Bintan: An island paradise
One of the greatest advantages to living in Hong Kong is the easy access to some of the world’s most fabulous holiday destinations; Bintan is just such a place, accessible by high speed ferry from Singapore's Tenah Mara Ferry Pier near Changi Airport in only 45 minutes.
The resort area is located at the northern end of the island and comprises a number of resorts in various styles, from family orientated affairs, like the Nirwana Gardens, to golfing gems, such as the Sedona' s Bintan Lagoon Golf and Beach Resort or Banyan Tree Golf Resort. For those seeking a slightly more romantic approach, love nests, like the Mayang Sari Beach Resort or Banyan Tree Resort and Spa are excellent choices.
The snow-white beaches cradle gin-clear waters, which are wonderfully warm year-round. Worthy of particular note is the beach at the Mayang Sari, which is said to be particularly good for swimming - shallow and sandy for quite some distance out to sea.
Monsoon season runs from late November – February so the best time to visit is March-May or September-November. Whilst the average temperature varies little throughout the year, those few extra degrees in the summer months of July and August, can make quite a difference. However, the summer in Hong Kong is similarly sweltering, so you may opt to cope with the heat by the beach, rather than in the city!
The Mayang Sari 'seafront chalets' are literally ten feet from the beach, whilst the 'garden chalets' are situated behind these in superb landscaped gardens. The view of the sea and the sound of the waves in the early morning are well worth the extra money for a beachfront chalet. Each chalet is one of a block of four and is named after seacreatures such as the dolphin and sting-ray. Each chalet grouping is designed in such a way as to give each its own sense of privacy. Enjoy the fabulous sunsets on the verandah of your chalet accompanied by a cocktail.
The chalets themselves are beautifully decorated and very comfortably appointed, each with canopied beds, a chaise longue, incense sticks placed artistically on a magnolia leaf, as well as modern conveniences such as a television, and mini bar. The breakfast buffet included in the room tariff is plentiful.
Ema the elephant features every other Sunday and is a great hit with kids and adults alike. Your children will love raiding the buffet of its fruit to feed her.
Located next to the Mayang Sari are the luxurious Indra Maya Villas, which feature private pools, golf carts and butlers who will attend to your every need. The Villas are a good option for a large family or even a group of friends. All eleven villas are often booked for weddings. The Mayang Sari is wonderfully opulent. It’s the perfect place in which to let your stresses melt away as you enjoy the endless little luxuries provided for you (rose petal bath anyone?) and the sparkling white beaches.
There are other distractions close at hand, like the new spa at the Mayang Sari, offering all types of massage and body treatments with exotic spices and sweet smelling essential oils - a veritable sanctuary for the senses. As a guest of the Mayang Sari, you may use the facilities at any of the other Nirwana group hotels, including the Nirwana Gardens and Bintan Lagoon Resort. Conveniently, there are shuttle buses that run between the resorts.
Even closer at hand, the Mana Mana Beach Club down at the east end of the Mayang Sari beach offers every water sport from jet skiing and banana boating to para-sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving. Saturday nights feature a rocking dance floor and packed bar. The DJ spins the latest tunes and will honour your requests, even if it's Donna Summer!
The Banyan Tree Resort
One of the world's top resort spas, and frequented by many an international celebrity,The Banyan Tree is the most exclusive resort on Bintan with a deservedly excellent reputation for accommodation and service. The individual villas are built into the lush hillside and dotted around a private point of land. Each feature either a Jacuzzi or a plunge pool and a large outdoor terrace with wonderful views over the sea. The suites themselves are very comfortable and have all amenities.
Dining out in Bintan
Dining out in Bintan is always a pleasure. Of particular note is a wonderful Thai restaurant called Cafe Blue Lagois . Run by two charming, and very amusing, Englishmen, the Cafe is situated within easy reach of both the Mayang Sari and the Indra Maya Villas. The restaurant has a great ambience and offers a delicious and reasonably priced five-course set menu (HK$220 and you can bring your own wine). Ask for the yam ice cream with coconut cream for dessert - seriously good stuff. It is a good idea to make reservations, especially for the weekend. Click here to make an email reservation or call: (62) 770 692581.
The Kelong Restaurant, built over the water on stilts, is good fun and has great, fresh seafood. It is part of the Nirwana group so you can put the bill on your room tab; very covenient.
If you fancy going a little more upscale, head over to the Crossroads Restaurant at the Banyan Tree Resort for lunch or dinner. Whilst being higher in price than the other nearby restaurants, the spectacular views across the water that the restaurant commands from its hillside location and the superb food, will more than make up for it.
Good Indonesian and Thai food can be found at the Saffron Restaurant and tasty Mediterranean is available at The Cove (evenings only).
Being stationed in Hong Kong offers the perfect opportunity to explore some of the most spectacular destinations in Asia. The beaches and resorts of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are but a stones throw away whilst the culture and history of fascinating places such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, China, Japan, and Korea are just as easy to access and make for wonderful weekend getaways when the urban lifestyle just gets to be too much.
There are often great deals to be found on flights from Hong Kong to numerous, luxurious Asian destinations meaning that you can quite easily have a 5-star holiday for a very reasonable sum.
Last Updated: 17 November, 2004