Beach, Bintan, Family, Singapore Weekends

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 a one-hour ferry ride from Singapore, and you’re off to your beach vacation. So you can imagine how happy we were when both Singapore and Indonesia dropped their COVID restrictions, making a quick short getaway to Bintan possible again.

One bedroom beach house at Nikoi Island
Enjoying the beach at Nikoi Island, a private island off Bintan

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

Tips for Visiting Bintan

Bring a Passport with at least 6 months validity – When a getaway is this close to Singapore, it might feel like you don’t need your passport… but you still do, because you’ll be crossing over to Indonesia.

Prepare Cash for Visa on Arrival – You’ll need to pay S$50 or Rp 500,000 per person for a visa on arrival in Bintan. I’ll talk about Indonesia Visa on Arrival more below.

Baby Oil – Unfortunately, on certain seasons, there might be tar oil that washed up on the beach. They are coming from tanker ships off the South China Sea. These tars are sticky and difficult to remove. If you get some of it on your swimming suits, regular detergent will not get them off. But from my personal experience, baby oil takes them right off.

Book ferry ticket online ahead of time – If you’re visiting Bintan during peak time (school holiday or public holiday), you’ll want to reserve your ticket ahead of time. You can book your ferry tickets online here via Klook: Bintan Resort Ferry departs to/from Tanah Merah to Bintan.

Emerald Class might not be worth it – If you’re visiting certain resorts like Sanchaya, Ria Bintan Golf Club, Nikoi Island or Cempedak Island, you’ll already get VIP class treatment on arrival at Bintan. When I went to Nikoi Island, I’m glad I did not book the emerald class!

Bandar Bintan Telani VIP section
VIP Section at Bintan

Where to stay in Bintan

There are many resorts all over Bintan, especially along the northern coast. After all, Bintan is well known 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

Here are a few recommendations for 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 northwest end of Bintan. This is the closest point from Bandar Bintan Telani, the port where 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 a 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 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

3. Private islands off the eastern coast of Bintan

For the absolute private luxury getaway, check out the private islands off the eastern coast of Bintan. This area is a designated Marine Protected Area. Here are a few of such islands:

  • Nikoi Island – A small island located in the east of Bintan Island. The perimeter of the island can be circled on foot in less than 20 minutes.
Nikoi Island South Beach by the Jetty
Nikoi Island
  • Cempedak Island – The sister island of Nikoi. Only adults over 16 years old are allowed on the island.
  • Joyo Island – A small private island that can only accommodate 45 people at a time.
  • Pulau Pangkil – An exclusive tropical island resort located off the South Eastern corner of 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 has 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).

Bintan Ferry
Bintan Resort Ferry going from Singapore to Bintan

Bandar Bintan Telani (BBT) is located at Lagoi Beach in 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 southwest of Bintan, and a 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.

Ferry Operators from Singapore to Bintan

Two ferry operators will take you to Bintan: Bintan Resort Ferry to BBT and Majestic Fast Ferry to Tanjung Pinang. If you’re visiting Bintan for the resorts, you’ll likely want to go to BBT.

Book ferry ticket online: You can book your ferry tickets online here via Klook: Bintan Resort Ferry departs to/from TMFT to BBT

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.

➡️ Tip: If you’re planning to go to Bintan on a weekend, the ferry could 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!

Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Checkin in for BRF at TMFT

If you’re taking Bintan Resort Ferry, note that they have their own check-in counter. Don’t join the queue for the other operators!

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

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 8 am to reach TMFT by 8:30 am.
  • Our ferry left the port at the scheduled time of 9:30 am, 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 11:30 am local time (12:30 pm 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!

Entry Visa to Indonesia

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

If you’re Visa Exempted, then you don’t need to do anything just show your passport at the immigration control and you’ll get a stamp. But if your passport requires a Visa on Arrival, then you’ll need to get a visa when you arrive at the port in Indonesia.

It costs S$50 or Rp 500,000 per person for a visa on arrival in Bintan. The visa fee is payable by cash in Singapore Dollars or Indonesian Rupiah.

➡️ Get the Visa on Arrival ahead of time: It’s possible to get Visa on Arrival online before your arrival. If you think you’re arriving during peak time, you might want to do this. Read more about how to apply for Indonesia Visa on Arrival online

Coming back to Singapore from Bintan

Singapore has two ports for the 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 straightforward 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 a 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 checkpoint, which is where the bottleneck was. I didn’t sign up for my son’s passport so we had to go through the “All Passports” line and it took so long!
  • Fill out your SG Arrival Card before entering Singapore
  • There is a small duty-free shop at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal after you clear immigration, where you can buy alcohol.
  • 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 taxis 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 from 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 a 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 $24 for going back to Singapore, per person)
Visa on Arrival*SG$ 47 per person
(Based on the current rate of 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 a 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 in 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 is 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 about what Bintan has to offer aside from 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 orangutans, tiger, and elephants.
  • Chill Cove at Treasure Bay Bintan – A large waterpark shaped like a white sand lagoon. You can kayak, paddle, wakeboard, 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 for 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 – Literally translated as “Soup expert” in Indonesian, this is the place if you want to try various Indonesian soups. It’s a very simple restaurant and was 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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Filed under: Beach, Bintan, Family, Singapore Weekends

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

23 Comments

  1. Sylvia says

    Hi Melissa

    We are going Bintan this Thurs. Heard food at the resort is expensive and not nice. Hence, thinking g of grab or get a taxi to one of the seafood restaurant. Thinking of trying kelong seafood but when I look up the reviews, seems like a lot of travellers quoted that they’re overly priced and given 1 or 2 stars. Amongst the restaurants you recommended, may I know which are the more affordable and budget friendly for even the tourists? I am staying at Natra Bintan. I read that the restaurant offers a boat ride from the jetty. Not sure if it is only for those who sign up the mangrove package. Or should I just grab there?

  2. Mary says

    Do you need to have cash as soon as you arrive by ferry from Singapore? Should we exchange or is it convenient to find an ATM as soon as you arrive in Bintan?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Mary, I personally think it’s better to change in Singapore so that you can get a good rate.

  3. Otisan says

    Hi Melissa, we’ll be visiting Bintan for the first time soon and our resort told us there’s no e-hailing there, but glad to learn from your comments that Grab/Gojek are available.

    We are staying in Lagoi area, and I want to ask how’s the safety in Bintan in general? if say we are to get a Grab to go to the one of the seafood places that’s away from Lagoi?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Melissa says

      Hey Otisan, I think getting Grab or Gojek from the ferry is ok, but it might be hard to get from the resort depending on their location. I would trust the resort as they know better.

  4. Grace says

    Hi! I am planning to go to Bintan this week, could I ask if grab/gojek are accessible for booking at BBT? Or are only taxis available? Thanks!

  5. sarah says

    hello can i check with you for all the activities are we able to reach the activity location and pay at the staff counter or can we ask the hotel counter to help us book or do we have to pre-book through app?

    • Melissa says

      Hey Sarah, you can book with the hotel, but it’s usually cheaper to pre-book through the app.

  6. Saumitra Sharma says

    Hi Melissa,

    We are going to Bintan next week but for some reasons we could only book ferry to Tanjung Pinang port terminal.. we need to travel to Banyan Tree which is near Lagoi .. will there be local cabs available at 6 pm from there ? Any cab app that works in Bintan ? Or any reference of reliable cab driver ?

  7. Tuula Astikainen says

    Thank you for the very useful guide!
    I love swimming in the sea. Which resort with a clean and safe beach would you recommend? I am planning to stay there 2-3 nights in April.

    Best regards
    Tuula

  8. Hi
    thought Singaporean/Malaysian under visa free, but why still need to pay rupiah 500,000?
    thanks

  9. Jessica says

    My mum is old and can’t stand for long, or walk far. May i know how far is the walk at tanah merah from cab drop off to ferry? I heard it’s quite a distance.

    Also how massive was the check in / immigration at both sides, leaving and returning? My mum might not be able to stand for so long.

    Do you recommend the Emerald ferry tickets? Thanks melissa.

    • Melissa says

      Hi Jessica, you do need to walk from drop off to the ferry. It’s not super far, but there might be an immigration queue to get in. I suggest checking with them to see if there is wheelchair service. Immigration for leaving was pretty easy, but coming back was really long for us. However, I think your mom could get priority if you let the officers know.

      I considered the emerald ticket, but ultimately decided against it as it is quite expensive. It could be worth it for your mom though.

  10. Adele says

    Hi! Thanks for the info! Can I check if your visa and expenses are paid in Rupiah or other currencies? Thanks!

  11. Parang says

    Thank you for writing this detailed guide to going to Bintan from Singapore. Very useful!

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