Pulau Bidong Island is located in the north of Kuala Terengganu in the Peninsular of Malaysia. In order for you to get to the island, it will requires about 40-50 minutes by boat, accessible from the coastal town of Marang.
There was this tremendous history on Bidong Island where it became the house for more than 40 thousands refugees from Vietnam back in the 1970’s. Very soon after Vietnam or Saigon fell into the hand of communists, many fled from the country and make the Bidong Island as their temporary shelter. It was also known that the island was once home to many Cambodians, who at the time of 1970’s as well, tried to flee the Khmer Rouge regime. After being gazetted as Pulau Bidong refugee camp, the island was under the guidance and management of UNHCR. Consequently, no visitors were allowed to the island.
That was a history. What happened to the Bidong Island now? What changes has the island underwent? What is left on the island now after being isolated to the outside world for so long? The island is now established with the very famous resort, the Tuna Bay Island Resort, hoping to attract high number of people for all over the world. There are a number of activities available for visitors including diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing. For more relaxation, visitors can simply unwind on the beach feeling the breeze of the wind.
In the effort to turn Pulau Bidong into a tourist spot for ‘Visit Terengganu Year’, the state government has spent millions in preparing basic amenities for the island. The government are confident that the island will attract many visitors, especially those from Vietnam. This is truly true for those who wish to know more about the island and its hidden memories as it was once the refugee camp for the Vietnamese. Therefore, holiday packages are available for Bidong Island nowadays. Tour with accommodation in resort or hotels are available for you to choose from. You will be offered a look on the island, snorkeling and even diving in the nearby water. The island remains a quite special part in the heart for many Vietnamese and Malaysians. The Bidong Island is somehow not to be very familiar for the younger generation today but it will certainly fits in the contemporary history of Malaysia.
Even though the Bidong Island was turned into tourist spot very recently, how much or what exactly it will attracts tourists can still be remained as a puzzle. There are many suggestions in making the island a famous one such as making the Little Saigon relive again and active once more. Restoring bars, pubs and nightclubs can definitely attract tourists. Perhaps, making the Bidong Island a memorial island as part of heritage excursion can be a good idea too.
Today, all that is left are decaying remnants that once belonged to a community of the Little Saigon. It holds many memories especially for those who lived and worked there. No doubt, there can be rising interest for tours to the island. History lovers will definitely love to find out more about the island.