You don’t have to go far to get away.
Just across the causeway, these Malaysian cities make for unconventional vacays.
1. GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK
Known for its majestic karth features, the forest of razor-sharp linestone spires in particular, there’s more beauty than meets the eye at Gunung Mulu National Park.
Beneath, climb through mosaically nature-studded caves, tropical rainforests, waterfalls and more. A variety of tours cater to different levels of climbers and trekkers; a tour to the summit usually takes about four days.
2. KUALA SELANGOR
Less than an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, the quiet fishing village of Kuala Selangor’s best-kept secret is its Firefly Park Resort, which is home to one of the biggest firefly colonies in the world.
As dusk settles in, take a boat out to the mangroves to witness the visual symphony of millions of fireflies lit up around the trees – some even in synchrony! Magical.
Take a whiff of this city brimming with culture at every turn of the street, with shophouses, heritage restaurants and local amenities lining the streets.
Ipoh is known far and wide for her food, and that aside, there’s tons to do as well.
Got kids? They’ll love the Lost World of Tambun water theme park. Or explore the temples and museums for a blast from the past of this charismatic old town.
4. BANJARAN HOT SPRINGS
And just a short travel from Ipoh, amidst 260 million-year old limestone hills, cascading waterfalls and tropical rainforests, the Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat is a luxurious, reinvigorating wellness retreat.
Here, 3 million litres of water billow up daily from the ground below; also within the resort are a crystal cave for metaphysical healing, a pampering spa and wellness centre and more.
Or take to other waters in Langkawi, an island off the coast of northwestern Malaysia.
Blue waters and white-sand beaches circle expansive parks on this vibrant beach destination that promises an intimate escape back to nature.
Take a jetski tour to explore the waters, trek through the verdant rainforests or simply lounge your day away by the beach.
6. CAMERON HIGHLANDS
The hilly highlands are blanketed in green at this beautiful, naturesque getaway destination.
Take in the view at the tea plantations, pick fresh strawberries (and eat them on the spot!) at the fruit farms.
When night falls, take delight in street food and bits and bobs at the Pasar Malam (literally meaning “night market” in Malay) in the region’s Brinchang Town.
7. BUKIT TINGGI
This French-themed holiday village sits on natural forestland some 800 metres above sea level. Which, first of all, means: cool weather!
With the caress of the cooling breeze as you stroll through the resort, it’s not hard to imagine yourself as holidaying in a European countryside – perfect for bringing life back to the weary traveller.
8. KOTA KINABALU
Kota Kinabalu is an increasingly popular holiday destination thanks to its proximity to tropical islands and of course, Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.
But Kota Kinabalu is worth a visit in its own right – surely apparent through the community of expats who choose to call this place home.
Over 30 ethnic groups make up the city’s cultural DNA, best explored through its attractions, cuisines and people.