Bintan Island: Sumatra

The two dominating islands in the Riau archipelago are Batam and Bintan, the latter being the largest of 3,200 islands in the Riau Archipelago. Boasting around twenty kilometres of pristine white beaches and excellent dive locations offering an array of marine life, the island is only a 45 minute ride away by high-speed catamaran from Singapore. Because of its close proximity to Singapore it is only obvious that the island would become a popular tourist destination and there is upmarket accommodation on the island as well as other types for budget travellers. Most of the tourism is concentrated on the north coast around Lagoi. What I like most about Bintan are the island is the food and the friendly people. But, this is not the only attraction. Besides the excellent diving opportunities there are other places of interest.

Bintan Besar: This mountain is highest point on the Riau islands and is the remains of an old volcano. Accessing this place is relatively easy and a great area for hiking as it has the last primary forests on the island. A steep trail to the summit goes up from the village of Kapur and will take you 1-2 hours to reach the top.

Penyengat Island: The island was the centre of the Malay Riau-Lingga empire for a long period and is home to numerous mausoleums honouring various Malay nobles and heroes. There are numerous heritage sites such as Sultan of Riau Grand Mosque and an old Dutch fort.

Tanjung Pinang: Here you will find a bustling port with good markets and excellent facilities for the budget traveller. The centre of this town you will find traditional wooden houses built over the water.

Sungai Ular Bhuddist Temple: An isolated temple located upriver opposite the harbour of Tanjung Pinang. It is here that you will have arrange a sampan to take you to the temple.

Mangroves: Bintan has a diverse ecological wildlife and this can be found and seen by taking one of the many mangrove tours that are available. It is a beautiful experience, in fact, awe-inspiring. Like most mangroves throughout Indonesia the variety of birdlife is outstanding.

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