Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany’s Riverside Castle Town

Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany’s Riverside Castle Town

Heidelberg is a student town but it somehow turned into a travel destination because it is pretty. It is small, yet is one of the most picturesque towns in Germany because of the castle, old bridge and an old town that boasts of baroque architecture. Yes, it is like a mini Prague.

We visited Heidelberg in August 2020 during the Corona pandemic. Honestly that was one of the lighter months because there were hardly any restrictions and the number of cases were low. Everything was functioning like normal except one had to wear a mask for even walking in Heidelberg’s old town.

Our visit to Heidelberg was as a family because we were with our 1 year old girl. We arrived here with our camper van and found a nice river side camping place. I will talk more about that at the end, but let’s talk about Heidelberg first. 

The romantic Heidelberg with Castle, river and old town via unsplash

Heidelberg looks like it was plucked straight off a tin fudge box. Also, because it is a student town then it has a decent nightlife. We weren’t able to bar-hopping for German wines and beers in the old town because of our baby girl but we did end up doing more than we thought we would. Here are some of the best things to do in in Heidelberg for every kind of a traveler.

Fun Fact for all the Potterheads out there – Heidelberg actually has a professional Quidditch team and they are called the Heidelberg Harriers. Insane right?

What is Heidelberg in Germany known for & Why visit it?

Heidelberg is situated on the serene banks of the winding Neckar River in the southwest region of Germany. It is a 14th-century town renowned for its local university, but also for its romantic and idyllic cityscape surrounded by green forested hills. The local castle is one of the most famous landmarks in the area and a stellar example of Renaissance architecture. I have mentioned Heidelberg as a prominent  part of Germany’s “castle route” road trip.

Despite welcoming many students each year, Heidelberg is not the cheapest German city because it attracts tourists. You may want to keep an eye on the Forex exchange rates before you travel if you’re coming from overseas. But it’s certainly not as expensive as some other European destinations like Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam or Rome.

The romantic Heidelberg with Castle, river and old town

How to Reach Heidelberg

As mentioned before on this website over and over, the best and the most convenient way to travel in Germany is by road because public transport can be very expensive. Just rent a car and drive to Heidelberg if you don’t have one.

Check Car Rental Prices in Germany

If you arrive in Germany by air, then Heidelberg is 1 hour train ride away from Frankfurt and the train ticket costs EUR 25 – super expensive. Yes, German trains are. You can also look for bus tickets from DeinBus and Flixbus. A one way bus ticket is usually 10 Euros from the nearby Frankfurt or Stuttgart.

Best Things to do in Heidelberg, Germany

1) Philosophenweg (the Philosopher’s Walk) + Heiligenberg

We just happened to walk along the Philosophenweg just by chance because we found a nice path along the river Neckar and decided to take it. It happened to be the most memorable thing that we did in Heidelberg. We were able to take our baby on her stroller for almost the entire part but not all. Which was ok, because we were 4 adults so we could just lift her up and her pram together.

Philosophenweg – Philosopher’s walk in Heidelberg via Unsplash

A little info for you – the Philosopher’s Walk is named as such because it was a walk taken initially by the Heidelberg University’s professors and philosophers. Thanks to them for popularizing this walking path for not just the students but also the visitors, dogs and solo travelers.

View from the Philosophenweg, Heidelberg via Unsplash

The Philosopher’s walking path has some of the most amazing views of the Castle and the old town. It overlooks the winding river beneath so you will have a lot of photo opportunities on this path. Most of the two-kilometre walk is not physically challenging, although there is a steep part towards the end. Take some water and your camera for a great hour outside the hustle and bustle of the town.

 

2) Admire Schloss Heidelberg – Heidelberg Palace

The Massive Heidelberg Castle over the city – via Pixabay

You can’t visit Heidelberg and not admire the Schloss Heidelberg with its mix of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Schloss is a German word that means castle. Actually Heidelberg Castle is many times referred to as the Heidelberg Palace too. Even if you don’t want to visit it from the inside, you will definitely look at it with awe because it is massive. 

Inside Heidelberger-Schloss via Pixabay

Entering Heidelberg Castle is not free. In case you’re visiting the city and are going to do some of the other activities then I highly recommend you get the HeidelbergCard. It includes the public transport, Heidelberg castle entry, cable rail to and back from the castle and a discount on many other attractions.

Click for the HeidelbergCard

This card is valid for 1 – 4 days so make sure you get it if you’re going to visit the castle and ride the cable train to it.

Here’s a little dose of history for you which I found very interesting. Heidelberg Castle was initiated as a royal residence by Prince Elector Ruprecht III who lived from 1398–1410. It was further built in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries by different Princes. However, post that the castle suffered. First, it was destroyed several times during the Thirty Years’ War. Second, it was stuck by the lightning during the restoration attempts. Third, the stones from the castle were taken apart to build new houses. Thankfully it came to an end in 1800 under Count Charles de Graimberg.

Heidelberg Schloss Castle – via Pixabay

Despite its tragic history, today Schloss Heidelberg is the biggest tourist attraction in the town. If you take time to see the castle from inside, you will be charmed by it and love the breathtaking views of the region from the top of its towers. Also on-site in this 14th-century structure is a restaurant and German museum. You’ll be able to spend an entire day here and keep everyone entertained.

The Heidelberg Castle Festival is held every year in the summer months here where one can enjoy concerts, musicals and theatre performances in the courtyard.

3) Ride the Heidelberg Bergbahn Funicular (Cable Rail) to Königstuhl-Mountain

Heidelberg Bergbahn Funicular via Unsplash

The Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway runs from the Heidelberg Altstadt to the Königstuhl viewpoint via the castle. “Bergbahn funicular” is actually mountain cable railway, Königstuhl means King’s Chair and Altstadt means old town. So, this train runs from “Kornmakt” in the Old Town to Heidelberg Castle and to the Königstuhl.

If you’re taking the train from the old town to the Königstuhl, then you will have to change the train once. The best part of the journey is the upper section of this cable rail – it is called Königstuhlbahn. It has a 100 year old engine and historical looking wooden cars – so truly a historical ride. The service starts at 9 am and ends late during summer but much earlier during the winter months. You will end up paying around 10-15 euros per person for a return ticket, depending on how many people are together. You can find the updated info and tickets for the train here.

If you’re thinking of riding the cable rail and also entering Heidelberg Castle then we highly recommend you get the HeidelbergCard to save money.

Click for the HeidelbergCard

Heidelberg view from the top – via Unsplash

Königstuhl is 567.8 meters high and is the highest peak in the Lower Odenwald forest. The view from the top at Königstuhl is known for the views of Heidelberg, the Rhine Valley, the Neckar River and Katzenbuckel mountain. Once you’re up there, look out for the two walking paths – Königstuhl Route and the Kohlhof route. They are almost the same length which is between 4.5 to 4.8 KMs and are easy to cover. There is also a 2 KM long nature trail that you can take if you’re here with small children.

4) Walk on Karl Theodor Bridge – the Old Bridge

The Old Bridge in Heidelberg – via Unsplash

Don’t all the famous European cities have famous bridges? Prague has the Charles Bridge, Istanbul has the Bosporus bridge, Paris has the Pont des Arts, Amsterdam has 1200 and Hamburg has 2400 of them. Heidelberg has an awesome one too that goes over the River Neckar. 

Heidelberg’s bridge Karl Theodor Bridge is usually known as Old Bridge. It is an 18th-century sandstone bridge with interesting arches and located in the northern part of the town. The bridge has Baroque tower helmets and some strange looking structures that make interesting photo subjects. Make sure you spot the Bridge Monkey (Brückenaffe) – it is a funny looking bronze statue of a monkey which is a part of many Instagram photos.

Heidelberg Brückenaffe – the monkey on the bridge – via Pixabay

This bridge is actually a very good starting point if you’re entering the Old Town – Altstadt, because you can see a lot of places from here already. The view from the bridge captures the old town at a glorious angle.

Heidelberg Old Bridge with Baroque tower helmets – via Unsplash

There’s something super romantic about walking on a bridge with your partner and just like most famous bridges all over the world, here too you will see couples. Of course a lot of tourists too who want to click an Instagram-worthy photo.  Many things are closed on Sundays in Germany, so this is an excellent time to explore the bridge.

5) Get Lost in the Altstadt (the Old Town) 

The Streets of Heidelberg Old Town – via Unsplash

Even if you don’t do some of the above mentioned activities, you will surely do this. Heidelberg’s old town is unmissable and you definitely will end up spending most of your time here. After all, it is the city’s historic heart. Heidelberger Altstadt is long and narrow and has the typical “European-old-town” vibes – cobbled streets, beautifully preserved old buildings, main square, and even a castle. 

I do talk about getting lost in the old town but still, here are the things to do (and see) in Heidelber’s Old Town during your first visit. 

Church of the Holy Spirit

The first thing that you will see in the Old Town is probably the Heidelberg Castle even before you walk on the old bridge. From the old bridge as you walk to the Altstadt, you will see the famous Church of the Holy Spirit.

Montpellierplatz

Walk through the Old Town and make sure you also see Montpellierplatz. It is a very peaceful park with a very interesting looking old building. Sit here to relax for a few minutes before you move further.

Hauptstrasse

When you’re in the old town, you will definitely end up walking on the famous Hauptstrasse. It means the main street and is around 1.5 KMs long pedestrian street which is more than just the town’s shopping street. You will definitely see fashion to cosmetics and handmade treasures. The Hauptstrasse has some very interesting stores where you can buy super fun and quirky gifts, like we did. There is even a booth within the street where you can go to exchange books. Take your used ones and pick up a new title for free.

Enjoy a Roadside Cafe in the Market Square

Heidelberg Main Square, Altstadt Heidelberger – via Unsplash

If you don’t feel like climbing the towers of the castle and would prefer a relaxing few hours, you may like to spend time in the town’s market square. The square is full of life and vibrancy with scores of bars and cafes. Yes, town squares and market squares are touristy but there’s usually a lot of funny stuff going on to watch. Grab a seat outside, a coffee and watch the world go by in this fabulous location. Once refelled, go and explore the old town.

Heidelberg University Library & Studentenkarzer

I suggest spending some time here with an aim to get lost. We did too and we wandered off inside a part of the Heidelberg University and saw the beautiful Heidelberg University Library building. Another place to see in Heidelberger Altstadt is Studentenkarzer. It was once a university prison cell that’s now covered with graffiti. 

Visit a Brauhaus and Drink Locally Brewed Beer 

We just happened to visit Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus by chance while waiting for a friend and bought extra beer for the road. It ended up being the best tasting beer and we felt stupid for not having bought more. It is in the beginning of the old town and even if you’re not stopping here for a meal, I highly recommend you buy a bottle to try it.

6) Neckarwiese Heidelberg – the Park with a View

Neckarwiese Heidelberg along the Neckar River via Pixabay

Neckarwiese is maybe one of the best places to spend a few hours “on your own terms” while you look at the lovely city. I say in your own terms is because you get to sit, you don’t have to pay a restaurant or a cafe and you’re out in the open. Of course, this is a place to be if it is a sunny day. 

We visited Heidelberg during an especially warm weekend so we did see a lot of sun bathers in Neckarwiese. It is along the Neckar river and on the opposite side of the Old Town, so it is very easy to reach. Due to it’s location, you will have a nice view of Heidelberg castle, the Old Town right behind the river Neckar. 

If you’re traveling with children to Heidelberg, you will be happy to know that this park has a play area of children. There are also toilets and shower areas. Of course, like most of the German areas there is also a skate park here. This park also has a sandy beach volleyball area.

Where to Stay in Heidelberg?

NH Heidelberg

NH Hotel chain is lovely, I have stayed in their Amsterdam one and I highly recommend the Heidelberg one too. It is located just outside the Old Town and hence is super convenient if you don’t have a car. You can read the reviews about this place on TripAdvisor here.

Hotel Garni Am Kornmarkt

If you’re looking for a budget family run place that’s scenic and close to everything, then this is the place for you. The rooms are super spacious and the hotel is located literally right below the Heidelberg Castle. You can check deals for this hotel on Booking.com here or read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Camping in Heidelberg

We drove to Heidelberg with our camper van, so of course we found a camp ground since our van has two beds for sleeping. We camped in a place called Camping Heidelberg Fa. Weber and it was right next to the Neckar river. It was actually very peaceful to stay here because it was away from the hustle bustle of the main city. Yet, it wasn’t too far from the city centre too.

There was a REWE Supermarket right next to the campground, which turned out to be super convenient. Also there was a bus stop literally right outside the camp ground. We walked from the camp ground to the old town, it was totally doable because we enjoyed the views. We came back with the bus in the evening.

 

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The Perhentian Islands Travel Guide: Malaysia’s Secret Paradise

The Perhentian Islands Travel Guide: Malaysia’s Secret Paradise

The Perhentian Islands Travel Guide has been written by Laura Peters and edited by the website editor. 

Imagine picture perfect white sandy beaches, clear blue water, colorful coral reef, hills that are covered with rainforest and spectacular viewpoints – it all sounds too good to be true? Welcome to the Perhentian archipelago – Malaysia’s lesser known paradise island group.

If you’re an island-lover, the Perhentian Islands are not to be missed. If you’re visiting Malaysia (or just South East Asia in general) then do yourself a favor, give yourself a break from the bustling Kuala Lumpur. Take a few days to explore the turquoise water and white sand beaches of these islands make for a perfect holiday getaway. You wouldn’t want to leave!

Ready to know more? First, let us introduce Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands to you.

What and Where are The Perhentian Islands?

The Perhentian Islands lie between Northeast Malaysia and Thailand. They have everything it takes to be called a tropical paradise. In today’s age of over tourism and Instagram led hectic travel madness, these islands will kind of give you a sense of peace that not a lot of so called peaceful destinations offer.

Long Beach, Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia

Historically, The Perhentian Islands were a stopping point for traders that traveled between Bangkok and Malaysia. In today’s age, they are a part of Pulau Redang National Marine Park and are protected. They are in the state of Terengganu in Malaysia.

 

The Perhentian Islands Map

Out of all the Perhentian Islands, two of them are the main ones:

  • Big Perhentian (Pulau Perhentian Besar) – Family friendly
  • Small Perhentian (Pulau Perhentian Kecil) – Backpacker friendly

We will talk more about these two islands in detail one of the next sections.

Apart from the main two islands, there are five other uninhabited islands which you will probabaly visit if you go diving or snorkeling as mentioned in the things to do on the Perhentian Islands section.

Are The Perhentian Islands Worth Visiting?

Keranji Beach, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

If you love exploring off-the-beaten-path places, then the Perhentian Islands are definitely worth visiting. We loved that these islands attracted far fewer tourists than other Malaysian islands like Langkawi and Penang.

We also found that these islands had plenty of activities for any type of traveler. With some of the best coral reefs in the country and friendly locals, we highly suggest adding the Perhentian Islands to your bucket list.

How To Get To The Perhentian Islands

Getting to Perhentian Islands – Boat – by Omar Elsharawy on Unsplash

Getting to the Perhentian Islands is an adventure in itself. Unlike Langkawi and other Malaysian islands, the Perhentian Islands are very secluded and offer very limited transportation options. But aren’t the most amazing places are? 

To start, you’ll need to get from Kuala Lumpur (or your starting destination) to Kota Bahru or Kuala Terengganu. Both of these locations have direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, so it isn’t too inconvenient.

Note: You can also fly into Redang and hire a boat from Redang to the Perhentian Islands, but it is typically a longer journey.

If you fly into Kota Bahru, take a taxi from the airport to the Kuala Besut Jetty. From the jetty, take a boat over to the islands. You’ll tell your boat driver where you want to be let off and they do a great job of accommodating you.

This is by far the easiest way to get to the islands and it’s still relatively cheap, but keep in mind that you’ll want to coordinate your flight so that you can catch a boat across the ocean. The boats only run during certain times of the day.

Another easy way to get to the Perhentian Islands is by flying into Kuala Terengganu. From the airport in Kuala Terengganu, take a taxi to the Kuala Besut Jetty. That’s where you’ll take a boat over to the Perhentian Islands.

Perhentian Besar OR Perhentian Kecil – which one is for you?

As mentioned before, there are two main islands on the Perhentian Island group. Wondering if you should stay on one of them or both? If just one then which one?

Pulau Besar (Big Perhentian)

Perhentian Besar, Malaysia

Pulau Besar is more expensive in terms of accommodation. It has decent resorts and attracts families and couples. The island has many bays that offer decent snorkeling opportunities.

Pulau Kecil (Small Perhentian)

Pulau Perhentian Kecil is backpacker friendly. A lot of restaurants and places to stay are on the Coral Bay on Perhentian Kecil. Coral Bay offers decent sunset views. As compared to Besar, Kecil attracts more visitors.

Coral Bay Jetty. Kecil

Perhentian Islands Things to do + Activities

The paradise of the Perhentian Islands is best for travelers looking to enjoy a beach holiday. There are Perhentian islands activities whether you like adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both; you can find it on the islands. To make your trip to the Perhentian Islands as simple and enjoyable as possible, use our guide to create the ultimate itinerary.

Most travelers spend their time in the ocean or on the beach, but you can also find adventures inland as well. Here are the 13 best things to do in the Perhentian Islands:

1) Diving in the Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Island Diving experience by Nazarizal Mohammad on Unsplash

Diving in the Perhentian Islands is a true adventure. The marine life and coral reefs found here are incredible.

As one of the best things to do in the Perhentian Islands, it’s safe to say that these islands boast some of the most colorful diving sites in the world. You will find many dive shops on the Long Beach (Big Island) or the Coral Bay (small island). Here are a few of the diving spots that you cannot miss during your trip:

Tokong Laut

Divers of all experience levels should start their dive tour at Tokong Laut, one of the best dive sites in the Perhentian Islands.

Frequently called Temple of The Sea, Tokong Laut has an amazingly diverse ecosystem. It is home to various species, including neon-colored parrotfish. 

Tokong Laut is a diving staple for the Perhentian Islands, so regardless of which company you choose to dive with, you will likely visit this location.

Sugar Wreck

Another awesome dive site of the Perhentian Islands is a sunken shipwreck off Pulau Perhentian Kecil. The Sugar Wreck is a dive spot that will make you feel like you’re living in history.

During your dive, keep your eyes peeled for some Longnose Hawkfish, Cuttlefish, and Porcupinefish (our personal favorite). In our opinion, the Perhentian Islands had some of the most unique marine life we have ever seen.

Shark Point

We have been swimming with blacktip reef sharks all around the world, but it never ceases to amaze us. And you can do the same at Shark Point, another great dive site of the Perhentian Islands.

Contrary to popular belief, not all shark species are dangerous. The blacktip reef sharks are docile compared to their tiger and great white brothers and sisters. So, although these sharks are harmless, it is still an awesome feeling to be diving with sharks.

Note: We recommend diving with a company that has a lot of knowledge about the Malaysian Islands and surrounding reefs. Not only will you learn about the ocean’s biodiversity, but your guides will help you find the best marine life, too.

2) Enjoy the Beaches of the Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands Beaches – Malaysia

As one of the most beautiful archipelagos in Malaysia, you have to set aside time to explore the many pristine beaches. Whether you want to get a suntan, go snorkeling, or just walk along the shoreline, you’ll fall in love with the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Perhentian Islands.

As there are many beaches on the Perhentian Islands, we recommend adding only the best beaches to your Malaysia itinerary. Here are the three beaches you must visit:

Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil

Long Beach, Perhentian Kecil

Long Beach is located on the smaller island of Perhentian Kecil. This little piece of paradise has something for everyone, from fun dives to relaxing days spent reading by the water. Stretching along the coast for nearly half of a mile, Long Beach has plenty of restaurants, bars, resorts, and ocean excursion companies.

Note: Although Long Beach is beautiful and may seem like the perfect place to swim, locals know that the riptides here can be deadly. Ask a local before swimming because, during some seasons, the riptides are extremely dangerous. We were there in April and three people nearly drowned because they decided to swim while on Long Beach.

Turtle Beach on Perhentian Besar

If you’re spending time on the larger island, Perhentian Besar, you have to make a stop at Turtle Beach. While visiting other islands in the surrounding area, we decided to stop at this beach for a break.

Although there aren’t any coral reefs to explore, it makes it easier to go into deeper waters without worrying about cutting up your feet.

Keranji Beach on Perhentian Kecil

Keranji Beach Bar, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

By far our favorite beach on the Perhentian Islands was Keranji Beach, located on the small island of Perhentian Kecil. This beach is often overlooked and that’s why we like it so much. With fewer tourists, you’re able to relax and have the beach all to yourself (most of the time).

Keranji Beach Huts, Perhentian Islands

There is also a hammock on this beach that is available for anyone to use. Claim the hammock for an hour for a quick nap or to watch the sun dip below the horizon at night.

 

3) Hike to the Viewpoints

While most travelers to the Perhentian Islands spend their time on the beach or in the ocean, we recommend setting aside some time to explore inland as well.

To get you started on a few hikes on the islands, here are our two favorites:

Perhentian Loop

The Perhentian Loop Trail will lead you to some of the best locations and viewpoints on the big island (Perhentian Besar). This 3-mile hike is easy enough for people of all fitness levels, but with very little shade to cover the trail, you’ll want to head to the beach when you’re done for a refreshing swim in the ocean.

I recommend completing this hike in the early morning to avoid the hottest part of the day, but if you decide to hike in the afternoon, be sure to bring water and some extra cash for a mid-hike snack and drink on the beach.

The Windmill

The Windmill Hiking Trail, Perhentian Islands

The Windmill Trek can be found on the smaller Perhentian Island (Perhentian Kecil). This trail brings hikers to the highest point on the island and offers endless scenic views in every direction.

During your hike, you’ll be walking along a washed-out dirt road and similar to the Perhentian Loop Trail, you’ll be exposed to the sun along much of the trail.

If you decide to go hiking while visiting the Perhentian Islands, pack a few bottles of water and bring your sunscreen. You’ll thank me later!

4) Island Hopping to the smaller Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Island hopping by Faizah Othman on Unsplash

Apart from the two main Perhentian Islands (Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil) there are several others that you should add to your list of things to do. Here are a few of the best islands to visit while island hopping in the Perhentian Islands:

Pulau Tokong Kemudi

Sitting just north of Perhentian Kecil is Pulau Tokong Kemudi, a magical island perfect for snorkeling, diving, and other water adventures.

Hire a boat to bring you across the South China Sea to this secluded island; it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, but if you’re traveling on a budget, find a few friends to go with you from your resort or hostel. This way, you can split the cost.

Redang Island

Redang Island, the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia by Aleksandra Khoroshykh on Unsplash

Redang Island is a bit more well-known among travelers than the Perhentian Islands, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring it while island hopping.

This island is south of Perhentian Besar and offers some unique snorkeling opportunities. With its vibrant coral reefs and tropical fish, I strongly suggest bringing your snorkeling gear during this excursion.

5) Perhentian Islands Snorkeling

Perhentian Islands Marine Life

Divers will be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful location for underwater exploration. The Perhentian Islands boast one of Asia’s most impressive barrier reefs, which houses hundreds of different species, and it would be a shame not to explore them.

But if you don’t have your PADI certification or you aren’t too keen on scuba diving, you can’t miss out on snorkeling around the Perhentian Islands.

There are plenty of dive shops that rent snorkeling gear for a reasonable price, but I recommend asking your accommodation if they supply such gear first. Our hosts had hoards of great snorkel gear, so we were able to go snorkeling for free.

6) Watch the Sunset on the Perhentian Islands

View from the Crocodile Rock Villas, the Perhentian Islands

The sunsets in the Perhentian Islands are majestic. To start, you’ll be surrounded by the brightest aquamarine water you’ll ever see. As the sun begins to set, watch its reflection in the water and the brilliant colors it radiates.

To make your night even better, watch the sunset from a beach bar with a fruity cocktail or an ice-cold beer.

We loved doing this each night from the comfort of our own nature resort, Crocodile Rock Villas. With an attached restaurant that serves some of the best seafood and Malaysian beers, you may want to make this an evening routine.

7) Make the Most of the Happy Hour

Before the big sunset show, you might be looking for a way to unwind after a long day of hiking, snorkeling, and swimming. And if that’s the case, sit back and relax at one of the many beach bars on either of the Perhentian Islands.

For expansive sea views, we suggest grabbing an affordable happy hour drink at Keranji Beach Bar, located on our favorite beach that shares the same name.

A few other notable beach bars on Perhentian Kecil include El Paraiso Resto Bar and Chillout Cafe.

But, if you’re staying on the bigger island, Perhentian Besar, Jim’s Bar is perfect for classic cocktails and barbequed fresh seafood. 

8) Perhentian Islands Kayaking

There are many ways to explore the Perhentian Islands, but our favorite mode of transportation was by kayak. One of our favorite things about kayaking around these islands is that you get to see them in a whole new light.

With each twist and turn, different views emerge, including hidden coves with beautiful turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, and towering limestone cliffs jutting out from lush green mountainsides.

The best way to add a kayaking tour to your itinerary is by renting a kayak from one of the popular beaches like Long Beach, Turtle Beach, or Coral Bay. Prices should be relatively affordable, so make sure to pay for an extended rental package.

But, if you don’t feel comfortable kayaking around the island on your own, simply join a popular snorkeling tour.

9) Camping On The Beach

One of the coolest things to do on the Perhentian Islands is to camp on the beach. The best part about camping on Perhentian Islands is that you are able to experience everything a beach has without ever having to leave. From rolling waves and crashing surf, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sounds one wouldn’t normally hear in a resort or hotel room.

To experience a night sleeping on one of the beaches of the Perhentian Islands, visit Long Beach on the small island, Perhentian Kecil.

Along this beach, you’ll find a nice campground that comes equipped with tents. We found this to be really helpful as we didn’t want to haul our camping gear around with us.

If you are looking for other campgrounds on the Perhentian Islands, check out Orang Hutan Camping on the westside of Perhentian Kecil, or Perhentian Cabana along the south shore of Perhentian Besar.

10) Watch the Fire Shows

It’s very rare to find an island in Southeast Asia that doesn’t host weekly or nightly fire shows. Whether you’re exploring the Thai islands, the Filipino islands, or the Indonesian islands, you’re bound to find a fire show at one of the nearest beaches.

Luckily, the Perhentian Islands are no different, which means that fire shows are one of the best things to do and experience while visiting.

Above all, the best place to watch a fire show on the Perhentian Islands is on Long Beach. Make your way to beach bars after the sun has set and wait for the coveted fire show.

11) Visit The Turtle Sanctuary

Turtle Sanctuary Perhential Islands – by qianyu pan on Unsplash

In 2015, an environmentally conscious group of adventurers established the Perhentian Turtle Project to advocate for and protect sea turtle populations in Malaysia. Through a collaborative effort between environmental activists and officials from the Fisheries Ministry and Marine Parks Division (MPD), this project is able to respond quickly when stranded turtles are reported on beaches.

To make your stay on the Perhentian Islands as memorable as possible, consider volunteering for this amazing project. Not only will you get to enjoy the sights of an island paradise, but you’ll be able to contribute and give back to nature.

You can sign up to volunteer with the Perhentian Turtle Project by visiting their website.

12) Day Trip To Terengganu Marine Park

Turtles – Terengganu Marine Park by Nazarizal Mohammad on Unsplash

For an additional adventure during your island hopping day trip, I recommend stopping at Terengganu Marine Park. Just off the coast of Redang Island, Terengganu Marine Park is just like its famous neighbor and has its own set of exciting underwater features to explore.

Hire a boat from Coral Bay, Long Beach, or Perhentian Besar and spend the day on some of the best beaches in Malaysia. Although we found more snorkeling opportunities in Perhentian Kecil, Terengganu Marine Park made up for it with beautiful views.

If you decide to add Terengganu Marine Park to your Perhentian Islands itinerary, bring your snorkeling gear anyway. This marine park may be lacking in coral reefs, but they still have some of the most fascinating fish.

13) Try The Local Food

Fresh Fish at Crocodile Rock Bistro, Perhentian Islands

The best way to get a good feel of the culture in any destination is to try the food. And the Perhentian Islands aren’t any different.

The Perhentian Islands aren’t the most accessible islands in the world, which means that the islands provide for themselves as often as possible. Fish and other seafood are a staple of any meal in the Perhentian Islands and you’ll find that it is a lot fresher here than nearly anywhere else in the world.

For the fresh catch of the day, I recommend going to Crocodile Rock Bistro on the small island of Perhentian Kecil. And for the most delicious giant shrimp, visit Keranji Beach Cafe’.

On the big island of Perhentian Besar, check out Ocean Boys Cafe for classic barbeque and seafood. Hang around for a while after dinner for an impressive fire show.

 

Where To Stay In The Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands aren’t very big islands, so accommodation options are limited. But I was impressed to see a wide variety of different types of accommodation.

There were campsites, luxury resorts, homestays, hostels, and more. Whatever your budget, the Perhentian Islands could serve you.

Here are a few different accommodation options on the Perhentian Islands that you should consider for your holiday:

Crocodile Rock Villas

View from the Crocodile Rock Villas, the Perhentian Islands

We chose to stay in the Crocodile Rock Villas because it seemed that this nature resort was well-equipped. Since we work online, it was nice to have a wifi connection and it’s always a good trip when the bed is comfortable.

The Crocodile Rock Villas checked all the boxes and the owners, Erika and Atord are some of the most welcoming people you’ll meet.

Note: If you are getting to the Kuala Besut Jetty later in the evening and the boats are no longer running, reach out to Erika and ask if she can set up a private transfer. That way, you don’t have to spend the night on the mainland before heading over to the islands.

Bubu Resort

It’s hard to visit Perhentian Kecil and not notice Bubu Resort. On the far end of Long Beach, Bubu Resort sits in all of its glory, capturing the most picturesque view of the islands.

For an upscale stay, Bubu Resort has it all from direct beach access to spa services to an onsite bar and restaurant. It’s safe to say that Bubu Resort will take care of all of your problems so that you can fully enjoy your stay on the Perhentian Islands.

Long Beach Camp

For the most unique accommodation option in the Perhentian Islands, check out Long Beach Camp. As mentioned before, this is one of the best things to do on the islands. 

Stay on the beach for a late-night fire show before retreating back to camp. Listen for the waves crashing into the beach; this sound will lull you to sleep. And as morning approaches, I recommend getting up early to watch the sunrise and to explore the shoreline before other travelers get up.

 

How To Get Around The Perhentian Islands

Coral Bay, Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands have no paved roads nor any motorized vehicles. To get around the Perhentian Islands, you can choose to walk or to take water taxis.

We chose to walk everywhere we went while visiting the Perhentian Islands and although some of the destinations are a bit far from each other, the unbelievable scenery kept us occupied.

Taking a water taxi is likely the quickest way to get around the Perhentian Islands. Water taxis stop at many of the beaches around the islands, so I recommend asking your accommodation host where the closest water taxi stop is located.

 

Best Time To Visit The Perhentian Islands

The lovely Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands experience two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season lasts from November to March and during this time, many restaurants and resorts shut down.

We recommend visiting the Perhentian Islands when it is sunny and dry so that you can maximize your time on the beach or in the ocean. You’ll get the best weather from mid-March to early November. But keep in mind, the dry season will also bring in more tourists and higher resort prices.


Safety On The Perhentian Islands

Overall, Malaysia is a safe country and the Perhentian Islands are no different. The crime rate is very low but always take normal safety precautions.

On the other hand, the Perhentian Islands do pose some safety concerns. Long Beach, one of the most popular spots on the islands, can be extremely dangerous during certain times of the year.

With strong currents and riptides, this beach has claimed many lives over the years. To stay safe, always check with your host before swimming in the ocean at Long Beach. In addition, pay attention to any signs on the beach warning of danger. Take these signs seriously.

The Perhentian Islands, Malaysia – Paradise island group with pristine beaches and rain forest

Conclusion

The Perhentian Islands are the perfect location for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur or more popular island destinations. If you’re ready for some rest, relaxation, and beautiful turquoise bays, book your flight to the Perhentian Islands.

This is one of the most secluded and off-the-beaten-path island paradises in Malaysia that will leave you feeling completely refreshed. We hope you enjoy your time on the Perhentian Islands as much as we did.

About the Writer

Laura Peters

I’m Laura and I’m the storyteller behind Mike & Laura Travel. With adventurous spirits and a strong work ethic, we’ve been able to maintain this full-time nomadic lifestyle since 2018. Our stories provide insight into how you can also make your “dream life” a reality through remote work and determination.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

15 Things I learned about German People after Moving to Germany

15 Things I learned about German People after Moving to Germany

 
I love German people, they are really the best. BUT it took me a while to understand them because they are culturally very different from the country where I have initially lived (India), or the country that I first traveled to for work (USA) or people from other countries that I met while traveling.
 
It took me a few years of living in Germany after I started understanding them. There were quite a lot of things that I didn’t notice in the first years but more things became visible after a few years of living here. 
 
Don’t get me wrong – most of the below points don’t make anyone better or worse. I’m not saying that they are the best or the worst – these are just my observations about how Germans are different from the rest of the world. I have grown to love most of these things about Germans, and you will too if you live here. 

1) Germans Love Rules (Even The Ones That Seem to Hate Them)

I can not write an article about Germany and Germans without the #1 point being about the rules. I have said it before and I will say it over and over – Germans really do love their rules. 
 
Now it is pretty normal that you’d meet a German who would say that they don’t like rules but don’t be fooled. If you spend time with them, you will see that they actually follow every single one of them. The same people will also go out of their way to remind someone of the rules if the other person is doing something to beak them.
They can’t help it because the rules are ingrained so well in their minds they subconsciously follow them. They like how the system runs so efficiently when they all follow the rules. 
 

2) A True German Can Open A Beer Bottle with Just About Anything

Hamburg's Astra beer

Drinking Astra Beer in Hamburg, Germany

It is really a true german skill when one can open a beer bottle with just about anything. Who needs a bottle opener when they have a bunch of random things that work just as well?

Cigarette lighters are the most commonly used but I have even seen plastic bottles, remotes, phones, or keys being used in place. Wondering if I can do it too? I try from time to time but my success rate is 30%.

 

3) Unfit Germans are Rare ‘Cuz Germans love to “Make Sport”

CCO via Pixabay

 
This section isn’t just about how Germans are but also how they talk. The German language is interesting and I love when they translate it directly into English and say they’re “making sport”. 
 
Yes and Germans ARE sporty. They are a country of physically active people as compared to many other countries. It is hard to meet a German who isn’t in any kind of a sport and even those rare ones are super active in every way. People of every age like to ride bicycles, and almost everyone here likes to at least run, swim and ski. It is hard to find a fat person here.
 
I’d also like to add that I’m a Yoga teacher and I am always in awe of how fit my German Yoga students are as compared to the ones from other countries.
 

4) Germans are Highly Efficient

You may think that I’m, talking about the German workers here. Sure – they are known to be efficient but this is bigger than that. They are efficient on so many different levels for every random thing that it is as if they are robots. Be it time management, packing, designing systems, or organizing, the Germans are incredibly efficient. 
 
It is as if the knowledge of how to do even the most random things in the most time-saving manner with maximum results has been passed down from generation to generation. If you live in Germany, you will see an example of this daily. 
 

5) Germans are Supermarket Ninjas

CCO by Pixabay

There seems to be an important life lesson that others have failed to receive except the Germans. German supermarket cashiers are known to scan the items at a lightning speed and a typical German will pick them all up one by one at that same super-fast pace and yet efficiently stack them neatly in their carts or bags.

One can easily spot a newcomer in Germany because they are the only ones who can’t match the pace while stacking the shopping in neat piles in their carts.

Yes, Indians are spoiled and we have the supermarket staff doing this stacking for us but I’m not alone in this observation, my American, Australian, as well as other Asian friends who live in Germany, have also noticed it. 

6) Germans Know Their Alcohol Good

In a country where drinking in public is allowed, you’d think that you will often see crazy drunk people walking around but that’s not usually the case. 

They can legally drink from the age of 16 and they know how to handle it. They can drink down just about anyone without looking drunk, except maybe a Russian or a Polish. (Haha) 

If there’s one thing that German love more than rules it is maintaining social decorum. Believe it or not but generation after generation they have been conditioned to behave well in public, hence they do even on alcohol. 

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the general “drunk-happy” people, but “out-of-control-crazy-drunk” – the kinds who yell around on the streets for nothing. Actually, you will see the latter quite often in New Delhi (where I come from) and without even alcohol. Haha

The only times when you’d see someone who’s out of control drunk is when there’s the carnival, or a soccer match.

7) Germans mostly wear Black, Grey or White 

CCO via Pixabay

 
When I first arrived in Germany, I realized that without even trying I ended up being the most colorful one because of my clothes. I’m not just talking about normal supermarket visits but also special events where I’d notice that most of the people actually wore muted colors. 
 
If you’re a German and you’re reading this, then maybe you will shake your head in disbelief. But I have a question for you, what color are you wearing right now? If it isn’t black, grey or white then it is most likely another form of muted color.
 
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you walk around in an arty city (like Hamburg) then you will actually see people wearing different bright colors but still not too much like the locals from the warmer countries do. More exceptions would be music festival people, the pseudo hippies, or the frequent backpackers. 
 

Older Germans Love Jack Wolfskin and Younger Ones H&M. Yes, it actually does work like this with the majority of the germans, it looks like a dress code. 

8) Germans and their English

Germans can speak decent English, but many of them don’t know that they can. A majority of Germans hesitate when it comes to speaking in English and they say “Oh sorry, my English isn’t good”. But in reality, they can speak basic English pretty well.

You see, Germans are inherently perfectionists. If they do something, it has to be perfect and “correct” and the same applies to the language They would rather not speak in English than make a tiny grammatical error. They have been taught English in their schools, many of them listen to English music and English is definitely a part of their life more than they realize it is.

On the other hand, I have met a few native English speakers like Americans or Australians who sometimes speak grammatically incorrect English more often but they don’t care. Even many of my Indian people do the same but their confidence level is crazy good.

Dear Germans, we don’t care if you make a grammatical error from time to time. Speak more English with newcomers please because your language isn’t the easiest to learn.

On the other hand, I absolutely love how Germans completely convert their language into English sometimes and say something that means something else. Actually, most of us who are not native English speakers are guilty of this, but since this article is about German people, I’d mention some of my observations here.

I love how Germans use the verb “become” for “getting it”, for example – “Oh did you become a letter today?” – just because there is a verb called “bekomme” that means getting something. Certain German words are so similar to English words with a different meaning. For example, Peperoni in the German language is chili pepper, whereas “Pepperoni” means an American salami. Imagine my surprise when I visited a vegan restaurant in Germany that was named Peperoni. 

 

9) Most Germans Think Ginger is “Spicy”

Ask any Asian what they think spicy is and they’d say chili. Ask a South American or a Mexican, they’d say habanero. Even Italians, Americans, Australians, and Brits can handle spicy food. But Germans, of course, are a little different than everyone.
 
An Asian would never find ginger spicy, because that the base of 80% of our food. No, we don’t overuse it but it is there in a small quantity in most of the things we eat. In India, we even put it in our chai. 
 
During my first months in Germany I asked someone if they wanted to try Indian food. They said yes but not spicy, so I offered them a bite. It was actually very funny for me when they said — oooh, the ginger is spicy. No, that’s not just one person but many other Germans too think ginger is spicy. Hilarious!
 
 

10) Germans Don’t Like Small Talk 

If you’re a german then maybe you don’t know the meaning of small talk, because you are just not used to it. Small talk doesn’t have a purpose. It is actually a waste of time but is done to break the ice, even if you know the other person.
 
For example, if you were in America then most likely even a work colleague would say something random and unimportant to start the conversation – like how was your weekend, etc. After 1-2 minutes, the work colleague would actually come to the point and say that they need your help with an excel sheet or something. 
 

If you invite a German friend to visit you at 5 pm, most likely they will come 1-2 minutes before and wait outside and then ring the doorbell at exactly 5 pm. Isn’t that adorable? Well, it is a little freaky too. How are they so time efficient and how do they plan everything so perfectly?

So, do you know any German people too? Share this post with them to make them smile. Pin the below image to save the post.

15 Things I learned about German People after Moving to Germany

It’s 2021, Another Year of Pandemic: So What to Do When You Want to Travel?

It’s 2021, Another Year of Pandemic: So What to Do When You Want to Travel?

It’s 2021, the year after the corona pandemic started. Ok, you may argue that Corona actually started in the end of 2019, but I’m talking about the pandemic situation which only began in 2020.

I have avoided writing about the Corona pandemic altogether on my blog even though I have been pretty vocal about things on my social media

One of the main reasons that I didn’t want to write about the pandemic on my website is that it felt unreal. Heck, it still does. It is so unreal that it never felt like it would stay for so long. It’s like a horrible science fiction kind of a nightmare that went on for so long. 

Pandemic has been hard for everyone, especially for those who have lost a loved one. It has been hard for the health workers too because they have often seen people dying in front of them. Too many lives have been lost already and yet the story still continues.

Let’s not forget those who have lost their means of earning because of the pandemic. The small business owners, minimum wage laborers, folks in the travel industry, theaters, performing artists and the list goes on. 

Thinking about all these “bigger” problems, the need to travel doesn’t feel so important anymore, no? I feel you.

Let’s clear this, I’m NOT encouraging you to travel. This post isn’t about that. The idea is to address a small number of people who have always felt the need to be on the move to see a new place but they can’t anymore.

So if you’re a traveler by heart, what should you do when you want to travel?

Recreate Travel at Home with Food

Khao Suay at home during the pandemic

Khao Suay at home during the pandemic

Food is a very important aspect of traveling. It helps us get a taste of the local culture in the best way possible. Some of my best memories are based around food. So why not recreate that same food to relive the moment? It doesn’t have to be something complicated but can be super simple like a cocktail. Or if you’re adventurous then go all out with street food, cocktails and then a restaurant like meal. 

With the abundance of cooking videos on YouTube, culinary skills aren’t really that hard to acquire if you try hard enough (and if you are really interested to do it). I wasn’t at all into cooking but things changed when I moved to a small German town with hardly any international cuisine options around. I started experimenting and I realized after some trial and error that it isn’t so hard to recreate some of the most memorable meals.

 

Consider Booking a House in the Nature for a Weekend

Have you noticed over the past year and a half that there are certain times when the situation suddenly becomes somewhat safe? It did in the summer of 2020 in Europe and February 2021 in Asia. I did travel within Germany on two super small weekend-like trips in the first instance, but I missed out traveling in Asia in February 2021. 

Make sure you read WHO’s travel advice and the corona virus situation in your region before traveling out even for a weekend. When the number of infections in your region is on a rise then you should absolutely restrict all non essential travel.

Look out for a time like that. When that happens, don’t make things complicated by flying BUT limit your contact by booking a nearby getaway and driving to it instead. Big cities are crowded so are a big no-no, but look for booking a place to stay somewhere that’s far away from the masses but also offers natural beauty.

We’re nature lovers so we highly recommend Nature.House. Each time someone makes a booking on this website, they donate €1 to local nature projects. We are actually eying this website constantly so that we can book something in the Netherlands or Bavaria whenever we can. 

It seems to be the ONLY way to actually travel during the pandemic responsibly. 

 

Get Out for Walks and Look at Your Surroundings Like a Traveler

Did you pull a face while reading this heading? Well, I’d like you to still give this a try. I did too and it worked. It worked for some other friends too.

Exploring my little town during the pandemic

Exploring my little town during the pandemic

Yes there may be a lockdown from time to time but I’m sure you can go for a walk or a run from time to time. When you do, try to walk further and explore as many corners as you can, maybe you will find something new? It could be a narrow alley or a viewpoint but try to see it with fresh eyes to make the most of it. (Because honey, you don’t have any other option).

This works well for me because I’m living in a country that’s not my home country. I’ve been living in Germany since 2017. Although that’s a small town and I have seen it over and over, it never fails to wow me with its seasonal beauty. I found a new love for it during the pandemic and I hope you do too with your city / town. 

If you do decide to go out during the pandemic, do it only after you read the regional news and ensure that you are obeying all the restrictions. Wear a mask in public places and maintain distance from the other people.

 

Bury Your Nose in a Travel Book

Life is slow while the pandemic is on, so why not ditch the screen to get back to your books? Travel themed books are so many that picking one can be confusing enough. I highly recommend picking up a copy of City of Djinns, it is about New Delhi and is surprisingly good. Another book that I want to mention is Red Dust: A Path Through China, I am eying it and I’d like to start it sometime.

 

Watch A Few Travel Movies

Watching a travel movie may be one of the easiest things to do on the list and it is mentioned at the end. Some of the most famous travel movies are Midnight in Paris, In Bruges, The Beach, Vicky Christina Barcelona, the Hangover series, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Eat, Pray, Love – but most likely you have seen them already. 

Here are some of the travel movies that I highly recommend the Jungle, Budapest, most of the Spy movies. Do you have a few travel movies to recommend? I’m all ears.

 

Plan Your Next Adventure 

Guess what, when I didn’t have enough money to travel in my early 20s, then I spent my wanderlust itch planning my Euro Trip, Himalayan Hikes and South East Asia Asia adventures. 

No, the idea isn’t to plan something restrictive and stick to it, but research go crazy daydreaming to plan a crazy dream trip. Who knows, it may just come true. 

How to start? If you have a general idea about where you’d like to go then think of how you will get there. Research about some truly mind blowing places on the way that aren’t so popular. Or read about the culture of your dream destination and if you’re anything like me, you’d also read about the food.

 

Closing Thoughts

Friends and fellow travel lovers, I understand that the pandemic time isn’t the best one for anyone (except maybe Netflix or Amazon). It is normal to feel a little down during recent times. Forgive yourself for feeling the way you do and communicate with your loved ones. 

You aren’t alone. This won’t last forever and the only thing you can do in this time is to be patient. So why not entertain yourself during this time? Go crazy with imagination and do what makes you happy.

 

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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