These 10 best attractions in Bintan will help you get started discovering the key points of interest on this holidaying hotspot just one degree north of the equator in the north-western region of the Indonesian archipelago. There are even smaller islands surrounding Bintan, some profuse with historical landmarks and old villages that have withstood the tests of time. And of course, Bintan’s pristine white sandy beaches bordering azure waters remain among the main draws.
Besides beautiful beaches that have become home to some of the island’s most popular resorts, Bintan’s natural attractions include a forested hill home to exotic birds and wildlife and with a panoramic view from its summit and a refreshing waterfall as prize for adventurous trekkers. Add some excitement to your Bintan Island holiday with these best attractions Bintan has to offer.
Penyengat is a small island just southwest of Bintan, only a short 15-minute transfer by motorboat from Tanjung Pinang, the main town in Bintan and the capital of the Riau Islands province. Penyengat is rich in history; it once served as the epicentre of the Riau-Johor sultanate, and you can witness remnants of the illustrious past of this great Malay empire through numerous old palaces and tombs located all over this tiny 200Ha island. Among these is an impressive stone fortress, the ‘Masjid Raya’ or Grand Mosque of the Sultan of Riau, and Makam Raja-Raja or ‘tombs of the sultans’. To get there: hop on a public motor boat from Tanjung Pinang to Penyengat. From Singapore, three ferries take you from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on a two-hour ride.
This tranquil northeast and eastern coast of Bintan offers a stretch of white sand where you can unwind and take in the view, with crystal-clear waters that are also great for snorkelling and swimming. Trikora Beach is divided into four sections, Trikora ‘One’ to ‘Four’, with the last two mostly frequented by local weekenders. You can also stroll to the nearby fishing village for its unique sight of stilt houses that not only serve as dwellings, but also as fish traps and even workshops for boat builders. Of course, you should drop by a local stall and savour some fresh seafood delicacies on the beachfront too.
- Location: Bintan Island northeast and east coast.
Senggarang Chinese Village
This Chinatown, or rather ‘village’ in Tanjung Pinang, is also known as Senggarang, which boasts historical significance as the first home of 18th century Chinese immigrants before spreading out to other Riau islands. The hundreds of homes here are interestingly wooden stilt houses built over the water and with private Chinese shrines at its entrances. You can also find the oldest Chinese temple in the Riau Islands here, known as Klenteng Ang Nio that dates back to 1770AD. The temple is also frequented by pilgrims from neighbouring Singapore.
- Location: Tanjung Pinang
Gunung Bintan Besar (Bintan Besar Mountain)
This highest elevation point on Bintan provides a great option for nature lovers looking for an adventurous day out, through treks across forested hills that are home to exotic tropical birds and wildlife. You can reach to the top at 360 metres above sea level within a steady two-hour climb along a forest trail. Here they will also enjoy the wonderful panorama over the island and surrounding sea. Following the descent, you can relieve tense muscles at the Bintan Bekapur waterfall near the foot of the mountain and admire the beauty of nature through flora, wild orchids and a variety of tropical fruit-bearing trees that thrive here such as rambutan and mangosteen.
Banyan Tree Temple
One of the highlights in Senggarang is this unique Chinese temple under a massive banyan tree, hence its name. The tree’s roots have grown over and become with the sacred temple for more than a century, resulting in a very unique sight that somewhat resembles Ta Prohm Temple, part of the Angkor Wat site in Cambodia. The locals say that many have had their wishes granted after praying here so it’s certainly worth trying your luck. Nearby local fishing villages are also worth a visit.
- Location: Senggarang, Bintan
Avalokitesvara Graha (Guan Yin) Temple
Considered one of the largest Chinese Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia, Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha houses a magnificent 16.8m tall statue of Chinese goddess Guan Yin. The 40 tonne copper statue is plated in 22-karat gold. Inside the temple you will also find intricate wall motifs and other tall sculptures of Chinese gods and goddesses. The temple is within a 14km drive from the main town hub of Tanjung Pinang.
- Location: Jalan WR Supratman, Tanjung Pinang, Bintan
Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
This temple complex is home to an impressive open-air garden containing 500 bodhisattva statues, otherwise referred to locally as ‘lohan’ or ‘arhats’. This Chinese Buddhist temple is located on the hills west of Tanjung Pinang and was established back in 2010. The statues are life-sized and a bit larger than an average adult and interestingly, each of the statue’s faces bear different expressions. The temple is open for those coming to pray and art enthusiasts interested in the artistic feats. Surrounding the complex are lush plantations that add to the appeal of the site.
- Location: Jalan Nusantara, KM 13 Kijang, Tanjung Pinang, Bintan
Masjid Raya Sultan Riau (Grand Mosque of the Sultan of Riau)
This is a majestic and hard-to-miss landmark on Penyengat Island that dates back to 1832. It has become part of the island’s landscape with its four towering spire-topped minarets and walls painted in pastels of yellow and green. Legend has it that the foodstuff supplied were overflowing, particularly eggs, so in order to avoid wastage, the excess foodstuff had been incorporated into the building of the new mosque, resulting in the one and only mosque in the world built out of a mixture of egg whites, sand and lime!
- Location: Penyengat Island, Bintan
Elephant Show and Mini Zoo at Nirwana Gardens
The only animal attraction of its kind in Bintan, Nirwana Garden’s Elephant and Culture Show features well-trained magnificent Sumatran elephants that are stars of their own show. They perform all sorts of tricks and can even interact with visitors. You can also get the chance to feed these gentle giants. The show goes for 40 minutes and then visitors can also enjoy park rides around the forest trail. Nearby is also a mini zoo with large pens of reptiles, exotic birds and deer.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 - 16:00
- Location: Nirwana Gardens, Site Ai 1, Lagoi, Bintan
- Tel: +62 (0)77 069 2282
Grotto Santa Maria
This cave was built in the 18th century by a Dutch priest, featuring the way of the cross, tableaus and a statue of Mary standing on a globe as its main highlights. The site is well preserved despite its age, and local Christians and visitors frequent the grotto on Sundays, gathering for prayers and singing songs of praise at a small adjacent chapel. Most significant gatherings are during the month of the rosary in October, when Catholic pilgrims from neighbouring Singapore also visit. The site is reachable within only 20 minutes’ drive from Trikora Beach.
- Location: Gunung Kijang, Lagoi, Bintan