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Senggarang, the Chinese village in Bintan

Senggarang Chinese fishing village Bintan. This is the place I wanted to be in.

A short distance away

from Tanjung Pinang, Senggarang is a small fishing village on the island of Bintan. Here, a settlement of ethnic Chinese was waiting for me to explore.

The age-old Chinese community of Orang Laut tribe has built a cluster of religious sites based on the traditions of their ancestors.

And now when I am here, it holds a veritable treasure for me to discover. Everywhere I could feel connection to the multi-ethnic charm of this serene island.

The usual pathway over the water

At Senggarang Village, I walked past the rows of traditional wooden houses built on stilts over the water and had a glimpse of life of ethnic Chinese who have been living here since hundreds of years. The people are friendly and still practicing the age old customs. It offered me a rustic vibe. Looked like time has frozen and not much has changed over the centuries in this fishing village of Chinese immigrants who are also known as nomadic sea gypsies.

Car parking? No! a boat parking. 🙂
A woman selling tea

The stilt houses always make me think how the dwellers live a difficult yet a humble lifestyle. Can we, living in concrete jungles of metro cities, live here even for a day? I saw women drying salted fish in the open, doing their laundry, children playing with gusto.

Their life is in, around and on the water.

Tian Shang Miao temple, also referred as the ‘Banyan Tree Temple’, is a century-old temple sitting under a massive 200 year old banyan tree. Tien Shang Miao was formerly a residential home Kapitang. He was a village headman in Senggarang. After he passed away, the villagers wanted to set up a place of worship for him.
The temple is overgrown by roots of the banyan. Having been to the Angkor Wat site in Cambodia, I can say, it resembles the famous Ta Prohm Temple, albeit small in size.

I met two old caretakers of the temple enjoying their afternoon and they were quite joyful and fun loving. When I requested one of them to have a picture with me, the other one jokingly said we make a good pair ! 😀
Some from our group could speak Mandarin and these two were more than happy to converse with them. Generally people in this village speak languages such as Mandarin, Hokkien, Teochew.

I am told, if we come around Chinese Lunar New Year, we’ll be able to catch the festive scene with visitors coming from neighboring places including Singapore! And to tell you, this is just one of the temples from the collection here.

A fishing net in the fishing village.

The range of traditional markets here were a feast for our senses. Freshly caught fish, locally grown fruits and vegetables, dried seafood products and other snacks were on display. The all-time favorites are Kerupuk, different varieties of prawn or fish flavored crackers.

I saw a school where small children were practicing music and some sports. They were shy but eager to talk to us. Giggling, shaking hands and asking our names were some of the activities they enjoyed most. Three girls followed me from a distance on the entire route till I reached a meeting place. And then they wanted some more pictures with me! 😀

Getting there:
Because of its strategic location near the Strait of Malacca, Senggarang Chinese fishing village Bintan has been a favourite island for Malaysian, Singaporeans and even Filipinos. I would like it to become a favourite of Indians as well. 😀
The neighboring countries’ residents including Indians don’t need a visa. If you aren’t among them, then Bintan ports offer visa-on-arrival services for a fee. From Singapore, there are regular ferries to Tanjung Pinang.

Food: Many sea food restaurants are located close to the jetty at Tanjung Pinang.
Stay: Several hotels and resorts at Tanjung Pinang catering to all kind of budgets are available.

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45 thoughts on “Senggarang, the Chinese village in Bintan”

    1. Yes, it’s a nice village to visit if you are interested in seeing something besides the touristy places.

      And they have waived visa for 145 countries. 🙂 Hope you are from one of those. 😀

  1. What an amazing experience. It is so cool to here that places like this still exist, where they haven’t been taken over by everything else going on in the outside world but instead hold true to their traditions.

  2. What a beautiful place to visit, despite the tourism it seems to have retained its traditional feel. Some modern life has obviously caught on though, school girls everywhere are perfecting their instagram pose, so cute.

  3. I know of Bintan but hadn’t realised there was a Chinese village there. Looks like an interesting spot to explore culture. What else is there in Bintan? Is it worth spending a bit of time there? I know there’s a new luxury hotel that looks absolutely amazing.

    1. This Chinese village is a must visit if you are for an off beat. There are several temples in that island, one resembles Ta Prohm. We did ATV ride, kayaking, went on a boat to see mangroves. We also attended cooking classes.

      People come here to stay for days and hire villas or apartments. 🙂

      Yes, there are some nice places. We stayed in Bintan Lagoon resort, a beautiful and large property.

    1. Absolutely! I also love these places which have stories hidden within.

      Regarding stay in the village itself, I think they have some but I’ll find out and let you know.

  4. Loved this. Always love getting insights into local living. The lady sitting on her verandah selling tea was just such a precious moment. I remember being on the river in Thailand, coming down from Ayutthaya to BAngkok and seeing the locals washing their dishes, their clothes, their teeth and their dog….all in the same water. Their life on the river really hit me then.

  5. Lovely photos, as always. Your images of people just living life near the water is fantastic. I love how off the beaten path this is, in an area that I know little about.

  6. This was such a pleasure to visit. Like most places it is the people than enhance the experience and make it even more beautiful. Lovely shots and very well written 🙂

  7. This place looks amazing1 haven’t heard of it but that’s probably understandable. Small villages are amazing to discover traditions and customs and I love that you’ve mentioned that they practice old traditions and skills. the houses over the water are really unique. Especially the wooden one with blue terrace – I love it!

  8. Very insightful write up and clicks. Did you try the tea which the lady was selling? The houses looks very beautiful and most catchy one is the Banyan Tree Temple.

  9. Ryan | Blogging From Paradise

    Hi Nisha,

    I love the women selling tea and the shot of you and the gentleman. Looks like a proper Indonesian fishing village to me. Heck, so many SE Asia fishing villages have that similar feel.

    Thanks for sharing!


  10. Hi, Nisha.
    For my 70th birthday, I have been given a week long stay @ Banyan Tree Resort for golf, leisure and other activities. I will be travelling with my immediate family of 6 including 2 grand children aged 6 to 8.
    Being an Australian Chinese, I would like to visit fishing villages and some wildlife in Bintan, just like the old days when I was a kid in Malaysia.
    Would you be kind enough to suggest a couple of places please, with some suggestions on a guided tour with appropriate transport. Only day trips please.
    We are the outdoor type of a family and we are reasonably fit.

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