Bintan Island in Indonesia may be overshadowed by it’s larger, more popular cousin Bali when it comes to tourism. But what Bintan lacks in terms of popularity, it makes up for with it’s pristine beaches and laid back island life. Not to mention planning a Bintan getaway is a lot more easier as you can completely skip visa hassles, and you club a visit to Bintan with another larger destination such as Singapore.
I recently visited Bintan Island roughly three months ago on a whim, clubbing it with our Singapore vacation, not knowing what to expect. Bintan blew me over with it’s serenity and beauty, not to mention how easy it was for us to plan this quick Indonesian sojourn. Read on for why I think you too should consider a trip to Bintan, Indonesia for your next holiday –
1. No Visa Required For Indian Passports
As of March 2016, Indonesia permits special Short-Stay Visa-Free facilities to residents of 169 nationalities including India for upto a month’s stay in Bintan. What this means is that you do not have to procure a visa beforehand to visit Bintan as a tourist, nor do you have to pay any sort of visa fee on arrival at any of the ferry terminals in Bintan. What this also means is that you’ll be in a long queue at immigration on arrival with a host of other tourists from countries all across the globe. The lines can vary anywhere between 15-30 minutes depending on the tourist season, followed by one quick stamp from the immigration authorities and you’re good to go. In my opinion, this is a short price to pay for traveling without the stress of obtaining a visa beforehand, nor do you have to shell out any hefty visa fee. This is what enabled is to plan a quick getaway to Bintan during our Singapore holiday.
2. Just an Hour Ferry Ride Away From Singapore
What makes Bintan Island the weekend getaway choice for most of Singapore’s residents is how easy it is to get to the island from Singapore. You get into a ferry from Tanah Manah Ferry Terminal (close to Changi Airport), complete with security checks and immigration lines, and from there Bintan’s Bandar Bentan Ferry Terminal is barely an hour away. Most resorts and five star hotels offer a free shuttle service from the ferry terminal, making the entire trip from door-to-door seamless and comfortable. Ferry fares are economical, ferries can be booked online, and depart at regular intervals all throughout the day.
Keep in Mind – Bintan is an hour behind Singapore, so book tickets accordingly!
3. So Much To See, So Much To Do
The husband and I were on our third honeymoon of sorts (yea, we’re silly like that), and after two hectic trips to USA and Europe respectively all we wanted on this holiday was to chill. And chill, is what we did! We simply lounged on the beach, drank copious amounts of cocktails, ate our body weight in carbs and got massages by the sea. We were staying at the sprawling Bintan Lagoon Resort with it’s golf courses, private beach, and many dining options felt like a small town by itself. We barely felt the need to step out barring two occasions, during our three day holiday here. If you’re looking at a leisure beach side vacation, then any of Bintan’s resorts with their picturesque beaches, holistic spas, and plenty of other family fun activities may be a good choice.
Honestly, if your idea of a holiday is adventure and thrill then the sleepy little town of Bintan may disappoint. However, there are a few sight seeing options such as the Chinese settlement in Senggarang which takes you back in time. Most of the homes here are very old and are built on stilts. The 500 Lohan Temple with 500 life sized statues of Buddhist Arahats, each one demonstrating a different posture and facial expression was highly recommended by all tourist guide books. However, the temple was located quite a distance from where we were put up, therefore we had to give this one a miss.
Closer to where the resorts are, lies the Sebung river, and you can embark on a locally organized mangrove tour if you want to get a feel of nature. In addition to the thrill of being on a speedboat, cruising through the serpentine river, wind in my hair, I actually learnt quite a bit about the local plant and animal species. With the help of our local guide we managed to spot three beautifully coloured Kingfishers, a tree snake snoozing on a branch, many monkeys leaping above our heads and an Iguana who camouflaged himself on the mangrove roots. They conduct mangrove tours by day and night, and if you decide to go in for the latter you can actually spot fireflies in the night sky.
Bintan Island, Indonesia makes for an easy and quick getaway and is worth considering if you’re planning a trip to Singapore. The picturesque sunsets, pristine whit sands and clear blue waters are absolutely worth it!
(This post is in no way sponsored, or associated with Bintan tourism in any way. The views are unbiased and entirely the author’s own.)