Tourism Malaysia

5 reasons to visit Pangkor Island

By Aura Farrando Image: Pulau Pangkor and its many islands

By Aura Farrando
Image: Pulau Pangkor and its many islands

Searching for that perfect weekend getaway? Perhaps something a little quieter than tourist hotspots like Langkawi and Perhentians? Look no further than Pangkor Island, located off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Perak, just 90km from Ipoh. It has everything you want for an island escape — and so much more — with sleepy fishing villages, relaxed atmosphere and amazing views. Here’s our Top 5 for Pangkor Island.


  1. Perfect Location

Unlike other beach destinations in Malaysia, Pangkor Island is quite easy to get to. You can drive or catch a bus from Kuala Lumpur to the ferry port at Lumut. The ferry from Lumut to Pangkor take 35 minutes and operates 7am to 8.30pm daily. Pangkor also has an airport, with Berjaya Air flying there three times a week. Once on the island, the best mode of transport is by scooter. Renting a scooter is relatively cheap, and will allow to you to cover most within 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can hail one of the island’s famed pink taxis.

Image: Pangkor’s famous pink taxis. —

Image: Pangkor’s famous pink taxis. —

2. Beaches and water sports

 Pangkor is just 8 square kilometres, but you’ll be surprised how much you can do, and what you can see. Of course, sun baking on the beach is the most popular pastime for visitors, with Nipah and Coral beach often dotted with holiday makers. There are also two small islands nearby — Giam and Mentagor — that are perfect for snorkelling with an array of coral, sea cucumbers and other sea life to be found. If you’re more adventurous, grab a kayak and circumnavigate the islands. Pasir Bogak is another famous beach, just 2km from Pangkor Town and it is the best place for jet skiing and parasailing.

Image: Snorkelling in Pangkor

Image: Snorkelling in Pangkor

  1. Food

With a thriving local fishing scene, it’s no coincidence that the choice of seafood is amazing. The main catch is cuttlefish and anchovies. Selling dried fish is still an important part of the economy, with locals often transporting large bags of dried anchovies from the port, to the mainland and to the markets. You’ll most likely experience a taste of these anchovies at breakfast with your nasi lemak. At evening, head to the many beachside restaurants and order ikan bakar or grilled fish. What more could you want to end your day. Oh, and it’s cheap, too.


  1. Explore by foot

If, for some reason, you are allergic to the ocean, there’s also plenty to do on land. There’s an uphill trek across the island with great vantage points of the local wildlife, particularly the hornbill. You can even feed these gracious birds every day at 6.30pm at Sunset View Chalet. Its owner Nordin Bakar has been feeding the island’s population of hornbills for the past 12 years. For nature lovers and hikers, also check out the jungle trails at Teluk Segadas Hill and Titi Ganung.


Pangkor Island has some must-see historical landmarks, too. The island has always been a trading enclave in the state of Perak. The vestiges of history can be traced in the Dutch Fort built in the 17th century. The reason behind its construction was to monopolise the tin trade in Perak and protect the Perak Chieftan.

Image: Hornbills rule the island

Image: Hornbills rule the island

  1. Relax and indulge

Pangkor Laut provides the ultimate luxurious experience. This private island is next to the bigger and busier Pangkor Island. The resort includes 140 villas and suites and has 300 acres of rainforest as a playground. If you feel like splurging, you can stay in the huge Pavarotti Suite. The tenor sang at the launch of the resort in 1994 and said the island was “paradise”. Other celebrities who have stayed here include Michael Schumacher, Eric Cantona and Michelle Yeoh. The resort will also organise your transport to and from the island. More information:

Image: Paradise, Pangkor Laut Resort

Image: Paradise, Pangkor Laut Resort

Tourism Malaysia

Luxury beach holidays in Malaysia

Imagine staring at the ocean, lying on a deck chair or sitting by the infinity pool while sipping on your fresh juice? If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. Malaysia offers great options for a wonderful luxury holiday by the sea.



Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Island 
Pangkor Laut presents the perfect weekend getaway, far from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. This private island is next to the bigger and busier Pangkor Island, just three hours from the capital. The luxurious resort includes 140 villas and suites and has 300 acres of rainforest as a playground. If you feel like splurging, you can stay in the huge Pavarotti Suite. The tenor sang at the launch of the resort in 1994 and said the island was “paradise”. Other celebrities who have stayed here include Michael Schumacher, Eric Cantona and Michelle Yeoh.

More information: Website • Image source



Westin Langkawi Resort Spa
Tucked away from the duty-free shops and tourist areas of down town Langkawi, Westin is an oasis of high living. For a relaxed stay, take a stroll along the private beach or just lay on a chaise lounge by one of the swimming pools. The more adventurous can go on an excursion around the Langkawi geopark. The waterfalls and dense vegetation will delight nature lovers. At the water sport centre, you can try your hand at kayaking or windsurfing on the Andaman Sea. Families will also love the kids club, with daily activities for children.

More information: Website • Image source



Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Kota Kinabalu
From the morning coffee to the evening dinner, indulge yourself with striking views of the ocean. This sumptuous complex on the coast of Sabah in East Malaysia is a luxurious dreamy village. You can dive in the South China Sea or discover the National Park of Mount Kinabalu, before relaxing at the spa and wellness centre. Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort also has its own golf club, which has been moulded to match its beautiful surrounds.

More information: Website • Image source



Sea Home Boutique, Penang
Staying at Sea Home Boutique is like travelling back in time. The furniture and antiques are a blend of Victorian and Peranakan styles, a reminder of the rich history of this place. Sea Home is in Tanjung Bungah, a former fishing village on Penang Island. It is the base of the Penang Water Sports Centre and close to Batu Ferringhi, a popular beach destination with one of the most iconic night markets in Malaysia. The capital George Town is just 20 minutes away.

More information: Website • Image source



Batu Batu – Johor Bahru
This luxury resort is on the private island of Tengah on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. Nestled within the rainforest and surrounded by pristine waters, the resort is the only development on the island. They have a turtle conservation camp plus a dive centre. They also programme activities for kids. After diving, you can enjoy a meal with your family and watch the sunset by the ocean or spoil yourself at the spa. Batu Batu is great for a family getaway. It’s also ideal for those across the border in Singapore.

More information: Website • Image source


All Malaysia Info

Sungai Buloh

At first glance Sungai Buloh may seem unassuming, quiet, boring even, an area within the Klang Valley with greenery. But visitors to Sungai Buloh are in for a surprise when they learn of its colourful past.

The Sungai Buloh we know today is a place where gardening enthusiasts go to purchase plants, vegetable seedlings and fertilisers from the many nurseries located in and around this suburban town. It is also set to be a major transport hub as it has been marked as one of the main stations under the new Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, aimed at reducing congestion and improving public transportation.

But there’s more to Sungai Buloh than meets the eye.

The Sungai Buloh Leprosy Control Centre is a 230ha (568 acres) settlement, with its lush greenery and idyllic surroundings, belie the history of this close knit community.

Historic events shaped Sungai Buloh

Severe leprosy outbreaks took place in Malaysia in the 1800s which prompted community leaders and local authorities to find humane ways to help lepers by providing them places to recover and get treatment, as existing facilities were far from adequate.

Based on local laws at the time, patients had to be segregated from others, either under supervision of medical staff or be housed in a camp. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were four leprosy camps in Malaysia – Pulau Serimbun (Malacca), Pulau Jerejak (Penang), Setapak (Selangor) and Pangkor Island (off Perak).

But it took a few medical experts and policy makers to do away with existing camps, which were likened to barbed-wired prisons. In 1923, Dr E. A. O. Traverse proposed a policy to improve the living conditions for those suffering from leprosy, in an area where patients could live with dignity, while receiving necessary care.

Selling not only items such as water features, the Sungai Buloh Garden World sells a concept with the objective to turn any home a heaven to come to.

With this push, Sir George Maxwell, the chief secretary of the Federated Malay States started to build a leprosy settlement in 1926, choosing Sungai Buloh for its lush valley and cool climate, much needed for leprosy patients who are sensitive to heat. Located near Bukit Lagong, by two rivers – the Sungai Buloh and Sungai Cemubung – it was a perfect place for the community.

The Sungai Buloh Leprosy settlement turned out to be one of the largest settlements under the British rule, and the second biggest one in the world, fondly also known as the Valley of Hope. The area, officially renamed National Leprosy Control Centre in 1969, was equipped with facilities and amenities to turn it into a garden city, allowing the community to become a self-supporting one. The idea of offering an opportunity to stem stigma was being realised in Sungai Buloh as lepers were able to grow their own plants for sale and earn an income, while living in a spacious and beautiful area.

Houses were built in clusters so people were encouraged to interact with another, on top of providing a sense of security. At each cluster, a food distribution area or market was built, again to encourage gathering of people to socialise while they visited these public areas. To further encourage community activities, a variety of clubs were set up. The Malay Club, various Chinese clan associations, the Indian Mutual Aid as well as drama clubs organised gatherings, dinners and performances. Similarly, religious institutions like temples, mosques and churches were built as a source of spiritual support for the community.

Over 2000 patients lived in Sungai Buloh, and the numbers were high enough to set up a separate administrative body. Simple civil functions such as birth, marriage and death registrations were supervised by a medical superintendent, who also monitored a divorce court in the area.

More importantly, Sungai Buloh was built for the leper community and it was run by the community. This gave a sense of purpose for leprosy sufferers as many became administrative workers, nurses, teachers and mechanics. Some were more entrepreneurial, setting up coffee shops, barber shops and small grocery stores.

Modernising Sungai Buloh

After the late 1960s, there were no more admissions to the centre, but plans to build an infectious disease control centre was laid out under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Some 200 elderly former leprosy patients still live in the area, either in their own homes or in hospital quarters. Conservationists did express concern over whether the lush green area would have to make way for development, but due to pressure from the Save the Valley of Hope group in a campaign to preserve Sungai Buloh, the authorities designated 78ha of the total 230ha area to be gazetted as national heritage.

The Sungai Buloh Leprosy settlement.

Old buildings still dot the Sungai Buloh area, as they offer charm and quaintness of this once contained community. People visiting the area are encouraged to venture beyond the horticultural area to admire the old church, wet market and houses which are still standing in this settlement. The old wooden hospital is still functioning as a medical facility, while its newer sister hospital takes on the more complicated cases in a modern steel and glass designed building located at the entrance of Sungai Buloh.

People who want to visit this historic settlement can do so by public transport. Visitors can board the KTM Komuter Train to the Sungai Buloh station and take a Selangor bus number 144A from the station into the settlement. Alternatively, visitors can take the same bus from Medan Pasar in Chinatown and stop at Sungai Buloh Hospital.

Map: Sungai Buloh