With our first year of full-time travel, I’ve decided to go with the flow more and be a little less of a control freak! As such I’ve set very few “rules”. One that I do have though, is that even if we don’t know our itinerary or how long we plan on staying in a given place I want one night of lodging booked before we arrive. From there we can figure out what we want to do next, but the one night is sort of a safety net.
On our second week in Malaysia and only 1.5 months into our trip, I broke my rule.
I set caution to the wind and decided to go for it.
Well sort of, let’s backtrack a bit.
After spending time on peninsular Malaysia we wanted to hop on over to another island. So we headed up the Eastern Coast a bit for a pit stop in Kuala Terengganu as we planned our next island escape. We settled on Pulau Perhentian Kecil (the smaller of the two Perhentian Islands) based on a recommendation from a local dive master we met at the Bayu Dive Shop.
We had a little more luck with bungalows and hotels, at least they existed!
But 93% of the available bookings had already been reserved!
As slow travelers, we often don’t plan ahead tooooo much, but at this point we wished we had a bit. Of the rooms available they were $40-60 a night when we’ve been paying $8-24 for two people. With a little sticker shock, we decided to head out for dinner and make up our minds later.
When we returned to our hostel we met a traveler who’d just come from Perhentian Kecil and said the majority of the backpacker lodging is walk-in only. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense as WIFI is few and far between on the island, and when it does exist it doesn’t work well.
So we decided to not book the expensive hotels and just see what happened when we arrived! Queue slightly nervous Alli (were stretching the comfort zone here!).
We boarded a bus the next morning at 8am (the bus drove the whole way with its doors open! That was a new experience) and took it to the port in Kuala Besut. From there we bought our boat tickets, paid our conservation fees, and hopped on a tiny but fasssttt boat with our bags. 40 minutes of open ocean and a bouncing boat later (once we actually left the port with a new driver, that is….) we were dropped off on Long Beach.
With our Tortuga packs strapped to our backs, and our toes in the sand we started looking for lodging. First place wayyyy to expensive ($175 a night), next place $45, then we stumbled across a camp site! A two person tent was about $12.
We’ll hold onto that option for a minute. Next hotel was $40 a night and then we stumbled onto some little bungalows.
By this point, we were a bit tired from the sand and heavy packs. The woman said $10 a night for two and we got excited.
We peaked at two little bungalows. The decks in front were slanted, the wooden doors had to be pulled a little harder to shut, there was space in between the walls and the roof so the bungalow was definitely not sealed, and electricity was only on from 7pm-9am (most places run on generators so they give the generators a break during the day) but there were two beds, two mosquito nets, and a fan. Good enough for one night!
Tonight we’d be far more on the backpacker end of the spectrum than the flashpacker end. So we booked, put our stuff down and went out to explore.
After enjoying the amazingly crystal clear waters, getting the lay of the land on Long Beach, enjoying some delicious noodles and fruit salad for lunch we went in search of potential lodging for the next night. Without our heavy packs on this time!
One place after another was either too expensive or a dive shop (and during this season they don’t have extra accommodation for non-divers). We decided to look at one last spot on the end of Long Beach before hiking to the other side of the island.
Boy were we glad we did! Enter Mohsin Chalet!
Hidden behind a resort, and a little ways up a hill we found the perfect spot. The Chalet had rooms available, and they were ones with amazing views! We asked how much ($19), looked at the rooms and put our deposit down right then and there 🙂
We never would have found this place online and I was pretty pleased that I’d set aside my “rule” and gone with the flow. Not only did it save us quite a bit of money but it gave us a great view and a very pleasant room.
After our night in the little bungalow, moving to the Chalet felt like luxury. Still no AC, but we had amazing views, our own attached bathroom, a lovely deck and chairs, and a king size bed. The only downside, toilet tank leaks a bit. We just pretend it’s our own private fountain lullabying us to sleep 😉
If you’re looking for a budget friendly option on the island we highly recommend Mohsin Chalet! Check out our Perhentian Kecil Exploration Guide if you are planning on taking a trip to this island paradise.
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 the Perhentians!
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Try Booking Your Next Night on Airbnb or Hostelworld. Unless you’re visiting Perhentian Kecil that is 😉