An Overnight Getaway: From Singapore to Bintan

On November 20, 2011 by Mrs C

My husband and I recently celebrated 7 years of togetherness as a couple, and due to some availability constraints we could only get the weekend off. Our best option for an overnight getaway was Bintan, Indonesia — a mere 1 hour away by ferry from Singapore. Also, as we were told, everything in Bintan was priced at Singapore dollars (which tells you a lot about their target market). It also helps that going to Indonesia was visa-free for co-ASEAN citizens, such as Filipinos.

Map from Singapore to Bintan. Photo from http://www.bintanlagoon.com

Spending our 7th anniversary in Bintan wasn’t much of a celebration, but it was definitely very convenient.

I know that there are a lot of those voucher / group-buying promos which include Bintan; however we did not consider availing of these because these vouchers usually have a specific travel period, while the date our getaway weekend was not negotiable. In searching for alternatives, we chanced upon this promo by Take Me To Travel which proved to be cheaper than booking the ferry and the resort separately (although admittedly, vouchers are still cheaper). The promo includes the ferry tickets, room reservations, and land transfer. We were required to pre-pay the ferry tickets and the hotel rooms, while the land transfer was free of charge.

We chose to stay at Bintan Lagoon Resort, just because my husband liked the photos of the rooms better. Check-in time was at 3:00 PM and check-out was at 12:00 NN. We were allowed to choose our ferry schedule, but due to available slots, were at 12:10 PM (Singapore to Bintan) and 8:15PM (Bintan to Singapore).

The starting point of the trip was at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, which was accessible via Bus 35 from the Tanah Merah MRT station. We were advised to be there 1.5 hrs before departure time, and we arrived there pretty much on schedule. The queue for check-in was not long, but it did consume about 10-15 minutes of waiting. I was surprised when we received our boarding passes, which were in the form of cards, much like the access cards in corporate offices or the key cards in hotel rooms.

Immigration was a breeze. In less than 30 minutes, we were inside the holding room. For folks who become hungry/thirsty at this point, there was Killiney Kopitiam and one other food stall inside.

Our ferry was supposed to depart at 12:10 PM, but boarding did not start according to schedule. To kill time, I took out my camera and took a few shots.

Mr. & Mrs. C waiting for boarding at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

Is that our ferry? (a peek past the boarding gates at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal)

Eventually, people got impatient and started queueing, even though they haven’t announced boarding yet. I think we finally started boarding well over 30 minutes past the indicated boarding time. I found it interesting that the boarding gates were equipped with these card readers (hence our boarding pass smartcards), which flashed blue/green for “ok you’re through” and red for “whoops.”

These were the machines that read our boarding pass smartcards.

Once past the gates and out into the wharf, the scent of the sea immediately welcomed us. It would be a little bit of a walk leading to the ferry boats, where the crew will assisted each passenger in climbing the few steps up into the ferry. Once inside, it’s free seating (except for the Emerald class which has their own special section).

The interior of the ferry

 We opted for window seats. Surprisingly, it’s pretty roomy, definitely more so than economy class airplane seats. My husband, who is often willing to pay for extra leg room during flights, was more than comfortable.

Leg room. There's a lot! See how much space there is between the seat in front and Mr. C's knees. Note that he stands at 6'3", and usually pays for exit row seats on airplanes.

The trip was more or less an hour long. Entertainment inside the ferry was limited to a few LCD TV screens. For the hungry/thirsty, there was a cafe on board.

Sights from the ferry ride from Singapore to Bintan

Once we arrived, we were welcomed by a rather festive “Welcome to Bintan, Indonesia” sign. The ferry terminal here was starkly different from the one in Tanah Merah — the Bintan ferry terminal was rather dark, had no a/c, and looked a lot less modern. I didn’t take any photo because there was a no-photography sign, though I did see a few other tourists taking photos while queuing for immigration and they were not apprehended.

Past immigration, we were out to the shops which led to the outside of the terminal. Near the exit, we found the man who held the sign for “Bintan Lagoon Resort.” He led us to the bus outside, which we boarded while waiting for the other passengers.

The bus ride took around 30 minutes through an empty highway surrounded by a landscape of green fields, which reminded me of the long drive going to northern provinces in the Philippines. At some point, we took a left turn into the gate for Bintan Lagoon Resort. However, from the gate to the actual resort was still a considerable distance, definitely not walkable. The road goes up and down, past the golf course, and finally we arrived at Bintan Lagoon Resort.

There were traditional dancers that greeted us as we got off the bus; but we zoomed past them and headed straight for the check-in counter. So instead, here’s a photo of the traditional dancers hanging out, waiting for the next batch of visitors.

Traditional dancers hanging out while waiting for the next busload of visitors to the Bintan Lagoon Resort

Watch out for the next post for the details on the Bintan Lagoon Resort experience!

2 Responses to “An Overnight Getaway: From Singapore to Bintan”

  • Thanks for your blog. It really helps me a lot in what to expect and what to see in Bintan, particularly the Bintan Lagoon Resort. You described every details to its most granulated form. I hope to read more blogs from you. More power 🙂

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