What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘Traveling to Bintan’, and why? I think most of you will say the word ‘expensive’, because of the paradigm of Bintan as one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in Indonesia. Before you read this article, some of you maybe think that Bintan is only made for international tourists –mainly Singaporean, and the rest of you maybe still do not know where Bintan is.

Located in The Natuna Sea, Bintan is the largest island among more or less 3.000 that are scattered in Riau Islands Province, Indonesia. Geographically, Bintan is sharing its border with Singapore, with only 45 minutes trip using ferry boat across The Singapore Strait from Bintan Resorts Area in the northwest of the island. Hence, many Singaporeans are considering Bintan as their easiest and closest holiday island destination, comparing to others like Maldives, Hawaii, or maybe Bora-Bora.

Bintan for Singaporean, is like Pulau Seribu for Jakartan.

Pantai Indah Lagoi Bintan

Based on the fact that Bintan is the prime holiday destination for Singaporean, many people believe that traveling to Bintan is expensive, yes including me at the first, but maybe you have to know that…

Bintan is Not Only The Resort

The resort is only the part of Bintan, but, it is the most prestigious and the top tourist destination in Bintan. If you do not have the plan to visit the resort, you can enjoy your time in Tanjung Pinang, the largest city in Bintan, also the capital of Riau Islands Province.

Here, I suggest you to explore the city, a city that somehow reminds me of Penang or Medan with its Chinese heritage ambience. If you have the time, you can go to Penyengat Island, just 2 kilometers boat ride from the harbor. There is a saying in the island that if you drink the water that is originated there, you will be given chances to comeback again and again to Bintan. Too bad, I did not have enough time to explore Penyengat Island at that time.

So I decided to explore local culinary and coffeeshop instead. A decision that I will not regret for my lifetime, especially when I went to Akau Potong Lembu, the night market that sells a wide range of local foods –many of them are adopted from Chinese recipe, and most of them are seafood that also can increase your cholesterol level in your body. But it is okay because the food here are worth it, also you can start the diet tomorrow, right?

Price range for food here starts around IDR20.000 for basic food, and could be more expensive if you try the seafood. But, since seafood is a must try here, especially the ‘Gonggong’  –sea snail with chewy meat that only exist in Riau Islands, I think it is okay to spend more on seafood, and fasting for tomorrow. Besides gonggong, I recommend you to try o luak, yong tahu, mie lendir, es koteng, also Kopi Batman here.

Tanjung Pinang Bintan Akau Potong Lembu

Traveling to Tanjung Pinang will not break your bank account, because the price here is reasonable and you can get the okay accommodation only for IDR200.000/room/night. But if you want to visit the other part of Bintan, yes, I mean Bintan Resorts, you will have to plan it well to save your bank account. Do not worry, I will give you some tips below.

If You Fly to Bintan, It’s Better to Rent A Car to Go to The Resort

If you are not Singaporean or foreigner (for Indonesian), I assume that you will go to Bintan Island by air, not a refugee boat. Nowadays, there are two Indonesian airlines that fly to Tanjung Pinang daily from Jakarta, Citilink and Batik Air, while Adam Air is just a history now. The airport (Raja Haji Fisabilillah International Airport – TNJ) itself is located 10 kilometers far from the city center, and 50 kilometers far from Bintan Resorts in the northern area, so you will need a car to go there. No, tricycles do not serve this route.

If you want, you can request your selected resort to pick you up at the airport, or use taxi to go to the resort, but it will cost you a fortune. Whoops, I mean around IDR500.000 for one way drive. The best choice for now, is maybe to rent a car from local provider to help you go to the resort. You can do self driving, or asking the driver to drive for you. I guess the first one is the cheapest option, since the price of car rental here is quite affordable for 24 hours service, starts from around IDR300.000 depends on the car that you choose.

For a car rental recommendation in Bintan Island, you can contact UD New Winisher at +62853-7569-8888

Tanjung Pinang Bintan

The journey from the airport to the resort will take around one hour with the view of empty road, mangrove forest, red soil, some settlements area, and a few of animals trying to cross the street. There are some restaurants and rest areas along the way, but if you can hold the hunger and the bladder, Bintan Resorts area is worth the wait.

Cheap Accommodation? Oh Yes, We Have!

People say that the room price in Bintan Resorts is expensive, well, that is true. But there are some places that offer you cheap room price, but with limited facilities. One place is Lagoi Inn –semi backpacker accommodation (hostel), and the other is Bintan Services Apartment in the other part of the island. Both prices are around IDR500.000/night. Other hotel that has discounted rate is Grand Lagoi Hotel by Wilson Hospitality, with the rate around IDR800.000/night by the time I wrote this article.

During the pandemic, Lagoi Inn decided to shutting down its business for a while.

In general, the accommodation areas in Bintan Resorts can be divided in two areas just like coast in USA, the west side nearby the ferry harbor, and the east side around The Lagoi Bay Beach. The distance between these two areas, is around 10 kilometers, so the rented car is still a best solution to roam around the resort.

If you have more budgets to stay in Bintan Resorts, I have these two options for you, based on my experiences. You can ask directly to each property for promotional packages (especially for Indonesian), or check directly to The Official Instagram of Bintan Resorts.

Doulos Phos The Ship Hotel

Located just outside the harbor, Doulos Phos The Ship Hotel is one of the most remarkable hotels that I have ever stayed. Started as the legendary cruise ship named Doulos Phos –now is 108 years old, this grand cruise is now sitting permanently (and majestically) in Bintan, and changed into a premium hotel by Mr. Eric Saw. In South East Asia, Doulos Phos is maybe the largest ship hotel, if not the only one.

Spending the nights in Doulos Phos will give you extraordinary experience, especially if you leave the window blind open and see the sea below. The room was made from the real room from the cruise, and for the best experience, Mr. Eric let the machine there –as the heart of the ship and for the reminder that this ship had sailed the world for more than 100 years.

In Doulos Phos The Ship Hotel, you can feel the experience staying in a cruise without afraid of sea sickness. One thing you can not miss here is enjoying the beautiful sunset (while eating canapé) everyday if the weather is good.

For more information about Doulos Phos Ship Hotel, you can check their Instagram @doulosphos.

Pantai Indah Lagoi Bintan

From Doulos Phos The Ship Hotel, I moved to Pantai Indah Lagoi Bintan the beach hotel, well I mean a luxurious hotel that have private beach as their backyard. If in Doulos Phos I stayed in a room made from the crew room, here, the room(s) is inside the small villa –or bungalow, with many amenities inside, including the private pool for you and your loved one, if you have.

For me, as the introvert, Pantai Indah Lagoi Bintan is such a perfect place to recharge my energy, a place where I can enjoy my time with myself without interruption. Food can be delivered to the room, massage and spa service can be done in the room, also if I need some entertainment, I could do it without leaving the property complex.

ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) ride, archery session, or even a romantic candlelight dinner could be served perfectly there, without going anywhere. It is a luxurious experience in a white sand sanctuary.

For more information about Pantai Indah Lagoi Bintan, you can check their Instagram @pantaiindahlagoibintan.id.

Eat Like A Local

Of course you can have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner inside the property. But sometimes, maybe you are either get bored (well, I bet you will not, especially if you request special menus from the resort), want other menus that the resort does not have, or maybe … you just want to save your budget for other things such as playing jet-ski, island hopping, or adding more night to stay in Banyan Tree Bintan or The Sanchaya, so might be want to reduce your expense for consumption.

So, let’s eat like a local in Bintan. Well, I mean local who live and work in Bintan Resorts area.

If you stay in west area of Bintan Resorts, you can go to Pujasera (Pusat Jajanan Serba Ada), a place like foodcourt that sells wide range of foods and beverages, with some mini-markets and other shops nearby.

If you stay nearby Lagoi Bay Beach, you can consider these two restaurants to visit. One is Warung Yeah who sells many kinds of Indonesian foods from Mixed Tofu (Tahu Campur), Clear Soup with Chicken (Soto Ayam), to Chicken Skewers (Sate Ayam). and the other is Waroeng Cek’s Bakar who sells many kind of seafood cuisine –my favorite are crab soup and fried prawn with butter.

Good news is, all the places that I have mentioned above, have cheap options for foods and beverages, starting from under IDR100.000,-.

Lagoi Beach (and Some Other Places) is Free To Explore

Not all things are expensive in Bintan Resorts, because there are some attractions are free to be explored, such as Lagoi Bay Beach and Lagoi Lake. Lagoi Bay Beach is the most beautiful beach in Bintan Resorts area, with its wide area of wide sands (longest shoreline beach in Lagoi area), and some activities nearby. This place is quite popular among local tourists and workers to spend their holiday with friends and family here. In national holiday like The Independence Day of Indonesia, Lagoi Bay Beach is being used to held the celebration games like Panjat Pinang (coconut tree climbing) and Tarik Tambang (tug of war).

Less than 5 kilometers from Lagoi Bay Beach, there is Lagoi Lake, a beautiful lake, uhm reservoir, with jogging track around it. The length of the track is less than 10 kilometers, but you can add more miles by continue it to Pantai Indah Lagoi Bintan, or even to Tanjung Pinang, if you need more challenges in life.

Other activities that you can do in Bintan Resorts area, these are not free but I think they have reasonable price are, joining the mangrove forest tour, visiting cute animals in Safari Lagoi, also doing the island hopping tour from Lagoi Bay Beach.

If you need some adrenaline rush, you can rent the jet-ski and do short or longer course in the bay. Of course, all those activities that I have mentioned above, is available in Bintan Resorts area, at your disposal.

Tanjung Pinang Bintan

Do you have more questions about Bintan? Feel free to ask me!