Categories
Tourism Malaysia

48 hours in Ipoh by ETS

First Day
8am
KL Sentral – Ipoh Railway Station

Photo Credit: Muhd Imran Ismail (Shutterstock)

Taking the KTM train to Ipoh in the state of Perak, Malaysia, is the best way to travel to this interesting town, as the Ipoh railway station is located in the “old town,” an easy 10 to 15 minutes‘ walk to hotels and budget accommodation close to the main tourist sights of the city.

Upon arrival, we took some photos at this historical building at Ipoh railway station. It is a beautiful example of colonial architecture in Ipoh of a bygone era. The railways station was built in 1935 and designed by Arthur Benison Hubback and it is widely known as the ‘Taj Mahal of Ipoh’ thanks to its amazing Mughal design features.

The tourist information office is on the right-hand side of the railway station and it offers a variety of leaflets, maps and information on Ipoh.

The government has planned to carry out an integrated development project at the Ipoh railway station and its surround areas, which will take between 10 and 15 years to be fully completed. The project includes the development of housing areas, hotels, educational institutions, commercial buildings, as well as green lungs.

11.30am
Brunch at Durbar at FMS (Pork-free)

Photo Credit: www.rebeccasaw.com

The refurbished Durbar At FMS, which is run by a trained architect, Seow Wee Liam, brings back the good old memory of Ipoh during the British colonial era, reflecting the image of this historical old town. The place is adorned with antique timber furniture, classic hanging lights and vintage ceiling fans, with artwork and old photos also used to decorate the walls of the restaurant.

FMS stands for Federated Malay States and “durbar” is a Persian-derived term meaning a great ceremonial hall receiving visitors in audience, holding formal informal reception and gatherings by high society.

FMS Bar and Restaurant was first founded in 1906 on Market Street by a Hainanese immigrant and it was the archetypal European miners and planters bar. It has occupied the present premise, which is located opposite the Ipoh Padang here, since 1923 and has served thousands of patrons for over a century.

Highly recommended dishes include traditional Hainanese fried mee, classic chicken mornay, Hainanese chicken chop, banana fritters and kuay teow.

Photo Credit: https://www.rebeccasaw.com/

**Pork-free dining but alcohol is served.

Address:
2, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel: +605-210 5115
Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily (Closed on Wednesday)

1pm
Mirror Lake (Tasik Cermin) tour

Photo Credit: destinasipercutian.com

The still water perfectly reflects everything above it, as illustrated in its name Mirror Lake.

Famously known as Tasik Cermin or Mirror Lake in English, this mystical hidden lake in Ipoh is a not to be missed destination for your travel adventure to this city.

You can ask for directions at Da Seng Ngan Temple nearby the lake. Even though it takes a little bit of time to locate this lake, but it was well worth the hassle.

You will definitely need to go through dusty and muddy road ahead of reaching this picturesque lake. Please don’t give up in your search for this lake as it is like a hideout with the existence of a tunnel surrounded the lake. It is such a serene quiet lake and it becomes a Instagram worthy destination for all people especially the youngsters to check in here.

Highly recommended activities here include having a picnic with friends and family, whereby all visitors are surrounded by limestones and trees while hearing the sounds of birds chirping and singing. To bring a boardgame along is recommended if it is good weather.

It is a precious moment for having a great time enjoying the beauty of the natural world. Admission is free. It is a perfect moment by immersing yourself in this oasis.

Photo Credit: blog.kia.my

4pm
Explore Lost World of Tambun
*Check in Hotel

Photo Credit: destinasipercutian.com

It is an amazing theme park! It might not of the same standard as other international theme parks but it is well-maintained with affordable entry price.

Surrounded by limestone hills, this theme park has the best backdrop as illustrated by its name “Lost World of Tambun”. Some key attractions for the theme parks are the water park, amusement rides, hot springs, tin valley and petting zoo. Even though we find it a bit rush with about two hours, however, we have lots of fun to here. The kids could not get enough of it for playing inside the big wave pool.

Visitors can choose to satisfy their taste buds here with fabulous Malaysian dishes found at the hawker centre as well as the “Ipoh Street”. It is totally an enjoyable experience to have ice balls here during hot afternoon.

It is easy to access to this theme parks from city area in Ipoh. We love this place so much and will definitely recommend it to your travel list in the Ipoh state for your next visit.

As it is a two-day one-night short trip for us, we straight away check in at the Lost World of Tambun Hotel here.

The hot springs are open for evening sessions from 6pm onwards and visitors can appreciate the hot springs at night to release stress.

Open: 11.00 am – 6.00 pm (Closed on Tuesday)
Address: 1 Persiaran Lagun Sunway, Sunway City, 31150, Ipoh
Website: https://sunwaylostworldoftambun.com/

Photo Credit: https://www.rojakdaily.com/

7.00pm
Dinner at Warteg Ipoh

Photo Credit: Facebook Warteg Ipoh

Have you ever tried lobster inspired with Javanese flavours? Restaurant Warteg, located at one of the oldest buildings in Ipoh, is definitely a top pick food heaven for every travellers as it offers a mixed of traditional Indonesian food and western cuisines. Signature seafood dishes include Java Lobster, King Crab and Java Seabass.

Apart from fresh seafood, you can also satisfy your taste buds with Big Platter Chicken/Fish/Lamb, pasta as well as chicken chop. This cozy restaurant also serves simple dishes such as fried rice, Nasi Liwet, Nasi Uduk, to name a few.

Address: 73, Jalan Raja Musa Aziz, Kampung Jawa, 30300 Ipoh.
Business hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 3pm-12am (closed on Mondays)
Website: https://www.facebook.com/wartegipoh/
Phone: +605-241 1644

Photo Credit: Facebook Warteg Ipoh Facebook

8.30pm
A night market tour
 

Photo Credit: peraktoday.com.my/

If you stop in Ipoh, it’s not too late for you to visit one of the most popular and interesting places – the Night Gate (Gerbang Malam), operating daily from 8pm till 3am.

For anyone looking for a Night Gate position, it is located right on the Dato’ Tahwil Azhar Road. You can use Google Map or Waze software to get the exact location you want to get from your location.

It makes for a nice and interesting stroll at night. Look out for some local snacks, clothes, shoes, bags, makeup, toys, jewellery and more here! The price is highly affordable and you can bargain with sellers for the best price.

Photo Credit: peraktoday.com.my/

10.00pm
A night walk at Bulatan Amanjaya

Photo Credit: Nur Ismail Photography

Surrounded by a roundabout, Bulatan Amanjaya has been transformed into a recreational park with jogging track, water fountains, playgrounds, mini water theme park, skateboard and rock-climbing area with spacious fields and concourse areas for outdoor activities.

Managed by the Perak State Development Corporation (PNKP), the park is open 24/7, except for the water theme park with free admission. For those who prefer to do jogging or play recreational activities after dark, this place is also well-lit up and accessible for them.

Recreational equipment such as scooters, baby cars, ninebots, kick scooters, quadracycles and tricycles, to name a few, are also available to rent for a fee.

Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/MohKeIpoh

Second Day
8am
Breakfast at Hotel

9am
A morning tour to Memory Lane

 

Photo Credit: www.mstar.com.my

Memory Lane or Pasar karat is the name of a renowned flea market in Ipoh, which occupies Jalan Horley and Jalan Lim Bo Seng. It is definitely a great location for anyone visiting Ipoh. Some roads will be closed to facilitate the operation of this market.

This market pops up every Sunday and starts in the morning until around 1pm. There are a variety of local antiques as well as souvenir and gifts can be purchased for personal collections. Here is a haven for collectors of old goods, whereby buyers can look for preloved items, including vintage bags and old model cameras, just to name a few.

It is also a favorite place for street photographers to capture the beautiful and bustling atmosphere of traders and visitors from all over the world.

Don’t be afraid to bargain and this is a wonderful tourist attraction for those who want a momento of their trip to Ipoh.

Photo Credit: www.mstar.com.my

10am
Gunung Lang Recreational Park Adventure 

Photo Credit: destinasipercutian.com

If you love being surrounded by nature, this is the perfect place to take a visit as it is just about 15 to 20 minutes’ drive by car from Ipoh.

It was opened in October 2000, covering an area of 30.35 hectares out of which 14.16 hectares consists of the lake.

Admission to the recreational park is free. You have to take a 10-minute boat ride to reach the park which affords you the best views of the area.

But, it is chargeable for the boat ride. The park itself you will find an observation tower, gardens and a small animal farm that’s home to deer, monkeys and ostriches.

As we are just take a short trip here for sight-seeing, for those who wish to spend a longer time here, you can choose to have a picnic at the campsite here.

The main attractions of Gunung Lang are the man-made cascading waterfall atop a limestone hill, a 2km broadwalk over the swamp and lookout towers. The uniqueness of the limestone formation also attracts visitors as it is situated close to the Ipoh city centre.

Location: Jalan Damai, 30100 Ipoh, Perak Malaysia.

Photo Credit: http://shahrcphotos.blogspot.com/

1pm
Lunch at Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah Ipoh
 

Photo Credit: vkeong.com

Dubbed ‘Nasi Ganja’ or Opium Rice, Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah Ipoh is operated out of a Chinese coffee shop called Yong Suan.

Whenever nasi ganja is mentioned, everyone understands you are referring it as nasi kandar. It’s a catchy name but rest assured there’s nothing illegal substance used in the cooking.

It is always long queue in this shop. Simply seat yourself at any free table and the staff will come and take your order. Service is efficient and the price is reasonable.

Top pick is ayam goreng merah – after all it is its signature dish. You can also satisfy your taste buds with fish curry, squid curry, salted egg, okra and homemade mint chutney. You can add more curries on the side and it is free of charge.

Address: Yong Suan Coffee Shop, 2, Jalan Yang Kalsom, 30250 Ipoh
Tel: +605-254 4314
Business hours: 9.30am – 6pm

Photo Credit: vkeong.com

2.30pm
Old Town Heritage Tour

Photo Credit: www.jomjalan.com.my

Ahead of my trip to Ipoh, I was informed by my friends that Concubine Lane is comparable with Petaling Street in the capital city of Malaysia as well as Jonker Walk in Malacca.

Located at the heart of Old Town Ipoh, Concubine Lane sees many hipster cafe popping up in recent years. It is the most vibrant street on weekends and holidays where visitors can shop for their souvenirs or hunt for local street food here. During my trip here, I can see the lane is crowded and full of people, both locals and tourists as it was a weekend tour. Apart from the main Concubine Lane, you can proceed to Second Concubine Lane. Several 3D murals, created by Ernest Zacharevic, can be traced here. The redevelopment of this back lanes has not diminished the charm of the old town.

Located just a stone’s throw away from Concubine Lane is Kong Heng Square. Here, you also can it go through remarkable transformation. Anchoring the square is Plan B cafe, one of its earliest tenants that has become synonymous with the square. It is a relax moment where visitors can take a rest here by sipping a hot coffee either in the morning or afternoon. Kong Heng Square today is a major attraction for both locals and tourists who come to admire and enjoy its unique and atmospheric environment. It has become a new landmark that the Ipoh Mali is rightfully proud of.

Photo Credit: By Low Yen Yeing (EdgeProp.my)

6pm
Ipoh Railway Station to KL Sentral
Home sweet Home

Photo Credit: emily2u.com

Itinerary:

First Day

8am – KL Sentral – Ipoh Railway Station
11.30am – Brunch at Durbar at FMS, a historical restaurant
1.00pm – Mirror Lake (Tasik Cermin)
4.00pm – Lost World of Tambun (*Check in Hotel)
7.00pm Dinner at Warteg Ipoh
8.30pm – Night Market (Gerbang Malam)
10.00pm – Bulatan Amanjaya

Second Day

8.00am – Breakfast at Hotel (*Check out Hotel)
9am – Pasar Karat (Sundays only)
10am – Gunung Lang Recreational Park
1pm – Lunch at Nasi Kandar
2.30pm – Discover Concubine lane Be amazed by Street Arts
6pm – Ipoh Railway Station to KL Sentral

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Categories
Tourism Malaysia

20 Activities to Thrill you in Malaysia

Some
people are thrill-seekers by nature, and are always on the hunt for that
adrenaline rush, no matter where it brings them!

Speed,
excitement, bumps and bruises, even a scar or two makes it all worth it, body
aches and all!

If that is what you crave for, and thrilling spills are your game, then this is a list for you!

  1. ATV Ride, KL

ATVs, or All-Terrain Vehicles,  allows you to ride across rough terrains and lush greenery, going off-road in chase of that adventure just within and beyond the Malaysian forests. As with any outdoor activity, just be sure to bring water and an extra change of clothes. Rain is almost always expected, even though not anticipated!

Picture from http://www.atvadventurepark.com

2. Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping is most definitely NOT for the faint-hearted. However, if thrills is what you’re looking for, then it is just the extreme activity for you! For those adrenaline junkies just waiting to leap through thin air, one of the places one can do this is at the Extreme Park of Sunway Lagoon.

Picture from www.makemytrip.com

3. Flyboarding in Putrajaya

Flyboarding, another exciting extreme water sport, is one that will
literally take you to greater heights!

This unique sporting experience is achieved by attaching a PWC (Personal Water Craft), which propels the Flyboard into the air, with the use of air and water. At the moment, this sport is only available at Marina Putrajaya.

Picture courtesy of Pamela Arissa Teow

4. Paragliding

Tandem paragliding is available not too far out of Kuala Lumpur, and is available year-round, subject to weather conditions. Currently, two main venues for this activity is in Selangor and Sabah.

Picture from www.paragliding.my

5. Hiking Trekking

While
some might argue on the ‘extremeness’ of these activities, try a 3-day 2-night
trekking trip to the Mulu Pinnacles!

For some laidback, family-friendly activity, this most basic back-to-nature activity suits almost all age groups, with varying levels of strength and stamina. Most of the hiking trails here will lead you to a waterfall or river, and you will most definitely be rewarded with a cool dip after all the hard work.

6. White Water Rafting

From beginner to hardcore level, white water rafting is available in many parts of Malaysia; in Sg Gopeng, Slim River in Perak and Sungai Singor, which lies on the border of Perak and Kelantan.

7. Diving

Perhaps
the ‘mildest’ of extreme sports, diving will transport you to a whole new
colourful and exciting world!

This activity is offered almost throughout Malaysia, from Kedah to Johor; from Perak all the way to Sabah. The islands of Langkawi, Pangkor, Sibu, Perhentian, Tioman, all the way to the world-famour Sipadan, all waiting to mesmerize you with all that they have to offer. 

8. Wreck Diving

What differentiates wreck diving with open water diving is that wreck diving is the exploration of the wreckage of ships, aircraft and other artificial structures. However, most wreck dive sites are at shipwrecks. To be able to participate in wreck diving, one must be the minimum age of 18 years, must be certified as an Advanced open water diver, show proof of at least fifty logged dives, and must also be certified as Basic Wreck or Cavern or equivalent.

Picture from https://asiavacations.biz

9. Ziplining

Ziplining, or more commonly referred to as flying fox, is an activity consisting of a pulley suspended on a cable, usually made of stainless steel, mounted on a slope. It is to enable one to travel via natural gravity, from the highest point to the bottom of the inclined cable, while being attached to a free-moving pulley.

There are many places now which offers such activity, including extreme parks and nature-themed activity parks, including in Sabah and Langkawi.

Picture from https://naturallylangkawi.my

10. Parasailing

Parasailing is a recreational kiting activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle while attached to a specially designed canopy wing that resembles a parachute, known as a parasail wing. The manned kite’s moving anchor may be a car, truck, or boat.

Picture from www.getmyboat.com

11. Via Ferrata, Mount Kinabalu

A Via Ferrata (or ‘iron road’ in Italian, plural via ferrate) is a protected mountain pathway consisting of a series of rungs, rails, cables and bridges embracing the rock face. It allows access to scenic sections of the mountains that are typically available only to rock climbers and mountaineers (ref: www.mountkinabalu.com).

There are some minimum requirements for those who would like to engage in this activity, but rest assured the use of modest equipment, a good head for heights and basic technique, walking the Via Ferrata is very safe, led by an experienced guide.

Mountain Torq is the World’s highest via ferrata and Asia’s first via ferrata is located at Mt Kinabalu’s Panalaban rock face. Starting at 3,200 metres and ends at 3,776 metres above sea level at Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

The minimum requirements needed for the first time via ferrate climber are:

  • Average fitness level (Able to hike up to 3,200m in 6 hrs)
  • Ages 10 and above for Walk the Torq
  • Ages 17 and above for Low’s Peak Circuit
  • A minimum height of 1.3 metres
  • Free of restricting physical disabilities, be fit, healthy, and without fear of heights to fully participate and safely enjoy the activity
  • No prior mountaineering experience required
  • A maximum of 6 climbers per group is allowed to do Via Ferrata at a time (ref: www.mountkinabalu.com).
Picture from www.amazingborneo.com

12. Microlight

Microlight is a 1- or 2-seater fixed-wing aircraft which is mostly simulated by the hang-gliding movement. It is relatively new in Malaysia.

Picture from www.onedaypilot.com

13. BASE Jumping

BASE Jumping is the sport of jumping off non-moving structures or hills or mountains, and one MUST be a qualified skydiver before attempting BASE jumping. Annually, KL Tower hosts the KL Tower International BASE Jump (www.menarakl.com.my) bringing international BASE Jumpers for a series of jumps organised around Malaysia.

Picture from runawaybella.com

14. Skydiving

Skydiving, undeniably, will give you an adrenaline rush like so other! Leaping out of a moving aeroplane, and feeling the wind hitti g your face is not an easy thrill t0 forget, and definitely NOT for everybody!

Picture from discoverkl.com

If jumping out of planes are not your thing, then perhaps you can tiptoe into the sport by first trying it indoors? Yes, INDOORS! Head to 1-Utama Shopping Mall in Petaling Jaya where Airrider is located.

15. Shark Diving

Fancy a swim among the hammerheads?

Picture from jomdiving.com

Diving
offers one the unique experience of discovering life underwater. The colours
and variety of marine life is incomparable to any on land. If you enjoy the
green lush rainforests, then you will be mesmerized by the darting micro life
and gentle giants of the ocean.

Shark
diving offers you a thrill like no other, and if you feel a bit apprehensive,
beginners may try the indoor, controlled environment offered by Aquaria KLCC.

16. Caving

There are hundreds of caves in Malaysia and cave enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice, ranging  from the massive remote caves of Mulu National Park to popular tourists spots just within the city limits like Batu Caves.

Merapoh Caves Pahang

Some
caves like Gua Tempurung in Perak is quite accessible as the entrance are close
to main roads, similar to Batu Caves, while some are accessible only via
trekking or even by boat.

17. Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding, very simply, is skateboarding on water. You simply surf across the surface of the water behind a speeding motorboat.

The sport is rather new in Malaysia, but steadily garnering a following amongst thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies alike!

Currently, there are two places you can try and indulge this this wet and wild water sport, and they are at The Mines (Philea Mines Beach Resort) and Marina Putrajaya.

Picture from www.getmyboat.com

18. Kayaking within the Langkawi Geopark

Kayaking is rather easy, and most people would have tried it at least once in their life time. Kayaking in the Langkawi Geopark however, is an experience that is not available elsewhere!

Maneuvering the winding turns of the mangroves of Langkawi provides a taste of adventure and some exercise while enjoying being surrounded by nature. The trip will also offer the chance for a good close up to the ecology of the mangroves especially the wildlife such as monkeys, pit vipers, eagles, otters, some endemic birds and the common monitor lizard.

Picture from www.jomjalan.com

19. Waterfall Abseiling

Stepping off the edge of rocks into a fast-cascading waterfall. Sounds exciting and most challenging!

Abseiling is the sport of repelling down a set of lines along waterfalls which can reach any height you dare to try, depending on your level of expertise. Like any other extreme sport, safety first!

Picture from https://riverbug.asia

20. Rock Climbing

Rock climbing requires a certain skill set and strength, and definitely not for the faint-hearted!

The most popular site will have to be Batu Caves in Selangor, and has about 170 routes available. With that many routes, the site offers a challenge for all levels of climbers.  

Malaysia being a tropical country, the weather can rather unpredictable, but do not fret! We do have the largest indoor rock climbing facility in Asia, Camp 5, located on the 5th floor of 1 Utama Shopping Centre. It is the largest climbing gym, standing at 24m high and is fully air-conditioned. The gym also offers a 270-degree panoramic view of the city, a café and a climbing workshop. 400 boulders, lead routes and top ropes, suited for all, ranging from beginners to advanced is available here. Routes are altered and changed every 3 – 6 months, keeping things fresh and challenging.

Picture from www.tourismselangor.my

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

Delving into Sarawak’s Magnificent Caves

It takes a lot of geological ducks to line up neatly in a row and stay there for a few million years to create a cave. All over Sarawak, home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world, those ducks have lined up numerous times as many of the most spectacular caves in the world were discovered and continue to be discovered right here.

Many of those already discovered are now ready for you to explore. But a word of warning, not all of these breathtaking, stunning subterranean caverns are easily accessible, but that just makes the most beautiful caves in the world all the more alluring.

Source: STB Photo Gallery

Sarawak is a big state and the tropical weather can make travel to certain parts of the state challenging and exciting. And with so many outstanding caves, it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit first and in which order.

So, while each cave has its own unique beauty and each is incomparable to another, this post will help you appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature’s masterpieces in Sarawak while visiting at least some of them while you are in Kuching or Miri.

1. Sireh Cave, Serian

Located about 70km South of Kuching, Sireh Cave or Gua Sireh is a true hidden gem with its stunning rock paintings believed to be about 20,000 years old, large chambers and caved parts with clean underground water.

Gua Sireh. Source: Sarawak Tourism

A trip to Gua Sireh can be made within a day. However, it isn’t an easy hike as there are some wooden steps and narrow passageways that one needs to get through. It is recommended to take a tour from Kuching where you can arrange to be picked up at your hotel. You can book tours to Gua Sireh here.

Upon arriving at Bantang Village, your journey continues on foot up a flight of wooden stairs that lead you up to the cave entrance. This is where you will be greeted with cave paintings estimated to be 20 millennia old and peculiar cave residents such as Cave Racer Snake, bats, insects and catfish.

Gua Sireh’s ancient charcoal paintings. Source: Sarawak Tourism

The interior of the cave has some unique yet stunning shapes that are warm-toned swirls and curves decorated for effect. Believed to be one of the earliest human settlements, archaeological materials such as pottery shreds, animal bones and food debris from the Stone Age, New Stone Age, and the Iron Age, have also been recovered inside Gua Sireh.

Caves - Gua Sireh

Inside Gua Sireh. Source: Klook.com

It takes approximately 4 hours to tour the cave and remember to bring a change of gear when visiting Gua Sireh as the tour takes you through to the neighbouring Broken Jar Cave that requires you to walk through a pool of water.

2. Deer Cave, Gunung Mulu National Park

The magnificent Deer Cave. Source: National Geographic

This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to millions of bats. It is said that between 2 to 3 million of them reside in here! The Deer Cave, which is probably Sarawak’s most famous cave, is located at Gunung Mulu National Park, about 90 minutes flying time from Kuching, or a 30-minute flight from Miri.

Deer Cave was only discovered in 1979 by British caver Andy Eavis whilst helping Malaysia better understand and appreciate the potential of the newly established Gunung Mulu National Park.

Deer Cave is the largest cave passage in the world. The entrance is so enormous-nearly 500 feet high- that the sun reaches deep inside and fresh air flows through the caves, allowing a peculiar, awe-inspiring habitat to exist.

As you walk through the cave, you’ll see millions of dark patches on the walls. Those are bats resting so try not to disturb them!

Source: STB Photo Gallery

As the day ends and after you’ve explored Deer Cave, stick around for one of the most spectacular phenomena you’ll ever see.

The Deer Cave bat exodus happens every day at dusk. Millions of bats leave the cave to search for food. It’s an awe-inspiring event.

Nestled in the lush wilderness of Borneo, Gunung Mulu National Park is accessible by river and road but we recommend light plane. MasWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, provides direct flights to Gunung Mulu National Park from Miri, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu.

Upon arrival at Mulu Airport, book guided tours here or here. Most of the tours are all-inclusive and provide airport transfers. Accommodation is varied so do your research!

One other point, local communities who have lived off the land for thousands of years and respect and appreciate what it has provided them, have been trained as tour guides and will escort you throughout your visit to the caves. Make sure you pick their brains about the caves and ask about their beliefs!

The Bat Exodus. Bats fly in a spiral manner to avoid predators like hawks. Source: STB Photo Gallery

3. Clearwater Cave, Gunung Mulu National Park

When you visit Gunung Mulu National Park, you will find a unique environment that stimulates all the senses. One of the many gems of this Park is the Clearwater Cave that is the 8th longest cave in the world at 227 km and the largest interconnected cave system in the world. No wonder it is a UNESCO World Heritage site!

Source: Pinterest

The Clearwater Cave system contains an underground river and a plethora of unique rock formations. The amazing thing about these caves is that their true size is still unknown and even now, is still being explored.

Caves - Clearwater Cave

Source: STB Photo Gallery

Visiting Clearwater Cave in Sarawak is a real adventure that begins with the journey. There are two ways of getting to Clearwater cave.

From the park HQ, you can either trek the gentle 4km nature trail that takes approximately one and a half hours, or you can experience a long boat along the Melinau River with a stop at Wind Cave.

The Melinau River at Mulu National Park. Source: STB Photo Gallery

The Wind Cave features ancient, undisturbed stalactites and stalagmites that have, over hundreds of thousands of years, reached each other to create long structures known as pillars or columns. Once you’ve explored the Wind Cave, you can walk to Clearwater Cave in about 5 minutes.

When booking your tour for Gunung Mulu National Park, a visit to the Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave should be included as it is one of the must-visit sites at the park. If it isn’t, ask your agent to include it.

4. Sarawak Chamber, Gunung Mulu National Park

If you are into adventure caving, you must check out the Sarawak Chamber, one of the planet’s largest enclosed areas, natural or manmade. It is so huge, that it has enough space to house 8 jumbo jets in a row!

caves - Sarawak Chamber

Spot the person in the picture! Source: MuluPark.com

Getting to the Sarawak Chamber from the park HQ requires a full day of challenging adventure caving but some say that it is truly a once in a lifetime experience. The whole circuit takes about 10-15 hours which entails a 3-hour hike to Good Luck cave and then an 800m hike through a river channel to the Sarawak Chamber.

Source: MuluCaves.org

There are guided tours available to this magnificent chamber and you can find more information on the tours both here and here.

Before we move on from the Mulu Caves complex, if you seek even more adventure, you can attempt to hike the pinnacles of Mount Mulu. The hike is reportedly the most challenging hike in Malaysia (yes, even tougher than Mt. Kinabalu!) and requires a high level of fitness so make sure you train before you get here!

5. Niah Caves, Niah National Park

Located a mere 90kms south of Miri, the Niah caves are home to 65,000-year-old artefacts and cave paintings. It’s no wonder they are on track to be the next UNESCO World Heritage site. If that happens as expected, there will be a massive increase in visitors so you might want to get there soon, before the crowds!

Caves - Painted Cave

The ancient cave paintings at Niah. Source: TravelBlog.org

The site is also home to the oldest human remains found in Southeast Asia which indicate the caves were inhabited at least 65 millennia ago. You can check out fascinating artefacts including prehistoric utensils and turtle shells that will be on display at the Niah Archaeological Museum from January 2020.

Most importantly, the park is a major source of income to the local tribes people who also earn a living collecting edible birds nests built by Swiftlets high in the cave walls. The sustainably collected birds’ nests are prized by Chinese gourmets around the world and are exported under a supervised environment.

caves - Entrance of Niah Cave

Source: STB Photo Gallery

Getting to Niah Caves is easier than Mulu National Park as it is accessible by road. The journey by bus from either Miri or Bintulu takes approximately 2 hours so you can easily make a day trip out of it.

If you’d rather join a tour, there are guided tours from both Miri and Bintulu and you can get more information on these tours from here and here.

Source: STB Photo Gallery

No visit to Sarawak is complete without visiting her outstanding natural caverns. Whether you are a hardcore spelunker, an open-minded adventurer or an inquisitive visitor, Sarawak’s caves will provide memories and stories forever.

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Harvesting edible bird's nests at Niah National Park, Miri Sarawak

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

20 Must-Have Souvenirs from Malaysia

If you are anything like me,
you will look for the MOST interesting, out-of-the-ordinary souvenir from
places you’ve been.

It used to be very
conventional, like postcards, keychains, decorative plates and the like but
these stuff take up space and require some kind of maintenance as years go by.

The novelty of a souvenir has
changed, and it is no longer something that you show off as a statement of
“I’ve been there!” It has evolved into something else, where we want to share
with our loved ones back home a little piece of the adventure, so to speak.

So, here’s my take on some of
the things that you just HAVE to take back with you:

#1 – If
you travel to the state of Melaka,
then look out for the dainty Nyonya beaded
slippers
. They may not be the most practical footwear, but then again, they
ARE unique, and quite fancy!

Nyonya Beaded Slippers and Embroidered Kebaya Top

#2 – If
you got yourself that beaded slipper, then you just HAVE to bring back a
traditional kebaya top! The intricately-embroidered tops are a must-have in
any wardrobe.

#3
#4
– If you have a passion for cooking, and are always on
the hunt for that ‘umami’ flavor, bring back some shrimp paste, or belacan,
and if you’re brave enough, cencalok. Cencalok is a condiment made
of fermented small shrimps or krill, and is usually served together with sliced
chillies, finely sliced shallots and lime juice.

Bottom – A stall selling belacan and cencalok

#5
–  Look out also for the sticky coconut
‘cakes’, or dodol, available in a variety of flavours including pandan and durian.

#6
Moving further South to Johor, you can visit the herb farm along the way and
get yourself some stingless bee honey
or madu kelulut. Stingless bee honey is  twice as nutritious as ordinary honey,
according to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI).

#7 – A
trip to Johor would be meaningless without bringing back the mandatory 434 Coffee. Malaysian Coffee a.k.a
Kopi-O is special in color, flavor and taste, thanks to its special roasting
technique and recipe that commonly includes margarine and sugar as ingredients.
It has been long enjoyed by the locals and also is popular among coffee lovers
in South East Asia. While the sweet, hot beverage may take some getting used to
for those who are used to taking it black, you will definitely fall in love
with it by the time you sip the last drop.

#8 – If
you travel to the north of the Peninsula, then Penang will be one of the places for the best souvenirs. The
Chowrasta Market will be a good place to start, where you can get nutmeg-based products. More than just a
spice, you can get massage oils, ointments and even candy made from nutmeg.

Nutmeg-based products

#9
Another product of Penang that is worth bringing home is Tambun biscuits, or Tau
Sar Pneah
. This delicacy is a mixture of sweet and savoury, and is flaky
and soft at the same time. Traditionally, it is made from wheat flour, sugar,
green bean paste, fried onions, lard and salt. However, there are many
available in the market which are lard-free to cater for the Muslim market.

#10
Pickled fruits are also a must-buy
when one visits Penang. It is a popular souvenir especially among Malaysians. Among
the most well-known is from Pak Ali’s,
best known for its distinct aroma and taste. They claim to use apple cider
vinegar and honey in the pickling process, which sets them apart from the rest.

#11
– Also known as the Food Paradise of Malaysia, especially Indian food, you can always
bring back a mix of your favourite spices
so that you can replicate the dish back home. Head to Little India in George Town, and you’ll be
spilt for choice!

Packed dry spices or ready-cooked pastes to bring home

#12
– If you are into White Coffee, then
by all means, buy a pack or two to bring home. For those who don’t know, the
coffee beans used to produce white coffee are not white. Instead, coffee beans
are roasted with palm oil margarine, ground, brewed and served with
sweetened condensed milk. The drink gets its color from the milk that is
used. 

There’s even Durian Coffee!

If
you are in Kuala Lumpur, or any other major city in Malaysia, the following
suggestions are for you.

#13
– Malaysia batik or songket are also great souvenirs to take home. These
hand-crafted textiles are versatile and can be made into clothing, soft
furnishings and even wall decorations. Malaysian batik differs from others in
the region in terms of design and motif, as well as technique.

Batik and songket

#14
– A fan of durian? You may not be
able to bring back the fruit, but there are a whole multitude of products made
from the King of Fruits available in most supermarkets, and packed safe for
your journey home. There’s durian chocolates, cakes and even coffee!

#15
– Believe it or not, instant noodles!
Seriously. The flavours available out there is UNBELIEVABLE! Even if you might
not buy them, it’ll still be nice to walk into a supermarket and browse the
aisle. You will be amazed at the array of choices you have! Locals enjoy curry
flavor, but there’s also a whole array of flavor combinations that might peak
your curiosity.

#16
BOH tea is one of Cameron
Highland’s product that is worth bringing home, too. BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd is
the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia, with both domestic and
international distribution owned by BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd.

#17
Asian drinks. I kid you not! There
are fizzy and non-fizzy versions, in all imaginable flavours and combinations.
From winter melon to passionfruit, pear and ginseng to watermelon and lychee,
feel free to indulge!

#18
– Another one of the things that will sound weird, but go try (and buy!) 100 Plus. 100 Plus is the first thirst-quenching, isotonic beverage to be
launched in Malaysia in 1983. It is caffeine-free, specially formulated to help
restore what the body has lost during physical exertion and rehydrate the body
to its optimal hydration balance. Its unique formula combines fluids,
carbohydrates and electrolytes for quick and efficient absorption of fluids
into the body.

#19 – Pewter goods are also a favourite among tourists. The best
place to get your pewter items are of course from Royal Selangor Pewter,
located in Kuala Lumpur. Royal Selangor International Sdn Bhd is a Malaysian pewter
manufacturer and retailer, the largest of its type in the world.

#20
Adopt and animal! While you cannot
bring the animal home with you, you have at least left a piece of yourself
here, and helped conserve a little bit of Malaysia for our future generations.
A lot of programs are available, and offered, online where you can adopt a
tiger, elephant, turtle, even an orangutan, and receive a certificate and
regular updates on your ‘child’.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

20 Destinations in Malaysia for the Eco-Traveler

Eco-Traveler.

Who, and what exactly. is the
Eco-traveller?

According to the International Ecotourism
Society, eco-travel  is
“responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment,
sustains the well-beings and involves interpretation and education”

It basically begs the question of how we can travel greener? Yes, be that
person who is conscious of their natural surroundings, and strive to minimize the
impact of their presence to the environment.

How can we be ‘greener’?

First of all, educate yourself. Learn about the natural resources and attractions of the area. See how you can create as minimal an impact as possible, keeping the destination or attraction as pure as possible for future visitors.

Canopy Walk in Taman Negara

One very good way to learn is by volunteering. There are many
ways a person can participate in volunteerism,
and this way, the benefits are two-thronged – both parties gain a little from
the experience.

Another way is by incorporating good, ‘green’ habits in your
daily life – reduce use of plastic (drinking straws, disposable
containers),  recycle and reuse as much
as possible, and aim for zero-waste, especially food.

Lush green rainforests cover a large area of West Malaysia and regions in Malaysia Borneo, and Malaysia too is home to an impressive diverse marine life. Love the beach? We have that too, in abundance! All of these places welcome visitors. Responsible visitors, more so! Read on!!

Fancy the Jungle?

Some wildlife within the National Park
  1. Sg
    Yu Forest Reserve, Pahang

Located on the edge of Taman Negara Pahang, Sg Yu Forest reserve is a large forest reserve under the Permanent Forest Estate (PFE) of Peninsular Malaysia that is a mixture of secondary and primary forest. The area is home to a number of wildlife, including elephants, tapir, a few species of deer, as well as a variety of hornbills.

If you feel up to it, you could also opt for a guide to visit some ‘Orang Asli’ Settlement which can be found along the river throughout the Park.

2. Royal Belum State Park, Perak

The huge Royal Belum State Park is located in the northern parts of Peninsular Malaysia, and is part of the much larger Belum-Temenggor Forest Complex which is shared with Thailand. Together with Taman Negara Pahang, they form the oldest rainforest in the world at over 130 million years old! Belum has the huge potential of becoming one of Malaysia’s premier eco-tourism destination choice.

The tree tops of the rainforests

There’s much to see and do around Belum State Park. As many of the attractions are located along Lake Temenggor, exploring by boat would be the best option. There are trails to hike, falls and ponds to dip in and cool off, and wildlife to look out for. Boars, tapirs, the white-handed gibbon and the Malaysian sunbear roam free in these jungles, as well as the elusive Malayan tiger. If you’re in luck, you may even stumble across a rafflesia. And don’t forget to look up, in search of the various hornbills within the area.

The small rapids and gushing falls… hard to resist!

3. Kilim Geopark, Langkawi

Part of the UNESCO network of global geoparks, the Langkawi Geopark Forest is first of its kind in the South East Asia Region. It covers 100 square kilometres of nature reserve and countless nature wonders, including flora and fauna.

The beautiful diverse natural geological, biological and cultural resources makes Kilim unique, especially the co-existence of coastal karst and mangrove ecosystems. One recommended way to surround yourself, and embrace the spectrum of geological and natural heritage, is by taking a kayak tour, with an experienced guide of course!

Kilim Geopark – Kayak Adventure

Apart from the rich mangrove flora and geological wonders, look out also for the Pit Viper, whose natural habitat lays within this mangrove.

4. Mulu National Park, Sarawak

If you refer to Gunung Mulu National
Park’s official website, you will learn that “to qualify for world heritage status a property must meet
one of the four following criteria:”

  • Be an
    outstanding example of the world’ geological history (Caves and cave deposits)
  • Be and
    outstanding representative example of on-going evolutionary processes (current research
    programmes)
  • Be of
    exceptional beauty!
  • Contain
    significant natural habitat for in-situ conservation of biological diversity
    and the protection of threatened species (wide range of cave and forest
    habitats).

And amazingly, Mulu meets all four criteria!

The Pinnacles, Mulu National Park

Needless to say, you will be enthralled with all that Mulu National Park has to offer!

5. Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang Penang

While
you can hike to the National Park, it is advisable to take a boat so that you
can cover more area, and experience the different nature attractions within the
Park. Within the park is a rare meromictic lake, a lake of two separate layers
of salt and fresh water do not mix. Pick the time and season you visit very
carefully because the wrong timing will see the lake rather dry!

Further along the beach, you will find the Penang Turtle Sanctuary. Here, Green Turtles and Olive Ridley Turtles are the two most common species that come to lay their eggs.

Turtle Hatcheries

Perhaps experience a jungle within a
city?

If you are in a rush, and can only squeeze in a quick visit, and yet still wish enjoy a bit of nature, then consider the following in-the-city rendezvous places.

6. National Botanical Park, Shah Alam Selangor

The National Botanical Park in Shah Alam covers and impressive 72 hectares, and is among the favourite destinations for locals to experience a bit of nature and provide some fun education for their kids. There are farm animals, an aviary, and some other common small mammals for the kids to enjoy and interact with.

The National Botanical Park

7. FRIM, Selangor

FRIM, or the Forest Research Institute Malaysia, is one of the leading institutions in tropical forestry research. An introduction in its official website states that 545-ha site “was gazetted as a Natural Heritage Site on 10 February 2009 under the National Heritage Act 2005, and officially declared as a National Heritage on 10 May 2012. FRIM is working towards attaining the recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

Visitors are welcome to picnic, trek or even camp within their grounds, limited to the visitor guidelines issued by the Institute. Bird watching is another encouraged activity within FRIM’s grounds.

8. Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, Kuala Lumpur

Recently renamed KL Forest Eco-Park, the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve is a small patch of rainforest located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, at the base of the KL Tower, one of the tallest telecommunications structures in the world. This small patch of greenery within the bustling city preserves many species and features of the original rainforest that covered Kuala Lumpur a long time ago.

Nature Vs Technology

There are several trails that run through the reserve, but are mainly to one side of the hill. The main entrance is located near Jalan Raja Chulan but it is most convenient to take the KL LRT and proceed on foot from the Dang Wangi LRT Station.

Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, Kuala Lumpur

Fancy a bit of diving? Or just snorkeling?

Sandy beaches, clear waters

9. Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu

Located just off the edge of Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian, which means ‘stopover island’, should not be missed. The island consists of two islands, Pulau Perhentian Besar (literally Big Island) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small Island). Of the two, the Small Island is preferred due to less development and the absence of huge resorts.

Covered largely by unspoilt jungle, gentle swaying palms, sparkling white powdery beaches and the enticing sapphire gleaming waters, Pulau Perhentian is a sanctuary for fishermen, migratory birds and of course, the discerning holiday-makers. The excellent seascape offers endless opportunity for diving and snorkeling, with gentle turtles and fleeting fishes surrounding you.

10. Pulau Lang Tengah, Terengganu

Located between Redang and Perhentian Islands, Lang Tengah is a precious gem, very low key and not as heavily visited. The clear tropical waters surrounding the island, which is also a designated marine park, are teeming with corals and sea life which occasionally include sharks and rays. Green turtles commonly come to nest during the season which starts from April to October, and the hawksbill turtle makes an occasional appearance as well. The island is also covered with primary forest, and has a wide variety of birds, lizards, frogs and insects.

11. Pulau Tiga, Sabah

Gained ‘popularity’, thanks to the Survivor Series, Pulau Tiga is surrounded by the pristine South China Sea. Once there, you can opt to hike in the jungle, visit the nearby Snake Island to spot some wildlife, or choose to camp in the wilderness. Mud pools are also available for that beauty therapy you’ve been wanting to get!

Leave nothing but footprints!

12. Lankayan Island, Sabah

Slightly differing from all the above, Lankayan is a private luxury island, but would still be much appreciated by the discerning eco-traveller who wouldn’t mind splurging once in a while. They offer luxurious beachfront, as well as over-the-water chalets, for that unique holiday experience.

One of the many islands off Sabah waters

There are 4 dive wrecks to choose from if you fancy a bit of underwater activity, and located along what is known as the ‘Sea Turtle Corridor’ you will not be disappointed!

13. Talang Satang National Marine Park, Sarawak

The Talang Satang National Park is a national
park in Kuching Division, Sarawak, Malaysia. It is Sarawak’s first marine
protected area, and covers the four islands Pulau Talang-Talang Besar, Pulau
Talang-Talang Kecil, Pulau Satang Besar and Pulau Satang Kecil and surrounding
coral reefs.

The Park is mainly set up as a turtle sanctuary,
of which three of the islands are known as Sarawak’s “Turtle Islands”.

Or maybe wildlife are more your thing?

14. Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Pahang

The Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary,
which lies within the Krau Wildlife Reserve, is the only one of its kind in
Malaysia. The centre’s main objective is to relocate elephants which natural habitats
have been encroached for development, to a safer, more suitable, permanent area
such as the Taman Negara. Orphaned elephants are also raised and given shelter
here.

The centre welcomes visitors, and is open throughout the year, and conducts various public awareness activities. There is no entrance fees, but donations are welcome. For those interested, there are also volunteer programs available.

15. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Set up in 1964, its main purpose was to
rehabilitate orphaned and displaced orangutans before sending them back into
the forest.

Today, the centre also provides medical care and shelter for other species of wildlife as well, including sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and occasionally, elephants.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Visitors are treated to witnessing the feeding of the orangutans twice a day, from a designated platform and viewing gallery which is accessible via a boardwalk through the forest. Here, visitors aren’t allowed any physical contact with the orangutans to help and keep diseases at bay. Sepilok also had a volunteer program, as well as ‘adopt an orangutan’ program for those who are interested.

16. Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is considered the largest wildlife reserve in Malaysia, comprising an area of approximately 300,000 acres! Tabin was declared a Wildlife Reserve mainly due to the large number of animals inhabiting the forests, some of which are highly endangered. Three of Sabah’s largest mammals are found in Tabin, and they are the Sumatran Rhino, Pygmy Elephant and Tembadau, and many other species of wildlife that are protected.

17. Turtle Island, Sabah

Selingan Island, or more commonly referred to as Turtle Island, is
the second largest of the three islands with an area of 8 hectares and is also
the first turtle hatchery in Malaysia.

The number of visitors who can stay overnight on the island is restricted, and you will need to apply for permits to visit the island. Basic accommodation is available, as the best time to see the turtles lay eggs are after dusk, and there is also a visitor centre where you can learn more about the conservation efforts carried out by the centre all these years.

A turtle laying eggs; leave her tracks behind; park rangers place the eggs in hatcheries

Both Green and Hawksbill Turtles come to shore throughout the year to lay their eggs. However, the peak season for the Greens turtles is between July to October while the peak season for the Hawksbill turtles is between February to April.

18. Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Sarawak

Situated
just a short distance away from the city of Kuching in Sarawak, The Semenggoh Nature
Reserve serves as a mostly-temporary home the gentle Orangutans.  Established in 1975, it initially became a
centre for injured and captured orangutans, and has now developed into a place
where visitors can learn about other rare and endemic species as well. The
orangutans are trained to get back to the centre during their feeding times,
but when it is fruiting season and they can forage for food themselves, they
sometimes do not appear.

Rare
flora and fauna can also be found here, and you will appreciate the sounds of
the jungle when you drop by for a visit.

You may also opt for the cooler highlands…

19. Cameron Highlands, Pahang

Cameron
Highlands is easily the most popular highland retreats in Malaysia, offering a
moderate climate ranging between18 to 25 degrees Celcius.

However, this moderate weather also serves as a ‘curse’ to the destination as the environment makes it an ideal location for growing various produce, both for local consumption as well as for export.

Tea Plantation

During
the Colonial era, the British grew tea on the fertile mountain slopes, and
these plantations exist till today. More suited as a family getaway, places
like Cameron Highlands can offer a pleasant surprise to the discerning eco-tourist.
 

Hiking trails and breathtaking views await you!

20. Fraser’s Hill, Pahang

Fraser’s Hill is one of the
oldest, but less popular, highland resort destination located among the mountains
of Pahang. Only 2 hours away from Kuala Lumpur, this cooling retreat offers
nature activities which include jungle trekking

The iconic Fraser’s Hill clock tower sits in the middle of the quaint village town, always a popular photo spot.

Fraser’s Hill Clock Tower

Fraser’s Hill is also hosts the International Bird Race, which has
been  an annual event since 1988. The
main objectives of the bird race is to encourage the preservation of nature,
considering there are over 250 species of birds within the area, as well as to
promote Fraser’s Hill as a bird sanctuary.

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