Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia: Dutch History in Paradise

by Steven
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Pulau Pangkor is an island on the west side of Malaysia. It is located in the state of Perak and from Kuala Lumpur it takes about 5 hours to get there. Many tourists do not know this island and that is a shame! Okay, the water may not be as clear blue as on other islands, but because of the relaxed vibe it is an ideal holiday destination.

And there is a also some history to be found on Pulau Pankgor. The Dutch East India Company, has managed a fort on Pulau Pangkor for years. They didn’t do that to stay on the beach, but just to protect their trade. What is there to do on this little island? You’ll discover it here in this historical travel guide…

Mini Travel Guide – Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia

History Pulau Pangkor – A journey through the past

Accommodation – Where to stay at Pulau Pangkor?

Sights – 3 historical sights in Pulau Pangkor

Transportation – How to get to Pulau Pangkor?

Teluk Nipah Beach Pulau Pangkor
Teluk Nipah Beach

History Pulau Pangkor – A journey through the past

Little is known about the history of Pulau Pangkor before the arrival of the Dutch on this island. It used to be called Spirit Island. Especially because the locals believed that the island was guarded by ghosts. Below is a brief overview of the most important events in the history of Pulau Pangkor…


The VOC is established

The Dutch East India Company is established in the Netherlands. This company focuses primarily on trade in the east and has as its trading centre Batavia, now Jakarta. In the east, for example, there are fights with the Portuguese, who are gradually being driven out.

A second trading centre: Malacca

In 1641, with the help of the sultan of Johor, the Dutch managed to expel the Portuguese from the east. The Netherlands acquired Malacca and established a trading centre there. The important Strait of Malacca seems to be under control.


A Dutch Fort: Kota Belanda

The Dutch have been trading with the sultan of Perak for several years now. For example, the Netherlands mainly gets its tin from here. To protect this trade, they build the Fort Dindingh on Pulau Pangkor, named after the river of the same name that flows on the island.

Malays destroy the fortress

Less than 20 years after its construction, the local population is destroying the fortress. In particular, they disagreed with the way in which the Dutch tried to obtain minerals and tin.


Rebuild it again!

In 1743, the Dutch decided to rebuild the fort. They manned this fortress with 60 people, but it was not a success. In 1748 the Dutch left the island for good.

End of VOC. Hello Brits!

In 1795 the VOC was officially declared bankrupt. The Dutch withdrew and the British took over large parts of Asia.


The Pangkor Treaty

On 20 January 1874, the British and the Sultan of Perak, Raja Abdullah, concluded an agreement. This agreement marks the official beginning of the British influence on the politics of the various Malaysian states. Today, Malaysia is still part of the British Commonwealth.

The VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) and the monopoly on the tin trade
Perak was one of the largest producers of tin in the 17th and 18th centuries. When the Portuguese left Malacca in 1641, the Dutch thought they had a monopoly on various products. But that was a bit disappointing. Regularly traders from India came to buy tin from Perak and in the street of Malacca there were many pirates present. Enough enemies!

Even the sultan of Perak was not a fan of the Dutch trade monopoly. He made a deal with Aceh, a powerful state across the Strait of Malacca. They saw Perak as part of their territory. The Dutch were to be driven out, but they were unable to do so. It did lead to an agreement after years of conflict. The Netherlands acquired 2/3 of the tin trade and Aceh 1/3. Eventually the Dutch decided in 1670 to build a fortress to get more control over the trade with Perak.

The beaches of Pulau Pangkor
The beaches of Pulau Pangkor

Accommodation – Where to stay at Pulau Pangkor?

Pulau Pangkor is an island that is visited by very few tourists. Especially on weekends it is crowded with locals, coming from the ‘mainland’ of Malaysia. And for parties and parties you should definitely not be here. But if you like relaxing beaches, where you are sometimes one of the few and a beautiful sunset, then you are right here!

On the east side of the island, where the ferry arrives, there are mainly a number of fishing villages. If you want to get to know the local culture a bit better, then this is the place to be. A good place to stay is in Teluk Nipah, in the northwest of the island. Here you have Coral Beach with some nice restaurants, like Daddy’s cafe and some good accommodations.

Looking for accommodation? Click here for hotels or guesthouses in Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia

Rent a scooter?
The best way to explore the island is to rent a scooter. Usually this is possible at your accommodation and otherwise there is always one nearby. The island is not big, so everything will be explored within one day. And then it depends on you how long you are going to stay? 1, 2 or 3 days enjoying a quiet calm beach and a beautiful sunset?

Daddy's Cafe Coral Beach
Love from Daddy’s Cafe

Sights – Historical sights in Pulau Pangkor?

For a visit to Pulau Pangkor you come mainly for the peace and quiet and the relaxed vibe. But for those who want to see more and can marvel at some ideas below.

Feel like diving? Or would you like to rent a kayak? This is possible on the beaches of Pasir Bogak and Teluk Nipah.

1: Visit a few fishing villages

Pangkor Town is the largest town on the island. It is located on the east side and for traditional life you should take a look here. The inhabitants are highly dependent on fishing. You can tell by the many fishing boats in the harbours of the island. If you’re not averse to a nice fish, this is the place to be!

2: Dutch Fort

Dutch Fort Pulau Pangkor
Remains of the Dutch VOC fortress

The abandoned Dutch fort in the southeast of the island is the only place where history still comes to life. This fortress was mainly used to manage the tin trade with Perak. In 1973 the local authority decided to restore the fort and to call it a historical monument.

Not far from the fort is Tiger Rock with an inscription of the VOC. The story about this stone is that in 1743 a girl was playing here and suddenly disappeared and was never found again. It was assumed that a tiger had killed her.

3. Lin Je Kong Temple

Lin Je Kong Temple Entry Malaysia!

Actually there are more temples on the Pulau Pangkor. But this one is located north of Coral Beach and now and then you see locals come here to pray. But if you walk past the temple along the rock at the end you will have a small private beach!
Another temple on the island is the Foo Lin Kong Temple, at the foot of Pangkor Hill. It is located in the village of Sungai Pinang Besar on the east side of the island.

Finally: If you’re not in the mood for doing anything? Just have a rest in a nice hammock along the beach! Enjoy!

Pulau Pangkor Malaysia Perak
Like this!

Transportation – How to get to Pulau Pangkor?

Airplane: Surprisingly, Pulau Pangkor has an airport. But it is only used for private jets and thererfore not possible to enter the island y plane. So that will be the ferry!

Ferry Lumut Pulau Pangkor
The ferry between Lumut and Pulau Pangkor

Bus/Boat: But first you have to make sure you take a bus to Lumut. From Kuala Lumpur Terminal Bersepadu Selatan there are buses to Lumut every half hour. It will take about 4 hours to get there. From the bus station of Lumut it is less than a 200 meter walk to the Ferry. The ferry departs every 45 minutes. At Pulau Pangkor this boat stops 2 times. The first time is northeast of the island, useful if you want to spend the night in the fishing village. But if you prefer to stay on the other side, for a beautiful sunset, you better get off at the second stop. From here minibuses leave for every destination on the island and the prices are fixed, on a large sign above the footpath! Useful, isn’t it?

Sunset Pulau Pangkor Malaysia
Sunset on Pulau Pangkor

And what is your opinion about Pulau Pangkor? If you have more tips and ideas, feel free to leave a message below.

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