Getting to The Perhentian Islands

Getting to The Perhentian Islands

Well known as one of Malaysia’s premier seaside destinations, The Perhentian Islands are about as idyllic as beaches can get. Blindingly white sand, turquoise waters and dense, green jungles make this pair of islands the perfect tropical getaway.

Although Pulau Perhentian has evolved into one of the more popular tourist spots in Malaysia, getting there is still somewhat of an endeavor. After doing the journey ourselves and incurring a few hiccups along the way, we’ve compiled this short list of tips in hope that your journey is a bit smoother than ours.


Located along the northeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, getting to the Perhentian Islands isn’t a simple affair. Luckily we’ve done the journey (and learned the hard way), so here are a few pointers to hopefully make your trip easier!

  • The ferry to Perhentian leaves from a small town called Kuala Besut, which unfortunately is fairly out of the way from most tourist-interested places in Malaysia
  • Kuala Besut is most easily reached from Kuala Lumpur. The 9 hour journey isn’t the best, but the busses are usually pretty comfortable so bring some snacks, download a few movies and it’ll be a breeze
  • We suggest taking the overnight night bus from KL and then the first ferry out in the morning - it might seem like a pain but it’s your best option unless you’re willing to spend the night in Kuala Besut, which we HIGHLY advise against. We were forced to do this after missing the last ferry and had to stay in possibly one of the worst hotels in Malaysia
  • The overnight bus costs roughly 50 Ringit, leaves at around 10:00 p.m. and arrives right around 6:00 in the morning - easy!
  • The ferry tickets are 70 Ringit per person for a round trip and can be bought from a number of vendors directly at the jetty. Unfortunately, haggling is of no use on this - trust us, we tried
  • Hold on to your boat ticket stubs for your trip back. If you lose them it’s not the end of the world, but it makes life a lot easier if you have do have them
  • Returning from The Perhentians to Kuala Besut, there are 3 daily departure times: 8:00 a.m., 12:00 noon and 4:00 p.m.
  • Remember to tell your hotel / guesthouse a day before you want to leave - they will call the boat company for you and arrange your pickup
  • You will have to pay an environmental fee of 30 Ringit per person before getting on the boat. It’s an unfortunate ripoff since it’s hard to see where the money is actually going, but there’s no way around it
  • Lastly, remember to try and be patient. The schedules here aren’t even close to exact, so a little patience goes a long way!

While all of this might seem like a lot of work just for a trip to the beach, we sincerely believe all the effort is worth it. We were only able to spend three nights on Perhentian Besar due to some delays, but easily could have spent another three enjoying all that this amazing place has to offer. We hope that this little guide is of some sort of help for your upcoming trip and that you enjoy your time in paradise!

Yours in Adventure,

Joel & Marla

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *