The Perhentian Islands, Malaysia’s best kept secret?
After me singing the praises of Langkawi last week I thought I should let you in on another of Malaysia’s backpacking secrets, the Perhentian Islands. The Perhentian Islands consist of 2 main islands – Pulau Perhentian Besar (The Large Perhentian Islands, more resort based) and the Pulau Perhentian Kecil (The Small perhentian Island – much better backpacker scene). If this doesn’t get you excited for your holidays, I don’t know what will!
When you dream of traveling through Asia and visiting beautiful, untouched islands let me tell you – a full-moon party on Koh Pang An or a 4 star hotel in Koh Samui is not going to offer you that, the Perhentian Islands will. This is real traveling…
Where are the Perhentian Islands?
There are in the North West of the Malaysian peninsula. Just over the border from Thailand (near Hat Yai).
How do I get to the Perhentian Islands?
From Kuala Lumpur, take an 8 hour bus ($15) to Kuala Besut, from there you take a ferry ($15, one hour) to one of the 2 islands. Backpackers choose the friendlier, cheaper smaller Island – Pulai Kecil.
If you’re coming from Thailand: Take the train/bus to Hat Yai in southern Thailand, cross the border to Butterworth in Malaysia. There’s no direct bus I’m afraid, so from Butterworth take the bus to Jerteh (7 hours, $15) which is 20km from the boat. Taxi, hitchhike or walk to the boat!
What is there to see or do on the Perhentian Islands?
Not a lot! This place is all about white sand beaches, beautiful clear waters and chilling. Other than sipping beers at sunset, here’s 3 things you could get up to:
– Scuba diving. This is an absolute must, visibily is unreal. Similar prices to Thailand so it’s about $30 for a ‘fun dive’ with equipment included in that price.
– Snorkeling. This is much cheaper than scuba diving – around RM10/person for masks, fins and slippers.. There are a number of excellent snorkeling spots like the Shark Point and Teluk Pauh on ther Pulau Besar Islands, but anywhere across the Perhentian islands, snorkelling is going to be awesome.
– Trekking through the jungle. There are a few trails through the islands, taking up to a couple of hours each. Plenty of monkeys, bats, lizards and potetnially massive spiders (I mean ‘size-of-your-hand’ massive eeeeek).
When is the Best Time to Visit the Perhentian Islands?
Good question! The monsoon season hits these guys hard, so the islands effectively close between September to February. Best times to visit there are anytime between early March to late October, preferably in the middle of this time. Outside that window you might find accommodation but restaurants, bars etc are all closed.
That’s your lot folks, if untouched beaches is what you’re looking for, this is your spot. Most backpackers don’t make it here so it promises a whole different atmoshphere to any other islands you may have visited throughout South East Asia. Happy travels!
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