Beli-where? I received quite a bit of confused appears once I stated I used to be headed to Belitung. Most Singaporeans are only acquainted with Bali as a holiday vacation spot in Indonesia, and for the time-strapped ones it’s Batam or Bintan as an alternative, however there are over eight,000 islands within the Indonesian archipelago and I’m fairly stoked to introduce Belitung, a comparatively untouched treasure that was as soon as solely recognized for tin-mining but is being touted because the ‘new Bali’ with its lovely seashores and signature giant granite boulders.
Because of Garuda Indonesia who invited me to take a look at this new spot on their inaugural non-stop flight from Singapore to Belitung that they launched in October 2018.
- 1 Find out how to get to Belitung
- 2 How a lot time to spend in Belitung?
- 3 Tanjung Kelayang + North Islands
- 4 Leebong Island
- 5 Tanjung Pandan – City Centre
- 6 East Belitung
Find out how to get to Belitung
Belitung is part of the Bangka-Belitung Islands, situated east of Palembang in South Sumatra. Garuda Indonesia is the primary airline to offer continuous flights from Singapore to Belitung – previously you’d have needed to transit in Jakarta or Palembang. It takes just 50 minutes to get from Changi Airport to H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin International Airport in Tanjung Pandan (TJQ).
Here’s the Garuda Indonesia schedule as of Dec 2018:
SIN > TJQ: depart 1720 (Mon, Wed, Fri) or 1730 (Solar) – arrive in Tanjung Pandan 1750 (Mon, Wed, Fri) or 1800 (Sun)
TJQ > SIN: depart 1450 – arrive in Singapore 1620 (Mon, Wed, Fri, Solar)
Notice Belitung’s time is +7 GMT (1 hour ahead of Singapore)
H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin Worldwide Airport is a tiny airport, one of those where you get to stroll across the tarmac with none aerobridges or fancy duty-free outlets, so don’t plan to spend too much time hanging out on the airport.
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How a lot time to spend in Belitung?
You possibly can technically do a fast weekend journey to Belitung for those who take a half day on Friday and fly again on Sunday – that leaves you just 1 full Saturday and Sunday morning to do stuff which is fairly tight, but when that’s on a regular basis you will have, give attention to the island hopping in the northwest space.
Ideally you must spend at the very least 4D3N in Belitung to get a taste of a spread of actions beyond the island hopping, especially if you wish to take a look at East Belitung. Belitung is 6x the dimensions of Singapore and it takes 1.5-2 hours to get from Tanjung Pandan throughout to East Belitung.
I used to be taken around on an organised media trip, in case anybody is interested within the tour company that deliberate this itinerary, it’s referred to as Bella Wisata Tours & Travel. Take a look at their web site (it’s www.bellawisatatours.com however Google retains giving me an unsafe warning so I’m not hyperlinking it instantly for now, or e-mail them at bellawisatatur [at] yahoo [dot] com or tour [at] bellawisatatours [dot] com
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Tanjung Kelayang + North Islands
The number one factor to do in Belitung is to island hop and enjoy the lovely seashores, and one of one of the best locations to take a look at is Tanjung Kelayang in the northwestern nook of Belitung Island, about half an hour’s drive from the city centre of Tanjung Pandan.
I recommend dedicating a minimum of at some point to island hopping by way of boat, and to select a weekday when it is a lot quieter. Dry season is from April to September – I visited in October and we did encounter some rainy days as you’ll see from the pix, but be mindful you’re in the tropics, rain occurs anytime it needs to in these elements.
Tanjung Tinggi Seashore
Tanjung Tinggi is probably the most well-known seashore in Belitung as it was one of the important thing filming places for the 2008 movie Laskar Pelangi or the Rainbow Troops (see the trailer right here), which was tailored from the award profitable e-book by Andrea Hirata, a author who made his mark on the worldwide circuit together with his story based mostly on his childhood in Belitung.
The seashore was pretty quiet on a weekday, however from the quantity of stalls arrange around I’m pretty positive it gets fairly crowded on weekends. The sand was really nice, high quality white grains and delightful clear blue waters. There are lots of the massive granite boulders that Belitung is understood for scattered alongside the coast – we took a bit of a walk and clambered round them for an amazing sea view.
Tanjung Kelayang Seashore
Most of the northern island hopping tours start from this seashore a short drive away from Tanjung Tinggi. There’s a large plaza and very mushy white sand and a bunch of eating places and eateries situated round here. For those who fairly not take a ship, this seashore appears like a pleasant various to hang around at, although I’d stroll a bit further down the seashore to keep away from boat visitors.
Burung Island + Garuda Rock
One of the photograph stops on the boat tour of the north Belitung islands is this uncommon rock on Burung Island that is called the Garuda Rock or Batu Garuda because it appears very bird-like with a beak. The Garuda is an eagle or phoenix-like mythical creature that’s also Indonesia’s national image used in their coat of arms.
Sometimes the boats cease a long way out for the most effective photograph ops as a result of you’ll be able to’t see the Garuda in case you are too shut, and in addition vacationers aren’t allowed to land on the island nowadays to raised preserve it.
Lengkuas Island + Snorkelling
Lengkuas Island is one other Belitung icon because of the distinctive lighthouse that stands 12-storeys tall and was built over 100 years previous by the Dutch in 1882. You possibly can climb up to the third degree of the lighthouse for a panoramic view, but we encountered some fairly heavy rain while on the island so I spent more time having fun with the superb white sand and climbing around the big boulders.
Kelayang Island + Swimming Cave
Kelayang Island didn’t appear notably exceptional at first, till our guides took us on a bit of stroll by means of the island’s vegetation. A brief scramble via typically slippery rock pathways and jungle, we ended up in a cute little cover amidst the boulders the place you’ll be able to swim and explore the rocks in the water. I’d already turned into dry clothes at this level so I didn’t get in the water, however value testing.
Extra lovely beaches (are you tired of me saying that yet) may be discovered on Kepayang Island, however it’s widespread largely because it has a large restaurant space serving up great BBQ seafood, and showers + bogs so you’ll be able to clear up after all of the water and sand actions. We loved chilling out with some beer after a busy morning of exercise.
Stay: Eco Seashore Tent by Billiton
If you want to keep somewhere quiet with a fantastic view, take a look at Eco Seashore Tent by Billiton, situated down the seashore from Tanjung Kelayang on the primary Belitung island. We spent a night right here having tea and testing their seashore, and it’s really peaceful and serene. In case you are lucky, you’ll get to see a stunning orange sky as the solar sets.
There are only a handful of huts at Eco Seashore Tent dealing with the sea, constructed with sustainability and eco-consciousness in mind. The rooms are individual little huts inspired by and constructed utilizing native supplies, they usually also have a turtle conservation programme on Kepayang Island.
Take a look at Eco Seashore Tent by Billiton on reserving.com [affiliate link] or go to their web site for extra info.
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Leebong Island is situated off the west coast of Belitung, they usually supply a day tour package deal that allows you to visit the instagrammable sand bar island, do a bit of a mangrove tour and then sit back on Leebong Island for lunch and water sports activities. You’ll be able to stay overnight at Leebong Island as nicely if you want to – they’ve some fascinating places to stay in if you need something just a little totally different.
To get to Sand Bar and Leebong Island, head to Pegantungan Harbour to get a ship that may convey you on a bit tour. More information here.
Sand Bar Island + Mangroves
This intriguing island isn’t even really an island, but a sandbar that seems and disappears relying on the tide, however some savvy people arrange some swings and hammocks reworking this random spot in the middle of the water into an Instagram paradise. Verify the tides earlier than visiting! Alongside the best way, be sure that to check out the mangrove timber as properly – we passed via a reasonably slender channel with the branches brushing up towards the boat and acquired an up close take a look at the mangroves.
Stay: Leebong Island
We stopped over at Leebong Island to have lunch and chill out for a bit. This recreation island presents actions like kayaking, SUP, seashore volleyball amongst other things, and in addition has some really nice beaches and waters value hanging out in. I used to be comfortable enough consuming from a coconut and walking across the place.
In case you have the time, I’d also take a look at their cool stayover options, together with a 2-storey bungalow and a very cool treehouse! Take a look at extra on their website.
Tanjung Pandan – City Centre
Tanjung Pandan on the west aspect of the island is the primary city centre of Belitung Island (and the place the airport is situated. In case you are brief on time, this is able to in all probability be one of the best place to base your self in.
Treetop views and Tarsiers at Bukit Peramun
We reached the Peramun Hills in the late afternoon as our most important aim was to go hunt for the uncommon Tarsier monkey (more on that under), however while we have been ready for night time to fall and these nocturnal creatures to emerge, we took a bit of a hike via the tree-covered hills of the Peramun Hills.
The trek is pretty brief (about 30 minutes) and nicely marked – I recommend sporting respectable footwear because there are lots of leaves and probably slippery rocks, and it gets a bit steep at points but otherwise the trek is sort of doable for most. I wish we’d gotten there a bit earlier as a result of there have been some pretty views of the forest canopy from above that I might have wish to see with somewhat more mild, however alas it was a bit cloudy that day.
Because it received darkish, our guides introduced us back right down to the start line and went on a bit of a hunt to seek out the elusive tarsiers, these tiny monkeys with large eyes that can solely be discovered on sure islands in Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. They referred to as us over once they found one – we needed to shoot shortly as vibrant lights aren’t great for their delicate eyes, nevertheless it was really cool with the ability to see them in the wild.
Kaolin Lake for that IG shot
One of the photographic highlights of Belitung is that this aqua blue lake surrounded by white stone which we stopped by on our solution to the airport. The lake was shaped from the Kaolin mining on the island, and you may see several of these uncommon blue patches once you fly over the island (get a window seat!). It was fairly overcast so the blue was kinda milky, however there’s one thing fairly surreal concerning the white and blue mixture.
This one continues to be a functioning mining space, so you’ll be able to’t get too close – cranes have been working while we have been there – there is a carpark and a fence that it is best to stay behind for safety.
Mie Atep – Conventional Belitung Noodles
One of the normal local meals to eat in Belitung is Mie Belitung, and the most effective place to eat it in is Mie Atep. The store seems deceivingly small from the entrance but truly has extra seats hidden in the again. It’s also common with celebrities whose photographs line the partitions close to the entrance.
Mie Belitung is a yellow egg noodle dish soaked in a sweetish shrimp gravy topped with bean sprouts, cucumber, shrimp, potato, egg and topped with the slightly sourish keropok. I personally want one thing extra savoury, nevertheless it was a reasonably fascinating dish. The portion isn’t very huge though, wash your meal down with the citrusy Jeruk Kunci.
Grab a cuppa at Kong Djie
Belitung is understood for wonderful coffee, and one of the best place to attempt the native brew is on the oldest espresso store on Belitung – Kong Djie. There are a number of branches in Tanjung Pandan, but this one at Jalan Siburik is the unique outlet that is all the time crowded with locals and tourists alike. Black espresso (Kopi O) or coffee with milk (Kopi susu) are the star gadgets here, but I made a decision on their iced milk chocolate (coklat susu), which was refreshing but not too candy.
I appreciated the local chillax vibe of the place – it’s not a flowery cafe and there are automobiles/vans rumbling by this busy junction, and you must hold the flies from attacking your kueh snacks on the table, however you do get that native coffeeshop vibe.
Drinks value between eight,000 – 18,000 IDR (S$1-2) relying on what you order. Open day by day 6am – 11pm, extra at their Fb web page.
Keep: Fairfield by Marriott
We stayed at the Fairfield by Marriott lodge, one of the newer and fancier inns that you’ll find in Belitung as we speak, although it seems to be like more new players might be getting into the market within the coming years. I had a pool view room on the primary degree, which was nice however I kinda wish that the balcony wasn’t sealed up and I might entry the pool immediately from my deck. The rooms have been undoubtedly snug and service was good. I’d contemplate springing for an ocean-view room because it’s right by the sea – there’s a seashore nearby however it’s not as pretty as Belitung’s different beaches.
We had a reasonably tight schedule and spent most of our days outdoors, only getting again to the lodge at night time, so unfortunately (and in addition because I’m useless in the mornings) my photographs are all pretty dim night time photographs. There aren’t that many facilities nearby – you must catch a journey to get to the key downtown space in Tanjung Pandan.
The rooms range from round 650,000-2,100,000 IDR (S$60-$200) – My room value about 750,000 IDR (S$70) per night time. Take a look at Fairfield by Marriott on reserving.com [affiliate link] or on their website for extra.
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Belitung is rather a lot greater than I assumed it will be – it’s about 6x the dimensions of Singapore! But in addition to Tanjung Pandan and the islands, I’d advocate making the 1.5-2 hour drive across the island to East Belitung when you’ve got the time to spare and check out Gantung and Manggar as nicely.
We have been supposed to take a look at a number of different sights right here like the Kwan Im Goddess Temple and the Burung Mandi or Hen Tub seashore, but alas we have been fairly tight on time and needed to skip those spots.
Study Belitung’s literary hero at Museum Kata Andrea Hirata
When you’ve been questioning what all of the fuss about Laskar Pelangi or the Rainbow Troops is about, you’ll be able to study extra concerning the guide at this vibrant little museum within the writer’s hometown of Gantung. Arrange in 2010, this open-air museum was set up to encourage different younger individuals of Belitung to dream beyond their village, so the reveals about Hirata additionally function many different famous authors and literature amidst shiny cheery partitions. Don’t go expecting something super fancy, and the entrance ticket includes a copy of the well-known Laskar Pelangi so you possibly can learn it for your self.
Entrance charge 50,000 IDR (S$5), open 930am – 5pm, Extra on the web site.
Laskar Pelangi Faculty
One of the main sets used within the 2008 Laskar Pelangi movie was the SD Muhammadiyah Gantong elementary faculty constructing set and you may go to a reproduction of it right here in Gantung. I extremely advocate testing the film for those who can beforehand, as a result of it gained’t actually make sense should you simply go to it without any background information – by itself it’s a relatively ramshackle wanting constructing with 2 lecture rooms which you could enter and fake to be a scholar in, however that’s actually about it in the event you don’t have another context. There are some food and souvenirs outlets in a mini ‘village’ at the entrance area of this vacationer spot.
Entrance charge 3,000 IDR (that’s like… S$zero.30)
Decide up local batik at Galeri Daun Simpor
In case you are trying to decide up souvenirs, pop by the Galeri Daun Simpor in Gantung the place you’ll be able to see batik making demonstrations and decide up some batik items with local impressed prints. We arrived round lunch time and the ladies have been all resting then, however it’s not a nasty pit stop after an extended journey over from Tanjung Pandan.
Across the street is a standard Belitung home generally known as Ahok’s Home – Ahok is the hakka nickname of the former Jakarta governor (2014-2017) Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and this was his childhood home.
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I only spent a number of days in Belitung and if I had more time, I’d wish to discover the east aspect of Belitung and perhaps the southern bits of the island just a little extra, however as a first style, I really enjoyed my brief time there and assume it’s undoubtedly value a fast getaway, particularly if you wish to keep away from the tried and tested tourist hotspots. Read a bit of more about it over on the Fantastic Indonesia web site.
Have you ever been to Belitung? Tell me what I ought to return to check out.
Take a look at all my Indonesia posts for more.