Tourism Malaysia


White water rafting is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Since I survived to tell the tale, let me share with you the excitement of rafting in the Kampar River surrounded by the greenery of the Gopeng rainforest.

White Water Rafting in Kampar River, Gopeng, Perak

Gopeng, a small town about 90 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, has many pre-war shop houses. This quiet and unassuming place is the gateway to some of the most adventurous outdoor activities in Peninsular Malaysia.

The most popular adrenaline pumping fun is white water rafting in the Kampar River. The scenic waterway is created by the merging of three rivers, Geruntum River, Geroh River and Pacat River in Perak. Rated as a Grade I to III river, it offers a great combination of water ranging from gentle flows to challenging and technical white water. It is also perfect for beginners.

From Gopeng town, it takes about 15 minutes to reach the starting point located at Kg. Ulu Geruntum. The journey itself is a memorable experience as visitors will pass by some of the most picturesque places in Gopeng with a whole spectrum of landscapes. During the fruit season, you will be looking with envy at the fruit orchards flanking both sides of the narrow, winding road. You can also enjoy the beauty and the tranquillity of the quaint traditional villages along the way. A 100-year-old water pipe stretches from the nearby mountains through the major settlements to the old mining area and the villagers are still using the water supply from it.

Upon reaching the white water rafting site, you will find many resorts there as well as several adventure specialists offering white water rafting and other outdoor activities. These are all a stone’s throw away from the starting point of the white water rafting. Whichever adventure company you go with, you will be given a liability form to sign before you can proceed further. Your river guide will brief you about paddling commands, safety measures and the do’s and don’t’s of white water rafting. Then, armed with a life jacket, helmet and paddle, you are all set to face the raging river.

The number of passengers per raft depends on river conditions and other factors but generally it ranges from two to six people.

It helps to have a skillful and friendly river guide as he will calm you down with his jokes and fascinate you with local anecdotes. Our guide, Max, who sat at the back of the raft, helped us to avoid rocks, kept us on the right path, cracked jokes and made sure we had a great time. Besides the guide, a safety kayaker cum photographer will follow rafters throughout the journey to ensure their safety and capture images of their ride.

Water Confidence Test
One of the most important things a rafter has to do before continuing his or her journey down the breathtaking twists, turns and drops of the white water course is the water confidence activity. Depending on the level of the water, there is a possibility of you being thrown out of the raft. The water confidence activity helps you prepare for the worst. It requires you to do body rafting along a short stretch. Your guide will steer you into the current and then he will let you go. If your water confidence is low, the three-minute body rafting will feel like ages and you will end up swallowing a lot of water. This is definitely not an activity for the self-conscious. However, the most important thing is to have faith in your guide and not panic.

After your water confidence has been tested, it is time for you to try your first rapid. White water rafting is an exhilarating activity that provides you with the ultimate adrenaline rush. Cascading down the rapids is only part of the fun. The whole journey is not one huge “liquid chaos” as it provides scenic and relaxing experiences. There are also flat sections in the river for you to take a breather after conquering tough rapids.

Up, Close and Personal with the Rapids of the Kampar River

Kampar River has been a popular spot for white water rafting since 2003. A trip on this river is a two-hour, adrenaline-fuelled journey along a seven or nine kilometres stretch depending on the water level. There are 10 prominent rapids along the stretch and every rapid has a tale to tell.

The first rapid was named Broken Ledge to reflect the concrete ruins of a dam at the river that was once built for the tin mining industry in the Gopeng area.

One of the toughest rapids in the river is called Easy Drop as rafters including the river guide have the tendency to be thrown overboard. Basically, the rapid has two drops of approximately three metres high. Upon reaching this rapid, the river guide will shout the word “Boom! Boom!” to indicate that everyone has to sit in the centre of the raft to avoid falling into the river. It is very exhilarating as your raft is thrown through the rapid and you are left to the mercy of the powerful water.

Rajah Corner is the longest rapid in Kampar River. It is aptly named after the big colony of Rajah Brooke butterflies swarming over the rocks along the area, especially in the morning.

Whenever a raft passes through the Hyside rapid, it has to be in a 30 degree angle so that it can get through the rapid without capsizing. Everyone must move to the “high” side of the raft so that the raft will be in a slightly tilted position.

Slide rapid is a little tricky and slightly technical as it requires the raft to go through most of the right side before sliding to the middle. A raft can easily get stuck in this rapid, especially when the water level is low. If it happens, rafters must shift to the front or the back of the raft depending on the situation and in the meantime, the guide will push the raft back into the main current. It requires skillful manoeuvering because of frequent obstructions.

One rapid called Paddle Breaker marks the site where a guide had his paddle broken in half while going down it. Snake rapid got its name simply because the curve of the river looks like a snake. Your raft will go through a zigzag pattern to clear out of this rapid.

Enders Rapid refers to a skillful trick river kayakers love to do at this rapid. The play manoeuver involves nosing the boat’s bow down and deep and the stern up resulting in the kayak popping vertically upward.

Seeing a flock of chickens running around the area during their first recce, the guides decided to name one rapid Chicken Run. Another is called Eddy Point, the white water terminology for an area where two currents from the opposite direction met to create a circular or spiral motion in the water.

All these rapids offer different kinds of thrills to rafters. You can never run a river the same way twice as the changes of the water flow make each trip unique.

During the journey, you will find yourself resting between rapids, relaxing and listening to your guide talking about the river. There are several rest stops at some areas of interest.

End of the Journey

The journey ends at Kampung Jahang where you will be transported back to your resort for a quick shower and a change of clothes. Your guide will then take you to a nearby restaurant for a hearty meal after all the hard work and excitement.

No one ever walks away from white water rafting experience in Kampar River untouched. You will either get addicted to this extreme activity or fall in love with the sheer beauty of the river area or both. Either way, you will want to return to this unique place again and again.

If white water rafting is not challenging enough for you, there are other extreme activities that you can try such as water abseiling from the top of a three-storey high waterfall, advanced-level kayaking, mountain biking, jungle trekking and caving.

Getting There
From Kuala Lumpur, get off the North-South Plus Expressway at the Gopeng interchange. It is advisable to join organised groups as they will guide you to the starting point and make all the arrangements necessary.

Who to Contact

(A subsidiary of Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak)
Level 11, Perak Techno-Trade Centre, Bandar Meru Raya, Off Jalan Jelapang, 30020 Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia.
Tel:1800 22 8772



Tourism Malaysia

Tourism Malaysia: Top 7 in August

1. Penang Hungry Ghost Festival
When: August 3-31
Where: Penang
What: According to Taoism, the gates of hell open every seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Ghosts and spirits walk the streets for a month and visit their descendants. This is a month of bad luck where parents tell their children to stay at home. During the Hungry Ghost Festival in Penang, many puppet and opera shows take place to entertain the spirits. It’s open to the public but the first row at each performance must remain empty for the ghosts. On the last day of the month, believers mark the return of the souls to Hades with big bonfires at midnight.
More Information: / Photo source


Padawan Raft Safari2. Padawan Raft Safari
When: August 14
Where: Padawan, Kuching, Sarawak
What: Go kayaking or rafting into wild Borneo with friends and family… the experience will be unforgettable. Stand up in a bamboo raft and admire the stunning surroundings while paddling along the river. There are different categories for this popular and fun competition in Sarawak. Even if you don’t win a prize, the views and laughs will be an amazing reward.
More Information: / Photo source


Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week3. Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week
When: August 17-21
Where: Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur
What: It’s not all Paris and Milan! Kuala Lumpur has its own Fashion Week, too! For five days, Pavilion will turn into a catwalk for the creative Malaysian fashion industry. A great opportunity for fashion lovers and trend setters to discover Malaysian designers and their ‘Ready to Wear’ collection. An event full of inspiration and style!
More Information: / Photo source


Rhythm of Gamelan4. Rhythm of Gamelan
When: August 19-21
Where: Kompleks Sukan Negeri, Kuala Terengganu
What: Musicians from Malaysia, Indonesia and Europe meet to explore and learn about this musical art form. Gamelan is a traditional instrumental ensemble of Java, Indonesia, typically including many bronze percussion instruments. Professionals lead the two-day workshop while members of the public enjoy the harmonious sounds. A great opportunity to discover this royal music, now accessible to everyone. 
More Information: / Photo source


Mask Festival Malaysia5. Malaysia International Mask Festival
When: August 19-21
Where: Esplanade, KLCC Park, Kuala Lumpur
What: Come enjoy an explosion of colour as elaborate masks from Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and China are showcased to the public. Masks are an expressive art form in many Asian cultures and commonly used in rituals and celebrations. The three days festival in the heart of the city features activities and performances full of folklore and mysticism.
More Information: / Photo source


Jet Ski Championship6. Selangor Open Jetski Championship
When: August 27-29
Where: Tasik Biru, Rawang, Selangor
What: Water sport lovers will be in heaven. Participants from Southeast Asia, Japan and Australia will gather at Blue Lake, Tasik Biru to compete and show off their skills. There are local and international categories, complementary activities and lots of fun.
More Information: / Photo source


Raintown Half Marathon7. Raintown Half Marathon 2016
When: August 28
Where: Taiping, Perak
What: Over 4,000 athletes from all over the world will meet in the ‘wettest’ town in peninsular Malaysia. Taiping, also known as ‘Raintown’, is the scene for this popular half marathon. Participants can opt for the 7km, 10km or half distance event. Hopefully the rain will stay away just this once!
More Information: / Photo source

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Tourism Malaysia

Ethical travel destination: Malaysia

Ethical travel destination: Malaysia

Multi-ethnic, rich in culture and biodiversity, Malaysia is both a place you want to visit and don’t want to spoil by being an “ugly tourist”.

By “spoil” I mean contribute to overdevelopment, thereby watering down the traditional culture or even destroying the nature that brought you here in the first place. “Ugly” tourism fails to respect the local culture or environment and rather draws people solely for its weather, waves and lightness on the wallet.

Bako National Park, Borneo. Pic: tbSMITH (Flickr CC).

Bako National Park, Borneo. Pic: tbSMITH (Flickr CC).

Ethical travel, on the other hand, does the reverse. The ethical tourist wants to give something back – and I don’t mean empty beer bottles or even some duty free shopping. The idea of ethical tourism is not only to minimise the tourist’s negative impact on the destination, but to try to make things better. An ethical holiday in Malaysia can take the form of volunteer vacations (volun-tourism), eco-tourism and sustainable travel. These categories can be distinct, but can also overlap considerably.

Let’s start with an ethical holiday activity in Malaysia that doesn’t involve its incredible natural beauty. Hard to believe? Read on.

Ethical business

The Downtown Night Market in the capital Kuala Lumpur features hundreds of market stalls which employ or are owned by recovering drug addicts. It was started by a recovered addict who wanted to create a project to help ex-addicts stay clean. KL Downtown has now become the city’s largest night bazaar.

From the BBC:

“The bazaar (open from 10 pm to 4 am) is a huge draw for tourists […] offering everything from local, handmade batik fabrics to street food to foot massages to five-minute haircuts. On weekends, the market invites local dancers and musicians to perform on its stage. A portion of all proceeds go to Kuala Lumpur’s Pengasih rehab centre.”

The Downtown Night Market is a great way to do your holiday shopping and help the locals help themselves.


Malaysia has different options for volun-tourism including working on organic farms, volunteering at organizations that protect endangered sea turtles from poachers, educational stays at orangutan rehabilitation centers and more. These stints can be combined with eco holidays. A stay at an organic farm might follow or precede a jungle trek or river expedition. Some diving schools incorporate working with turtle conservation projects into their activities.

Turtle in Malaysian Borneo. Pic: LKEM (Flickr CC).

Turtle in Malaysian Borneo. Pic: LKEM (Flickr CC).

Other examples of volun-tourism include teaching English in combination with environmental awareness and there are internships/positions available that can last several months. Alternatively another example would be to visit an uninhabited island to observe seahorses and spread awareness of their plight.

A fantastic organization and resource for volun-tourism as well as ethical travel and eco-travel in Malaysia is Wild Asia. Other helpful links include Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm and Bubbles Dive Resort.


A homestay in a traditional village is a great way of experiencing the authentic, rustic lives of Malaysia’s tribal cultures. Your appreciation and financial support encourages these villages to preserve their way of life. It’s also a great way to see how these traditional communities live harmoniously with nature and to appreciate their rich local biodiversity.

Homestays can also be combined with rainforest camping, jungle trekking and rafting trips. See Peraya Homestay for more information.

Rainforest lodges and eco-resorts

Though less activist in nature, but high in environmental awareness are stays in Malaysia’s eco-lodges and similar resorts. These holidays are perfect for those willing to spend a little more who perhaps don’t want to rough it by volunteering or embracing a traditional village lifestyle. However these people still care about Malaysia’s incredible nature and want to experience it in ethical style and comfort.

Rainforest resort, Taman Kota. Pic: CDN Harv (Flickr CC).

Rainforest resort, Taman Kota. Pic: CDN Harv (Flickr CC).

Rainforest lodges are situated in natural parks surrounded by Malaysia’s tropical rainforest. Other types of eco-resorts include luxurious island accommodation on beaches adjacent to mangrove forests and even floating resorts located off the coast.

All rainforest lodges and eco resorts are close to nature and offer ample opportunities to observe wildlife, such as orangutans, and participate in various nature-based activities like jungle trekking, swimming, rafting, diving and snorkeling.

See Eco Tropical Resorts and Bagus Place for some great rainforest and eco-lodge ideas.

Nature nature nature!

Most (though not all) of the above varieties of ethical tourism involve Malaysia’s astoundingly biodiverse natural environment. Malaysia is believed to contain around 20 percent of the world’s animal species with a high percentage of endemic species. Two thirds to three quarters of the country are covered in forestland. Tourism that encourages the preservation of this wondrous biodiversity is inherently ethical. This means taking advantage of Malaysia’s 26 national parks and numerous state parks and nature reserves.

Use it (ethically) or lose it!

Tourism Malaysia

Five Malaysian eco-breaks

Five Malaysian eco-breaks

Sustainable travel, including responsible nature holidays and what has become known as eco-tourism, is on the rise in Malaysia – and with good reason. Though Malaysia has highly developed urban regions, it is also home to a rich ecology and diverse geography.

For the nature-interested traveller, this Southeast Asian nation comprises mountains and highlands; beaches and countless tropical islands; rainforests and mangrove estuaries plus much more. The well-organized tourism infrastructure and wealth of natural locations and activities help make Malaysia one of the world’s top destinations for environmentally-conscious travel. Malaysia is an exciting as well as convenient location for a dizzying choice of eco-holidays.

What follows are five general ideas for eco-breaks in Malaysia. There is naturally plenty of cross-over between and among these categories and lots of variety within each.

Orangutan observation

The sole great apes that are unique to Asia, these wondrous endangered primates are only native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia has well-developed facilities for observing orangutans in the wild and in special rehabilitation centers. Visiting these reserves and centers aids in the protection of habitats which are crucial to the survival of these fascinating and gentle apes.

Places like the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Danum Valley Conservation Area and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve (all located in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo) contain different options for accommodation, ranging from basic camping in tents to comfortable, well-appointed stays at more upscale rainforest lodges.

Orangutan, Sepilok, Borneo, Malaysia. Pic: Paul Mannix (Flickr CC).

Orangutan, Sepilok, Borneo, Malaysia. Pic: Paul Mannix (Flickr CC).

Other wildlife observation and “volun-tourism”

Besides orangutans, Malaysia is home to a host of other amazing examples of wildlife. Some need your help! Nesting sea turtles are very vulnerable to poachers. Those who wish to combine a holiday with the chance to assist local endangered species can incorporate volunteer work like helping turtles or regrowing coral into a scuba diving vacation or other nature break.

This short description comes from an article on “Ethical turtle tourism” from The Star: “The volunteers conduct daily dinner-time briefing sessions, educating guests about turtles and the threats they face, during which they remind guests to switch off their mobile phones and avoid camera flashes on the beach at night.”

Other options include visiting elephant sanctuaries in the rainforest or even wildlife refuges for endangered wild cattle, called guar.

Ecological agricultural tourism

Those into eating and growing organic food might be interested in a bit of agricultural tourism. Visits to ecological rice, produce and seafood farms can be far more exiting than the idea sounds. These farms are often located in beautiful surroundings and visitors can incorporate jungle trekking, cycling, mountain climbing and river expeditions into their stay.

Kahang Organic Rice Farm features accommodation ranging from camping to “floating chalets” in the rice fields. Of course food is also a major part of each stay, with meals composed of a range of fresh organic fruit, vegetables, fish and rice.

National parks

Malaysia is home to several national parks, two of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One such site is Kinabalu National Park in Malaysian Borneo, which contains the country’s tallest peak, Mount Kinabalu, and around 4,500 species of flora and fauna. The other UNESCO World Heritage Site in Malaysia is Gunung Mulu National Park, also on the island of Borneo. Gunung Mulu National Park is the world’s most studied tropical karst area, contains a 2,377 meter-high sandstone pinnacle (from which the park gets its name) and some 295 km of explored caves. The park is also well-known for its rich variety of plant life, and its canyons, rivers and dense, rainforest-covered mountains.

Gunung Mulu pinnacles. Pic: Paul White (Flickr CC).

Gunung Mulu pinnacles. Pic: Paul White (Flickr CC).

Besides these two UNESCO sites, there are 26 other national parks plus many state parks and reserves in Malaysia, protecting most of the nation’s forest land. Nearly three quarters of Malaysia is covered in trees and natural forests. These forests are extremely biodiverse in flora and are also where fauna such as clouded leopards, Sumatran rhinos, Malaysian tigers, Asian sun bears, monitor lizards and orangutans can be found.

Malaysia’s national parks include not only forest land, but lowlands full of rivers, atolls, coral reefs and scores of islands. These parks encompass the main eco-tourism destinations in the country.

Water-based activities

Loaded with islands, rivers and coastline, Malaysia is a dream location for eco-friendly water activities like diving, snorkeling and river rafting.

White water rafting is possible at grades I-V (tame to very dangerous) in many rivers located in the country’s national parks. Popular diving and snorkeling spots include Tioman, a small island located within the Mersing Marine Park, and the 9-island archipelago of Redang inside Redang Marine Park.

Tioman Island. Pic: Le Journal de Maman (Flickr CC).

Tioman Island. Pic: Le Journal de Maman (Flickr CC).

Naturally, Malaysia’s many islands provide ample opportunity for scuba diving and snorkeling among coral reefs.

I hope this list provided you with some inspiration and ideas for an unforgettable Malaysian eco-break. For a more information on responsible tourism, volun-tourism and eco-friendly holidays in Malaysia I recommend a visit to the Wild Asia website.