Malaysia – Warm Tropical Weather All Year Round
Malaysia is a wonderful study of contrast – towering skyscrapers look down lovingly upon traditional wooden houses built on stilts, and world-class resorts sit several meters away from age-old reefs. Cool retreats are found on the highlands that roll down to sun-soaked, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
But for all these amazing interplay between nature and man, Malaysia is blessed with warm, tropical weather all year round. You can certainly visit and enjoy this virtual paradise any time of the year.
Malaysia has some of the world’s most beautiful islands, largely untouched by intrusive settlements. The country has countless natural attractions including white sandy beaches, exotic marine life, dense rainforests and diverse flora and fauna.
From the islands of Langkawi to the jungles just outside Kuala Lumpur and a host of interesting places in between, you can be sure that whatever adventure you fancy, Malaysia has it all for you.
Langkawi Islands – Rich, Unspoiled Beaches
Off the coast of Kedah lies a cluster of 99 islands world famous for its stunning beaches, mangroves rich in flora and fauna, five-star to backpackers’ accommodations, and ultra-cheap duty free shopping.
But Langkawi is not only focused on tourism. Most islanders are farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs. You can rent a car, take a leisurely drive around the main island and you will experience the beautiful countryside and the peaceful landscape of rice fields. You will pass small villages with timber houses framed by palm trees, and children running barefoot on errands.
Other than experiencing the local culture, there are a lot of things to do during your stay at Langkawi. You can ride the exciting cable car tour to the summit of Mount Mat Cincang, Langkawi’s second highest mountain, for the unrivalled view of the entire main island and, on any given day, you will even see the coasts of Thailand and Indonesia.
You can also visit the Beach of Black Sand, the Hot Springs, Telaga Tuguh (the Seven Wells), and the Field of Burnt Rice. There are boat tours to Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave) and Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories).
But if you are craving for the thrill of the outdoors, you can go trekking through the lush rainforests that still blankets most of Langkawi, or go through a boat tour of the thick mangroves, go diving, or play a round of golf or two at some of the five-star resorts. Langkawi also has an underwater world that has gotten rave reviews, containing an underground tunnel that runs through a giant aquarium.
Sipadan Island – Watch out for the Barracudas!
The great Jacques Costeau, a world-renowned oceanographer, once described Sipadan Island as an untouched obra maestra, while divers from around the world voted it among the top three dive sites in the world.
The country’s only oceanic island, Sipadan has only 12 hectares of land. A 25-minute walk is all it takes to circle the whole island on foot. Rising just about 700 meters from the sea floor, it offers sanctuary for diverse marine life from the misery of the open sea. Surrounded by amazingly clear waters, this crown jewel is home to some of the most amazing marine species.
When diving around this tiny coral island, you are almost assured of encounters with leatherback turtles, resident schools of jacks and bumphead parrotfish. If you are lucky, a picture of you with a school of barracudas circling above your head taken from an underwater camera is an experience of a lifetime.
Tioman Island – Diver’s Paradise
A fascinating holiday paradise in the South China Sea, Tioman Island is about 56 kilometers off the coast of Pahang. Highly praised as one of the best island getaways in the world as early as 1959 when the island was chosen as the location of the musical “South Pacific”, Tioman Island reached rock star status when its flora and fauna were featured in several National Geographic documentaries.
Warm waters and good visibility make this island a literal paradise for divers. You will discover such stunning sights as the colorful Gorgonian sea fans, Stag horn corals, and beautifully sculptured sea sponges. Tioman is also a perfect spot for leisurely days under the sun. You can choose to swim in its bright green waters, enjoy a stroll by the powdery white sandy beach or just lie in a hammock and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves gently kissing the shore.
The island’s granite rock formations are excellent for climbing excursions. The more adventurous can hazard an attempt to scale the vertical cliff surface of the legendary Gunung Nenek Semukut or Dragons Horns.
Taman Negara – Jungle Adventure
Taman Negara National Park is a World Heritage Site and, estimated at 130 million years old, is the oldest rainforest in existence (the Amazon is estimated to be only 55 million years old). This ancient rainforest was declared a protected area in 1938 to preserve the land’s indigenous nature. Such admirable foresight ensured that you and the rest of the world can enjoy an amazing, off-the-beaten adventure.
There are many ways to explore Taman Negara, but the most popular activities are the jungle treks and the river cruises. The tree-top walk is also a must-see, offering you an incredible close-up view of activity in the rainforest canopy. Observation hides in the form of simple huts built high above the ground are another great way to observe wildlife without being too intrusive. Guests can stay overnight to watch animals in their natural habitat. Cave exploration is also available, either by foot or by boat.
Mount Kinabalu via Ferrata – Scaling Mountains with Ease
For those wanting to climb the mythical Mt. Kinabalu but do not have the expert mountaineering skills to do so, here’s the good news. You can have a relatively easier climb to the peak of Mt. Kinabalu by going via ferrata. Via Ferrata, meaning iron path in Italian, is a mountain path consisting of metal rungs, rails and cables embracing the rock surface.
An activity for almost anyone, via ferrata is devised to help people with little or no climbing experience negotiate rock faces usually scaled only by expert mountaineers and highly skilled rock climbers. Even so, there are several mandatory requirements you should satisfy before you are allowed to try the Mount Kinabalu via ferrata, including the minimum age of 10 and a height of at least 1.3 meters tall. You should also have an average fitness level to finish the hike up to 3,200 meters inside 6 hours. Ideally, you must not suffer from vertigo, but if you do, then you should display a willingness to conquer your fear of heights.
Although there are more than 300 via ferrata routes on mountains across the world, Asia’s first and the world’s highest, is Mt. Kinabalu via ferrata, starting out at 3,400 meters and ending at 3,800 meters.
Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM)
You may head unexpectedly for a sudden business trip to Kuala Lumpur and you do not have much time for pleasure but still want a back-to-nature experience, well, you can head off to FRIM, a mere hour away from the capital, located along the Selayang-Kepong Highway some 16 kilometers northwest of Kuala Lumpur.
FRIM offers a unique communion with nature; the waterfall and the river cutting through this forest park adds serenity to the lush landscape.
Be sure to check out the Rafflesia Flower which is the largest flower in the world, native to Malaysia.
There are four jungle trails: Engkabang Trail, Keruing Trail, Rover Track and Salleh Trail, all of which will take you to some remarkable secondary jungle. The Canopy Walk, located some 30 meters above the ground, offers the exclusive vantage point to observe birds and canopy flora. Those interested to tryout the canopy walk should book reservations in advance because only 250 people per day are allowed to do the canopy walk.
At FRIM, overnight camping is available for those wanting to appreciate a night in the tropical wilderness; however, prior permission is required.