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[BEACH] Seychelles in Asia: Things to do in Belitung in 4 days

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Getaway Category: Island LifeGetaway Tags: Asia, Belitung, and indonesia

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  • This article contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. This article was first published on July 6, 2016 and updated in February 2018.

    Dramatic granite boulders rising vertically towards the sky, snorkelling in pristine turquoise water admiring coral reefs, relaxing under the palm trees as you sip tender coconut water directly from the shell—Pulau Belitung is the secret tropical paradise you’ve never heard of.

    Home to 271,868 people, Belitung Island (also spelt Belitong Island) is blessed with fascinating granite rock formations which can be found only here and in the magical Seychelles. But unlike its more famous African cousin, a trip from Singapore to Belitung won’t break the bank and you can dip your feet in its world-class shores in one-third of the flight duration. Find out what to do in Pulau Belitung, Indonesia for 4 days!




    Day 0 in Jakarta, Indonesia 

    Night flight from Singapore to Jakarta. Take an early rest at an accommodation nearby the airport as you need to depart early tomorrow morning.

    Day 1 in Belitung, Indonesia

    9am: Airport

    Head to Soekarno–Hatta International Airport to board your 10.30am flight to Belitung, arriving at 11.35am. While waiting for your flight, shop around and have a quick breakfast at the airport.

    12.30pm: Hotel

    Check-in and drop bags at centrally-located hotel.

    1.30pm: Lunch at Mie Belitung Atep

    Mie Belitung atep

    Mie Belitung Atep

    Mie Belitung is a local favourite noodle smothered in shrimp soup and sprinkled with cucumber slices, boiled potatoes, melinjo cracker and bean sprouts. Its distinctive taste which can only be found in Belitung has attracted everyone all over Indonesia (including public figures like former president Megawati, comedian Tukul, actress Cinta Laura) to eat at Mie Belitung Atep. It costs Rp. 10,000 per plate.

    2.30pm: Rumah Adat Belitung

    Belitung traditional house

    Belitung traditional house

    Next, pay a visit to a Belitung traditional house (tell your driver “Rumah Adat” and he or she will know where). Not only you get to admire the classic architecture, but inside the house you can also find various tools, clothes and artefacts providing you a glimpse into how early Malays in Belitung live and practice their customs.

    4pm: Bundaran Batu Satam

    Drive through the city centre of Tanjung Pandan and you’ll notice the Batu Satam monument (billitonites), which is a very rare gemstone as a result of a meteor collision with the island’s tin-rich geological layers. It can be found only in Indonesia and it’s hunted by collectors all around the world.

    Along the roadside you can also find shops selling Batu Satam jewelleries, ranging from Rp. 150,000 to Rp. 400,000, depending on its size and whether it’s polished or raw.

    5pm: Tanjung Pendam

    Your next stop in the Tanjung Pandan area is the popular Tanjung Pendam. At late afternoon, the tide in Tanjung Pendam recedes all the way, leaving large spaces between bodies of water where you can stroll leisurely to observe mini crabs crawling on the sand while waiting for the spectacular sunset.

    Tanjung Pendam at sunset

    Tanjung Pendam at sunset

    At the back of the beach near the entrance to Tanjung Pendam, you can also a grab a coffee from the legendary Kong Djie and sit by the beach while waiting for the sunset. Kong Djie has been operating since 1943, and even up to this day, the coffee is still traditionally brewed in a charcoal stove, which really brings out the aroma. The flavour is somewhere in between robusta and arabica coffee. The coffee costs Rp. 8,000 per cup.

    Gangan kepala ketarap

    Gangan kepala ketarap

    After sunset, stop by one of the taverns in the Tanjung Pendam area for dinner. Don’t leave without trying gangan kepala ketarap, which is a type of fish head in yellow soup and it’s a very common traditional Belitung delicacy.

    8.30pm: Toko Oleh-Oleh KKB

    Stop by KKB to buy Belitung food souvenirs such as keripik kulit ikan (deep-fried fish skin cracker) and keripik sukun (deep-fried breadfruit cracker). Fisheries play an important part in the local economy, and in this store you can also find many other types of fish-based crackers for your night snacking!

    Day 2 in Belitung, Indonesia

    Have a full-day of island-hopping! If you happen to visit Belitung during high tide season (December-February), sometimes the boat may not depart if the weather is bad. Thus, try to do the island-hopping first and in the case of bad weather, you can try your luck again for another day by swapping this with the Day 3 itinerary.

    9am: Tanjung Kelayang

    Around 45 minutes away from Tanjung Pandan, hit the Tanjung Kelayang beach where you will begin your adventure to Belitung’s classic postcard perfect destinations!

    It’s also important to note that there’s only one restaurant in the islands-hopping route and they charge a high price (Rp. 200,000 per fish, at Gede Kepayang Island which will be skipped in this itinerary as the island has nothing much to see other than the restaurant), so it’s advisable to buy your lunch before departing from the boat driver (Rp. 110,000 per pax). To make sure you have your lunch prepared, you can inform Street Taxi (see Make it happen tab, Transportation section) or your tour operator directly.

    9.30am:  Batu Garuda

    Batu Garuda

    Batu Garuda

    Photo stop from your boat with a view of the gravity-defying Batu Garuda in the background. Batu Garuda literally translates to Garuda Stone in English, named as such due to the shape of the boulder which looks like the beak of a Garuda (Javanese eagle).

    10.30am: Pulau Batu Berlayar

    Pulau Batu Berlayar

    Pulau Batu Berlayar

    Pulau Batu Berlayar (Island of the Sailing Rock) is a captivating sight to behold, with its jutting rocks in the middle of the sea. The largest of these rocks are at least 10 metres tall! Ask your boat driver to let you down at the island for a few minutes. It’s a really small island, but worth the stop just to see and marvel at these vertical granites up close.

    11.30am : Pulau Lengkuas

    Pulau Lengkuas lighthouse

    Pulau Lengkuas lighthouse

    Pulau Lengkuas (or Lengkuas Island, named after galangal ginger) is the farthest and takes about 30 minutes to reach. The island’s 130-year-old lighthouse has since become sort of an icon for Belitung, and the mesmerizing view from the top is worth the 20-minute walk up.

    Pulau Lengkuas Aerial

    Pulau Lengkuas Aerial

    Lengkuas Island is relatively bigger and there are plenty of beautiful rock formations to be explored, so budget a little more time here. You can also sit down by the beach admiring the rock formations while enjoying the packaged lunch prepared earlier. For us, this is one of the best things to do in Belitung – just chilling on the beach.

    2pm: Snorkel nearby Lengkuas Island

    With calm and shallow water, the sea around Lengkuas Island is ideal for snorkelling. The ocean floor is literally covered with plenty of reefs and fishes, so make sure you bring your snorkelling gear or rent a set from the boat vendor before the trip (Rp. 30,000 per set).

    4pm: Pulau Pasir

    Pulau Pasir

    Pulau Pasir

    You’re unlikely to notice Pulau Pasir (Sand Island) when your boat first departs. That’s because it’s not really an island, but a stretch of sand in the middle of the sea. Pulau Pasir is usually submerged under the water and it doesn’t appear until late in the afternoon when the sea recedes. You’re likely to find many starfish here, so don’t skip Pulau Pasir!

    5pm: Tanjung Kelayang

    Return to the shores of Tanjung Kelayang. Don’t miss the 6pm sunset here! As the sun casts a shadow on the dramatic stone formations, it’s a magical sight to witness.

    7pm: Back to hotel

    At around 6.30pm, drive back to Tanjung Pandan area (45 minutes) for a quick shower, then head out for dinner!

    8pm: Dinner at Timpo Duluk

    Dulang set

    Dulang set

    Timpo Duluk serves traditional Belitung-styled dinner. Their specialty is the Dulang Set, which consists of gangan ikan (fish head), ayam ketumbar (coriander chicken), sate ikan (fish satay), ati ampela (gizzard and heart innards), lalapan (raw vegetable salad) and sambal serai (lemongrass hot sauce). Dulang Set costs Rp. 35,000 for 2 people or Rp. 220,000 for 4 people.


    Day 3 Belitung, Indonesia

    10am: Penyabong Beach

    Penyabong beach

    Penyabong beach

    After breakfast at the hotel, drive 1.5 hours towards South Belitung and you’ll reach Penyabong Beach. It’s a great place to bring out your inner Indiana Jones, tramping through the knee-deep shores between rock tunnels and scale up the granites (not difficult) for a scenic view of the Java Sea stretching all the way southwards.

    Penyabong beach view

    Penyabong beach view

    If you love the beach you can also check out Nha Tr-ang and Koh Samui!

    12pm: Lunch at Sahang Beachfront Cafe and Resto

    Take a quick break at Belitung’s only beachfront eco restaurant with a nature concept. The food and drinks in Sahang Beachfront are locally produced and the menu always changes depending on what the nature gives each season! Some key dishes include Zori-ebi Slipper Prawn and grilled fish. You can also drink handpicked fruit mocktail harvested from their own organic farm. Expect to pay at least Rp. 250,000 per person.

    Fancy something cheaper? You can stay back at Penyabong Beach, where you can find many food stalls selling boiled rajungan (a genus of crab which tastes really sweet) for around Rp. 85,000 per kg.

    2pm: Batu Baginde

    Standing tall at 250 metres, the imposing Batu Baginde consists of two giant rocks, one side of which lies in a tilted position and in all common sense should have fallen, but in fact the rock remains in place.

    Batu Baginde

    Batu Baginde

    Batu Baginde is relatively difficult to access and it’s not for everybody. You’ll trek through a forest, then ascend up the stone with the help of vertical stairs and pre-installed ropes. But at the end of the journey, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a beautiful bird’s eye view of the surrounding lush forest. There are various legends associated with the giant rock, most notably in that there is a supernatural belief that women who are undergoing menstruation must not ascend up to the rock.

    If you prefer not to scale up Batu Baginde, however, you can skip it to spend a couple of hours longer at Penyabong Beach and Teluk Gembira.

    4pm: Teluk Gembira

    After the mini-adventure, take a breather at Teluk Gembira (Gembira Bay), where the coastline meets the green meadow of wildflowers, pine and coconut trees. There’s also a jetty which the locals use to cross over to the villages in Pulau Seliu.

    Teluk Gembira

    Teluk Gembira

    The South Belitung region is perfect for relaxation, as it’s quieter and less-known than its Northern counterpart. Once you’re ready, depart for the 1.5-hour trip back to Tanjung Pandan.

    7pm: Dinner at Afa Song Sui or Rumah Makan Ote

    After Malays, Chinese are the second most dominant race in Belitung and they have developed their own unique local dishes, most notably, the soup-based Song Sui, which is made from pork innards. It costs Rp. 30,000 per plate. (Unfortunately Afa Song Sui has closed permanently).

    Song sui

    Song sui

    Not into innards? Head to Rumah Makan Ote instead, where you can sample other Chinese-Indonesian hybrid cuisine such as cap chay (stir-fried vegetables). Depending on how much you eat, estimated cost for Rumah Makan Ote is around Rp. 50,000-100,000 per person.

    Day 4 Belitung, Indonesia

    9.30am: Tanjung Tinggi

    Tanjung Tinggi

    Tanjung Tinggi

    After breakfast at hotel, drive 45 minutes to reach Tanjung Tinggi. This is the most beautiful and popular of all Belitung beaches, gaining its fame after getting featured in Indonesia’s highest grossing movie called Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops). The beach has some of the most picturesque Seychelles-like boulders and is worth spending a little extra time exploring. The beach is also good for swimming as the current is manageable for most swimmers.

    12pm: Lunch at Resto Mutiara

    Have a delightful seafood feast with crunchy fish, meatball, as well as sweet and sour crab. Expect to pay around Rp. 150,000-200,000 per person.

    1.30pm: Kaolin Lake

    The striking contrast of Kaolin Lake’s light blue water and white-as-snow sand is not the result of a natural lake formation. Rather, like its name suggests, it’s an ex-mining site of kaolinite mineral.

    Kaolin Lake Belitung Indonesia

    Kaolin Lake Belitung Indonesia

    A visit to this site is a glimpse into the main force driving the island’s local economy, mining. In fact, mining conglomerate BHP Billion is named after Belitung due to the island’s rich minerals. Other than Kaolin, Belitung is a major source of tin, clay, iron and silica sands.

    3pm: Back to the airport

    The airport is 15 minutes away from the lake but make sure you reach at least 1 hour earlier to catch your flight around 4pm, reaching Jakarta around 6pm. Make sure you have at least 3 hour transit time in case of flight delay. Take the 9pm flight from Jakarta and reach Singapore around 12 midnight.

    1-Day Diving Extension in Belitung, Indonesia

    For diving enthusiasts, you can extend another day to visit Lighthouse Wreck and Cepor Cepor diving sites. The diving is not very deep, but it has plenty of coral gardens, colourful fishes, urchins and starfishes. You can also find cuttlefishes, crinoids and plenty other marine biodiversity here.

    You can book a diving trip from BelitungIsland.com, Belitung.net or Belitung Wonderful. Price may vary between operators and your trip specification, but expect to pay between Rp. 880,000 to Rp. 1,200,000 per person.




    Places to stay in Belitung

    All hotels are located nearby city centre and their staff speak English. Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    HotelType of accomRating on TripadvisorPrice per nightMore Photos & Availability
    Grand Pondok ImpianBudget3,5S$26

    Arnava Mutiara Hotel BelitungBudget4S$35

    MaxOneHotels Belstar BelitungBudget4S$37

    Green Tropical VillageMid4S$50

    Golden Tulip Essential BelitungMid4S$55

    Rahat Icon HotelMid4S$56

    Billiton Hotel and KlubMid4S$60

    BW Suite BelitungHigh4S$81

    Affordable

    Grand Pondok Impian eating area

    Grand Pondok Impian eating area

    Grand Pondok Impian is located nearby the beautiful sunset spot of Tanjung Pendam Beach. Free on-site public parking, Wi-Fi access, 24-hour front desk are available. Accommodation is cosy and air-conditioned.

    Price range: SGD$26-34.

    Mid-range

    Rahat Icon Hotel Exterior

    Rahat Icon Hotel Exterior

    Rahat Icon Hotel offers nicely-designed and colourful rooms. It is located right at the city centre with various local cuisine options available. Free bikes are also available, as well as airport shuttle with a surcharge.

    Price range: SGD$56-62.

    High-end

    BW Suite Belitung bar

    BW Suite Belitung bar

    BW Suite Belitung‘s rooms are elegantly designed with wooden flooring and you can also request for rooms with a private balcony and views of the sea. Facilities include bar, karaoke room, billiard spot, infinity swimming pool facing the beach, gym and spa.

    Price range: SGD$81-210.

    Places to stay in Jakarta

    All hotels are located nearby airport and their staff speaks English. Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    HotelType of accomRating on TripadvisorPrice per nightMore Photos & Availability
    Swift Inn AeropolisBudget3S$20

    Orchardz Jayakarta Hotel Jakarta Budget3,5S$33

    Red Planet Jakarta Pasar BaruBudget4S$30

    Favehotel Pasar BaruBudget4S$30

    Ibis Styles Jakarta Airport Mid3,5S$44

    Ibis Jakarta ArcadiaMid4S$50

    Grand Whiz Poins Square SimatupangMid4,5S$50

    Bandara International Hotel Mid-High3,5S$90

    Mandarin Oriental Jakarta High4,5S$220

    Raffles JakartaHigh5S$260

    Four Seasons JakartaHigh4,5S$310

    Affordable

    Swift Inn Aeropolis entrance

    Swift Inn Aeropolis entrance

    Swift Inn Aeropolis provides air-conditioned room with free WiFi in all areas and a 24-hour front desk. All comes at a bargain price range of SGD$16-39.

    Mid-range

    Ibis Styles Jakarta Airport exterior

    Ibis Styles Jakarta Airport exterior

    Ibis Styles Jakarta Airport offers modern rooms with an outdoor pool, fitness centre and sauna. For dining option, on-site Streats Restaurant serves varieties of international dishes. Price tag comes at a reasonable SGD$56-62.

    High-end

    Bandara International Hotel pool

    Bandara International Hotel pool

    Formerly managed by Sheraton and now by AccorHotels, Bandara International Hotel offers spacious rooms with beautiful views of landscaped garden. The hotel features an outdoor pool, on-site jogging track, beauty salon, spa treatments and a gym. And it’s basically a stone’s throw from the airport. 

    Price range: SGD$90-100.

    How to get to Belitung Island

    Belitung is served by H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin Airport at the town of Tanjung Pandan. When booking your flights, do double check that it’s stated as Tanjung Pandan. Many travellers confuse this with Tanjung Pinang or Pangkal Pinang—which serve completely different islands miles away from Belitung – in fact one is near Singapore!

    Before arriving at Belitung, you’ll need to stop over at Jakarta. Allow for at least 3 hour transit time in Jakarta. You’ll have to switch terminal via cab or airport shuttle bus, and unless you take Garuda for the entire flight duration, you’ll have to collect your luggage and re-check them in. Below you can read how to get from Singapore to Belitung Island.

    From Singapore to Jakarta, and vice versa

    Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Jetstar have several daily flights from SGD$120-190 return departing between 6-10pm to Jakarta and returning on Sunday 6-10pm to Singapore. The flight lasts a bit less than one hour. There is no direct flight from Singapore to Belitung.

    From Jakarta to Belitung Island, and vice versa

    Garuda has flights running daily starting from SGD$97 return. Flight times to Tanjung Pandan at 10.30-11.35am (1hr 10mins). Return flight times to Jakarta at 12.20-1.30pm (1hr 10mins).

    Sriwijaya Air has several flights running daily starting from SGD$75 return. Flight times to Tanjung Pandan at 8.35-9.35am. Return flight times to Jakarta at 1.05-2.10pm, 4.20-5.25pm or 4.40-5.40pm (1hr 5mins).

    Citilink also runs early morning flights (5.55-7am to Belitung and 7.30-8.40am to Jakarta).

    Getting around Belitung

    As an under-the-radar island paradise, public transport infrastructure in Belitung is naturally ill-developed. The easiest way to get around is by renting a car or using a cab.

    For now, Street Taxi (+62 822 8301 5555) is the only licensed operator and you can arrange to have English-speaking drivers. Just make sure you communicate with them well and provide requirements before flying to Belitung. They charge Rp. 450,000 per day (one rental day is 12 hours, maximum until 9 pm) including driver, fuel not included. After adding the fuel, depending on the distance you travel, the total cost should be around Rp. 600,000-700,000.

    Make sure you negotiate the cost for each day before booking. This is especially true for Day 2, where you’ll be spending most of your times island hopping, making it more cost-efficient to arrange two-way transfers at the beginning and the end of the day (instead of full-day rental), which may range between Rp. 160,000-200,000 each way.

    For island hopping, Street Taxi can also arrange for a boat with driver. Alternatively, you can drop off at Tanjung Kelayang beach directly and haggle with the local vendors. A boat with a boatman typically costs around Rp. 450,000 for a day.

    Other important notes

    Time difference

    Belitung is 1 hour behind Singapore

    Things to pack

    – Beach essentials: Swimwear, towels, flip flops and a hair straightener if you have unruly hair, a day on a boat will do that to anyone!

    – Hot day essentials: Sunglass, sun cream, hat

    – Snorkelling gear, although it’s available for rent in Belitung as well

    – First-aid kit (some coral reefs and granite rocks can be sharp!)

    – Trekking shoes if you’re planning to visit Batu Baginde

    Best time to visit Belitung, Indonesia

    April to October brings nice, sunny weather ideal for a classic Belitung beach experience. However, avoid June and July, which are school holiday months and there’ll be many Indonesian tourists visiting Belitung.

    November to March tends to be rainy, but going off-season means you can have quiet beaches. Keep in mind, though, December to February tends to have high tide and if the weather condition is not good, boats may cancel the islands-hopping for safety reasons. However, you can still visit the mainland beaches without problems.

    Helplines

    – Police: 110

    – Ambulance: 118 or 199

    – Fire brigade: 113 or 1131

    – Search and rescue: 115

    All images by Andrew Darwitan

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