Top 5 Malaysia beach and island hangs
Wild jungle treks, to-die-for tropical islands, street food that will rock your world, off-the-grid tribal communities, and diving that will impress the biggest scuba snobs. If you haven’t discovered Malaysia yet, you’re in for a treat. Amy Dalgleish tells us how to escape the crowds and get out of KL to find your own little slice of paradise - here are five of our faves.
Diving Sipadan Island
Want to visit one of the top dive spots in the world? Hit far-flung eastern Borneo for mind-blowing underwater adventures you won’t find anywhere else. Get up close and personal with tornado-like barracudas, green turtles, whitetip sharks, giant parrot fish, stingrays, emperor angelfish and eels swirling their way around the clear seas and paradise coral reef gardens of Sipadan Island. Non-divers can do the PADI here, and there’s heaps of budget snorkelling, diving and accommodation for all on this small rainforest-covered tropical island.
Paradise is the Perhentian Islands
If your idea of a good time is soaking up the sun on a tropical, palm-fringed, white sandy beach surrounded by calm turquoise waters, the Perhentian Islands is the place for you. This pair of beauties sit at the top of the Malaysian Peninsula near the Thailand border, without the hustle, bustle and all-night parties of the Thai islands - you won’t even find any cars here. The pick for backpackers is Perhentian Kecil with budget beach huts galore, while neighbouring Perhentian Besar is more popular with families. Feeling active? Catch a water taxi from Kecil to Besar and visit the Turtle Conservation, trek through the jungle, or snorkel with sharks and sea turtles off the shore.
Sky high in Langkawi
A slice of tropical paradise awaits at the northwest corner of the Malay Peninsula. The best way to take in ‘Legendary’ Langkawi’s upmarket resorts, sandy white beaches, ancient jungles and spas is by cable car from way up high. Hop on the Cable Car at the Oriental Village and ride up to the peak at 710 metres above sea level, cruising over jungle waterfalls and virgin rainforest, and seeing the panoramic island sights to the archipelago beyond. At the top, don’t miss the awesome Skybridge suspended high over the jungle canopy, the best place to get some amazing holiday snaps of heavenly Langkawi.
Gorge yourself silly in Penang
The beautiful island state of Penang on Malaysia’s northwest coast is a fab fusion of east and west, being a former 18th-century jewel of the British colonial empire. UNESCO World Heritage Listed Georgetown bursts with old-world charm, and it’s also the place to head for street food that will leave you drooling! This place is a foodie’s dream with sizzling stalls of Penang laksa, Indian fish curry, spring rolls and so many more fragrant dishes. The aromas wafting through the air will make your heart sing. Add to this the sun, sea, sandy beaches and laidback atmosphere, Penang gets our vote.
Back to nature in Kota Kinabulu
The capital of Borneo’s Sabah region is the gateway to adventure, and the place to head to get your trek on at the amazing Kota Kinabulu National Park, home to the country’s highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu. Here you can fully get back to nature and feel on top of the world when you watch the sunrise from the summit on this two- to three-day hike. Once back in Kota Kinabulu, head to the Sepilok Orangutan Centre to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures in a wild setting at this research and rehabilitation centre.
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