Senggarang is one of the most prominent Chinese villages in the Riau Archipelago, offering a rustic vibe with rows of fishermen’s stilt houses lining its coast. And beyond this coastal settlement you’ll also discover a collection of ancient Chinese temples, providing you a whole day of fun sightseeing with glimpses into the colourful history and rich Chinese heritage of the Riau Archilepago.
Some of the landmarks in Senggarang are outright peculiar and not to be missed, such as a century-old temple sitting under a massive banyan tree. This temple, Tian Shang Miao, also referred to simply as the ‘Banyan Tree Temple’, is overgrown by roots of the banyan, resulting in a peculiar scene much resembling that of the famous Ta Prohm Temple, part of the Angkor Wat site in Cambodia. Visit around the month of the Chinese Lunar New Year (around February or March) and you’ll be able to catch a more festive scene here with visitors that include throngs from neighbouring Singapore.
Touring the village you will also find other proper Chinese temples, well maintained and which slightly look fresh despite being 17th century structures. Notable temples include:
• Sun Te Kong
• Tay Ti Kong
• Ang Nio
• Vihara Dwi Sasana
Each are filled with intricate sculptures and paintings such as a thousand hands Buddha and even characters depicted in the classical epic novel ‘Journey to the West’. Ang Nio Temple on the winding Papa River, otherwise known as Sungai Ular or ‘Snaky River’, is oftentimes visited by singles who pray for perfect matches.
The community of Senggarang proves that not much has changed over the centuries in an area believed to be where Chinese immigrants first cast anchor before settling on Riau Islands. The village is located just outside the capital of Tanjung Pinang on the south-western coast of Bintan Island, which provides a relaxing escape from the crowded town. The most common passenger boats, known as Pongpong, are frequent and cheap at IDR 5,000-10,000 for a single ride across.