Bintan is definitely the one of the most convenient beach destination from Singapore for a short weekend.

The key benefit that Bintan has to offer is its proximity with Singapore. But it’s not the only one. Although the northern part of the island, covered with large resorts, feels more Singaporean than Indonesian, you will still find some nice activities to keep you busy for the weekend (or you can always spend 2 days in your resort, reading a good book or having a good time with some friends by the pool). Beaches are decent but don’t expect The Maldives or even the islands off Mersing.

We will not cover Trikora beach (on the East side of Bintan) in this article (but will add it to the site one day).

How accessible is it from Singapore?

Singapore to Bintan journey details

The total door to door journey takes 3 hours from (your home/office in) Singapore to your room in Bintan. This means you can leave on the Saturday morning and come back on the Sunday evening if you want to spend only 1 night on the island (and save the cost of the Friday night hotel room). Alternatively you can leave after work on Friday and enjoy 2 nights and 2 days in Bintan.

Bintan is a good destination for a regular 2 day weekend. Of course, if you have more time you can spend more time there (however, we would recommend you go somewhere. If you have more time, you can always come back to Bintan for another weekend later.

How much is this going to cost us?

Bintan is a relatively expensive destination. It’s in Indonesia but the island welcome many tourists from Singapore.

  • Transport from Singapore will cost you from  SGD 180 return for 2 pax. This includes the taxi to the pier, boat transfer and the (free) shuttle to your resort.
  • Accommodation wise… resorts are really expensive and prices are comparable to Singapore.  Some of them offer full board options.
  • Activities and excursions (tour in the mangroves, boat, bike rentals, etc) are also pricey compared to what you would expect for Indonesia.

Note that you can pay with a credit card in any currency but that cash payment has to be in Indonesian Rupiah (by law).  So you will not be able to use USD or SGD bank notes.

How remote and risky is it?

Bintan is safe and easy. The boat transfer is smooth and safety standards are high. The same goes with the activities arranged by the resorts. You can find medical assistance if required. For serious accidents, you would be able to get back to Singapore pretty quickly.

What about the kids?

Take the kids with you! Whether you are travelling with babies, infants young or older children, Bintan is a good destination for a family trip.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Bintan and avoid the rain season are the months of January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days.

Connections from Bintan

Bintan is usually a standalone destination for an easy weekend away from Singapore.

Getting from Singapore to Bintan

Take a boat from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore (TMFT) to Bintan Bandar Bentan Telani Terminal (BTT):

Getting there: Bintan Resort Ferries – 9.10 AM (first boat) or 8PM (last boat)
Coming back: 5.35PM or 8.15PM (-10.10 PM (last boat)

Return tickets from SGD 65 per pax in economy class and SGD 110 in Emerald Class.
With Bintan Resort Ferries, a round-trip ticket on a weekend will cost you around SGD 65 per pax in economy class, and SGD 110 in “Emerald class”. It is cheaper to take a round-trip ticket. You can take up to 20kg of luggage per passenger. On weekends, the boats can get full quite fast so it’s better to book your tickets in advance, online. The first ferry leaves Singapore at 8 am (Singapore time). The last ferry comes back from Bintan at 8.15pm (Bintan time).

You can reach Bintan Bandar Bentan Telani terminal (BBT), North West of Bintan, from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore.

To get to Tanah Merah Ferry terminal, you can either take a taxi or take the the MRT to Tanah Merah MRT and then take a 15 minute ride on Bus 35 to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

The journey takes 45min from Singapore to Bintan. When you get to Tanah Merah terminal, you will need to check-in and go through immigration and customs (just like in an airport). Therefore, plan to get there 1 hour before your departure time for the check-in. If you are too early there are some shops / coffee places you can visit while you wait.

If you book a room in a resort, your resort will arrange the transport from the ferry terminal to the resort by bus, free of charge. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes depending on which resort you stay at.

If you want to arrange a trip to another part of the island, you can contact Putra Lagoi Lek.atong@gmail.com or +62 812 700 6807.

Note that Bintan is one hour behind Singapore. When it is 8 am in Singapore, it is 7 am in Bintan.

Where to stay in Bintan resorts

Well… in a resort. If you plan to stay in the Bintan Resorts area, you will soon realize that the prices are much closer to Singaporean prices than to Indonesian prices. You can pay by credit card in SGD or USD and will need to give your credit card print or a cash deposit in most resorts. There is a wide selection of resorts from the most expensive (probably the Banyan Tree and the Club Med, mainly targeting wealthy Singaporeans and expats) to simple resorts (where most Indonesians families stay).

The beach is OK in the north but it’s not extraordinary (and in some occasions you may find some oil or jellyfish). Don’t get us wrong, the beach looks nice, it’s just that you may not enjoy spending a lot of time in the sea.  So, if you plan to spend a lot of time in the water, it’s probably a good idea to book a hotel with a nice pool. Check out the best prices offered by Agoda using the box below.

or, if you prefer, book with

To see & to do in Bintan

A few ideas of things to do and see.

Enjoy your resort

It’s not really the spirit at Tripinasia but if you pay a lot of money for a nice resort it would be a pity not to enjoy its facilities, right? And, once in a while, there is nothing wrong sipping a cocktail in a nice pool or having a massage. So, enjoy yourself. Upon arrival, go to the reception and ask for the available activities .

Water sports

Most resorts will arrange water sports like jet-ski, banana ride, sailing, and other water activities. Forget about scuba-diving as the sea is poor in corals & interesting fish species and the visibility is not good on the north.

Tour in the mangroves

You might have concerns about the tour in the mangroves as you could expect something quite touristy. However, we believe it’s worth taking it. The tour will take you on the mangroves for 1 hour in a small boat (if you are lucky, you will be the only ones on the boat, if not, you will have to share it with other passengers). A skipper and a guide will take you through the mangrove from the wide salted water canals to small fresh water canals. They will show you some interesting stuff (fishermen traps, charcoal ovens) and … snakes lying on branches on top of your head. The tour will cost you from SGD38 to 45 depending on where you book it (it will be more expensive if you book it with your resort). The transportation to the small harbour and return is included in the price (by van).

Golf

Bintan is a popular destination for golfers (when you board the boat at Tanah Merah, you will see many passengers with heavy golf carts).  A lot of Singaporeans go to Bintan on a day trip to play golf as the courses are nice and the prices much more affordable than in Singapore.

Other activities

Paintball, Moutain Biking, All Terrain Vehicles (Quads), Elephants and horses riding, archery, riffles shooting,  you name it. Most of these are arranged by the Bintan Resort Center. Here again, nothing fantastic but decent enough to keep you busy.

Visit Tanjung Pinang

2 hours away from the resorts, the main city on the island has a few interesting places to see. If you want something different from the resorts and are not afraid of spending 4 hours in the car, Tanjung Pinang can be a good option to see a more “authentic” Bintan. If you plan to go to Trikora beach one day, it’s probably wise to skip this and to save it for a next visit as you will most probably travel via Tanjung Pinang to go to Trikora beach.

Eat

You are into seafood? You should give Kelong Restaurant a try. This mixed Indonesian-Chinese restaurant offers a large fish and seafood carte in which you can choose the way you prefer your food to be cooked. The restaurant is hosted in a large wooden house on the sea. Try to get a table at the back where you can enjoy a nice view of the sunset on the South China Sea. The restaurant is open daily from 11 am to 10.30 pm. It’s located in the Nirwana Garden resort (Jalan Panglima Pantar, Lagoi 29155, Bintan Resort, Tel: (62) 770 692 789). There are many other restaurants in the resorts.

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi is available in all resorts.

What to pack for Bintan

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Indonesia

Flag of Indonesia

  • Language: Bahasa Indonesian
  • Time zone: Jakarta, Sulawesi: GMT + 7, 1h ahead of Singapore;
    Bali has no time difference with Singapore
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
  • Phone: + 62
  • Electricity: 220V 50 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

  • If you are eligible you will need to pay for a visa on arrival. The price is USD 25 or the equivalent in other currencies. It is valid for 30 days. Check as it may vary (some airports charge 22 EUR, some others 25 EUR).
  • If you travel to Bintan, Batam, or Karimun, you can get a 7 day Visa on Arrival for USD 10.
  • On busy weekends, expect to wait for quite a while at the immigration counter.
  • Make sure your notes are perfectly clean and without any note or stain. USD bills must be from 2003 or more recent. Coins are not accepted. Change (if any) is given in Ruppiah.
  • On departure, you will need to pay the airport fees. These fees are not included in your tickets when you book your trip (hence the price difference between the inbound and outbound flights to Indonesia). They vary from one airport to the other. They are usually around IDR 150,000 per person. You need to pay these in Rupiah

National Public Holidays in Indonesia

2015

Day Date Holiday
Thursday January 01 New Years Day
Saturday January 03 Maulidur Rasul
Thursday February 19 Chinese New Year
Saturday March 21 Hari Raya Nyepi
Friday April 03 Good Friday
Friday May 01 Labour Day
Thursday May 14 Ascension Day
Saturday May 16 Isra Miraj
Tuesday June 02 Waisak Day
Thursday July 16 Cuti Bersama
Friday July 17 Hari Raya Puasa
Saturday July 18 Hari Raya Puasa
Monday July 20 Cuti Bersama
Tuesday July 21 Cuti Bersama
Monday August 17 Independence Day
Thursday September 24 Idul Adha
Wednesday October 14 Muharram
Thursday December 24 Cuti Bersama
Friday December 25 Christmas Day

* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another, check this website for other years.When Public Holidays falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday.