I hate planning weekend getaways. Always detest it. When we were living in Jakarta – where there are interesting places around the region – it was the traffic that stalled the excitement. It can be traumatic, at times, when you have children in tow.
Now that we live in Kuala Lumpur, for the second time in the last 5 years, road trips are more enjoyable. Expressway is available from Johor Bahru on the southernmost up to Alor Setar on the north. It is the backbone of the Peninsular Malaysia, as well as the backbone of our road trips hahaha.
The problem is there are less interesting places around Kuala Lumpur for weekend compared to exotic beaches in Banten, lively Kepulauan Seribu off Jakarta, hills and mountains and lakes in West Java Indonesia. We have been to Penang, Cameron Highlands, Genting, and Malacca few times. We have been to Johor, Kuantan, Ipoh, Kuala Terengganu, in other occasions.
I wish I had the power to book tickets and fly us somewhere rather far. Instead I had to find options around KL. Puput had been to Lumut, in Perak, for business meetings few times. We had had plan to visit Pangkor Island, just 10 minutes ferry ride from Marina Island Jetty – a port sits on reclaimed island.
On Friday, when Puput had his replacement day off, after picking up Oliq from school we set off to Lumut. Our children are somehow quite familiar with long drive. Oliq was strapped on her seat while Ola also strapped comfortably in her car seat. The trip to Marina Island was supposed to take about 3 hours drive.
Unluckily, about two hours later, when we found out that bridge in Teluk Intan has been broken. The guard said that we had to detour via Kampung Gajah to find an alternative to get to Lumut. This costs us 2 more hours.
Checking up on my mobile, I found that the last ferry would leave at 8pm. Oliq had been cranky since he thought we would miss the ferry ride he looked forward to. Puput and I had planned to stay in Marina Island for the night in case we could not cross to Pangkor where we booked our AirBNB studio. We arrived at jetty at 8.10pm. Apparently there are night services!
We had dinner in this unique restaurant on the jetty. We sat on the grass (Indonesians call it “Lesehan”) looking over the docked boats and yachts.
We got into 9.45pm ferry. The ticket costs RM 18 for adults and RM 8 for kids, round trips, so you have to save the tickets for your return ride. Pangkor locals pay RM 13 return. The ferry ride was swift, and there finally we made it to Pangkor Island.
We got into a pink taxi that took us to our studio in Lot 10 Pasir Bogak Beach. The studio was very nice, better than hotels I researched. Many hotels in Pangkor Island are rather old and shabby. The apartment we stayed in was brand new, construction is still underway. From the outside, it looked a bit dodgy because it was late at night and quiet. Once we went inside, we found that our studio was beautifully decorated – IKEA-style. There were two double bed, a fridge, a kettle – the drawback is it has no kitchen. It cost RM 200/night. Here is the link:
So let me cut to the chase. What do we have in Pangkor island?
It was the setting of Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 2. Hahahahahaha. Just joking. It was, but it was not. The TV show was set in Pangkor Laut Resort in Pulau Pangkor Kecil. And the tariff to stay there for a night is around US$300. Ha!
Pangkor is a small island. You can go around the island for two hours. We rented an old dented Proton Wira car for RM 80 a day. The guy did not even ask for IDs or licence. He just said that once we finished, we may leave the car anywhere, and put the keys inside the dashboard and call him to tell him where it is. I supposed there is never be any vehicle theft in Pangkor Island.
We love Pasir Bogak Beach that was only 2 minutes walk from our studio. It was serene and quiet. Ola was still traumatised by beaches and swimming pools because Puput likes to forcefully dip her into the pool. Pasir Bogak is a long beach, the sand was coarse, the wave was small. There are few vendors sell water activities, like banana boat, jetski, and island hopping.
Island hopping is plain too expensive. It costs RM 120 only for an hour boat ride to 3-4 islands. The weather was also not good, that was why we opted for renting a car.
First, we went to this Dutch Fort in Kampung Belanda. It was built by the Dutch in the 1600s to repel attacks from Kesultanan Perak. Only a small part of the fort remained, with a single cannon for show. A small structure, yet well maintained. From the fort you can see the sea. There are several stalls selling drinks and souvenirs.
On the way back, I saw the houses there putting dried puffer fish as terrace decoration.
There is also a floating mosque about a few hundred metres from Dutch Fort.
We pretty much enjoyed our visit to Foo Lin Kong Temple. This Chinese temple is so popuar mong tourists. My daughter loved the statues. My son excitedly posed in front of The Great Wall miniature built at the premise. It is a very attractive temple, with many statues. It is also colourful and well designed. There are pools with lots of fish. There is also a pool with lots of turtles.
As a mean of tourist attraction, it is an exciting one. As a religious place, it is also vibrant. We can see a lot of worshipper lighting candle sticks and praying at the temple. The temple is building (or renovating?) a children playground.
Do try their homemade ice cream sold by the kedais, only 1 ringgit a scoop, very well worth it in sunny days.
There are no entrance fee in the Dutch Fort, the floating mosque, and the temple. In fact, we did not pay entrance fee anywhere.
Our favourite beach is Teluk Dalam. We found a secluded beach where my children built sandcastle. There were almost no waves because it’s sat at a bay facing the mainland – I think. The beach is also covered with trees for shade.
The liveliest beach is Teluk Nipah. Here, you can find anything. From extreme water sport to souvenir stalls to seafood restaurants. There is a lifeguard tower here. We did not stay long in Teluk Nipah, it was too crowded for our liking.
Overall, we enjoyed Pangkor Island, mostly due to its proximity to Kuala Lumpur. It is somehow better than Port Dickson where hotel tariffs are nuts for weekend. We might visit again once Sultan Yusof Bridge in Teluk Intan is opened again.
Tips and tricks
- Although there are plenty hotels in Pulau Pangkor, I found the reviews are not quite good. Many are old building. That’s why I prefer renting an apartment.
- If you choose AirBNB like I did, many of the apartments are in Lot 10 Pasir Bogak. The units should be in a great condition although the surrounding area is still under construction. Mind you, the studios have no kitchen, make sure you choose host which provide fridge and kettle.
- Even if you miss day ferry services, you still can cross to Pangkor. Even until late at night pink taxis are still available. The tariff from Jetty to Pasir Bogak is RM 10 – the driver may charge you RM 15 at night.
- You can rent the pink taxi to go around the island. I think it’s RM 80 for two hours (CMIIW).
- We rent a car for RM 80 a day. Drop a line if you need the number of the car rental owner.
- Motorcycle rental is available everywhere.
- Need a drop off to jetty? Ring the pink taxi booth.
- Food is easily bought. There is also KFC.
- There are only a few ATMs in the island. I think there is a Maybank. Better withdraw money before.
- Sun block or you’ll be burned like me.