With some of the best beaches on this side of the Malay Peninsula, the laidback island of PULAU PANGKOR, though barely 10km long, makes a thoroughly pleasant place to spend a weekend, and an increasingly popular retreat with Malaysian families up for an easy break from KL. Its mountainous centre remains thickly forested and largely inaccessible, so there’s little distraction from enjoying beach life. There are a couple of fishing towns on the east coast, developing tourist enclaves across the island at Pasir Bogak and hornbill-infested Teluk Nipah, and not really that much in between. Surprisingly then, Pulau Pangkor played an important part in Malaysian history when the Pangkor Treaty was signed here in 1874, which led to the creation of the Resident System.

Pangkor is an easy ferry ride from mainland LUMUT, a small port and Malaysian Navy base 80km southwest of Ipoh. The only time things get really busy on the island is during school holidays and the Hindu festival of Thaipusam, celebrated on the full moon in mid-February or early March. The unmissably gruesome spectacle lasts two days; processions start out on the beach at Pasir Bogak, and end at the Sri Pathirakaliaman Temple on the east coast.

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