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How to Travel to Pangkor Island

Sungai Pinang Kecil in Pangkor Island
Sungai Pinang Kecil in Pangkor Island | © inigolai-Photography/Shutterstock
Pangkor is a tiny mountainous island off the western coast of Malaysia’s peninsular. The unspoilt beaches, resorts and a refreshing lack of tourists allure both domestic and international visitors to one of Malaysia’s secret destinations. Here’s how to travel to Pangkor Island from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Ipoh.

Why you should visit Pangkor Island

Pangkor consists of four islands in Perak State conveniently located between Penang and Kuala Lumpur. With just 30,000 permanent residents and a 16-kilometre (10-mile) road looping around the island’s perimeter, it’s easy to relax and explore. Apart from having the beach to yourself, tourists can visit a 17th-century Dutch fortress and see tame hornbills. If you want to experience an almost deserted island on your trip to Malaysia, we recommend a night or two on Pangkor.

Pangkor is worth a visit for a night or two © Sam Bedford
Tame hornbills on Pangkor Island © Sam Bedford

What you need to know

Unlike Langkawi and Penang, Pangkor Island offers a more laid-back and toned-down experience. Nightlife is practically non-existent. Most restaurants tend to be locally owned and close around 9:00 or 10:00pm. Getting around can be challenging too. Pangkor lacks buses and visitors need to either rent a motorbike (or bicycle) or rely on fixed-priced minivan taxis. Because the island acts as a haven for domestic tourists, it’s best to avoid during public holidays.

Enjoy the tourist-free beaches © Sam Bedford

Forms of transportation

The only way to travel to Pangkor Island is by first getting to Lumut in Perak before taking a ferry to Pangkor Town. Lumut sits approximately 160 kilometres (99.4 miles) south of Penang and 220 kilometres (137 miles) northwest of Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh is just 83 kilometres (53 miles) from Lumut. Boats connect its terminal with Pangkor Town Jetty.

Bus

The fastest and cheapest way to travel to Pangkor Island is by bus to Terminal Lumut. Buses depart every 30 minutes to one hour from Kuala Lumpur’s TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan). Tickets cost approximately RM 30 ($7.50 USD) taking around four and a half hours. If you’re travelling from Penang, you first need to get to Butterworth on Mainland Penang (three and a half hours), costing RM 19 ($4.70 USD). The bus from Ipoh takes two hours at RM 10 ($2.50).

The bus is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Lumut © Singapore Buses

Train

The nearest railway station to Lumut lies approximately 70 kilometres (43 miles) away in Batu Gajah near Ipoh. The KTS Train from Kuala Lumpur and the ETS in Penang’s Butterworth connect here. Tickets for both services range between RM25 ($6.20 USD) and RM35 ($8.70). But you’ll still need to get from Batu Gajah to Lumut. Alternatively take a cab or use Grab to Ipoh Bus Station. We don’t recommend using the train to travel to Pangkor Island unless you want a stopover in Ipoh. If you have enough time, combine the train journey with a trip to Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah.

Ferry

Ferries depart every 45 minutes from Lumut to Pangkor Island. Buy a return ticket. The journey usually takes less than 20 minutes. The first stop is at SPK (Sungai Pinang Kecil) Jetty while the second drops passengers off at Pangkor Town. Get off at the second stop. Expect to be swarmed by taxi drivers. Passengers usually share the ride and divide the fixed fare. Pro tip: When you arrive at Pangkor, find out the ferry schedule for your return trip back to Lumut.

Take the ferry from Lumut Jetty to Pangkor Town © Malekhanif

Other ways to travel to Pangkor Island

Pangkor Island does have its own airport, but as of 2018, it’s only used for chartered flights. Malindo and Scoot fly from Johor Bahru and Singapore to Ipoh. From Ipoh, take the bus to Lumut and then the ferry to Pangkor Town. We don’t recommend renting a car to travel to Pangkor Island. It’s much faster, cheaper and more convenient to use the bus.

Sunset on an empty beach © Sam Bedford