Exclusive, romantic, chic – yet still family-friendly. What’s not to love about Malaysia’s Maldivian-like paradise? Shimmering waters, amazing vistas, delicious food, wonderful people and a private island – it’s time to get to Pangkor Laut. 

If you’ve been dreaming of an over-water bungalow and a secluded luxury resort with impeccable service, then Pangkor Laut Resort is spectacular. From the moment you arrive on the speedboat, you know this is going to be a supreme experience. Think white sandy beaches, happy welcome drinks, villa-like rooms perched in the greenery and huge boulders gracefully surrounding the coast.

Everything is just as magnificent as you would expect. The beach at Emerald Bay is just the right size for young children to run and play at low tide while still being completely enclosed. When the tide is out waves are a mere gentle rocking and hours can be spent building sandcastles while parents enjoy cool drinks from the cleverly shaded Chapman’s Bar right on the sand.

There is a host of other activities on offer – snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, fishing and yachting. And the hornbills regularly flap around the stunning pool (with small kiddy pool attached).

When you want adults-only time, do not miss the Spa Village, a signature of the property. Arrive an hour before your appointment so you can experience the foot pounding, Malay circulating bath, Japanese bathhouse, Rotenburu pool and a scrub – and that’s before your treatment even starts. There are also kid-free fine dining restaurant options so that if you decide to invest in a babysitter, you can be guaranteed of a quiet, romantic evening.

The Practicalities

The best thing about Pangkor Laut is that it has such a sophisticated, expensive vibe – it’s a really special treat for parents. But this is also its shortcomings for families.

For instance, everything has been cleverly designed to preserve the feel of the natural ecosystem. This means a lot of stairs or significant walking distances with small children (and no, a stroller will not help you). The beach at Emerald Bay also requires going over a couple of extremely steep hills – which means you need to commute via shuttle every time you want to go from room to sand and back again.  

It also means the aesthetically pleasing architecture doesn’t have child safety railings for the over-water and highly perched rooms. Entry level, basic rooms are also quite small, so think carefully if you are planning to try to all bunk in together as it might be pretty crowded (particularly if it’s raining and you are trapped indoors).

While the staff are extremely responsive to kids and all the usual child facilities (such as high chairs and babysitting) are available, as a holiday resident there is the curious double standard of finding the experience more appealing the fewer kids there are. Avoid local Malaysian school holidays and long weekends because when the large extended families arrive, this really compromises the peaceful atmosphere.

The easiest way to get to Pangkor Laut with kids is to fly into Ipoh and let the resort organise a pick-up transfer. It is possible to drive from Kuala Lumpur, but definitely don’t drive from Singapore – it can take around 9 hours depending on traffic conditions and kids’ toilet and meal stops.

It is not safe to drink the water from the tap in Malaysia. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath.

For more ideas for private beach family holiday destinations in Malaysia, see the suitcases&strollers story here

For travel tips on negotiating the Singapore and Malaysian border crossings, see the suitcases&strollers story here