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.
There are basically two parts to this journey. Getting from Kota Bharu to the jetty in Kuala Besut where boats leave for the Perhentians and then taking 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 .
How To Get From Kota Bharu To Perhentian Islands
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.
Option 1: Take A Bus
There are buses every hour from Kota Bharu bus station for RM25. If you are on a budget, it’s also possible to get local bus #639 for RM10 but this will take about a half hour longer 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.
Option 2: Take A Taxi
A taxi from Kota Bharu starts from about RM40 making this a great choice. You can also take one directly from the airport for about RM80.
All taxi drivers will know where to find the pier. They know travellers are travelling to Kuala Besut for this reason.
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
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.
Otherwise, you can get a taxi for about RM70. Don’t be afraid to bargain.
Step 2: Travelling From Kuala Besut To Perhentian Islands
With either boat option below, you need to pay the environmental fee which is RM5 for Malaysians and RM30 for others 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 as well as bumpy and wet.
You can book a ferry service and see the latest timetables with the Perhentian Trans Holiday service by clicking here.
This services runs up to eight times a day. 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 but discounts can be available so ask around.
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.
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, 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 and expect that you will probably need to stop at other beaches before heading back – consider it a free tour!
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.
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below!
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.
Joshua is an Australian who has fallen in love with Malaysia! He explores Malaysia at least a few times a year and has previously lived in Penang.