Photo credit: LooLa Adventure Resort

 

Thanks to Singapore’s location in the heart of Southeast Asia, you don’t have to travel too far to explore beyond the lion city, nor do you need to make drastic adjustments to different time zones.

In fact, Singapore serves as a gateway to many destinations within the region — and not to mention — at unbeatable prices, too. This makes it a perfect place to stopover for travellers who wish to pack more into their holiday!

Located an hour away from Singapore by ferry, Bintan Island’s dreamy beaches and resorts have become choice destinations for almost everyone - solo travellers, couples, friends or families.

Whatever your travel arrangements are, the island is growing its list of unique accommodation to meet the demand, and they make for an enjoyable weekend getaway even for the residents living in Singapore. Here are some nifty recommendations on where you should book a stay and what activities you can do.

1. A relaxing couple’s retreat or a fun-filled resort stay for the whole family

STAY HERE: Couples or families looking for a luxurious accommodation will enjoy an idyllic retreat at The Residence Bintan. The resort’s 127 terraces and villas are nestled within verdant green spaces, creating the serene environment for you to log off and reconnect with nature or each other. The interiors of each villa are also designed to evoke the charm of a traditional Asian village, but with modern touches.

A group of travellers hanging out by the pool at The Residence Bintan

Forget breakfast in bed, you can have your meals served to you in a floating basket and have it in the pool instead.

The interiors of the kids’ club room at the Residence Resort in Bintan

Kakatu, a kids’ club in the resort, is filled with activities to keep your little ones busy while you and your partner treat yourselves to therapeutic massages at the spa.

DO THIS: Pamper yourself silly with spa treatments at the renowned British spa brand, ila, located within the resort. Travellers can embark on a blissful spa retreat as part of their Renewal Island Retreat package.

Spread over three days, ila spa’s therapists will use the traditional Jamu therapies to help free you from the stress of the daily grind. You can expect to luxuriate in long refreshing floral baths, receive deep tissue massages and sample traditional Indonesian Jamu beverages that’ll restore your health.

For young guests, the Kakatu Kids Club within the resort also offers activities that promise hours of fun (most of them complimentary!) — from treasure hunts and cooking classes, to playtime in the pool and on the beach.

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2. An “Insta-worthy” vacation with your travel buddies

STAY HERE: Finding the right accommodation can make or break a trip with your pals. So, be sure to check into the Cassia Bintan Resort if you’re looking for a place that’s glowing with good vibes. From the moment you step into the chic lobby, you’ll notice that the fixtures and fittings within the space are bathed in bright vibrant hues giving the resort a youthful and energetic feel.

The bright and colourful lights and interiors in Cassia Bintan’s open-concept lobby

With all the colourful murals on the walls at lobby, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s a hotel within an art gallery.

A shot of the interiors at one of Cassia Bintan’s loft apartments

Cassia Bintan’s loft apartments are also not spared from the artistic touches that resonate throughout the whole resort.

The rooms in the hotel also spot different intricately painted animal murals on the walls, keeping in step with the playful nature of the resort. For those looking to whip up a meal of your own, you’ll be happy to note that all the apartments also come with a fully equipped kitchen.

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Booking a two-bedroom loft apartment should provide ample room for a group of four. Each apartment also comes with a spacious balcony or terrace, so pick one that offers stunning views of the South China Sea as you unwind in the evening with your buddies.

Don’t miss out on the hotel’s foam party on Saturdays either, where their beachfront infinity pool comes alive with dreamy bubbles and hip music.

DO THIS: Discover the location of Bintan’s secret — and Instagram-friendly — ‘desert’ by joining the Tanjung Uban Explorer tour. It will take you through Tanjung Uban, the second largest town on the island to Gurun Pasir Busung. Originally a mining site, the hilly sand dunes are now abandoned after the extraction of sand was prohibited on Bintan Island. Nevertheless, these mysterious and magical sand dunes make the place seem like a charming ‘desert’ in the middle of a tropical island.

The tour also culminates at the Vihara Guan Di Gong, where a 16-metre tall Chinese God of War Statue stands protected by a Giant Turtle God Statue. The latter is seen as a protector of sailors out at sea.

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3. A glamping experience for those who want a taste of luxury outdoors

STAY HERE: If you’ve never experienced Glamping — or camping but with more luxurious accommodation or facilities —newly opened The ANMON Resort Bintan will be a truly eye-opening experience. The resort is filled with desert-themed tipi-styled tents, which come packed with the regular features you’ll expect of a hotel room. Each tent comes complete with plush bedding, a luxurious private bath and free Wi-Fi. To top things off, there’s a patio comfortably furnished for in room dining or relaxation.

The exterior of a tipi tent at The ANMON Resort Bintan

The earthy and soothing tones of the interiors within the tipi tents at The ANMON Resort Bintan make for a charming, relaxed and elegant stay.

The interior shot of the tipi tent at The ANMON Resort Bintan

Do not be fooled by the exterior as the tent opens up to reveal a fully decked out hotel standard accommodation.

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DO THIS: Get off the beaten track and see a different side to Bintan with the Mangrove Discovery Tour. Lace up your hiking boots and go on an adventure through the thick mangroves along the Sebung River.

A group of macaques settled on top of the mangrove trees

The Mangrove swamps along the Sebung River is teeming with wildlife such as macaques

A macro close-up shot of a firefly in the day

Catch the fireflies in action as they light up the mangroves once the sun starts setting.

Keep your eyes peeled for macaques and silver leaf monkeys as they leap from tree to tree as well as colourful kingfishers as they glide overhead across the jungle. For an even more memorable experience, sign up for the night tour that departs daily at 7.30pm. Once your eyes have adjusted to the darkness, you’ll realise that you’re standing in the middle of an enchanting dance of lights coming from groups of fireflies resting among the mangroves.

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4. A nautical expedition for intrepid explorers (without seasickness)

STAY HERE: Just when you think things can’t get even more quaint than tipi-styled glamping, there’s the up-and-coming Doulos Phos, The Ship Hotel.  

As its name suggests, the hotel is built into a repurposed ship — called MV Doulos — which first set sail in 1914, making it the world’s oldest ocean-faring passenger ship. Before it was made into a hotel, the ship functioned as a floating bookshop operated by a German charity.

The exterior shot of Doulos Phos, the ship hotel

On the Doulos Phos, the Ship Hotel, you can get to stay on a ship without the sea sickness.

The aerial view of the ship hotel on an anchor-shaped reclaimed island

Nautical lovers and enthusiasts will find themselves right at home at Doulos Phos, the Ship Hotel, constructed on top of a reclaimed island shaped like an anchor

Located close to the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal, discover the ship’s storied history by visiting the maritime museum within the hotel during your stay in one of the hotel’s 100 stylish cabins. The ship hotel also boasts amenities such as piano lounges, all-day diners and a swimming pool.

DO THIS: Taste the best local produce and seafood at the bustling Tanjung Pinang Wet Market or Traditional Market when you sign up for the Tanjung Pinang Sightseeing tour. The must-try local dishes include gonggong (sea snails) served with a spicy sambal dipping sauce as well as ikan bakar (grilled fish) prepared using the traditional charcoal barbeque.

A close-up shot of sea snails with a chilli dip at the back

Gonggong is usually boiled and then served with a zesty pineapple, garlic or spicy chili sauce.

A close-up shot of fishes being grilled on a charcoal grill

For a mouth-watering gastronomic experience, order a ‘Ikan Gurami Bakar’, fish marinated with spicy and aromatic sambal being grilled with banana leaves.

Then, embark on an authentic local shopping experience at local hangouts such as Tanjung Pinang town and the bustling Tanjung Pinang City Centre Mall where stores selling toys, traditional apparel, local titbits and souvenirs abound.

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Best time to visit

Visit Bintan between March and October to enjoy all the outdoor activities that the Island has to offer.

Transportation

Take a flight to Singapore Changi Airport, where there is a direct shuttle service, from the coach stands at Terminals 1 and 4, to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. The shuttle service runs every 30 minutes between 6.30am and 7.30pm daily.

For a fuss-free experience, you can book your seats on the shuttle service up to seven days in advance. Find out more here.

At the ferry terminal, there are multiple ferries operating between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and Bintan daily. Check out the ferry schedules here.

Currency

Indonesian Rupiah (Rp).