journey to Perhentian Kecil

Our Journey From Kuala Terengganu to Pulau Perhentian Kecil 

After spending two days (which really felt like three since we’d arrived at 7am after taking a 10 hour night bus from Mersing) in Kuala Terengganu enjoying the air-conditioning at the Space Inn (cheap and comfortable if you need a place to stay on your way to the Perhentians), the food in China Town, getting some exercise by the bay, and the Monitor Lizards we found in the drains it was time to explore a new place.

Monitor Lizard hanging out in the drain in Kuala Terrenganu
Monitor Lizard We Stumbled Upon

Next up… the Perhentian Islands, specifically Perhentian Kecil, the smaller backpacker paradise. So, we packed our bags that evening and bought fruit and crackers from a neighborhood fruit stand for breakfast to prepare for the early morning ahead. 

Our favorite fruit stand where we'd buy our fruit for breakfast
Morning Fruit Stand

The alarms went off at 6:15 am and wowza did it feel early. After no alarms and a nice sleep schedule for many days, we were a little lazier than usual getting out of bed. 

After a few yawns, we enjoyed our fruit and crackers, checked out, and walked to the bus station. We knew there was a bus to Kuala Besut (the port town from which you get to the island) at 8 am that you paid for once you were seated (10.80 Ringgit or $2.57 per person), but did not know what terminal to go to, or what type of bus it was going to be. Basically, we were going in blind. Luckily, we arrived at 7:25 am with plenty of time to look around. After assessing the situation, scanning the front of every bus, and asking around we found the right one! We set our bags below and sat right next to the open double doors halfway down the bus.

Bus Station as we prepared to leave for Kuala Besut
Bus Station

Within minutes we were pulling out of the station nearly 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time (good thing we got there early!). For a minute we thought we were just moving terminals as the bus driver didn’t shut the front door or the door right next to our seats. TJ, sitting on the outside almost got up to shut it but realized no one else was moving and none of the locals looked surprised or alarmed. So we left it alone. A few minutes later we realized it would probably be open the entire bus ride (which it was), but it provided some great airflow on an otherwise hot and stuffy bus. 

Our bus where we drove the two hour trip with the doors wide open the whole way
Doors Open The Entire 2 Hour Ride

Rarely does it seem like people enjoy waiting for buses/planes, let alone sitting on them for hours. However, as our grand adventure through SE Asia progresses we’re coming to like them more and more. Probably in part because they’re inevitably where you spend a great deal of time during a year of travel, but also because they’re a great time for introspection. There’s usually no wifi, not a lot to do, and if we’re talking buses, Alli can’t read or look down at anything as she gets car sick. It’s kind of lovely to sit with no requirements, nothing to do and just enjoy the passing scenery while you process and marvel at all that you’ve done in the last few weeks and what lies ahead. 

After almost two hours (during which thankfully no one fell out of the open doors of the bus) we arrived in the tiny town of Kuala Besut ready to find a boat to take us to the island. After paying 70 Ringgit a person for round trip tickets ($17) and 60 Ringgit a person for conservation fees ($14) we boarded a small boat with our bags and were off… or so we thought. 

On the boat and ready to head to Perhentian Kecil
Headed to Perhentian Kecil

After maybe 4 minutes of coasting away, the driver got a call and we did a giant u-turn and headed back towards the dock. We all looked around a bit confused but decided to go with it. Upon return, we picked up four locals and many bags of food they had with them. Now it all made sense and we headed off again… just kidding!

Two minutes later we headed back towards the same dock again but instead stopped at some boats all resting together and a few locals got off the boat (including the driver?) and different ones got on. The ones who got off proceeded to climb over several boats that were all tied together to make it back to land, and all of a sudden we had a new driver and we were on our way again, for good this time. 

Water flying off the side of the boat as we take off
Taking Off On The Boat

Turns out the first driver had a boat license and was thus cleared by the dock to drive everyone to the island. The second driver who ended up actually making the journey with us while the licensed man returned did not. I guess we were living life on the edge! Nevertheless, we arrived on Long Beach 30 minutes later, climbed over all the boats tied together to get to the dock and stuck our feet in the sand. Then it was off to find lodging for the night as we hadn’t booked anything in advance! I broke one of my few guidelines on this trip as this is a mostly a walk in lodging island. In this case, it turned out for the best 🙂 ! 

Long beach side of Perhentian Kecil taken from the boat we arrived on
We’ve Arrived!

After settling in for a day we set out to explore the island! First stop? The hike to the Windmills and the amazing staircase leading you to the Blue Lagoon. An adventure of a lifetime 🙂 !

Check out our Exploration Guide for the full inside scoop on Perhentian Kecil!

Share this: Let us know if you have any questions in the comments and be sure to share the stories of your adventures with us on Facebook and Instagram (tag @LifeIsMeantForExploring we will see it). Have fun exploring!

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Life Is Meant For Exploring

We promote and inspire a life of exploration with a focus on travel, outdoor adventure, experiencing local culture, and breaking away from the pack to forge a path of your very own. Whether you’re traveling the world, sitting in your backyard, or looking for a fresh start, our goal is to show you how to enjoy life one adventure at a time! We have tips and tricks, destination (exploration!) guides, personal stories, how-tos, and much more!

4 thoughts on “Our Journey From Kuala Terengganu to Pulau Perhentian Kecil 

  1. Love the contrast between the blue, blue water and the orange roofs. They are wonderful accents to the story itself. Keep blogging!


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