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Review & Tips: Cherating, Malaysia - Travel tales from the track, tips & expatriate life in Bali

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Review & Tips: Cherating, Malaysia

Bar at Riverside, Cherating, Malaysia

Please be aware that these posts don't provide comprehensive, guide book level information. We're not claiming a lack of bias either ;) These overviews are simply a record of our experience which we post in the hope that they may occasionally provide more up to date, specific or detailed information than you've been able to find elsewhere...

I feel somehow as if I'm about to be unfair to Cherating and the nice people who work hard in the tourist industry there, but here's the lowdown... 

BTW: Whenever I refer to the "main strip" I'm referring to the only road in town.

Getting there:

As far as I'm aware, there is no airstrip in Cherating. You can either take a bus to Kuantan from KL, Singapore, Johor or Mersing and taxi from there (it's about 50km north) or, if you are coming from the south, a bus to Kuala Terengganu will pass through. We were caught out coming from Mersing, it was the last weekend of the school holidays and all the long distance buses were booked solid until Monday, so we paid an extortionate RM290 (about AUD100) to catch a private car the whole way. It was entirely our own fault, we had been offered a taxi for RM100 and deliberated so long the driver took another couple and we were left in the lurch, at the mercy of the only driver remaining at the jetty. On the way out we took the Perhentians transfer (bus, taxi and speedboat for just RM75) offered by Travel Post which was convenient and decently priced.

Accommodation:

There are a few swanky resorts in Cherating. Apparently there's a Club Med, but we saw no sign of it and it's honestly hard to imagine a Club Med crowd in Cherating. The Legend Resort still operates and from the brochures it looked like a decent sort of place to hole up for a few days. We only stayed in 2 guesthouses in Cherating, for a total of 10 days. The first, Shadow of the Moon at Half Past Four cost us RM35 per night for a fan room in a rickety chalet. The beds were shockingly uncomfortable, the mosquitoes terrible, fans indolent and the water pressure non-existent, but the novelty of the place still makes it worthy of a visit. For photos, search for the post of the same name. The grounds are truly beautiful and Fay, the owner's wife, makes dishes so delicious they have to be tasted to be believed. The price includes free laundry, use of the pool table, 20% off beer and one free meal (though you might find it difficult to rustle someone up around breakfast time to make it for you). The library is musty though enormous, and contains enough worthy titles to keep any backpacker restfully entertained interminably. The Moon is the easternmost establishment in Cherating, the first on the left when you turn onto the main road (only sealed road) in from the highway.

We also stayed in The Cottages, which we switched to because they claimed to have "free wireless LAN" - which they do, but they failed to mention that the router just ceases to send packets after you've been connected for between 30 seconds and 5 minutes. Kinda useless. On the other hand, it's only RM30 a night for a decently clean fan room with some water pressure (Cherating has big water pressure issues) in the most convenient part of the main strip next to the convenience store and across from the best beach access. The owner and his son are very friendly and they ensure excellent service in the restaurant and personally check that every guest is enjoying their stay. They also offer many of the same tours as the Travel Post at reduced rates.

Most of the other guesthouses in town appeared to offer similar standard accommodation at similar rates, the only one that stood out was Riverside, just opposite The Cottages on the dirt road, for it's fabulous bar (as pictured above).

Eating and Drinking:

There are lots of convenience stores in Cherating but few restaurants other than those operated by the guesthouses. We had a little difficulty as vegetarians but nothing serious. Best food in town is via Fay at Shadow Of The Moon guesthouse. What we couldn't find in town was fresh fruit – bring your own if you want healthy snacks. There is a neat beach bar that opens at sunset (just follow the bass along the shore) and the Riverside bar boasts the best reggae band I've ever heard (at least it did while we were there) and a very charming location for a few beers.

Facilities:

There are no banks, money changers or clean public toilets in Cherating. The Travel Post is the traveler's godsend, offering cheapish internet (pretty fast), money changing, a variety of tours and cheap, convenient transfers to your next destination. It's at the eastern end of the main strip.

Activities:

Travel Post and a few of the guesthouses (including The Cottages) offer tours to various places around Cherating, including Tasik Chini and the Buddha Cave. Within Cherating you can take two night tours – fireflies or turtles, a daily river trip or you can rent canoes and kayaks to get around yourself. There's also the beach to swim on (no snorkeling wonders). I couldn't locate any decent jungle paths around the area, but I didn't look too hard. The locals couldn't direct me to any. We put our name down for the Buddha Cave and Tasik Chini tours because it's pretty expensive for just 2 people (100RM each). Unfortunately noone showed who also wanted to go so we missed out. We did see the turtles however and it's a not to be missed experience. See our Green Turtle Moon post for more details.

Environment:

Cherating was probably once a beautiful seaside town. It's still beautiful, as long as you don't mind sharing the beach with dirty nappies, plastic bags, mountains of food wrappings and car parts. The people are charming but they don't think twice about throwing their garbage down where they stand. The trees are lovely, the river is pretty in places though obviously mosquito heaven, but unless there's an enviro-revolution I don't think Cherating will be gorgeous again.

Impressions:

Cherating made me kind of sad. It's probably perfect if you like the quiet and don't mind a bit of rubbish on the beach but it just didn't have anything I was looking for, other than turtle magic. I'm determined to be honest (though I'll try to be fair) in these posts, so even though I feel bad saying it I can't recommend Cherating as a holiday destination. Not when Malaysia is chock-a-block with stunning, relatively garbage-free destinations. It might make a good jumping off point for the surrounding attractions though we didn't get to see them!

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