8 Things to Know Before You go to the Perhentian Islands

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

A group of islands off the East coast of Malaysia. The two main islands are called Perhentian Besar (the large one) and Perhentian Kecil (the small one). It is an amazing place to just get away from it all because it's very secluded and there isn't much on the island. Here are 8 things to know before you go to these beautiful islands!

1. Best Time to Visit?

The dry season is between March and November, so this would be the ideal time to visit the Perhentian islands. Not to say that you can't have beautiful days on the islands during the other months, but it is just less likely that you will encounter a rain storm.

2. Pick one

First things first, you have to pick between Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. Perhentian Besar is geared more towards families and honeymooners, because it's filled with expensive resorts. Whereas Perhentian Kecil is geared more towards backpackers because of the cheaper accommodations and nightlife! The choice is yours. (I chose Perhentian Kecil, so my advice is based on my time spent there.)

3. How to get there

First, you'll need to take a bus to Kuala Besut. From here you can take a speed boat to either island in about 45 minutes. The boat costs 35 RM each way, or you can just buy a roundtrip ticket for 70. There's no cheaper option, every boat company sells the tickets for the exact same price.

Bus routes to Kuala Besut from:

Cameron Highlands: 6 hours, 55 RM

Kuala Lumpur: 8 hours, 49 RM

Kuala Perlis: 8.5 hours, 53 RM

4. Tourist Fee

No one will tell you, but before you board your speedboat they will charge all foreigners a 30 RM entrance fee to the island. Which in my opinion is insane- just a complete tourist trap. But just be prepared with the cash because there's no ATM around.

5. No ATM's

There are no ATM's on the island, so be sure to get all the cash you need before you go! Even if you're paying for a diving course you'll be expected to pay cash or some companies will allow you to pay via PayPal for a 5% fee.

6. Expensive Accommodations

The most expensive accommodations I encountered in all of Malaysia were here! If you look online, you might be able to find something for 100 RM a night (still too expensive!), but usually it's more. What I recommend (I know it's scary), but don't book any accommodations until you get there. There are lots of locally run accommodations that you can't book online that are cheaper. Like the following:

- Mohsin Chalet: 1 dorm bed, 35 MR

- Seahorse Diver Guesthouse: 1 dorm bed, 45 MR

- Ewan's Place: private 2-person hut, 80 RM

- Butterfly Chateau: private 2-person hut, 100 RM

Our private hut at Ewan's Place- 80 RM

7. Diving Paradise

One of the top things to do here is to go scuba diving! Either get PADI Certified or if you're already certified, purchase a package of fun dives. Some great companies with low prices for getting PADI certified are:

- Turtle Bay Divers: 1050 RM, 4 days (food, accommodation & boat transfers NOT included)

- Sea Voice Divers: 1100 RM, 4 days (food, accommodation & boat transfers NOT included), CAN pay with credit card

- Anti-Gravity Divers: 1150 RM, 4 days, (accommodation included, food & boat transfers NOT)

8. Coral Bay vs. Long Beach

There are two main areas on Perhentian Kecil: Coral Bay and Long Beach. Honestly, stay wherever you can find the cheapest accommodations. It is a 10 minute walk from one place to the other, so you can easily go to either side to hang out for the day. Long Beach is a lot bigger, has nicer sand, and more areas to swim/relax. Coral Bay is a lot shallower if you want to sit and relax in the water, and it's a lot less crowded- just watch out for the bits of coral in the sand! (Hence the name)

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