Days in Pangkor are as wonderful as paradise, nights in Pangkor are as sweet as honey. I miss Pangkor, where I had the opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of nature. Remaining in my mind is the feeling when I first stepped on the wharf and the surprise of finding a green Malaysia.
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- Top islands in Malaysia — Top 10 best beaches & best islands in Malaysia
- Best areas to stay in Penang — Top 5 best places to stay in Penang for the first-timers
A spectacular space
We hadn’t thought of what was waiting for us outside the high-rise buildings, bustling shopping centers and noisy streets of Kuala Lumpur. Our Vietnamese guide who has worked in Malaysia for over 10 years, was excited to tell us about Pangkor and have us imagine what the place was like. After our lively discussion, it was time to get on the boat to Pangkor. The boat was crowded with local and international people, laughing and chatting happily as if everyone was pleased to be visiting the island.
Pangkor, a little island of about 8km2, welcomed us with cool and dry weather. As we were passing by a small town between the wharf and our hotel, we had the chance to explore the lives of local people through simple houses, fishing nets and their friendly smiles. The more we traveled on the island, the more comfortable we felt. Here, with the blue sea and sky and the green trees, we found a spectacular Malaysia with a romantic feeling, completely unlike the country’s urban masterpieces.
On the island, the sea is boundless and the forest immense. Visiting Pangkor at sunset, we toured the island by canoe. Everyone enjoyed looking at funny-shaped cliffs and imagining them as statues of every type of being. As we rowed, a small fishing boat was taking its final haul, which showcased the peaceful life of the local people. All around the island, tourists were so absorbed in taking part in outdoor activities, that I couldn’t stand waiting to enjoy the fabulous natural surroundings.
Immersed in nature
The fresh atmosphere in Pangkor is its most wonderful gift to its visitors. However you travel here and however long it takes, you will feel surprisingly powerful when sightseeing and breathing in the clean air on the island. That feeling encourages visitors to explore Pangkor, even those, who like me, always want to lie lazily on the beach.
Surely, visitors will never forget the memory of fishing in the sea, where they easily catch a coral instead of a fish. It is not as simple as fishing in lakes, but guests can catch many fish which are grilled on the beach and become delicious outdoor meals. It is only when we harmonize with the nature that we can create such memories. Pangkor is truly a paradise. Visitors can participate in a variety of entertaining activities such as diving, fishing, kayaking, playing sports on the beach, swimming in the sea or building sandcastles with your children. In the diving area, I was amazed at the fish circling the surface of the water. Children dressed in life-jackets happily clapped their hands and pointed at the colorful fish, racing each other to catch a crumb of bread. The nature in Pangkor is extremely friendly.
In the evening, it was marvelous to walk barefoot on the soft sandy beach and find a bench to relax, listen to waves whispering, chat and watch couples walking hand-in-hand. We also visited the bar in our resort to enjoy some lively music and sip a glass of beer before going to bed.
Comtemplating singing Hornbill
An interesting feature in Pangkor is the Hornbill, a bird listed in the Malaysian preservation book. The Hornbills seem not to pay attention to us, strange guests, who are watching them. They fly around the big garden of the resort, moving from tree to tree and singing songs about liberal and pure nature of Pangkor “gu-shh, gu-shh, gu-sh…”
In spite of having a long beak, they move gently through the tall trees. Hornbill birds live in the forests, where there are big trees for them to build their nests. Every day, Hornbill birds look for their food, mainly ripe fruit.
I felt very happy to be staying on the island. At our hotel, the Pangkor Island Beach Resort, a big table displays ripe fruits for the Hornbills every morning and evening. Therefore, we could watch the Hornbills and listen to the sounds of them flying and singing from the windows or the benches outside.
When closing my eyes, I remember the birds first because they are a symbol of the nature and wild life in Pangkor. I will never forget the moments immersed in clean air, surrounded by green trees, looking at the peaceful sea surface and smiling whenever I saw a Hornbill.
Pangkor tourist attractions
Below a list with attractions on the island:
- Water sports and other activities are plenty around Pangkor Island. Especially around Bogak beach and Nipah beach there are numerous operators that offer banana-boat rides and Jet Ski rental. Around Giam Island you can do some decent snorkeling; though you can’t compare it with snorkeling on islands like Redang and Perhentian.
- Pangkor Town is a nice place to visit as there are many great local restaurants where you can enjoy typical dishes originating from the island itself.
- Fu Lin Kung Temple is a Taoist temple that has been build at the foot of Pangkor Hill nearby the town of Sungai Pinang Besar. Another Chinese temple that you can visit is the Lin Ye Kong Temple; nearby Teluk Nipah (at the end of Coral Bay).
- Kali Amman Temple is the only Indian temple on the island; especially interesting to visit during the two big festivals of Deepavali and Thaipusam.
- You can arrange a nice offshore fishing trip through your hotel or resort; though this can be quite pricy. You can also arrange a boat with local fishermen for a day.
- Pulau Jarak is quite a boat ride away from Pangkor, but it is worth the trip. Here you can find great marine life. The small island itself is perfect for a secluded day trip.
- You can do some light jungle treks around the island. The best one, the Pangkor Hill Trek, starts at Bogak beach and takes you all the way to the eastern side of the island (to Sungai Pinang Kecil). Most jungle hikes only take an hour or two. Always notify your resort or guesthouse owner that you are off to do a jungle hike.
- Another fun thing to do is to rent a boat for the day to go around the island. A speed boat is an option; but a normal boat is way more fun as you have more time to enjoy the scenery. A more strenuous option would be to rent a canoe for the day.
- Southwest of the island, nearby the small town of Teluk Gedung, you can visit the Dutch Fort (also known as Dindings Fort or Kota Belanda). The Dutch built this small fortress to get more grip on the tin mining industry in the 17th century. The fortress was used to keep foreign ships at bay, in order to control and monopolize the worldwide tin trade. The Dutch Fort currently is an historical monument.
- Batu Bersurat (Tiger Rock or Historic Rock) is a huge boulder with historical inscriptions on it. The inscriptions refer to a child and a tiger and is dated ‘1743 I.F.CRALO’ together with the initials of the ‘VOC’ which refers to the Dutch East India Company.
+ Pangkor weather: Pangkor has a tropical climate, the dry season lasts from March – November. However, December – February is not very rainy. The temperature is about 32oC during the day and 23oC at night. The best months in Pangkor island are January, February, August and September. On average, it is hot all year round. The rainiest months are November and December. The sea temperature is suitable for swimming all year round. There is no real best time to visit Pangkor; as the island is pretty much shielded by Sumatra, weather is pretty much the same throughout the year (though it still is a tropical island).
+ How to get to Pangkor island from KL by car: Pangkor island is situated between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. By car, It takes about 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur or 2 hours from Penang to Lumut. From there, you can take a boat to the island in about 30 minutes.
+ Although there are two public boats to the island, it is recommended that tourists take the boat to Pangkor Jetty because it is located in Pangkor and near the most beaches. Pangkor Island Beach Resort is the only resort, which has its own boats. If you book a room here, you will be picked up and taken to the resort.
+ Bring some of your favorite foods because you are on an island, where it is not easy to shop in supermarkets.
+ If you tour the island by taxi, ask for the charge before your tour. Taxis in Pangkor do not have meters.