Short Breaks: Take a Bintan Break

Photo: Doulos Phos

Explore the largest island of Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago.

THE REVITALISED BINTAN of today is relishing its new lease of life. Only an hour’s ferry ride out from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, a fresh weekend jaunt – a blissful blend of luxurious comfort and rousing adventure – awaits the weary metropolitan.

Photo: Doulos Phos

Aboard the Doulos Phos

From the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal, the regal form of the iconic Doulos Phos Ship Hotel is absolutely striking.

Having sailed the high seas for close to a century, this legendary liner held the Guinness World Record of the ‘oldest active ocean-going passenger ship’.

The private anchor-shaped isle on which she is now dry berthed will play host to a hive of activity: from a pool bar and beach club to a piano lounge and spa complex.

Slated to open in June this year, Doulos Phos will unveil 104 plushly refurbished guest cabins across four decks, each furnished with tasteful decor drawing from different time periods throughout her rich history.

Of these, the swankiest is the Master Mariner Suite, with a private outdoor jet spa and alfresco dining under the stars, while the Experience Cabins, on the other hand, afford a more rugged, adventurous stay in volunteer crew quarters.

Photo: Bintan Resorts

Luxury at The Residence Bintan

Along the eastern shores of the island, nature meets luxury in The Residence Bintan, a lavish tropical oasis. Golden stretches of beach skirt the edges of its stylish beachfront villas overlooking the cyan waters of the South China Sea.

Their warm wooden interiors epitomize a sophisticated tapestry of contemporary style and traditional Indonesian aesthetics.

Indulge in the flavours of the Indonesian Archipelago at its Rica Rica, relax with a cocktail at the Pool Bar or revitalise the mind, body and senses at The Spa by ila.

Beyond the resort, the great outdoors awaits discovery, from exhilarating water and beach sports to a kayaking expedition through thick mangrove.

Photo: Bintan Resorts

The Sand Dunes of Gurun Pasir Busung

Today’s digital natives will narrow in on Gurun Pasir Busung, a former sand quarry but now an Instagram hotspot for the picturesque rolling contours of its sand dunes.

Located along the western coast of the island, this is an unexpected Sahara-esque desert landscape of mellow beige and brown shades amid Bintan’s tropical surroundings.

Photo opportunities at this curious site abound as you navigate the curvatures of the sloping terrain and the banks of the encircling crystal blue lagoon.

Photo: Bintan Resorts

Local Culture at Tanjung Pinang

Within the colourful Tanjung Pinang, the early morning yields the buzz of the bargain at its traditional wet markets lined with wooden crates of meats and fresh produce.

Explore teeming alleys, where trishaws zig-zag through rows of shophouses and street vendors showcase everything from dried seafood to antique ceramics.

At dusk, Rimba Jaya lights up, a sprawling central with a diversity of gastronomic exploits from night market grills to bars and hipster cafes.

Within this maze is Akau Potong Lembu, a makeshift open-air hawker centre, boasting affordable, authentic local delights sold out of pushcarts – every foodie’s wildest dream.

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