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Introducing Pulau Pangkor

Pulau Pangkor (‘Beautiful Island’) is a former pirate hideout and bit-player in the battle to control the Selat Melaka (Strait of Melaka). In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort here in their bid to monopolise the Perak tin trade, but were driven out by a local ruler before returning briefly some 50 years later. In 1874 a contender for the Perak throne sought British backing and the Pangkor Treaty was signed, ushering in British Residents and the colonial period.

These days, the only people invading the island are Malaysian weekend warriors. Pangkor doesn’t see many foreign tourists, probably because its beaches aren’t among Malaysia’s best. Instead, the real highlight here is the low-key, village feel. The jungly interior, in particular, is wild, unexplored and isolated. During the week you’ve got the sand to yourself, and when it’s raining on other islands, it somehow stays sunny here.