Pulau Ketam: a day trip to the famed fishing village off Port Klang

Confession: I didn’t want to go to Pulau Ketam. I read enough to know what it would be like: houses on stilts, human waste go straight back to nature, fresh seafood hopefully not bred nor collected from the very same nature areas. It sounds like Kukup, a fishing village off Pontian in Johor. I’d been to Kukup in my younger days. I don’t particularly want to go back.

Then Joyce who occasionally slaps sense into me said, “YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO PULAU KETAM, HOW DO YOU REALLY KNOW??”

True that. Off we went with friends. We took the KTM from Subang to Port Klang, a journey of nearly an hour each way. The return ticket costs RM5.80. It was my first time on the KTM and I have just one comment: the time schedules were created to mock your waiting self, right?

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - journey

From Port Klang, you can get to Pulau Ketam via the ferry (RM7 about 30mins) or private speedboat (RM10 about 15mins). Along the way you could see mangrove swamps, boats, fish farms, and eventually Pulau Ketam’s houses on stilts.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - houses on stilts

Pulau Ketam literally means Crab Island. In the late 1800s, Hainanese fisherman from Port Klang arrived at this island where they caught crabs and sold them for a living. Initially they went to and fro every day, which was a long journey because there were no speedboats back then.

After a few months, they built a small house on the swampland so they could stay the night. Eventually the swampland, regarded as an island became populated.

And that was how Pulau Ketam was born, ta-dahhhhh!

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - jetty
Pulau Ketam jetty.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - inedible mud crabs
Swampland full of mini crabs that you cannot eat.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - welcome sign
Horng and KY, overwhelmed.

What can you do in Pulau Ketam? If you’re on a day trip, walk around and pose for photos in strange positions. Rent a bike for RM5, cycle and explore the island, whizzing past people’s homes and unsuspecting villagers. Eat fried ice-cream, assorted shaved ice dessert, seafood at the many eateries. Buy local products consisting of dried seafood items.

If you’re staying the night, do all these and more. When the day-trippers are gone, enjoy the calm, quietness and simplicity of the fishing village. At evening towards night time, the tide rises and the fishermen go to sea. They return by dawn so wake up early and go witness all these activities. Most of Pulau Ketam’s harvest are exported so you could see the fishy buggers that go off to say, Hong Kong.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - the kid in the purple house
The kid in the purple house.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - girls mending a stall
Young businesswomen.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - cycling
Rented bicycles go fast, grab yours quick!

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - heart of town
The heart of town, I think.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - houses

You do know where human waste in Pulau Ketam go, right? Right, I shan’t elaborate then. Just… be prepared for an unmistakable stench in the air should you catch the wind in the wrong direction.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - boats
Stranded boats.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - optimistic gate
A gate? Really, why? Your neighbours don’t have any.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - drying salted fish
Salted fish out to dry.

Food in Pulau Ketam was… wait let me rephrase. We learned from experience that food served in Pulau Ketam were not to our palate. Sure the clams are huge and fresh, fishballs springy and fresh, fish was fresh but unfortunately overcooked…

To summarise, they have the fresh goods but not the cooking skills to best deliver them.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - brunch

We were very disappointed with the crabs. They were supposed to be fresh; I don’t know how to measure freshness of a crab but the flesh isn’t supposed to disintegrate too easily, right? There was not enough ‘muscle’ in the meat, it wasn’t firm, not good.

Apparently that’s how they serve crabs in Pulau Ketam. RM38/kg… inexpensive but I’d happily pay more for Wong Poh in Aman Suria for a fantastic, satisfying crab feast.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - seafood lunch

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - sights

The lesson here is: take Pulau Ketam for what it is; a fishing village booming with city day-trippers lured by the promise of fresh seafood, so the locals have to accommodate the best they can. I believe it’s decent income alongside their normal fishing operations. They are friendly people and work hard for their money, good for them.

Should you visit Pulau Ketam? Yes! Why not? Get the experience, support the local folks, expose your kids to how other people live, cuti-cuti Malaysia.

Pulau Ketam, Crab Island - friends

And of course happiness is intensified with great company, so bring along some good friends for the ride.



  1. Suan, I can see some really nice pictures with nice composition. I like.

  2. first store we went to the food was not bad ya, the seafood restaurant for dinner was lousy though. great pics btw!
    KY recently posted..KY eats – Set Lunch at Coco Tei Japanese RestaurantMy Profile

  3. Like

  4. My si-fatt is kinda sore *from the ride* the next day… OMG, so unfit! lol

  5. WHY did u have to show the “where does the poo go” shot before the food shot.. gross! LOL. And yeah , too bad about the overcooking.. u should step in and teach them how not to spoil their fresh seafood! πŸ˜›
    ciki recently posted..Weng Onn Chicken Rice Shop @ Taman CherasMy Profile

  6. Same sentiment as Ciki. It’s interesting that you could gobble away while knowing that it’s a pooey place πŸ˜›
    Ruzhi recently posted..People Photos from Japan!My Profile

  7. Love your pics Suanie! SO cantik! Haven’t visited Pulau Ketam ever since the Pulau Ketam doggie issue.
    missyblurkit recently posted..Sharing The Dream Of Malaysian ChildrenMy Profile

  8. wow look so fun, sad to say my 7 yr old don’t know cycle two wheels. lol

  9. Did you take the speed boat. If you did what time is the schedule for it.

  10. Any good hotel to recommend in Pulau Ketam? Besides eating seafood, what’s good over there?
    Mike recently posted..10 things to consider when taking up a home loan in MalaysiaMy Profile

  11. Hi Suanie,

    I want to know some details about Pulau Ketam accomodation. Do you have any number that I can contact to?

  12. Yew Kwang Hooi says:

    A good posting on what to expect from Pulau Ketam. Thanks.

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