Travel Guide to Riau Islands

Best things to do and see in Riau Islands

Riau Islands: Why go

Bintan Island and its smaller neighbours are part of the Riau province of Indonesia, and are the closest islands to Singapore and the Malaysian peninsula. Bintan is the largest island in the province, with a surface area of 1,140 and a coastline over 100km in length. Its population of around 200,000 is a mix of Malay, Bugis, Chinese and Orang Laut (sea people).

Being only an hour or two by ferry from Singapore (there is no airport), the islands are popular with Singaporean holidaymakers - to the extent that the Singapore dollar is widely accepted as a currency, alongside the US dollar; while the Indonesian Rupiah is only really needed if you plan to visit towns like Tanjung Pinang. Both Bintan and Batam islands are in fact leased from Indonesia by the Singaporean government, the former for tourist development and the latter as an industrial hinterland, as its own land is so limited.

The main attraction of Bintan is the white, sandy beaches which ring the coast, along with the year-round sunshine and warm waters which come from being just 1 degree north of the equator. Temperatures tend to range from 22 to 32 celsius (averaging 26), and humidity from 60-90%, with November-March bringing slightly wetter weather (hardly a monsoon, though).

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