Batam vs Bintan: Which Island Near Singapore Is Better for a Short Trip?

Batam vs Bintan: Which Island Near Singapore Is Better for Long Weekend Trips?

It’s about time for a long weekend beach escapade!

If you’re bored of the bustling urban life and the sight of mighty skyscrapers in Singapore, then the idea of travelling to an island nearby must sound fascinating to you. For many Singaporeans, the most obvious choices are the islands of Batam and Bintan in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago. Beyond their proximity to the Little Red Dot, both are known for their gorgeous beaches, natural scenery, and plentiful water activities. However, deciding on which island to go to can be difficult — particularly for first-timers and those who have time to visit just one. 

Therefore, we’ve compiled the things to do, must-try food, nightlife, and the budget needed for each, to help with your Batam vs Bintan dilemma. Read on to find out which Riau island you should explore for your upcoming long weekend trip! 

Also read: 24 Hours in the Little Red Dot: Everything to Do on a Singapore Day Trip

1. Things to do and places to stay

Whether it’s Batam or Bintan, both islands have their own charms and fun things to do. If you’re looking for somewhere with various activities but on a lower budget, then Batam is the place for you. Bintan, on the other hand, is more suitable for laid-back travellers who are seeking a more calming and relaxing vacation by spending time in a more lavish resort.


Image credit: Hartanto Kosasih

To get to Batam from Singapore, all you have to do is just take a ferry ride, which takes approximately 50 to 70 minutes. The island’s size is almost similar to Singapore, with a population of about one million, as of writing.

Batam is famous for its captivating beaches and thrilling water activities. Reward yourself with a short getaway here and indulge in one of the fun things to do — scuba diving. You can sign up for scuba diving tours or even courses and spend your holiday with the adorable sea creatures. If the idea of deep-sea diving sounds a bit too scary for you, snorkelling will be just as fun!

island near singapore

Image credit: Kharl Anthony Paica

Aside from that, you can also take a boat ride or walk along the beach while admiring the sunset and sunrise. The top beaches in Batam are Melayu Beach, Nongsa Beach, Viovio Beach, and other resorts that boast an enchanting view of the beach. Turi Beach Resort, Nongsa Point Marina & Resort, and Batam View Beach Resort are some of the best family-friendly resorts on the island that also come at affordable prices. 

But of course, watersports and water activities are not the only attractions here. This island near Singapore is also well-known for its golf courses. Head to the Palm Springs Golf & Beach Resort, Padang Golf Sukajadi, or Batam Hills Golf Resort for a relaxing afternoon. 

Mega Wisata Ocarina Batam (left); Jembatan Barelang (right) | Image credit (L-R): Lisanto 李奕良; Yaumal Kausart

Batam is also home to a few manmade attractions that are worth visiting. Barelang Bridge, also known as Jembatan Barelang, is a massive bridge that connects the islands of Batam, Rempang, and Galang. It is a combination of six bridges spanning approximately 50 kilometres. Plus, don’t miss out on an amusement park date at the Mega Wisata Ocarina Batam. This amusement centre is best known for its Ferris wheel with daisy-like prints, its giant swing, and several kid-friendly games and rides.

Also read: A Guide to the Best Theme Parks Around the World Worth Travelling For


Image credit: Anil Nallamotu

Similar to Batam, Bintan is another island near Singapore ideal for short getaways. It is the largest among the Riau Islands and is famous for its long stretch of crystal-clear water beaches and leisurely water activities. Most visitors enter the island by sea, as it is only approximately a 50-minute ferry ride away from Singapore and Johor Bahru, Malaysia. There is also an airport: Raja Haji Fisabilillah Airport in Bintan, but it only caters to domestic flights. 

Bintan is almost three times bigger than Singapore. Despite its enormous size, the population is only around 334,000 (as of 2023). Therefore, if you’re looking for a quiet escape from the city, then it is the perfect place to go. 

Compared to Batam, Bintan is undoubtedly a lot more luxurious. Here, you will find upscale beach resorts with gorgeous facilities and lavish designs. Most resorts in Bintan also boast a picturesque view of the cleanest and most secluded beaches that will leave you in awe. These are mostly located by Lagoi Bay. Banyan Tree Bintan, The ANMON, Nirwana Resort Hotel, The Residence Bintan, and Cassia Bintan are among the stunning accommodations for an extravagant long weekend stay.

500 Lohan Temple | Image credit: Kelvin Aik via CanvaPro

People usually indulge in picnicking and beach activities like scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, and canoeing. Apart from that, Bintan is also a paradise for golf enthusiasts. The Ria Bintan Golf Club, Bintan Lagoon Resort, and Laguna Golf Bintan are some of the top golfing spots on the island. 

Your trip is not complete without some pictures of the famous landmarks. Check out the most unique and popular religious sites on the island, such as 500 Lohan Temple, Banyan Tree Temple, Vihara Dharma Shanti, and Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. If you are coming with friends and family, you might want to also visit the Areca Water Park and Safari Lagoi Bintan for an unforgettable day with thrilling water rides as well as interactions with the wildlife. 

2. Food and dining


batam vs bintan

Image credit: Fincijournal via CanvaPro

Batam is home to a lot of street food stalls and restaurants worth trying. They usually serve traditional Indonesian dishes such as: ikan bakar (grilled fish), ayam bakar (grilled chicken), ayam gulai (curry chicken) with rice, mie bangka (dry noodles), mie goreng, and mie tarempa (sweet, sour, and spicy chewy noodles). You can find these meals at Bakmie Bangka Asan 2323, Mie Terempa’k, Sederhana Padangnese restaurant, and Nagoya Food Court.

If you love seafood, then you’re definitely going to love the food scene in Batam. There are a plethora of seafood restaurants across the island, offering cheap and mouth-watering dishes like crabs, prawns, fish, clams, and squids. Love Seafood Batam Centre, Harbour Bay Seafood Restaurant, Golden Prawn 933, Sup Ikan Yong Kee, and Kopak Jaya 007 Kelong Seafood Batam are the most popular. 


Image credit: CHUTTERSNAP

Compared to the food scene in Batam, Bintan’s gastronomic choices are more extravagant. You can dive into the high-end cuisines in the resorts while overlooking the sea if you’re up for a more elevated dining experience. Nonetheless, there are still quite a few restaurants on the island that provide local delicacies at a cheaper price point. 

Image credit: CHUTTERSNAP

People who are familiar with Bintan would know that it is a seafood paradise. Head to BBM Seafood, Bintan Brother Seafood, and Tanah Merah Seafood Restaurant & Fishing Pond for scrumptious meals and unique seafood like gong gong (sea conch) that you can’t easily find elsewhere. Other than seafood, give a chance to eateries like Warung Yeah! and Restoran Sederhana Masakan Padang which offer popular local dishes like pisang goreng (fried banana), nasi ayam (chicken with rice), and sate ayam (chicken skewers).

Hence, when it comes to Batam vs Bintan in terms of food, both places offer loads of choices, with the latter being slightly more costly.

3. Shopping


In Batam, Nagoya Hill Mall, Mega Mall Batam Centre, Grand Batam Mall, and Batam City Square Mall are amongst the top shopping malls to shop for affordable goods. 

The Nagoya Hill Mall, aka the largest mall in the area, is home to a lot of small clothing stores, gadget shops, and food stalls. Here, you can expect to score goods at a discounted price. If you want to go on a movie date, head to the Batam City Square Mall, another spacious mall with tons of local restaurants, a supermarket, and a movie theatre. 


Bintan also has a few shopping malls for you to shop for clothes or even just to grab a cup of coffee. Among the crowd’s favourites are Bintan Indah Mall and Plaza Bintan Centre. The former comprises stores that sell handmade souvenirs, traditional desserts, and electrical appliances. The coffee shop at the front of this mall is also quite famous for its wonton noodles and mie ayam.

Another shopping centre situated in the heart of Bintan would be Plaza Lagoi. This massive but tranquil plaza is more than just a shopping mall. Other than a wide range of local and international cuisines, you’ll also find several spas where you can hop onto a quick massage session. There is also a museum and 50 optical illusion photo spots. 

4. Public and private transport


Image credit: Erwinjaya Wijaya via CanvaPro

Unfortunately, Batam’s public transport is not well-developed yet. Thus, after arriving here by ferry, we recommend renting a car or a motorbike to explore the island. Otherwise, calling taxis would be the next-best option. Fortunately, e-hailing services like Grab and Gojek are available in Batam. 


batam vs bintan transport

Image credit: CHUTTERSNAP

Like Batam, Bintan is also a great place to explore by car, as some previously mentioned attractions are located quite far away from one another. Go for a private car or motorcycle rental if you want to travel around the island with ease. Alternatively, you can also utilise the taxi service. 

The good thing is that most resorts and tour packages in Bintan include free shuttle bus services. So, if you’re on a tour package or have booked yourself a stay at the resort, don’t worry too much about having to spend a lot on transportation.

5. Nightlife

Be it Batam or Bintan, the nightlife scenes will not disappoint. It’s mostly a matter of preference in terms of what type of night out you wish to have.


New Sugar Bar | Image credit: New Sugar Bar Official Facebook Page

Partygoers would enjoy the nightlife scene in Batam, as there are tons of bars, pubs, clubs, and KTV to choose from. Places like Secret’s Bar, New Sugar Bar, and Fat Willy’s Dirty Dick’s Bar & Cafe are the favourite party venues for both locals and tourists. Meanwhile, Square Club & KTV and Morena Pub & KTV are great spots with nice alcoholic drinks, karaoke, live DJ performances, and an energetic ambience. These are also open 24/7, so you can literally drink and dance with your travel mates from dusk till dawn.

Also read: 9 Bars in Singapore With Live Music, From Jazz to Mandopop


batam bintan nightlife

Tidal Bar Lagoi Bay | Image credit: Bintan Resorts Official Website

Likewise, Bintan is a paradise for night owls and travellers looking to spend a splendid night. But the thing is, most of the nightclubs and bars are situated within the resorts themselves, like the bar and club of Nirwana Resort. Tidal Bar, The Patio Restaurant and Bar, and The Pool Bar are home to delicious cocktails and other alcoholic drinks, savoury food, and delicate desserts. Silk Club at Bintan Lagoon Resort, on the other hand, is the island’s first and most popular nightclub. 

Also read: 8 Best Spots in Singapore to Experience the City’s Nightlife

6. Budget


Image credit: Lisanto 李奕良

The budget for travelling in Batam really depends on your own spending style. However, the average daily budget would be around S$50 to S$70, including transportation, food, tours and activities, as well as a decent comfortable stay. But of course, you can expect to spend even less if you’re staying in a cheaper hotel and limiting your activities.


batam vs bintan

Image credit: CHUTTERSNAP

Between Batam vs Bintan, the latter is relatively more expensive. Depending on your accommodation and spending habits, the daily budget should cost you around S$125. That price is inclusive of a cosy and quality stay, food, local transportation, and other potential activity costs. 

The TZ Verdict on Batam vs Bintan

batam vs bintan

Image credit (L-R): Erwinjaya.Wijaya via CanvaPro; Delpixart via CanvaPro

So, which is better, Batam or Bintan? At the end of the day, there is no right answer for which island near Singapore is better for first-timers. It really depends on what you want out of your long weekend trip. 

Batam’s resorts are overall more budget-friendly, and the street food scene here is more vibrant. Therefore, it is excellent for travellers with a lower budget, but at the same time would love to enjoy mouth-watering local food and spend time by the beach.

Bintan is great for those who want to chill and rejuvenate at the resort and appreciate water activities. The food and beach resorts here are more expensive, but the ambience and facilities are definitely more luxurious. 

Both islands are family-friendly, with Bintan offering slightly more attractions that are picture-worthy. Regardless, Batam and Bintan are equally wonderful destinations and worth a visit!

Also read: 11 Stunning Islands in Indonesia Near Singapore That Are Perfect for a Short Holiday

So there you have it, pretty much what we think about the Batam vs Bintan dilemma. If you haven’t been to either destination, which island do you think is better suited for you? If you have been to both Batam and Bintan, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page!

About Author

Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.