Difference between revisions of "Bintan"
Revision as of 04:46, 22 March 2008
Bintan has dual features: the northern portion of the island, Bintan Resorts (Lagoi), full of expensive resorts and manicured lawns. As it has very little in common with the rest of the island, the resorts are covered in the Bintan Resorts article.
Separated from the resorts by checkpoints and armed guards, the southern half of the island is "real" border town Indonesia, home to electronics factories, fishing villages and some low-key beaches.
Bahasa Indonesia, which is spoken throughout Indonesia, is modeled on the version of Malay which originates from Riau on the Sumatra mainland and the Riau Islands. In fact, Riau Malay is regarded as the purest form of the Malay language and visitors from Malaysia will find the Malay spoken here very similar to Bahasa Malaysia, which is the version of Malay spoken back home.
For detailed information on visas, please see Indonesia page. All Bintan ports, namely Tanjung Pinang, Lobam and Bandar Bentan Telani or Lagoi (Bintan Resorts) are visa-free and visa-on-arrival points of entry.
Bintan's airport only caters to a limited number of flights, none of which are international. Main operator is Riau Airlines which provide connections to Pekanbaru, Palembang, Jambi and the remote Natuna Islands. Even though, the government trying to make it more specific about the destination. The flight also running to Jakarta once a day. Tanjungpinang now have better accommodation & Transportation since the governor office move in. They also trying to make the airport bigger than it was be. So never wonder how you will get there or while you there.
You are most likely to arrive by boat. Most international travelers arrive from Singapore and Johor Bahru. Bintan is also the major domestic seaport for the Riau Islands and is a port of call for Indonesia's major passenger shipping company Pelni.
There are several passenger ports in Bintan. The most common one is at Tanjung Pinang where most short-distance inter-island ferries and those from Singapore and Johor Bahru dock. The other ferry terminals are at Tanjung Uban, Kijang (where Pelni boats dock), and Teluk Sebung which serves the Bintan Resorts area on the northern part of the island. Please see Bintan Resorts for details to get to that part of Bintan.
There is no public transportation to speak of Bintan. Taxis/car rental are the only ways to get around Bintan. Car rental should not cost more than S$50/day for a sedan, in fact, some places cost S$20/day.
Taxis compete furiously for your custom and cutthroat bargaining is a necessity. The safety of these is dubious though, and it is generally advisable to avoid the taxi touts at Tanjung Pinang's ferry terminal entirely and arrange transportation with your lodgings.
By Angkutan Kota (Mikrolet)
Mikrolet (minibuses which operate on fixed routes. They carry six to eight passengers and charges per person vary with the distance), known as Angkutan Kota / Angkut in Bintan is another useful way to roam around, fare around the town is Rp. 2.500 (as of 2007). To stop at your destination, just shout "kiri"!
Go to Trikora Beach. It is beautiful and there are many seasports readily available.
Also, the primary rainforests, although reduced in size due to commercialism, they are still majestic and magnificent.
Bintan has beaches and sea games, but it is also known to be a place for prostitution, unless this is what you are looking for. Bintan Resorts have fantastic golf.
You can also go island-hopping from the main ports. From Tanjung Pinang, going to a nearby island would only be about S$5-10.
Both Indonesian rupiah and Singapore dollars are universally accepted.
The major shopping centres in town hardly compare to those in Singapore, Jakarta, or Kuala Lumpur, but the items sold are generally cheap, varied, and acceptable quality.
Seafood in Bintan is fresh and affordable (about S$3-7/pax) and Tanjung Pinang has many restaurants, although they usually have sub-standard fans and minimal or gaudy decoration. However, service is good and waiters are friendly. There isn't always an English menu, so take a look at the Indonesian phrasebook and learn the basics.
Hygiene may be a problem, but restaurants here depend on repeat customers, so generally they will do their best to make sure you have an enjoyable experience.
Drink bottled water. Except for a few 4/5* hotels, tap water is generaly not potable.
As the locals are generally Muslims and thus do not usually drink alcoholic beverages, beer and wines are not available in every shop, but major shopping centres/hotel concierges can tell you where to buy them.
Tanjung Pinang has a partly deserved bad reputation. Do not carry large quantities of cash or flash it about, and do not take unfamiliar taxis (particularly the touts at the jetty).
Locals will readily befriend you, but be warned, they will inflate your bills and take a cut. However, since the cut they take isn't very large unless they are really unscrupulous so they still make good, friendly, and knowledgeable guides.
Prostitution is a problem so unless that is what you are looking for, you should (if you are a man) never go near them. They are quite persuasive and lead hard lives so they will keep on pestering you if you show the slightest interest.