Image

Pulau Ketam Day Trip 2022 — Selangor’s Unique “Crab Island”

If a foreign friend was traveling to Malaysia for the first time, where would you recommend they visit?

Perhaps Melaka for its rich history, Penang for its art and food, Langkawi for its gorgeous beaches, or Sabah and Sarawak for beautiful nature. Not forgetting Kuala Lumpur—the bustling metropolis and the heart of the Malaysian economy—with its eclectic mix of skyscrapers, glitzy malls, colonial shophouses, and chic cafes; a true melting pot of the region’s culture and influences.

Pulau Ketam, however, is probably not the first place that comes to mind. That should change — because it’s an excellent spot for visitors seeking something truly immersive and local. Doubly so for the Malaysians who have yet to pay this place a visit! You might be surprised at the unique experiences you can find in your own backyard.

Here’s a video for the lazy-to-read people. Also to give you a ‘feel’ of how it’s like on the island!

Located off the coast of Port Klang in Selangor, Pulau Ketam (or Crab Island) is a fishing village established in the 1880s by Teochew and Hokkien Chinese immigrants. The settlement, built on mudflats surrounded by mangroves, is known for its quaint homes and elevated pathways built over stilts, which gives them the appearance of floating over water during high tide. What started as a small fishing village soon grew; today, the island hosts some 1,000 homes.

In the past, the main industry in Pulau Ketam was fishing, but tourism now contributes a major part to the local economy as well. Visitors to the place are mostly Malaysians; the few times I have been here, I have not seen many foreign tourists. All the more reason to put it on your itinerary !

20220514_104225

GETTING THERE

Since there are no roads connecting the island to the mainland, villagers have their own boats in lieu of cars whenever they need to travel for supplies. As for visitors, the only way to access Pulau Ketam is via ferry from the South Port Terminal in Port Klang. If you’re driving, you can park your car at the Asa Niaga Habour City compound, next to the terminal.

The terminal can be quite warm, and crowded on busy days, but there is a canteen where you can order drinks and finger food, as well as stalls selling snacks. There are several ferry operators here, so once you step into the terminal you’ll be greeted by touts yelling out prices.

We went for the Alibaba Cruise (RM20 – return tickets, RM12 – one way) which is slightly cheaper than a speedboat. Regretted this decision, as even though they have scheduled departure times, they still waited for the boat to be full before they left the port. We waited more than 45 minutes on the boat, which was supposed to leave at 11.30AM, but only left around 12.15PM. -_-

20220514_111601

Either way, off to Pulau Ketam we go!

The ride takes about 30 to 40 minutes. If your boat has a deck on top, I suggest sitting there so you get a nice view of the mangroves. But maybe not in the afternoon because the weather can get extremely hot.

20220514_120358

WHAT TO DO ON PULAU KETAM

I last came here in 2016 and made a blog post about my trip (read it here) – so you can check the post out if you want a gist. This time around, I’m going to share more photos and commentary, because on my previous trip I didn’t really get to explore as much as I wanted to.

20220514_150016

Walk along the pier and enjoy the breeze. If you come in the afternoon, when the tide is low, you’ll see hundreds of tiny crabs and mudskippers crawling around in the mud (hence the name Crab Island).

20220514_124246

A new addition since my visit in 2016 – colourful signage and some nautical/ocean-inspired art installations. You’ll also find some interesting murals scattered around the island.

20220514_124535

Houses on Pulau Ketam are built on stilts measuring around 1 to 10 metres above the water. Most of the structures are made of either wood or concrete, as are the walkways that form an intricate maze connecting the many different parts of the village. Because of how narrow the streets are, there are no large vehicles, only motorbikes and bicycles. You can rent a bike to get around the island, but I prefer exploring on foot, since you can really take your time to soak in the sights.

Take note that most of the bikes are electric. Since they don’t produce a lot of noise, you have to be aware of your surroundings while making your way through the alleyways!

20220514_124855
20220514_124919

Despite it’s remote location, Pulau Ketam is well equipped with all sorts of facilities. They have their own police station and volunteer fire brigade, 3 primary schools and a secondary school, a post office, and even a Maybank (so don’t worry if you’re strapped for cash – there’s an ATM machine within).

The internet and call quality is probably better than what I get at home (thanks for the ‘coverage’, Digi!), and they also have a constant supply of electricity and water from the mainland. You might still find a couple of homes with a rainwater harvesting system, which is what they used before a direct water supply was installed in 1991.

20220514_124758
Mini post office and souvenir shop.
20220514_125023

Pulau Ketam’s Jalan Besar (main street) bustles with activity, flanked by seafood restaurants, snack stalls and souvenir shops. It was high time for lunch, so we popped into one called Restoran Kim Hoe.

20220514_125631
Very Chinese decor. Bright red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, red fans, auspicious paper cutouts, red chairs and round tables, all the trimmings.
20220514_131819

It was just the Hubs and me and we didn’t want to overstuff ourselves, so we went for fried squid and kam heong style bamboo clams to go with our rice. The squid was fresh and springy, the batter deep fried to crunchy perfection. There was some seasoning in the batter so it wasn’t bland, and the chilli sauce complemented it well too.

20220514_131025

Bamboo clams get their name from their long, cylindrical shells. I think they taste like a meatier cross between oysters and Live Venus clams (what we call in Malaysia and Singapore as ‘lala’).

Because shellfish tends to have a briny, ‘fishy’ smell, they are usually cooked with strong spices such as curry and kam heong. FYI, kam heong is Cantonese for ‘golden and fragrant’ – a fitting name for an aromatic, rich sauce made from dried shrimps, curry powder, shallots, and garlic. Here’s another fun tidbit: kamheong is a Malaysian Chinese creation! Chinese immigrants here took influences from their Malay and Indian neighbours (hence the curry powder, dried shrimps, and other spices), added it into their own cooking, and voila.

The version at Restoran Kim Hoe is tasty. The clams were not cleaned thoroughy so there was a bit of sand left in them, but I understand that it’s difficult to get the sand out entirely sometimes. Otherwise, an excellent dish!

20220514_134224
Having had our tummies filled, it was time to explore the streets.
20220514_134444

Chinese immigrant communities back in the day were deeply religious and had strong beliefs in gods and the supernatural. More so for a fishing village, as they were dependent on the sea and nature for a living. As such, you’ll still find many temples scattered across the settlement. The one right after main street is probably the most photographed/popular, but if you wander deeper, you’ll find other temples too. Although small in size, the temples are colourful and richly adorned – great for photography.

20220514_142753
20220514_134508
20220514_134608
I love the detailing here! Aside from dragons, which are a common motif in Chinese temples, you can also see that they have crabs, as well as other sea creatures like shrimps, squid, octopi, and fish.
20220514_135038
An empty wooden altar in the hall next to the temple with phoenix, dragon, and cloud motifs.
20220514_135405
A shrine dedicated to the Thousand Hand Guanyin.
20220514_134821

Since most of the villagers built their own homes, no two houses on Pulau Ketam are the same and each boasts unique features. They’re mostly single storey, but there are some grander double storey homes as well. They’re also painted in various colourful shades. No two homes next to each other have the same colour – I wonder if they discussed beforehand like “Hey, I’m going to paint my house yellow, so maybe you can take blue instead?” xD

20220514_134848
Instead of cars, villagers have boats parked next to piers in front of their homes.
20220514_134917
20220514_141855
20220514_135819

Keep your eyes peeled for interesting murals. I like this creative piece – if you look more closely, you’ll find that the yellow guy on the left has an Ultraman tattoo on his belly drawn in the style of a Chinese deity!

20220514_140953

Many homes on Pulau Ketam leave their doors unlocked during the day – something almost impossible to see in the big city. But I guess if you’re stuck on an island (with their own police station to boot), it’s going to be pretty hard to run anywhere unless you have your own boat…

20220514_141015

A local Datuk Gong shrine.

Fun fact: a lot of people don’t know this, but the deity/spirit that the Malaysian Chinese here worship as Datuk Gong is actually – wait for it – Malay! That’s why you’ll often see the figure within these shrines dressed in traditional Malay clothing, such as a songkok and sarong.

The story goes that when Chinese immigrants came to Malaya, they brought their folk worship beliefs with them (specifically the worship of Tudi, or the god of the earth/the local deity of whatever land they’ve settled in). It was believed that the Chinese back then blended it with the animisme that some Malays practiced in ancient times, before they embraced Islam – hence why Datuk Gong has the appearance of a Malay personage.

This belief is also prevalent in other Nusantara Chinese communities, such as in Indonesia and Singapore.

20220514_141315
Someone’s hall in front of their house, complete with rocking chair to wile away the hours.
20220514_143134
More colourful homes. Some of these have been renovated and turned into homestays, but the more traditional ones are still made of wood.
20220514_142704
Another temple.
20220514_135604

20220514_143034
20220514_143231
A Taoist temple with a hexagonal window featuring the Yinyang symbol. There were a few very old, weathered looking statues within. Unfortunately the temple was not open during our visit.
20220514_143455

A clan association building.

Clan associations were the OG social networks – a place where people could mingle, and where they could go to for support, especially financially. In the 1800s, when many Chinese emigrated overseas in search for a better life, they often travelled long distances and arrived on distant shores with nothing but the clothes on their back. Clan associations were founded as a way to offer a support network for its members, and to build camaraderie and a spirit of kinship in a place far from home.

The associations would pool together resources to help solve problems that their members might face, such as securing a loan so start a business, buying land for burial, or building temples. They also facilitated personal and business introductions, and acted as important links to their homelands back in China. Some of these clan associations became very wealthy and powerful, such as the Khoo clan in Penang.

Today, clan associations are dying off because the roles they used to fulfill have been taken over by modern institutions such as banks or business associations. Also, many Malaysian Chinese communities no longer have any links to China. Their role, if any, has evolved to focus more on culture, education, and social service.

20220514_143646
A villager’s garden, filled with gorgeous blooms.
20220514_143705
20220514_144105
20220514_144851

Pulau Ketam is not very big, and you can probably explore everything within the day. We were done by 3.30PM, caught the next ferry back, and reached Port Klang by 5PM.

To be honest, nothing much has changed (aside from the addition of a couple more homestays?) – but that’s the beauty of living in a village like this. Seasons change, but the essence of the place – it’s quaint charm, the friendliness of the locals – remain constant. Personally, I love the story behind how Pulau Ketam came to be, as it’s a testament to the resilience of the Chinese immigrant community in Malaysia, most of whom came to Malaya with nothing, and built a life for themselves here.

There are a couple of things to remember while planning a trip here:

  • Bring a hat or sunscreen, as the weather gets super hot. Maybe because they don’t really have trees to shade the place, or because they’re located in an intertidal zone.
  • Most places operate with cash, but some have upgraded to accept e-wallets too.
  • Please remember these are actual homes and that there are people living in them, so be respectful.
  • The last ferry from Pulau Ketam leaves at 6PM on weekends, and 5PM on weekdays. While chatting with a local, she told me that some tourists forget this, miss the last boat, and are forced to spend the night on the island lol. Be mindful of the time!

PS: I hope you liked this post! Please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto

Image

7 Off-The-Beaten Path Experiences in Selangor

The Malaysian government recently announced that interstate travel is allowed again. After months of isolation, many of us are understandably excited to finally be able to be out and about for leisure. Even so, we should still be vigilant – so here are seven off-the-beaten path experiences you can get in Selangor that are away from the crowds.

LEMON MYRTLE TEA PLANTATION, SEKINCHAN

TEA GARDEN SEKINCHAN 2 by @narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Lemon myrtle is a flowering plant endemic to Australia, where it is grown in abundance and used to make essential oils and tea. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Malaysia has its own lemon myrtle plantation. Organic Lemon Myrtle Plantations has been around since 2010, and is touted as the first of its kind outside Australia. It has several nurseries, including one in Sekinchan.

The farm is usually open to the public, but is now indefinitely closed to visitors pending further updates from local tourism bodies and the government. That doesn’t mean you can’t make plans in advance, though: and visitors can expect experiences such a relaxing nap in hammocks, shopping for products made from myrtle tea at their on-site stall, and more, when the plantation reopens to the public.


PS: Prior to closure, the entrance fee was RM3 for adults and RM1 for children below 7 years of age. The plantation is usually open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9am to 5pm. Stay tuned to their social media for more updates.

Address: Lot 16281, Jalan Tali Air 6 Sekinchan,Selangor Darul Ehsan

SEKINCHAN

SEKINCHAN by @marioncaunter
@marioncaunter

Paddy fields are not something city folk get to see very often, which is what makes a visit to Sekinchan a must for day trippers from Kuala Lumpur. Come during the September to November months to admire vast blankets of green as far as the eye can see, or in December for a sea of rippling gold. Learn more about how paddy is planted, harvested and processed at the Paddy Gallery, where you can also buy sacks of rice (pearl, basmathi, brown, you name it, they got it!)

SEKINCHAN PADDY 2 by @Narztraveldiary
@Narztraveldiary

Aside from paddy fields, the enterprising folk of this small agricultural and fishing town have also turned their traditional livelihoods into tourist draws. Stop by Ah Ma House, a quaint wooden shop at the edge of the fields which sells traditional Chinese snacks like biscuits, crackers, snacks and baked goodies the likes of pineapple tarts, kuih kapit and kuih bangkit.

For a detailed guide, check out my blog post on 7 things to do in Sekinchan.

Address: Sekinchan Paddy Fields, Sekinchan, Sabak Bernam, Selangor

THE NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS, SHAH ALAM

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @littlemisshappyfeet

You don’t have to travel far for a quick, green respite: just head to Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (The National Botanic Gardens), a green lung located in the middle of Selangor’s bustling capital. The agro tourism park covers an area of over 817 hectares, part of it designated for leisure, the rest for research.

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA by @maya_jaafar
@maya_jaafar

Go for a spot of forest bathing underneath the Seraya and Meranti trees which are found in abundance within the reserve, or go hiking along the paved trail to reach Bukit Sapu Tangan(200 metres above sea level), which offers panoramic views of Shah Alam. There are also cactus, orchid and spice gardens to explore, as well as an animal park and fruit gardens. The park’s famous attraction, the four season house, where visitors can experience spring, summer, autumn and winter,is currently closed and will reopen in early 2021.

The entrance fee is RM3 for adults,and RM1 for children (6 to 11 years old) and seniors above 55. Disabled visitors enter for free. Opening hours are from 7.30AM – 4.30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.

Address: Taman Botani Negara, Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor

SELANGOR RIVER DAM, HULU SELANGOR

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

A dam might seem like an unlikely place to visit, but the Sungai Selangor Dam makes for an interesting destination, especially for nature lovers and photographers. The crystal-clear man-made lake is surrounded by picturesque hills, and visitors can also take part in fishing and cycling activities along the way. Night time sees a sky filled with stars, as the area is far from city lights and pollution.

SUNGAI SELANGOR DAM by @ekstagram
@ekstagram

Address: Lookout Point Sungai Selangor Dam, 55, 44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor

PAYA INDAH DISCOVERY WETLANDS, KUALA LANGAT

Paya Indah 4

For those who like peace and quiet, Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands in Kuala Langat makes for the perfect retreat. Filled with trees, large fields and natural plants such as waterlilies, the wetlands are home to over 300 species of animals, and is also a great spot for bird watching.

Paya Indah 3

Family-friendly fun awaits, with various activities such as feeding rhinos, crocodiles and fish in their enclosures, as well as fishing, kayaking, jungle trekking and more. There’s also a Safari Insta Tour: a 45-minute ride on a truck to three scenic locations within the Wetlands, namely the Bamboo Trail, Lake Sendayan and Rumah Melayu, a traditional kampung(village) house on stilts.

Entrance fee is RM35 on weekdays and RM45 on weekends. MyKad holders enjoy a 20% discount. The Paya Indah Discovery Wetlands is open daily from 8.30am – 4.30pm.

Address: KM 4, Jalan Dengkil, Banting, 43800 Dengkil, Selangor

SELANGOR FRUIT VALLEY, KUALA SELANGOR

Selangor Fruits Valley

If you like local fruits, then a trip to Selangor Fruit Valley should be on your list. The agricultural attraction offers many types of local fruits such as rambutan, papaya, starfruit and guava, which you can enjoy for free (it’s included in your entrance fee!). Aside from the fruit orchards, there are also other attractions such as a mini petting zoo, agricultural centre, traditional houses, and deer and kelulut honey farms.

Don’t feel like walking? Hop on a tram service which takes you around the park, no hassle. When you’re thirsty, drop by the coconut stall to quench your thirst with fresh coconut water. Entrance is RM15 for adults and RM10 for seniors (above 60), children (4 – 12 years old) and the disabled.

Address: Selangor Fruits Valley SFV, Rawang, Berjuntai Bestari, Selangor, Malaysia

PULAU KETAM, KLANG

Pulau Ketam 3

Although the name means ‘crab island’, Pulau Ketam is not an actual island; more an amalgamation of homes and buildings built over water. Located off the coast of Port Klang, the place was originally founded by Chinese fishermen in the 1880s and has since become a thriving community. To reach Pulau Ketam, visitors take a ferry (RM14, two-way) or speed boat (RM20 two-way).

Pulau Ketam 1

While the ‘island’ itself is not very big, there are plenty of things to do. Being a fishing village, there are many seafood restaurant where you can take your pick of freshly caught seafood prepared in a variety of ways (salted egg, chilli, kam heong, etc.). Another popular activity is to rent a bike and cycle around the village, which has roads just wide enough for bikes and scooters (there are no cars in the settlement). Aside from colourful murals (a rather recent addition to attract tourists), visitors will also find small but beautiful old Chinese temples and quaint self-built homes made from wood and concrete.

For a more detailed guide, check out my blog post about Things To Do in Pulau Ketam.

Address: Jalan Foreshore, Kawasan 20, 42000 Pelabuhan Klang, Selangor

So there you have it! Which place in Selangor are you looking to travel to next? Remember to always maintain social distancing and adhere to standard operating procedures during your visit.

More information at selangor.travel.

**Photos courtesy of Tourism Selangor.

Hello!

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider supporting my website. Contrary to popular belief, I do not make big moolah from writing – and this will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$1.00
$5.00
$10.00
$1.00
$5.00
$10.00
$12.00
$60.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

6 Things to Do at Pulau Ketam, Malaysia

Just off the coast of Port Klang in Selangor lies a fishing village called Pulau Ketam, or Crab Island. It was founded by Chinese fishermen of the Teochew and Hokkien clans, who settled in the area as far back as the 1880s. Today,visitors to Pulau Ketam will find a thriving community of floating villages, with well-paved roads and houses on stilts, community centers, hotels, restaurants and more.

20160807_134136-tile

Fishing was, and still is, a major source of income for the fishermen of Pulau Ketam – but they also supplement it with tourist dollars. Locals flock to the place for day tours and to tuck into fresh seafood.

20160807_124604-tile

Visitors depart from the Port Klang jetty via ferry, which costs RM7 per pax. The ferries are small and air-conditioned, though it can get stuffy in there after some time. The ride takes less than an hour.

20160807_124759-tile

20160807_124935-tile

Things To Do

1 ) Crab spotting 

20160807_134236-tile

Once on the island, visitors are greeted by….you guessed it – tiny crabs! They crawl by the hundreds across the muddy ground, which is exposed during low tide. Houses and walkways are built on stilts so that water does not reach them in high tide.

A good spot to watch these little critters scurry about is from the pier. Sometimes the local dogs will climb down into the mud, frolicking about in packs as they hunt for crabs. The crabs are non-edible for humans though.

20160807_134426-tile

20160807_134730-tile

2) Tuck into scrumptious seafood 

20160807_140636-tile

One does not simply come to Pulau Ketam and miss out on a seafood lunch! Upon exiting from the pier, visitors tend to flock to the main restaurant facing the waterfront. When you’re disembarking with dozens of other hungry passengers, this can turn into a battle to get your orders in first; so we decided to walk a bit further in to a less crowded place called Restoran Po Seng.

Here, the friendly lady boss introduced some of their signature dishes, which included fried squid with and flower crabs. The squid did not disappoint – crunchy and well-seasoned, fresh and great with the chilli dip.

20160807_140935-tile

Being used to eating mud crabs, we were initially skeptical about ordering flower crabs, because they have less ‘meat’ (flower crabs die once they leave the water, unlike mud crabs) – but the lady boss said these were special ones reared in tanks. So we got a plate: 1kg yields about 3-4 medium sized crabs – and were pleasantly surprised at how meaty they were.

Steamed with ginger and red chillies, the clear broth was packed with the flavour of crab, albeit a little spicy. Crab itself was fresh, and because they were small, the shell was easier to crack open for easy eating.

My favourite part of the crab is the head. The creamy roe is heavenly. brainnns.

20160807_141204-tile

There was a tiny mistake with my order of bamboo clams. Wanted them curried but they came in a Kam Heong style. The resto changed it for me, but it was obvious they re-used the kam heong instead of recooking it – so the result was a kamheong with curry flavour lol. Taste was decent, and the clams were humongous.

Meals can be pricey since it is a tourist place after all, but the lunch was below RM100 which was reasonable for us.

3) Rent a bike 

20160807_134142-tile

Now that we’re all fed and watered, time to go explore! Visitors can rent a bike, which is the main mode of transport around the village – either electric or the regular pedal-types. Roads are narrow so be careful not to bump into anyone or fall off the walkway!

4) Visit landmarks 

20160807_134854-tile

The island is made up of some 1,000 houses with 6,000 villagers, and features a few landmarks. For Pokemon Go hunters, most of these spots are Pokestops and gyms, so you can kill two birds with one stone – sightsee and catch Pokemons at the same time. Yes, I am part of the zombie-clan currently playing Pokemon. 

20160807_144602-tile

An archway, commemorating the birthday of the Selangor Sultan.

20160807_144657-tile

Pulau Ketam has its own small but quaint looking police station.

20160807_145306-tile

The main area houses a Taoist temple with a grand-looking archway topped with lotus flowers.

20160807_145330-tile

20160807_145359-tile

5) Snack and souvenir hunt 

20160807_145004-tile

As you explore the ‘commercial’ area, you’ll be beset by shops selling snacks and souvenirs on both sides. The smell of seafood-related snacks (oyster pancakes, fried prawn crullers, etc) wafted to our nostrils, stirring our appetites (nevermind that we just had lunch!). One can also find loads of snacks and souvenirs to take home.

20160807_145821-tile

Dried fish, crunchy snacks, pickled items, etc.

6) Explore the streets 

20160807_145547-tile

It is refreshing to see the laid-back pace of life and neighbourly spirit in small communities.Unlike in cities where we’d never imagine not locking our apartments, almost every house here had their doors wide open. And while some homes had small compounds, none had the tall steel gates characteristic of city terrace homes.

20160807_145927-tile

Most homes are made from wood, or a combination of concrete and wood.

One thing to note though – Pulau Ketam has no plumbing system, so waste goes straight into the water. While the roads are clean and well-paved, the same can’t be said of the area underneath, which is often clogged with garbage and waste. If you’re easily grossed out, don’t look down.

Getting There 

From the Port Klang Southport jetty, take a ferry which departs roughly every 30 minutes. Last ferry is at 5.30pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends.

**Bring some sunscreen + a hat because it gets crazy hot.