Photo By: Elin Chow
Bintan Island, Indonesia
Bintan islands, the largest island in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia, is located just 50 minute ferry ride away from Singapore. The island, being promoted as the second best holiday destination after Bali by Indonesia, is often well-known for its stunning sandy white beaches and luxurious beach-front hotels and resorts. Due to its close proximity to Singapore, Bintan has remained a popular getaway destination for both Singaporeans and Malaysians.
So, for a short getaway from the busy and stressful life of Singapore, my husband (who was my then-boyfriend) and I decided to spend our long weekend in Bintan islands during the Good Friday holiday last year. Well, actually I was the one who had suggested and did all the planning for this trip to Bintan. However, he just took this particular opportunity to make a simple marriage proposal to me. Definitely it was not romantic at all, but surprisingly, I was moved to tears. Even so, I said yes! For those who are interested to know more about my marriage proposal, I will be documenting it in my next post. For this post, I shall only write about my experiences on the island.
Accommodation & Transport
After doing some research and comparison online, I decided to book Nirwana Gardens - Mayang Sari Beach Resort for two nights. Next, I proceeded to book our ferry tickets with Bintan Resort Ferries online. The prices of the tickets are shown as below:
Since we were visiting on a public holiday, we have to pay the peak round trip fares on an Economy class to Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal in Bintan. Personally, I really feel that booking an Emerald class is a waste of money. The Economy class is already very comfortable and even if it is not, why spend so much more for only a short 55 minutes ride?
After making our booking online, we were instructed to collect our ferry tickets from the Bintan Resorts Ferries counter at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Please note that you are required to collect your boarding pass at least 1 and half hour before departure time.
Mayang Sari Beach Resort is one of the five hotels and resorts operates by the Nirwana Gardens hotel group. The other four accommodation options offers by Nirwana Gardens are as follows:
1. Nirwana Resort Hotel - Newly furbuished and very family-oriented
2. Mayang Sari Beach Resort - Prefect for couples who prefer tranquility and privacy
3. Nirwana Beach Club - A haven for sea sport lover
4. Banya Biru Villas - Perfect for family and group gathering
5. Indra Maya Pool Villas - Lavishly furnished, a luxurious hideaway
Upon arrival at the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal, immediately we headed to the immigration counter for immigration clearance. Once it was done, we exit out from the clearance area and were pleased to find the coach pickup services from the Nirwana Gardens hotel group waiting for us. In order to board the free coach arranged by Nirwana Gardens, simply put in your arrival time under the remark section when you made your hotel reservation online.You will have to confirm your reservations with the staffs at the Nirwana Gardens counter.
After confirming that our name was in their guest list, we boarded the free coach and arrived at Mayang Sari Beach Resort with a very welcome with staffs dancing near the reception counter. Welcome drinks and cold towels were also immediately served to us while we were checking in to our room at the counter.
At Mayang Sari Beach Resort, guests are offered a choice to book either a sea view or garden view chalet. For our stay, we have chosen to stay in a sea view chalet. Although we had to pay so much more for a sea view unit, we did not really mind since all we wanted was just to relax and enjoy ourselves to the fullest for that weekend.
After collecting our room keys from he reception counter, we were delighted to be greeted by the wonderful sight of the beach, The light blue sea, with coconut trees lining up against the clear blue sky! Definitely, this will be a prefect place for a short seaside getaway.
Interestingly, each of the chalet block is either named after a sea creature or a bug.
At Mayang Sari Beach Resort, there are a total of 50 rustic thatched-roof beachfront chalets, all organised in blocks of 4 for guests for choose from. All of the units come with its own private verandas and are equipped with deck tables and chairs for guests to relax and laze their day away while admiring the beautiful view of the vast blue sea and sky. In order to provide total privacy to its guests, the curtains in all the chalets can be fully drawn.
Excitedly, we entered our room and were pleased to be greeted by a spacious and clean room. It was well-lit with yellowish standing lamps, which seems to give the entire room a very warm, relaxing and romantic feel. No wonder Mayang Sari Beach Resort is said to be suited to couples who wish to spend some quality time together!
There is also a small couch located just right at the entrance of the room. This is where the guests could sit together and enjoy spending quality time with each other.However, for us, it just became a place where we could throw all bags on.
We were also delighted to find that the changing area is nicely furbished where it is equipped with an walk in wardrobe, a full body mirror, safe box and hair dryer.
Each of the room is also well air conditioned and comes with other basic amenities like a mini bar fridge, a small color television with local and satellite channels, ceiling fan, complementary coffee and tea making facilities and free wifi.
Unfortunately, I really feel that the chalets were seriously in need of refurbishment as they were already showing signs of wear and tear everywhere. I believe this was the only downside of this resort for us. However, I heard that the chalets have underwent some renovation works for the past year. Hopefully the management has got everything nicely fixed and refurbished again.
Even though the rooms looked really tired and old, we still enjoyed our 2 nights stay with Mayang Sari Beach Resort very much. Oh, did I mention that this resort does not have a swimming pool as well since the beach is located right at your doorstep? If you are someone who prefer to swim in a pool, I would strongly recommend you to stay with Nirwana Resort Hotel instead.
While at the resort, I would spent most of my time sitting on the private veranda, listening to the sound of the waves while the fresh sea breeze lightly brushed across my face. I love the smell of the salty sea and enjoy the tranquil sounds of tropical beach. Everything just feel so relaxing, peaceful and calm.
Just imagine how awesome life would be if I could wake up to such stunning view every morning. This explains why we did not mind splurging a little bit more on a sea view resort whenever we are on a beach vacation. We were really glad that the little extra which we have paid was worthwhile.
Throughout our short 3 days stay with Mayang Sari Beach Resort, the beauty of the sparkling blue sea never fails to mesmerize us. The sounds of the waves, the whispers of the sea breeze, this is where the pace of life started to slow down. This is where I will learn to appreciate all the liitle things in life.
After spending a few hours lazing in our chalet, we decided to explore the resort a little more. Hand in hand, we strolled down the concrete pavement, enjoying the tranquility and each other's company.
Located just at the left side of the concrete pavement is the beach, which surprisingly, was not crowded with people. In fact, most of the time, the beach was quite empty, quiet and unhappening. I believe the main reason was because there was nothing much to do at the beach since it does not offer any kind of water sports or recreation activities for its guests. For that, you will have to visit the beach at the Nirwana Beach Club Resort.
As a result, we had the entire beach almost to ourselves! We were really pleased that we actually get to enjoy such tranquility and privacy at such a popular beach destination.
I would highly recommend Mayang Sari Beach Resort to couples who wish to enjoy some privacy and seclusion at the beach.
If you prefer to have the beach to be just right on your doorstep, you could request a chalet that is located further away from the lobby. However, I feel that the ones which are located further away from the beach will actually provide you with more privacy.
Overall, our dining experiences in Bintan was pretty good as we get to taste a wide array of western and Asian cuisines. However, we were surprised that the prices of the drinks and food are mostly priced in Singapore dollars (SGD). Even so, it was still much more expensive to dine in Bintan than in Singapore.
Until recently, the Indonesian government has announced that SGD will no longer be accepted for all transaction on the island. Therefore, it will be advisable to carry sufficient rupiah and a credit card with you when you are visiting Bintan.
If you would like to dine by the beach, I would really recommend you to try the BBQ buffet dinner at Mayang Sari Beach Resort. Although we never get to taste the food at the BBQ buffet dinner, it did smell and look really nice to us. The price was very affordable and reasonable, costing only about SGD 40 for each person.
Rather than to dine by the beach, we actually went for a BBQ poolside buffet dinner at Nirwana Resort Hotel, which was almost priced the same as the one at Mayang Sari Beach Resort.
We had our breakfast buffet served at the Spice Restaurant, which is located just right beside the lobby area. The buffet provided by the resort was really good as it offers a great selection of cuisines for us to choose from.
Nirwana Gardens actually provides a free internal shuttle bus services to take you around the area. So if you wish to get around to explore the island more, simply hop onboard a shuttle bus that will arrive at your hotel lobby every 30 minutes. Please refer to the bus schedule at the lobby area in order to plan your time well.
Kelong Seafood Restaurant
The Kelong Seafood Restaurant, located at the western coast of Nirwana Gardens, is undeniably one of the best place to dine in Bintan island.
Kelong Seafood restaurant is a restaurant constructed primarily with wood and built above the sea. Dining at this restaurant offers us a panoramic view of the sea and also a great place to catch a sunset. Since we arrived quite late on that evening, we have actually missed the sunset.
The restaurant was actually set in a very nice and romantic ambiance where we had enjoyed a long pleasant dinner together.
For dinner, we had ordered ourselves a set menu which consisted a total of 5 dishes. The first dish served to us on that night was fake shark fin soup.
Next up, we had lemon roasted chicken. It was such generous serving and we ended up not being able to finish the food. Furthermore, the taste of the chicken was not to our liking either. The meat was just too dry for us to swallow. But still, we know that it is really bad to waste so much food.
Our most favorite dishes of that night will be the stir fry sotong and butter prawns. In fact, it was so delicious that we found ourselves ordering these two dishes again the next day for our lunch.
The Chili Crab was apparently the highlight of the dinner. Although the crab meat was really fresh and sweet, the sauce does not taste as good as it looks.
As for the price, it was not cheap but reasonable. For such a sumputuous dinner, it only cost us about SGD 100 for two person. This meal will have cost us so much more if we were dining in Singapore.
Unsurprisingly, the next day, we visited the restaurant again for lunch. Since we were the first guests to arrive for the day, I finally found the opportunity to snap more photos of the entire place.
The view was so much more stunning in the morning as compared to the last night!
For lunch, we had ordered one of their highly-raved dish, Gong Gong. For those who did not know, Gong gong is actually a kind of edible sea snail that is unique to Batam, Bintan or Tanjung Balai Karimun in Riau Islands Province.
To eat this, simply use a toothpick to slowly remove the flesh from the shell.
Typically, I love any food that goes well with Mayonnaise and so we ordered fried prawns with Mayonnaise sauce!
Of course, we will not miss out our most favorite dish, the butter prawns too!
I could not remember how much we had spent for our lunch. I believe it was somewhere around SGD 60. But for the amount of seafood we got, the price we had paid was still reasonable. Apart from the delicious food, we were akso very satisfied with good services provided by the restaurant. The staffs were always smiling whenever they were serving us, which enhanced our dining experience at the restaurant.
Nirwana Resort Centre
After lunch, we boarded the free shuttle bus service and alighted at the Nirwana Resort Centre For those of you who are staying with Nirwana Resort Hotel, the Nirwana Resort Centre is easily accessible via a 5 minutes walk away from the hotel.
At the wide variety of recreational activities offered by Nirwana Resort Centre will definitely leave most of us spoilt for choice.
Jumbo Elephant Park
For those of you who are interested, you may refer to the Nirwana Gardens - Bintan Resorts website for more details.
So, with these, I have come to an end of my 3 days 2 nights getaway trip to Bintan. I could not describe how much I could not bear to leave the relaxing island and return to the reality. The slower pace of life is always what I longed for and usually, it is only at such moment, I will learn to appreciate every tiny bits in my life.
The economy of Bintan is highly dependent on tourism. Due to this, the services we received were excellent. Throughout the time we spent time on the island, no matter where we went, we were welcomed and greeted with a nice and warm smile.
Our stay with Nirwana Gardens - Mayang Sari Beach Resort was great. The resort staffs were always very friendly and helpful whenever we required any assistance. I will definitely not hesistant to recommend Mayang Sari Beach Resort to anyone who wish to enjoy a quiet beach getaway.