While I still have many posts to go for my semi-solo trip adventure, I decided to kick-start the writing of my most recent trip while my memory is still fresh. Since last year, after being inspired by my own bestie, Gen, I decided to go on a solo retreat as well. The kind where you literally do nothing, but just chill, read, enjoy the breeze, sun and waves. I went to Port Dickson last year after reading my own best friend’s post. And this year, I needed a break to just retreat from the world a little and to reflect and refresh my soul.
And so after much researching on several potential places, I decided on Bintan! It all happened through a mere conversation with my friend. I actually set my eye on Cassia Bintan through an article I read; but the thing is, because is an apartment style, it’s slightly more expensive to stay on my own. And hence, because of the convo I had with my friend, we decided to share one 2 bedroom apartment where we get the privacy of our own :)
How to go?
Singapore to Bintan is a mere hour boat ride – I booked my tickets via Bintan Resort Ferries. As the webpage wasn’t processing my order, I emailed them and got my tickets booked fairly quickly! The cost of the 2-way ride was S$64.
The ferry departs at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Just head to the Bintan Resort Ferries counters to check-in.
We were advised to check-in 1.5 hours earlier so once the gate was opened, we headed in and grab some lunch. The area after the immigration is pretty small. There is a small Killiney Kopitiam and a DFS area.
I ordered a mee rebus and coffee!
And if you’re wondering how to identify if your ferry is ready for boarding, you can check the screen for the status. Your vessel number is on your boarding pass (pretty similar to flight departure).
The boat that we are boarding! Check out the amount of leg room space
And after about an hour ride, we reached our destination! Once you exit the immigration, you can easily identify the staff of which the resort you stay. It’s pretty prominent that you basically won’t be able to miss it. Once we exited, I could saw a guy in a bright pink shirt, holding the “Cassia Bintan” signage. His name is Henry if I remembered correctly :) He welcomed us really warmly and invited us to sit in the Club Med room while waiting for other guests to arrive.
Since Cassia Bintan is the sister resort to Angsana Resort and Banyan Tree Resort (all under the Banyan group), we had the privilege to also enjoy some of the facilities that were not available in Cassia.
After a 15-minutes or so wait, the minivan came to pick us up! And we were dropped off right at the entrance.
Check-in was pretty quick! There was a really cute gift complimentary from the resort (waterproof pouch, pen & some stickers) which I felt was more for kids :) but nonetheless, I took it (haha). They also gave us a mini-map and sharing in the area.
I remembered booking the room with a garden view; however, upon check-in, we realised we had the ocean view. I read on reviews that block 5 has the best view & blessed are we to get Block 5 and even better a corner unit – to me, it was a total upgrade!
And the room tour! in a clockwise direction – room 508! living room area, a balcony that oversees the view, single bedroom, toilet and double bedroom. The single bedroom is the same bathroom as the living room one while the double bedroom has a bathroom of its own. My friend was really nice to give me the double bedroom :)
After introducing the rooms, I got to introduce you to the kitchen! I think what makes the apartment style best, is the shared space & the kitchen with its full utensils and equipment.
Within the resort itself, it has a Market 23 that sells the different type of ingredients that will be useful if you wanna cook yourself. But of course, the cost is slightly higher than your usual. One popular thing here is the option to Mookata in the comfort of your room; they have existing packed ingredients in packages for you to choose.
Back in the apartment, they also have a few self-explanatory guides which include some basic explanation of the usage of equipment, tours and activities available and some recipes that you can whip up on your own.
What I did during my stay
#1 Enjoy the wide ocean view at the exclusive beach area
I spend quite an amount of time on the beach, both day and night. I’m glad that they have the bean bags and beach benches. Listening to the waves, reading books, looking at the wide open sky filled with stars were some of my highlights of this trip. I enjoy winding down and just staring into space and journaling some thoughts – a true getaway.
#2 Go on a free activity listed on the guide
There are both paid and free activities and at various timing and days. So you’ll never get bored even if you stay there for more than 3 days. I wanted to do Yoga but during my stay, the instructor was away :( Wanted to do a few activities but in the end, only tried the ranger trial on Saturday. Just a note to make a reservation at the front desk a day before.
Initially, I thought the waiting point was at Angsana lobby but when the time hits 9.10am and I still don’t see anyone, I checked with the counter to find out that meeting point was at Laguna recreation centre instead. The staff were so nice that the brought me there via a buggy.
And what was even more blessed was, I was the only one on the entire tour! Felt like a personalized tour just for me. My guide, Adlan even gave me mosquito repellent & onward we go on the ranger’s trail. The entire walk took about an hour-ish and Adlan showed me different plants, herbs and even insects along the way. And once I reached the top, I was rewarded with this view.
And not just that, right at the top, there lies a tree with three branches connected via one root & base. It’s also called one tree hill for a reason. The top right photo is my guide, Adlan.
#3 Relax and unwind yourself at Angsana Spa
The spa is one of those I always go to when I go to in resort. No doubt the pricing is slightly on the higher side but oh wells, we don’t always do that, don’t we? And since am already on a holiday, might as well just go for it.
I chose the Purify Touch as it was exclusive for the month of May & June. It costs about 1.5mil ($150) which I felt was pretty worth for a 2-hour treatment that included body polish, mud mask and body massage.
#4 Hit the Gym/ Pool and sweat/ swim it out
Casia itself does not have a gym but the good news is, you can use the one at Angsana! It’s small cosy but I feel has the basics needed.
There are 2 pools you can choose to use, one right at Casia and the other at Angsana. Get your goggles, books and chill.
#5 Wake up to catch the Sunrise and stroll at the beach
The sea we’re facing is the side where the sun rises so it’s a perfect spot for catching sunrise – as long as you are able to wake up early. I wouldn’t reckon myself as a morning person but somehow I woke up on both days just to catch it. One the rays were beaming while the 2nd day it was misty but brings on a different feel and look to it.
This was the first day of the sunrise I caught. Was so blessed by the full view of the sun.
This was the 2nd day of sunrise – it was really cloudy so it became rays instead of the full sun. But nonetheless, equally beautiful and I stood in awe of how amazing nature is.
#1 Plaza Lagoi
For the meals, we settled it most at the resort. There is a free shuttle bus that brings you to Plaza Lagoi.
We headed there on our first night but it turns out there was nothing much except for a massage place, minimart and a few restaurants. We took the 6pm bus and if you notice the departure is either 7pm or 10pm. Since there was nothing much to do, we got what was essential and pack dinner and took the 7pm bus back.
The food looks good but unfortunately, it doesn’t taste as it looks. There was barely anyone when we were there.
#2 Lotus Cafe & Xana Beach Club (Angsana Resort)
Casia Bintan does not have in-room dining nor food serve due to the market 23 concept. As such, if you want to dine in, you can choose the existing restaurants in Angsana. Lotus Cafe serves Asian food while Xana Beach club serves western. On Saturdays, they usually have international buffet spread so you can opt for that as well.
#3 Treetop (Banyan Tree)
Since Casia is under Banyan group, it naturally is nearby the Banyan Tree Resort. Because of its exclusivity, banyan tree resort is only accessible via buggy and is slightly further up after Angsana resort. Since the Indonesian meal we have so far wasn’t really yummy, we decided to try this out. We got the reception to make a reservation for us and they brought us up via buggy.
It was honestly one of the best meals here. We had a 5-course set meal and it costs us about SGD$70ish for this meal.
During my stay, I had 2 breakfast at Angsana and 1 at Casia. Personally, I prefer the Angsana breakfast more as there is more variety as compared to Casia. But then, Casia view wins Angsana for sure.
Casia set up
Angsana set up
I believe you can tell the difference, isn’t it?
And that’s the end of my experience staying in Casia Bintan. Overall, though the price of the apartment is slightly pricier, I feel that is very worth it. I enjoy having the common space, balcony and kitchen space! Feels very much like how I would love my house to be in the future.
Hope you enjoy this post as I continue writing my London trip journey. Till then, feel free to let me know should you have any questions!
[Post contributed by Raine Ong]