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3 days in Exotic Bangka – from stranded beaches to delicious dishes

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Getaway Category: Food & Drink, Island Life, and RelaxGetaway Tags: Asia, Bangka, getaway, indonesia, and Southeast Asia

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  • Located just eastwards of Sumatra, Bangka has some of Indonesia’s most exotic and beautiful beaches which is still within reasonably easy reach from Singapore.

    The island’s name is derived from the word “wangka” which means tin in Sanskrit. It is named as such due to the discovery of rich tin minerals in the island. Slightly less than a million people call Bangka home, most of which are Malay Indonesians and Hakka Chinese, working mostly in tin mines, fisheries, palm oil and rubber plantations.

    Bangka is also renowned for their legendary cuisine such as otak-otak, Bakmie Bangka and Martabak Bangka which have spread throughout Indonesia, and even beyond to some parts of Malaysia and Singapore.

    Bangka is also within reasonable distance with the neighbouring island of Belitung, also known as the Seychelles of Asia for its incredible granite beaches. So if you can afford a longer break, we absolutely recommend you to combine your Bangka and Belitung trip together.

    Day 1 in Bangka, Indonesia

    2pm: Arrival in Bangka

    Your flight to Bangka from Batam will be at 12.40pm, so you may want to take an early morning ferry to Batam and take an early lunch before your flight to Bangka.

    2.45pm: Bangka Botanical Garden (BBC)

    Just around 15 minutes away from the airport is the scenic spot of Bangka Botanical Garden, with its symmetrical sprouting of pine trees that recalls a comparable beauty to the famous Nami Island in South Korea. Like its Korean counterpart, BBC has become a favourite selfie and wedding photo spot among Indonesians.

    You can spend a couple of hours exploring the farms, especially the dragon fruit farm. Those who love animals will enjoy BBC just as much, with hundreds of cows grazing the farmlands.

    4pm: Sungailiat

    After spending a relaxing time at BBC, transfer to Sungailiat, the capital of Bangka Regency where you will base yourself at for the next two nights. The journey will take you around 45-60 minutes.

    5.30pm: Tanjung Pesona Beach

    After checking-in at your accommodation, you may want to walk along the beachfront of Tanjung Pesona. All beaches in Sungailiat face the East, so remember to look back occasionally to see the beautiful sky gradient as the sun sets, typically around 6pm.

    7pm: Dinner at Ocean Grill Beach

    Surrounded with dozens of beautiful beaches, there’s no wonder that seafood is the top culinary experience in the city of Sungailiat. Right at the Tanjung Pesona beach, you can find Ocean Grill Beach, which serves a mixture of Indonesian and international seafood cuisine so there’s something to please everyone’s palate.

    Day 2 in Bangka, Indonesia

    8am: Breakfast at Tung  Tau

    Established since as early as 1938, Tung Tau holds long-time pride among locals. Make sure you try their traditional coffee with a delicious serving of toasted bread, as well as kue semprong (charcoal-heated egg roll wafer, a local variant derived from Dutch influence).

    9.30am: Beach Hopping

    All these beaches are less than a 5-minute hop between each other, yet they are all incredibly scenic.

    Parai Tenggiri Beach is located at the Sinar Baru village with white sandy beaches and relatively calm waves. Locals take a lot of efforts to preserve the beauty of this beach by reducing the use of plastic around the beach and planting trees around the area. There are also many activities from banana boats to fishing to snorkeling.

    Turun Aban Beach is known for its rugged shores decorated with beautiful rock formations which jut upwards from the South China Sea towards the sky. These rock formations make for your small Indiana Jones adventure, as you climb between the rocks for beautiful viewpoints. Waves are a little stronger here, so take extra care if you are planning to take a dip.

    Matras Beach is one of the first beaches people think of when they think of Bangka. Known for its very fine and soft white sand texture, backdrops of waving palm trees and crystal clear ocean, Matras Beach also has the longest shorelines of Bangka. Uniquely, you can also find a freshwater river flowing around the beach.

    12.15nn: Belinyu Culinary

    Around 11am, make your way to the city of Belinyu, which is around an hour drive away.

    Belinyu is famous for its unique cuisine called otak-otak (grilled fish cake) and the sinful dessert of es kacang merah (red bean ice).

    There are many street-side eateries selling both dishes, but the most famous is Otak Otak Afung. Their fish cakes are usually very tender, chewy and authentic. It’s spectacular, especially when eaten together with spicy sauce! Take a bite of their appetizing-looking empek-empek (fishcake) as well.

    1.30pm: Goa Maria

    Right opposite of Otak Otak Afung is Goa Maria (Cave of Virgin Mary), built on top of Mo Thian Liang Hill, which means the Hill that Touches the Sky in Mandarin (Bangka has a significant Chinese population which believe in Christianity). It has a very peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by quiet natural forests with 15 stopping points.

    3pm: Batu Dinding Beach

    Pantai Batu Dinding, which literally translates to the Stone Wall Beach, is Belinyu’s most iconic beach. Other than its towering 15-meter-high rock wall, the lush mangrove forest also enhances the beauty of this beach. There are also many giant rocks scattered around the beaches, making for a scenic view.

    5pm: Sunset at Tanjung Putat Beach

    Tanjung Putat Beach faces northwest and it is sandwiched in between picturesque mangroves with tree roots jutting out from the sand, making it an excellent spot for sunset photography. The sea is relatively calm so you can swim or just chill by the beach enjoying the breeze as the rays of sun paint the sky with an orange hue.

    8pm: Dinner at Martabak Mini Akukato

    If you have ever visited Indonesia and tried their martabak before, you may recall that the store always call themselves Martabak Bangka—that is because the root of this sweet delicacy can be traced all the way back to Bangka. Martabak Mini Akukato is especially unique because of their small-sized portions and colourful presentations, making them very Instagrammable.




    Day 3 in Bangka, Indonesia

    8.30am: Rambak Beach

    Start your day at Rambak Beach, with beautiful rock clusters which are especially beautiful during the morning. No hotels and restaurants are built in this area yet, so it feels very authentic as compared to some of the other beaches in Bangka.

    Foodies will be delighted to know that locals do sell their dishes around the area, especially tekwan (a local type of fish soup), jagung bakar (roasted corn) and young coconut drinks.

    9.30am: Puri Tri Agung at Tikus Beach

    If Bali has the iconic Uluwatu Temple, then Bangka has this beautiful hilltop temple of Puri Tri Agung facing Tikus Beach. This temple is a prayer site not only for Buddhists, but also for those from the the Confucius and Laozi faith, yet another piece of heritage which shows the strong cultural harmony in Bangka Island.

    11.30am: Culinary at Pangkal Pinang

    An hour drive from Sungailiat will bring you to Pangkal Pinang where you first came from. Pangkal Pinang might not exactly be known for the beaches, but in its place, it has some of the tastiest delicacies you can find in the entire island!

    The famous Mie Koba Iskandar is definitely a must-try. The noodles are soaked in mackerel fish soup with a delicate savoury-sweet-spicy mix. The noodles are very chewy and it feels very soft as it slides down your throat, and that’s because everything here is hand-made, original and with no added chemicals or preservatives!

    Next, head to Mie Akaw to try the famous Bakmie Bangka, which also has become sort of a national dish in Indonesia! Yet, the original taste is impeccable, with savoury chicken, meatballs, tofu and fukian (otak-otak wrapped in tofu skin) drenched in delicious sesame oil.

    Finally, head to Martabak Acau 89. Whereas Martabak Mini Akukato is a little bit more modern in its presentation, Martabak Acau 89 is as traditional as it can get. They are known for their sweet-stuffed pancake and egg-stuffed pancake. The delightful aroma will surely tickle your senses as you down them, but don’t forget to buy some for your friends and family back home  in Singapore!

    4pm: Depart to Batam for your onwards crossing to Singapore

    Take your 4.05-5.30pm flight to Batam, followed by a night ferry to Singapore.

    "tea, workshop, Singapore, activities"




  • Places to stay in Bangka, Indonesia

    There are accommodation options in both Tanjung Pandan and Sungailiat. However, as most of the attractions in Bangka are located around Sungailiat, we recommend the following Sungailiat options:

    Affordable

    Guest House Sutos is located just about 15 minutes away from the beaches and also within walking distances to shopping malls. Additionally, they can also arrange car transfer service. Rooms are very basic and you may want to brush up on some basic Indonesian languages before arriving to help in your communication with the hotel staffs. But if budget is a concern, this is one of the best value you can get.

    Price range: SGD 23-28

    Address: Komplek Sutos (Sungailiat Town Square) Jl. Muhidin, Air Anyut, 33211 Sungailiat, Indonesia

    Mid-range/High-end

    Pesona Bay Sea View Hotel is as good as it can get for Bangka's standard, which is still quite basic but at least it meets a decent standard and it remains one of the few properties in Sungailiat with an English-speaking staff. It doesn't hurt that it has gorgeous sea views though!

    Price range: SGD 63-84

    Address: Kawasan Wisata Tanjung Pesona, Jln. Pantai Rebo Sungai Liat Bangka Belitung. Pantai Tanjung Pesona, 33211 Sungailiat, Indonesia

    Getting to Bangka, Indonesia

    Bangka is served by Depati Amir Airport at the town of Pangkal Pinang. Many travellers confuse this with Tanjung Pinang, which is located in Bintan and miles away from Bangka. When booking your flights, do double check that it's stated as Pangkal Pinang.

    The easiest way to get to Pangkal Pinang from Singapore is via Batam. Getting between Singapore and Batam is easy, with ferries running almost hourly by Sindo Ferry or Batam Fast between 6am-9pm.

    Lion Air, and its subsidiary, Wings Abadi Airlines run daily flights, flying from Batam to Pangkal Pinang at 12.40-2.05pm and 4.35-5.35pm. The return flight is at 7.30-8.30am and 4.05-5.30pm.

    Getting around Bangka, Indonesia

    Public transport infrastructure in Bangka is still in its infancy and remains very limited. As such, it is best to rent a car while you are in Bangka. Mandiri Rental is located just outside the airport and you can arrange the car rental by calling them at +62-852-6740-4116 or +62-819-9560-0738. Many accommodations also provide car rental service, usually at a rate of IDR60,000 for every 12 hours.

    For those on an extended holiday, it is possible to get from Bangka to the neighbouring Belitung in just 4 hours via Express Bahari sea crossing. Express Bahari sails once daily except for Tuesday, however, the schedule is always changing so it is best to call Express Bahari at +62-717-431818 first. Depending on your class of service, ticket costs IDR180,000-380,000 and there's a seaport tax of IDR5,000.

    Other important notes

    Time difference

    Bangka is GMT+7, which is 1 hour behind Singapore.

    Best months to visit

    February-March and October-November are the safest times to visit Bangka due to better wind and wave conditions.

    That being said, anytime between April-September brings nice, sunny weather ideal to hit the beaches of Bangka if you do not plan to do hardcore island-hopping.

    November to March can be rainy at times, but you can also have quieter beaches.

    Avoid June and July, which are school holiday months and there'll be many Indonesian tourists visiting Bangka.

    Health and safety

    • Always ask a local or a guide before jumping into any water. Currents can get strong in some areas and there are saltwater crocodiles in some rivers.
    • Watch what you step on. Some granite rocks can be sharp!
    • Like elsewhere in Indonesia, tap water is not drinkable

    Helplines

    • Police: 110
    • Fire department: 113
    • Ambulance: 118
    • Search and rescue team: 115
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