Bintan island is part of the Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, and its largest islands (1140 square meters with a coastline of about 105km), situated in the South China Sea. It is also a short (40 km) boat ride from Singapore.
It is truly a unique place, beaming with simple life, friendly people, and beautiful beaches, giving a much needed refreshment to the mind, body, and soul. Its capital city, Tanjung Pinang, also the capital of Riau Archipelago, lies in the south. When you are in Bintan, you should not miss these places: Tanjung Pinang, Senggarang, Tanjung Uban and Lagoi/Bintan resort sites, Kawal, Kijang, and Trikora Beach.
If you compare Bintan with Batam, the former seems to have a richer history. In addition, with its rich background, Bintan Island also has more historical sites to see.
Bintan’s history is closely intertwined with those of the Johor and Malacca Sultanate. Most of the Riau Archipelago, including the Bintan Island, were once ruled by Malacca Sultanate. In 1511, when the Portuguese attacked Malacca, the king had to flee to Pahang of Malay Peninsula. Later, he had to flee again to Bintan, from where he tried to repossess Malacca. His successor, later, moved from Bintan to Johor and created the Johor Sultanate. The Dutch later invaded Bintan Island; however, they were chased away by a force supported by Malacca Sultanate.
The Treaty of London, in 1824, finally settled the dispute and the islands on the south of Singapore became Dutch territories. This way, the Dutch again regained its control over the Bintan Island.
If you are in Bintan, you must see Pulau Penyengat – a historical site popular among many tourists. It is located about 6km from the Tanjung Pinang Island. During the 19th century, Pulau Penyengat was the cultural, religious, and administrative center of the region.
In an attempt to reach a peace accord with the Malay and the Bugis, the emperor of the Malacca, Sultan Mahmud Shad, gave Bintan Island to his bride, Raja Hamidah, who was also a daughter of the Raja Ali Haji, the commander of Bintan Island. A huge mosque, Masjid Raya, which is clearly visible from the Tanjung Pinang, was built on the island. Raja Ali Haji fought with the Dutch, trying to free his territories and his people, and lost his life. Bintan people consider Raja Ali Haji as their ‘hero,’ and to commemorate him, a huge monument is built along the seaside.
The Dutch Colonial Graveyard within the town of Tanjung Pinang reflects the life of the people living in the sea in the old days.
Similarly, the Banyan Tree Temple, situated in the town called Senggarng, is one of the most popular places for the local Singaporean and Chinese visitors to visit. The temple is almost 100 years old.
If you are visiting Bintan Island for holidays, there are two options available for you. First, you could visit Lagoi at the northern part of the island where there are numerous Bintan resorts. Alternatively, you could also go to the east of the island to check out their beautiful Trikora Beach.
Lagoi has many elite resorts such as Club Med Ria and Banyan Tree Resort. These exclusive resorts also have golf courses that are designed by world best golf course designers.
On the other hand, the Trikora Beach features many resorts and hotels that are reasonably priced. Resorts such as Bintan Agro Beach Resorts, Ocean Bay Resort, and Kolam Kelong Trikora are complete with fishing facilities. Traveler Pondok Wisita resort even offer diving lessons for the curious ones, who can stay in their AC or non-AC rooms before diving.
The best way to travel from Singapore to Bintan is by Easybook Bintan ferry. The Bintan Resorts Ferries, or BRF, that run between the Tanah Ferry Terminal, Singapore and Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal, operates the ferry service Bintan Resorts. The trip usually takes less than an hour. It is highly advised that you check in at least 2 hours before the ferry departure time.