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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in redang island
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The Redang Marine Park (Taman Laut Pulau Redang) covers all 9 islands in the Redang Archipelago. In contrast to neighboring backpacker hangout, the Perhentian Islands, Redang has a more upmarket imago, as all accommodation on the island is resort-based. All accommodation is on the main island Redang and the largest beach is Pasir Panjang on the east side, featuring half a dozen resorts.
Redang has a tropical climate with temperatures steadily around 30°C and frequent but brief thunderstoms. Like the rest of Malaysia's East Coast, Redang is affected by the northeast monsoon in winter, so most resorts are closed and ferry transport schedules are severely restricted between November and February.
No matter which way you choose to arrive, a RM 5 marine park fee is levied on all visitors to the island. It's easiest to let your resort arrange your transfers, as they can do it effortlessly and at a competitive price.
Berjaya Air (http://www.berjaya-air.com/) has recently opened an airstrip on Redang (code RDN), located on the north side of the island near the Berjaya Redang Beach Resort. As of July 2005, there is one daily flight each to and from Kuala Lumpur (RM249 one-way) and Singapore (RM350 one-way). Note that, while roads connect the airport to both of Berjaya's own resorts, transfers from the airport to anywhere else will require a combined car & ferry ride that must be arranged in advance.
A considerably cheaper if somewhat less convenient option is to fly to Kuala Terengganu, a one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, and continue from here by boat. There are half a dozen flights daily on MAS and Air Asia, with a full one-way fare costing around RM170, but advance fares can go as low as RM80.
The traditional way to get to Redang is by boat. The main jetty is at Merang, some 30 km north from Kuala Terengganu. From Merang, the trip to Pasir Panjang takes about 40 minutes on comfortable, large speedboats and prices are more or less standardized at RM40/80 one-way/return.
In season (March-October), there are also ferries directly from the Shahbandar Jetty in central Kuala Terengganu to the Berjaya Jetty on the west side of the island (75 min). These are operated by and intended primarily for guests of the Berjaya resorts, but they'll take non-guests on board (for a price) if there's space.
In a word, you don't get around Redang much. Roads on the west side of the island connect together the airport, Berjaya's jetty and two resorts as well as the southern fishing port, but provide no connectivity elsewhere and there is no public transportation along them either. While the main strip of Pasir Panjang is easily covered on foot, traveling from one beach to another will require either chartering a boat (there are no organized water taxi services) or clambering across the 1.5-hour jungle trails leading from Pasir Panjang north to the Berjaya Beach Resort and south to Redang Kelong Resort.
Redang is very low on sights as such and most visitors spend their time lazing on the beach or exploring the corals. There's a fairly active set of wildlife though, including inquisitive monkeys (don't feed them) and large monitor lizards.
Snorkelling is the number one activity on Redang. Many resort packages include snorkeling tours by boat to nearby islands, but there are some decent reefs right off Pasir Panjang. The best of the lot is at the southern end next to the aptly named Redang Reef Resorts.
Running a close second in the popularity contest is scuba diving. The waters around the island are usually crystal clear — although visibility can drop dramatically after a storm — and home to a host of sea creatures including turtles and reeftip sharks. While Redang caters to divers of all levels and is a popular place to complete a diving course, some of the sites further out can have fairly strong currents. More or less every resort on the island has its own dive shop, but it may be worth looking beyond the house shop as quality varies considerably.
Other available sports options include beach volleyball and sea kayaks, but jet skis and banana boats are mercifully absent. Fishing within the marine park is not permitted, but fishing trawlers can be hired for excursions beyond the 2-mile park limits.
Shopping opportunities on Redang are largely limited to touristy gewgaws in the resorts' little convenience stores. One of the larger operations, open until 11 PM, can be found at the Redang Bay Resort with one store for food and drinks and another for clothes and souvenirs.
Every resort has its own restaurant, serving up burgers, pizza and bland local food at outrageous prices (at least by Malaysian standards). But a few better options can be found lurking in the gaps.
Tap water is salty and not drinkable. Bottled water is widely available at around RM3 for a 1.5L bottle.
Unusually for Terengganu, alcohol is widely available both in convenience stores and the resort restaurants, although it's not exactly cheap. A can of beer purchased at a store starts at RM7.80 and a flask of cheap Malaysian vodka at RM15, but the restaurants will happily gouge you over RM100 for a bottle of wine. Self-catering aside, nightlife on Redang is limited to resort bars offering blinking lights and Chinese tour groups belting out karaoke.
Redang does not have any backpacker accommodation. Most resort rack rates are above RM300/night, always quoted for two people staying together, but steep discounts are usually available if you book a package or visit in the off or shoulder seasons.
The sole budget option of sorts is the campground at Teluk Kelong, but even this is more of a mid-range affair with prebuilt tents with beds, toilet/shower, electric power, etc. From RM80/tent/night with full board, book via any travel agent (eg. Ping Anchorage (http://www.pinganchorage.com.my/redang_camping.htm)).
There are no unusual health risks on Redang. Wear sunscreen and heed the warning flags on the beach, although they're more or less permanently set on green.
Wearing bikinis and skimpy beachwear is perfectly acceptable, but going topless is not advisable.