Tourism Malaysia

Traveller’s sleeping pods

What can you do if the duration of your transit does not justify getting a airport hotel room? Abu Dhabi has the solution.

TIRED passengers travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport can now get some shut-eye before catching their next flight in sleeping pods which convert into flat beds and slide fully shut.

Ten Finnish-designed pods have been rolled out across Terminals 1 and 3, where passengers in transit can cocoon themselves in the self-contained armchairs and catch a quick snooze.

The pods feature a sliding shade that enclose users in their own private space and shut out the din of rolling suitcases, foot traffic, airport announcements and fluorescent lights.

Plans for upgrades are also in the works to include Internet access, secure storage for luggage, and charging stations for laptops, mobile phones and other electronic devices.

Another 35 chairs are on order to be installed later this year. Chairs can be rented out for Dhs45 (RM41) an hour.

Though the airport is billing it as a world-first, Dubai Airport launched a similar concept back in 2011 with their “SnoozeCubes�, which were self-contained, sound-proof, lie-flat units also offering weary passengers a bit of respite.

These are just some of the innovations coming out of award-winning airports that aim to take the stress out of travelling. Singapore Changi Airport, which topped Skytrax’s World’s Best Airport Awards this year, features tropical rooftop gardens, movie theatres, free foot massages and free tours into the city for transits longer than five hours. – AFP RelaxNews

Wonderful Malaysia

Cheap international calls from Malaysia

NobelCom 10% discount code: WMALAYSIA-1784725821 (exp. Dec 31st)

A phone booth high up Mount Kinabalu in MalaysiaTravelers that visit Malaysia often want to call to check up on family or friends in their home country. This usually leads to high roaming charges when they are using their own telco. Calling via Skype is free, but not every traveler has access to Wi-Fi or 3G or has a smartphone and/or carries along a laptop/tablet. This article describes a way to make cheap international calls with phone cards while traveling. A phone card is a product designed to connect you to local and international destinations at significantly lower rates. When you use a phone card, you’re using a special access number to call anyone, anywhere in the world.

The cheapest way to use a phone card is by buying a local prepaid sim card first in the country you are residing, with that sim card you use the phone card. If you use your own telco, you might still end up paying high roaming charges to your own phone company, while you only have to top up a Malaysian prepaid sim card once to be able to call with a phone card.

Popular Malaysian prepaid telcos are Hotlink, Umobile, TuneTalk and Celcom. All of them offer cheap prepaid sim cards. Usually starting costs range from RM5 to RM20 (only a few USD). They come with 3G (speeds vary, but usually fast enough for regular browsing with 1mbps to 4mbps). Obviously you can simply use this prepaid sim to make local calls, but international calls are usually very expensive.

Here is where NobelCom comes in. They offer affordable phone cards, which allow you to make cheap international calls. NobelCom offers a few plans, but usually travelers are best off with the standard and most popular ‘No Connection Fee’ phone card.

When ordering a phone card you need to first choose the correct destination. So when you are from the US, you go for the Malaysia – US phone card. Based on your calling habits you may choose one of their plans (look specifically at the ‘Rounding’ part, where you see how much the conversation is rounded up per call). The phone card expires 1 year (365 days) after last use.

Paying is easy as they offer numerous payment solutions, including PayPal. After your order is completed you can follow the calling instructions at the NobelCom website.

Steps of calling with the phone card are easy:

  1. Make sure you get a local prepaid sim card.
  2. Call the local access number, or toll free number if no local access number is available.
  3. Enter the PIN to identify you.
  4. Dial the full international destination number.

And that’s it. You will now be able to call international for much lower prices and without ridiculously high roaming charges (were you to use your own telco within Malaysia). In our previous US example, you would only pay 9.5 cents with the cheapest Nobel plan to call from Malaysia to any number in the US (fixed lines and mobile phones). In other countries this might not be the case and results in slightly higher prices when you are calling mobile phone lines. Each country has their own calling rates. If you are traveling through numerous countries in Southeast Asia (or everywhere in the world for that matter) you can simply add a new phone card for each country. You can even move balance from one phone card to the other.

Smartphone users can use the special NobelDialer, which is available to iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users. With this dialer it gets even more easy to call abroad with your phone card.

Wonderful Malaysia visitors can now enjoy a 10% discount when ordering a NobelCom phone card. Just fill in the following discount code during the ordering process:


This discount expires on December 31st. Check out the NobelCom website here (opens in a new window).

This article was written by Wonderful Malaysia. If you have good similar tips to share, do let us know below by leaving a reply.

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Tourism Malaysia

Enjoying the hospitality of headhunters in Borneo

Enjoying the hospitality of headhunters in Borneo

Rumah Bundong is a 60 year-old, 50-door longhouse near Kapit in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is inhabited by about 40 families of Iban ethnicity, who are famed, amongst many things, for headhunting.


Yes that’s right—headhunting—and 40 families means there are a lot of them. Still, I’m encouraged to learn they ceased the practice around WWII because I’ve elected to stay with them for two nights and frankly I don’t want them getting any ideas.

When I first arrived at Rumah Bundong, one of the first things I saw were skulls swaying from rafters in front of the headman’s bilik (door). Whether it was a warning for unruly guests or a gruesome souvenir for tourists, who knows? In any case I soon took little notice of it because there were so many other things to take in.

Skulls hanging from the rafters at Rumah Bundong. Pic: Joanne Lane.

The longhouse was located about an hour’s bumpy drive from Kapit and across a suspension bridge; in many ways a dramatic arrival that added to the experience.

A ruai (verandah) connected the 100-metre long structure with doors leading to individual family areas. The verandah was a communal area where women dried grains, divided the fish catch, worked on handicrafts, minded children and chatted. The men also grouped together to smoke, mend fishing nets and carve hooks. There was a real sense of a close-knit community.


I was given accommodation for a fee with the headman, Tua Rumah Bundong Tajok, and his family. His married children lived with their own families in a series of rooms in the same quarters, while single members slept in the lounge or near the guest quarters – a loft above the living area.

The 100 metre long stretch of the Rumah Bundong longhouse. Pic: Joanne Lane.

There was electricity, a television, they had mobile phones and lived in basic but comfortable rooms. An outhouse was used for washing and toileting, but most people bathed down at the river.

Few in the family spoke English but it didn’t matter. The headman’s wife and daughters prepared delicious meals of meat and vegetables that we ate communally on the kitchen floor. It was wonderful to be included in family life and not treated differently and I dived into the bowls with everybody else.

The first day I spent playing with the headman’s grandchildren, bathing in the river and exploring to get a sense of the rhythms of the longhouse. Most people were farmers and spent the days working in the fields. There was also a school on site for younger children. In the afternoon the workers would return home and gather on the verandahs.

On the second day I accompanied the headman, some of his family and a dozen workers to their fields. We set out at dawn, walking for 30 minutes across hillsides and rivers to reach what appeared to be a series of burnt out, hilly paddocks.

It didn’t look too promising to me but I guessed they must have recently cleared them for replanting – the task for today. While we sat eating breakfast one of the older men, covered liberally in tattoos, produced a chicken and slit its throat. When he dipped the feathers in the blood and set them in a dish of food—perhaps to bless our work—visions of headhunting came to mind again.

The lunch time feast after a sweaty morning in the fields. Pic: Joanne Lane.

However it was soon clear the chicken was our lunch. The headman burnt its feathers in a fire and began to prepare it. Meanwhile the men started making holes in the ground with poles and the ladies trailed behind filling the pockets with rice seeds.


After watching for awhile I joined the women and was soon scratched, sweating and covered in ash. It was hard work. When we broke for lunch the women gave me a long sleeved shirt, pants and a conical farming hat for protection.
We feasted on chicken, rice and vegetables in a hut by a small stream. Before returning to the fields we all jumped in the water to cool off. As the midday sun came out in burning glory I wondered if I could bow out gracefully, but I didn’t want to let the side down.

By the time we were finished I realized I had earned my kudos and back at the longhouse was invited into homes, had food pressed on me and treated as part of the community.

On my final day a tour group visited the longhouse. Each was given a sip of tuak, rice wine, and food to eat and there was music and dancing. I was seated with the headman’s family throughout this and it seemed an acknowledgement I had become part of the family even just for those few days.


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.