Malaysia is a diverse country, both culturally and in its geographical offerings. From exploring islands getaways to trekking through ancient rainforests, Meg Koffel from Intrepid Travel
shares her tips for getting off the beaten path in Malaysia.
Located off the east coast of Malaysia, the
Perhentian Islands are considered to be some of the most beautiful islands in
the world. The Perhentian Islands is home to unspoilt reefs, colourful coral,
crystal-clear water and pure white sand. Time can be spent snorkelling,
swimming, trekking into the inland jungle, exploring the nearby islands or just
lying in a hammock - bliss! For those with experience, there is also the option
to scuba dive in this pristine area and spot the local sea turtles in their natural
Once the most important trading port of Malaysia,
Melaka attracted Chinese, Indian, Dutch, Portuguese as well as British traders,
all seeking wealth or an opportunity to control the Straits of Malacca, a vital
trading route between the Indian and Pacific oceans. All these traders left
their mark on the town, and although the effects of recent economic growth are
apparent, the town still retains its old-world charm.
The old port town of Melaka is the place to
wander the narrow streets to absorb the atmosphere of this historically
important town. The streets of Chinatown are lined with Peranakan
(Straits Chinese) shop houses allowing some insight into how locals lived in
days gone by. Make sure you tour this area in a trishaw and hear about the
ancient spice trade that once existed. There are also temples, churches and
mosques, museums and forts to visit which will be waiting for you to explore.
Today, Melaka's multicultural past is revealed in
the distinctive cuisine, known as Nyonya. Nonya food is famous to the straits
Chinese and is a colourful fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine that people
travel from afar to taste. Make sure you experience this unique fusion of food
and try a traditional Nonya cooking class.
The Cameron Highlands were a favourite getaway of
the colonial British as a place of tranquillity and beauty and a place to
escape the humidity of the jungles. Named after William Cameron, a British
surveyor who was commissioned by the then colonial government to map out the
area in 1885, the Cameron Highlands has an exceptional ecosystem. The highlands
is home to tea plantations, vast forests, waterfalls and rolling green hills.
The journey to the highlands is very scenic and the average
temperature is around 10 degrees Celcius. Intrepid travel tip - visit the
Boh Tea Plantation for some tea-tasting and take photos of the
Taman Negara National Park
The ancient rainforest of Taman Negara National
Park, is considered to be the oldest rainforest in the world. Experience a
canopy walk high in the trees to get a monkey's point of view of this magical
place. Head upstream (1 hour) in longtail boats to brave the low level rapids
and enjoy a refreshing swim surrounded by rainforest jungles.
Another option is to trek along
purpose cleared paths through primary and secondary jungle to see the
crystal-clear waters of the Tahan River. Along the way you might be lucky
enough to spot some of Malaysia's extraordinary wildlife including many exotic
birds. The walking isn't overly challenging, but a good level of fitness is
required as the humidity can affect even the fittest trekker. For the
more adventurous you can continue to walk for 30 minutes past the cascades
further upstream and then return back down the Tahan River in small dugout
On Intrepid trips through Malaysia we stay at
a small homestay run by our long term friends Aziz and Asiah, located on a
picturesque lake just outside of Kuala Kangsar. At our homestay, we can
listen to the morning calls of gibbons, and take a walk through a traditional
kampung (village) and rubber plantations. Our walk ends at a cascading
waterfall where we take a refreshing swim before returning to the lake to try
out your kayaking skills or, if you prefer, simply relax. The walk takes about
few hours and is not difficult but you will get wet!
During the course of our stay, be prepared for a
truly memorable cultural experience! We enjoy a traditional banquet of regional
delicacies, eating with our hand, wearing sarongs and also get plenty of
opportunities to delve further into Malay culture.
A Taste of Malaysia - Nyonya Chicken Curry
Malaysia Travel 101
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