Top 10 Things To Do on the Gili Islands

The stunning Gili Islands are a group of islands that are located off the coast of Lombok. They are perfect for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bali. The Gili Islands consist of three main islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Each of them has a different atmosphere and range of activities depending on your preferences.

You need to keep in mind that whichever island you choose, you will not find a lot of ‘tourist attractions’ like temples, museums, or monuments to visit. The whole point of coming to the Gili Islands is to enjoy a slice of island living. While you may still find some interesting activities here, you should also be aware that this is one of the most laid back holiday destinations in Indonesia.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Birdeye’s view of the islands. Photo by yeowatzup

Here are our recommendations of top 10 things to do on the Gili Islands.

Go diving

The Gili Islands have some of the best dive spots in the country as the conditions here are clear and calm. Most people choose to dive off the coast from Gili Trawangan as this island has the best variety of dive shops and diving packages. Although not one of the top sites to dive in Indonesia, Gili Islands still offer quite a diving experience with some (harmless) sharks, rays, turtles and more.

Visit a turtle hatchery

Talking of turtles, Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno both serves as a turtle hatchery, where you can get up close with some of these cute creatures. The hatchery serves to protect the baby turtles and take care of them till they are old enough to be released again into the wild. You can visit here safely knowing that you are supporting a good cause. You may also give some donations at Gili Meno, to have a hands on experience releasing the turtes back into the sea.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Releasing the turtles from the hatchery at Gili Meno. Photo by Charlie Sedanayasa

Cycle around the islands

One of the best activities around here are cycling, as there are no cars on any of the islands. Cycling is also one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the land. You can easily rent a bicycle here in any of the three islands and you can circumvent them in just a few hours.

Boats at Gili Trawangan beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Rental bicycle at a bungalow on Gili Air. Photo by Tanel Teemusk

Enjoy the viewpoint from Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan is known for its highest point which is aptly named ‘The Viewpoint’. It takes around half an hour to walk there from the central hub of the island but it is well worth it for the views over the sea and towards the other islands in this part of Indonesia like Lombok and Bali.

Sunrise at Gili Air, Lombok

Sunrise at Gili Air, Lombok. Photo by brian

Go snorkelling

Gili Trawangan has the monopoly on dive centres but if you are staying on Gili Air or Gili Meno, you can still enjoy the gorgeous azure seas. The best way to do this is to go snorkelling, which will allow you to spot turtles, colourful fish, and maybe even a baby shark for far less than the price of a diving excursion from Gili Trawangan.

Boats at Gili Trawangan beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Boats at Gili Trawangan beach, Lombok. Photo by yeowatzup

Take a boat tour

A boat tour can be arranged no matter which island you are on and it can be a great way to check out the other Gili Islands without actually staying overnight. Many operators on the islands offer boat trips and they range from a simple trip between the islands to a luxurious glass bottom boat tour of the surrounding seas. If you charter a boat to island hop, it can coast around IDR 300,000 depending on your haggling skills. But if you want to check out the other islands more cheaply, you can also get the local ferry for IDR 30,000.

-> Find places to stay on Gili Islands at Booking.com. Free cancellation. *

Eat some seafood

As the Gili Islands are surrounded by sea you can probably guess that the staple food here is seafood and fish. Every night the local restaurants here will display the day’s catch on the pavement. There are no better ways to enjoy the fresh seafood than having them simply grilled over coconut husks and served with steamed rice.

Grill seafood at Gili Trawangan Gili Islands, Indonesia

Grill seafood at Gili Trawangan. Photo by Marie

Visit the local night market

The local night market is located at Gili Trawangan and it is something not to be missed if you choose to stay on this island. Every evening a night market will be set up in the main square at around dusk. This is also one of the best places to grab some dinner on the island. Local stalls sell traditional bites like grilled satay and spicy corn on the cob. You can also go for simple fried noodle or rice dishes. The food here is typically less expensive than the restaurants or cafes on the island but it is equally if not more delicious.

 Night Food market at  Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Night Food market at Gili Trawangan. Photo by Henrik Palm

Dance parties or live bands on Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan is known for being the ‘party island’ but don’t expect this to be anything like the nightlife scene in Kuta in Bali. Still, you will find a range of beach bars here that play music well into the night. Some venues even have special themed nights and dance parties. If you prefer a more relaxing evening, then head to Evolution Bar for live bands music.

 Live Band at Evolution Bar, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Live Band at Evolution Bar, Gili Trawangan. Photo by Reinardt Gilfillan

Go to an open air cinema

Across the different islands, there are a few places that offer open air movie nights, where you can sit on bean bags and enjoy a movie on a big screen under the stars. The most famous open air cinema takes place on the main beach on Gili Trawangan. But many other guesthouses and hotels on Gili T and the other islands have noted how popular this is and have set up their own open air cinemas too.

Bonus – Gili’s famous swing on the sea

Find the famous swing on the sea and get a beautiful picture with the romantic sunset as backdrop. This swing can be found on the west of Gili Trawangan at Ombak Sunset resort hotel *.

The swing at Gili Islands at Ombak Sunset, Indonesia

The swing at Gili Islands at Ombak Sunset resort hotel *. Photo by Dennis Keller

A trip to the Gili Islands can be a highlight of a visit to Indonesia for many travellers as it is covered with beautiful sights. They are also a nature lover’s dream thanks to its turquoise waters and white sands. Part of the charm of the islands is that they still retain a relaxed feel and a slower pace of life, therefore one of the best things to do here when you visit is to slow down and appreciate the chance to relax and unwind in one of the most beautiful spots in Southeast Asia.

Related articles:
Gili Islands
Lombok and Gili Islands Travel Guide
Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok
Top 10 Things to Do in Bali

Top 10 Things To Do In Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh is one of the lesser visited provinces in Indonesia, although those who make the trip will be rewarded with interesting sights and things to do. Banda Aceh is easily accessible as you can fly in directly to the main airport here or you can travel to Medan in North Sumatra and then move on from there. The province was devastated by a tsunami in 2004 but has been rebuilt so that only a few reminders can still be found. This is also the only place in Indonesia to have Shariah law but visitors will find it remarkably laid back, at least on the surface, and while you should dress conservatively you will not be expected to cover up as the locals do.

Here are our top picks of what to do in Banda Aceh:

Mesjid (Masjid) Raya Baiturrahman

Mesjid Raya is the main mosque in Banda Aceh and was built in the 19th century by the Dutch. This mosque is an absolute must visit. The mosque is decorated with gorgeous domes and beautiful traditional Muslim Islamic motifs. It is very picturesque and is the favourite of many photographers at day or night. At night, it lits up beautifully with the strategic lightings. Note that if you visit you will have to dress conservatively and women will have to wear a headscarf.

Jalan Mohammad Jam
Opening hours: 7-11 am and 1.30-4 pm.

Admission is free although donations are encouraged.

Masjid Mosque Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Aceh great mosque. Photo by Vidi Agiorno

Tsunami Museum

The Tsunami Museum is one of the top attractions in Aceh and is designed as a powerful tribute to those who lost their lives when the waters raged into the province. Around 170,000 people are said to have died in the floods and the Tsunami Museum is filled with waterfalls that mimic some of the experience. You will also find videos and news reports of the tragedy and this is an exceptionally moving visit if you want to learn more about this difficult period of Aceh’s history.

Jalan Sultan Iskandar Muda, Banda Aceh.
Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 9-12 pm and 2-4.30 pm.
Friday 9-11.30 am and 2.30-4.30 pm.
Closed on Mondays.

Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Tsunami Museum. Photo by Dinokl, via Wikimedia Commons

PLTD Apung

Another reminder of the devastating tsunami can be found on a visit to PLTD Apung which is a large ship that would have once sailed in the waters around Aceh. When the tsunami hit it was carried inland and has been left there as a monument to those who lost their lives. You can actually climb aboard the ship and walk around and one of the best reasons to do this is to look out across Banda Aceh and take in the scenery.

Jalan Harapan, Banda Aceh.

Monday – Sunday 9 am – 12 pm and 2 – 5.30 pm.
Fridays 2 – 5 pm.

PLTD Apung ship, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

PLTD Apung ship. Photo by Andy Doyle from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, via Wikimedia Commons

Warung Kopi Solong

If you make it to Aceh then you absolutely mustn’t miss the chance to visit Warung Kopi Solong which is something of an institution in Banda Aceh. The region is known for its delicious coffee and this place has been serving up some of Aceh’s finest brews since 1974. If you are looking for a souvenir of your trip then you can also buy bags of the delicious and earthy grounds beans.

Jalan Teuku Iskandar
Opening hours: 9 am – 7 pm

-> Find the best Banda Aceh hotel deals at Booking.com *

Museum Negeri Banda Aceh

The Aceh Museum is well worth exploring if you want to learn more about the culture of this part of Indonesia. Inside you will find some collections with photographs and memorabilia like farming equipment, textiles, swords, and other traditional curios. The signature piece here, however, is a stuffed baby buffalo with two heads.

Jalan Sultan Alauddin Mahmudsyah
Opening hours: Tues – Sun 8 am – 12 pm and 2 -4.30 pm.
Fridays 8.30 -11.30 am and 2.30 – 4 pm.
Closed on Mondays.
Admission: IDR 10,000.

Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Museum Banda Aceh. Photo by Si Gam, via Wikimedia Commons

Rumah Aceh

Rumah Aceh is actually part of Museum Negeri Banda Aceh and sits in the grounds of the museum. Rumah Aceh features a house on stilts which shows you how people would have lived in the days of old. This is actually the most interesting attraction at the museum so make sure not to miss it.

Jalan Sultan Alauddin Mahmudsyah
Opening hours: Tues – Sun 8 – 12 pm and 2 – 4.30 pm. Fridays 8.30 am – 11.30 am and 2.30 pm – 4 pm. Closed on Mondays.

Admission: IDR 5,000.

Rumah Aceh Tenggara, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Rumah Aceh Tenggara. Photo by Rilies via Wikimedia Commons

Kherkhof Cemetery and Museum

Another moving sight in Aceh is Kherkhof which is a large cemetery with Dutch and Indonesian graves. The soldiers interred here died while fighting against the Acehs and there are inscriptions of the names of those who died at the entrance of the cemetery. The area was destroyed in the tsunami and the grave stones ripped up by the waters but these have now been replaced with wooden crosses.

Jalan Teuku Umar
Opening hours: 8 am – 6 pm.

Kherkof Cemetery and Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Kherkof Cemetery and Museum. Photo by Rachmat04 via Wikimedia Commons

Gunongan

Gunongan is a pretty little attraction although you may not know what you are looking for at first. This is actually a monument built by Sultan Iskandar Muda for his wife as a reminder of her hometown of Pahang in Malaysia. It would have been used as a bathing place for the princess although now anyone can visit.

Jalan Teuku Umar
Opening hours 8 am – 6 pm.

Gunongan monument, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Gunongan monument Banda Aceh. Photo by Si Gam, via Wikimedia Commons

Pasar Malam Rek

Pasar Malam Rek is definitely worth a look if you are in the area as this is the most famous of all the night markets in Banda Aceh. As darkness falls, the stalls start up, and you will find delicious treats such as freshly grilled satay, fried rice, and toothsome noodles.

Intersection of Jalan Ahmad Yani and Jalan Khairil Anwar.
Opening hours: 5 – 10 pm.

Pulau Weh

For many people, the main reason to come to Aceh is to visit Pulau Weh which is an island that can easily be reached from Banda Aceh. Pulau Weh is something of a hidden gem in the region and you can expect azure seas and some excellent snorkelling opportunities. This is one of the top tourist spots in Aceh both for foreign and domestic tourists although you are unlikely to find crowds whenever you choose to visit.

Pulau Weh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Pulau Weh Islands. Photo by Vanina W.

Boasting so many things to do and attractions, Banda Aceh is truly a delightful surprise of Sumatra. From here on there are many places to visit such as Medan, Lake Toba, Berastagi and Pulau Weh Island. So if you are ever in Sumatra, remember to add on this interesting city to your trip list.

Related articles:
Diving Pulau Weh Island
Top 10 Must Visit Places in Sumatra

Top 5 Things to Do in Canggu, Bali

While backpackers looking to party flock to Kuta to spend a hazy night gouging themselves at Sky Garden, and yogis looking to eat, pray, love may find themselves physically and spiritually in Ubud, I found myself instead in a next upcoming hotspot of Bali – Canggu.

Full of cute cafes, fun bars, trendy shops, and decent surfing waves, Canggu is attracting a beautiful crowd looking to escape the cluster of neighboring Seminyak and Kuta. The town is much more mellow, dotted with lush, green rice patties, along cobblestone roads filled with surfers on scooters. It has a small town feel with all the luxurious amenities.

Scooters through Canggu Shortcut, Bali, Indonesia

Scooters through the “famous shortcut” in Canngu, Bali

Here’s our top 5 things to do in Canggu during your visit in Bali:

Eating heathy and local around Canggu

Good coffee and beautiful, bright nalu bowls (Bali’s answer to acai bowls!) are reason enough to make your way to Canggu. Like other places in Bali, there are plenty of affordable healthy eats – it’s probably one of the easiest places to be vegan throughout all of Asia. Some of my favorite haunts include Crate for nalu bowls, quinoa salads and peanut butter shakes from Peloton, a matcha green tea latte and sweet potato toast from Avocado Cafe, and poke bowls with large chunks of freshly caught tuna at Poke Poke. If you’re looking for something more local, there are plenty of Warungs (local food stalls) including my personal favorite, Warung Heboh where it’s buffet style and you pay by item rather than weight which means you can pile heaps on for a cheap and filling meal!

Coffee, desserts, avocado toast at Crate, smoothies, juices, salad at Peloton in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

From left: Coffee and desserts and avocado toast at Crate; Smoothies, juices and salad at Peloton in Canggu, Bali.

Party, drink and live band in Canggu

While Canggu’s nightlife may be a bit more subdued than in other parts of Bali, you can still have a great out and get up early to surf, depending on how many Bintang beers you’ve had the night before. One of my favorite places to drink has to be Pretty Poison in Canggu. Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there’s an emptied out swimming pool in the back where skaters show off their tricks to an adoring and attractive crowd sipping on their beers and cocktails. Other must visits include Old Mans, which turns into a party after dark, live rock band included on Friday nights, and Deus, a restaurant/bar/motorcycle shop with a big backyard that gets filled to the brim on Sundays as visitors sway to the live reggae band. There’s also free tacos and tattoos on Tuesday. For a fun day party, Finn’s Beach Club is a trendy and affordable alternative to the more popular Potato Head Beach Club, while the Lawn by Old Man’s Beach is a cheap and great place to curl up on a bean bag. and buy a beer while chatting with the friendly staff who occasionally break out their guitars to serenade lucky guests.

Live Band on Friday nights at Old Man's in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Live Band on Friday nights at Old Man’s in Canggu, Bali

Chill with spa and massages at Canggu

If you’re still feeling stressed or just simply looking to pamper yourself, there are a few good places for massages, facials, and other spa treatments in Canggu. While prices may vary, Goldust is a popular spot that comes highly recommended. While it’s a bit pricier than other places in Canggu, the bit of extra cash you spend goes a long way in terms of luxury. Always #TreatYoSelf, especially when on holiday.

Goldust, best spa and massage in Canggu Bali, Indonesia

Goldust, best spa and massage in Canggu, Bali

Shopping at markets in Canggu

If you’re looking to take home something unique and fashionable from Bali, Canggu has a decent amount of boutiques and markets filled with trendy goodies. Old Man’s Market which occurs on the last Saturday of every month is a top hit with fashionistas. There’s also a Sunday market by People’s Café with clothes and jewelry made by local artists. And nothing is better than bringing home a bathing suit, the perfect souvenir to remember your wonderful time in Bali.

Jewelry shopping at Sunday's Market in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Jewelry shopping at Sunday’s Market in Canggu, Bali

Surf at the trendiest spot in Canggu

Of course, no trip to Canggu would be complete without surfing. While Canggu is a becoming a trendy spot amongst beautiful sun seekers, it’s first and foremost a town for surfers. You can take a cheap lesson or rent boards in various sizes right by the beach. The best surf spot for beginners would be Old Man’s beach, while Echo Beach and Berawa are also nice for more seasoned riders. While it’s not exactly empty, the water isn’t as crowded as other neighboring areas.

Surfing babes and new friends at Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Surfing and new friends at Canggu, Bali – what else do we need?

With its burgeoning popularity, new hot spots for eating, partying, drinking, shopping and massaging are likely to pop-up in this little slice of paradise. What’s your favorite places and things to do in Canggu? Do share with us!

-> Find the best hotel deals in Canggu *

Related articles:
Top 10 Things to Do in Ubud, Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Kuta, Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Seminyak, Bali

Top 10 Things to Do in Bintan Island

Bintan Island that forms a part of the Riau Archipelago in the South China Sea is a perfect getaway for friends and families in Singapore with its wide array of things to do. A 45-minute ferry ride will transport you to a world of white sandy beaches, clear blue sea, great Indonesian cuisine, and a bevy of outdoor activities.

The ferry ride also adds to the most important part of a holiday – the journey. And all the more because it is so convenient. There are multiple rides a day from Tanah Merah, Singapore to the three ports in Bintan: Badar Bentan Terani, Tanjung Pinang – the capital, and Bintan Lagoon Resort. The last one is perfect if you are booked into this particular resort, like I was, as the ride takes you directly there. But if you want to add a road trip to the journey, get off at either of the former two ports and take a car to your resort. I’m glad I took the Bintan roads one-way as they were spectacular.

Drive from the port to Bintan Lagoon Resort, Indonesia

Drive from the port to Bintan Lagoon Resort. Photo by author

While there’s plenty to do on the island, here’s my personal top 10 things to do in Bintan Island for you to pick from:

Immerse in history and culture
 at Senggarang Village

The history of a new place has always appealed to me. It’s like hearing the story of a faraway time and then seeing the evidence for real. Bintan, though a small island, is steeped in rich historical and cultural stories, especially due to its strategic placement on the Indo-China trade route. While being pivotal to Malay support system, the island also became home to many Chinese migrants who came in large numbers and settled here. Senggarang Village is the first Chinese establishment. The quaint village is a mixture of houses of different styles and architecture, and shops in sheds. Being an open community, the doors of most houses are left ajar and you can sneak a peek into the lives of these people. One of the nice things to do here is to take a charming walk along the village, which has quite a few temples, Banyan Tree Temple being one of the most interesting ones.

Getting there:
Located just outside the capital of Bintan Island, Senggarange Village is easily accessible via small ferry rides, locally known as Pongpong, which will get you to the other side for Rp5000-10,000 for a single ride.

Fishing village at Bintan Island, Indonesia

Fishing village at Bintan Island. Photo by Frank Starmer

Get the best shopping bargain in Tanjung Pinang

I found Bintan’s capital, Tanjung Pinang – a small and friendly town – to be a great hub for trying out local food, picking up souvenirs, and learning about the island’s culture. Shopping in this town is quite affordable as the wares are mostly local and handmade. While the concrete shops offer a diverse range of electronic goods, dried food items, and antiques, the street peddlers provide the best bargains with their colorful display of Javanese batik cloths, gems, local artefacts, and handcrafted toys.

If a shopping mall is your thing, head straight to the newly constructed Plaza Lagoi mall located in Lagoi Bay. Spread over almost 1,000 sq. meters, the contemporary retail space houses over 60 shops catering to fashion, Indonesian gifts, artefacts, and convenience stores.

Play golf at resorts and clubs

Bintan is definitely a golfer’s paradise and it is one of the top activity to do here. It has four spectacular golf courses – two in Bintan Lagoon Resort *, one in Laguna Bintan Golf Club, and one in Ria Bintan Golf Club. The Bintan Lagoon Resort by far boasts the most luxurious ones: the Jack Nicklaus (Sea View) course and the Ian Baker-Finch (Woodlands) course. Since I stayed at this resort, I could indeed see the golf courses in all their glory. Ria, on the other hand, gives Bintan Lagoon stiff competition as golfers flock to this resort which boasts of having all 27 holes at its Ocean and Forest courses designed by the ace golfer, Gary Player.

-> Find out now the latest deals for Bintan Lagoon Resort at Booking.com *

Being a spectator, I would take in the sights of the rolling green courses against the blue skies while sipping on a cool cocktail. Simply looking at the soothing landscape would take away all stress and elevate my holiday mood.

Golfers at the Bintan Lagoon Resort, Indonesia

Golfers at the Bintan Lagoon Resort. Photo by author

Indulge in spa and massages

Speaking of de-stressing, the one and only thing that can completely relax you are a great spa treatment. If you’re from Singapore where massages and spa treatments don’t come cheap, this is the place to completely unwind and indulge in a luxurious Balinese body massage or even a Thai massage. Most resorts offer a range of treatments to soothe the body and mind, where you would be paying for the ambience as well as the service.

A little exploration in and around the island and I found that you could get cheaper massages in the local spas near Pasar Oleh for as much as Rp500,000 for a 90-minute body massage, although you may have to compromise on the ambience.

Eat fresh and highly affordable seafood/local food

Sebung Village, the sleepy little village near Sebung River, actually serves the best seafood in Bintan. I binged on everything from lobsters, prawns, mussels, freshly caught fish, crabs, and more. Fresh, delicious, and highly affordable, the seafood gets served in restaurants built on stilts that offer you a beautiful view of the mangrove river at the same time.Additionally, the capital, Tanjung Pinang, has an active night food bazaar called Akau, where you will find a wide range of delicious local snacks to satisfy the taste buds. One must-eat item on your list should be the ‘otak otak’, which is basically fish meat cooked Indonesian style and comes wrapped in coconut leaves.The resorts also lay out quite a buffet but, of course, for a higher price. If you happen to stay at the Bintan Lagoon Resort, don’t forget to try their Wasabi Prawns.

ATV ride at the Bintan Lagoon Resort, Indonesia

ATV ride at the Bintan Lagoon Resort. Photo by author

Try out some outdoor activities like ATV

Being an island destination, Bintan does not disappoint where water sports are concerned, you will find plenty of things to do. As most resorts face the beach, you can easily avail these activities in the water sports centers. November to March are ideal for boogie boarding, wind surfing, and long boarding as the north-easterly winds give the water that perfect swell that is a surfer’s delight. On the other hand, April to October sees calmer waters that make it ideal for jet skiing, water skiing, and, of course, diving and snorkelling.

On land, you can try your hands at ATV rides, mountain biking, and adventure treks. Your resort will help you with bookings and transfers. I had the best time in Bintan Lagoon Resort with ATV and Segway rides. You can also hire bikes and cycle within the huge resort, but since I didn’t have time, I’ve left that to my next visit.

Visit the Bintan Elephant Park

Eight Sumatran elephants run the show here. They are trained to perform delightful tricks like 360-degree turns on their hind legs and then jiving to some disco music. The show timings are at 10:00 hours Monday through Thursday, and at 10:00 and 15:00 hours Friday through Sunday. Tickets are priced at S$34 per adult and S$28 per child.

Greetings from a Sumatran elephant, Indonesia

Greetings from a Sumatran elephant. Photo by Nonprofit Organizations

The park also lets you interact with the gentle giants – you can feed them and learn about their living habits, behavioural patterns, as well as dietary habits. You can ride on their backs and take a tour through the forest, which is a one-of-a-kind experience. It would be best to avail the combo packages for ride and show, which range from S$34-39 for adults and S$25-31 for children, depending on the duration of the rides. Located in Lagoi, it’s an easy ride from your hotel as the concierge will be only too happy to book the transfers.

Sunbathe and dip in clear blue sea at Trikora Beach


The local beach destination lies along the eastern shores of the island and is a perfect spot for sunbathing or dipping in the sea. I found the on-rent cabanas dot the beach a good enough way of relaxing for a mere Rp2000 (SGD 0.20) for the entire day. The sea boasts of three different hues of blue on a clear sunny day, and you get lovely local food in the beach shacks. My beach sauntering led me to a fishing village close by, marked by the fishermen’s stilt houses built to catch/breed fish, locally known as ‘kelongs’. While it’s interesting to watch the fishermen concentrate on their chores, there’s another section that’s busy making boats from the scratch. Though camera-shy, these people are quite friendly and have a ready smile for tourists wandering close to them. In addition, close to the beach lies the Santa Maria Cave, which is home to a Mother Mary statue atop a half globe. It was apparently built by a Dutch priest in the 18th century that still sees people gathering there every Sunday to pay their tribute.

Trikora Beach at Bintan Island, Indonesia

Trikora Beach at Bintan Island. Photo by Adamina


Getting there:
To get to Trikora, there are two options: you can reach it from the south via Tanjung Pinang main port or approach it from the north from the Bintan resort area. The former is the preferred and, more importantly, pocket-friendly option. It’s more than an hour’s ride either way. Once you reach the capital’s ferry station, you can grab a taxi to the beach destination, or if you’re feeling adventurous, hop on behind the bikes of the ready takers outside the ferry station. You can also hire bikes from there for the day. But make sure you settle on an agreeable price first before they ‘take you for a ride’.

Solve the mystery of the Snake River Temple

This 300-year-old temple is by far one of the most interesting places in Bintan. Also known as Sungai Ular Buddhist Temple, the Snake River Temple is accessible only by boat from Tanjung Pinang and looms up suddenly at the mouth of the Sungai Ular or the Snake River. The structure has a mysterious aura surrounding it, and its walls are covered with paintings of the horrors and torture methods of Chinese hell.It is also a popular destination for Chinese pilgrimage, and the ride is made interesting by the winding river lanes through the mangroves that instil in you a sense of adventure. If paganism and traveling off-the-beaten-track are what fascinates you, this one’s worth a look.

White sand beach at Bintan Island, Indonesia

White sand beach at Bintan Island. Photo by Thomas Timlen

Marvel at the Grand Mosque at Penyengat Island

A short boat ride from Tanjung Pinang, the Penyengat Island houses the then-ruler Raja Haji’s formidable stone fortress. Amid the tombs that dot the entire island, the citadel stands right in the middle and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the entire island. Take your selfies and family clicks at this viewpoint. Some of the tombs belonged to people who helped shape the history of this place e.g. the Bugis Princess who received the island as her dowry and the poet whose work somewhat forms the basis of modern Bahasa Indonesia. The highlight of the island, however, is the Sultan of Riau Grand Mosque which was built with a curious mix of egg white and lime as cement.

Sultan of Riau Grand Mosque at Penyengat Island, Bintan, Indonesia

Sultan of Riau Grand Mosque at Penyengat Island, Bintan. Photo by Achmad Rabin Taim

I found Bintan Island absolutely delightful, with its beautiful palm-fringed beaches, delicious seafood, great shopping spots, rich cultural heritage, the quaint little temples, and smiling, friendly faces. Easy accessibility is yet another advantage for this value-for-money getaway. So for the next short holiday, drop by the beautiful Bintan island. It certainly won’t disappoint and you will find yourself busy with all the activities it has to offer. I’ll definitely be going back one more time.

Related articles:
Bintan Island: Popular weekend trip from Singapore
Bintan Lagoon Resort Review
Top 10 Things to Do and Must See in Batam Island
Batam vs Bintan Island – Which is better for weekend trip from Singapore?