Unsurprising, watersports are a top activity on Bintan, with snorkelling and diving high on the ‘to do’ list, along with windsurfing, jet skiing and sailing. Boat tours through the mangrove forests are easily arranged – head out in the day for wildlife spotting (keep eyes peeled for monkey, king fisher and snakes) or in the evening for a magical experience. Adventurous sorts can hop in an ultralight seaplane for scenic aerial views of the island, or simply trek through the rainforest to the summit and incredible panoramic views.
No trip to Bintan would be complete without sampling the deliciously fresh seafood dishes – a popular dish among locals is gong-gong, a shellfish dish of sea snails served everywhere from beachside kelongs to street food stalls and fine dining restaurants. An ideal way to try a range of Indonesian dishes in one go is to sit down to nasi padang, a sort of mini buffet – fantastic for sharing! And for a taste of the Mediterranean head to Casa Italia Pizzeria, run by an Italian family who fell in love with the island and now serve crispy based wood fire pizzas.
To experience a true taste of Indonesia, take time to explore the island’s capital, Tanjung Pinang with its bustling street market (ideal for picking up souvenirs and trying out your bartering skills) and seaside promenade-turned night-time open air food market. Catch the ferry from the port to Penyengat Island a former Malay outpost where ruins of a former royal palace and historic Dutch canons now lie. And discover old world charm with a visit to the Chinese settlement of Senggarang, built entirely on wooden stilts.
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