Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Escaping to Bintan for the weekend

1 hour behind Singapore and a short 55min catamaran ride from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal later, you'd have escaped the urban jungle that is Singapore.

Bintan is essentially good for relaxing by the beach and doing absolutely nothing but reading by the pool. Booked the trip via Fascinating Holidays and per pax for 3D2N costs S$216 with S$44 included for the ferry ride. Total spent on food is S$100 (ate seafood) and massage costs S$81. All in all, not too expensive (and not cheap either) for a short getaway.

View from the room at Nirwana Gardens and blue skies abound

Most hotels/resorts offer pick up from the Ferry Terminal and the bus will take you to your hotel lobby direct (10mins bus ride).

Staying occupied
Activities here include archery, elephant & pony ride and the Kedaton Spa, water sports, ATV rides (S$50), beach walks and staring at the millions of stars out at night.

Sun, sand, sea

Other activities you can consider would be a short S$6 bus ride to Pasar Oleh Oleh which is basically a tourist trap. You can enjoy spa here, buy snacks like keropok or buy fake Polo shirts. Skip this if you're contented with just lounging at the resort. Alternatively, a rented car can take you to Tanjung Pinang (their city centre) for shopping and sightseeing. I do not recommend this as well.

Food served in the hotel is international cuisine; really nothing to shout about but edible.

One notable food joint would be the Kelong Restaurant and Calypso Bar inside Nirwana Gardens. Both are built on stilts out in the sea so you can enjoy the perfect sunset here while drinking beer and eating seafood ;) Cheap alternative too if you want to take wedding photos.

Sunset pondering (Calypso Bar in the middle)

Other lodging alternatives in Bintan
Banyan Tree - very expensive but 5* living. Come on, it's Banyan Tree.
Club Med Bintan - exhorbitant for a 3D2N stay (close to S$500) but will full board
Angsana Spa & Resort - expensive too but 5* service
Bintan Lagoon Resort - very commercial place as well but less expensive than the above 3 (good for golfers as close to Ria Bintan; the award winning golf course)
Nirwana Resort Hotel - average price but big & spacious and more pristine beaches
Mayang Sari Resort - rooms are beachfront and the beach is whiter and wider than others

However, I was told that Trikora Beach off the main resort stretch offers cheaper lodging and I believe the beaches there should be of even better quality since it's off the beaten track. Nikoi Island is also the new go-to place for privacy.

Bintan is really not a place you can stay beyond 3 days unless you're an avid golfer or just want to spend time with a loved one. Remember though, this ain't the Maldives, Carribeans or Boracay so don't expect TOO much.

Hotel: Nirwana Resort Hotel
Hotel Review: Clean rooms with acceptable toiletries. One downer would be that I realised 1 of my towels had either a ketchup/blood/rust stain on it that wasn't washed clean. So check your towels first before using them.
Weather: 24-31c. Good for tanning but with occasional storms
Posted by fongie on 4/22/2009 11:09:00 AM in , , , , ,