Bintan Island Travel Guide
Bintan Island is becoming the new attraction for the tourists from Singapore and Indonesia.
Bintan is the largest of 3,200 islands in the Riau Islands and the third largest of 27 provinces in Indonesia.
This beautiful Island is located just 45 kilometres south east of Singapore and twice is its size. Northern Bintan is easily accessible via a 45-minute ride on a catamaran from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
And if you like to go to the southern part of Bintan, there are ferries available, which depart from the World Trade Centre and take 90 minutes each way. Though it may seem that Bintan is quite near, you still need your passport, and, where necessary, a visa.
There are some accommodation options available on Bintan Island and you can choose any hotel or resort of them according to your needs and requirements.
Bintan island leads a double life of sort, for, the northern portion of the island, which is a colony of Singapore in all but name, and is full of expensive resorts and manicured lawns.
The southern part of the island is separated from the resorts by checkpoints and armed guards, and it is the real border town of Indonesia. This part is like a home to electronics factories, fishing villages, many prostitutes, and some of the off-beat beaches.
Geography of Bintan Island
It is clear that Bintan island have a large ecological areas and the sea life has many things to offer. The climate is serene for almost the whole year and you can choose to visit here at your disposal.
However, if you like to dive in the sea and would love to do it here in Bintan Island, then don’t worry, it would make a great experience for you! The water is clam for even the novice divers and there are always some surprises for the experienced divers!
The best diving time, however, is from April to October. You should note that Bintan’s marine population includes more than 100,000 species with snails, clams, oysters, squid and sea shells. Dolphins can also be seen regularly in the water and therefore nothing is there that you would not enjoy in the waters of this beautiful island.
History of Bintan Island
Islands of Riau Archipelago lie apart from the Straits of Malacca and these 3000 islands were one of the oldest and busiest trading routes in the world. The history of this region is rich with tales of piracy and conflicts during the colonial period.
Riau was famous for the trade of gold, silk, spices, and porcelain. Riau Archipelago once was the home of sea gypsies who were cruising through its rich mangrove forests and waterways.
However, this sea passage was not that easy for everyone, as it spelled havoc for some of the Arab and Chinese traders. Many of their ships sank on the reefs or fell prey to pirate attacks. You can wander along beaches and pick up fragments of Ming Dynasty porcelain, which are still being washed ashore from wrecked Chinese junks which sank over 400 years ago, and give you a first hand account of the history!
Bintan came into importance and power in the 16th century when it became the seat of the powerful Johor Riau Sultanate, after the Sultan of Melacca had to flee from Portuguese attacks. And for two centuries the sultanate of capital alternated between Johor, Bintan and the Island of Lingga.
The influence of powerful Dutch people increased in these islands when they defeated the Portuguese in Melacca in 1641 and the Riau Johor Sultanate gradually lost its power and independence.
However, with the British seeking to gain a control here, at the end of the 18th century the British started taking over control from the Dutch in their colonies in Melacca and Riau.
At the end of it, a treaty was signed, known as Treaty of London, in 1824 and according to it the Dutch had the control of all territories south of Singapore while the British took over Melacca and the Malay Peninsula.
You can opt to visit the historical Pulau Penyengat, originally the home of the Melaka Sultanate. This tiny island can be distinguished from a considerable distance by a glittering dome belonging to its 170-year-old mosque, which houses a rare handwritten Koran. And you can also see royal tombs of past sultans nearby the mosque.
Places of Interest
There are many places in Bintan Island that you can visit whenever you have the time to take yourself off from the sea and its beautiful beaches. Some of these places are listed below:
This is an island where it is believed that the time comes to a total standstill and this island is almost sleepy and hollow. Penyengat Island was the center of the Malay Riau-Lingga empire for a long time.
This island was the home to numerous mausoleums honoring various Malay nobles and heroes, and it offers visitors with many interesting heritage sites that exist on this little island! These things include a village, which has an old Dutch fort, royal mausoleums, old palaces, and the Sultan of Riau Grand Mosque that was believed to have been built with the use of egg white.
This is real treat for the people who are interested in history and historical monuments!
These islands own their beauty totally to the sea and maritime culture plays a major role for their attraction to the visitors. If you like to travel in the island and would love to have a real experience of the maritime culture, it is advised that you travel boat than by car.
If you love nature and would like to feel it more closer to you then do not miss a tour to the diverse ecological wildlife that exists beneath the awe-inspiring serenity of a mangrove forest.
When you are traveling in the boat through the river, try to keep a look out for the Purple Helon, one of the largest birds in Asia, or the signature yellow-and-black banded mangrove snakes. You may also come face to face with the other inhabitants that exist in this fragile community, such as the sliver leaf monkey, the monitor lizard and, of course, the Kingfisher.
You will enjoy it to your heart if you are careful enough to notice all these inhabitants of this beautiful island!
It should be noted that there is no airport on the Bintan Island and therefore, the only choice to reach here is by boat and you can choose to come here through Singapore.
There is hardly any local transportation that you can get into when you reach here, and therefore, you will have to hire private taxis if you want to move around!
However, boats are the best mode to move around and look the beautiful places of this island. Understand that forests and sea surround most of the places, and you have the option of boats and nothing else!
Festivals of Bintan Island
There are no noticeable festivals on Bintan Island though there are golf clubs that provide some activities sort of things; however, you can enjoy the twin festivals of Singapore and Indonesia, if you choose to come here and move to these countries for whichever festival you want to celebrate and attend!