Located off the coast of Perak in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia lies Pangkor Island (Pulau Pangkor), the largest of a small cluster of islands. Pangkor is a well-known tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches, said to be some of the best along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, with its still relatively well-preserved nature.
To enjoy Pangkor, it is suggested that tourists spend a minimum of 3 days and 2 nights on the island. Besides visiting the usual attractions what else can one do here? Find out in this issue of the Perak Tourism Newsletter.
Perak have been given the honour to host the 33rd World Congress of Poets beginning October 21 to 25. To be held for the first time in Malaysia, the main venue is Syuen Hotel in Ipoh. However, poetry recitals will be held at other locations in the state during the 5-day event. They include Lumut and Pangkor Island, the featured tourist destination in this issue of Perak Tourism Newsletter.
This highly-regarded event on the international poetry calendar will be a convenient platform for poets from Malaysia and aboard to meet and network, and to exchange ideas. A total of 100 local poets will join in the occasion, alongside international poets from 30 countries such as Australia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Hong Kong and Bosnia. With the theme “One World Through Poetry”, the reading will be in English, Malay, Mandarin and Spanish, making it a truly international event.
Participants will visit places of interest in Perak, such as Kuala Kangsar and Lenggong Valley. Therefore, it is a good opportunity for us to further promote Perak, both to Malaysians and our foreign guests. We ought to give these visitors a positive impression thus making their sojourn worthy and also memorable.
Last month, at the state-level Malaysia Day celebration in Tapah, I launched a web-based application which will bring greater accessibility to online references for visitors and tourists to Perak. Although some may consider it similar to the Discover Perak mobile application launched last year, this one, I am glad to note, is more user-friendly, and packed with even more information. It has also incorporated Google Maps, which I believe, will serve travellers well.
The application will be available on our web portal www.travelperak.com sometime this month.
Vehicles are not allowed onto the island, except for motorcycles and bicycles. Visitors to Pangkor can take a ferry, which first stops at Sungai Pinang Kecil Jetty and then Pangkor Jetty, either from the Lumut Jetty or from the new Marina Island Pangkor Jetty.
The return fare is RM10 for passengers 12 years old and above, and RM5 for those between 4 to 11 years old. The first ferry of the day is at 7am, while the last is 8pm (Marina Island Pangkor Jetty) and 8.30pm (Lumut Jetty). The trip to Pangkor Island from Lumut Jetty is 30 minutes, with 45 minutes ferry intervals whereas from Marina Island Pangkor Jetty, it is only 10 minutes, but ferry intervals are an hour.
Currently, Berjaya Air is the only airline operating in Pangkor, plying the Subang -Pangkor route. There are three flights per week viz: on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Each trip takes about 40 minutes.
GPS Coordinates:Marina Island Pangkor Jetty: N 04° 12.759’ E100° 36.159’ Lumut Jetty: N 04° 14.205’ E100° 37.945’ Pangkor Jetty: N 04° 12.783’ E100° 34.520’
Once on the island, you will have multiple choices of ground transport. Bicycles, motorcycles, cars and vans are for rent. These are easily available as soon as you walk out from the jetty. As an example, rental for a day’s use of a motorcycle is RM30, while a round island trip for up to four people is RM70. Visitors are advised to only engage licensed transporters for safety reasons.
One of the best ways to see and experience Pangkor Island is by chartering a speedboat, either from Teluk Nipah or Pasir Bogak. Usually, there is a minimum passenger count per trip, although some operators are flexible, especially during off-peak seasons. The cost is about RM20 per person.
A trip out may take up to three hours. Places that one could visit are Turtle Bay, Monkey Bay, Nipah Bay, Coral Bay, Mentagor Bay, Pulau Giam (Coral Island) and Pulau Raja.
While at sea look out for natural rock formations in the shape of a whale, crocodile, turtle, elephant, anaconda, and even a pair of human feet.
The trip can be customised to your requirement. So, whether you just want to laze the afternoon away at a secluded beach spot, organise a private beach party, or have a barbeque dinner under the stars, it is your call. Chart a plan with your speedboat operator.
As Pangkor is an island, it is not surprising that many tourists come here for its varied water sports. The beaches are packed on weekends and holidays as vacationers come for the motorised and non-motorised rides such as jet skiing, para-sailing and banana boating.
Those who charter a speed boat can go snorkelling off Pulau Giam (Coral Island), where they can see various species of fish and marine life. Snorkelling equipment are available for rental.
For nature-lovers, Sungai Pinang Permanent Forest Reserve is home to a few jungle-trekking trails and the “Teluk Nipah mini waterfall”. Bordering Raudhah Camp, a recreational and motivational camp site, the shortest trail would take at least two hours to complete.
Experienced trekkers may not find it extremely challenging here but as these trails are not distinctly marked, it is recommended that trekkers only start their activity from 9am onwards, and to inform the accommodation provider about it.
What to look out for is the Balau Putih (Shorea lumutensis), an endemic tree species said to be found only in the jungles of Pangkor, Lumut and Segari Melintang, though some claimed that it is also found in Johor and Terengganu.
GPS Coordinates (Raudhah Camp): N 04° 13.843’ E 100° 33.087’
“Tarik pukat” (loosely translated as “pulling in the net”) is a popular activity in Pangkor. It is on-shore fishing, if you will, where a boat crew takes a fishing net out to the sea and drops it into the water. The net is then dragged by a group of at least six people on the beach, to try to catch some fish.
A free seafood dinner is definitely a great idea, but the objective of this activity is actually to foster cooperation and to build teamwork.
Those who would like to try on-shore fishing can have it arranged via the accommodation provider. It is done on the beaches of Pasir Bogak and Teluk Nipah, three times a day, depending on the tide.
Being an island, boats are a major mode of transportation. It is no surprise that boat building is an industry here. There are currently five boat builders on the island.
Those who are interested in maritime matters can make a visit to Hoo Huat Boat Builder in Sungai Pinang Kecil (SPK), about 3km from town, where they are at liberty to observe how a fisherman’s boat is built from scratch.
Owner Tan Ho An, who learnt the skills of boat-building from his grandfather, said that it takes some four to five months to complete the structure of a boat, and at a cost of some RM700,000. With a staff-strength of ten skilled men, they can complete about six boats in a year. Orders come from fishermen along the coast of Peninsular Malaysia, as far north as Kedah.
Hoo Huat Boat Builder is open from 9am to 6pm daily. It is closed on Sundays.
An exceptional experience that one can only find on Pangkor Island is hornbill-feeding. Hornbills, especially the Oriental Pied (Anthracoceros albirostris), is very common on this island.
However, in Teluk Nipah, just outside of Sunset View Chalet, the birds feed from the hand. It is something that one should try when visiting Pangkor, all the more when the bird food, usually cut bananas, are provided at no cost. Just remember to bring along your camera and snap these hungry birds in action! This has been a daily activity from 6.30pm onwards, since 2002.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 13.913’ E100° 32.812’
Facing the Sungai Pinang Kecil Jetty is a nameless Hainanese coffee shop that serves the island’s best kopi-O and toasted bread with butter and kaya (egg-coconut jam). A third-generation proprietor, Tan now runs the business with his wife and son, serving from 6am to 5pm daily, only taking a day off a month. Tel: 012-451 8143.
Laksa mee is another must-try while in Pangkor. It is said that this laksa, which is different from the common laksa Penang or laksa Melaka, is only found in Pangkor.
While there are a few stalls that serve laksa mee, one of the more popular places is Kopitiam Pangkor at the Pangkor Jetty. It is open from 9am to 9pm daily, and closed on Wednesdays. Tel: 05-685 1134.
Just before leaving the island, it is almost compulsory for any tourists to get some souvenirs for friends and family back home. Dried seafood such as satay fish, salted fish, cuttlefish and blue-eyed anchovies are the best picks. Other items that you may want to get are those made from seashells and corals.
It is essential to plan before you leave for your vacation. For local knowledge and assistance, you can contact officials of the Pangkor Hotel and Resort Operators Association viz: Noordin Bakar (President) at 012-408 2297 or Zamzuri Suid (Secretary) at 012-417 2227.
All information correct at time of printing.
October 21-25 – 33rd World Congress of Poets
For further information, contact: 05-208 3600 (ask for Tourism Perak).