“The grass is greener on the other side,” goes the familiar saying but experience proves that this isn’t always true. When it comes to travel especially, we sometimes believe that a different city or the great outdoors in a foreign land is superior to what is offered back home. But hang on, if you pause to think about what we have, Malaysia does make a great place to travel! Here is why:
Firstly, there would be no need to change currencies. Say goodbye to wasting your time lining up at money changers and the leftover money that you have no use for at the end of a trip. Also, there would be zero to very little time difference. You won’t have to worry about jet-lag and your body would be ready for adventure without needing a day or two to adjust. Plus when your holiday ends, it’ll be easier to transition back into your usual routine.
Most people would agree that travel is a wonderful experience, but the actual journey to your destination that includes airport runs, check-ins, transits and long-haul flights can be far from fun. Why not go on road trips that aren’t too far from our main cities? It’s a great way to get away without having to endure long flights, currency changes and biological clock adjustments. Here are some places you can go for a quick escape from the weekly routine without being away for too long.
Image by Bohtea
If you are sick of the heat, retreat to cooler weather with a trip to our highlands. Pay a visit to the Boh Tea Plantations in Camerons and have your cuppa while taking in the glorious view - no distractions! While you’re there, stop by the tea centre and find out more about the tea making process. Tours are conducted every half hour and are absolutely free.
Boh Tea Garden.
Opening hours: Tues - Sun 9.00am - 4.30pm.
Image by visitmalaysia
Alternatively, get out into nature and take a wander through the Mossy Forest in Brinchang, Camerons. Spot native plants, birds, and small animals while taking in fresh and chilly air. Allow your surroundings to transport you somewhere magical and forget about your worries! Looking for a good travel package? Take advantage of Mayflower’s makan angin wildlife package and get in on some great deals by 15th August. Remember to bring warm clothes!
Cameron Highlands Rafflesia and Mossy Gardens.
Entry fee: Adults (RM 10), Children (RM 5).
Travelling locally is wallet-friendly. Staying within the country usually means that you will be saving on an international flight and who doesn’t like a bit of extra cash? Local flights are quite affordable with a quick search showing prices ranging from RM30- RM600 per ticket. On the contrary, the cost of international flights are usually double or triple the amount. This saving on flights could be used for other things like a room upgrade, a much-needed spa session or that exhilarating water sport activity you’ve been longing to try.
There are many travel destinations within Malaysia that provide enriching experiences at reasonable prices. Accommodation, food, travel expenses, activities and even souvenirs tend to be on the lower end of the pricing scale compared to many other countries.
It’s easy to overlook what we have here in Malaysia. Take for example, our bustling cities, wild rainforests, majestic mountains and breathtaking islands. For years, thousands of tourists have trekked Mount Kinabalu to boast about the experience of the strenuous but doable climb and its stunning view from the top.
We have had marine enthusiasts sing the praises of our diving sites such as Sipadan and Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in East Malaysia and Tioman and Redang in West Malaysia. While Sipadan can be trickier to get to and is closed every December, the Tunku Abdul Marine Park is just 3km from Kota Kinabalu and includes 5 islands and more than 25 dive sites. Snorkelling and diving are the main activities all year round but if you’re feeling a little seasick, you may opt to do some jungle trekking in Pulau Gaya.
Image by Malaysiatourism
For wildlife lovers, there’s Taman Negara, our national park which boasts a 130 million year old virgin rainforest. Popular activities include jungle trekking, hiking, rock climbing, camping and fishing. The canopy walk is a favourite with stunning views of the rainforest and if you’re lucky you may even spot hornbills, wild boar and mouse deer. However, if you’re an avid climber and you’re gung ho enough, you could attempt Gunung Tahan which is known to be the most challenging of mountains to scale in Malaysia. Be prepared to spend at least 4-8 days in the wilderness, crossing rivers and camping in the jungle. This will be an experience you can tell your children about when you are older.
Being able to have conversations with others or even carry out simple tasks like ordering a meal without referring to google translate is a huge bonus. It takes the stress out of what could be an awkward situation. Being a local usually means that you would have enough Bahasa pasar or Manglish to get by without too much embarrassment or causing offence.
That said, Malaysia is diverse enough to keep you entertained and intrigued. There is so much to learn in terms of our history and what makes us who we are as a multicultural country. So make time to hear stories, participate in traditional festivals and of course savour different foods from the laksa in Sarawak to the cendol in Melaka.
If the only thing you know about Melaka is Parameswara naming it, there’s so much more to discover when you visit.
To start, head over to the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum - a house museum that has been in the family for four generations! Explore on your own or take a guided tour to learn about Peranakan culture and what life was like in the late 19th and early 20th century.
For some shopping and food, stroll down Jonker street and check out local food and speciality shops. Chicken rice balls, cendol, and satay celup are some of the few to check off your to-eat list.
Image by star2
Later in the evening, head over to Encore Melaka to watch a performance telling touching stories of locals through the years. Visual effects, traditional dance and music are used to convey aspects of its rich history.
Interested? Our makan angin cultural promotion has included a trip to Melaka too. Book by the 15th of August and you’re bound to have a good time.
Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum. Opening hours: Mon- Thurs, 10am- 5pm (last tour starts at 4pm). Fri-Sun, 10am- 6pm (last tour starts at 5pm)
Entry fee: Adults: RM16. Kids (5-12 years): RM11. (Guided tours are an additional RM4 per adult).
Encore Melaka. Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 5.30pm and 8.30pm. Sun 2.30pm and 5.30pm
Entry fee: RM150 for a standard ticket *Visit Mayflower for special deals.
Travelling locally is a great option for groups or families. As the travel group grows, distance and price become huge factors and it would make sense to explore what’s close and convenient. Also, it is always a good idea to expose kids to different parts of the nation they call home - its cultural diversity, yummy food, and natural wonders.
Image by Penang.ws
A popular travel destination for families with kids is Penang. Whether you’re a frequent visitor or haven’t been back since you were little, this place is never boring! For those who want a bit of adventure within nature, award-winning Escape Theme Park is just the place. They provide a wide range of activities that cater to young kids and adults so no one is left out. Huge slides, acrobatics, jumping castles, mazes and more, your kids will happily fall straight into bed at the end of the day!
Image by wonderfly
Finally, because food is everything to us Malaysians, you’ll definitely want to make a stop at the Wonderfood Museum which has hyper-realistic, larger-than-life displays of our local dishes. Pose for a selfie and pretend to make teh-tarik or put on your greediest facial expression over a giant bowl of assam laksa. Find your favourite dishes, get creative, and have fun!
Escape Theme Park, Teluk Bahang
Opening hours: Tues- Sun, 10am-6pm.
Prices vary depending on the package you choose. Visit their website for more information.
Opening hours: Daily, 9am-6pm.
Entry fee: RM25.
Kristy Tan is a teacher and mother who believes that travelling is good for the mind, soul and the body. When she isn’t chasing her two boys around the garden, she can be found writing articles and researching places for their next family holiday.