Traveling off the beaten path is rewarding but also difficult. It gives you the opportunity to connect with the local culture on a deeper level but might also involve the lack of fancy infrastructures, easy transportation and English speaking people. If this doesn’t scare you, you might want to to have a look at the folowig places in Malaysia which are away from the trails of the mass tourism.
Bohey Dulang – once a volcano this tropical island is loved by trekkers. If you are in a good shape don’t miss the chance to climb to the top and enjoy a paradisiac island view.
Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia and reputably one of the best diving spots in the world. Considering that it was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone I wouldn’t doubt the truth of this statement. If you are an experienced diver and have been there, please share your thoughts. There is no accomodation on the island and the access is very limited, only 120 permits are issued per day, so be sure to book in advance.
Mantanani Islands are one hour away by a speed boat from Kota Belud. The white sand, the crystal clear water and the diverse marine life make it a popular spot for local tourists. Shipwrecks are quite easy to spot too. The accomodations are very basic, don’t expect anythings fancy, just be happy with the sea.
Tioman Island is easily reached by ferry from Mersing. When I said easily I was kidding. Once you arrive to Mersing from Kuala Lumpur after a 7 hours bus drive you will need another couple of hours to reach the island, depending on the tides and the weather. But once you are there you can enjoy a wonderful underwater world or treks in the rain forest. The beer is also cheap as the island has a duty free status but beware of the naughty monkeys.
Rawa Island – this super tiny island boasts two resorts. It’s the perfect place to unwind, far away from anything mundane.
Belum Rainforest Resort – are you dreaming of a secluded stay in the forest, night trekking, fishing trips and maybe you want to see with your eyes the biggest flower in the world? The rafflesia diameter can reach 1 meter and it could weight up to 10kgs. Intrigued?
Janda Baik is a small village just 45 kms away from Kuala Lumpur and is surrounded by a thick rainforest. The temperatures at night can drop to 20C (I know this sounds polar!) which means that you can witness some misty mornings if you don’t oversleep. Close by you can see Ulu Tampit Waterfall, the Elephant Conservation Center in Kuala Gandah or hike to Mount Nuang summit (just 11 hours).
Gunung Telapak Buruk – on this rainforested mountaintop an hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, lies the WW2 wreckage of a Royal Air Force B-24 Liberator. It had been missing for decaded before some local tribesmen found the remains. Now it’s a populat destination for hiking. You can book a tour with the locals from here.
Bukit Larut, formerly known as Maxwell Hill is the oldest hill resort in Malaysia, with the oldest hill station and the wettest weather (don’t forget your rain coat). It’s less busy than Cameron Highlands and preserves the old fashioned colonial feel.
Sasaran Sky Mirror – this is the Malay version of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It’s located in the middle of the straits of Malacca. Twice a month, with the new and the full moon it offers a unique spectacle when the sky reflects in the shallow water as a sand bank magically appears in the middle of the sea. It’s accessible by a 30 minutes boat ride from Jeram, Selangor.
Kenyir Lake is the biggest man made lake in South East Asia and there is a lot to do around. Think of waterfalls, small uninhabited islands and caves.
Jerangkang Waterfall is a series of cascades with multiple sections of large pools with a nicely fresh, or better, really cold water. The upper leverls are less busy and much cleaner.
To be continued …