Beach, Family, Indonesia, Resort Stay, Weekend in Singapore

Weekend in Bintan: A 3-day beach getaway from Singapore

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Bintan is an excellent option for a weekend trip for us Singapore residents. The island can be reached with just one hour ferry ride from Singapore, and you’re off to a beach vacation. So you can imagine how happy we were when both Singapore and Indonesia had dropped their COVID restrictions, making a quick short getaway to Bintan possible again.

Here are some information on traveling to Bintan and travel tips from me!

Where to stay in Bintan

There are many resorts all over Bintan, especially along the northern coast. After all, Bintan is well known to Singaporeans for a beach holiday. However, depending on your personal preference, there are different areas you might want to look for a place to stay.

The beach at The Residence Bintan
Swimming Pool at The Residence Bintan

Hot Tip: Because ferry trips are scarce at the moment, make sure you have your ferry tickets booked first before you plan for anything else including your accommodations! As ferries are still limited, it’s very possible the ferry will be sold out while there are still plenty of accommodations to go around. More on getting to Bintan below

Here are a few recommendations where you can stay in Bintan:

1. Lagoi Beach – If you want to save on travel time

If you don’t want to spend time traveling, you’ll want to stay near Lagoi beach, at the north-west end of Bintan. This is the closest point from Bandar Bintan Telani, the port you’ll be disembarking (More on getting to Bintan below!), which means you can potentially shave off an hour from your travel time since you don’t need to travel too far from the port. It’s also convenient – there are more options around Lagoi for food and shopping, since the area is catered to tourists from Singapore.

Here are some resorts you can consider in or around Lagoi Beach:

2. Eastern coast of Bintan – If you’re looking for a quiet and private beach vacation

If you’re looking for a more secluded place with lesser chance of bumping into other people, you should consider resorts that are away from Lagoi. Just be mindful that this would add to a longer land transport after you get off from the ferry (approximately an hour). Also, you’ll likely be dependent on the resort for food which could get pricey. But, hey… that’s a price to pay for some private time 😉

Here are some resorts you can consider along the eastern coast of Bintan:

The beach at The Residence Bintan
Private beach at The Residence Bintan

How many days should I spend in Bintan?

I believe 3 days is the ultimate sweet spot for Bintan, taking into account all the activities you can do on the island and the time it takes to travel to Bintan. Assuming you’ll be traveling to Bintan on the first day and traveling back to Singapore on the last day, this allows one full day of exploring Bintan or the accommodation you’re staying in!

Once the frequency of ferry trips have recovered, and if you can secure a good timing for the ferries – for example Saturday early morning ferry and leaving Sunday late afternoon, it could be doable in 2 days. This probably wouldn’t give you much time to do activities outside of the resort, but you’ll still get to enjoy an island getaway!

How to get to Bintan from Singapore

The only sensible way to get to Bintan from Singapore is of course by ferry. Here is the low down on how you can reach Bintan by ferry:

Which port should I go to in Bintan?

There are three ports in Bintan: Bandar Bintan Telani (BBT), Tanjung Pinang and Bintan Lagoon. Currently from Singapore, you can only take the ferry to BBT or Tanjung Pinang. The shortest and most common route is to go from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) to Bandar Bintan Telani (BBT).

BBT is located at Lagoi beach at the northern part of Bintan, which is where most resorts are located. From TMFT, it will take about one hour to reach BBT. Tanjung Pinang, on the other hand, is located in the south west of Bintan, and ferry trip will take 2 hours and then you still have to get to your resort via land transport. Thus, going to BBT could save an hour of your time. But if ferries to BBT are sold out, then you have no choice but to go to Tanjung Pinang.

Bintan Ferry
Bintan Resort Ferry going from Singapore to Bintan

Ferry Operators from Singapore to Bintan

At the time of writing (at the end of June 2022), ferry trips are still scarce. There are only two ferry operators that will take you to Bintan: Bintan Resort Ferry to BBT and Majestic Fast Ferry to Tanjung Pinang. Furthermore, the ferry timings are still only a fraction of it was before the pandemic. There are only a handful of trips on weekend, and even lesser on weekdays.

But, it’s important to highlight that my trip happened only 4 weeks after Indonesia decided to drop PCR requirement for incoming tourists, so travel to Bintan has only started picking up. I imagine they will be adding more trips soon!

If you’re planning to go to Bintan on a weekend, the ferry will fill up fast so you’ll want to make sure you book ahead, especially if it’s a long weekend. Make sure you have your ferry tickets booked first before you book your accommodations!

Bintan Ferry
Waiting room at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Bintan Ferry
Cafe at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal… I don’t recommend it though.

You can book your ferry tickets straight from the official websites of respective ferries here:

For our trip in mid-June, Bintan Resort Ferry offers the best trip in terms of timing so we booked with them. The ferry ride was convenient, we found the trip to be very comfortable and drama-free.

Requirements for Entering Indonesia

You can review the requirements for entering Indonesia here. Currently, you’ll need the following documents:

  • A valid entry visa to Indonesia – More on that below
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination – Digital copy is fine. This will be checked when you check in for your ferry. If you were vaccinated in Singapore, go to notarise.gov.sg to obtain your digital certificate.

Entry Visa to Indonesia

The gist of it is that there are two types of visa to enter Indonesia depending the passport you have – Visa Exempted or Visa on Arrival. You can check which one your passport country falls under.

  • If your passport country falls under visa exemption, then you don’t need to do anything – just turn up and go through immigration like a local Indonesian. PS: Singapore passports (and other ASEAN countries) fall under this category!
  • If your passport country falls under Visa on Arrival (VOA), then you’ll need to pay the VOA fee of Rp 500,000 in cash per person. And yes, you’ll need to prepare cash in Indonesian Rupiah before your trip as they do not accept other methods of payment.
  • Else, if your passport country does not fall under the above categories, then you’ll need to apply for a visa online before arriving in Indonesia.

Travel time from Singapore to Bintan by Ferry

If you’re wondering what the total door-to-door time to travel from Singapore to Bintan is, here is a quick breakdown

  • You need to be at the ferry at least 60 minutes before departure, so we left our house at 8am to reach TMFT by 8:30am.
  • Our ferry left the port at scheduled time of 9:30am, and it took an hour to reach Bintan.
  • From there, it took us about 20 minutes to clear immigration and another 30 minutes to wait for other guests in the resort shuttle.
  • Our resort was far from the port, so it took us another hour drive to get there. We only reached the resort at 11:30am local time (12:30pm SG time).

So in total it took about 4.5 hours door to door. If your resort is at Lagoi, you can probably shave off 1 hour from our travel time to about 3.5 hours!

Coming back to Singapore from Bintan

Singapore has two ports for public: HarbourFront and Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Coming back from Bintan, you’d likely be going to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

The process to enter Singapore is straight forward, since Singapore has dropped pretty much all of its COVID restrictions. However, when the ferry is fully booked, it could get pretty chaotic. Despite arriving an hour before the ferry was set to depart, there were massive queues snaking outside the ferry terminal at BBT before immigration.

Bintan Ferry
Queue at BBT for the ferry
Bintan Ferry
Bintan Resort Ferry going from Bintan to Singapore

Some tips for arriving at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal:

  • If you live in Singapore (whether you’re a citizen or a PR or on work visa), make sure you have registered your passport to use the automated clearance gate called eIACS). This will save you a lot of time from queueing at the immigration check point, which is where the bottle neck was. I didn’t sign up my son’s passport so we had to go through the “All Passports” line and it took so long!
  • There is a small duty free shop at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal after you clear immigration, where you can buy alchohol.
  • When I arrived back on a Monday afternoon from a fully-booked ferry, it was near impossible to call a taxi. I tried every booking method and every ride-sharing app for about 45 minutes, but it seems like no taxi were willing to come to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
  • If you couldn’t secure a taxi, you can take Bus 35 (the bus stop is right across the taxi stand) to Tanah Merah MRT station and call a taxi from there or resume your journey via MRT. We gave up on finding taxi at TMFT and ended up taking the bus and then a taxi home. Just be sure to ask the bus captain if the bus is going to Tanah Merah MRT, as there are 2 directions of Bus 35 stopping at TMFT. It should only take about 10-15 minutes on the bus to reach the MRT, but if you board the wrong direction, then it might take an hour. Check out the Bus 35 route here.

Cost breakdown of a weekend trip to Bintan from Singapore

For your reference, the following is our trip cost breakdown of a 3D2N trip for 2 adults and a toddler to Bintan. In total, we spent a little above SG $1,100 for our trip.

Ferry Ticket*
(Round Trip per person)
SG$ 56 per adult (12 and above)
SG$ 44 per child (0-12 years old)
Port fee and taxes*
(Round Trip per person)
SG$ 39 per person
($15 for going to Bintan and $24 for going back to Singapore, per person)
Visa on ArrivalSG$ 47 per person
(Based on the current rate for Rp 500,000)
AccommodationSG$ 466 for 3D2N at The Residence Bintan
Food and BeverageSG$ 280 for 3D2N at The Residence Bintan
(For 2 adults and 1 toddler)

Obviously, the cost will vary depending on whether you need visa on arrival, the accommodation you choose, and what food option is available to you at the resort. If the food cost above seems high to you – well, there is a reason for that. I’ve written more about my resort experience on my The Residence Bintan review post.

Getting around Bintan

The best way to get around Bintan, if you’re keen to explore the island, is by hiring a private driver or renting a car and driving it yourself. There are no easy public transport around. You can also consider renting a motorcycle if you can drive one!

The beach at The Residence Bintan
Sunset at The Residence Bintan

What to do in Bintan

  • Snorkeling and White sands tour – If you like exploring the underwater world, this might just be the activity for you!
  • Bintan Island Tour – If you’re curious what Bintan has to offer aside of seafood and the beach, you can take this tour which will take you around the island and all the photogenic spots.
  • Safari lagoi & Eco Farm Tour – You can visit some endangered rescued animals here, like orangutan, tiger, and elephants.
  • Chill Cove at Treasure Bay Bintan – A large waterpark shaped like a white sand lagoon. You can kayak, paddle, wake board or take their giant slide! Great activities with family and friends

Where to eat in Bintan

Bintan is known for its fresh seafood at a fraction of the price in Singapore. On top of that – and I may be biased because I was born and raised in Indonesia – I think Indonesian food is one of the best cuisines out there.

So while you’re here, you gotta try the seafood and local food! Here are some recommendations where you can go:

  • Mangrove Floating Restaurant – You’ll find this as “Mangrove Restaurant Apung” in Google Maps, which means floating restaurant in Indonesian.
  • Jagonya Sop – Literaly translated as “Soup expert” in Indonesian, this is the place if you want to try various Indonesian soup. It’s a very simple restaurant and approved by locals!
  • Bintan Brother Seafood – If you want to have some seafood while in Bintan, you definitely need to check them out.
  • Kelong Mangrove Restaurant – Local seafood located at Sebong River. It’s a floating restaurant concept too.

Alright, that’s all I have on Bintan! If you find this blog useful or if you have any questions / updates to the blog, please let me know in the comment below! I’ll respond ASAP.

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