When we booked our flights to Singapore we were unsure whether we would visit Indonesia or Malaysia as part of our trip. Chris did throw in the idea of going to Legoland, located just over the Malaysian border, but once the idea of Indonesian island hopping came up, we stuck with it.
We probably spent a month or so researching nearby islands, before finally deciding on three destinations based on their accessibility from Singapore and availability of accommodation. Our first port of call was Bintan Island! The main reason we decided on Bintan was due to stumbling across this Airbnb.
The morning view from our hotel in Singapore, before we left to catch our ferry. We bought a Sinagporean sim card and found Uber Singapore to be incredibly easy to use, so we caught an Uber to the ferry terminal.
Bintan Island is accessible from Singapore by a few ferry terminals. Most ferries for Bintan leave from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, which is around half an hour from the Singapore CBD by cab.
Most travellers will take a ferry to the north of Bintan Island, where all the resorts are located. However, on the advice of our Airbnb host we caught the ferry to the capital of Bintan, Tanjung Pinang. The trip took just under two hours, and featured come excellent views!
Once we arrived in Tanjung Pinang and made it through immigration (which took all of five minutes!) we were met by a driver, organised by our hosts. Hiring a driver is really the most practical way to get around Bintan – there is not really any public transport! Upon arriving at our Airbnb we were greeted by our hosts and a delicious drink featuring homemade nutmeg syrup!
Our Airbnb was a stones throw from the beach, at Planet Samudra – a cafe and jong school run by a French expat and his wife. Apart from a few small resorts nearby, we were surrounded by village life. No fancy shops! No hotels! Just this empty beach.
This a view back to the cafe and jong school – we were the only people at the cafe during our stay, as we had unwittingly coincided our trip with the middle of Ramadan.
We spent our entire afternoon wandering along the beach and reading in the chairs.
We were also joined by an abundant amount of friendly animals – but more on that later!
Jongs, by the way, are traditional Malaysian racing boats. They are quite small, and are carried out from shore and race back inland. A group of local men spent most of the day racing them (to pass the time of fasting, according to our host!). The wind made for perfect racing conditions, so it was quite entertaining to watch.
Arriving in Bintan was certainly a change of pace from our busy time in Singapore, and forced us to sit down and relax – something neither of us are very good at. But it was well received.