[Updated 31 January 2021]
Deciding where to travel in Malaysia is easy as the country is blessed with many nature attractions, scenic beaches and charming towns. While it's tough to think about your next staycation in Malaysia during the current pandemic, it doesn't hurt to dream and plan, so you're ready to travel again once it's safe to do so.
It's also a good chance to go beyond the usual tourist attractions in Malaysia, and discover the hidden gems that are waiting to be uncovered. If you're planning to cuti-cuti Malaysia when the time is right, these are the Malaysian destinations we hope to visit someday.
1. Cameron Highlands, Pahang
After staying home for months during MCO (Movement Control Order), a quick escape to Cameron Highlands is what you deserve. As one of the country's famous highland retreats, the cool temperature would make you put on a comfortable sweater or light cardigan. When you're feeling nice and cosy, admire the rolling valley and tea plantation while sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea.
2. Taman Negara, Pahang
As much as we enjoy staying at home during the pandemic, there's nothing like waking up to the sound of birds chirping and the sight of century-old trees at Taman Negara. Situated in Pahang, this 130-million-year-old virgin rainforest is one of Malaysia's ecotourism gems and said to be older than the Amazon rainforest, which is 55-million-year-old. Besides walking on the world's longest canopy walk, you can visit the Orang Asli settlement, hike up Teresek Hill, and discover nocturnal creatures at the Jungle Night Walk.
3. Batu Feringghi, Penang
It's a known fact that Penang is the street food capital of Malaysia. After feasting through Penang's delicious halal street food
, take a breather and relax by the scenic beach of Batu Ferringhi. Landscaped by the calming waters of Straits of Malacca, an afternoon spent in Batu Ferringhi will make you appreciate the little things in life such as burying your feet in the sand and hearing the sound of lapping waves.
4. Ipoh, Perak
While we did mention that Penang is the street food capital of Malaysia, Ipoh is a close contender for the title. Foodie lovers would rave about their dim sum breakfast at New Hollywood, nasi kandar ayam merah at Yong Suan, and silky tau fu fah at Funny Mountain Soya Bean. After all the food deliveries and take-outs you've been having for the past few months, a foodie's trip to Ipoh should definitely be in the cards.
5. Langkawi, Kedah
Duty-free chocolates may be the first thing that comes to mind when we mention Langkawi, but this family-friendly destination has other gems to discover too. Known as the Jewel of Kedah, beach lovers can find serenity in Datai Bay, Tanjung Rhu and the popular Pantai Cenang. Perfect for a relaxing evening, walk along the beach and let the waves lap gently against your feet. You can also make the most of your trip by taking the Langkawi Skybridge cable car, walk on the Langkawi Skybridge or try tandem skydiving for the first time
6. Kota Bharu, Kelantan
A short trip to Kota Bharu feels like a trip back to your hometown. Slow-paced and laid-back, it's a change of landscape for city dwellers but a necessary one after staying at home for a long time during the pandemic. Just take your time and explore the quiet side of the north-eastern tip of Malaysia, which includes a morning visit to Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah, a scenic day-off at Temenggor Lake or a beach getaway at Pantai Cahaya Bulan.
7. Pulau Kapas, Terengganu
You deserve a break from the city's hustle and bustle, and a getaway to Pulau Kapas may be exactly what you need. One of Terengganu's scenic gems, the best time to visit Pulau Kapas is between March and October when sunny days are all around, which makes a day at the beach even better. Despite how laid-back Pulau Kapas is, you can make the most of your trip by going snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking or hiking up Bukit Singa.
8. Kota Belud, Sabah
If you need a reason to return to Sabah after conquering Kota Kinabalu and Kundasang, let it be Kota Belud. Situated in the west coast of Sabah, you can experience the laid-back charm of Kota Belud at the weekly tamu (open market), take a river cruise along the Nanamun River, explore the popular hiking trail of Bukit Bongol and snorkel at Usukan Cove. There's also a popular camping site called Polumpang Melangkap where you can rent a tent and star gaze the night away.
9. Bohey Dulang, Sabah
Nature gems are all around in Sabah, and Tun Sakaran Marine Park is one of them. Home to 8 islands and 2 reefs that are widely visited by travellers, the most popular island is Bohey Dulang that has a beautiful blue lagoon, which can be seen when you hike up the peak of this mountainous island.
10. Mulu National Park, Sarawak
Situated in Mulu National Park, you would need 3 days 2 nights to hike up Mulu Pinnacles, but every challenging step will take you closer to the view of razor-sharp limestones that overlook the lush greenery. As one of Malaysia's protected virgin rainforests, you can also make the best of your visit by exploring the show caves, doing adventure caving and venturing on some guided forest walks.
11. Fraser's Hill, Pahang
Besides Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands, you can make your way to Fraser's Hill, a hillside retreat located in Pahang. Surrounded by cool air and scenic landscape, you can expect this retreat to be more laid-back than the rest. So leave your worries at home and let the natural surroundings take over your holiday.
12. Bukit Tinggi, Pahang
Perfect for a family getaway, make your way to Bukit Tinggi and visit the colourful Colmar Tropicale Berjaya Hills. Situated amid the lush rainforest in Bentong, this French-inspired village is reminiscent of the 16th-century Colmar town in France and it's pretty fun to explore its surroundings. You can also spend the weekend at Colmar Tropicale, where many rooms and suites are available, as well as exploring the traditional Berjaya Hills' Japanese Village in a rented kimono.
13. Sekinchan, Selangor
Once you've arrived in Sekinchan, there are many attractions to explore for a fun-filled day! Besides visiting the 3D Art Gallery and Pantai Redang, you can also swing by the Paddy Processing Factory, the fishing village of Sungai Burong, and the all-new Lemon Myrtle Plantation! For more things to do, you can take a 30-minute drive to the famous Sky Mirror to capture surreal snapshots.
14. Bukit Piniapat, Sabah
There are many scenic hiking trails in Malaysia and Bukit Piniapat
in Sabah is one of them. Situated in Kampung Dingai, Pitas, this scenic hill requires a 3-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, but it's worth the long drive. Depending on your speed (and the number of times you stop to take a photo), it can take up to 15 minutes to reach the top. It also has a very clear but steep trail, which is doable for beginners. You'll also love taking snapshots together with the colourful wildflowers along the trail.
While the pandemic situation has changed the way we travel, don't let it stop you from dreaming about the beautiful places to visit in Malaysia. Whether you're longing for a beach getaway in Langkawi or a serene escape to Cameron Highlands, here are more articles to keep your travel spirit alive.