It doesn’t take long for newcomers to Singapore to discover just how close we are to some great Southeast Asian beach retreats. And the easiest to reach of all of these – less than an hour on the ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal – is Bintan Resorts. This integrated tropical resort destination along Bintan’s northern coast is home to a variety of accommodation, designer golf courses and loads of recreational facilities and attractions; plus, you can venture beyond the properties themselves to explore the island’s colourful nature and its cultural, historical and heritage attractions. Here are just a few highlights for a quick getaway.
Treasure Bay Bintan
This 338-hectare waterfront resort city includes the largest manmade saltwater lagoon in Southeast Asia, the 6.3-hectare Crystal Lagoon. Aside from its spectacular aqua waters, the lagoon offers all kinds of activities, from bumper boat rides to water tricycles, sea scooters, a Jetovater, and even a floating obstacle course. You can also have a go at wakeboarding or waterskiing, or try various land sports activities such as electric scooters, two wheeler transports and ATVs, including a mini electric ATV for kids to ride around in.
Located right beside the gleaming aqua waters of Crystal Lagoon is The Canopi, which provides campers and adventure-seekers with the best of both worlds: feeling at one with nature, yet with the comfort of modern day luxuries including airconditioning , barbecue pits, Wi-Fi and spa facilities. The Canopi’s luxurious safari tents have a unique design and are inspired by 18th-century colonial explorers; each one has more than 400 square feet of space and can sleep up to four people.
Lagoi Bay is set to be the “Heart of Bintan”, a 1,300-hectare beachside development offering not only accommodation and outdoor activities, but also shopping and dining options.
Village Resort Grand Lagoi, Bintan
This newly rebranded 196-room property (previously Grand Lagoi Village) is next to Plaza Lagoi mall and the beach, and is surrounded by Lake Lagoi, a stunning fresh-water fishing lake. There’s a rooftop infinity pool, an entertainment centre with interactive games, a movie room and a kids’ club, and it’s also an ideal location for company retreats, business meetings or private cocktail functions.
Holiday Villa Pantai Indah
This tastefully appointed, villa-only resort, combines luxe features and a private setting. Ideal for family and couple getaways, the villas are set on the eastern quarter of beautiful Lagoi Bay; the resort beach overlooks a cluster of three small islands that have a rich diversity of marine life, excellent for snorkelling and scuba diving. The 99 one- and two-bedroom villas feature private pools and are fully furnished in a modern style, with an emphasis on privacy.
At Lagoi Bay Bintan’s newest attraction – located near the beach and a stone’s throw from Plaza Lagoi – you’ll find lantern displays of all kinds of marine creatures, along with endangered land species such as the Javan rhinoceros, Komodo dragon and Sumatran elephant. In all, there are 21 different kinds of colourful animal replicas that light up at night. On a similar theme, the Odong Odong (a mini car with music and lights) is also available nearby the park for families to ride around in and have fun together.
What can you do outside of Bintan resorts?
Nature and Wildlife
Tour Along the Sebung River is a remarkable mangrove eco-system that leads up to thick primary jungle. A 60-minute adventure journey along the river takes you back to nature amidst the mangroves, where you’ll not only enjoy the serenity but discover various types of plants with their unique roots, and animals such as monkeys, snakes, monitor lizards and kingfishers. You may catch sight of local fishermen, too. Night tour options are available as well, giving you the chance to see fireflies lighting up the river.
Culture, History and Heritage
Panglong Village, Berakit
This is Bintan’s largest village of sea gypsies – nomads who are born, live and die on the ocean’s waters. Get a peek into local life – think rural villages, stilt houses on waters and salted fish being dried in the open. As with visiting a friend’s home, a gift for the children, such as snacks, will be appreciated here.
As home to the rulers of the last phase of the Malay Kingdom, Penyengat has various historical sites including the tomb of national hero Raja Ali Fisabililah, a custom hall, an old arsenal building and a palace. Arguably the most eyecatching building on Bintan is the bright yellow and green Masjid Raya Sultan Riau (Sultan of Riau’s Grand Mosque). Rumour has it that the original mosque was made of eggs, gifts from the Sultan’s loyal subjects during his wedding. There is a hand-written Quran on display here that is over 150 years old. The island is easily reached by a water taxi from Tanjung Pinang jetty, and you can travel further around the island and its historical locations by renting a becak (motorcycle rickshaw).
This Chinese village houses Bintan’s oldest temples, among them the Banyan Tree Temple, which is over 200 years of age and now entwined by the thick and twisting roots of a banyan tree. Vihara Senggarang is a complex of four temples paying homage to different Buddhist deities. The oldest of the four worships The Supreme Lord of the Dark Heaven; it’s said to be over 300 years of age and to have survived a great fire in the village many years ago. Both Senggarang and Penyengat Island can be visited via a South Bintan tour.
Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Officially opened at the start of 2017, this temple is home to 500 lifesized Lohan (or arhat) statues – each one human-like and different from the next. For those familiar with Chinese culture, try finding Journey to the West’s Tripitaka or Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ Guan Gong amongst the faces.
Grotto Santa Maria
Located near the Trikora coast, the Grotto Santa Maria can be seen as part of a daytrip itinerary covering Berakit, the sea gypsy village. Here, enchanting limestone carvings of the Stations of the Cross tell the story that has captured the hearts of millions around the world. Follow the trail up to the little chapel and look out for the statue of Santa Maria well preserved in a cave.
For more information on what you’ll find at Bintan Resorts, or to book your next quick getaway from Singapore, visit bintan-resorts.com.