This post is long overdue. A few weeks ago, our family went to the recently popular destination – Belitung Island. After the launch of the movie “Laskar Pelangi” in 2012, Belitung has seen some major changes, particularly in its tourism. Although it may not be as popular as Bali and Lombok, Belitung boasts some pretty awesome beaches, probably even the best this country has. Pearly white sand, crystal clear water, magnificent granite stone formations on shallow shores makes Belitung an enchanting island and an even more attractive beach holiday destination with the family, especially when it’s only a 1-hour plane ride away from Jakarta.
Some friends have asked me about my trip to Belitung and I thought that I’d share with you our 4D/3N experience on the island.
Where did you stay in Belitung?
Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been going back and forth in my mind for some time on visiting this local gem, simply because I didn’t know where we would stay. There are some small villas available, like a few three star hotels, but they seemed rather old and I doubted their cleanliness. Maybe if I were to travel alone, I wouldn’t think twice (this princess? puh-lease.) However, since ASTON Belitung just opened a few months ago, it didn’t take us too long to pack up and go. The facilities are still nice (because it’s new). Dust was a bit of an issue at first, but it’s really nothing a call to housekeeping won’t fix.
How did you get around in Belitung?
Public transportation is not an option in Belitung, so it’s important to arrange for transportation in advance. There are car rental companies that offer Kijang Innova or Avanza, or even a 16-seater Hi-Ace for a big group like ours, with or without drivers. We went with Alvin from Baginda Tours. He helped set up the itinerary and took us to all the great places (restaurants, shopping places, local delicacies/souvenirs, etc.) He even arranged for the boat we went island hopping on and provided life jackets and snorkling gear for everyone on board. You can contact Alvin here: firstname.lastname@example.org
What to eat in Belitung?
If you’re familiar with Indonesian food, you’ll like the food here. Seafood dominates the cuisines, but there are a few places that serve Nasi Padang and home-cooked Chinese food, and Belitung Noodles. Lucky for me, my children love Chinese food and noodles, so we were basically all set.
What is there to do in Belitung?
Belitung is a small city with nice, quiet beaches. Emphasis on the word “quiet”. So, a typical four-day trip to Belitung would look something like this:
DAY 1: Visit East Belitung
- Arrive at Airport. Head to Kota Tanjung Pandan and have lunch at the famous Mie Atep Belitung.
- Check in to the hotel.
- Go to East Belitung to visit Vihara Kwan Im and Pantai Burung Mandi
- Go for a city tour around Manggar, the city of 1001 warung kopi (or coffee stalls).
- Dinner. Go back to hotel.
DAY 2: Island Hopping!
- After breakfast at the hotel, take a boat at Tanjung Kelayang and just go through all the islands that are within short distance from one another.
- Pulau Pasir, Pulau Batu Berlayar, Pulau Lengkuas (the one with the lighthouse), Pulai Burung, Pulau Batu, Pulau Kepayang
- Dinner and then back to the hotel.
DAY 3: Another day of beach fun in the sun!
- After breakfast we can go to Pantai Bukit Berahu, to see the view of the beaches from a hill. There is some good juice sirsak and pisang goreng here.
- Then we can just chill out at Pantai Tanjung Tinggi. We can stay till after lunch.
- Go to Pantai Tanjung Pendam for sunset.
- Then dinner and then back to the hotel.
Before heading back to the airport, spend some time to chillax at the hotel and then visit the shops to get some “local oleh-oleh” and then see some Rumah Adat Belitung or Kaoline Lakes.
Any tips for visiting Belitung?
- Stock up on water and snacks. I usually choose to just buy snacks when I reach my destination, but I’m glad I found a stowaway in a form of a bag of chips in my travel bag. Mini markets are not very common around there.
- Bring swimwear where ever you go. The water is just so inviting, your kids will want to jump in every time. When you go island hopping, wear your swimwear from the hotel.
- Bring sunblock. A day in Belitung is like three days in Bali, sun-wise. So rub your SPF80 on generously! Also, if you’re kids turn a few shades darker, just let them be.
- Prepare your lunch before you island hop. There are no food on the island so it’s much safer to bring your own. (There is a lady who sells a buffet of home cooked meals out of her garage, who usually caters to island visitors. She serves as early as 6am, long before KFC opens. You can ask Alvin for her number, see above for contact.)
- Clean toilets are a rarity on the islands or by the beach. Consider yourself warned.
- If you plan to take your children snorkling, bring your own gear, because they usually only provide for adults (plus, there is also the question of hygiene). Bring a smaller size life vest too.
- Going to East Belitung isn’t nearly as exciting as going island hopping. But since you’re there, it would be nice to use that opportunity to introduce yourselves and your children to the many coffee stalls. On average, they all serve good milk tea and coffee milk. Also, fishball soup! Yum!
- Bring a pack of playing cards or board game. It boosts the experience of sitting in a traditional coffee stall.