Travelling from Cameron Highlands to the Perhentian Islands we find the only route possible to be by minivan leaving the small town of Tanah Rata and passing the pier of Kuala Besut on the east coast. Tanah Rata serves the Cameron Highlands area as a handy transit hub for visitors to the area and poking around you’ll find a number of tour agencies for booking travel. Standard price for one-way travel was 60RM per person (as below). From the Kuala Besut Pier you then forward to the Perhentian islands and while tickets are available in Tanah Rata it maybe best waiting to Kuala Besut. If not staying in Tanah Rata (as we don’t) it is possible to organise for hotel pick-up by the minivan on passing. Minivans leave Tanah Rata daily at 10:00am arriving to Kuala Besut Pier at roughly 16:00pm (6 hours travel).
Tanah Rata to Kuala Besut Pier
We arrange for pick-up at our hotel in Brinchang. At 10am we sit by the road as instructed and wait… 20 minutes… 40 minutes… the minivan arrives. If arranging pickup in areas outside of Tanah Rata you might want to add some extra minutes for your destination. It takes roughly 15 minutes between the Tanah Rata and Brinchang so I’m guessing they aren’t overly punctual with timing. Being the last in the minivan we squash into the uncomfortable front row seats and the journey begins. We follow windy roads through hills, dense rain-forests and limestone karsts. After 3 hours of smooth roads and nice scenery we stop at a remote town for lunch at a lay-by Nasi Kandar restaurant. I stuff my face with rice, curries and a tin of coke (10RM). At the same stop we also transfer from our existing minivan to an even smaller minivan. Again we are squashed to the front row with zero leg room and I can’t even straighten my feet. I think this stretch of travel has to be my worst since travels in rural Laos… possibly ever. After three more hours we arrive to Kuala Besut Pier.
Kuala Besut to the Perhentian Islands
Arriving to Kuala Besut we are dropped direct to a pier-side tour office where we are told not to leave and are hurried to book the “last boat” which was about to leave. Suspecting the guy was a jackass we instead leave the tour office (full post on Kuala Besut to come) and poke around the pier area to find many better travel and accommodation options. Note it was not ‘the last boat’ and we travel a couple of crossings later to the Perenthian islands leaving the pier at 17:30. We travel for a “special price” of 60RM (two-way ticket). We arrive to Perhentian Besar (the big island) shortly after 18:00. Do book hotels in advance….