. Catch a Fabulous Sunset at Lagoi Beach
A chase for sunsets brought us to Lagoi Beach, where a gigantic (abandoned ?) ship was docked on shore. The orange and pink hues surrounded the ship, making it the perfect spot to enjoy the golden hour. We hear that the ship has been bought by someone with a plan to turn it into a boutique hotel; I’ll be the first one to stay there if that ever happens !
6. Eat Seafood
Seafood is always a must whenever you are on an island ! In particular, eat “gong gong” – a type of sea snail unique to the region and popularly eaten on Bintan. They are so popular that you even see them on murals ! They are fat and juicy, best eaten by pulling them out via a toothpick and dipping them in chili sauce.
We have tried two different restaurants for seafood – Sei Enam in Tanjung Pinang and D’Bintan River Kelong Seafood Restaurant. Overall, I preferred D’Bintan River Kelong because the flavors are just right and classic. A few of the dishes we tried include steamed prawns, steamed fish, gong gong, and chili crab. D’Bintan River Kelong doesn’t seem to have a website, here is their information if you need to get in touch with them :
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +65 0770 6920 898
As for Sei Enam, the food is not bad, but I found the dishes to be slightly over flavored – sometimes too sweet or too peppery. A few dishes I liked from Sei Enam include salted egg yolk crab and garlic chicken.
Sei Enam Address: Jalan Usman Harun 31, Tanjung Pinang 29110.
Sei Enam’s Facebook Page
7. Go for a Cooking Class
D’Bintan Kelong Seafood Restaurant also offers cooking classes, and one of the dishes that we learnt to cook was the famous “gong gong” !
Their contact :
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +65 0770 6920 898
8. Hang Out at your Resort and
Bintan Island has lots of hotels that are designed to keep you in; meaning that the moment you enter the hotel, the hotel is equipped with swimming pools, golf courses, spas, multiple restaurants, beaches, water sports and activities on site, there’s really no need for you to go outside of the hotel. Why spend the time travelling from places to places on the island when everything is already provided for you in the hotel ?
The hotel that we stayed at was the Bintan Lagoon Resort. It’s right next to the beach, it has a bar by the fabulous pool – and to some, these are the only two ingredients required for an ultimate holiday.
10. Visit the Guan Yin Temple (Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha)
The serene Guan Yin Temple enshrines the Goddess of Mercy and was inaugurated in 2009 by the Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. The Guan Yin statue is in a sitting position at an impressive height of 16.8m and it is the tallest Guan Yin statue in Indonesia. If you’ve visited many temples in other parts of Asia, this temple can be rather similar. But, if you have not, let this be the temple to enchant you.
**With many thanks to the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia for organising this trip.
For more information on travel in Indonesia, visit Tourism Indonesia’s Official Page.
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