The Single Dude's Guide to Bintan, Indonesia

Bintan, IndnoesiaWhile Bintan (and nearby Batam, the island next to it) is not a place we would recommend you go out of your way to plan a vacation, it might be an attractive getaway if you are stuck in Singapore for some work project (pretty much the only good reason to be in Singapore) and you’re on a tight budget or you don’t have much time. Bintan is doable even for just a two day one night trip.

Although Bintan has picture perfect white sand beaches and blue water it compares quite poorly to many other destinations in the region such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and even the Philippines in terms of prices, party atmosphere and availability of chicks to pickup. Bintan does have one big thing going for it though, it’s just a 55 minute, cheap boat ride from Singapore. Round trip fares are only $57 – $68 SGD and the boats are quite nice and comfortable and even have a bar on board with pretty reasonably priced (for Singaopre) beer! If there are no budget flights on a given weekend you are almost sure to be able to get a ferry ticket on all but the busiest of holiday’s last minute. What Bintan lacks in parties and chicks and it makes up for in convenience in that almost no pre-planning is required. This means that Bintan is an ideal place to take an existing girlfriend and/or bring a bunch of friends and make your own party.

When you get to the island do not stay at one of the resorts close to the ferry terminal as they are a total ripoff. What you want to do is get a hotel on the other side of the island which is about an hours drive but some of them will throw in free shuttle service which is a big perk because otherwise you have to pay about $30 SGD each way. You can expect to find high 3 star to low 4 star rooms for about $75 SGD per night. If you want something more rustic you may be able to find something for $30 or $40 but I’d say it’s not worth it. You saved on transport expenses so splurge on the hotel. The Agro Beach Resort, for example, has some nice offerings in various price ranges. You can expect slightly less retarded than Singapore service, but not much. Food is mediocre and medium priced. You can expect to get about $3 SGD small beers, $5 SGD big beers and $6 SGD cocktails at your resort, not as expensive as Singapore but a far cry from Vietnam. There aren’t many options for things to stroll down the street and eat or drink outside your resort so don’t plan on it. You might take an excursion to the town on the island and eat street food one night which is absolutely delicious, but it will be tough to get there unless your hotel offers a tour.

If you’re into snorkeling off times you can find decent snorkeling right off the beach in front of your resort. Bintan is also known for water sports like kite boarding and wind surfing. You can take lessons and rent gear there if you’re new to it. Taking the overpriced boat trips to go snorkeling are not recommended though, I had better luck just right in front of the resort. Chilling on the beach and water sports are going to be about the only fun and excitement you’re going to find on Bintan. For two to four days it’s perfect but any longer and you’re probably going to get bored. If you’re really into kite boarding maybe you could enjoy it for a week, but why bother when you can get all the kite boarding plus way more party in Vietnam for less in some place like Mui Ne or Nha Trang.

Conclusion: If you’re in Singapore and you’re short on time, money or you just plane forgot to line something up in advance Bintan is your ticket, especially if you have a chick you really like to bring with you. Otherwise, skip it and head on to the greener pastures of Vietnam, Bali or some Island in Thailand.

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