Here’s an idea for a dream trip: Chilling with your closest friends or family on a private island. An island filled with beautiful beaches, breathtaking sunsets, hammocks, etc. Oh, and let’s throw in 3 meals a day and unlimited kayaking/snorkelling/sea sports.
How much would that cost you? Ten thousand dollars? Twenty thousand dollars?
Now, I’m not a travel blogger. I can’t do the whole “5 night markets you MUST see in Kaohsiung” type of post filled with 10,000 selfies (ugh).
But whenever I come across an amazing hidden find that helps you to live a rich life, I like to share it. #goodthingsmustshare
(Btw, this is NOT a sponsored post – I’m blogging about it because it was friggin’ awesome)
Introducing Pulau Pangkil
Soooooo after the craziness of my wedding, my family (11 of us in total) decided to rent out a private island known as Pulau Pangkil. We wanted to take a few days off to chill and celebrate my dad’s birthday.
At first, I was a little skeptical: My impression of “private islands” were of places like Dubai or the Maldives, where rich people lie on wads of cash and get fanned by scantily-clad women while eating grapes dipped in caviar.
Or worse, it could be the other extreme where the island is simply a tourist version of Pulau Tekong – mosquito-infested, sweaty, no hot showers, and worst of all…. no wifi. (The horror!!)
Buuuuuuuuuut I was pleasantly surprised.
Pulau Pangkil takes about 3 hours to get to from Singapore: 2 hours by ferry to Bintan, a 45-min bus ride, followed by a 15-min boat ride. But the destination is well worth the long journey.
My first impression of Pulau Pangkil is that it looks nothing like Pulau Tekong. There are white, sandy beaches, beautiful cabanas, and an army of staff who welcome you with refreshing drinks.
The most awesome part of the island is that it’s completely private. (duh). As long as you have a group of at least 10 people, you’ll have the island all to yourself. Besides the very polite and attentive staff, there is no one else on the island. No stupid tourists. No annoying millennials taking selfies. No kids running around and screaming.
It’s the kind of luxury that rich people would pay thousands of dollars a night for.
The rooms are called “palaces” and are kinda like palatial kampung huts. They’re not luxurious and there’s no air-conditioning, but they are clean and comfortable. Plenty of sofas and cushions to lounge around in. Having multiple fans in the room keeps you cool, and the free mosquito nets/repellent/mosquito coils help to keep insects away.
What my wife loved was that we could watch the sunrise directly from bed. Here’s the view at 6am in the morning:
What about food? Breakfast, lunch, a light tea and dinner are included in the price. There’s also unlimited coffee, tea and water, although soft drinks and alcohol are chargeable at reasonable prices. Food was decent – usually a mix of nasi padang and Western meat. In the morning, they make scrambled eggs for you which are amazing.
Afraid that you’ll be bored? You can go snorkelling, kayaking, or stand-up paddling, and all equipment is provided. There’s also an amazing private pool nestled among several boulders in a secluded corner of the island. More of an indoors person? There’s a billiards table, a ping pong table, books, board games like Taboo and Jenga, and you can request them to screen movies too.
The only bad part on the activities front was that the wifi signal was pretty weak: Enough to WhatsApp, but not great for surfing/downloading movies. But hey, you’re on a frickin’ private island. Are you really gonna spend all your time on your computer?
This is the kicker: At night, you can request for FIREWORKS which they’ll release just a short distance from you. You’re so close that some of the spent fireworks shells will actually fall on you! You can also get them to build a huge bonfire for you on the beach – grab a ukulele, sit around it, and stare up at the beautiful stars.
You Don’t Need to be Rich to Have Rich Experiences
Many of us automatically assume that certain awesome experiences are only for the wealthy.
My goal in the past few weeks was to show you that even if you aren’t swimming in money, you CAN have rich experiences like:
- Travelling around the world
- Flying in Business Class
- Watching a movie in Gold Class
- And of course, having a private island all to yourself
You can do this as long as you’re flexible and willing to do a bit of research.
In our case, all we needed was at least 10 people and the entire island was ours. We also went during the weekdays because it was cheaper. Sure, it cost us more annual leave, but I’d argue that spending 3 days of leave for a cheap, PERFECT vacation is way better than spending 1 day + the weekend on an expensive, crowded, and annoying vacation.
Our cost? $570 per person for 3 days and 2 nights with all meals included, including an optional $25 one-hour massage by the sea. Cheaper than a weekend trip to Bali.
With the Internet, it’s never been easier to uncover hidden gems like these. But we’re often so blindsided by our assumptions (“Oh, private islands are only for RICH PEOPLE”) that we fail to even start looking. So what do we do? We go back to the same boring weekend trips.
Remember: You don’t need to be rich to have rich experiences. Challenge yourself to find an experience that you’ve never had in the next 6 months. Now, is there a smart way to get it without breaking the bank? Get creative and start researching – your findings might surprise you.
What rich experiences would you like to have in the next 6 months? Let me know.
PS: Credit for the photos goes to my amazing wife and parents. To be honest, I hate taking photos. (Told you I wasn’t a travel blogger) For more photos of Pulau Pangkil, you can check out their website here.