Off the beaten path: the treasures of Malaysia

Off the beaten path: the treasures of Malaysia

Right in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is an adventurer’s paradise. 

It’s a melting pot of rich and diverse cultures and traditions set against ancient jungles, pristine tropical beaches, and spectacular national parks that are home to some of the world’s most iconic fauna and flora. 

There are enough memories to be made in Malaysia to last a lifetime.

While Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu are all fabulous first steps to experience Malaysia, there’s plenty more to see.

Whether you’re an avid explorer after a unique adventure that veers off the beaten path, or a returning visitor looking to delve a little deeper into the hidden-gems of Malaysia, here are just a few of our favourite secrets:

 

Redang Island, Terengganu

Located off the coast of Kuala Terengganu, Redang Island leaves you spoiled for choice when it comes to world class dive sites.

The surrounding waters of the archipelago have been protected under Marine Park status since 1985 which has seen it become one of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia.

With white sand beaches and some of the most beautiful marine life and vibrant corals in the country, Redang is a tropical paradise for world-class snorkelling, scuba diving, and swimming.

While every diving spot has something special to offer, Terumbu Kili is a famous spot for night diving with its seascape of hard and soft corals spanning 15 to 20 metres, and a vast array of lifeforms from whale sharks to carpets of colourful Christmas tree worms!

And for the history buffs, Radang Island has two historic shipwrecks; the H.M.S. Prince of Wales and the H.M.S Repulse which sank at the beginning of WWII.

The resorts in Redang Island close during the North-East monsoon season between November and February, so the best time to visit is between March and October.

 

Taman Negara National Park, Pahang

Pahang is the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia, and with two-thirds of the state covered in exotic flora and flora, Pahang is an ecotourist’s haven.

It may span three states, but Pahang is the best lead-in to experience Taman Negara National Park – Malaysia’s premiere national park, and one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.

Estimated to be 130 million years old, Taman Negara National Park is older than the Congo and Amazon Rainforest.  It’s where rare mammals like the Malayan Tiger and Asian elephant roam free and natural freshwater lakes run wild.

From the shore to the skies, there are plenty of ways for visitors to immerse themselves in the breathtaking scenery of Taman Negara.

You can ride the seven rapids at Sungai Tembeling or brave the 40-metre high, 530-metre long Taman Negara Canopy Walkway – the world’s longest suspension bridge! 

For mountaineers up for a challenge with unbeatable views, Mount Tahan is the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia, and argued to be the toughest trek in Peninsular Malaysia!

Taman Negara is also home to the aboriginal Batek and Semokberi people. Tourists can visit the village of Kampung Orang Asli and learn first-hand about their rich history and culture.

Taman Negara Canopy Walkway

Sungai Tembeling

Kampung Orang Asli

 

Kinabatangan River and Turtle Island, Sabah

Sabah is an enchanting tropical island celebrated for its natural wonders. Sabah is also home to 32 ethnic communities, making it a destination equally as exceptional for those on a culture quest.

Here you can find Sipadan, a dive site made famous by French underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, or climb the iconic Mount Kinabalu, reputed to be one of the highest mounts in all of Southeast Asia.

An hour boat ride off Sandakan is the Turtle Islands Park which was gazetted in 1977. It is made of three islands; Selingan, Bakungan and Kecil. 

While Bakungan and Kecil are more for closed conservation-efforts, the largest of the islands, Selingan, has a turtle hatchery that is welcome for tourists to experience! The best time to visit is in July and October when the sea is at its calmest.

But if there is one sight to behold in Sabah that is truly unmissable, it’s the Kinabatangan River.

The Kinabatangan River is Malaysia’s second-longest river at an astonishing length of 560km, and was gazetted as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary under the State’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997. 

The Lower-Kinabatangan River upholds one of the world’s richest ecosystems and is Malaysia’s largest RAMSAR sight – a modern treaty for wetland conservation. 

The best way to experience the native wildlife is with a Kinabatangan River Cruise during dawn or dusk for sightseeing the wild Bornean pygmy elephants, Proboscis monkeys or orangutans that call the Kinabatangan area home.

Turtle Island Park

Kinabatangan River

 

Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple, Ipoh

Perak State in west Malaysia is known as the ‘The Land of Grace’, known for its plethora of enriching experiences from temples, to museums, and even night safaris!

In the south of Perak’s capital Ipoh, also known as the City of Bougainvillaea, is Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple, one of the most visited temples in Perak, which is as strikingly beautiful as it is serene.

Set in the limestone outcrops behind the picturesque Gunung Rapat area, the temple was used as a place of worship as early as 1920, until 1960 when it became an iron mining site.

Today, visitors can explore the Kek Lok Tong complex which spans 12 acres and features a central altar with bronze Buddhist statues and deities of the Chinese pantheon in the cave cavity.

One of the more unique features about the Kek Long Cave Temple is the reposeful gardenscape that’s nestled within its crystalline limestone caves. It even has a jogging path that follows its two lakes, and one of the longest reflexology footpaths in Ipoh!

Source: Instagram/@global_treats

Source: Instagram/@balukootravel

So what are you waiting for? 

Whether its nature, culture, history or adventure, for an awe-inspiring trip of a lifetime, Malaysia and its off-the-beaten-paths has to be next on the bucket list. 

You can find out everything you need to know about Malaysia’s COVID-19 regulations here.


Feature image source: Instagram/@balukootravel

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