1 Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island)
A beautiful tropical island on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, untouched by agriculture and deforestation, Covered in mountainous tropical rainforest, surrounded by stunning, shallow coral reefs, Tioman is arguably a Malaysian paradise.
The island has only a handful of villages, some of which can’t be accessed via foot, which means lazy journeys around its coast via. bum boat (yes, that is a thing) is the best way to get around.
Friendly locals, a lack of tourists and lodging in kampong houses (traditional Malaysian shacks on stilts) provides for a real, authentic experience.
Wake up, step out onto the beach and dip into the ocean for amazing snorkeling and diving or take the back exit into the jungle and explore the tranquil, human-empty forest in search of slow lorises, giant lizards and manic long-tailed macaques.
Top Tip: Villages to visit – Kampung Salang, Tekek & Air Batang (ABC).
2 (Taman Negara) Endau Rompin National Park
One of the last remaining patches of rainforest left in the south of Peninsular Malaysia.
Unknown to most non-Malaysians, Endau Rompin is the perfect patch of jungle to head to if you’re looking for some amazing wildlife spotting without the hustle and bustle of touristy areas.
The only problem, is getting there…
Leaving from Kluang, Johor, the only way to get into the forest is to hire a guide to drive you 2 hours through palm oil plantations before you reach the national park centre. But, once there, the only way into the camping sites further into the forest is to jump on a narrow speedboat and travel up river.
Evidence of elephants is everywhere and whilst it’s unlikely many tigers are left in this patch, gibbons, wild boar and a whole range of reptiles can be found.
The forest is known for it’s endemic species of fan palm, which makes up large patches of montane palm forest.
The forest’s river system also makes for the most amazing range of deep blue lakes and waterfalls, perfect for a mid-afternoon cool down. And to top it off, the best way to exit the forest is to tube down the river, all the way back to the national park center.
3 Kuching, Sarawak
Kuching (pronounced Koo-ching) is the Malay word for ‘cat’. Kuching, AKA Cat City is the capital city of the state of Sarawak, land of the hornbills and a mixed community of races.
Sarawak is saturated with history, mainly due to the ‘White Raja’ (the white king), a British guy called James Brooke who managed to make peace, stopping the violence between the Chinese, Malay & Indigenous people.
Kuching is an incredibly clean city, with statues of cats found all over (Perfect for us crazy cat lovers!) don’t ask how it got its name, I’ll let you work that out for yourselves!
So much so, that it even has it’s own cat museum. No, this isn’t in Japan… this is in the heart of Northern Borneo and it’s brilliant.
Kuching has a lot to offer, with copious amounts of tourist attractions and monuments to visit. A gem that’s easily overshadowed by bigger cities like Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
4 Kinabatangan River
Sabah, Borneo; one of the World’s last vestiges of everything wildlife and nature in South East Asia. Go to the right place and expect orangutans, pig tailed macaques, sun bears, proboscis monkeys and hornbills galore. It truly is a traditional explorer’s dream.
The Kinabatangan River can be found in the east of Sabah. Although incredibly difficult to get to, it’s not impossible, but you may have to google for a few ‘how to’ travel guides.
The river is notoriously known for having a large amount of wildlife living in the rainforest verge, supposedly due to the encroachment of surrounding palm oil plantations. You’ll be spending the night in a home stay, a kampong house experience where a Makcik (Malaysian Auntie) will look after you. With surrounding rainforest you have the best opportunity to spot some of the wildlife by boat or by foot.
If you are as much of a nature nut as we are, get here, like yesterday!
Another city teeming with history Melaka; the original port of the peninsular colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British providing it with unique mix of people and culture.
Over the past decade Melaka has, for some reason, become the cultural home of Hello Kitty – at this point you’re probably realizing Malaysia’s undoubted love of felines – I don’t know why, I don’t think they know why but, what ever the reason it’s one of the bizarre reasons I have soft spot for the nation – nothing needs to make sense and that’s what’s brilliant about it.
Wander the colourful streets, take in the European feel and architecture while stopping to people watch in some of the quirky cafe.
Melaka, although not big, transports you into the past, to the age of colonialism, showing you the journey that modern Malaysia has been through, maturing to the multicultural sovereignty of sun, condensed milk, monitor lizards and nasi goring.
It only requires a day trip, but it’s well worth the trip down from KL or up from Singapore, for a taste of European Asia.
This post has been written by Ash of Raw Peaks Adventure Apparel.
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