How To Get From Kota Bharu To Perhentian Islands [2024]

Published Categorized as Perhentian Islands
This article may contain compensated links. Read the disclaimer for more info. We follow our review guidelines

Travelling to the Perhentian Islands from Kota Bharu (or vice versa) and wondering how to get from Kota Bharu to Perhentian Islands?

Don’t worry, it’s straightforward.

The Perhentian Islands are a beautful place in Malaysia and well worth being on your itinerary. And if you’ve already worked out how to get to Kota Bharu then you’re nearly there.

kota bharu Perhentian Islands...
Perhentian Islands…

There are basically two parts to this journey. The first is getting from Kota Bharu to the jetty in Kuala Besut. This is where boats leave for the Perhentians. Then you need to take a boat from Kuala Besut to the Perhentians.

In the rest of this article, I’m going to tell you exactly how to get to Perhentian Islands from Kota Bharu including how to get from Kota Bharu Airport to Perhentian Islands.

Travelling to Malaysia? Click here to download your free Malaysia Trip Planning checklist. We’ll help you get ready for your trip! 

Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired.

How To Get From Kota Bharu To Perhentian Islands [2019]

How To Get From Kota Bharu To Perhentian Islands

Here’s a summary of this journey with full details below.

RouteOption 1 Option 2
Step 1Kota Bharu to Kuala Besut JettyTake bus #639 from Kota Bharu bus station. This takes about 90 minutes. It leaves every 1-2 hours.Take a taxi straight to the jetty. This takes about 1.25 hours.
Kota Bharu Airport to Kuala Besut JettyTake a local bus to the main bus station then take the bus mentioned above.Take a taxi straight to the jetty. This takes about 1.25 hours.
Step 2 Kuala Besut Jetty to Perhentian IslandsTake a public ferry – Book here. It takes about 30 minutes.Take a private boat. It takes about 30 minutes.
Kota Bharu To Perhentian Islands map
Click the Map to open in Google Maps. You can then access directions to each of the locations discussed in this article.

Step 1: Travelling From Kota Bharu To Perhentian Ferry At Kuala Besut

The first step is travelling overland to the jetty at Kuala Besut.

Kota Bharu is only about 57 kilometres from the jetty and the journey takes about an hour and a quarter. If you are flying into Kota Bharu airport and wish to go straight to the islands from here, the journey is slightly quicker from here than the city.

Note that the last boat to the Perhentians is usually at 5pm in peak season (April – September, earlier other times) so if you will arrive in Kuala Besut after this, I recommending spending the night in Kota Bharu which is nicer with more options. It is possible to stay at Kuala Besut though with a few options near the jetty.

Kota Bharu bus station
Kota Bharu bus station

Option 1: Take A Bus

If you are on a budget, it’s possible to get local bus #639 between the main Kota Bharu bus station (Stesen Bas Kota Bharu) for RM10. This takes about 90 minutes and leaves every 1-2 hours.

If you are coming from the airport, you can take a public bus into Kota Bharu and then take one of the other buses to Kuala Besut. You can also pre-book a shuttle service from the airport to Kuala Besut but since this costs more than a taxi, I don’t recommend this option.

Option 2: Take A Taxi

A taxi from Kota Bharu starts from about RM60 making this a great choice. You can also take one directly from the airport for about RM90.

All taxi drivers will know where to find the pier. They know travellers are travelling to Kuala Besut for this reason.

You can use the handy Grab app to find drivers at the best price.

Option 3: Drive

If you have your own car, it’s an easy drive from Kota Bharu to Kuala Besut. There are several car parks close by where you can safely leave your car for RM10/day.

Travelling From Kuala Besut To Kota Bharu

Kuala Besut Jetty taxis
Taxis waiting at the jetty

Travelling in this direction, you can also book a shuttle service which runs three times a day and will take you from the jetty in Kuala Besut to wherever you want to be dropped off in Kota Bharu. This meets this ferry from the Perhentians.

Click here for more information and prices.

Otherwise, you can get a taxi. There was a sign board with set prices pictured below which was here October 2019. Expect it to be a little more now, but it gives you an idea.

Kuala Besut Jetty taxi prices
Kuala Besut Jetty taxi prices

Taxi drivers may also meet you as you come off your boat but will likely quote a higher price. Your best bet is to walk through the jetty to the exit which is where this sign is.

Step 2: Travelling From Kuala Besut To Perhentian Islands

kota bharu perhentian boat
Boat taxi in the Perhentian Islands

With either boat option below, you need to pay the environmental fee which is RM5 for Malaysians and RM30 for others AND a local council fee of RM5 per person. This is correct at time of publishing. This is paid at a separate government stall on the left hand side of the departure area. You will be given a small ticket which you will need to show your boat operator.

It takes about 30 minutes to reach the islands but the public boat will make multiple stops which can mean it will take longer for you to get to your area.

Option 1: Take A Public Boat

There are ferries running throughout the day with the majority in the morning starting about 8am. Although note that even though these boats are often referred to as ferries, they are actually small speed boats that usually hold about 15 people. It can be a tight fit as people can be crowded in. It can also be a bumpy and wet ride.

You can book a ferry service and see the latest timetables with the Perhentian Trans Holiday service and Mieha Holidays by clicking here.

This services runs up to eight times a day, approximately hourly. It runs year round. Bigger resorts may have their own boats and you may be able to book directly with them.

If you don’t book beforehand, there are ticket stands and tour offices near the jetty where you can get tickets. You can’t miss them. RM70 is the usual price for a return trip, but discounts can be available so ask around.

Buying a ticket beforehand can make things smoother on arrival at the jetty.

Kuala Besut Jetty ticket office
One of the ticket offices just outside the jetty

Show up at least 30 minutes before your boat is due to depart. There are many different operators and you may have to ask multiple people before you find your own. It can be a bit chaotic.

When you hop on your boat, let the operator know the island and beach you want to go to. The boats will stop at most beaches although sometimes you may need to transfer to a second boat and pay a few extra ringgit to get to your exact destination.

Kuala Besut Jetty
Kuala Besut Jetty

Option 2: Take A Private Boat

You can hire your own boat across to the Perhentians. You can arrange this for about RM400.

Travelling Back To Kuala Besut

There are less public boat options to get back to Kuala Besut with boats usually leaving at 8am, 10am, 12pm and 4pm. You should ask your accommodation provider to book your return journey for you the day before you want to leave if you have a return ticket.

You can also book your ferry back in advance by clicking here.

Show up at least 15 minutes early for your pick up. You also should expect that you will probably need to stop at other beaches before heading back – consider it a free tour!

ferry perhentian island to kuala besut
Our “ferry” back to Kuala Besut

Final Words

It’s very straightforward to get from Kota Bharu to Pulau Perhentian. The easiest way is to get a taxi from Kota Bharu airport or the city to Kuala Besut and then either catch a public or private boat out to the islands depending on what time you arrive.

To save money, the cheapest way is to catch a bus from Kota Bharu to Kuala Besut and then a public ferry.

If you are not travelling by yourself then I recommend you take the taxi to Kuala Besut and then the public boats.

However you get there, make sure you get ready to have a fabulous time in Perhentian Islands and enjoy every minute!

Looking for the ultimate Malaysia Itinerary Planner for your trip? Click here to get it now!

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

You can also read our full guide about travelling to the Perhentian Islands here. Wondering where to stay in the Perhentian Islands? Read our acommodation guide here. Find our full Perhentian Island guide here.

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.