A Guide to Bintan Island & Surrounding Areas

Bintan you say?

Bintan

 

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You can be forgiven for having not heard of this paradise but not for ignoring it once you do! Bintan Island is located in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia and is the largest Island of the Riau province. To make things slightly more confusing it is also known as the Negeri Segantang Lada.

As you would expect from an island which could tickle the equator, the weather is near perfect from May through September, the white sand beaches are spectacular and the water is warm. Proof is in the pudding, as Bintan recently placed for the Travellers’ Choice® 2012 Beach Award. Bintan hosts a variety of accommodation catering for many needs from budget bargains to five star pampering. Some of the luxurious boutiques can make the jaw drop, with their crisp Asian styling and fine cuisine.

Although my depiction is entirely true, similar portrayals of ‘white sands’ and ‘clear waters’ can be read for many islands across the world. With this in mind, I feel the distinctive beauty of Bintan Island comes from its neighbours. It’s pretty hard to choose your neighbours and it’s even harder when you’re an Island in South East Asia. Fortunately enough, Bintan has some great companions in the Riau Archipelago and it just wouldn’t be polite to not pay them a visit.

Island Hopping

There is a plethora of activities to enjoy on Bintan from golf and relaxation to wildlife and water sports; so much in fact, you may not want to leave. But for all the explorers and Robison Crusoe wannabes out there, boat hopping is a must.

Island hopping is an excellent way to visit the surrounding islands of Bintan. Simply jump on a ferry and before you know it you’re braving new land. The main passenger ports in Bintan are at Tanjung Uban, Kijang and Teluk Sebung. From these ports you can hop onto a variety of seaworthy vessels and set sail for reasonable prices.

Riau Archipelago

So the anchor has been raised and sails hoisted, where do you steer the ship? This question is not easily answered as there are 3000 islands in the Riau Archipelago, 3000! To clarify, some islands are uninhabited and some a fair travel from Bintan. However, the choice is still ample and where you go will depend on what you want see and do.

Pulau Batam

Batam is the largest and closest neighbour to Bintan, so where better to start exploring. There are several ports you can arrive on and several towns worth exploring. In general Bantam is a happening place which even has nightlife. So if singing karaoke on an island surrounded by the South China Sea floats your boat, head to Nagoya. Here you will find clubs, bars and restaurants with nice mix of Bantam locals and tourists. Nagoya is also home to several large shopping malls and niche shops which prove popular to day trippers. One of the biggest malls, aptly named ‘Mega Mall’ is at Batam Centre.

Pulau Penyengat

This little gem is a stone’s throw from Bintan and makes for a perfect day trip. The tiny island is only 3.5km long but is packed coast to coast with a rich history. Its roots date back to the 19th century when Penyengat was the cultural capital of the Malay world. There are many remains and restorations of this historical dynasty left on the island which are well worth a look. If you’re not a devoted historian and mosques won’t hold your attention for long, take a stroll on the various coastal trails the gorgeous surround is guaranteed to satisfy.

Pulau Mapur

15km from the coast of Bintan is the tranquil Pulau Mapur. The journey to tranquillity will take roughly one hour from Kijand, south Bintan. The island serves up white sands, crystal clear water and fair portion of seclusion. Two coastline stretches of particular beauty are Pantai Belankang on the north coast or Pantai Songsing on the east coast.

Singapore

Okay, so it’s not in the Riau Archipelago and there is a high chance you travelled through it to get to Bintan but if you didn’t or you fancy a day trip, Singapore’s bustling metropolis is just 40 minutes away. You will need your passports for this one as you will be leaving Indonesia and entering Singapore.

Singapore is a huge city with many ways to have fun and an implausible amount of goings on. I would recommend heading to Singapore with an itinerary as it’s all too easy to turn up and not know where to start. There are many festivals and events which would make exciting (but busy) day trips. National Day, Chinese New Year, Singapore Arts Festival and the Singapore Food Festival are a few worth researching.

From this miniscule selection of the Riau Archipelago it is clear Bintan offers brilliant holiday experience, allowing you to escape the resorts and get a real feel for island life. If you wanted to see more, you could organise accommodation at various locations and have a boat hopping holiday! You could travel further and really explore Indonesia.

This guest post was written by Clive Negus, on behalf of Luxury-Caribbean-News.

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