5 Holiday Destinations In Peninsular Malaysia You May Have Overlooked
by Rachel Yeoh. |
Okay, one more hour till we land. I look out the window, and oh, what a sight to behold. Cotton candy clouds rolling on a bright blue tapestry. I lean back into my chair -
‘DING DING DING’
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking…”
The announcement is interrupted by static.
Murmurs of worry start. I look out the window, but the gorgeous view is now dark with angry rain clouds.
‘DING DING DING’
Oxygen masks drop. Everyone scrambles to wear them - except me.
There is no oxygen mask for ME! Where is my oxygen mask!?!?!
‘DING DING DING’
The plane drops several altitudes.
“Shucks, where is my oxygen mask?”
I ram and tug on the air conditioning vent, trying to locate the oxygen mask.
‘DING DING DING’
Okay, I think I got it. It’s vibrating. Oh, wait.
It’s my phone alarm.
I hate having dreams where I get on a plane to go on a holiday and never reach the destination. I always find myself stuck at the airport, the train station, or in between transfers. These dreams were more rampant during MCO, and honestly, I’ve had enough.
I want out!
Therefore, I have made myself a list of to-visit places in Peninsula Malaysia that are often overlooked. If you need a little bit of help deciding where you’d like to cuti-cuti Malaysia, well, here it is!
1. Lang Tengah Island, Terengganu
Source: @langtengahscubaadventures on Instagram
If you love the sun, sand, sea, and seclusion, Lang Tengah Island is the place to be. While many would have heard of Redang, Perhentian, and Kapas, Lang Tengah is seldom talked about. Maybe we should continue to keep it that way, so the tropical paradise remains underpopulated by tourists.
It is a 40-minute boat ride away from Merang Jetty. You could also make arrangements to head away from the touristy Redang Island to this one, about 30 minutes away.
Upon arriving, you’ll be greeted by a white sandy beach. There are only three resorts on the island (two on the main beach), and I highly suggest you take the full-board package.
If you’d like to rough it out a little bit and volunteer for the livelihood of turtles and marine life, I recommended Lang Tengah Turtle Watch.
Source: @mmd_moments on Instagram
However, if you are there to kick off your sandals and bask in the sun, don’t forget to pack your snorkelling gear. The waters are as clear as glass, and if you are lucky, you might even spot bamboo sharks and illusive stingrays further offshore. If you’ve got a diving license, arrange a diving excursion with the resort management.
For those looking for a party, you won’t find it here. However, if beach bumming, swimming, and experiencing the fullness of nature spell your ideal holiday, start making arrangements to Lang Tengah Island. The season opens in March.
2. Balik Pulau, Penang
Source: @fioneooi on Instagram
How can anyone overlook Penang when Penangites can’t stop talking about their home state?
Wait, wait. You’ve probably gone on a mural (and food) hunt in George Town, but have you taken a detour to the other side of the island where nature and idyllic living thrives?
How about skipping George Town altogether and head over to Balik Pulau? Here, you have access to ‘branded’ durians at affordable prices when in season. If you are not a fan of the king of fruits, perhaps this sleepy hamlet can entice you with good seafood, tantalizing laksa, quaint farms, and a journey through the paddy fields by bicycle. There are glam farm stays, retreat resorts, and homestays scattered around the small town.
Instead of flocking the beaches in Batu Ferringhi, you can have Pasir Panjang Beach to yourself. Set your mat down with your picnic basket and catch the gorgeous sunset as the fiery ball dips into the sea. Don’t leave without a nutmeg drink and a packet of belachan on hand.
3. Royal Belum State Park, Perak
Source: @shoutrageous on Instagram
Guys, have you heard of Royal Belum State Park? Did you know that it is estimated to be over 130 million years old? Even older than the Amazon jungle?
Woah, Malaysia got so old meh?
Well, Royal Belum is.
For those who’d like a more comfortable stay, book a few nights at Belum Rainforest Resort, it is well equipped, and the food is good too. If you want to have a little adventure on Temenggor Lake, get your gang and book a boathouse. It can typically fit 20 or more people. Choose to fish, swim, and barbecue under the stars.
Source: @roomie.travels on Instagram
Consider staying a while longer and book a tour to enter deeper parts of the forest where the stinky Rafflesia blooms. You can also pay a visit to some of the Orang Asli villages and chill out with them for a bit.
I recommend heading to the jetty to arrange a hiking excursion to Pulau Tali Kail, but only thread those trails with a guide because you might spot wild animals (vipers and elephants) going about their business. It is only a 30-minute uphill hike to the top. Once there, climb up the watchtower to take in the magnificent view of the surroundings.
4. Desaru, Johor
Source: @westindesaru on Instagram
Probably better known to Singaporeans than Malaysians, Desaru is a beautiful coastal town, perfect for a luxurious getaway. If you’ve never been here, make the most of it whilst the international borders are still closed.
Just a little over an hour away from Johor Bahru, Desaru can be enjoyed as a couple or a group. High-end resorts are sprinkled along the coast, offering the best views and services. But let’s be real, most of us are not going to stay locked up in an upscale resort and miss out on photo-ops. Venture out and experience farm life. There is Desaru Fruit Farm where you can learn, pick, and eat over 100 types of fruits. Riding a horse or a pony is cute, but you’ll get more attention when you are riding on an ostrich at Desaru Ostrich Farm. Early risers, make your way to the beach to watch the sunrise. I promise you, it will make your day!
Source: @desarucoastmalaysia on Instagram
If you’ve got extra cash to splurge, I suggest resort hopping (not to stay) for the food and environment. Head to one renowned for their spa, another for their bar, and the following one for their food. That way, it’s as if you are staying in more than one resort. You generally can’t enter a resort unless you are a guest, but when you are paying for something in their facility, you can kaypoh and check out the grounds as well. A #travelhack, just for you.
5. Janda Baik, Pahang
Source: @roxwell on Instagram
Wait, Janda Baik is a holiday destination? I thought it was a place where people get married.
Umm, yes and no.
Only an hour away from the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, Janda Baik is a location favoured by those tying the knot, but it is also a pretty place laced with private villas you can rent for a few nights. At 600 metres above sea level, the location is cool and serene. Upon entry, you’ll be driving on a winding road, amidst the lush tropical rainforest. Unlike the other touristy highlands, Janda Baik is not as chilly or congested.
There are many different villas around the area. You might want to shop around for one that suits you and your fam. There are ones with private pools, gorgeous landscaping, gardens, and brooks. While you can make full use of the facilities within your villa, I recommend you venture out to Bentong Waterfalls or trek the coniferous forest.
If you don’t have a budget for a villa, check out the homestays, glamping sites, and camping sites. There is one for any budget!
Source: @faizhhsn on Instagram
The truth is, we often overlook Malaysia as a holiday destination. But now that we can’t head overseas at our whim and fancy, perhaps we can learn to discover and appreciate the beauty that is in our little country by exploring these five destinations that we may have probably heard of but never visited.
So, where to next?
You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.