The ultimate guide to island hopping in Malaysia

When you think of Malaysia, you probably don’t really think of the many islands that surround the mainland.

Malaysia is much more renowned for its vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, or the exotic Cameron Highlands, but it is in fact also home to some of the most stunning islands in Southeast Asia.

If you’re currently planning a dream trip to Malaysia, check out this ultimate guide to island hopping in Malaysia for dreamy, wanderlust inspiration!

Get adventurous in Langkawi

Langkawi is so close to Thailand that you can actually see numerous islands from multiple points around Langkawi Island.


One of the most popular island hopping routes to enjoy in Malaysia is from Koh Lipe to Langkawi. After a wonderful few weeks exploring Thailand and its wondrous islands, head on a high speed ferry to Langkawi to begin your island hopping journey in Malaysia.

The Langkawi Skybridge Cable Car is a must-do when you’re on the island for unparalleled, 360° views of the surrounding islands and ocean. For those afraid of heights, take heed; it’s certainly not for the faint of heart! 

It’s actually cited as the steepest cable car in the world so make sure you’re feeling brave and that you’re well equipped with your camera to take pictures of the incredible views.

If you’d prefer to keep your feet remaining firmly on the ground, then you won’t be short of amazing beaches, beach bars and waterfalls to keep you entertained while in Langkawi, such as Cenang Beach and Seven Wells Waterfall.

Eat your heart out on Penang Island

The little town of George Town that resides on Penang Island is an absolutely beautiful place and somewhere that everyone should have on their Malaysia travel itinerary.


The tourist ferry from Langkawi to Penang Island takes just less than three hours so it’s pretty easy to get to and you don’t have to worry about being on the water for too long if you suffer from seasickness.

Once you get to Penang Island, head straight for George Town and make sure you’ve worked up a fine appetite so you can enjoy all the delicious food at the many Hawker Markets. Be sure to head to the Red Garden Food Paradise and the Jetty Food Court hawker markets for some of the most delicious (and cheap!) food you’ll ever eat.

In terms of things to do in George Town and Penang, make sure to carve out some time in your schedule to pay a visit to Kek Lok Si Temple. Kek Lok Si is the largest and arguably most beautiful Buddhist temple in the whole of Malaysia. It’s also an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over Asia, including Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore

Sitting proudly on top of Penang Hill, the magnificent Buddha temple is one of the most remarkable temples in Malaysia. If you time your visit right and head there on a clear day, you’ll also be treated to marvellous views of the town below.

Relax on the Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands consist of Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil and are typically much quieter and less touristy than Langkawi and Penang.

These islands reside just off the Northeast coast of Malaysia, not too far from the Thai border, and are a must-visit as part of your island hopping excursions in Malaysia.

©Achilli Family | Journeys/Flickr

To get to the Perhentian Islands, you’ll have to make your way to the little port town of Kuala Besut and then hop on a short 35-minute ferry from the Kuala Besut Jetty to Pulau Perhentian Besar. From there, you can get a local boat to travel between the islands.

When you get to Pulau Perhentian Besar, you’ll be greeted by beautiful beaches, glorious white sand and crystal clear waters. There’s a vast range of accommodation options on the Perhentian Islands; from lavish luxury resorts, to small and non-descript beach huts.

Snorkelling and diving are also huge pastimes on the islands as the surrounding clear waters make for the perfect underwater activities. 

If you’re not particularly inclined to head into the water, there’s still plenty to do. From lounging on the spectacular beaches, to hiking around the islands, the Perhentian Islands are definitely somewhere that you need to add to your Malaysian island hopping itinerary. 

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