Around the world in Malaysia

For many travellers, Malaysia is an experience that they ‘chanced upon’. Once they experience the diverse culture and sincere hospitality of Malaysians, they are smitten. To know Malaysia, as they say, is to love Malaysia. One return-tourist puts it, “Travelling around Malaysia is like visiting many countries at once.”

Malaysia’s diverse range of attractions means it will appeal to everyone. Here are a few favourites.

Island bliss: Malaysia has numerous beautiful islands that boast of white powdery beaches and blue seas teeming with marine life. Among the popular islands are the ones off the coast of Terengganu (Kapas, Perhentian Besar, Perhentian Kecil, Gemia, Lang Tengah, Tenggol and Redang) and the Seribuat Archipelago, Johor, as well as the five islands within the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park in Sabah.

Some areas have been gazetted as marine parks and offer fantastic snorkelling and diving opportunities such as Sipadan and Redang islands. For those who wish for peace and tranquillity, there are islands that have only one resort operator, ensuring privacy and personal attention. Langkawi island, one of Malaysia’s bigger and more developed island destinations, offers the beautiful island life in a vibrant multi-cultural setting complete with duty free shopping and great eating establishments.

Shopping haven: Due to its favourable exchange rate, Malaysia offers great shopping bargains, even when it’s not the sale season. Shopping malls tempt shoppers with both branded goods and local productions. Besides shopping for fashion, Malaysia is also a haven for electrical and electronic goods. Three seasonal sales periods throughout the year — in March, July to September, and December — offer even greater value for money.

Family fun: Malaysia is the perfect place for family vacations. With the theme parks, parents just can’t go wrong. Long-term stays in apartments can be arranged at these theme parks which may offer water or dry parks, or both. With park rides, shows, and fun fair games for the children, and golfing and souvenir shopping for the parents, the whole family will be entertained. Besides enjoying the theme park facilities, families can also take advantage of visiting the attractions in nearby towns and cities.

Cool retreats: Mala-ysia’s year-round sunny weather is a great excuse to escape the cold and dreary winters. But if ever tourists wish for some cool getaways, then head to Malaysia’s highlands. Here too, Malaysia offers a choice of either peaceful highland settings or something with a little more to do. Each highland destination offers different activities. Walk amid acres of tea plantation, pick strawberries, enjoy an afternoon at a theme park, trek into mossy forests, or just linger over an extended afternoon tea service.

Back to nature: A huge part of Malaysia is still under rainforest cover. Trekking through million-year-old jungles offers a chance to spot exotic wildlife such as the elusive proboscis monkey and the orangutan. The infamous Rafflesia flower, which blooms to a foot in diameter on the forest floor, before wilting away in an odorous stench, is among the attractions. The numerous species of pitcher plants and wild orchids are another. The national parks are thick forests of verdant green, a habitat to tigers, elephants and rhinoceros, endangered and almost extinct in other parts of the world. Those craving for adventure will also find it in Sabah and Sarawak where beautiful caves, flowing rapids and mountains are waiting to be explored.

Malaysian hospitality: To experience the Malaysian way of life in the countryside or kampong, participate in the homestay programme. Guests will live with a host family in a traditional village house and participate in their daily life. Visit rubber or oil palm plantations or paddy fields, learn to catch fish, do some jungle trekking, and eat freshly-prepared, home-cooked food. Through this programme, guests can learn about the simple way of life of those living in the small villages outside the city.

Year-round golfing: Voted the ‘Golf Destination of the Year 2008 for Asia and Australasia’ by the International Association of Golf Tour Operator (IAGTO), Malaysia offers an impressive choice of some 200 golf courses around the country - in the cool highlands, on islands, near jungles or right in the city centre. Or play at golf courses designed by top names such as Jack Nicklaus, Graham Marsh, Robert Trent Jones Jr, Ross Watson and Andy Dye. With sunny weather year-round, golfers can enjoy a game almost any time of the year or day.