Friday, July 22, 2011

Bintan Day One: The Singaporean Getaway

Bintan, an Indonesian island about 50 minutes from Singapore, is a hugely popular spot for Singaporeans to take a weekend getaway. Many of our friends have visited already, and we'd heard mixed reviews. Most people stay in the northern part of the island near the ferry terminal, where there are about 10 resorts sprawled along the coast. People said that the resorts were nice, but expensive; the beach was okay, but sometimes crowded; the food was all right, but not hugely impressive. On the one hand, I felt like we should go check out one of the vacation spots most popular with Singaporeans, but on the other hand, a weekend at a resort with a bunch of other people doesn't really fit with what Bryan and I usually enjoy. A friend at work suggested an alternative- go to Bintan, but stay on the quieter east side of the island, where there were just a couple of resorts, fewer people, and decent beaches. We took his suggestion and booked a room at the Cabana Beach Resort.

Our adventure began on Friday after work. We hopped on the MRT, stopped at Expo to get some Subway, then continued to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. We'd booked tickets through Bintan Resort Ferries in advance, and it was a good thing because the ferry was sold out! Even though it was raining, our ferry ride was smooth and pretty brief. In under an hour, we were standing in line at immigration (side bar: Singaporeans don't need visas, but many other nationalities, including Americans, need visas, which can be obtained on arrival and cost US$10 for 7 days or US$25 for 30 days).
Boarding the rain-soaked ferry
Chillin' on the ferry

Immigration was also surprisingly speedy, and before long we were bouncing along in a shuttle bus (provided free by the resorts on the east side) with our freshly stamped passports in hand. The ride took about 45 minutes, but it seemed a little longer because the rain and darkness made it so we couldn't really see anything through the windows. We finally got dropped at Cabana Beach, where we were enthusiastically greeted by the staff, which appeared to be comprised entirely of teenage Indonesian boys. But they checked us in and gave us the Bintang beer we ordered, so we were happy with them. Our room was nice, and we settled in to drink Bintang and play Citadels, a new game Bryan brought along as a surprise!
Relaxing on our awesome balcony

When I'd emailed the Cabana Beach Resort, I'd requested a room with a sea view. Their reply said that our room would be "definitely sea facing," and Bryan and I had laughed over the endless possibilities that left open. When we checked in, we walked out to our balcony and squinted into the darkness, trying to make out the beach. For a second I was puzzled and then I realized we were ON the water- it was underneath us! Awesome. Definitely sea facing indeed! We were both looking forward to a weekend of playing games, relaxing on the beach, and eating Indonesian food!


  1. Was the beach nice? We have been meaning to go but have not got around to it yet.

  2. We went to Bintan Lagoon Resort once, on the resort-y side of the island, but I never knew you could go elsewhere! I'm intrigued. I will have to pick your brain for more details when you get back.