Running in South East Asia Pt 1: Bintan, Indonesia

Part of the fun of being a runner for me is trying to find places to run when you go away on holiday or work trips. This challenge is made even more ‘fun’ in South East Asia with the added complexities of the climate, traffic chaos, ill-formed pavements, tropical wildlife – the list goes on. Now none of this is ideal if your training is the priority, but for most people it’s a case of trying to make the running fit around the life, not the other way round. I used to subscribe to running before life, but my priorities have shifted. But at least I’m still getting it done!

So, I shall write a few blogs that describe my efforts and discoveries in the various places I travel to. There is NO more joy than discovering an amazing running route on such trips but 90% of the time it’s s case of failed attempts. Some places so far have just been too hard to even attempt outside running and so the treadmill has been the preferred option. Ho Chi Minh and Mumbai fit that category so far….

So, last weekend I went to Bintan, a 60minute ferry ride from Singapore. It’s a small island mainly known for beach resorts and tourists. So we did the tourist at resort thing and were staying near Trikora beach at Bintan Spa Villa resort.Whenever I go to new places I have a couple of ways to see any half decent running routes; googling “running in Bintan” brought me very little joy so plan B was to use Strava segment explorer. This showed me a 10km segment right outside the resort – excellent!

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Strava link here

Not excellent it turned out but at least runnable. Run 1 comprised of running out and back along a main road with no pavements, at 5pm with no shade. It was HOT; locals found me extremely curious and shouted and waved; and I had to keep stepping off the road onto uneven grass to avoid cars. It was extremely boring, with no nice views of the beach. I managed an 8km run as my 2nd run of the day and knew I couldn’t do another two days of that.

So, back to Strava Segment Explore for other options. I found a good 7km loop elsewhere on the island at a place called Lake Lagoi – but it was an hour’s drive away. It’s part of the course for the Bintan 10km and the Ironman so I thought I’d have more luck here. Luckily it was near a great beach and other stuff we could do to make the drive worthwhile! I planned to do 2 hard laps with a recovery – but we had plans for 6pm so I had to attempt this at 4pm. I knew this was going to be disgustingly hot so I didn’t even bother with a warm up. The good news was it was a perfect loop for running. A footpath around a manmade lake with no-one else in sight. The bad news was there was no shade whatsoever and after 3km I knew I couldn’t do 2 laps so I just focussed on getting a solid 7km done. I didn’t go flat out but 7km in 3.23/km isn’t too bad.


Strava link here

This lagoon is a great place to run – completely flat and uninterrupted. But go early or late as there is no respite from the sun!

I finished this run and immediately jogged to the sea and cooled off, followed by some strides along Lagoi beach – which is an incredible beach with white sand.


Post session strides along Lagoi beach

All in all, Bintan wasn’t too bad. If you can cope with the monotony of road running out and back then it would be reasonable – and if you are near Lake Lagoi that seems a good option.

Other Bintan tips:

  • Go on a boat ride around the Mangroves
  • Make the effort to go to Akau hawker food market in the evening
  • Have pizza and read a book in peace by Great Coral Beach on Trikora beach