Bintan is an Indonesian island located in the Riau Archipelago, and is the largest island in the province. Bintan is only a short 1 hour ferry ride from Singapore’s Tanah Merah ferry terminal. It’s a great escape from the city and a lot more accessible than you might think.
The Island is diverse and is a great add on to any trip to Singapore, even if it’s just going to Bintan on a day trip or checking into one of the luxury resorts and spending a few days on the island to unwind, Bintan has it all from luxury resorts, white sand beaches, water sports, golf, mangroves and historical sites and villages.
I have visited Bintan on 2 separate occasions when on layovers in Singapore with the airline I work for. The first time of visited Bintan I had bought along my husband on the trip, and we went over to Bintan with some of my colleagues and spent the day basking in the sun and chilling on the beautiful beach at Nirwana Gardens Resort.
The second time I visited Bintan was on another work trip which I had bought my dad and stepmother along for a belated 60th birthday present, and we decided to make the trip extra special by having a day trip over to Bintan. We spent the morning lazing around Nirwana Gardens then in the afternoon got the free shuttle bus over to Lagoi Bay for lunch and a wander, then heading back to Nirwana Gardens to finish our day by lounging on the beach before heading back to Singapore.
I can’t recommend Bintan enough it’s so easy to get to from Singapore and while there you can enjoy the most beautiful paradise beaches and meet some of the friendly locals at Lagoi Bay.
Sights & Activities
Lagoi Bay is a new purpose built complex and in the heart of the Bintan Resorts. The area is still quite new and very pristine with several restaurants serving up local cuisines and delicacies, and there are also a few small souvenir shops. Lagoi Bay is great for families as there are several small play areas, a children’s train and a petting zoo as well as the gorgeous pristine beach which was full of locals and their families spending a day out at the beach. There are a few other small attractions around Lagoi Bay such as a museum and a lantern park to name a few.
We were really glad we came and visited Lagoi Bay for a few hours as there’s lots to see and this is where many locals come and visit for a day out. I don’t think many westerners come to Lagoi as we got stopped frequently by locals wanting to talk to us and practise their English and wanting photos with us (especially my dad) we felt like celebrities, all the locals we met were so sweet and friendly and we loved chatting with them.
All the resorts and the ferry terminal run free and regular shuttle buses to Lagoi Bay, so if you can try and peel yourself away from the sun lounger and go down and see everything that Lagoi Bay has to offer you won’t regret it. When we visited it still seemed fairly new so there were still quite a lot of empty shop fronts, but I reckon in a few more years Lagoi Bay will be heaving with lots more small businesses and visitors.
Nirwana Gardens is a gorgeous resort located on its very own private beach called Mayang Sari and situated a short 10-15 minute drive from the Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal. The resort is huge it has just short of 250 guest rooms, with swimming pools, shops, bars and restaurants all available for guests and day visitors to use.
Both times I have visited Bintan I have come to Nirwana Gardens as the beach there is absolutely stunning, and they have a small stand at the ferry terminal where you can organise going to the resort for the day. They have a day pass which works out at approximately £12.50 and this includes your pick up and drop off at the ferry terminal, full use of their private beach, swimming pools, restaurants, bars and changing facilities as well as WiFi access and they provide you with a beach towel, and your met with a welcome drink. It’s such great value for money and a great place to base yourself for a day of relaxing.
If lounging around on the beach isn’t your thing then there is a range of water sports available at an extra cost on their private beach. I took my snorkelling mask with me for the day and went in the sea for some swimming and snorkelling which was a great way to cool down from the sun.
Food & Beverage
Spice Restaurant is part of Nirwana Gardens Resort just set back from the beach. The first time I visited Nirwana Gardens we didn’t leave the resort as we accidentally missed the first ferry so didn’t have very long, and when we arrived it was raining so we decided to have lunch before relaxing on the beach. We had a gorgeous lunch at Spice Restaurant and a beautiful view over looking the beach even though it was raining it was lovely to be under cover watching the weather, and by the time we finished lunch the sun came out so it was perfect timing.
Spice Restaurant serves up Indian and Indonesian dishes and a good selection of cocktails, and it’s great if you don’t want to venture too far from your sun lounger, but would also be a romantic place to come for dinner and to watch the sunset over a delicious meal.
Waroeng Cek Bakar’s Masakan Khas Melayu
Waroeng Cek Bakar’s Masakan Khas Melayu is located in Lagoi Bay tucked between the plaza and the beach, it has both indoor and outdoor seating and serves up local Indonesian flavours, as well as several Singapore and Malaysian dishes. There was plenty of choice and being vegetarian I found plenty of dishes to choose from too.
As well as having a large menu serving up delicious Asian cuisine this cafe is also great to stop by for a cold drink or ice cream. The staff here were also super friendly and we chatted to them after our meal, they couldn’t do enough for us. We really enjoyed our lunch here and may have over ordered on the food as we were all starving by the time we got there, and it had been an early start to get the first ferry over to Bintan. The food here was really delicious but also so cheap. If you visit Lagoi Bay make sure you pay this place a visit, I will definitely go back when I’m next in Bintan.
Transport & Getting Around
The easiest way to get to Bintan from Singapore is by taking one of the regular ferries which is run by Bintan Resort Ferries and leaves from Tanah Merah ferry terminal in Singapore and goes direct to Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal in Bintan. There are several ferries that go back and forth daily. I would advise however if you are going for the day to get up early and get the first ferry out and then return either by the last or second to last ferry back, to make sure you get the most of a full day there.
If you can try and prebook your tickets to get your more desired ferry times, however we turned up on the day and managed to get the last few seats heading out, and we booked the last ferry coming back as the second to last was full, but in the late afternoon we asked Nirwana Gardens to call to see if they had any cancellations for the slightly earlier one, which luckily they did and it was only £2.50 to amend the booking.
Make sure you allow plenty of time both ways at the ferry terminal as you have to go through immigration and customs at both ends, so allow for at least 30 minutes before your ferry departure. Something else to note is that Bintan is 1 hour behind Singapore so it’s great arriving to Bintan as you haven’t lost any time however going back to Singapore you loose an hour.
Getting the ferry over to Bintan is really easy and not as complicated or as expensive as you might think. Tickets are normally around SGD$70 return which is about £40 per person, and all you need to do is take is your passport and day bag, and for any crew wanting to visit on a layover take your passport, crew ID and the crew gendec paperwork, so that immigration can see your on a layover in Singapore, and won’t cause you any issues getting back in or leaving Singapore when your due to fly home. Shuttle Bus
Bintan Resorts and Lagoi Bay run regular complimentary shuttle bus services from the ferry terminal to the hotels and Lagoi Bay as well as putting on shuttles between the hotels and Lagoi Bay. They also have shuttle buses running in Singapore from Singapore Changi Airport to Tanah Merah ferry terminal.
My best bit of advice is if you have time maybe stay over night in Bintan, and try and get out and see more of the island as there are several island tours available which I’m hoping to do on a future trip. While visiting Bintan don’t just stick to staying in a resort head out to Lagoi Bay even if it’s just for lunch and to mix with the locals, they are honestly some of the most friendly and sweet people I have come across on my travels, and they genuinely showed an interest in where we were from and wanting to practise their English.