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SPOTLIGHT: Pangkor islands, Malaysia. The undiscovered island paradise you must experience.

If you’re sick of the swarming shorelines of Hawaii, or bored by the package holidays at the Maldives, Malaysia’s latest hidden gem can offer you the once-in-a-lifetime beach holiday of your dreams. And no, we’re not talking about tourist-over run Langkawi. Nestled amid the shining, foam-dappled waters of the Malacca Straits, Pangkor laut – just off the west coast of Malaysia – is a vacation paradise two times over. 

Island by thelustlizardofmelancholycove, on Flickr
by  thelustlizardofmelancholycove

Even within Malaysia, thousands of locals each year escape the punishing heat of the summer for the tranquil beaches, shaded clearings, and playful fauna of Bangkor. While much of Malaysia can seem chaotic, racing down the superhighway towards modernity, Pangkor remains a timeless paradise. Spread out your towels in the shade of the native Banyon trees, with emerald-green leaves that double as beach umbrellas in the afternoon sun. Or, if you’re feeling active, take a stroll up and down the island. Even in tourist season, Bangkor can feel secluded during the week; don’t be surprised if the only footprints dotting the golden sands are yours! Saturday and Sundays, however, can be far more crowded, given the influx of weekending locals, so if you’re looking for idyllic tranquility, book your guesthouse Monday through Friday.

Pasir Bogak is the most famous of the island’s beaches, and the best-developed, with plenty of boating and diving rental shops dotting the coastline, but it’s also the busiest. For a quieter stay, head to the Coral Bay on the island’s west coat, where limestone has transformed the water into shimmering ripples of emerald.

Be wary when you’re bronzing up that tan, however! Malaysia is still a relatively conservative country, and its Muslim influence is still evident. Because Pangkor mostly caters to local vacations, rather than foreigners, don’t be surprised if many of the women sunbathing beside you are fully covered. While there’s no need for you to adopt traditional Muslim garb, even if you’re female, consider saving that topless sunbathing you were planning for St. Tropez.

Hill Villa by CeeKay
by  CeeKay’s Pix

If you’re tired of sunning yourself or frolicking in the sand, Pangkor has plenty of opportunities for the intrepid traveler. Sign up for a jungle tour in the mysterious heart of Pangkor’s interior, or visit the historic Dutch colonial fort at Teluk Gundag. With cultural expeditions and secluded beaches, fragrant cuisine and stunning sea views, Bangkor offers a timeless piece of island paradise that other resorts can only dream of.

Getting there:

Bangkor can be reached by plane from Kuala Lumpur via Berjaya Air (five flights weekly), or via car and ferry (Kuala Lumpur to the port city of Lumut is about three hours by car; the ferry takes forty minutes.) The ferry calls at both Sungai Pinang Kecil and the larger Pangkor Jetty in Pangkor Town. Tourists without pre-booked hotels are advised to pick the latter docking, as Pangkor Town inevitably has a larger selection of guesthouses and hotels.

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