Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Travel: Pangkor Island, Perak

Pulau Pangkor is an island off the coast of Perak in north-west peninsular Malaysia, reached by ferry from Lumut (a small coastal town that links to Ipoh, or from Sitiawan). It has a land area of only 8 square kilometers, and a population of approximately 25,000 islanders. It is heavily promoted as a low-key tourist destination by the Malaysian government, but fishing and fish products remain major industries.

Off the coast of Perak state, lies a cluster of small islands with unquestionably some of the best beaches on the western coast of peninsular Malaysia. Among them, two islands predominate in terms of accessibility and infrastructure - the largest Pangkor and smaller, privately owned Pangkor Laut- hosting one luxurious resort. If you are looking for high standard accommodation on the main island, head up north to Teluk Belanga or Teluk Dalam.

Located about 90km south west from lpoh and reachable by ferry from Lumut in only 35mins, Pangkor Island is 8 square km big and inhabited by circa 25 thousand people, mainly fishermen. They live in scattered fishing settlements, especially on the eastern coast, and their catch consists mainly of cuttlefish and anchovy. Pangkor is intensively promoted as a budget tourist destination, however it’s still fishing and dried seafood to be the main industry.

 The most beautiful beaches are Nipah Beach and Coral Beach, both situated in Nipah Bay on the west-northern coast, popular among foreigners (mainly Europeans and Australians) as well as locals. With tiny islets nearby (Giam and Mentagor) surrounded by corals, fish and sea cucumbers, this place is a fully satisfactory snorkeling spot. If you are into other watersports- they are easily accessible everywhere around the island. For active and adventurous- there’s an uphill jungle trek across the island (takes around 4hrs). Pangkor has a lot to offer also to bird watchers- among many interesting species, amazing hornbills can be easily spotted.


Historically, Pangkor was a refuge for local fishermen, merchants and pirates. In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort in an effort to control the Perak tin trade. In 1874, it was the location of a historic treaty between the British government and a contender for the Perak throne (The Pangkor Treaty), which began the British colonial domination of the Malay Peninsula.

Pangkor is famous for its fine beaches and a mix of low budget to 5 star accommodations. Teluk Nipah and Coral Bay on the north west of the island is extremely popular with travellers from Europe. The quality of sand in the Pasir Bogak Beach is far superior to that elsewhere on the island. The sand is golden brown, quite similar to most leading prime beaches. There are a few resorts in Teluk Nipah or Nipah Bay.

Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand and to a lesser extent the West Coast of Malaysia in December 2004, there have been fewer local tourists visiting Pangkor.
In 2006, a biotechnology centre, a joint venture of Global Hi-Q Malaysia S/B and Hi-Q Bio-Tech International (Taiwan) Ltd began operations with initial investments of RM100million (USD30m). Their operations include fish farming and aquaculture, and the first harvest is expected in 2009.
Just next to island of Pangkor, there is a smaller island called Pangkor Laut Island.

Tourist attractions

The main attractions in Pangkor Island are the beaches. Other attractions include:

Pangkor Town

Fishing Villages

Fu Lin Kong Temple
Kali Amman Temple
Batu Bersurat and Tiger Rock

Dutch Fort (Kota Belanda)

The Tombs
Tortoise Hill


Of all the Pangkor beaches, Teluk Nipah or Nipah Bay is the most popular with foreign travelers, although it is still predominantly Malaysians who frequent this area. This beach is located a few kilometers north Pantai Pasir Bogak. Unlike other beaches, it has corals, sea cucumber and bird lovers can find the hornbill (Burung Enggang) on this beach.

Teluk Nipah has 2 beaches: Nipah Beach and Coral Bay. Nipah Bay has a view of two small uninhabited islands called Pulau Giam and Pulau Mentagor.

As of March 2011, the northern end of Nipah Bay was under heavy construction. A sea-wall was being erected along much of the beach, and a series of concrete shop houses were going up all along the seafront, obstructing the ocean view from the road and greatly reducing the amount of beach front available for recreation.

Giam Island is mostly interesting for snorkeling. The waters are shallow. There are lots of corals and fishes to see.