When planning a visit to Malaysia, don’t forget to include these three award-winning attractions into your itinerary. They were recently given the highest Malaysian honours at the Malaysia Tourism Awards for being the best tourist attractions in the country.
It wasn’t easy to get on the list – these three were shortlisted by a panel of judges comprising leaders in the industry, after a thorough and long process of evaluation. The awards show comes around only once every two years, so it’s worth checking out these prime selections!
OLD-WORLD RAIL TRAVEL
Fancy the Orient Express ala Malaysia? Then you’ll definitely love a ride on the North Borneo Railway’s British Vulcan wood-fuelled steam locomotive. Stepping inside the old-style train carriage will transport you to the nostalgia of train travel in the early 1900s.
What is it? The North Borneo Railway offers you the experience of train travel on Borneo’s oldest running steam locomotive. Plying between Sabah’s state capital, Tanjung Aru and Papar, an agricultural town known as the rice bowl of Sabah, this 58 km route takes passengers through scenic villages and coastal towns, paddy fields, rainforests and plantations of rubber and coffee. During the four-hour journey, you’ll see the heart of Sabah unfolding before your very eyes and and get a glimpse of the colourful and unique local lifestyle. Stops are made along the way to visit traditional temples, heritage shops and the local markets. A local breakfast is served on board, while lunch is presented in a tiffin carrier, reminiscent of the old days, and highlights Sabah cuisine using local produce such as their brown hill rice and jungle ferns.
The experience: This is definitely for the dreamers who love a good dose of culture and tradition mixed into their holidays. After all, rail travel has always been romanticized with beautiful vistas, excellent service and comfort…something that you can certainly expect with this North Borneo Railway experience.
A PASSAGE TO THE PAST
The island of Langkawi in the northern region of Malaysia is full of legends, folklore and beautiful geological landscapes at the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, a 100 square km nature reserve. The best way to experience it? By taking a slow and lazy ride down the Kilim river that will transport you to a place hundreds of millions of years old.
What is it? Here is a collection of geo-sites full of amazing flora and fauna, and stunning geological formations like mammoth limestone rocks, fossils, caves, lagoons, beaches and seascapes that will astound and mesmerize you. One of the best ways to explore and appreciate the area is with a boat or kayak ride down the Kilim river, an area said to be some 500 million years old. Your passage down the river passes dense wetland mangroves on one side and gigantic limestone rocks on the other rising from the river bed. Expect to see white bellied eagles and other species of birds, crocodiles, mud crabs, monkeys, monitor lizards, and if you’re lucky a dolphin or two. Stop to explore caves with amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations, fossils and limestone cliffs, and chance upon hidden lakes, mysterious caves and small uninhabited islands.
The experience: This is geology and natural history classes rolled into one, and what a great way to learn! The experience here is nothing short of fascinating as you personally witness life and nature unfolding before your very eyes. A great excursion for the entire family.
A PLAYGROUND FOR YOUNG AND OLD
Looking to “escape” from the hustle and bustle of urban life? Try out this adventure theme park called “Escape” in Teluk Bahang, Penang. Think of it as a huge outdoor playground for all ages, but be prepared to do lots of jumping, leaping, crawling, running, sliding and more…just like when you were kids!
What is it? Escape is basically an outdoor jungle gym that offers kids and adults alike an opportunity to play with abandon at its two themed parks, namely “Escape Adventureplay” and “Escape Waterplay.” There are over 20 attractions within the “dry” park, Escape Adventureplay, consisting of obstacles and challenges of different difficulty levels. Face your fear of heights and challenge your stamina, core strength and balance as you swing from tree to tree like a monkey, leap through the air, climb trees and towers, bounce down slopes on tubby racers or become a cave explorer. Meanwhile, at Escape Waterplay, prepare to get wet! Here, you can opt to swim at a beach-pool with constant waves, slide through the Banana Flip that will launch visitors into the air and send them flying into a 5-metre deep pool, play with your children at the Tots Pool, or even race with your friends and zoom down at 45 km per hour on the slides called Speed Racer.
The Experience: This place is like your long-lost playground from your childhood days. Spend a whole day here and re-live childhood memories of outdoor adventures with friends and family. Be warned that it is both fun AND will challenge your physical strength.