Category Archives: Tourism

Wonderful Tourist Attractions to Explore on your Visit to Malaysia

Malaysia is truly a piece of heaven on this world and one of the most sought after tourist destination. This beautiful country is truly a wonder which attract many visitors from every nook and corner of the world. This is a small country but the array of natural and manmade attractions has made this country one of the best destinations to explore.

Night Life

The striking beaches, placid islands, gorgeous gardens, exotic wildlife, gleaming floras, splendid monuments and many alike easily tempts all the visitors to visit once. Malaysia is culturally diverse country and the rich heritage which can be best explored here. The vibrant nightlife, beaches party and the colorful festivals are very worth to enjoy and get lost in the unique lifestyle of this country. The rich culture, finest blend of luxury and class hotels and lip smacking cuisines truly attracts the visitors from all over the world.

Some of the prime attractions to visit and explore on your Malaysia holiday packages which will always be cherish throughout your life are listed below:

Kuala Lumpur: This is the most high tech city in this country of Malaysia. One of the youngest cities in the South Asia is truly the most sought after tourist destinations in Malaysia. The colonial buildings, vibrant nightlife, blossoming gardens, contemporary skyscrapers, splendid monuments, elegant temples and beautiful mosques easily entice the tourist from all over the world. This city is like a very interesting book with many amazing chapters which all very worth to read and enjoy.

The prime attractions to visit in this beautiful city are as the Petronas Twin Tower, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, and Batu Caves truly these attractions easily tempts the tourist to visit again and again to this city.

Cameron Highlands: This is one of the most beautiful hill stations in the country which is very green and lush. This beautiful hill stations is truly one of the most visit destinations in Malaysia.

Truly this hill city is breathtakingly beautiful with favorable conditions truly these is very inviting and visited by hordes of tourist every day. The picturesque landscapes, green rolling hills, gorgeous lakes, cascading waterfalls and many alike truly will leave you spell bend on your visit to Cameron Highlands.

The visitors can explore the super blend of Malay, Indian and Chinese culture with amazing hill resorts and delicious cuisines truly entice the entire tourist. Some of the tourist attractions to visit in this hill town are as Lush tea gardens, Cameron Valley Tea Plantation, Big Red Strawberry Farm and Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Farm. Truly this hill town is an idyllic hill station and is ideal for a memorable vacation.

Sabah: Sabah is one of the best destinations which are visited by the intense number of tourists in thousands, hundred and several throughout the year. This place is bliss for the nature lovers and natural paradise with a wealth of natural attractions to satisfy eco-tourists and adventure seekers. The beautiful stunning beaches and the picturesque islands truly are awesome and out of this world. Apart from these there are many more attractions that can be visited with any Malaysia packages planned from a leading Malaysia tour operator . So book one explore this heavenly place and enjoy a heavenly holiday in scintillating Malaysia.

Bhaskar writes about various beautiful tours and travel destinations of the world. He is providing valuable information on malaysia travel packages,Malaysia Trip, holiday in Malaysia

Article by Bhaskar Kumar

Singapore and Malaysia – Complete Asia Holiday Destinations

Singapore and Malaysia – Complete Asia Holiday Destinations

Article by Anna Ruth

For a truly Asia holiday, there are two popular holiday destinations that need to be included in the itinerary. Singapore and Malaysia located in Asia are beautiful places where visitors come for a memorable holiday year around. You can plan for a holiday in these places individually or club the places together, the choice is yours. Planning a holiday in any of these places is not at all a big deal. As both the destinations are popular amongst tourists, finding a suitable Singapore package or Malaysia package is easy and convenient too.

When to visit Singapore and Malaysia: Like most of Southeast Asia, Singapore enjoys a hot and humid climate year round, with the temperature never dropping below 20°C. For a Singapore holiday the best time is from June to August. On the other hand, for a Malaysia holiday there are two peak seasons – first one is from early December to the end of January and the second peak holiday season is around June and could well stretch until September. In case you are looking for a package tour to Singapore and Malaysia, the months of June, July and August are the best options to consider.

Singapore attractions: The beautiful nation of Singapore is a land of natural and man-made beauties. With a Singapore package, one can witness a beautiful fusion of the traditional and the modern. A melting pot of different cultures like Malays, Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Thai and other ethnic groups, Singapore is a magnificent land of innumerous skyscrapers, state-of-the-art architectural wonders, extremely delicious cuisine, breathtaking locations, picture perfect scenic beauty, world famous museums, age old temples and above all extremely warm and amiable people. In fact, during a holiday in Singapore you will be amazed by the hospitality of the local people here. For a truly Singapore holiday, you can easily find a Singapore package suitable to your budget and requirements.

Malaysia attractions: Located in the heart of Asia, Malaysia is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. People look for Malaysia package and come for a holiday in Malaysia for its towering skyscrapers, natural wonders, beautiful beaches and some of the best diving spots in the world. Malaysia boasts of a number of tourist attractions and the capital city of Kuala Lumpur is the best amongst them. Kuala Lumpur has plenty to offer in terms of shopping, entertainment and sightseeing. The other popular tourist destinations in the country are Penang, Johor, Selangor, Langkawi among many others. If planning for Malaysia holiday, booking an exclusive Malaysia package is the best option available.

Both Singapore and Malaysia are popular holiday destinations and must be visited at least once. You can enjoy a holiday in both these countries separately or if you have the time visit Singapore and Malaysia in a single holiday. A package tour to Singapore and Malaysia is the best way to explore the best sights and attractions of Singapore and Malaysia.

To conclude, a holiday in Singapore and Malaysia is never going to disappoint you. So it is time to set you budget and fix a date to look for a Singapore package, Malaysia package or an exclusive package tour to Singapore and Malaysia.

Hungry Bags is a leading source to look for a budget Malaysia package, Singapore package, India package, exclusive package tour to Singapore and Malaysia and more. The holiday packages available here are the best ones in the market.
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Sibu Island blue sky

Sibu – Johor’s fantasy island

Mention the word `Aloha’ and a thousand dreamy vacation images of Hawaii spring to mind. It is also Hawaians’ traditional custom of welcoming visitors to its many islands of paradise. But you don’t have to go that far for a Hawaii-type of vacation.

Sibu Island blue sky

Sibu Island blue sky.

Come to Johor’s Sibu Island Resort and you will get that Aloha welcome. Next, picture yourself on Fantasy Island. Yes, imagine Mr Roarke, the mysterious owner of the fantasy island, where for a price, people could come to realise their lifelong fantasies.

On this island, `Mr Roarke’ is without his able sidekick, Tattoo. Meet Encik Roslan Abdul Rahman, Sibu Island Resort General Manager, who together with his staff, greet all guests to his resort ala Hawaii and with a touch of Mr Roarke’s style.

Guests to the resort do not arrive by plane as on Fantasy Island. Only half-an-hour’s boat ride from Tanjung Leman jetty will take you to this `FantaSibu’, located in Pulau Sibu Tengah, off the east coast of Mersing, Johor. The jetty is a two-hour drive from Johor Bahru.

Roslan is not here to grant all sorts of wishes to people who want to see what their lives would have been as Roarke had done. Neither does the resort promise glamour and excitement for ordinary people whose lives normally had none. In other words, Roslan is not here to realise your fantasies.

But what the 20-acre island resort, owned by listed Johor Corporation Bhd, can offer is a retreat that’s exclusively private for both business and leisure. For those who want to take their mind off things, this idyllic resort is just perfect and a peaceful getaway.

“There are already many popular islands in Malaysia such as Penang, Langkawi and Tioman, all with their own attractions. But I believe Sibu Island itself has its own unique features … nature, crystal clear ocean, white sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs,” says Roslan.

Neatly tucked among lush tropical vegetation of Pulau Sibu Tengah, the resort has a setting that is awesomely natural, tranquil and pleasantly invigorating amidst a world uniquely its own.

There are no villages on Pulau Sibu Tengah. Guests who have come for a `real’ retreat can expect some privacy at this four-star resort, which exudes its own brand of charm and comfort.

There are 121 units of chalets, air-conditioned and tastefully furnished – all majestically overlooking the vast emerald ocean and guests will get to enjoy the cool and rejuvenating breeze during their getaway holiday at the resort.

So, how do tourists come to know about the resort, or, Sibu Island?

“Initially we had difficulties in promoting our resort to the domestic market, but thanks to joint promotion by Johor Corp, the state government, Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines and our travel agents, we have been able to promote Sibu Island as a tourist destination in Johor,” he says.

Sibu Island itself has been commonly mistaken for Sibu in Sarawak and Cebu Islands in the Philippines. Even among Malaysians, says Roslan, many still do not know the existence of this island in Johor.

Besides Pulau Sibu Tengah, there are also other nearby islands which have their own unique features such as Pulau Sibu Besar, Pulau Sibu Kukus, Pulau Sibu Hujung and Pulau Lima.

Sibu Island beach, sky and the other islands.

Sibu Island beach, sky and the other islands.

This Pulau Sibu area, which has been gazetted as a marine park by the state government, is endowed with hard coral reefs, all known among snorkelling and scuba diving enthusiasts, mainly from neighbouring Singapore and Europe.

It is not surprising that Sibu Island has been the choice location for filming of the Robinson Survivor Series, which cater to the Scandinavian market such as Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Denmark.

“It is not just the island that has attracted the group to come here. They have surveyed several places, but this has been found to be the most suitable as they do not face any red tape,” says Roslan.

Although filming took place in Pulau Sibu Kukus and Pulau Sibu Besar, majority of the crew, participants, as well as the media covering the series, stayed at the Sibu Island Resort in Pulau Sibu Tengah. The fifth Survivor Series are expected to be filmed in Pulau Sibu Besar soon.

The popularity of the Survivor Series, has been a boon to the island resort, which has seen an encouraging number of tourists from Scandinavian countries, adds Roslan.

Aggressive overseas promotion by selling Sibu Island as a tourist destination has also worked to the resort’s advantage. Roslan has participated in the Internationale Tourismus Bourse in Berlin, Germany, World Travel Mart in London, ASEAN Tourism Forum in Indonesia and Natas Fair in Singapore.

Since its official opening in 2001, Sibu Island Resort has seen a steady rise in the number of guests. In 2001, it attracted 18,725 tourists from domestic and overseas markets, but the figure however declined to 15,109 last year, and dropped further to 3,910 up till April this year.

Singaporeans have so far formed the bulk of foreign tourists to the resort, accounting for about 40 percent of the total number of visitors. No thanks to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, economic downturn and rising unemployment, visitor arrivals from Singapore nose-dived 48 percent up till April this year.

One encouraging note is that the number of Malaysian visitors to the resort saw a dramatic rise of 61.5 percent up to the four months of this year, a 23 percent increase over last year. In 2002, Malaysians made up 51.3 percent of the visitors to the resort from 43.3 percent in 2001.

Within Asia, visitors to the resort rose to 7.4 percent as of April this year, as against 4.0 percent last year and 3.4 percent in 2001. Figures from Europe dropped to 6.3 percent up till April this year, from 8.9 percent last year and 6.8 percent in 2001.

Within Malaysia, promotions on the resort are also done through the MATTA Fair, Cuti-Cuti Malaysia and Visit Johor Year 2003 organised by Tourism Malaysia and Johor Tourism in Johor and Kuala Lumpur.

Developed as early as 1997, the resort which owns 65 acres of land in Pulau Sibu Tengah, has enjoyed a steady stream of visitors especially from Singapore since it was officially opened to the public in 2001.

“Since September 11 and more recently SARS, we have received travel cancellations and postponements from not only Singapore but also other tourists abroad. However, despite stiff competition from other resorts and hotels in Malaysia, we have seen a 15 percent improvement in our tourist arrivals,” says Roslan.

German tourists are also lured to the island resort. Based on a promotion conducted jointl
y with Tourism Malaysia, Roslan says, his yearly participation at the Berlin exhibition in March, now in its third year, has yielded results. This year, he has been able to bring 250 Germans to the resort.

One such case is a German couple, who stayed at the resort for 21 days.

Pohl Wolfgang, 63 and his 61-year-old wife, Pohl Hildegard, have just ended their 21-day stay at the resort on May 25.

What attracted them to Sibu Island Resort?

Wolfgang says: “We love the island, the resort, and friendly people. You have such beautiful nature, and this is our third time in Malaysia.” The couple, who enjoy snorkelling, have been to Sarawak and Terengganu. They have also visited Taman Negara twice.

At the resort, time was spent snorkelling, brisk walking, jungle trekking, and strangely, Wolfgang’s wife, Hildegard, loves to catch spiders.

Despite the SARS scare, the couple said they were unfazed. Although at the KLIA, airport staff were seen donned with face masks, the situation was normal upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

“As we can see, things are normal in Malaysia despite concerns over SARS.

“We have such fond memories of Malaysia during our stay here. People are friendly, you have such beautiful nature, and we enjoy your food, too. We will come again to Malaysia, probably in autumn, next year,” says Wolgang.

His wife, Hildegard nodded in agreement. Her parting words were: “Jumpa lagi.”

- Bernama

Divers are after Miri sea treasures

There are over 20 diving sites off Miri, some of which are just a 20-minute boat ride from Miri, and there are no less than 206 hard coral species alone, said Sabahan Voo Heng Kong.

He said according to coral expert Dr Douglas Flenner, there are far more coral species in the Miri waters that in the Caribbean, which has about 60 identified hard coral species.

The soft and hard corals are pristine and undamaged, unlike those found in many locations in the country, he said, adding that the popular sites include Eve's Garden, Anemone Garden, Batu Belais and Siwa Reef.

Long known as the booming oil town in Sarawak, Miri had a low profile start to a new fame as a diving haven.

It may have a diversity of coral species comparable to any other locations in the world, but not many people know this secret of Miri outside of Sarawak.

The "Land of the Hornbills" is only well known for its Mulu National Park, the Niah caves and longhouses which attract thousands of tourists every year.

But if Voo has his way, Miri will be the top diving destination in the country in the future.

"Sipadan, the most popular diving location in the country, do not have the corals like ours," said Voo.

Sipadan's main attractions, he said, are the many big fishes.

Aggressive marketing of Miri as a diving location started few years ago through write-up in magazines and newspapers. It was also featured in a local television programme, said Voo, a retired police officer, and now the dive manager of Tropical Dives, a diving outfit.

The promotions this year would include participation at the Asia Diving Expo in Singapore in April, he said, adding that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak had caused the company to cancel its participation at the expo in Thailand last year.

The most effective promotion, Voo said, is still by word of mouth.

"Diving is a peculiar type of travel. People will not go just because there are advertisements. Since they will spend a substantial sum for travelling and a few days diving, they will not go to a place unless they already heard something about it from other people who had already gone there," he said.

However, the word of mouth is slow to spread and Voo is counting on the more adventurous divers who seek different experiences and challenges.

He is glad that he has many happy divers who came back for more.

Tropical Dives, the dive outfit of Seridan Mulu Tour & Travel Services Sdn Bhd, is a pioneer in offering diving packages in Miri, starting from a one-day fun dive of two sites for RM280 per person.

The peak period is from April to October.

Last year, it took about 800 divers from outside Miri to over 20 sites.

He said most of the divers are from Germany and Holland, but there is growing interest from diving fans from Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia.

At the moment, the majority of the divers are expatriates working in Miri, said Voo who took diving as a hobby and started diving in the Miri waters in

He said the locals are slow to take up diving as a hobby and sports because they regarded it as dangerous and expensive.

Seridan Mulu's general manager, James Wan, said divers in the Miri waters might have the chance to see the migratory whale sharks which come around March to April.

- Bernama

“Pearl of the Orient” strikes back

The sparkling beaches and crystal-blue seas synonymous with Penang, dubbed the "Pearl of the Orient", decades ago are long gone.

Robust development on the island, with scant regard for environmental conservation, has apparently stripped Penang of its natural assets which had been the main tourist draw for so many years.

"We can no longer promise the crystal-clear waters and beautiful beaches while doing promotions abroad," State Executive Councillor For Tourism, Culture, Arts and Women's Development Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen told travel agents some time ago.

She said in terms of maintaining the natural beauty, which is the island's traditional tourism product, Penang was being overtaken by the other resort islands in the region.

The island's beaches are strewn with garbage, to the extent that the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) are forced to clean up the beaches four times a week, each time netting between seven and 10 tonnes of solid wastes at 34 stretches.

Apart from the garbage, the presence of jelly fish off Penang's coast, is the other factor which bars tourists from enjoying swims at the beaches.

Aware of this drawback which sticks out like a sore thumb in its tourism industry, Penang is taking steps to unveil "new products" to woo visitors.

Local travel agents are now focussing on more creative packages as they can no longer rely on attractions like Penang Hill, Butterfly Park, Snake Temple, Kek Lok Si Temple, Botanical Garden and Pulau Aman to bring in tourists, 60 percent of whom are foreigners.

More attractive and value-added packages focusing on niche market, coupled with the roadshows held by Tourism Malaysia abroad, are earmarked to boost tourist arrival.

The niche market comprises "long-stay" programmes at hotels, health tourism as well as meeting, incentives, convention and exhibition (MICE) activities apart from education tourism.

Kee said the promotions were being aggressively held in the United Kingdom which presents a huge market, as well as Europe, West Asia, Japan, Australia and United States to compensate for the drastic drop in tourist arrival from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong following the global outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) earlier this year.

To review the marketing strategies, the state government set up the Penang State Tourism Action Council (Tourism Penang) in April this year.

With Kee as the chairperson, the council has representatives from the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry, state government and its agencies like the MPPP, Penang Regional Development Authority (Perda) and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and the corporate sector.

She said Penang was ready to embark on several tourism projects, to be implemented under the current Eighth Malaysia Plan, like the re-development of Church Street Pier, Swettenham and Weld quays, clean-up of Sungai Pinang and and gazetting the Penang National Park.

Six clan "jetties" at Weld Quay, – Seh Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee, Yeoh and Mixed
Seh jetties – all of which have historical significance, will be given a major facelift, she said.

Kee said UNESCO experts had advised the state government to include these clan jetties into zones categorised as the "Historic Island Post Settlement of Penang" in line with the nomination of Georgetown's inner city into the world body's list of global heritage.

She said the MPPP planned to turn the jetties into tourist attractions in Georgetown like the Khoo Kongsi, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Armenian Street and Acheh Street.

"We are looking into the modes of conservation like restoring houses at the jetties, cleaning up the seabed in their vicinity, installation of sewerage pipes and allowing economic activities like seafood restaurants and tea houses to operate at the jetty-ends," she said.

Kee said the MPPP was looking into the jetties' re-development plan in line with the conservation concept for the "historic waterfront stretch" between Swettenham and Weld quays.

She said priority would also be given to the conservation of other heritage structures like the Khoo Kongsi, which has been known to be popular among tourists from China, while spots like Armenian Street, which has "close historic links" to the struggle of Dr Sun Yat Sen, is a destination popular with visitors from Taiwan and China.

Kee also reminded the travel agents that Penang's tourism industry should be diversified instead of them relying on a few packages which have been existence for some time.

She said a new chapter of the state's eco-tourism concept, like the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve which blends a unique sea and forest scenario with its unblemished sandy beaches, virgin swamp jungles and lake, should be brought to the fore.

The waters off the forest reserve, which is known to have 417 flora and 143 fauna species, is a sanctuary to otters, dolphins and turtles. It has three scenic beaches – Pantai Kerachut, Pantai Telok Kampai and Pantai Mas – which are landing spots for the Olive-Ridley turtles.

Kee said efforts were in progress to gazette the area as the Penang National Park and would be promoted as the first national park under the National Park Act 1980.

Meanwhile, the former penal colony of Pulau Jerejak is being re-developed as a tourist spot by Tropical Island Resort Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture firm between UDA Holdings Berhad which holds 51 percent equity and PDC, 49 percent.

Kee said the island's re-development was divided into three phases – the first phase is the construction of two dormitory blocks which can accommodate 200 beds, 13 chalets, a camping site as well as a jetty and boarding terminal which are expected to be ready before end of the year.

The second phase comprises the construction of a food court, budget hotel and a prison's museum, due for completion next year.

Construction of an exclusive resort constitutes the third and final phase of Pulau Jerejak, with work commencing in 2006 and due for completion within one year.

When these projects are fully completed, Kee said more foreign and local tourists are expected to make a return to the "Pearl of the Orient".

- Bernama

The Perlis State Park bordering the Thaleban National Park

The Perlis State Park bordering the Thaleban National Park in southern Thailand, boasts of rare plant species like wild ginger, the balsam tree as well as a pre-historic plant species called "bogak".

The park is also home to many wild animals, such as leopards and serows (or mountain goats), along with various types of reptiles and more than 200 species of birds, including the hornbill.

Have you seen a stump-tailed Macaque or "beruk kentoi"? Like the proboscis monkeys or "kera Belanda" which can only be found in Sabah, the stump-tailed Macaque (scientific name "Macaca Arctoides") can only be found in this state's park, a reason why many nature lovers love to go there.

The red-faced monkey may be a shy animal but can be easily found in this 5,000-hectare park, a large portion of which is located in the country's longest limestone range, the Nakawan range.

If you happened to be one of those who had set foot there, be proud that you had been to the northern-most jungle in Peninsular Malaysia.

Among the interesting features of the park is its 2.8-metre high border wall separating Malaysia and Thailand. The wall can be clearly seen once visitors are close to the border gate at Wang Kelian.

You can also be proud that you had seen the Nakawan range which is among the oldest limestone formation in the country besides being the longest.

The limestone formation found in the Nakawan range is known as Setul limestone formation, which is about 500 million years old.

The main characteristic of the Setul formation is its cliff-shaping process, where a closed crater-like valley known as "wang" (a Thai word which means hollow in between stones) is later created.

Since people in the old days named places after their natural features, it is not surprising that Perlis has several settlements in the valleys named "wang". For example, "Kampung Wang Kelian" has about 150 families, most of whom are farmers.

Besides Wang Kelian, there are several quiet and uninhabited valleys around the park like "Wang Tangga" and "Wang Mu" which were popular tin mining areas when rich ore were found in their caves.

A cave also known as Gua Wang Burma is a favourite of nature lovers because of the natural beauty of its stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Exploring the cave requires patience, strength and stamina as certain sections of the cave require one to crawl.

For a more challenging feat, the visitor can explore the jungle for five hours in order to climb Perlis mountain, which is part of the park.

The mountain, standing at 733 metres, promises a cool and refreshing respite.

Still at the park and not very far from Kaki Bukit town is a lake called "Tasik Meranti". But to get there, you have to walk for about one hour from the car park.

Visiting the state park will not be complete without going to Gua Kelam, a recreatio
nal area. The cave is a naturally-formed tunnel, a rare archaeological find. Only two of such naturally-formed tunnels exist in the world – here in Perlis and the other in Brasilia, Brazil.

Also interesting to note about the cave in Perlis is a stream flowing along the length of its walls, apparently a result of years of tin mining in the area.

A "hanging bridge" that runs along the tunnel has been built to provide convenience to visitors.

To get to the Perlis State Park, you can either drive or book a taxi from Wang Kelian and register yourself at the Park's Visitors Centre which is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

The centre is located just 41 km from Kangar, and throughout the journey to the Park from the state's capital, you can have a panoramic view over parts of northern Perlis. You can also view this from Kangar's tower called "Menara Kayangan".

Perched on a more than 100-metre high hill, the tower enables you to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Bukit Chabang, better known in the state as the "Twin Peaks of Perlis", besides other hills like Bukit Keteri, Bukit Jernih and Bukit Cuping.

From there too, you can see part of Timah Tasoh lake which is one of the state's new tourist attractions.

The state government is planning to upgrade the Park's infrastructure to include chalets that can be rented by the public.

Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the state government is also planning to provide duty-free shops in Wang Kelian for the convenience of tourists.

At present, Wang Kelian receives 30,000 to 50,000 visitors every Sunday because of its weekend market.

- Bernama

National Park Vacation At Borneo’s Mesilau Nature Park, An Alternative To Kinabalu

One of the most popular Borneo destinations is undoubtedly Kinabalu National Park, where Mount Kinabalu resides. Each year, thousands of visitors visited Kinabalu National Park for either a refreshing National Park Vacation to escape the hot tropical sun and catch a glimpse of the highest mountain in South East Asia, or to conquer the mystical Mount Kinabalu.

Nevertheless, for a unique National Park Vacation in Borneo, you must make sure that you drop by at the lesser known Mesilau Nature Park, which is just about 30 minutes by road away from Kinabalu National Park. From Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysia Borneo, it only takes approximately 2.5 hour drive to reach Mesilau Nature Park.

mersilauMesilau Nature Park is located within the vicinity of Kinabalu National Park on the Pinosok Plateau near Kundasang town. The stretch of the road from Kundasang town to Mesilau Nature Park, which is about 2,000 metres above sea level, is extremely steep and winding. However, the road condition has improved immensely in recent times, which makes the ascending ride a breeze.

On the way, you will surely be captivated by the spectacular views of the Kundasang valley with terraced hill slopes planted with highlands vegetables, and parts of the scenic beauty of the Kundasang Mount Kinabalu Golf Course, a challenging 18-hole golf course for avid golfers, undeniably, the highest golf course in South East Asia.

But once you get to Mesilau Nature Park, you will notice that the place is more natural and "virgin" than the now "commercialized" Kinabalu National Park. As the Park lies at the base of Mount Kinabalu, Mount Kinabalu will look even more spectacular with a sheer wall of granite towering a few thousand meters from the virgin forest floor and ending in jagged peaks. This breathtaking sight is aptly called the Mesilau Pinnacles.

To experience the best of what Mesilau can offer, you will need to spend a night or two at the eco-friendly Mesilau Nature Resort, which is nestled amongst the trees at the foot of the mountain within the Park. The Resort itself is amazing since it was carefully planned and built to blend into its natural surrounding.

The chalets are on slopes surrounded by trees with the full view of the Mesilau River flowing below. And for food, the Kedamaian Restaurant is famous for its piping hot steamboat, and barbecue dinners, which makes it a good excuse to stay overnight.

Mesilau Nature Park is also the starting point for the alternative and more challenging route up Mount Kinabalu. If you are of an adventurous kind, do trek the route up to a kilometres or two even if you are not planning to climb Mount Kinabalu. Since the Mesilau Summit Trail is relatively newer and less crowded than th
e old summit trail, your cha
nce of encountering (tamed) wildlife is also brighter.

One prominent feature of the route is the seemingly abundance of orchids (Rhododendrons) and pitcher plants. The world’s largest pitcher plant, the "Nepenthes Rajah", is recorded to grow in abundance here. For most visitors, a less taxing guided nature walk around the Park is recommended. It will leave you with lasting "natural" memories.

Mesilau will not fail to enchant you with its cool temperate climate (temperatures vary around 17-21 degree Celcius during the day and 10-15 degree Celcius at night) and serene surroundings as a truly astonishing nature’s paradise. Mesilau Nature Park and its Resort is an ideal venue for relaxation or retreat.

The bio-diversity of the flora and fauna found here makes Mesilau a haven for naturalists. It is one of the best locations in Borneo for an unforgettable National Park Vacation.

About the Author

Rich Adz is a writer for, Borneo’s leading trip advisor and tour intermediary. Please also visit Borneo Tropical Vacation for more info on Sabah.

10 Things You Ought to Try in Kuching, Sarawak

Sarawak is one of Malaysian states that is on the Borneo island. It is a fasnating destination, nicknamed Bumi Kenyalang which literally means "Land of the Hornbill". Here are 10 things you ought to try when you're in Kuching, state capital of Sarawak.

1. Taste Kuching's favourite noodle dish called "kolo mee". This simple noodle dish with slices of barbecued pork, a sprinkling of spring onions and a bowl of soup drives Kuchingites (that's what we call people from Kuching) abroad mad with desire. Available at most coffeeshops and cafes in Kuching. If you can find "kolo mee", you should also try the spicy Sarawak laksa, another specialty dish of Sarawak.

2. Try "umai". "Umai" is the Melanau's version of the Cantonese 'yee sang' (raw fish salad). Imagine a fiesty salad of shallots, raw fish, lime juice and salt.Never leave without giving this dish a try!

3. Take a boat ride to the other side of the Kuching River for 30 sen (or USD 0.10) The non-motorised boat ride goes across the Kuching River in just under five minutes. It's a slow and beautiful boat ride across a lovely river. Where to go for this boat ride? Just get to the Kuching Waterfront, the pride of all Kuchingites.

4. Hang loose at the Waterfront. It's a hip and happening place to be when the sun sets even if you're only sipping "teh tarik" which is hot tea with milk. Watch the world go by or observe the boats ply the river.

5. Support the local pepper industry! Sarawak pepper is world famous so don't even think of leaving the place without grabbing all sorts of pepper paraphernalia – from pepper sweets to pepper perfume!

6. Bite into a crispy "tebaloi" This traditional biscuit of the native people of Sarawak is made from another famous Sarawakian export, sago.Sago flour imparts a distinctive taste to this biscuit. It even comes in chocolate flavour, besides the usual traditional recipe.

7. Buy yourself a "pua kumbu" A pua kumbu is a handwoven cloth used by Iban tribe, inspired by their dreams. The intricate colours and superb workmanship makes each piece a work of art. Get yourself one if you can afford it.

8. Explore the national parks! Sarawak is teeming with national parks so go on the adventure of your life. Experience wildlife like you've never seen before. Start with the famous Bako National Park. We assure you it won't be your last.

9. Take home some lovely pottery! From rustic jars to pots, from vases to pen holders, there's nothing like an authentic Sarawakian pottery to remind you of this laidback land, showcasing the best of native culture.

10. Enjoy the Sarawak Cultural Village The Sarawak Cultural Village is hailed as Asia's best living museum
, showcasing Sarawak's native peoples, their lifestyle, their homes and their culture. Just 45 minutes by car from the city of Kuching, this village of 14 acres will astound you with the wondrous diversity of people and their culture. If there's only one place to visit while you're here, make it the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Krista Goon is a writer and the co-business owner of which helps business owners maximise their website potential through ideas, tips and brainwaves. She also runs, a helpful resource for all things Sarawak.

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Mulu National Park, nature’s gift to the world

The spectacular Pinnacles of the Gunung Api, which literally means "Fire Mountain" came into sight as Captain Daniel Sprenger and his co-pilot from Vision Air effortlessly swerved the aircraft towards the summit at 1,200 metres altitude.

As the 19-seater Dornier 228 aircraft nears the Gunung Mulu National Park in Miri division, the passengers' attention is captivated by the awesome natural beauty unravelling before their eyes.

"Look to the right," shouted Sprenger from the cockpit as he enthusiastically pointed to the world's most beguiling limestone landscape amidst the lush rainforest.

In clear weather the pinnacles stand out like hugh white knives against hardy trees that manage to gain a foothold in narrow crevices but become dark grey on the windward side when they are wet.

Along the way, one can see the Melinau Gorge and even spot a few settlements of the Penans and other Orang Ulu tribes.

Like its closest neighbour Sabah, which also boasts of a World Heritage Site in the Kinabalu Park, Sarawak is home to the world famous Mulu caves housing the world's largest underground chambers and passages.

In fact as one of the only 138 listed natural heritage properties in the world, Mulu is described by UNESCO as the most studied tropical karst area of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

People have been experiencing the wonders of Mulu for many years as the 52,864-hectare park's established show caves such as the Deer Cave, Lang Cave, Clearwater and Wind Cave allow visitors to enjoy an interpretative tour of the caves.

But while visitors are lured to the unique cave system and diverse biodiversity, they do so with four-star comfort.

Located by the banks of the Melinau River near the park and adding a touch of luxury to the jungle is the four-star Royal Mulu Resort, built entirely on stilts three metres off the ground for protection against rising waters.

As one approaches the resort from the river after alighting from the Mulu airstrip, one is greeted by the ethnic longhouse-styled dwellings, linked by a series of wooden walkways which made for a pleasant stroll, especially in the evening.

Royal Mulu Resort Communications and Marketing Director January Kohli said apart from adventure, Mulu is actually great for light recreation and "unwinding" from the hustle and bustle of city life.

"It is a common misconception that Royal Mulu Resort is only a backpackers' lodge … we are in fact an aw
ard-winning property with Resort amenities," she told Bernama.

The 188-room resort is managed by the Rihga Royal Hotels, an exclusive Japanese hotel chain with operations in the United States, Australia and Japan.

She said the resort, which expects its occupancy rate to grow by between 20 and 40 percent from only 15 percent at present, has bagged quite a number of awards in the past years to boost its confidence.

It is the winner of the Tourism Malaysia's Best Natural Tourism Award and "Excellence in Hotel Services 2000" apart from being named the Hotel of the Year 2000 Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards.

Air Vision, a private aerial tour operator which provides an alternative to Malaysia Airlines services to Mulu from Miri and Kota Kinabalu, is a big help in getting guests from Sabah and Brunei, she said.

Access to the park by air, she said, was now easier than ever, compared to the three hours' express boat ride from Marudi.

She was optimistic that the resort would face a boom next year despite people generally having a phobia for flying following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. "We are not as much affected as expected," she added.

As such she said the resort's future planning would involve incentive tours to bring in big companies for some specialised programmes like training, seminar and retreats besides family holidays.

At the moment, 25 to 30 percent of its total business come from Malaysians while Western Europeans, foreign expatriates living in Brunei, Japanese, Taiwanese and Singaporeans comprised the remaining guests who stay an average of one to two nights on a tour series of the region.

Kohli, 27, a Canadian, who has worked for the resort for almost three years, is definitely familiar with national parks since the Banff National Park near her home town of Calgary in Alberta is also a World Heritage Site.

"Only when we come here do we realise how lucky we are," she said, obviously referring to the park which is well-equipped with facilities and other infrastructure.

"Mulu is an exceptional park, it has everything for everybody…it is one of our big push," she added.

Philip Lawing, 39, who is of Berawan and Tering descent, two Orang Ulu sub-tribes living in the Mulu vicinity, said he has been providing guiding services in the caves, kayaking, rock climbing, nature hike to guests to encourage them to stay longer.

As the lead guide/naturalist with Royal Mulu Adventure Tour, a tour company specialising in adventure, he knows the surrounding environment like a book.

Having started off as a warden with the park for 11 years, he admitted modestly to "know a little bit about plants".

"I can easily survive in the jungle for one month on the condition that I have a knife to make traps for animals and fire … I can go for wild vegetables, bamboo shoots, ferns, no problems," he said as he identified each species of trees along the three-km plankwalk to the Deer Cave.

He said the "pelai" softwood, for example, is used by the Orang Ulu to make the "sape", a stringed-musical instrument.

Sticks from the "kayu hujan panas" tree (or goniothalamus specie) are commonly used by the local Malays to ward off wild animals or snakes because of the odour emitted but the Penans used the leaves to cure diarrhea, he said.

Park warden Suleiman Jamahari said apart from cave expeditions, one of the world'
;s natural wonders could be enjoyed at the bat observatory.

On a good evening some 1.8 million wrinkle-lipped bats stream out of the Deer Cave in long twisting cloud to hunt for insects and it is the most popular attraction, he said.

To date Mulu is known to contain 1,500 species of flowering plants including 170 species of orchids and 10 species of pitcher plants as well as thousands of fungi, mosses and ferns.

The fauna diversity is equally impressive with 67 mammal species, 262 bird species, 74 frog species, 47 fish species, 281 butterfly species and 458 ant species. – Bernama

Treacherous peak in Borneo

Every day scores of people from around the world make a smooth climb up Mount Kinabalu, southeast Asia’s highest peak, to watch a spectacular sunrise over the rainforest island of Borneo.

High winds can send wind-chill temperatures at nightfall to below freezing near the top of the mountain, even though it lies some 600 km north of the equator.

Legend has it that a dragon guards the entrance to Low’s Gully beneath the summit. Tribal people believe the gully is the resting place of the souls of their dead.

Every year about 30,000 people conquer the mountain on the northern tip of Borneo, trudging up through dense forest to emerge on a rocky alpine plateau.

The climb up the mountain on a well-defined path is usually easy but some trekkers suffer dizziness, nausea and exhaustion because of the altitude as they make their final push up the summit.

Species found in Kinabalu represent more than half of the world’s flowering plants, including the bizarre insect-eating pitcher plant and the rare Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, which measures 90 centimetres across.

The climb starts from park headquarters, only a couple of hours drive from the coastal city of Kota Kinabalu, but already more than 1,500 metres above sea level.

Most people take the easy route to the summit, Low’s Peak, striding up rock-hewn steps, helped by ropes pegged to the mountain wall. The summit is named after its first conqueror – Sir Hugh Low who climbed it in 1851.

It normally takes five hours or more to go from the base of the mountain to a rest house near the top.

Many people stay there or at chalets nearby, sheltered from the freezing temperatures, before beginning a final ascent at 2.00 am, timing their arrival for daybreak three hours later.

“You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful sunrise as well as a glimpse of the southern islands of the Philippines,” Dusun guide Michael Gimpopon said.

More a trek than a climb, it is still a tough walk and altitude sickness can take its toll. “The air is thinner, harder to breathe,” Gimpopon said.

Veteran climber Wan Abdul Rahman Wan Abdullah says the descent is riskier than the climb up.

“The only difficult thing about climbing Mount Kinabalu is adjusting to the altitude. But coming down is more physical as it is slippery and you have to avoid getting cramps and sprains.”

The jungle on the lower reaches of the mountain poses few dangers, but the upper slopes can be slippery from rain and moist mosses can be treacherous.

“You can survive the jungle but once you slip and fall into the ravine, that’s the end of it,” Wan Abdul said.

Two Malaysian climbers disappeared without a trace 10 years ago, and a young boy was lost in the early 1970′s.

But 18 British soldiers were luckier. They were missing for about a month in 1994 after becoming stranded while trying to abseil down from Low’s Peak. They lost their bearings in a heavily forested area and were only fo
und after one party went in s
earch of help.

A fourth person died at the summit, another 17-year-old girl, who suffered a heart attack in the thin air.