Bintan Resorts refers generally to the area on the entire northern coast of the Indonesian Island of Bintan. It is commonly misunderstood as a colony of Singapore because of its higher standards in infrastructures, utilities and security, and the fact that many of the resorts are owned by Singaporean companies. Very much a family-oriented destination, there are currently five independently owned and operated beach resorts, four designer golf courses as well as a range of recreational facilities and attractions located within it. Most tourists come for its serene characteristic, where they can laze by the beach, enjoy spa, play golf and dabble in watersports. The area is separated from the rest of Bintan by thick forests and checkpoints.
Bahasa Indonesia and English are widely understood. However, if you plan to rent a car to visit towns outside the resort area, bring along your Bahasa Indonesia Phrase Book because the drivers' command of English can be limited.
Bintan has a small domestic airport and three international seaports. However, most travellers to Bintan Resorts arrive at Bandar Bentan Telani (BBT) at the western tip of the Bintan Resorts from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) in Singapore. The trip takes about 45 minutes and ticket can be booked at Bintan Resort Ferries or as part of a room package.
Visitors form other parts of Indonesia may either fly to Hang Nadim airport in Batam and take 25-minute boat ride to BBT or to Raja Haji Fisabillilah in Kijang and drive for 1.5 hours. The travel time will be shortened with the new Bintan International Airport, a 30-minute drive from Bintan Resorts, that is scheduled to open in 2015.
Visitors from ASEAN countries, Chile, Ecuador, Morocco, Hong Kong, Macau and Peru do not require visa to enter Indonesia. Visa on arrival (VOA) can be obtained at BBT or onboard of ferry if you are on Emerald Class for the citizens of Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, People's Republic of China, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America
7-day VOA costs USD10 and 30-day USD25. USD and SGD currencies are accepted but not credit cards. It is worth obtaining USD notes for VOA payment before you leave the Singapore side.
Best way to plan the trip is thru holiday packages and vacation club membership offers. These comes in various plans and durations. Longer the time, better the price ratio, in term of per trip and per person basis. One of the best offers today is available up to 30 years of membership with only USD 13000.00
Currently, the most convenient and affordable way is by taking a holiday package that include hotel transfer. The limited means to get around Bintan Resorts and the nearby towns push up the price of vehicle rental.
As a destination, Bintan Resorts is rather artificial with its manicured landscape. Still, the beaches are beautiful with white sands and most of the resorts are built to a high standard.
However, do not solely devote your entire vacation to the beach and golf. You can book various eco-tours by contacting email@example.com. The PATA Gold Winner's Mangrove Tour and Firefly Night Tour are the most attractive choices. A day pass with unlimited rides from your resort to Pasar Oleh-Oleh at Kota Sebung costs SGD3 for child and SGD5 for adult. Massage and meal here are more affordable than at the Resorts.
If you stay longer than 3 days, visit the town areas of Bintan Island especially Tanjung Pinang 2-hours drive from Lagoi to savor a taste of the local lifestyle and enjoy cheap shopping and tasty local fare. Another interesting place is Sawah Ladang Bintan , an organic farm where you may spot some species of birds, snakes, mouse deers and monkeys.
Golf is popular, with several excellent golf courses charging much lower prices than in neighboring Singapore. Watersports of all sorts are also popular, although the scuba diving here is lacklustre due to the poor visibility.
Note that during the northeast monsoon (November until March), there is usually quite a bit of wave action on the beach. This is good for surfing and bodyboarding, but not good for most anything else. The north facing beach break at the resort Mayang Sari, even with fresh onshore winds in April, does not generate more than 1 to 1.5 foot waves. The waves tend to close out, however it is a good beach for children on boogie boards or surfmats. Small jellyfish may be found.
Spas are increasing in number and quality in Pasar Oleh Oleh, with prices a little below that in Singapore.
In Bintan Resorts, both Singapore Dollars and Indonesian Rupiah are accepted, though prices are usually quoted in Singapore Dollars. At most F&B establishments, prices in the menu have not included 10% tax and 10% service charge. Prices in Bintan Resorts are generally expensive compared to Singapore, and very expensive compared to almost anywhere else in Indonesia. If staying for a significant amount of time, it is advisable to rent a car and head out to Tanjung Pinang to do your shopping, where the prices are a lot lower.
- Pasar Oleh-Oleh. Cluster of huts selling souveniers and crackers. The most worthy to visit is Bintan Resorts Souvenirs shop. After shopping you can have gonggong (sea snail), fried sotong/squid, seafood soup and kai lan at Idola or Helo-Helo.
- Kampoeng Lagoi is located opposite Pasar Oleh-Oleh. Good for spa and Indonesia food. Cafe Tempo opens after 4PM offers a must-try soft-bone chicken. Warung Bumbu has a range of Central Javanese food.
- Pujasera is a stroll away from Pasar Oleh-Oleh. This is where most locals get their meals and daily supply. Try Lamak Basamo for authentic Padang food. Some stalls offer ayam penyet (fried chicken with sambal), Indonesian style fritters, bakso (meatball in clear soup), etc. at a very low price of Rupiah 15,000 or more.
In the hotels is nearly every food available. This reaches from the traditional Indonesian food over the usual European food to some Sushi-Bars. Expect Singapore prices, given that they have a captive market.
- Hello-Hello Restaurant. In Pasar Oleh-Oleh. Offers authentic Indonesian food at almost-reasonable prices. Figure on S$10–20 per head for a full meal.
- Rin Japanese restaurant near Nirwana Resort Hotel.
- Miyako Japanese @ Bintan Lagoon. Prawn tempura S$25++
- Baan Aarya. Thai restaurant:. Curry main dish @ S$18++.
- Saffron Thai and Indonesian restaurant @ Banyan Tree, their most formal choice.
- Kopi-O Buffet and a la carte restaurant @ Bintan lagoon. Cuisines change daily.
- Tree Tops The general a la carte restaurant @ Banyan Tree
- Lotus Cafe The general a la carte restaurant @ Angsana. Around US $12 for burger/nasi goreng.
- Makan Makan food court @ Nirwana Resort Hotel
- Jeju Korean restaurant @ Nirwana Resort Hotel
- Spice Indian restaurant @ Mayang Sari
- Kelong Chinese seafood restaurant on stilts over the sea, and the adjacent Calypso Bar. (Nirwana Gardens area)
- Orzo 'fine dining' Italian/Mediterranean restaurant @ Bintan Lagoon. S$28++ for chicken kebab.
- The Cove Italian/Mediterranean restaurant @ Banyan Tree
- Nelayan Grill @ Bintan Lagoon. Grilled meat, seafood, etc., eat inside or al fresco.
- Pantai Grill & Bar @ Angsana. Beachfront grill restaurant. On Friday and Saturday evenings a buffet operates. Around US $15 for a steak, US $16 for half lobster.
Bintan Resorts' nightlife is limited to hotel bars.
- Silk. Bintan Lagoon Resort. Bintan's first full-fledged nightclub. Opened in September 2006, and it remains to be seen whether it will take off.
- Nirwana Resort Hotel - Family hotel offers 245 rooms & suites catering to every budget and need, offering ocean, pool or garden views. The rooms are spacious and fully furnished with modern amenities. A blend of sunny Mediterranean spirit and warm Indonesian hospitality.
- Nirwana Beach Club - Variety of water sports, nature and the timeless traditions of a village-style living. 50 air-conditioned Cabana rooms near a tropical beachfront of fine white sand. Each air-conditioned chalet is equipped with an attached bathroom with shower and a mini fridge.
- Mayang Sari Beach Resort - 50 thatched-roof chalets in blocks of 4, all with private verandas with Sea or Garden view. Village-style architecture, with a unique decor and aromatic theme. Air-conditioned chalets with modern amenities.
- Banyu Biru Villas - Self-contained and fully furnished, Banyu Biru offers 36 lovely self-contained villas suitable for families and groups. There are three attractive designs ranging from two-bedroom to three-bedroom villas, all fully furnished and equipped with kitchen facilities.
- Indra Maya Pool Villas - Indra Maya is one of the region's luxury hideaways. Each villa is a fusion of exotic Indonesian, Thai and Chinese architectural elements. Each villa has a private pool, spacious living area and courtyard. Choice of two and three bedroom villas, both equally distinctive in their aesthetic and architectural treatment, or guests can live it up at the one and only four bedroom villa – the most luxurious in the Indra Maya collection.
- La Luna - Open-air bar/disco at the Beach Club. Opens till late F-Su.
- Kedaton Tropical Spa. Menu:
- Nirwana Resort Centre - Includes an indoor bowling alley, outdoor activities such as paintball, archery and rifle-shooting, ATV park, dune buggies, horse-riding, Elephant rides/shows and more.
The Banyan Tree Group operates two high-end hotels, which share a private beach, and charge in US rather than Singapore dollars:
- Banyan Tree Bintan. Villa-only development. From US $232++ for a 'Valley Villa', more with sea views. Private pool villas at US $668++.
- Angsana Bintan. Queen rooms, 1- and 2-bed suites. From US $117++ for a basic room.
- Club Med Ria Bintan. Expensive all-inclusive resort. From S$500++/night for 2 adults.
- Bintan Lagoon Resort, ☎ +62-770-691-388. Around 400 rooms, plus suites and villas. Rooms from S$120++, suites from S$200++, and villas from S$428++. A refurbishment program commenced in 2009, making the rooms the freshest in Bintan Resorts. Check that your accommodation has been refurbished, suites and villas most likely have not. The hotel owns two golf-courses, 2 swimming-pools and Alang Alang Sea Sports centre. This offers nearly every water sport excluding wind surfing. Food at the resort is expensive, even by Bintan Resorts standards.
- Bintan Lodge. 12 air-con apartments with cooking facilities, near the Pasar Oleh Oleh. S$75 for 2-bed, S$140 for 3-bed. Not a resort.
Bintan Resorts' serious crime rate is zero. The Tourism Police and Navy of Indonesia have an office at Kota Sebung. Tap water is drinkable - with source from its huge reservoir processed by water treatment plant to achieve WHO standards.
In addition to the new pipeline at the existing resorts, two upcoming areas called Lagoi Bay and Treasure Bay will have new hotels, attractions (cable ski, tree-top walks, motorsport, crystal lagoon) and transportation methods (seaplane, yacht, etc.).
The capital of Riau Province, Tanjung Pinang, is about one-and-half hours away by road. Cheapest way there is to rent a car and driver (a good price would be in the range of S$80–100 for six hours of his time). A new bridge due in 2014 is currently being built that will reduce travelling time to about 20 minutes.