Roots – that is why there is always that need for us Malaysians to return to our hometowns, which we affectionately call “kampung”. We want to show our children where and how we grew up, we want to instill in them a sense of belonging and at the same time give them their identity. And of course, it is essentially a reunion of loved ones.
So if you want to learn more about Malaysian culture and tradition, go to their roots. I suggest that you stay at a homestay in a traditional “kampung” and you will find out why Malaysians are known for their warmth and friendliness, as well as what makes them tick. I hope it will become one of your most beautiful memories in Malaysia. And in the process, you’ll gain a new family too.
Under the Malaysian Government’s Homestay Experience programme, tourists can easily get a dose of life in the village. The programme registers a few hundred villages that have expressed interest in hosting tourists in their private homes to provide them a glimpse of life in Malaysia’s beautiful countryside.
Besides that, you’ll get to spend a majority of the time with your host family doing activities that will help you immerse yourself in the local culture.
If one day you’ll find yourself heading towards the northern region of Malaysia, check out these homestays:
1. Kampung Ujung Bukit, Perlis
At Kampung Ujung Bukit, the homestay is built near the rice fields with the limestone hills as the backdrop, offering picturesque and peaceful surroundings. Some of the houses are built on wooden stilts, while others sit on rock formations.
Each house bears the name of a hill, like Bukit Bintang, Bukit Keteri, Bukit Jernih, Bukit Emas, Bukit Nyattuh, Bukit Lagi, Bukit Padang, Bukit Kecil and Bukit Chuping.
At Kampung Ujung Bukit, let yourself attune to the local customs and try to fit in as best you can. As you are going to eat what your host family eat, so challenge yourself to try some of the local delight such as bamboo shoots and clear pumpkin soup, ikan termenong and ulam pokok kedondong.
Take part in activities such as tarik upih pinang (pulling the betel nut fronds), cycling and making emping (crackers). Famed for the succulent Harumanis mango, you might find yourself busy plucking ripe mangoes from the trees at the mango plantations nearby.
Beyond the village area, let your host family take you to the various tourist attractions nearby such as the Perlis Equestrian Training Centre for an unforgettable adventure with horses, as well as Bukit Ayer Recreational forest for some eco-adventures.
Homestay Kampung Ujung Bukit
Jalan Kurong Batang,
01000 Kangar, Perlis
Contact person: En. Ed (012-448 6305) / Puan Faezah (017-5986504)
2. Homestay Relau, Bandar Baru Kulim, Kedah
Strategically located right along the border between Penang and Perak, Homestay Relau is a small traditional Malay rural township in the Southern-most part of Kedah Darul Aman, and it is surrounded by lush green hills with unspoilt natural beauty giving the town an extra edge over other rural locations in Kedah. Most of the host family are farmers, many of whom still practice traditional agricultural and farming methods.
By staying here, you will get a glimpse of the life of a rubber-tapper and a paddy-field farmer. Why don’t you try your hands at rubber tapping or paddy planting /harvesting (seasonal)? These experiences will open your eyes to the daily realities of your host family’s world.
Most of the houses in Homestay Relau are fringed by tropical fruit trees and as the “adopted son or daughter”, you will have the privileged to eat just about any fruits you want and as much as you want. Just imagine all those delicious tropical fruits like durian, mango, rambutan, and mangosteen, you name it and they’ve got it.
One of the most favourite activities at Homestay Relau is the traditional batik painting, where you will get to learn some basic points on batik, and another one is learning how to dance the traditional dances. The basic steps are relatively easy to learn. With a little practice, you will soon find yourself swaying to the music!
Beyond the village area, let your host family take you to the various tourist attractions nearby such as the Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest and Junjong Waterfall, to name a few.
Persatuan Homestay Relau,
Lot 1064, Sri Impian, Relau, Kedah .
Contact person: En. Helmi (+6012 – 488 3620)
FB : https://www.facebook.com/Homestay-Relau-Kedah
3. Homestay Mengkuang Titi, Penang
Located about 25km from Butterworth and 32km from George Town, Homestay Mengkuang Titi is a comprehensive village that still retains its rustic traditional charm and culture. The traditional homes of the villagers here exude a cozy ambience for visitors as they are beautifully crafted with wooden structure and intricate architecture. At Mengkuang Titi, you’ll enjoy a wide spectrum of vibrant culture and exciting art activities. Indulge in the natural wonders of its agriculture, cottage industry and traditional games today.
There are always lots of things to do in a homestay and Homestay Mengkuang Titi is no exception. Try your hand at rubber tapping and watch how latex is processed into rubber sheets, or join the villagers in plucking coconuts from trees and savour its delightful water, or learn how to weave mengkuang mats.
Grab the opportunity to learn to make kuih bahulu, a traditional and scrumptious Malay cake. Kuih bahulu is also a popular snack during festive seasons.
Take part in traditional dances or musical performances such as Boria, a musical performance that is unique to Penang. Boria, the traditional parody theatre that was first originated from the ancient ta’ziyeh culture of Persia is known for their medley of traditional music and chorus singing.
Test your skill in traditional Malay games such as top spinning, or gasing, and sepak raga, played by the men and congkak by the women.
Visiting Mengkuang Dam is a must because it is the largest water storage in Penang with a capacity of 23,639 million litres of water. This dam also features a well-landscaped garden with rubber and pine trees as well as wildlife.
Beyond the village area, let your host family take you to the various tourist attractions nearby such as the Penang War Museum at Bukit Maung, which was built by the British military in 1930s to protect the island.
Homestay Mengkuang Titi
Mo. 679, Mk. 19, Mengkuang Titi, 14000 Bkt. Mertajam, Sbg. Perai
Contact person: Rohaizat Bin Hj. Othman (+6019 – 412 7095)
4. Homestay Kampung Beng, Lenggong, Perak
Homestay Kampung Beng is an achingly beautiful village on the edge of Lake Chenderoh. It is located about 23km from Lenggong town and 45 minute drive from Kuala Kangsar.
Homestay Kampung Beng is made of six smaller villages comprise of Kg Durian Lubuk, Kg Beng Dalam, Kg Dusun, Kg Sekolah, Kg Durau and Kg Batu Ring. The main mode of transport is by boat or sampan.
The villages are surrounded by scenic views of lush green forest, lakes, waterfalls and mountains. The breathtaking view is one of the reason Kg. Beng is often the preferred filming location to renown film makers both locally and internationally. Among the films shot in Kg. Beng was Anna and The King and Penanggal, as well as the popular “Petronas Raya” advertisement directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad.
Residents here in Homestay Kampung Beng still conserves their traditional kampung way of life. Their warm hospitality, laid back activities and rich cultural heritage will guarantee a truly nostalgic kampung life experience.
Most of the villagers are rubber tappers, so most likely you will get the opportunity to tap a rubber tree. You can also visit their deer farm located in the kampung itself and see for yourself how they manage the farm.
Kampung Beng isn’t called mini-amazon for nothing as its river is filled with many species of freshwater fish such as tengalan (carp), kelah (river carp), kerai (carp), sebarau (carp), baung (catfish), lampam jawa (Javanese carp) and patin (river catfish); thus its most popular activity is fishing at the nearby Tasik Raban and Sungai Perak.
Be brave and try out your host family’s traditional cuisines, which include ikan pekasam (fish preserved in salt brine), gulai tempoyak (gravy made from fermented durian), sambal ayam serai (chicken with lemongrass sauce), kerabu umbut (salad made from young palm tree shoots), and many others.
Other activities you can do at the homestay are trekking the nearby hilly jungle to get to a glorious waterfall known as the Lata Gelongsor, as well as visiting the King of Pattani’s shipwreck site. Tok Beng, the founder of the village was believed to be a Prince of Pattani.
Beyond the village area, let your host family take you to the various tourist attractions nearby such as the Kota Tampan Archaeological Museum (the museum displays a diversity of archaeological finds from the local area) and the limestone caves in Lenggong Valley.
Homestay Kampung Beng
33400 Lenggong, Perak
Contact person: Mr. Akmal (019 – 574 7160)