A getaway from the city is required and our choice stops on Bintan Island, Indonesia. Another paradise that may be reached within 45 minutes from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal near the Singapore Changi Airport.
It was decided late in the evening that we will go for a weekend at the beach away from the concrete. Our research on the internet promised us a comfortable bungalow on the edge of the sea with semi-private beach at Mayang Sari Beach Resort which is part of a huge resort called Nirwana Gardens. The price initially seemed honest, but once taxes and fees were added, the final invoice was almost 200 USD per night. I hoped it would be memorable.
I will enlighten you further on alternatives for budget adventure. We almost forgot that we must book ferry tickets to get us to the island first. Ferry tickets are almost sold out for the weekend. We must come back to Singapore by travelling on first class if we want to arrive in Singapore on Sunday evening 21:00. The bill went up to about 120 USD for 2 round – trips. Not so bad, it’s only 45 minutes to get to Bintan on a ferry.
Bintan Resort Ferries Pte Ltd (Singapore) Tel: (65) 6542 4369 – http://www.brf.com.sg
Penguin Ferry Services (+65 65427105) – http://intra.penguin.com.sg/pages.php?url=ferry_schedule
Batam Fast – http://www.batamfast.com/
-Don ‘t forget to get your fill of beer and drinks at ferry terminal’s duty free, because the resorts charge exorbitant prices for alcohol
– Bintan Resort offers a special one-week visa for 10 USD; other customs posts require you to take a much more expensive one-month visa.
– The modern terminal welcome us with the big letters ‘ Bintan Resort’.
– No local visitor just foreign tourists mostly Singaporeans, expatriates and their families.
– Even the famous Club Med is there to give you two days all included for more than $ 800 per person with an exotic juice with small flower as a bonus.
Bintan is the largest island in 3200 Riau islands of the archipelago is located 10 kilometres east of the Batam island. Singapore is the closest major city to the other side of the South China Sea. Its coastline stretches on 105 km. The history of Bintan is shared by the control of several settlers, including English, Chinese and Dutch who came to take control of the exchange road between China and India. The Strait of Malacca in the 12th century was known to be full of pirate. Malaysian pirates stealing cargo in the surrounding waterways.
We arrived at the tip of the island, Bintan Resorts (Lagoi), a section of the island full of « resorts » with manicure lawns. This part of the island has nothing in common with the rest of the island and is separated by checkpoints with armed guards. The rest of the island on the east coast, is a real typical Indonesian island with electronics factories, fishing villages and local resort areas where there are people chilling on the beach and doing a wide variety of sporting activity. It was used for a long time as a destination for prostitution and gambling, as the nearby Batam Island, however Bintan is now clean since the authorities put an end to this industry. The island returned to its reputation as one of the most historic cities in Indonesia with its old markets bordering seas.
There is no public transport to reach there. You can hire a motorcycle taxi called « ojek » or a cab from the Tanjungpinang city (Bintan Resorts). The coastline of Trikora Beach is decorated over its entire length of Palm trees.
The Shady Shack is a good option if you want to encourage a local family in their business, Indonesian home cooking and bamboo bungalow in prime http://www.lobo.kinemotion.de
The cost of living in Indonesia is much cheaper than Singapore, which is already more affordable than Australia. It’s surprising that most tourists do not visit this place given the price and its proximity to Singapore. It’s a place that should be a successful destination for budgets travellers and backpackers. A beer is about 1.80 USD at the bar, so imagine the price at a local store. You can find small bungalows for $ 13 USD per night. It would not be surprising that Bintan will one day became a popular destination.
Back to our luxury getaway, we embarked upon free shuttle buses linking the terminal Naval of Bintan Resort to the different hotels in this tourist area. Thirty minutes to reach the first Nirwana Gardens complex. The first complex offers families small bungalows at reasonable price further from the sea. The Nirwana Resort ,a super luxury hotel with pool and hundreds of rooms, greets visitors who just alighted from the shuttle bus with a well-orchestrated traditional dance.
We checked into our bungalow at Mayang Sari Beach Resort, they offered us a small tropical fruit juice to refresh us. There were no more garden view rooms so they « upgraded » us for free to a sea view bungalow. We were given a voucher for bowling and tickets for complimentary breakfast.
The bungalow was well-mainted. We have a small fridge for my beer, a big soft bed, a patio with a great view of the semi-private beach with a beautiful view of the emerald blue water and palm trees. This is a great place to get away from the city in a family or couple for a day or two to enjoy the beaches, water sports and massages. The target customers are mainly from Singapore and all prices are displayed in Singapore dollars. To save money, visit in the mid-week as several hotels offer special prices.
sports: jet ski, banana boat, kite surfing adventure: elephant ride, horse riding, paintball, mini-zoo,
well being: Japanese spa, massage games: bowling, billiards , badminton, basketball
Bintan is relatively quieter and larger than Singapore. There are many deserted beaches for those who take the time and make an effort to discover. The sea surrounding the northern coast of the island is beautiful. The beaches are covered with fine sand, but beware as there are small unpleasant residual tar patches.
The part that I dislike about the place is that we were enclosed in an area where everything is expensive and in Singapore dollars. The resort offers a choice of several restaurants such as seafood restaurant that we visited, but is more expensive than what we find in Singapore. This is actually an extension of beach paradise near Singapore. I recommend this place for a short stay when you have money and no time. If you come, you just need to bring your drink, sunscreen and anything you need because you will have no option but to buy a beer at 15 Singapore dollars or $ 40 for sunscreen there. It is so cheap in general in Indonesia so there should be no excuse to charge us exorbitant prices.
Everything is designed to make tourists pay top dollars around the resort. While it is a ferry ride to get there, but there are many discount flights to places outside Singapore where local identity is still present and prices are reasonable. Desaru in Malaysia is a good example, we went there by car and it’s cheaper and retains more local charm. If you have more time to leave the east coast of the island of Bintan with a taxi, the adventure awaits you if not just enjoy the sun and do not look at your wallet.