Bangka-Belitung

Bangka-Belitung, cutely abbreviated Babel, is a province in Indonesia consisting of the islands of Bangka and Belitung (Billiton), just off the south-eastern coast of Sumatra.

Regions

The province is divided into seven regencies: Bangka, Bangka Barat, Bangka Selatan, Bangka Tengah, Belitung, Belitung Timur and Pangkalpinang.

Cities

Other destinations

Belinyu, Jebus, Sungai Selan, Batu Rusa.

Understand

Both Bangka and Belitung, which are outlying islands off the coast of Sumatra, are slowly but surely flourishing as economic and tourism centers. Bangka is noticeably more developed because of a greater population and larger land area and the presence of the province's capital, Pangkal Pinang.

However an increasing number of tourists and hospitality professionals have been shifting their attention to Belitung. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia, and one of the most unique in Southeast Asia. There, the turquoise sea and the blue sky meets the white sandy beach and the grey granite boulders.

Bangka and Belitung serve as relaxing weekend breaks for office-goers in Jakarta and Palembang.

Many Chinese from both islands have moved to other provinces, and some of them come back to visit their older relatives on Chinese New Year. So several days before Chinese New Year and 2 weeks after it, airlines add extra flights, but they also greatly increase prices, and hotels follow suit.

Get in

By plane

Both Pangkal Pinang (Bangka) and Tanjung Pandan (Belitung) are well connected to the rest of Indonesia by air. There are frequent flights to Jakarta (Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air) and a few to Palembang (Sriwijaya Air) and Batam.

By ferry

There are daily slow overnight ferries (~11 hours) and fast Bahari Express hydrofoils several times a day (~3 hours) from Palembang to Mentok, on the western side of Bangka.

PELNI's giant ferries visit the island about once every two weeks, running either from Jakarta to Bangka and onward to Batam, or from Jakarta to Belitung and across to Pontianak in Sumatra. The Jakarta-Bangka leg takes about 24 hours.

Get around

Local transportation is shabby at best and it would be advisable to either rent a car or a motorcycle, but be careful to avoid colliding with reckless drivers from palm oil plantations.

Bahari hydrofoils travel between Pangkal Pinang on Bangka and Tanjung Pandan on Belitung daily (~4 hours). Flights between the two are on and off, enquire locally.

See

The main attraction of these islands are the lovely, long, clean and tout-free beaches, with crystal clear and surprisingly calm turquoise blue seawater. This makes for fantastic swimming diving, snorkeling and sun bathing. The sand is very fine, clean and brilliant white. Numerous island just off shore (some can be reached by swimming) make for great day trips and views. One small island off Belitung houses a 18 story Dutch lighthouse built in 1889 that can be climbed.

The society's cultures are dominated by Malay and Hakka Chinese. Large numbers of Bugis and Javanese also live here. The Chinese, Bugis and Javanese we're all brought there as contract labourers by the Dutch to mine tin and help domestically. The tin mining used giant dredging boats, that is one reason for the large population of, normally seafaring, Bugis people. There are also some Balinese kampongs and Madurese villages, moved there in Suharto era transmigration plans.

Itineraries

Both Bangka and Belitung offer similar experiences for the tourist, but Belitung is considerably more laid back of the two. At Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung, Kelayang Beach Cottages can arrange tours both inland and on the water.

Sleep

Bangka

There are many resorts in both islands.

Stay safe

Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are present within the rivers of both Bangka and Belitung Islands, but they are rarely sighted near popular tourist areas.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, November 08, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.