Pangkor Islands Travel Guide

Overview of Pangkor Islands

Pangkor Island is on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Perak. The island is located in the Strait of Malacca and was once as a strategic base to control the trading activities along this stretch of water. The island was previously a shelter for fishermen, merchants as well as pirates.  

Presently, there are several fishing villages on the island with fishing activities being a major industry. However, in recent years, the local government has been pushing to grow the tourism industry on the island; transforming it into one of Malaysia's main tourist attractions. In 2020, Pangkor became a duty-free island, which is set to significantly boost Pangkor’s tourist arrivals. 

The island is additionally known for its historical value. In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort in their attempt to better control the tin trade in Perak. Pangkor also became the official site for the signing of the Pangkor Treaty in 1874 between British colonialists and the Sultan of Perak.

Where to Go

Beaches at Coral Bay, Pasir Bogak and Teluk Belanga

The are several beautiful sandy beaches on the island, both public and privately-owned, that travellers often visit— Coral Bay, Pasir Bogak and Teluk Belanga. Fewer people visit the beaches during the week, but it can get crowded during weekends and school holidays. 

Visit Cultural Places

There are several fishing villages on the island that travellers can visit and to know more about local ways of life. For those interested in traditional boat building, you can visit Hoo Huat Boat Builder in Sungai Pinang Kecil. 

Besides that, there are also several temples open to visitors such as the Kai Amman Temple and Fu Lin Kong Temple. 

Visit Historical Sites

There is an old fort in the southern part of the island in Teluk Gudang called the Dutch Fort. It was built by the Dutch in 1670 to store and protect their tin supplies. In 1978, the government gazetted the fort as an ancient monument and historical site. 

Nearby the fort is the Batu Bersurat, or Tiger Rock. Legend has it that the inscription on the rock tells the story of a tiger killing the son of a Dutch official. Another theory states that the rock shows the Dutch coat-of-arms

What to Do

Snorkelling and Diving

There are two nearby islands⁠—Pulau Giam and Pulau Mentagor⁠—that are famous for snorkelling activities. For diving, the nearby Sembilan Islands and Jarak Island provide great and challenging diving sites. Besides that, travellers are also able to go jet skiing, parasailing and other water sports in Pasir Bogak. Adventurous travellers that want to explore Pangkor themselves can rent a kayak and go around the island.

Jungle Trekking

The island has a couple of hills, such as Pangkor Hill and Teluk Segadas Hill, that travellers can visit and hike.

Island Sightseeing Tour

Travellers can hop on the pink taxi and ask them for an island tour. The driver will take travellers around the island and explain about the various tourist attraction spots along the way. It is also possible to stop at the beaches and ask the drivers to come back again after a few hours to continue the tour. 

You can also explore the island using rental motorcycles or bicycles but note that some parts of the island are quite steep.

When is the Best Time to Visit Pangkor Islands

Pangkor Island is popular among local tourists, which means it can get crowded during weekends and school holidays. Pangkor’s rainy season is from April - November, while the dry season is from October - April.

How to Get to Pangkor Islands

By Sea

The cheapest and easiest way to go to Pangkor is by ferry. There are two jetty locations that travellers can go from: Lumut jetty (Terminal Jeti Lumut) and the private Marina Island Pangkor jetty (Jeti Marina).

The ferries in the Lumut terminal depart every 30-45 minutes, and it takes about 20 minutes to arrive at Pangkor. They will stop at two jetties on the island: the Sungai Pinang Kecil Jetty and the Pangkor Jetty. Travellers should get off at the second stop as the Pangkor Jetty is in the main township and is closer to many of the beaches on the island.

The jetty at Marina Island Pangkor is privately-owned, and travellers must have the resort’s membership to use the ferry services. However, the annual membership fee does not cost much. The journey to Pangkor takes about 7 minutes, and the ferries depart hourly from the jetty during non-peak periods and every 15 minutes during peak periods.

By Car/Bus

On cars or bus, travellers must make their way to one of the jetty terminals as there is no bridge connecting Pangkor to the mainland. In Lumut, the bus terminal is very close to the jetty. As for the Marina Island Pangkor jetty, travellers can take the Transnational bus, which has scheduled trips between the resort and several bus terminals around Peninsular Malaysia. There are also plenty of parking spaces there for travellers using cars.

By Train

Travellers can also use trains from Kuala Lumpur or Butterworth in Penang. However, travellers will have to get off at Batu Gajah, take the bus to Ipoh and another bus to the ferry terminal in Lumut.

By Air 

While Pangkor has its own airport, only chartered flights operated by Berjaya Air are available. The other nearest airport is in Ipoh, and travellers flying to Ipoh will need to take the bus to Lumut before taking the ferry to Pangkor.

How to Get Around

By Car

The island is relatively small, and various parts of the island are accessible using the pink-coloured taxi vans services. The fare is fixed but reasonably priced.

Travellers are also able to rent cars but using the taxi vans is a better option since they are cheaper, faster and more convenient.

By Bike

Travellers are also able to rent motorcycles or bicycles on the island.

On Foot

Travellers will not face any problem walking from one part of the island to another. However, some places are farther away, and may be more convenient to hop on the taxi vans to get there.

What to Eat

Since there are many fishing villages in Pangkor, the island is famous for fresh seafood. In the evening, many restaurants sell delicious grilled fish. Additionally, travellers can also find many local restaurants selling Malay, Chinese, and Western food.

What to Buy

Aside from the usual souvenirs, the main thing that people buy in Pangkor is dried seafood, including anchovies, cuttlefish and prawns. 

Several places on the island also sell fish satay snacks. It is popular in Pangkor, and is said to have originated from the island.

Where to Stay

Pangkor is popular among both backpackers and families as the accommodation on the island caters to all budgets. Backpackers often go to Teluk Nipah Beach (Pantai Teluk Nipah) as there are plenty of cheap lodgings available in this area. It is also possible to go camping on the beach. Those who are looking for luxurious beach resort stays can do so on the neighbouring Pangkor Laut Island, at hotels such as the five-star Pangkor Laut Resort.

What to Bring

Remember to bring sunblock and proper beachwear as travellers will spend most of the time on the beach and in the waters. Meanwhile, travellers planning to go for jungle trekking should bring comfortable shoes.

What to Wear

Travellers should not wear any provocative outfit or swimwear. Since Malaysians are predominantly Muslims, it is always a good idea to dress conservatively. Sunbathing naked or topless on the beach is unacceptable.

Summary