This Perhentian Islands journey was planned for 4 days but I spent almost all Day 1 and Day 4 for traveling, in the morning of Day 4, I prepared to leave the island to back to Kuala Lumpur without visiting any other place or to do something. Therefore, I really only had spent 2 days in Perhentian Islands, so you can base on my itinerary to make your own suitable itinerary. So, what to do in 3 days in Perhentian Islands? Let’s check out our Perhentian islands blog with the fullest Perhentian islands guide (Perhentian islands travel guide) with suggested Perhentian Islands itinerary 3 days from how to get, best places to visit, top things to do in Perhentian Islands to find out the answer!
- Perhentian islands blog — A journey to the tropical paradise of Malaysia
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- Penang trip blog — The super Penang travel guide for a Penang budget trip for the first-timers
- Penang travel blog — The fullest Penang guide for first-timers
- Top islands in Malaysia — Top 10 best beaches & best islands in Malaysia
Having friends working in Malaysia is an advantage, I have always thought so. If someone else has to pay for the hotel rental, I will be allowed to stay with my friend without spend any cost for accommodation. If other people only knew about Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Malacca, I was led by friends to many interesting places. The Perhentian Islands are one of those places.
And this will be my 4D3N journey on this new island to me. My friend told me that Perhentian has just been developing tourism for the past few years, even the natives know little of it. Sounds, it is attractive, right!
My journey to Perhentian is a bit arduous and with a bit of regret, if I have more time, my trip will be more complete than ever.
Perhentian islands travel guide: Some interesting things about the Perhentian Islands that you should know
The Perhentian Islands are the new islands to visitors, relatively unspoiled islands in Malaysia. Even the indigenous people are little known or set foot in this place. The seawater around Perhentian Islands is blue and cool with long and smooth white sand beaches, crystal blue water and extremely clean.
Perhentian islands include 2 main islands: Perhentian Besar (Big Island) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Island). Both islands have resorts or hotels, so find a place to stay here is not a problem when coming here. The thing to consider here is your travel style, this will determine where to go and what to do.
If you prefer a quiet and leisurely vacation, Big Island will be more suitable, but if you like fun and to experience many activities from morning to night, Small Island is a great choice.
When to visit?
The best time to visit Perhentian islands is from March to September every year. Actually, it also depends on the weather in each month.
The remaining time from October to February is considered the monsoon months of Perhentian Islands, a period of dangerous rough seas and our “girl” becomes picky girl for exploration. It is best that you also should not believe any travel agent which tell this is a good time to come here, LOL.
The local people here are quite strange
- Every few hours they carry their bags to pick up trash on the beach regardless of day or night, so the white sand beach is very clean, only sand.
- If you cannot buy things at shop A, they will introduce you to shop B to buy. Their mean: “You should go over there to buy something more suitable, but I don’t force you to buy anything from my shop”.
- Please bargain, you will get a pleasant price if you are eager to take a tour but can not gather enough people to team up.
- The bars will be opened until 4am or 5 am and islanders will therefore live in certain European time zones. That means, you will go to bed at 4am, 12am get up for breakfast and 4pm go to lunch. Indeed!
Oh, there are many more strange things, but you will know when you come.
Perhentian islands guide: Before going to the Perhentian Islands, these things cannot be forgotten
Buying the cheap flight tickets with the suitable flight time is always difficult because you have to search through many websites, compare the prices of these websites to choose. Fortunately now that everything is easier, you can search for and buy air tickets at Skyscanner.com or Google Flights or Kayak.com. The search results are given with many airlines, many prices, many routes to help you choose the appropriate flight.
I bought the ticket a bit late (2 weeks before the departure time), so it was a bit expensive, about $175 / round-trip for Saigon – Kuala Lumpur – Kota Bharu route. This is an automatic transit ticket type, so I don’t waste time for checking-in and checking-out at the airports.
If you buy tickets 1 or 2 months in advance, the fare will be cheaper, only about $109 – $130 / round-trip.
You can take a ferry from Kota Bharu to Perhentian Islands, ferry tickets can be bought online here or at the pier for about $15.16 (70 Ringit) / round-trip. The ferry runs all day from 8am to 4 pm. The ferry will return mainland from the island with 3 trips at 10am, 1pm and 4pm.
You need to get to the pier 10 minutes in advance. The ferry runs quite fast, so it only takes 30 minutes to reach the island. The ferry is also small, can carry about 10-12 people, so it is very shaky when rough seas. You will easily get a stomachache, so do not overeat, especially for those who is prone to seasickness.
Portable medicine bag
Traveling away from home, bringing medicine is extremely necessary because of strange food, strange weather, all kinds of things could happen.
Going to Perhentian Islands or Kota Bharu requires a such bag of pills because you will go to a remote place called “the middle of nowhere”. Everything here is still very untouched, so there are not many services for you to choose from.
Below are some certain medications you should definitely bring:
- Pain relievers
- Medicines to get rid of stomach pain
- Drugs used for Abdominal Pain
- Drugs used to treat digestive disorders
- Sterile gauze pads
- Oresol (if not available, you can buy Revise or 100 to replenish electrolytes in case of severe dehydration)
Perhentian islands travel guide — Day 1: Saigon – Kuala Lumpur – Kota Bharu
Because the island is quite remote and just recently known, there is no direct flight from Saigon to Kota Bharu. I have to choose to transit in Kuala Lumpur. That’s why I spent whole Day 1 on my itinerary just for traveling.
It took me about 12 hours to fly from Saigon, transit in Kuala Lumpur and then to Kota Bharu. Get up at 8am to go to the airport and until 8:30pm I can settle down at the Airbnb I rented in Kota Bharu.
The detailed travel times are as follows:
Saigon – Kuala Lumpur (KL): It took 5 hours for traveling including check-in time to boarding.
Transit in KL airport, GATE B: Waiting time for 2 hours. The waiting spot to fly to Kota Bharu is quite “remote”, you can hardly find any cafe. If you do not want to wait too long you can go to GATE A, which has a small cafe; coffee is not very good but you can kill your time.
KL – Kota Bharu: It took 4 hours for travel including flight time and travel time to Airbnb. Traveling quite far, right?! Because the pier and the airport are about 1 hour and 15 minutes apart by road. The hotels in Kota Bharu were not good, so I chose Airbnb – quite new and clean. My Airbnb is about 10-minute drive from the pier (thanks to the owner to took me to the pier).
Kota Bharu is a “quiet” city where you can hardly find any people after 8pm. My Airbnb is even quieter because it is quite far from the city center, the scene is quite like a countryside. If you do not go with a large group, I recommend you should not leaving the house when it is dark. It is essential to buy more food to bring here because the restaurants are not open late, because Malaysian food is difficult to eat and because convenience store also is quite far away.
Perhentian islands blog — Day 2: Kota Bharu – Long Beach (Perhentian Kecil)
At 8:45 am, I was at the pier in Kota Bharu to take a speed boat to the island; the boat will leave at 9am. Every 1 hour with a trip. The boat is quite cranky, so I don’t recommend you eating too full or too much in the morning to avoid to prone to seasickness.
I decided to stay a resort at Long beach in Perhentian Kecil (Small Island) beach because there are most interesting activities on the island from food, bars to scuba diving or snorkeling.
Aman resort is the resort I choose at the room rates of $97 (400 Ringgit) / night. The hotel is not too beautiful but with sea view, clean and tidy room – the most important thing for this trip. (You can check rates, reviews and book on Agoda.com or Booking.com for your upcoming trip to Perhentian Islands). However, to get to Aman I have to rent a taxiboat for $2.5 (10 Ringgit) / person to go from the pier. Or I also could walk 20 minutes on the sand with my bulky luggage, of course it will be fatigue.
My activities on the first day were lunch, scuba diving, snorkeling, BBQ and watching fire performance.
Regarding snorkeling, scuba diving for anyone who interested in: The price for scuba diving is $49 / person (200 Ringgit). You only need to pay $17.5 / person if own a diving license.
Fireshow + Bar: Fire dance will start from about 9:30pm to 11pm, this is the activity of the biggest bar on the island. You can watch and drink beer and smoke shisha. According to my friend, the price of shisha or beer here is quite OK, not expensive, about $8.7 / pot (40 Ringgit).
BBQ: Honestly, waiting for BBQ was so long. The restaurants on the island have the same cooking quality, so there is no need to be too picky, you should go to a restaurant with just a few customers to avoid having to wait long. A meal for 2 people is about $13 (50 Ringgit).
Perhentian islands travel guide — Day 3: Long beach – Turtle Point – Fisherman Village – Keke Bay – Kota Bharu
Most activities on the island will have tours offer by travel agents and most tours include island hopping, scuba diving, snorkeling (for 3 days 2 nights or 2 days 1 night itinerary). However since I went diving the day before, so these tours weren’t suitable at all.
After make the deal of $31.50 / 2 people (130 Ringgit), I and my friend went to visit the 4 spots mentioned above. Because the Perhentian Islands are quite wild, all spots are pristine, clean and extremely clear bule water.
3:30 pm, I went to the pier to get back to Kota Bharu. To be honest, this city make me feel bored because it’s so quiet. The restaurants or shops are closed at 6pm, so what can you eat or drink, even though I rented Airbnb in the city center?!
Two Sun Restaurant is my highly recommended restaurant. Food is quite good and the price is also cheap $13 / 2 people / 4 full dishes (60 Ringgit).
Perhentian islands guide — Day 4: Kota Bharu – KL – Saigon
Another long day of traveling between destinations to return to Saigon.
Kota Bharu Airport is quite bored, so there’s nothing to play or explore. The airport has only 2 departure gates. I am really a bit surprised that this small city has a huge airport.
I flew 4 routes (both go and return) with Malaysia Airlines. Honestly, I had not eaten during my flight, so I was so tired. You should buy something in advance so as not to get hungry on the plane like me because Malaysian food is quite difficult to eat.
5pm I arrived in Saigon, ended the 4D3N journey in Perhentian Islands. Actually a bit regret because there was only 1 night in the island. To fully explore, you also have to spend at least 3 days 2 nights on the island to feel its own beauty. Well, come back next time !!!
Summary of costs for the 4D3N journey in Perhentian Islands
- Air tickets: $175 / round-trip
- Hotel: Free (Sponsored by my beautiful girlfriend, awesome, LOL)
- Meals: $45 / 2-person
- Scuba diving: $45 / 2-person
- Ferry tickets: $15.23 / 2-way
- Boat tour: $29 / 2-person
Total: ~$305. If adding hotel cost is: ~$415.
This cost including eating, drinking and playing. After going, I regret a bit more that I did not buy the combo tour first. Tours on the island always including hotel cost, tour to visit around the island, the total price is only $87 / person (400 Ringit). Well, I will definitely come back again!
Perhentian islands travel blog: Where to stay in Perhentian islands?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- BuBu Long Beach Resort, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $94/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Alunan Resort, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $193/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Tuna Bay Island Resort, a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $75/night (Check rates on Booking.com).
- Perhentian Island Resort, a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $145/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Perhentian Islands you can refer to
- Kuala Besut Jetty and Perhentian Island Boat Transfers
- 3D2N Full Board Snorkeling Package with Bubu Resort Perhentian Island
- Discover Scuba Diving Experience in Perhentian Island
- [Exclusive] Staycation at Alunan Perhentian Resort with Snorkeling Trip Experience
- 4 Days PADI Open Water Diver Course in Perhentian Island
- 3D2N Fun Dive Experience with Accommodation at MIMPI Perhentian Island Resort
- [Flash Sale – 10% Off] Boat Transfers between Perhentian Island and Kuala Besut
- Redang Island Snorkeling Experience
- Private Airport Transfers (KLIA/KLIA2) for Kuala Lumpur
- Shared Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Transfers for Kuala Lumpur
- [SALE] 4G Prepaid SIM Card (MY Airports Pick Up) for Malaysia
- 4G WiFi (MY Airport Pick Up) for Malaysia
Are you looking for more top things to do in Perhentian Islands: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And Perhentian islands blog — A journey to the tropical paradise of Malaysia And Malaysia travel blog — The fullest Malaysia travel guide for a budget trip for the first-timers.