Belitung, formerly Billiton, is an island in the Bangka-Belitung province of Indonesia.
You might not expect it from the island whose tin mines gave their name to Australian mining giant BHP Billiton, but Belitung is among the most beautiful islands in Southeast Asia. Pristine white sand beaches look out on a turquoise sea filled with great snorkelling and a fantastic display of off shore islands. Check out Leebong Island,Tanjung Kelayang and Tanjung Tinggi for world class beaches without the hustle and bustle now found at beaches of this calibre elsewhere. Small uninhabited off shore islands range from white sand fringed coconut plantations to elaborate granite rock formations to long temporary sand bars of sand the quality of powdered sugar. Some are too far to swim to from the shore, but colourful local fishing boats will take you on an island tour.
As yet uncharted by the Lonely Planet guide of 2012, no big resorts have been built here yet but it will not remain a sleepy paradise for long. The widely-translated novels Laskar Pelangi (“Rainbow Troops”) published in 2005 and its sequel “The Dreamer” have done a lot to put Belitung on the map of international tourism.
The best time to visit: Dry season (April – October) is obviously sunnier but can be very windy, resulting in choppy waters. During the rainy season (November – March) there is less wind though it does rain most afternoons.
However Leebong Island is sheltered by larger islands and the main land and offers excellent waters all year round. The school holidays (June-July) are best avoided as a lot of local tourists come from elsewhere in Indonesia. Similarly weekends can be quite busy with large Indonesian tour groups visiting from Jakarta. Interesting annual cultural festivals include:
- Tour d’Belitung: 300km bike race around the island held every December .
- Outrigger sail boat race held every October/November at Burung Mandi Beach. Includes a sand statute competition.
There is a small airport named HAS Hanandjoeddin Airport located near Tanjung Pandan. Daily flights connect Tanjung Pandan to Jakarta (1h flight) and Pangkal Pinang. The flights to Jakarta are served by Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air while flights to Pangkal Pinang is served by NAM Air and Wings Air.
Garuda indonesia newly opened a route from Jakarta (CGK) to Belitung (TJQ) since 23 May 2013
Citilink also provides a route from jakarta (CGK) to belitung (TJQ).
Ferries leave and go to Jakarta, Cirebon, Pontianak (Kalimantan), and Bangka. Smaller fishing craft can be chartered for some harder to reach places and small islands.
Belitung is small enough that more or less any point on the island can be reached in less than two hours from the main town Tanjung Pandan. Taxi's are now available for the first time since July 2014.
- Street Taxi, Jl. Melati RT11, ☎ "0822 ([email protected]), . The drivers are professional and under strict guidelines not to over charge tourists unlike the current Belitung airport taxi operated by the air force korparasi. Street Taxi Belitung is licensed and regulated whereas the current airport taxi which has no legal permits and overcharge westerners tremendously in the arrivals area is not licensed.The non legal taxis wear black taxi shirts with orange logos or a blue shirt on other days.To guarantee an airport pick up or drop off, it is best to book before you land or wait at least 20 minutes for Street Taxi to arrive after you call them. Most hotels will have Street Taxi's telephone number but its best to call Street Taxi direct. edit Hotels that will never call Street Taxi to assist its guests are BW Suites, Bahamas, Central City and Grand Hatika. Some hotels will tell the guest the taxi is fully booked or not enough taxis or cancel your taxi after you have booked; therefore you are forced to use their over priced service so the hotel staff earn a commission from the non legal service. It has been noted that 4 star hotels are supposed to represent the 4 star brand. However these hotels have along way to go to meet guests expectations. So it is best to call Street Taxi direct to avoid any conflict with staff.
Due to this situation Street Taxi has been forced to work closely with other hotels in the correct manner. If you stay at the BW Suites, Grand Pelangi and Bahamas, the chance of getting a taxi around town in the evening is extremely slim to impossible as the black taxi / local drivers all finish work around 4pm.
The BW Suite Hotel will cancel your Street Taxi transport even if you have a flight to catch, so please be careful not to speak to this hotel reception as many complaints have came from customers staying at this hotel.
Airport pick up or drop off is approximately IDR 75,000 -85,000 depending on final destination in the main town. This is 2 -3 times cheaper than the local drivers at the airport.
Boat hire for Island hopping. You can pretty much hire a boat from any hotel reception. However prices vary from 600,000rp - 900,000rp per day. Hotel staff make sure they add on their commission. This is far to expensive and tourists are being overcharged.
There have been reports that female travelers, especially westerners are being harassed by the non licensed airport taxis. Complaints such as asking too much information on a personal level, telephone numbers, escort in the evenings etc. So for female tourists, if you travel alone or in pairs, make sure you use common sense or alternatively call the licensed taxi.The airport taxi drivers wear blue airport taxi shirts. Note these are not the licensed taxi.
If you rent a car, expect to pay Rp 600,000 – 800,000 per day for a good car with driver (all inclusive). A common and fair deal for both parties is Rp 600,000 – 700,000. Keep in mind its cheaper to get to most locations with a taxi now.
Alternatively when you arrive at the airport, ask your hotel to pick you up from the airport (which the upscale ones will do anyway, usually around IDR 175-300,000. Once you arrive at your hotel you can either order a taxi or rent a (motorcycle from Rp 120,000 per day) (excluding petrol) from most resorts and explore the beaches yourself; they are well signposted. However, expect to get wet during rainy season! Here is a decent road map with some nice photos .
Taxi's would be highly recommended as it less hassle for you, not to mention when you reach a tourist spot, you can stay as long as you like where as some tours, you are very limited to a time frame in one spot.
Car Rental Belitung Car Rental is the preferred choice as they are a registered company. Most hotels use cars from local residents which do not cover you under any kind of insurance. They have drivers available as well as airport pick up and drop off if required. They also offer free rental drop off to your hotel if you are staying in the main town. You can contact them at the following number +62 (0) 878-9647-8835
Besides the obvious beach activities, like swimming in the crystal clear seas and laying around on the white sand beaches, Belitung has plenty more to offer.
Snorkelling is great. The coral right offshore in many places is still in fantastic shape.
Many hotels also have scuba diving equipment for hire (e.g.  and  ). The coast off North-East Belitung is renowned for its numerous Chinese wrecks from different dynasties. One of the oldest wrecks in Indonesian waters was recently discovered offshore.
Beachcombing and long beach walks discovering hidden coves and secret beaches are another healthy activity. Some noteworthy beaches are listed below:
- Leebong Island is the newest and latest attraction for island hunters around Belitung. Leebong Island is a private island under development and is fantastic to go and enjoy for the day. Leebong Island Tour and Travel (0822 8299 1051) offers day tours to Leebong Island. All year round it has good waters for swimming and is only 30 minutes south of the main town Tanjung Pandan followed by a 20 minute boat ride. Price to visit is so cheap compared to other locations as they offer free activities such as bike trekking, kayaking, paddle boarding and much more. You must call Leebong Island Tour and Travel to book for availability as this is a private island.
Website for Leebong Island viewing: www.leebongtours.com
- Pantai Tanjung Tinggi (North-West Belitung). Made famous by the movies made based on the books Laskar Pelangi and The Dreamer, this white sandy beach is framed by two peninsula with artistic granite boulders. Several food stalls can be found here where you can eat great seafood.
- Pantai Tanjung Kelayang (North-West Belitung) and adjacent Pulau Mabai form a huge 1.2km long beach, with granite boulders on its southern end of the peninsula, as well as several small islands with excellent snorkelling.
- Sendang Beach, north coast. Great place to see the sunrise .
- Pantai Burung Mandi (“bird bath beach”) in North-East Belitung is the site of an ancient harbour already used by the Dutch and Chinese over 200 years ago, now you’ll find hundreds picturesque Manggar outrigger boat parked along the beach . An outrigger sailboat race is held here annually. Nearby Bukit Baku has interesting granite rocks. Enjoy the view over Burung Mandi Beach and beyond from the top of Bukit Samak (Stone Hill)  built by the Dutch director of the tin mines in the 1950s, including a little wildlife park. The food of the restaurant is not great but the view is very nice.
- T. Gembira and other beaches near Membalong (South-West Belitung) is a 1.5h drive South from Tanjung Pandan. Here you can also see Batu Baginde Hill .
- Port Dendang and Punai Coast (South-East Belitung)  are a 2h drive away from Tanjung Pandan. Here you can find the unique Satam gem stones .
Island hopping is another fun activity. Belitung has many smaller uninhabited islands surrounding it with stunning beaches. Other islands look like abstract sculptures consisting entirely of granite rock. Local fishing boats can take you out for a fair fee (450,000-600,000 per day including food). Higly recomended to bring your own food from mainland. You may want to check the tides before heading out . Some noteworthy examples of islands (“pulau” in Bahasa) to visit are:
- Pulau Lengkuas (North-West Belitung): On this island stands a 100+ year lighthouse that was cast in England then shipped to Indonesia and assembled by the Dutch in 1889 to guard the straight between Bangka and Belitung. Each piece has a number stamped on it and they were bolted together. Stunning view from the top, 60 meters above the ocean. Rp 5000 entry fee. Great snorkelling just off shore.
- Leebong Island 30 minutes south of the main town. West Belitung. Fantatsic place for relaxing, and enjoying free activities. Probably one of the best days enjoyed on the island. You must call Leebong Island Tour and Travel to make a reservation as its a private island. 0878 9647 8835
- 'Kepayang Island Conservation Center' KCC is one of the conservation projects implemented by a local NGO (KPLB Kelompok Peduli Lingkungan Belitung) to protect the marvelous environment of Belitung and rising the awareness of local people on its importance.Kepayang Conservation center accounts with a diving center, a turtle sanctuary in which baby turtles are bred till they are strong enough to face the sea and a coral garden built in order to restore the coral reef threatened by fishing activities. It accounts with as well with a Resto and nice accomodations facing the sea. Website: http://kepayang-island.wix.com/belitung
- Pulau Basir (North-West Belitung) this sand bank is only accessible at low tide. Covered by starfish.
- Pulau Burong (North-West Belitung) this island, named after a bird-shaped rock, has secluded beaches and private cottages on it.
- Pulau Batu Pelayar (North-West Belitung), literally meaning “sail-shaped rock” is very picturesque with great snorkelling just off shore. The rocks are lit up by colourful solar lamps at night.
- Pulau Lutong (North-West Belitung): Two small islands connected a low tide; one with a granite rick shaped like a rhinoceros’ head.
- Belitung has a rich diversity of people. Check out the Malay style wooden houses that reminds you of the Caribbean, or the Bugis traditional houses on stilts that have a dock to dry fish, for example in the fishing village near Bukit Berahu.
- Balinese transmigrants have a thriving community that carry on Bali's traditions and religion. The inhabitants, who originated from the Island of the Gods, were originally pepper farmers, but the tin mining business, which promised more money, turned most into miners. About 200 families live in the Balinese Village of Giri Jati, which is guarded by gates with Hindu architecture. At the west entrance of the village you’ll find an old Hindu temple built in 1818. There is another Hindu temple in the middle of the village, as well as small family temples in front of most houses. Not far from the temple stands an old mosque and cemetery built in 1817 .
- Fu De Chi Temple Chinese Kong Hu Cu temple A new and magnificent temple that recently build in Kelapa Kampit city with donation of Belitung people. It cost USD 450.000 to build and became one of the tourist must visit list if you visit East Belitung
- Vihara Kwan Im (Guanyin Buddhist Temple): A Buddhist temple dedicated to ancient Chinese goddess of mercy: Guanyin. The known history begun at 1293 where the Mongolian horde, led by Kau Shing and Shih Pi depart from China to conquer Singasari Kingdom in Java. In that campaign, many of Mongolian soldiers injured, caught in the storm, and scattered. Some of them managed to reach home to China, some of them lost stranded in a place they named: Kau-lan, which is a site at Belitung. The site of Vihara Kwan Im today is the site they used to gather and pray for the mercy of Goddess Guanyin to grant them grace to go back home to their homeland. These soldiers never managed to see their homeland. Instead, they assimilated to start new life on that foreign island, and no temple was ever built on that site. Hundred years later when Colonization era begun, a huge tin deposit found in Belitung which make Belitung become a huge tin mine very soon. Vihara Kwan Im was built later in 1747 by the first Chinese workers who came to Belitung to work in the tin mines. Today, Vihara Kwan Im is one of most historic temples in Indonesia where many Buddhist believers around the world come there whether just for visit or to pray. Don’t miss the nearby Chinese cemetery.
- On the road from Giri Jati to Manggar, you’ll pass many palm, coconut and pepper plantations along the side of the road; some are large enough to be seen on google maps. This area used to be used to iron ore mining, creating the Lake Mempayak .
- Manggar was the centre of Dutch tin-mining since the 19th century and still has many old colonial houses. It is famous for its ‘one thousand’ coffee shops, with the tradition of coffee-drinking said to have been started by tin miners taking a break between shifts. Visit the fish market early in the morning. Have excellent seafood at the boat-shaped restaurant by the lake. Go for stroll in Beransai Park .
- The Dutch have been mining tin on Belitung since the 1880s. Traditional tin mining methods are interesting to watch, no chemicals just water and lots of mud. Visit the open mining pit used from 1971-1989 in the mountain village of Kelapa Kampit, 1h east of Tanjung Pandan . The huge Kaolin Lake, created by a former mining pit, makes for great photography.
- Pice Dam, near Manggar .
- Mausoleums of the King of Cerucok and the King of Badau , near the airport. Not far away is Badan Museum exhibiting traditional dress and weaponry , and Istiqomah Buding Museum .
- Laskar Pelangi Museum based on the novel  and reconstructed birth-place of the author .
- Maritime Museum. To be opened in 2013, near Lore-In Hotel (Tanjung Kelayang)
- Selat Nasik Island has a nature reserve and traditional houses  which you can reach with a short boat trip from the main town. Here is also an old Dutch lighthouse from 1882  and a monument marking the independence movement against Dutch colonialism .
Nature / adventure trips
- The Beraye waterfall and swimming hole on Mount Tagam make a nice day trip .
- In Batu Mentas nature reserve  you can spot the endangered Tarsius monkey .
- This local tour provider  can take you on boat trips, cultural trips, hiking, cycling, kayaking etc.
- Another local tour provider  can take you jungle trekking to see the endangered Tarsius monkey species unique to this island, tubing on the river, or to have a relaxing foot massage in a natural ‘fish spa’ pond where fish nibble at your feet! They also have diving facilities on their diving centre on Kapayang Island. ☎ +62 821 7570 4250 / +62 819 4918 9456.
Downtown Tanjung Pandan is quite interesting due to the many Dutch Colonial buildings and shops. Most of the governmental buildings are the original Dutch buildings and the old Dutch tin mining housing compound is still kept up . Traditional Bugis fishing vessels make the wharf  and fish market an interesting place to visit. You can also visit the old ceramics pit opened in 1851 , the Tanjung Pandan Museum where you can see old ceramics found in shipwrecks , and an old Dutch fort .
Shopping: There are many places to look at, however most individual shops are from peoples houses and the quality is very poor and the variety is non existent compared to what you would find in Bali or Thailand.
Basically the island has no malls and needs development on a big scale. A few boutiques are cropping up here and there and one of the latest is The Clothes Line. This shop caters for females and has a variety Asian and western styles catering for 18 - 40 year old females. It is the only clothes shop on the island that sells beach / swim wear. Prices are extremely reasonable and the quality is of a good standard. If you feel the need to buy some clothes, this will be the first choice on the island. For opening hours you can call +62 822 8061 5382
There aren't really any stand-alone restaurants in the Western sense. The holiday resorts (see Sleep) usually have decent restaurants, while the town has a collection of simple warung (eating stalls). The best things to eat are fresh seafood and special Belitung cakes. For those needing a dose of Western food, Kentucky Fried just opened a store in downtown Tanjung.
- Mie Belitung Atep: Selling since 1973, the noodle is very famous in Belitung with visits from famous people of Indonesia including the former President Megawati. The shopowner is a friendly lady who will occasionally chat up with customers. One portion costs 10,000Rp (2012), quite a small portion so most probably you will order two. The shop is at Sriwijaya road in the middle of Tanjung Padan township, near to the roundabout. Ask around locals to get there.
- Restaurant KM: A restaurant selling homey Chinese-Belitung food. It located in Kelapa Kampit (East Belitung) near the newest tourist attraction. Ask around locals to get there.
Cold beer is hard to find except at Mamma Mia's restaurant at Kelayang Beach Cottages, in Tanjung Kelayang.
Coffee in Manggar is a unique experience, there are many coffee shops for the people to relax and chat. Manggar city also called the city of one thousand coffee shops .
Accommodation on Belitung has improved a lot recently. However most places only accept cash, no credit cards.
- Homestays (“penginapan”) are increasingly popping up around Belitung. These are rented rooms in people’s homes. Very basic. Watch for signs by the side of the road, especially near the beaches around the North-West of the island. Often under Rp 150,000 per night.
In the main town of Tanjung Pandan
- Central City Hotel, Jl. Veteran no.7, ☎ +62.21.2922.2827, . Offers air-conditioned hotel accommodation in Deluxe and Family Rooms. Free WiFi connection in all areas of the hotel. Central City Hotel is only 10-minute walk from Belitung Museum and Tanjung Pendam Beach. IDR 296,694.00. edit
- Ocean Hotel, Jl. Sijuk Paal 1, Tanjung Pandan, ☎ +62.21.2922.2827, . Ocean Hotel offers air-conditioned hotel rooms located near the city center of Belitung. Standard Double Bed Rooms and Standard Twin Bed Rooms are available for booking with complimentary breakfast. Only 20-minute drive from the airport and 10-minute drive from Tanjung Pendam Beach. IDR 300,000.00. edit
- Harlika Jaya, Tanjung Pandan, ☎ + 62 719 24 633 / + 62 719 33 415. Simple clean rooms from 75,000 – 250,000 per night (no breakfast). The adjacent beach promenade has great cheap seafood restaurants (e.g. Pang Paysa) and a karaoke bar (Bar Unique); it’s a favourite hang-out for locals on the weekend. edit
- Hotel Martani, Tanjung Pandan. One of the oldest star hotels. Spacious rooms with hot water, AC. Rp 200,000. edit
- Lux Melati Hotel, Jalan Melati 72, Tanjung Pandan. Cheap and clean. 5 minutes’ walk from tanjung pandan beach. edit
- Hotel Surya, Jl. Merdeka (Head down Merdeka from the circle at town center. The hotel is on the left in about 50m). checkout: 11:00. Right in the center of town. Fan and AC rooms available. Free WiFi in most of the hotel. IDR 90,000 (S) - 200,000. +1 Bed 50,000. edit
By the beach
- Bukit Berahu, Tanjung Bingga, ☎ +62 819 2959 9808, . Great cottages with warm shower, AC, TV, kettle and minibar fridge (but no mosquito nets). 5 cottages right by the beach with two single beds ($30 / Rp 300,000 per night including breakfast), and 2 bungalows further up the hill that fit 4-5 people each (Rp 787,000 per night including breakfast) with kitchen area, living room and terrace with great views. Access to the cottages is via a long walk down some steps to a small isolated beach area. You can walk north along the shore from the beach to a picturesque traditional fishing village. Very peaceful and quiet but at night it can be a bit eerie as it is so isolated and none of the staff sleeps at the office upstairs - you will be on your own!. Beware that at certain times of the year there may be jellyfish in the ocean brought here by strong easterly winds, but the hotel also has a huge pool on the hill with stunning views, including various secluded picnic benches. Office on top of the hill has a good restaurant with sprawling views of the ocean, especially at sunset. Highly recommended accommodation, though you will have to go elsewhere for day-trips and snorkelling. Some photos  $20. edit
- Kelayang Beach Cottages, Tanjung Kelayang, ☎ +62 819 2979 8420 (Manager; Rudy) or +62 821 761 90700, . Run by a Western-Indonesian couple and family. 4 bungalows with air-con (Rp 300,000) and 4 bungalows with fan only (Rp 200,000). Accommodation is very basic and quite run down, only containing a bed with a mosquito net and a bathroom with an Asian-style squat toilet and a mandi (water tank) shower. Some guests have complained of bedbugs. The location is quite noisy due to traffic from the nearby road and the small fishermen’s harbour in front of the cottages. Accommodation is not great but come here for day-activities: the manager (Rudy) speaks good English and can help you organise day trips. The beach-side restaurant (‘Mamma Mia’) is good with cold beer, snorkel gear and diving gear rental, boat tours, bike and motorcycle rental, and traditional massages (Amina; ☎ +62 878 9647 5465). The large beach is stunning with snorkelling possible right off-shore, but if there is little wind there are many sand flees due to the fishing boats; also beware of jellyfish at certain times of the year edit
On off-shore islands
- Pulau Kapayang Cottages, Pulau Kapayang, ☎ +62 819 4918 9456. 4 basic seaside cottages. Rp 350,000. edit
- Ecolodge Tent, Pulau Kapayang, ☎ 62 819 4918 9456, . 1 safari tent with a double bed and modern shower Rp 850,000. edit
In the rainforest
- Batumentas lodge. Sleep in tree houses in the rainforest edit
- Bangka: the neighbouring island to the West, Bangka boasts many white sand beaches and a few interesting Chinese temples.
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