Why You Should Travel Malaysia

March 19, 2017

Many travelers head straight to Thailand or Vietnam but miss out on the exotic jungles, wildlife and empty beaches of Malaysia. Here are some reasons why you should travel Malaysia.

why you should travel malaysia

Why you should travel Malaysia

Lush and wild, Malaysia is a hodgepodge of vast unexplored jungles teeming with wildlife castaway beaches, coral reefs, and monstrous mountains waiting to be climbed.

While the cities host vibrant districts, colonial architecture, and traditional strongholds of different ethnicities and religions: the country’s hinterland is home to granite peaks, remote tribes and jungles of orang-utans.

There’s so much to explore here and so many adventures to be had in this tropical nation. Yet the entire country has somehow slipped off the well-trodden trails across South East Asia.

For some reason, every traveler I know flocks to Thailand or Vietnam, perhaps even Singapore these days. Some expats go on city breaks to Kuala Lumpur. But few really take time to explore the country’s raw wilderness that’s surprisingly in abundance here in Malaysia.

It could be the negative news of political corruption and isolated terrorist activity? Or attacks from pirates and insurgents? Or perhaps the natural disasters that strike this country from time to time?

Regardless of the reason, Malaysia is a rare find in the backpacker hub of Southeast Asia. Just veer off the well-trodden path a little, and you’ll find misty tea plantations, looming mountains and miles and miles of pristine, empty beaches void of tourists. Trust me, I grew up in neighbouring Singapore and have spent so much time in Malaysia I’ve lost count of the number of trips I’ve done there!

Why Travel Malaysia?

Here are more reasons to show you why you should visit Malaysia:

1. Trek in the Oldest Rainforest in the World

If you’re looking to go jungle trekking, Malaysia has no shortage of them. Malaysia’s Taman Negara, literally translated to mean “National Park”, has a reputation as the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. It is estimated to be more than 130 million years old and accommodates a lot of very rare animals. It is home to many species of monkeys, elephants and also a very critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. It is one of the last places on Earth to find the Asian hino, whose numbers are estimated at only around 200 animals left.

For those looking for short treks, head to Sarawak’s Gunung Gading where you can also see the world’s largest flower, the elusive Rafflesia. Another rainforest worth visiting is the Similajau National Park, with over 7,064 hectares of virgin forest along the South China Sea.

Why you should travel malaysia - jungle trekking

2. Climb the World’s Highest Via Ferrata

It comes as a surprise to many that the world’s highest via ferrata is found on Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia at 4,096 metres (13,438 ft) above sea level. For the uninitiated, a via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”) is a protected climbing route that comes with steel cables and harnesses.

If you are afraid of heights then this adventure may not be for you as you will be walking on vertical surfaces as well as crossing valleys on cable lines. Although you will be led by an experienced guide, each participant will have the responsibility to look after each other as you are all linked together by a rope.

For those who are not up to climbing the via ferrata, don’t miss out on the area around the mountain. The Kinabalu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The mountain and its surroundings are among the most important biological sites in the world. There are 6000 species of plants, 326 species of birds, and more than 100 mammalian species identified.

3. Experience Caving in the World’s Largest Known Cave

Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak is Malaysia’s adventure capital and it’s here where you can find the largest known cave chamber in the world. It’s 700 meters long, 400 meters wide and at least 70 meters high and was only discovered in 1981. Other notable caves in this area are the Benarat Cavern, the Wind Cave, and the Clearwater Cave. The latter contains parts of one of the world’s largest underground river systems and is also believed to be one of the largest caves in the world. Choose to mountain-bike around Mulu, swim or raft the rivers, climb the ‘Pinnacles’ or Mount Mulu. You could even hike the once feared ‘Head hunter’s trail’, burrow deeply in adventure caves or search out wildlife. Or choose to do it all at a leisurely pace.

4. Scuba Diving in Borneo

Scuba-diving in Malaysian Borneo is extremely rewarding and relatively cheap. Whether your interest lies in macro diving or coral reefs, the range of dive sites sprinkled around the country will impress even the most experienced divers.

The best dive sites in Malaysia can be found in the southeastern region of Sabah (on the island of Borneo). The most accessible dive sites are along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. This region is, though, prone to the yearly monsoon season between October and March.

Sipadan is known as one of best dive sites in Malaysia. It is also within hopping distance from other world-class dive sites off Mabul Island and Kapalai Island. During our dives, we spotted black finned sharks, hawksbill turtles and baracudas just to mention a few different aquatic species. The island can only be reached by boat and is under heavy environmental protection.

Why you should travel Malaysia - Sipadan

5. Relax on Some of the Best Beaches in Asia

Thailand isn’t the only country in Southeast Asia with stunning beaches. Malaysia has dozens of tiny islands on both the east and west coasts to rival them. Beaches in Malaysia have the added advantage of being relatively unknown (read: cheaper, less crowded, more unspoilt).

Terengganu on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is dotted with small, pristine islands and is home to some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia. Redang Island is very famous among the locals, while Perhentian Islands just north of Redang are quieter and perfect for budget travelers.

But as mentioned, these islands cannot be visited between October and March because of monsoon. You don’t have to bum around and not do anything here either. Prices for a PADI certification course here are very affordable, so it’s a great place to earn your license.

Why you should travel Malaysia - Borneo beaches

6. Explore the Tea Plantations of the Highlands

The highlands of Malaysia are such a unique part of the region that you’ll have to visit to see for yourself. Because of its high location, Cameron Highlands is cooler (about 25 degrees Celsius, but sometimes below 20 deg C) than the rest of Malaysia. The highlands are named after William Cameron, a British expedition leader. He discovered the location during an expedition in 1885.

English colonists settled at the Cameron Highlands mainly because the climate resembled the English climate better. Because of this hotels around Cameron Highlands often have colonial characteristics. They soon discovered the area was great for cultivating tea, which is why tea plantations dominate the scenery. It is also home to the very rare mountain Peacock-Pheasant.

Tea, tea, tea... - why you should travel Malaysia.Flickr image by Yann Pinczon

 

7. Soak in the Vibrance of Kuala Lumpur

Most travelers start their journey the capital Kuala Lumpur — for good reasons. It’s vibrant, colourful and rich in flavours and traditions. You’ll find sprawling markets, upmarket shopping malls, skyscrapers and a melange of Buddhist temples, mosques, and Hindu temples. It is a great place and there is nothing you won’t be able to find in this melting pot of cultures. The city’s modern skyline is dominated by the 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers, a pair of glass-and-steel-clad skyscrapers with Islamic motifs. The towers also offer a public skybridge and observation deck. The city is also home to British colonial-era landmarks such as the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

Why you should travel Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur

8. Admire Colonial Architecture in Quaint Towns

Because of its long colonial history, Malaysia is dotted with small little colonial towns that still display hints of its past. Malacca is a little pearl located along the Strait of Malacca. It was under occupation ever since 1509, first by Portugese settlers and then later by Dutch, French and British. Every occupant ended up contributing a little bit into what Malacca is known for today: a colourful and vibrant place, full of cultural heritage that has even been recognized by UNESCO in 2003. Its colonial architecture is what put the label on this former fishing village. The Dutch Square or the Christ Church are the centers of attention of many visiting tourists from all over the world. Don’t miss out on a walk along the Malacca River just as soon as the sun begins to set!

9. Feast on its Rich Heritage

If there was one thing that unites all its pockets of ethnicities, religions and landscapes, it’s food.  Malaysia is a food paradise — there’s so much variety to choose from, and each dish and platter is deeply rooted in traditions.

Due to the country’s ethnic diversity, Malaysian, Chinese and Indian food together combine to make up the country’s cuisine. Lucky for travelers, this variety makes Malaysian cuisine so interesting and full of flavors. Head for Kota Bharu’s night market to eat the national dish, Nasi Lemak, with your hands. Go to the colonial streets of Penang for the island’s famous fish-based soup, Penang Laksa. Or head to KL’s Little India for a simply yet exceedingly satisfying breakfast of Roti Canai.

Why you should travel Malaysia - food.

10. Ease of Communications and Navigation

In comparison with other parts of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is relatively developed, with modern infrastructure that often makes traveling easy — especially for first-time visitors to the region. The majority of Malaysians speak some level of English and don’t have any problems communicating with foreigners. This could be due to the already diverse language scene of an ethnically diverse country.

Roads are rather well built and maintained, so is the public transport network. This makes it easy for travelers to get around the country. For travelers looking to stock up on goods, it’s easy to find shopping malls, fast food restaurants or modern grocery stores in most parts of the country.

Article Source: Wild Junket

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