Penyengat Island

Attraction Penyengat Island Penyengat Tanjungpinang City Tanjung Pinang City, Riau Islands Indonesia Published on: 29-09-2016

7 hours
09:00 AM
04:00 PM
First-time visit
Must see
0.00 USD

Penyengat Island is good for

Good for family with kids Family with kids Good
Good for senior Senior Good
Good for couple Couple Good
Good for solo Solo Good
Good for group Group Good
  • Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
Penyengat is a small island situated in 1.5 km (W) from Tanjung Pinang (Bintan island). Administratively speaking, it belongs to the province of the archipelago of Riau.

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Why Penyengat Island is special ?

Penyengat Island, 6 kilometers away from Tanjung Pinang, can be reached in 15 minutes by sampan boat. The seat of the powerful Bugis descended viceroys of Riau during the 18th century; Penyengat still bears the traces of its illustrious past. Ruins, abandoned for almost 70 years, were recently resorted. The oldest ruler's palace and royal tombs, among them the grave of the book respected Sultan Haji, author of the first Malay language grammar book among the legacies left by the Riau sultanate. A newly built cultural center for stage performances of Malay music and dances can be found.

In the 18th century Raja Haji built an outpost here as part of the defense around Bintan. He controlled the area until the Dutch at Malacca eventually killed him in 1784. His remains are now buried here. The ruler of Johor, Sultan Mahmud, gave the island to his Bugis wife Raja Hamidah in 1804. Raja Hamidah's son then ruled the Riau islands from Penyengat, while his half-brother ruled in the Lingga Island to the south. Raffles turned this division to his advantage in 1819, when the prince of Penyengat gave him the island of Singapore in return for a large sum of money and the protection of the British crown.

Under the protection and support of the British the area saw an "golden age", and the remains of this prosperous time can still be seen on the island. Some of the ruins have recently been restored, like the old ruler's palace and royal tombs. The old mosque, Mesjid Raya, is still in use. A cultural center is also newly built for performances of Malay music and dance. At the west end of the island there is an impressive stone fort, built by Raja Haji to fend off Dutch attacks.

The restored palace of Raja Ali is located in the center of the island. Raja Ali was a strict follower of Islam, things like gambling and cockfighting, the wearing of gold and silk for men and mixing of unmarried men and women were strictly forbidden. His yellow and green Royal Mosque can be seen from far away, completed in 1844 it became an important center for Muslim Malay learning in the 19th century. Penyengat Island actually became the cultural capital of the Malay world, and some 9.000 people inhabited the island, among them religious scholars from as far away as Mecca.

The importance of Penyengat ended when the last Sultan of the Riau-Lingga, Abdul Rahman Muazzan Shah, refused to sign a contract with the Dutch that terminated the rights and authority of the traditional king and officers of Riau. The Dutch then informed him that his palaces, buildings, land, etc, would be confiscated. To prevent this, he ordered Penyengat people to destroy the Dutch possessions on the island, this is the reason why there is not much left on Penyengat that shows its former glory. Today there are about 2.500 people living on the island, about one third of them are descendants of the former royalty, most of the residents make their living of fishing, while some work on the main island.

Because the participation of Penyengat Island was very important in historical of Riau Kingdom, so the island what relatively is very small it is to be well known and attention peoples to visit it. More over at there is still has much kind of historical last sites. At this island beside has much some kind of historical sites; it founded another interest objects like wonderful views, tradition couch, arts attraction, and traditional villages.


What to explore at Penyengat Island?

By Novani Nugrahani

Officially named Penyengat Indera Sakti, the island is situated just off the coast of Bintan's capital Tanjung Pinang and was renowned as the cultural and royal seat of power for the Malay Riau-Lingga sultanate in the 19th century.

Penyengat is where one of the most famous Malay poems, Gurindam Dua Belas, was written by Raja Ali Hajji. He is also known as the person who first wrote about the basics of Malay grammar through his book Pedoman Bahasa (language guidelines), which later became the standardized reference for the modern Malay language.

The name Penyengat itself is said to derive from a wasp species nested in some parts of the island. Renowned as the port of call for seafarers centuries ago, many of the seamen stopped by to refill their fresh water stock at Penyengat. According to folklore there was a time when one of the seafarers got stung by a swarm of wasps. From then on, people started to call the island Penyengat (wasp) Island.

With an area covering 2 square kilometers, Penyengat is home to Malay descendants and Buginese who mostly work as fishermen and are native speakers of the Riau Malay language.

Having Malay-Islamic historical significance, the street signs all across Penyengat show directions in two scripts, Latin and Arabic.

The island's small area naturally makes it easy for any visitors to take a whirlwind tour around the island.

The roads in Penyengat are too narrow for any four-wheeled vehicles to pass through, so visitors will only find bicycles, motorcycles and bentor-motorcycle rickshaws looking similar with those roaming Medan's streets-plying the island.

Below are five famous tourist attractions that you need to see while you are in Penyengat. Rent a bentor to conveniently tour these places and find yourself engrossed in Malay-Riau's historical stories from its golden days.

Riau Sultanate Grand Mosque

As my boat approached Penyengat Island from mainland Tanjung Pinang, I saw the bright green and yellow minarets of Riau Sultanate Grand Mosque soaked in morning sunshine. It was a brilliant sight to see from afar. Located near the harbour, the grand mosque serves as a landmark for Penyengat.

Coated in light green and yellow paint, the mosque is remarkably well preserved and still stands sturdily after almost two centuries since it was first built in 1844. There is a common belief among locals that the mosque was actually constructed using egg whites in the building material's mixture to seal the bricks and keep the mosque standing for such a long time. In fact, the mosque is the only relic from the Riau-Lingga Sultanate's dynastic golden period that is still completely intact to this day.

On the left of the mosque's main building is a small library that stores Quran scriptures dated from the 17th century and a collection of ancient Malay books. The mosque has four minarets towering on each of its corners for a Bilal to do the Muslim call for prayer. Muslim residents of Penyengat still pray at the mosque.

Engku Putri Raja Hamidah tomb complex

Our next destination is a serene spot on the island, the Engku Putri Raja Hamidah tomb complex. This is where Raja Ali Hajji (1808- 1873), hailed as Malay-Riau's greatest scholar and poet, was laid to rest.

Yellow still dominates the tomb building as the colour represents purity for the Malay-Riau people. The royal tomb complex is also where Engku Putri Raja Hamidah-the wife of Sultan Mahmudsyah III-spent her last and eternal days. In Tuhfat al Nafis, a Malay history book written by Raja Ali Hajji, it is said that the whole Penyengat Island was once given as a dowry from Sultan Mahmudsyah III to his wife Engku Putri Raja Hamidah.

Inside the main tomb building is where Engku Putri Raja Hamidah was laid to rest. On the building's inner wall is engraved the verses of Gurindam Dua Belas, a literary masterpiece of Raja Ali Hajji. Some of the Malay-Riau royal families are also buried here, making this tomb complex regarded as a sacred place on the island.

Istana Kantor

A former palace, Istana Kantor, is another interesting site to stop by at Penyengat Island. The old palace is located not far from the grand mosque and was first built by Raja Ali Yang Dipertuan Muda Riau VII. The whole complex covers an area of one hectare and the palace was where Raja Ali and the royal family used to live.

Although more than half of the palace's physical construction has been ruined, some parts of the palace have undergone restoration. Fortunately, the palace's main gate, side gates and watch towers still remain in good condition.

Balai Adat Melayu Riau

Balai Adat Melayu Riau is a replica of a Malay-Riau traditional house that used to be found in Penyengat Island a century ago. It is a stilt house that is constructed from wood with yellow accents. Inside the Balai Adat is a typical Malay wedding altar and other Malay- Riau cultural objects.


How to get to Penyengat Island?

The island's just a 1.5 km from Tanjung Pinang. Speed boats are available to carry you to Penyengat from Tanjung Pinang jetty, about US$1 per person. Or you can rent one for about US$7 to take a small group of people for a roundtrip.

If you depart from Singapore, there are three ferry operators between Singapore's Tanah Merah ferry terminal and Tanjung Pinang. The trip will take about two hours and a one-way ticket cost around 35 Singaporean dollars. Make sure you already have a visa or ask the ferry companies whether you can get a visa-on-arrival.


Selling points

  • Island of the Kings
  • Culture and heritage
  • Great Place with historic Background
  • Lots of to see
  • Very laidback island
Bintan Lagoon Resort 2D1N package

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2.0 days
129.79 USD
Total travel distance
Number of places
3 places




Penyengat Island Penyengat Tanjungpinang City Tanjung Pinang City, Riau Islands Indonesia

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Tips for you

  • Along the street there's many coffee houses selling nice fresh coffee with a nice place to chat with friends.
  • A public motor boat-known from Tanjung Pinang in Riau Islands to Penyengat Island will cost you a mere Rp 10,000 (S$1.05) per person.
  • There are no regular restaurant at Penyengat island. Therefore, you should buy food in the little shops close to Penyengat jetty.
  • There's a Indian traditional restaurant selling delicious prata, canai and asma rojak.


TripAdvisor View more

Penyengat island is a kingdom complex in the past centuries when Raja Ali Haji was ruled the district. The mosque that believed was made of egg-yolk and the palace complex is now waiting for UNESCO's approval as world culture heritage. The island is roughly 2,500 m x 750 m wide with numbers of local residents along the eastern coast. Things are that it has neither tourist accommodation nor proper restaurant since visitors are normally taking short trip only. However, simple snack and soft drinks can be easily found throughout the place. You would need less than two hours to enjoy the whole destination without rush since the boat that noted as 'pompong' is available anytime to go back to the main island. There are so many restaurant along the coast of the main island offering local delicacies including seafood, Padang and even Chinese food. Boat ride: 15 minutes from main island Cost: negotiable to the boat operator Dress code: smart casual

FourSquare View more

Take your time to enjoy the island by becak. There's mosque and hole grave of Sultan Riau. You'll need to wait the Pompong to full (15 person) before departure to or from Penyengat Island.

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