One of my favorite things about living in London was how easy it was to take short, weekend getaways to new places. A quick journey on the Eurostar would get us to France or Belgium in a couple hours, or if we hopped on the train we could be in Oxford or Bath in just one hour, and if we rented a car, well, we had practically the entire UK open to us! None of these getaways required buying plane tickets, waiting for hours at airports, or packing as light as we could to avoid baggage charges, and so, obviously, they became our preferred way to travel.
Singapore’s location as an island off the tip of Malaysia has its perks, not the least of which being its position just one degree north of the equator (hello perpetual warm weather!), but it has its downsides, too. In particular, there are not many places you can get to in 1-2 hours without resorting to air travel. And if you don’t want the hassle of air travel for a short weekend holiday, traveling by boat is pretty much your only other choice.
We moved to Singapore in July, but with our trip back to the US, plus the fiasco that was finding a place to live, it was the Hari Raya holiday in September before we finally had a chance to travel somewhere new, and we only had a 3-day weekend to do it. Not having very much time, and being fairly new to the whole traveling Southeast Asia thing, we decided to swing for the easiest, and probably most popular, weekend getaway from Singapore – Bintan, Indonesia!
At just an hour away by ferry, getting to Bintan could not have been any easier. We took a taxi to the ferry terminal in Singapore, waited half an hour, then hopped on the boat and an hour later were in a new country!
Besides the close proximity to Singapore, the other reason we chose Bintan for our first family trip in Asia was the beaches. Despite being surrounded by water, Singapore doesn’t actually have any beaches (not counting the man-made kind) and after three years of mostly traveling through European cities, I was ready for a nice, relaxing beach holiday. Bintan definitely did not disappoint!
For three days, all we did was swim in the ocean, lay by the pool sipping from coconuts, read, and eat lots of carbs and sweets at every meal. A relaxing getaway like this required no advance planning on my part other than finding a place to stay and booking our tickets for the ferry. It was exactly what I needed our first Asian holiday to be.
We stayed at Bintan Lagoon Resort, which I highly recommend if you’re traveling as a family. My full review of Bintan Lagoon Resort is here, but the main reason we chose this resort over other Bintan luxury resorts was because it was slightly more budget-friendly. (And it has its own direct ferry terminal making the journey from Singapore to Bintan even easier!)
Bintan is not your average Indonesian town or city with dirt cheap accommodations and even cheaper street food on every corner. It’s more of a beach/resort location for those living in Singapore to come and relax for a weekend or short holiday, and so it comes with a much higher price tag than pretty much anywhere else in the country. Annoying, sure, but when you’re in Singapore and nearly every other beach location requires an airplane ride and other various forms of transportation to reach, the ease of Bintan starts looking pretty nice!
I have decided that
if when I do finally settle down, I’d like to either live in the countryside or somewhere by a beach. Bonus points if I can find a place to settle that has both! There is just something about being by the ocean that calms my ever-anxious mind like nothing else does. After a semi-stressful transition from London to Singapore, instead of my usual do-all-the-things! travel mentality, all I wanted to do on this holiday was lay by the beach and do absolutely nothing for three days. And that’s exactly what I did.
There are plenty of ways to stay busy in Bintan, though, if you don’t feel like being a lazy lump the whole time. We could have taken ATV tours, jungle tours, or taken part in all kinds of water sports. (No waves here, though, so you can rule out surfing.) And while I don’t recommend Bintan if you’re looking to experience true Indonesian culture, there is a small village outside of all the resorts that will make you feel a little less like you’re just visiting the beach extension of Singapore.
So would I recommend everyone visit Bintan? No, definitely not. There are plenty of beautiful villages and beaches in Indonesia that are far less pricey and have more culture and Indonesian charm than Bintan does. But if you’re living in Singapore, or visiting Singapore and just want to tack a quick, easy beach getaway onto your trip, then heck yeah, spend a weekend here! Bintan is the perfect place to come for a relaxing beach holiday where you won’t have to feel guilty if you end up doing absolutely nothing while you’re here!
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