History and Lifestyle

History and Lifestyle

History

Langkawi, the beautiful archipelago of Malaysia, is shrouded in mythological legends. Its actual history & origin has lost its course in the passage of times. According to the legends, the term ‘Langkawi’ is said to have connections with the kingdom of Langkasuka, which is centered in the present Kedah. The historical documentation is little; however, the Chinese Liang Dynasty record (500 AD) refers the kingdom of ‘Langgasu’ as being established in the 1st century AD.

Another reference of the island’s name has been made in the book The Legends of Langkawi by Tun Mohamed Zahir. It says that the term ‘Langkawi’ is a combination of two Sanskrit words, Langka (beauty) and Wi (innumerable). As per the book, Langkawi means the place of immense beauty. One more reference states that Langkawi means Eagles’ Island. According to it, the term Langkawi is a combination of two words Lang and Kawi. Where ‘Lang’ is a corrupt form of Malay word ‘helang’ which means eagle, ‘Kawi’ means marble. Since both eagles and marble are found in abundance in Langkawi, probably the place was named after the fact. Indeed, the Eagle Square at the island was built to commemorate its name. About 200 years ago, according to the folklore, a young woman, name Mahsuri, was accused of adultery and was executed by the people in spite of her earnest innocence. Just before her death, Mahsuri laid a curse on the island that it will remain barren for seven generations. That’s about the mythological history of Langkawi.

As far as political history is concerned, the Sultanate of Kedah used to rule over the island. In 1921, when Kedah was conquered by Siam, Langkawi also passed in the ruling hands. The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 transferred the holding power to the British, who held the state until freedom, excluding a brief period of Thai rule under the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II. The Thai influence can be still seen in the culture and food of Langkawi. In fact, Thai language is also understood by many people on the island.

The name Langkawi is the last surviving place of the ancient kingdom of Lankasuka. Lankasuka whose capital is said to have stood at the base of Kedah Peak south of Alor Setar on the mainland, is mentioned in Chinese accounts of the area as far back as 500 AD. According to the Liang Dynasty records, the kingdom was founded in the first century when its Hindu king, Bagatta, paid tribute to the Chinese Emperor of the time. The names of its kings resurface time and again in Malay legends and fairytales.

Local folklore has it that Langkawi derived its name from the eagle or “helang” as it is known in the Malay language. “Lang” for short and in old Malay, “kawi” denotes reddish brown; hence, Langkawi simply means reddish brown eagle Langkawi steeped in legends was cursed by Princess Mahsuri who was condemned to death in 1355 for adultery. Her dying curse was that the island would remain barren for seven generations. Shortly afterwards Thais attacked Langkawi, razing all the settlements to the ground.
Tourism took off in 1986 when Chinese dominated Penang lost its duty-free status to the then Malaysian backwater, Langkawi. Billions of ringgit has since poured into the area and the once sleepy fishing villages and endless paddy fields now harbors and resorts of world class standards.

Most of the development is in the main town, Kuah and along isolated beaches on the west and northern coasts. Away from the built up areas, Langkawi is still fairly rural, though many of the paddy fields have now been left to wandering buffalo and are no longer cultivated due to there being more money to be made in tourism, for the local ex-farmers.

The Langkawi you see today has been transformed almost beyond recognition. This is the legendary island is now major international businessmen meet to form new ventures and conclude deals whilst relaxing. Langkawi has now completed its seven generation cycle and seemingly, if all the development and prosperity now in so much evidence on the island, is anything to go by, the curse has finally been lifted.

Climate and Seasons

Climate

Since Langkawi is sited near the equator, the island enjoys an equatorial type of climate and observes an average temperature of 24oC to 33oC. The island observes two different seasons during a year. Dry season and wet season are the two prevailing seasons.

Seasons

The dry season; November to March, when the winds blow predominately from the NE. The weather is generally fine with nice cool sailing breeze but tends to be much dryer than other parts of Malaysia. For the most part, temperature lingers around 30 oC. On a hot sunny day, the climate tends to get warm and average temperature strikes the mark of 32oC.

The wet season prevails from the month of April till October. During these months, winds from the west and the southwest dominate the island. This is the time when rain can be frequently expected. Langkawi enjoys heavy rainfall, and its average rainfall is 2500mm (100 inches). On rainy days, the heavy downpour is often accompanied by thunder and lightning. However, humidity level remains high about 80% throughout the year. The months of August and September observe the maximum amount of rainfall. Seeing that rains low down the temperature, the island enjoys an average temperature of 24oC during rainy season.

Langkawi is beautiful in all seasons, but the best time to visit Langkawi is during the months of November to June. It’s the time when skies are reliably blue and the seas good enough for snorkeling. People usually don’t prefer rainy season to visit the island, as water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving cannot be enjoyed at this point of time. See weather today

Geographical Information

Geographical Information

Langkawi situated just off the Northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia comprises a group of 104 tropical islands during low tides and 99 Island during high tide. The main island Langkawi is 47,848 hectare in size while Pulau Dayang Bunting and Pulau Tuba are somewhat smaller while the others appear to be mere dots in the emerald green ocean when viewed from the air.

For those who love a tropical island holiday and a place far from the maddening crowd will find their haven in Langkawi. The outstanding natural landscapes of Langkawi Islands proclaim them as a true tropical paradise. Langkawi rainforest is rich with  varieties of flora that lends itself to medicinal cures, fragrances, lotions and pigments while flowers, fruits, sap, bark, leaves and roots are utilized by locals for their traditional medicinal properties.

 

Payar Marine Park

Although at times the plankton-rich waters can reduce visibility, the abundance of fish makes up for it. Black tip sharks, barracudas and groupers are sighted on a regular basis. No form of accommodations on the island available and only the marine park center occupies its all one beach. The strict preservation of laws, which are forced by the Marine park around the island.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Pulau Payar

Pulau Payar is located 30 km south east of Langkawi and north of Penang Island. This marine park extends over a number of islands with Pulau Payar being the largest. It takes an hour to get there from the Kuah Jetty by speedboat. There is a floating platform moored off Pulau Payar which has a restaurant and underwater observation chamber to view the marine life surrounding a reef. It is a good area for snorkelling or taking rides in glass-bottomed boats. The best diving is to be found from the Western tip to the Southern and Eastern portion of Pulau Payar.

Coral Garden

Coral garden is located on the western tip of Pulau Payar. This dive site features both hard and soft corals along the island’s rocky terrain with depths from 5 to 15 metres. Huge boulders carpeted with dendronephythya soft corals offer numerous crevices that attract marine life seeking refuge from predators. Fish life is abundant, with damsels, fusiliers, lionfish, schooling jack and occasional huge groupers.

Grouper Farm

Suitably named, this dive site located towards the Southern end of Pulau Payar is home to small schooling fish nervously darting about due to the presence of numerous groupers. Hard corals dominate the seascape with the reef top gradually sloping down to about 15 meters to the sandy bottom. If a slight current is present, a drift dive is the best approach to this site, but watch out for spiny sea urchins.

Pulau Kaca

Situated towards the east of Pulau Payar is some easy wreck diving off Pulau Kaca. Dozens of sunken fishing trawlers are found around Pulau Kaca creating artificial reefs. Rocky topside topography gives way to hard coral growth at 5 metres and slopes to a sandy bottom at about 18 metres. A diver does not require any bearings to locate the wrecks, as he is bound to encounter the scattered vessels in almost any direction. Coral blocks on the sandy bottom are inhabited by abundant small reef fishes, mollusks and nudibranchs. Try to maintain good buoyancy, as the sandy seabed is littered with sea urchins.

Pulau Segantang

This twin rocky outcrop is located 13 kilometres towards the west of Pulau Payar. Pulau Segantang features steep rocky terrain plunging into the sea to a sandy bottom at 20 metres. Nurse sharks, barracudas and jacks are very common here. Fusiliers will swim curiously around intruding divers. Here, hard corals and sea fans are found on the slopes between 15 to 20 metres. Lobsters, moray eels and mollusks are also commonly observed. 

diving-payar

Pahang

If you are looking to have an all-encompassing holiday that will take you to world-class islands, hill resorts, miles and miles of sandy beaches and mysterious lakes, look no further than the state of Pahang.

Pahang is Peninsular Malaysia’s largest state and is a treasure chest waiting to be discovered. Every kind of visitor will have the opportunity to enjoy the numerous attractions the state has to offer. Just take you time and soak in the sights and sounds.

GETTING THERE

Kuantan is easily accessible by road. The journey from Kuala Lumpur is 260km while it is about 325km from Johor Baru. If you wish to travel by air, Malaysia Airlines schedules daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan. Flights are also available between Kuantan and Tioman Island. Meanwhile, the railways link Pahang through Mentakab and Kuala Lipis from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Bahru. In addition, there are many buses and taxis that provide services from most major towns to Kuantan.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

Beaches Cherating

Cherating is located about 47km north of Kuantan, the capital of Pahang. It’s the perfect place to escape from the busy lifestyle of the city. From luxury five-star hotels to wooden chalets, you will find your kind of accommodation dotted along the beach amidst traditional village environments.

Cherating is also host to Asia’s first Club Med and it promises loads of fun and adventure. After the sunset, fun beach bars come alive and you will not want to miss out on the party.

Teluk Cempedak

Located five kilometres from Kuantan, Teluk Cempedak features various pubs, dining spots and luxury hotels. Water sports like sailing, surfing and skiing are popular activities here. A brief jungle trek through the Teluk Cempedak Forest Reserve brings you to Pelindung Beach, another treasure to be enjoyed.

Berserah

This unique fishing village is a must-visit for arts and crafts lovers. You will be amazed by the handicrafts and exquisite batik masterpieces. It is also the place popular for its mouth-watering salted fish. Berserah also is special because this is where fishermen have trained their buffaloes to transport fish from the shore to the processing area – unlike the usual picture of the animals soaking in padi fields or drawing heavy carts.

Balok Beach

Balok Beach is located 15km north of the capital and is a fantastic spot for fans of windsurfing. In addition, holidaymakers love to retreat to this haven of cooling sea breezes, swaying casuarinas, fine sandy beaches and clear blue seas.

Chendor Beach

Just a few kilometres north of Cherating lies this beach where giant leatherback turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs. The season to witness this event is between July and September.

Lanjut Beach

Located near Kuala Rompin district, this serene beach is very much untouched and secluded. International standard beach hotel Lanjut Golden Beach Resort is situated here. There are also smaller hotels and chalets here and the most popular activity is freshwater prawn fishing.

MARINE PARKS

Pulau Tioman Marine Park

This popular tourist destination comprises nine islands. Pulau Tioman is the largest measuring 32km long and 19km wide. The other islands are Pulau Labas, Pulau Sepoi, Pulau Gut, Pulau Tokong Bahara, Pulau Chebeh, Pulau Tulai, Pulau Sembilang and Pulau Seri Buat. Tioman comprises six settlements namely Salang, Air Batang, Tekek, Paya, Genting and Nipah.

This paradise on earth boasts of sparkling seawater, unending soft white sandy beaches, rows of inviting palm trees, amazing waterfalls and cool sea breezes. Its coral gardens are a myriad of colours and its underwater life simply amazing. It is the place you want to be to get away from the busy city life.

Tioman also features some of the best dive sites in the world. Diving in clear blue waters over fantastic coral reefs teeming with marine life is definitely not to be missed. Cuttlefish, moray eels, blue spotted stingrays, damsel fish, sea anemones, cardinal fish are just some of the friends you will make while exploring this wonderland.

For extra adventure, divers can opt to explore the underwater caves around Pulau Chebah and some of the best reefs near Pulau Sepoi and Pulau Labas. Pulau Tulai and Pulau Renggis are also worth a visit.

These islands can be reached within an hour’s boat ride from Pulau Tioman. The island has accommodation ranging from chalets to luxury resorts. Other facilities include camping sites, a convenience store, a post office, a police station, souvenir stalls, moneychangers and restaurants. Although the island is open all year round, the best season for diving and snorkelling is from April to October.

WATERFALLS

There are quite a number of beautiful waterfalls in Pahang. These spots are perfect for picnics, camping or taking a refreshing dip. Lata Jarum, located about 30km from Raub town, is an established picnic spot with numerous rapids flowing into a pool of crystal clear water. Let the view take your breath away and a dip into its cool waters will surely rejuvenate the tired body and soul. The Lata Lembik Waterfall, also located near Raub town has an interesting rock formation and this waterfall is still very much in the heart of a rainforest. Another waterfall worth visiting is the Bukit Telaga Waterfall, 15km from Fraser’s Hill. Other popular waterfalls include the Sungai Pandan Waterfall, which is about 29km from Kuantan and the Bekelah Waterfall, 60km from the state capital.

LAKES

Lake Chini

This lake is about 125 ha in size and lies among 12,000 acres of lush tropical jungle. It is Malaysia’s second largest natural lake. Located about 100km south of Kuantan, it is actually made up of 12 freshwater lakes. Lake Chini is blessed with tranquil and captivating sceneries and boasts many natural wonders. Its lush wilderness supports more than 130 species of plants and several hundred animal species and its calm, cool water is home to 144 species of freshwater fish.

Myths and legends have drawn curious visitors from all over for years. One of the popular stories is the ‘Chini Monster’, which some say is an ancient dragon-like creature. It is believed that the monster lives in the lake and guards a lost city made up of gold. This city is believed to be an ancient Khmer City that was once situated at the lake.

Fishing is an activity enjoyed by tourists and locals alike due to the abundance of freshwater fish found in the lake. You can also observe the Orang Asli and their interesting way of life at their settlement in Kampung Gumum. Hiking up Chini Mountain or indulging in a river safari would be an experience for the adventurous.

Tasik Bera

Located in southwest Pahang, Tasik Bera is the largest freshwater lake in Peninsular Malaysia. This 35km long and 20km wide lake is home to 328 species of flora, 200 species of birds, 50 mammals and more than 95 species of fish. It is an ideal place for nature enthusiasts as activities include fishing, trekking, boating and kayaking.

NATIONAL PARKS

Taman Negara is one of the oldest rainforest in the world – said to be more than 130 million years old. It is Malaysia’s premier national park and the largest in the country, covering over 4,343 square kilometres (434,300 ha). The park is a sanctuary to countless species of flora and fauna. These species can be observed from many hides, namely Tahan, Tabing and Cegar hides. Visitors can camp at these hides after sunset to observe nocturnal animals. If luck is on your side you may spot fireback pheasants, barking deer, tapirs, sun bears, long-tailed macaques, white-handed gibbons, wild ox and the rare Sumatran rhinoceros.

The park is proud to offer visitors the longest canopy walkway in the world. It measures 25km high and over 400 metres long. Visitors can see rare plants that are only found at the canopy level of the forest.

Gunung Tahan, which rises 2,187 metres above sea level within the park, is the highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia. Fans of mountain climbing will certainly find this mountain an exciting challenge.

There are also scenic trails like the Tahan Trenggan trail, Neram trail and the Bukit Teresak loops. All these trails are excellent for jungle trekking and offer wonderful sights of what Mother Nature has to offer. Cave explorers would find Gua Daun Menari and Gua Telinga delightful. Other fun activities are visiting the Orang Asli settlements and going on a boat ride on Tembeling River.

Kenong Rimba Park

Kenong Rimba Park, which spans 121 square kilometres offers breathtaking waterfalls, clear mountain streams, exciting caves and abundant of flora and fauna. Nature and adventure lovers will find this park a haven. Favourite activities here include bird watching, animal spotting, trekking, caving, fishing and swimming.

Gunung Tapis Park

This wonderful nature park is located 16km from Sungai Lembing. It has many waterfalls, rapids, hot springs and wildlife. There are camping sites here too. The picturesque Mount Tapir Waterfall cascades from a height of 15 metres and is the biggest waterfall within the park. If camping is not your cup of tea, the Sungai Lembing Tapis Resort offers comfortable and modern accommodation.

HILL RESORTS

Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands is fondly known as the ‘Giant Green Carpet of Malaysia’. It stands at 1,829 metres above sea level and is the largest hill resort in Malaysia. Its cool climate makes it ideal for tea, fruits, vegetables and flower farms. Ringlet, Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Trinkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja are townships within the highland.

This hill resort also features Robinson Falls, the Rose Garden nurseries, vegetable farms, flower, strawberry and honeybee farms as well as the Sungai Palas Tea Estate. Meanwhile, visitors can also visit Ye Olde Smokehouse, which was built in the colonial era and still remains as is today.

Taking long walks and trekking are favourite activities among visitors here. Some unique species of flora and fauna can be spotted along these trails, a must-do in a nature’s lover’s list. Hiking to Gunung Brinchang, Gunung Beremban and Gunung Jasar will add a tinge of adventure to your holiday. There is also an 18-hole golf course here.

Fraser’s Hill

Rising 1,542 metres above sea level, this hill was named after Scottish trader Louis James Fraser. This serene and tranquil hill used to be a weekend retreat for British officers before Independence. More than anything, Fraser’s is famous for bird watching – it has over 260 species of birds.

The fresh mountain air and rich vegetation make walking around the hill pleasurable. Picnicking and swimming are some of the things you can do at the Jeriau Waterfalls. Visitors can also go on pony rides or admire the lovely flowers in nurseries.

Some golfers visit the hill resort on weekends to enjoy a game or two with friends and business partners. There are two golf courses here – a nine-hole and an 18-hole, both designed by Frank Hemmant and Roger Davis respectively. Other facilities include a sports complex, a children’s playground and a roller-skating rink.

AGROTOURISM ATTRACTIONS

Tekam Plantation Resort

This resort spans over 2,000 ha and comprises coffee, fruit, coconut, cocoa, oil palm and rubber fields. Offering educational tours where visitors can visit the plantations and caves, other experiences that can be enjoyed include rubber tapping, cocoa, coffee and tropical-fruit picking and oil palm harvesting. The best season to visit the fruit nurseries is from July to September when durians and rambutans are abundant. Meanwhile, Sungai Tekam is a good area for fishing. Convenient and comfortable lodgings like chalets are available, as are F&B outlets and recreational facilities. The Indera Mahkota Agricultural Park, located about 10km from Kuantan is another agricultural resort worth visiting.

SHOPPING

Berjaya Megamall is the largest shopping centre in the east coast with five levels within the building measuring about 150,000 square feet. Retail outlets that offer a wide variety of choices cover the lower ground floor to the second floor. Entertainment centres are on the third floor while ample parking is available on the fourth and fifth floors.

Pasaraya Hugo is another shopping destination that features 290 retail outlets with a 33-lane bowling alley and an amusement centre. Fast food chains, restaurants and a food court that offer delicious recipes can also be found here.

Terengganu

A drive along the coast of Terengganu will both awe the visitor and calm his tired spirit. Sandy white beaches – lined with coconut trees that complete the picture – do more than just greet the visitor looking to soak in the sun and sea on its coast and islands, which are surrounded by clear blue waters and exotic marine life. Then there is its spectacular underwater world, lush tropical rainforest, dazzling waterfalls and other natural wonders.

GETTING THERE

There are few ways to reach Kuala Terengganu. It is 491km by road from Kuala Lumpur and about 555km from Singapore. Malaysia Airlines offers regular flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu and Kerteh. Domestic budget airline AirAsia also offers regular flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu. Express buses and taxis operate to Kuala Terengganu from different major towns like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang, Kota Bahru and Johor Bahru. Getting around Kuala Terengganu is also easy as there are taxis and buses. Trishaws are also available and offer fun rides.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

Beaches

Be amazed by Terengganu’s lovely sandy beaches and feel the refreshing sea breeze as you drive along the coastline. The beaches run from Kuala Besut in the north to Kemaman in the south. To begin with, Rantau Abang is a must-visit for fans of turtles. It is situated about 60km south of Kuala Terengganu and is one of only six special beach terrains in the world that the giant leatherback turtles visit to lay eggs. The period to watch these huge turtles swim ashore is between May and September.

Female turtles usually arrive around midnight during this time, and each will dig a deep hole in the sand to lay its eggs. This lasts till about dawn when the turtle then covers the hole and makes it way back to sea.

It is not unusual to see eager locals waiting the whole night to catch a glimpse of these prehistoric creatures. Some chalet operators even offer wake-up calls when turtles come ashore. Torch lights and cameras are prohibited and visitors are not allowed to make too much noise as these turtles get scared easily.

Tanjung Jara is another popular spot for beach lovers. It is about 60km from Kuala Terengganu and just eight kilometres from Rantau Abang. This idyllic beach offers swimming, boating, wind surfing or simply invites you to sit back under the shade of the trees and enjoy the sea breeze.

Other beaches that are equally fascinating in Terengganu are Pantai Air Tawar, Teluk Dalam, Pantai Batu Buruk, Chendering and Pulau Tenggol.

Firefly-watching

After the sun slowly sets, the mangroves on the riverbank come alive with the incandescent glow of thousands of fireflies. For as long as the residents of Kampong Ibok can remember, the fireflies have performed their joyous ritual but no one is certain why. As your sampan gently guides you down Sungai Yakyah, perhaps you will discover the answer to the ancient mystery of nature. Located about 20km from Awana Kijal Golf, Beach & Spa Resort, the best time to see this magnificent display of lights is on a dry evening from 8.00pm to midnight.

ISLANDS AND MARINE PARKS

Exotic and amazing islands like Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Kapas are the precious gems of Terengganu. They are rich in magnificent marine life, corals of rainbow hues and aquamarine seawater. These islands are also gazetted as marine parks. Include these precious tropical islands in your itinerary and be assured of a memorable holiday.

Other small wonders are Pulau Tenggol, Pulau Bedong and Pulau Gemia. Pulau Gemia is a privately owned island, which is reserved especially for guests of Gem Island Resort.

Pulau Redang Marine Park

Off the Terengganu coastline on the northeastern coast is the Redang Archipelago. It is made up of nine islands namely Pulau Redang (the largest), Pulau Pinang, Pulau Lima, Pulau Ekor Tebu, Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Perhentian Besar, Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Pulau Susu Dara and Pulau Kapas. This area has also been gazetted as a marine park and its brilliant underwater world is one of the best in Malaysia.

Pulau Redang is indeed one of Malaysia’s most idyllic islands. This tropical paradise offers pearly-white sandy beaches, sparkling clear seawater, lovely sunsets and a spectacular marine life. Its marvellous marine fishes, turtles and huge variety of coral reefs make it a wonderful diving spot and its coral species are some of the best in the world. The five famous dive sites in Redang are Tanjung Lang, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Gua Kawah, Pasir Panjang and Batu Mak Cantek. Apart from diving, beach lovers can also enjoy other activities like swimming, snorkelling, fishing, boating or sunbathing.

Pulau Perhentian is situated about 21km off the coast of Terengganu and comprises two islands – Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, golden sandy beaches, tall swaying palm trees and crystal blue water, it is an ideal swimming, wind surfing, sailing, boating and canoeing destination. It also boasts wonderful underwater treasures.

Coral Bay on Pulau Perhentian Kecil offers a marvellous view of the sunset. It is also a perfect paradise for nature lovers as there are paths available for exploration of the virgin tropical jungle. On the northern shore of Pulau Perhentian Besar lie three coved bays where most tourists visit for some turtle watching. It can be reached easily by speedboat.

Pulau Kapas is situated offshore about 30 minutes by boat from Marang, south of Kuala Terengganu. It is a lovely small island with beautiful, quiet and unspoiled sandy beaches; cool and clear blue waters, swaying coconut trees and caves with swallows’ nests. Its waters are home to beautiful marine life such as fish, turtles, corals and others. It is a great place for swimming, snorkelling, diving, wind surfing, kayaking, boating or just pure relaxation.

Other neighbouring splendours are Pulau Ekor Tebu, Pulau Pinang, Pulau Lima and Pulau Lang Tengah. These charming islands are also rich with marine treasures. Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will not want to miss these little wonders. Two historic shipwrecks, the H.M.S. Prince of Wales and H.M.S. Repulse were also discovered around the waters off Pulau Redang. It is believed that these ships sank during the early days of World War II.

Apart from sea sports and activities, nature lovers can also participate in jungle trekking or hiking, as most of these islands have interesting forestry treasures to offer. Explore the abundance of flora and fauna within these forests. There are over 100 species of plants that have healing values and a few rare orchid species.

Meanwhile, Pulau Pinang has a visitors’ centre that houses an exhibition room, an audio-visual room, a research lab, turtle touch pools and chalets.

WATERFALLS

The Sekayu Waterfalls offers a magnificent view of seven cascades surrounded a by lush forest. It is a favourite among visitors and locals alike. Facilities like chalets, changing rooms, rest houses and gazebos are available. It is located within the Sekayu Recreation Forest in Kuala Berang and is a 45-minute drive from Kuala Terengganu.

To add some adventure to your holiday, pay a visit to the Sungai Ceralak Waterfalls, which comprises two waterfalls – Jeram Solo and Jeram Padang. The adventure begins as soon as you embark on your journey. It involves a boat ride from Kuala Jengai to Kuala Sungai Ceralak, a jungle hike and crossing Sungai Ceralak itself. Upon arrival at the site, you will be greeted by the scenic view of the waterfalls surrounded by pretty blooms and trees.

RECREATIONAL FORESTS

Sekayu Recreational Forest

Located at Kuala Berang, about 60km southwest of Kuala Terengganu, Sekayu’s attractions are the lush jungle-clad hills, a fruit orchard, a mini zoo, a bird park and a flower garden surrounded by a waterfall. There are also facilities like shelters, a rest house and chalets. It is a must-visit for nature fans. Pelagat Forest Reserve
This forest reserve is located in Besut, 70km northwest of Kuala Terengganu. Adventure lovers can indulge in trekking, canoeing and swimming at the Lata Tembakah Waterfalls area.

Kuala Terengganu

Kuala Terengganu is the state capital, which is located on the banks of the Terengganu River. It has a blend of old and new buildings. The town moves in a relaxing pace and stands as a reminder of old times.

The Waterfront

There is a port here where fishermen go to sea and where fish is also traded at a bazaar. Take a boat ride from here and visit the surrounding islands, or board a passenger boat to Seberang Takir where the most beautiful view of the South China Sea can be enjoyed.

Pulau Duyong

Take a ferry ride from the waterfront to Pulau Duyong, the island that is renowned as the home of Malaysia’s best boat builders. Be amazed at the unique craftsmanship these men practice, which, unfortunately, is an art on the verge of extinction. This place is also known for seafood-related products like salted fish and fish crackers.

Bukit Puteri

This 200-metre high historical hill was the state’s fortress against enemy attacks between 1831 and 1876. Today, the only remains of the fort are cannons, a flagpole, a large bell and a lighthouse. Witness a breathtaking view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill.

Istana Maziah

A palace of splendid architecture that is modern and traditional. It was constructed during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Located near Bukit Puteri, it is the venue for royal weddings, birthdays, conferment of titles and receptions for local and foreign dignitaries.

Terengganu State Museum Complex

Several museums are housed in this complex situated at the end of Jalan Losong and it is said to be the largest in Southeast Asia. It is home to the Main Museum, a Fisheries Museum, a Maritime Museum, four traditional palaces, and a botanical and herbal garden. The Main Museum was built on 16 stilts and has 10 galleries.

Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque

This mosque was constructed with stilts on an open sandy area with water flowing underneath, which also makes it known as a floating mosque. A fantastic masterpiece incorporating Moorish architecture with a modern touch to it, the mosque is especially a beautiful sight at night.

LA Hot Springs

Located in Besut, the LA Hot Springs is a famous recreational spot. Its sulphur-rich water has healing properties, which is said to be beneficial for those suffering from skin ailments. Even if you do not suffer from any ailment, get in just to feel relaxed and refreshed.

FISHING VILLAGES

Explore some fishing villages not far from Kuala Terengganu, namely Marang, Kampung Marang, Chendering and Kijal. They are located just about 30 minutes’ drive from the town centre. Visitors will be welcomed to the villages by the sight of lovely coconut trees and cool sea breezes.

AGROTOURISM ATTRACTIONS

Setiu Peladang Recreational Area

A tropical rainforest, a river, caves, waterfalls and flora and fauna occupy the natural and serene surroundings here. This is an ideal park to explore nature as the trees and plants are labelled. Juicy fruits such as duku, cempedak, durian, rambai and rambutan can also be found here. The seeds of flowers and fruits can also be bought at affordable prices if you to wish to take some home with you. Others activities here are jungle trekking, mountain climbing, bird watching and fishing. Hostels and chalets are also available.

SHOPPING

The Central Market, or Pasar Payang, as it is known locally, is located by the Terengganu River. It is a favourite destination of tourists as this modern building that comprises a wet market and a shopping arcade sells interesting local handicrafts like batik, brassware, brocade and songket, alongside fresh local produce like fruits, vegetables and fish. Grab a packet or two of the local delicacy Keropok Lekor, crackers made from a mixture of fish and sago.

Sutera Semai Centre (Silk Weaving Centre)

Located about six kilometres from the town centre is Malaysia’s pioneer silk weaving centre. Beautiful, brightly coloured woven silk cloth, brocades and batik are sold here. They make lovely souvenirs for your friends and family or as a purchase to add to your collection. Apart from shopping, visitors can witness the different stages of silk production and the exquisite art of batik painting.

Malaysian Handicraft Centre

Also located about six kilometres from Kuala Terengganu, this centre offers visitors a wide range of Malaysian handicraft to choose from. Some of the famous and exquisite items are songket, batik, vases, mats, hats, wallets and bags made from Pandanus leaves.

Travel along the Terengganu coast and you will surely be awed by the beauty its boasts and the tranquillity it offers. From endless stretches of white sandy beaches with swaying coconut trees to superb diving sites, this east coast gem makes for a memorable holiday destination.

A drive along the coast of Terengganu will both awe the visitor and calm his tired spirit. Sandy white beaches – lined with coconut trees that complete the picture – do more than just greet the visitor looking to soak in the sun and sea on its coast and islands, which are surrounded by clear blue waters and exotic marine life. Then there is its spectacular underwater world, lush tropical rainforest, dazzling waterfalls and other natural wonders.

GETTING THERE

There are few ways to reach Kuala Terengganu. It is 491km by road from Kuala Lumpur and about 555km from Singapore. Malaysia Airlines offers regular flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu and Kerteh. Domestic budget airline AirAsia also offers regular flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu. Express buses and taxis operate to Kuala Terengganu from different major towns like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang, Kota Bahru and Johor Bahru. Getting around Kuala Terengganu is also easy as there are taxis and buses. Trishaws are also available and offer fun rides.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

Beaches

Be amazed by Terengganu’s lovely sandy beaches and feel the refreshing sea breeze as you drive along the coastline. The beaches run from Kuala Besut in the north to Kemaman in the south. To begin with, Rantau Abang is a must-visit for fans of turtles. It is situated about 60km south of Kuala Terengganu and is one of only six special beach terrains in the world that the giant leatherback turtles visit to lay eggs. The period to watch these huge turtles swim ashore is between May and September.

Female turtles usually arrive around midnight during this time, and each will dig a deep hole in the sand to lay its eggs. This lasts till about dawn when the turtle then covers the hole and makes it way back to sea.

It is not unusual to see eager locals waiting the whole night to catch a glimpse of these prehistoric creatures. Some chalet operators even offer wake-up calls when turtles come ashore. Torch lights and cameras are prohibited and visitors are not allowed to make too much noise as these turtles get scared easily.

Tanjung Jara is another popular spot for beach lovers. It is about 60km from Kuala Terengganu and just eight kilometres from Rantau Abang. This idyllic beach offers swimming, boating, wind surfing or simply invites you to sit back under the shade of the trees and enjoy the sea breeze.

Other beaches that are equally fascinating in Terengganu are Pantai Air Tawar, Teluk Dalam, Pantai Batu Buruk, Chendering and Pulau Tenggol.

Firefly-watching

After the sun slowly sets, the mangroves on the riverbank come alive with the incandescent glow of thousands of fireflies. For as long as the residents of Kampong Ibok can remember, the fireflies have performed their joyous ritual but no one is certain why. As your sampan gently guides you down Sungai Yakyah, perhaps you will discover the answer to the ancient mystery of nature. Located about 20km from Awana Kijal Golf, Beach & Spa Resort, the best time to see this magnificent display of lights is on a dry evening from 8.00pm to midnight.

ISLANDS AND MARINE PARKS

Exotic and amazing islands like Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Kapas are the precious gems of Terengganu. They are rich in magnificent marine life, corals of rainbow hues and aquamarine seawater. These islands are also gazetted as marine parks. Include these precious tropical islands in your itinerary and be assured of a memorable holiday.

Other small wonders are Pulau Tenggol, Pulau Bedong and Pulau Gemia. Pulau Gemia is a privately owned island, which is reserved especially for guests of Gem Island Resort.

Pulau Redang Marine Park

Off the Terengganu coastline on the northeastern coast is the Redang Archipelago. It is made up of nine islands namely Pulau Redang (the largest), Pulau Pinang, Pulau Lima, Pulau Ekor Tebu, Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Perhentian Besar, Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Pulau Susu Dara and Pulau Kapas. This area has also been gazetted as a marine park and its brilliant underwater world is one of the best in Malaysia.

Pulau Redang is indeed one of Malaysia’s most idyllic islands. This tropical paradise offers pearly-white sandy beaches, sparkling clear seawater, lovely sunsets and a spectacular marine life. Its marvellous marine fishes, turtles and huge variety of coral reefs make it a wonderful diving spot and its coral species are some of the best in the world. The five famous dive sites in Redang are Tanjung Lang, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Gua Kawah, Pasir Panjang and Batu Mak Cantek. Apart from diving, beach lovers can also enjoy other activities like swimming, snorkelling, fishing, boating or sunbathing.

Pulau Perhentian is situated about 21km off the coast of Terengganu and comprises two islands – Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, golden sandy beaches, tall swaying palm trees and crystal blue water, it is an ideal swimming, wind surfing, sailing, boating and canoeing destination. It also boasts wonderful underwater treasures.

Coral Bay on Pulau Perhentian Kecil offers a marvellous view of the sunset. It is also a perfect paradise for nature lovers as there are paths available for exploration of the virgin tropical jungle. On the northern shore of Pulau Perhentian Besar lie three coved bays where most tourists visit for some turtle watching. It can be reached easily by speedboat.

Pulau Kapas is situated offshore about 30 minutes by boat from Marang, south of Kuala Terengganu. It is a lovely small island with beautiful, quiet and unspoiled sandy beaches; cool and clear blue waters, swaying coconut trees and caves with swallows’ nests. Its waters are home to beautiful marine life such as fish, turtles, corals and others. It is a great place for swimming, snorkelling, diving, wind surfing, kayaking, boating or just pure relaxation.

Other neighbouring splendours are Pulau Ekor Tebu, Pulau Pinang, Pulau Lima and Pulau Lang Tengah. These charming islands are also rich with marine treasures. Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will not want to miss these little wonders. Two historic shipwrecks, the H.M.S. Prince of Wales and H.M.S. Repulse were also discovered around the waters off Pulau Redang. It is believed that these ships sank during the early days of World War II.

Apart from sea sports and activities, nature lovers can also participate in jungle trekking or hiking, as most of these islands have interesting forestry treasures to offer. Explore the abundance of flora and fauna within these forests. There are over 100 species of plants that have healing values and a few rare orchid species.

Meanwhile, Pulau Pinang has a visitors’ centre that houses an exhibition room, an audio-visual room, a research lab, turtle touch pools and chalets.

WATERFALLS

The Sekayu Waterfalls offers a magnificent view of seven cascades surrounded a by lush forest. It is a favourite among visitors and locals alike. Facilities like chalets, changing rooms, rest houses and gazebos are available. It is located within the Sekayu Recreation Forest in Kuala Berang and is a 45-minute drive from Kuala Terengganu.

To add some adventure to your holiday, pay a visit to the Sungai Ceralak Waterfalls, which comprises two waterfalls – Jeram Solo and Jeram Padang. The adventure begins as soon as you embark on your journey. It involves a boat ride from Kuala Jengai to Kuala Sungai Ceralak, a jungle hike and crossing Sungai Ceralak itself. Upon arrival at the site, you will be greeted by the scenic view of the waterfalls surrounded by pretty blooms and trees.

RECREATIONAL FORESTS

Sekayu Recreational Forest

Located at Kuala Berang, about 60km southwest of Kuala Terengganu, Sekayu’s attractions are the lush jungle-clad hills, a fruit orchard, a mini zoo, a bird park and a flower garden surrounded by a waterfall. There are also facilities like shelters, a rest house and chalets. It is a must-visit for nature fans.

Pelagat Forest Reserve

This forest reserve is located in Besut, 70km northwest of Kuala Terengganu. Adventure lovers can indulge in trekking, canoeing and swimming at the Lata Tembakah Waterfalls area.

Kuala Terengganu

Kuala Terengganu is the state capital, which is located on the banks of the Terengganu River. It has a blend of old and new buildings. The town moves in a relaxing pace and stands as a reminder of old times.

The Waterfront

There is a port here where fishermen go to sea and where fish is also traded at a bazaar. Take a boat ride from here and visit the surrounding islands, or board a passenger boat to Seberang Takir where the most beautiful view of the South China Sea can be enjoyed.

Pulau Duyong

Take a ferry ride from the waterfront to Pulau Duyong, the island that is renowned as the home of Malaysia’s best boat builders. Be amazed at the unique craftsmanship these men practice, which, unfortunately, is an art on the verge of extinction. This place is also known for seafood-related products like salted fish and fish crackers.

Bukit Puteri

This 200-metre high historical hill was the state’s fortress against enemy attacks between 1831 and 1876. Today, the only remains of the fort are cannons, a flagpole, a large bell and a lighthouse. Witness a breathtaking view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill.

Istana Maziah

A palace of splendid architecture that is modern and traditional. It was constructed during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Located near Bukit Puteri, it is the venue for royal weddings, birthdays, conferment of titles and receptions for local and foreign dignitaries.

Terengganu State Museum Complex

Several museums are housed in this complex situated at the end of Jalan Losong and it is said to be the largest in Southeast Asia. It is home to the Main Museum, a Fisheries Museum, a Maritime Museum, four traditional palaces, and a botanical and herbal garden. The Main Museum was built on 16 stilts and has 10 galleries.

Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque

This mosque was constructed with stilts on an open sandy area with water flowing underneath, which also makes it known as a floating mosque. A fantastic masterpiece incorporating Moorish architecture with a modern touch to it, the mosque is especially a beautiful sight at night.

LA Hot Springs

Located in Besut, the LA Hot Springs is a famous recreational spot. Its sulphur-rich water has healing properties, which is said to be beneficial for those suffering from skin ailments. Even if you do not suffer from any ailment, get in just to feel relaxed and refreshed.

FISHING VILLAGES

Explore some fishing villages not far from Kuala Terengganu, namely Marang, Kampung Marang, Chendering and Kijal. They are located just about 30 minutes’ drive from the town centre. Visitors will be welcomed to the villages by the sight of lovely coconut trees and cool sea breezes.

AGROTOURISM ATTRACTIONS

Setiu Peladang Recreational Area

A tropical rainforest, a river, caves, waterfalls and flora and fauna occupy the natural and serene surroundings here. This is an ideal park to explore nature as the trees and plants are labelled. Juicy fruits such as duku, cempedak, durian, rambai and rambutan can also be found here. The seeds of flowers and fruits can also be bought at affordable prices if you to wish to take some home with you. Others activities here are jungle trekking, mountain climbing, bird watching and fishing. Hostels and chalets are also available.

SHOPPING

The Central Market, or Pasar Payang, as it is known locally, is located by the Terengganu River. It is a favourite destination of tourists as this modern building that comprises a wet market and a shopping arcade sells interesting local handicrafts like batik, brassware, brocade and songket, alongside fresh local produce like fruits, vegetables and fish. Grab a packet or two of the local delicacy Keropok Lekor, crackers made from a mixture of fish and sago.

Sutera Semai Centre (Silk Weaving Centre)

Located about six kilometres from the town centre is Malaysia’s pioneer silk weaving centre. Beautiful, brightly coloured woven silk cloth, brocades and batik are sold here. They make lovely souvenirs for your friends and family or as a purchase to add to your collection. Apart from shopping, visitors can witness the different stages of silk production and the exquisite art of batik painting.

Malaysian Handicraft Centre

Also located about six kilometres from Kuala Terengganu, this centre offers visitors a wide range of Malaysian handicraft to choose from. Some of the famous and exquisite items are songket, batik, vases, mats, hats, wallets and bags made from Pandanus leaves.

Negeri Sembilan

As a result, a fight ensued between a bull representing Sumatrans and a tiger signifying the Javanese. The bull miraculously defeated the ferocious tiger, which accredited the victors the title of Minangkabau, which means ‘Victorious Bulls’.

Later during the 16th century, these Minangkabau migrated to Peninsular Malaysia. They brought with them the cultural and social system called Adat Perpatih, which is a matrilineal system that dictates women as the leaders of society and inheritances are passed down to daughters, not sons. Also evident around the state is the horn-roof style of architecture typical of the predominant ‘bull’ element of the Minangkabau. Geographically, the state covers a large mass from sandy seaside hotspots to tranquil kampung-style districts.

GETTING THERE

Seremban is only 60km north of Kuala Lumpur and is a mere 30 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Taxis and buses go to all parts of the state. The main bus-cum-taxi terminal is at Jalan Sungai Ujung, Seremban. Taxi services also link Seremban to other major towns around the peninsula.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

SEREMBAN

Only 35 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) via the North-South Expressway (NSE), the capital could be your first stop off the plane. Also the administrative centre of the state, Seremban is a quaint district with many Minangkabau-inspired buildings.

State Legislative Assembly Building

Housed within the Wisma Negeri Complex, the building is an important government building fashioned in the traditional styles of the Minangkabau. The eight-pointed roof emulates the horns of the buffalo while the elegantly carved wood panels, interiors and furniture of the main chamber complement the traditional exterior, which is closely linked to the Pagarruyung Palace in Sumatra.

Negeri Sembilan State Museum/Complex Centre

A restored palace, the once magnificent Istana Ampang Tinggi is today the State Museum as well as the Cultural Complex. Located at Jalan Labu within the Cultural Handicraft Complex, these edifices are the epicentres of Negeri Sembilan’s socio-cultural heritage. Comprising three main buildings, they are the Teratak Perpatih, the Ampang Tinggi Palace and the Minangkabau House. Teratak Perpatih features exhibits like artefacts, handicrafts, traditional clothes, woodcarvings and photographs. Next to the museum is the authentic Minangkabau House where visitors may roam and learn in greater detail the state’s history and culture. The tourist information centre is also here.

Seremban Lake Gardens

The Lake Gardens is a popular spot among visitors. It has something for everyone – from jogging paths for the health conscious to two lakes with boating activities for families and playgrounds for children. Cultural shows are also often organised on a floating stage here.

State Library

Not far from the Lake Gardens is the State Library. Once the State Secretariat Building, English architect D.B. Hubback built it in 1912. The structure is a poignant reminder of the country’s colonial period. Walls of back-to-back references comprising journals, photographs and other materials from the country’s post-Independence era occupy the library.

Jelita Ostrich Farm

This is an ideal setting for the world’s largest bird. Located along Jalan Pantai the farm was erected on a piece of grassland approximately nine kilometres from Seremban. Visitors may feed the ostriches here that roam freely. If you can gather the courage to ride one you will go home with an Ostrich Jockey certificate.

KUALA PILAH

The home district of the royal family of the Yang-Di-Pertuan Besar or ruler of the state until 1931, the Seri Menanti Palace is the district’s most significant edifice. About 38km from Seremban, the district resonates with nobility and heritage with its bull-horned buildings. Due to the palace’s location within the district, it is also known as the Abode of Culture. It is definitely worth a stopover.

Seri Menanti Grand Palace

The official residence of the ruler, this modern palace sits just 200 metres from the old Seri Menanti Palace. Built in 1933 the turret rises proudly amidst the rolling greenery of landscaped grounds. Located within the palace is the Balairong Seri or Throne Room where the ruler and his consort, the Tengku Ampuan hold audience. It is also the venue for all major state functions like swearing-ins and the pledging of allegiance by state leaders and clan chieftains.
The palace also houses regalia belonging to the royal family. The keris, spears, swords, umbrellas and other royal paraphernalia are permanently displayed here. Located nearby is the Royal Mausoleum where past rulers and members of the royal family are buried, including the first King of Malaysia, the late Tuanku Abdul Rahman and his consort.

Seri Menanti Royal Museum (Sri Menanti Old Palace)

An architectural wonder, this former palace was built without a single nail and put together entirely by wooden pegs. Built in 1908 based on traditional Minangkabau architecture it remains sturdy to this day. The structure incorporates 99 pillars, representing the 99 warriors who served at the palace. The palace is now a royal museum and is open to the public. Visitors can also take a horse-carriage ride to tour Sri Menanti or watch demonstrations of songket weaving.

Terachi Cultural Village

This cultural village is located at the junction of Seri Menanti. Here you can see Minangkabau culture and traditions at their best with dances, music and handicrafts to charm visitors

JELEBU

This district is renowned for its acres and acres of fruit orchards such as rambutans, mangosteen, mangoes and other local favourites.

Lata Kijang

Embedded within the dense forest of Jelebu, Lata Kijang is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Those wanting to venture here should be prepared for a narrow and steep ride. Along the way you will get to see an Orang Asli (indigenous people) settlement. After about an hour on foot, your bounty will be what Lata Kijang is all about – a 300-foot waterfall worthy of every mosquito bite along the way!

Port Dickson

Only 32km from Seremban, Port Dickson is the place to have fun in the sun. It beckons weekenders and tourists alike with its 18km of fine beaches dotted with accommodation ranging from international-class hotels to more affordable ones. Restaurants and quaint seaside food stalls are also common in this seaside haven. PD – as the locals affectionately call it – also has other attractions such as the Pasir Panjang Recreational Park, the Kuala Lukut Floating Fishing Deck, the Lukut Estuary Fishing Jetty, the Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse ( Cape Rachado) and the Pengkalan Kempas Historical Complex.

Pengkalan Kempas Historical Complex

A village along the Port Dickson-Melaka trunk road, Pengkalan Kempas is renowned for three effects: The Rudder, The Sword and The Spoon. These three megalithic stones were named after the shapes they resemble and stand erect next to the grave of Sheik Ahmad Majnun, a fearless local warrior who dared to go against Sultan Mansur Shah of Malacca. Dubbed the Living Stones they are said to glow at night.

REMBAU

Rembau is an area that is home to many superb attractions, not to mention the ever-present Minangkabau inspired buildings. A 30-minute drive from Seremban lies one of its attractions – the Pedas Wet World Resort, which features hot springs that fill the pools of the resort. Also in Rembau is the Sukabumi Village Resort. Revolving around eco-tourism, the resort was privately developed by residents in an attempt to preserve the delicate environment around it.

JEMPOL

A land rich in natural settings, Jempol is the place for the outdoors person. It is home to numerous beautiful recreational parks like the Serting Ulu Recreational Park and the De Bana Recreational Park. Jempol is also home to iconic Malay poet Tan Sri Zainal Abidin bin Ahmad, who contributed greatly to the country’s economic, political and social well-being. Nicknamed Pendita Za’ba (Learned Man), his house in Kampung Bukit Kerdas is now known as Teratak Za’ba. The district’s geographical terrain also makes it a perfect spot for extreme sports like motor-cross racing and canoeing up the rapids of the Serting River.

TAMPIN

Tampin is 49km from Seremban and borders Johor. In 1992, a railway station was constructed here to ease transportation problems between the two states. The Gemas Railway Station is still fully operational to this day.

NATURE’S PARADISE

Beaches

Port Dickson or PD is the most popular seaside retreat in Malaysia. Ideal for the perfect weekend getaway, the favourite stretches among locals are Purnama Beach, Cahaya Bulan Beach, Telok Kemang, Blue Lagoon and Taman Aman. Offering a panoramic view of the Straits of Malacca, the 137-year-old Rachado Lighthouse stands at Tanjung Tuan ( Cape Rachado).

Recreational Forests

Negeri Sembilan has many recreational parks and forests. The 1,240-metre Gunung Hantu ( Ghost Mountain) is a favourite among eco-tourists. Located along the Seremban-Kuala Pilah trunk road the Ulu Bendol Recreational Forest is truly a paradise within the Angsi Reserved Forest. The place has magnificent waterfalls, wildlife and priceless wood species such as Keruing and Meranti. Ideal for picnics, visitors can enjoy a swim, camping and also jungle trekking. Facilities like log cabins, camping sites, food stalls, souvenir outlets, a prayer room and children’s playground are also available. Other popular places to enjoy nature are the Lenggeng Recreational Forest at Lenggeng Village and the Serting Ulu Recreational Forest near Simpang Pertang.

SHOPPING

For a state as small as Negeri Sembilan, its capital Seremban is a hive of shopping activity with malls such as Seremban Parade, The Store, Parkson Grand, Terminal One Shopping Centre, Seremban Centre Point and Giant Hypermarket. Other places in Seremban that offer wholesome fun for the family are Holiday Planet and Golden Bowl.

EATING OUT

Negeri Sembilan is truly a pot of various cuisines. One of its most popular dishes is masak lemak lada api, a fiery serving not for the weak stomach. A combination of onions, turmeric, lemon grass and lada api (fiery chillies) simmered in coconut milk, this dish is eaten with rice and can be prepared with many types of fish like ikan semilang (catfish) and ikan pekasam (pickled fish) and white or red meats. Sambal tempoyak daun kayu contains no less than 44 types of spices and is a combination of various leaves cooked in thick and rich gravy. Commonly served in Malay homes during the festive periods, lemang is a dish made from glutinous rice packed in banana leaf-laced bamboo stems and cooked over a roaring open fire. It can be eaten plain or with the Malay version of a spicy beef goulash called rending. For sweet endings try the kesirat, a mixture of sugar, coconut milk, glutinous rice and coarse rice flour. Penganan is another dessert of sugar, coconut milk and glutinous rice flour.

Johor

The state offers exciting water sports and recreational facilities, pristine islands and beaches, a variety of mouth-watering local seafood, exotic fruits, colourful festivals, traditional practices and world-class golf resorts.

GETTING THERE

By Road and Rail : Johor Bahru is accessible via the North-South Expressway from the north passing through major towns including Kuala Lumpur. It takes about three-and-a-half to four hours to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru. You can also reach Johor Bahru by express bus. The service offers comfortable rides at reasonable prices from all major cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia.

By Air

Malaysia Airlines ( MAS) operates flights from Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Sultan Ismail Airport in Senai, 34km from Johor Bahru. Airport limousine services will take you to various places at fares controlled by the government. There are also scheduled airport coach services to Johor Bahru and Singapore.

By Sea

Ferry services are available from Changi Point in Singapore to Tanjung Belungkor near Desaru, the Stulang Duty Free Trade Zone Ferry Terminal near Johor Bahru or the Kukup Ferry Terminal.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Johor Bahru

The district of Johor Bahru, formerly known as Tanjung Puteri, is the administrative centre of the state government and the hub of business, transportation and entertainment.

Major logistic centres such as the Sultan Ismail Airport, the Johor Causeway, the Second Link, the Johor Bahru International Ferry Terminal (JBIFT), the Pasir Gudang Ferry Terminal, the main bus and taxi terminal, and the ports of Tanjung Pelepas and Pasir Gudang are located in this district. Johor Bahru also hosts several international events and is the home of numerous golf courses, some of fine international standards.

BEACHES AND ISLANDS

Mainland Beaches

Johor boasts of beautiful beaches, thanks in part to the fact that it is surrounded by water on three sides. The mainland beaches are accessible via modern roads either by bus or taxi. Most of these beaches are well-equipped with facilities such as car parks, restaurants, rest shades, benches, restrooms and accommodation. Equipment for boating, kayaking, jet skiing and wind surfing are also available for rent at selected beaches.

In the east coast of the Kota Tinggi district lies one of the most famous beaches in Johor, Desaru Beach. Dubbed as the ‘Last Unspoiled Corner of Southeast Asia’, you can find international class accommodation, facilities, activities and services here. Desaru offers a 26km stretch of pristine sandy beaches fringed with Casuarinas.

Other attractions such as historical relics, a fishermen’s museum, a firefly colony and fresh seafood are within a short drive from Desaru.

Other beautiful beaches in Kota Tinggi and their distance from Kota Tinggi town are as follows: Teluk Mahkota Beach (Jason Bay, about 38km); Teluk Endau Beach (about 49km); Tanjung Balay Beach (about 62km); Batu Layar Beach (about 71km), and Teluk Ramunia beach (about 76km).

Apart from Kota Tinggi, Mersing also boasts some of the finest beaches. Among them are Penyabong Beach, Air Papan Beach, Teluk Buih Beach, Tenglu Beach and Tanjung Leman Beach.

Other beaches in Johor are Stulang Laut Beach and Lido Beach (Johor Bahru), Rambah Beach (Pontian), Punggor and Minyak Beku Beaches (Batu Pahat). Lido Beach is a city beach for city dwellers to spend their evenings. Both the Punggor and Minyak Beku beaches are not suitable for swimming but ideal for enjoying the sea breeze.

ISLANDS

In addition to the mainland beaches, numerous enchanting islands off the coast of Johor also have their own golden beaches. With more than 50 islands in its waters, many of them are located in the north eastern district of Mersing.

These beautiful islands feature crystal clear waters and a diversity of marine life and magnificent coral reefs. They have been gazetted as marine parks and are perfect for diving, snorkelling and swimming. Visitors can also indulge in jungle trekking, island hopping or watching leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the beach.

The most developed of the group, Pulau Sibu, is famous for its clean white beaches, clear blue waters and beautiful coral reefs. Other islands here are Pulau Besar, Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Pemaggil, Pulau Aur and Pulau Tengah.

Another tropical paradise is Pulau Rawa. Situated in the east of Johor in South China Sea, it is a remote, white sandy beach with crystal clear waters and a rich marine life. This island is ‘untouched’ and therefore possesses unspoiled charm and tranquillity. Some of the most sought after water sports activities here include snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and canoeing. Located off Mersing, it is approximately three hours by road from Singapore, which explains why it is so popular among Singaporeans.

More other popular islands are Pulau Sibu Tengah, which is part of the Sibu group of islands that make up the southern cluster, and Pulau Besar, which is a hit with tourists for its long stretch of golden coastline.

Tanjung Balau Fishing Village

This east coast village near Desaru, about 98km from Johor Bahru, awaits visitors with its tranquillity amid natural splendour. The shores of the village were once upon a time lined with a type of hardwood tree called Aglaia Ordoratissma, which is locally known as Balau. Fishermen inhabited Tanjung Balau as early as the 18th century.

RETAINING JOHOR’S CULTURAL IDENTITY

Since its inception about 15 years ago, the Johor Heritage Foundation has been given the responsibility to preserve and ensure the perpetuity of the society’s cultural heritage. Its formation arose from the pledge that Johor’s historical, arts and cultural heritage would neither be dismissed nor be dissolved completely with the country’s dynamic and rapid development.

The Johor Heritage Foundation is authorised to execute research, investigation and study resources on the state’s historical relics, including its natural environment. The foundation has been delegated the task of accumulating, researching and preserving resources relevant to history and art.

Efforts to preserve the Johor Malay culture, arts and history are actively executed by the foundation. To ensure that the task and responsibilities are carried out effectively, four divisions have been established: the Museum Division, the Development of Arts and Culture Division, the Literary and Historical Division and the Administrative Division.

Zapin

The Zapin dance is one of the most popular, vibrant and distinctive dances in the history of Johor, the Malay Archipelago, the Malacca Sultanate and the Johor Rhio-Linggi Malay government. The art form is currently undergoing extensive research and progressive development, conducted by experts and capable choreographers from the foundation.

Ghazal

Ghazal is a musical genre that hailed from the Middle East and was adapted to suit the local culture. Like Zapin, the Ghazal Johor is shedding its anonymous past and is a vital aspect of the state’s heritage.

Keroncong

The Sultan of Johor is said to be the state’s biggest Keroncong fan. There are no less that 15 active Keroncong musical groups throughout Johor performing and participating in various state functions and activities – ensuring that the art stays alive.

Johor Art

Housed under the Johor Art Gallery at JKR 144, Jalan Petrie in Johor Bahru are large collections of art by well-known Johorean artists. Paintings by Dato’ Syed Ahmad Jamal, Siti Zaiton Ismail, Ponirin Amin, Sanip Lasman, Lee Liong Jo, Ismail Attan and other aspiring Johor artists are on display for viewing daily from 8.00am to 4.00pm (except Fridays).

History of Johor Capitals

Located in the historical town of Kota Tinggi is the Kota Tinggi Museum. Managed by the Johor Heritage Foundation, the museum is home to artefacts, relics, historical facts and anecdotes on past Johor sultanates, capitals and early encounters with the Portuguese, Dutch, Achehnese and other regional powers from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINDS

Ongoing excavations, conservation and other archaeological research works are being executed along the banks of Sungai Johor. For 185 years (1533-1718), the river and its banks were predominantly strategic for capitals and government of the Johor Sultanate. Historical remains of this once glorious kingdom – forts and defensive walls, palace ground sites and tombs of sultans and dignitaries – are some of the attractions here.

DOCUMENTATION

The Johor Heritage Foundation Documentation Centre has in its collection numerous documents, materials, publications (books, bulletins and journals), videos, CDs, VCDs, manuscripts and photographs on Johor’s culture, arts, history, literature and others. The centre is open daily on working days from 8.30am to 4.00pm.

PUBLICATIONS

Through its research and publication unit, the Johor Heritage Foundation publishes books, journals and bulletins. Numerous topics on Johor (in Malay) ranging from archaeological findings to history, literature, culture, arts and education are available at the foundation.

NATURE AND PARKS

Johor is a state rich in its natural heritage. Its diverse flora and fauna include forests, waterfalls, hot springs and firefly havens. The state has several sites that have been declared national parks. These include the lowland forest of Endau Rompin National Park (Mersing district), the legendary Gunung Ledang (Muar) and the swampy wetland sanctuary of Pulau Kukup (Pontian).

Endau-Rompin National Park

The national park spans across the borders of two states – Johor and Pahang, with a combined area of 92,000 ha. It is one of the oldest rainforests in the world with rock formations dating back more than 248 million years. Among the many attractions here are endemic plants, more than 50 different types of animals, over 230 species of birds and 40 species of fishes. Enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of the 120-metre high Buaya Sangkut waterfall, and be guided through the lush park by Orang Asli.

Gunung Ledang

Known as Mount Ophir to the British, Gunung Ledang is the highest mountain in Johor. According to folklore, it was the home of Puteri Gunung Ledang, a princess who once captivated the heart of the Sultan of Malacca during the 15th century but turned down his proposal for marriage by setting impossible demands. She demanded a golden bridge linking the Sultan’s palace in Malacca to the mountain, jars of women’s tears, seven trays of mosquitoes’ hearts and seven bowls of blood from the Sultan’s prince.

There are trails that lead to the summit of this mountain and at its base is the Sagil Waterfall, a popular spot for picnickers. Gunung Ledang is the perfect place for nature lovers, bird watchers, jungle trekkers and picnickers. Activities here are nature-based, thus suitable for the adventurous. There are a few options to choose from depending on one’s level of fitness. Other activities are night trekking, archery and mountain biking. Camping is also very popular here. Campsites are available along the trail uphill to Gunung Ledang.

Visitors can also visit the Gunung Ledang Recreation Forest, an eight-hectare forest reserved as a sanctuary and a water-catchment area with four waterfalls. A popular spot for picnics, this park is also a favourite venue for seminars and work camps. The adventurous can trek up to Gunung Pulai, which is about 700 metres above sea level.

Other recreational forests in Johor are Soga Perdana (Batu Pahat), about 131km from Johor Bahru and five kilometres from Batu Pahat town; Sungai Bantang (Segamat), 80km from Segamat town; Gunung Arong (Mersing), about 17km from Mersing and 22km from Endau along the Mersing-Endau road; Gunung Lambak (Kluang), about five kilometres from Kluang and 115 km from Johor Bahru; Gunung Belumut (Kluang) about 32km from Kluang and 139km from Johor Bahru, to name a few.

AGRO-TOURISM

Agro-tourism in Johor showcases the state’s agricultural wonders, including the world’s largest Arowana aquaculture farm, the second biggest orchid farm, a unique hybrid of pineapples and a rare species of the mixed breed wild ox and domestic cow called Selembu. Other agro-tourism attractions here are herb and spice farms, lowland tea plantations, ostrich farms and numerous fruit orchards.

There are several agro-tourism spots in Johor. At the foot of Gunung Pulai is the Seri Gunung Pulai Agro-tourism Village. Besides swimming, visitors can also savour the delicious local fruits here. You will also get the chance to tap rubber trees, pluck mushrooms and cast fishing net into the pond.

In Batu Pahat, there are two agro-tourism villages. They are the Kangkar Merlimau Agro-tourism and Parit Kuari Agro-tourism Villages. The former has many durian trees and also other fruits. Orchid farming is also a popular activity here. As for Parit Kuari Agro-tourism Village, it is famous for its snacks. You can find a variety of chips, crackers and traditional cakes produced from agricultural products.

HOME STAY PROGRAMMES

Experience village living through a home stay programme, where you will stay with a village family in a designated kampung. Participants are treated as guests of the family and are encouraged to take part in village events.

CULTURES AND FESTIVALS

Cultures

Visitors are often fascinated by the cultural diversity of Johor. The richness of its culture can be seen in the traditional dresses, customs, beliefs, festivals, dances and pastimes. Aside from the traditional Malay dances like Zapin, the Chinese often indulge in dragon and lion dances where deafening drumbeats are used to drive away evil and to foster good fortune.

FOOD AND FRUITS

The ethnic diversity of Johor has produced a wonderfully appetising blend of culinary delights. You can head towards specialty restaurants or luxury hotels for fine dining, or make you way to the nearest food stall to sample delightful local fare.
Johor is dotted with hawker venues throughout the state. These give you the thrill of sampling fabulous cuisines from Indian to Chinese and from Malay to western food. Vegetarian food is also easily available in major towns.

Tropical fruits like watermelon, rambutan, papaya, banana, star fruit, mangoes, mangosteen and guava are found in abundance in Johor. The durian, dubbed ‘The King of Fruits’, and Josapine, a unique hybrid of pineapple, are not to be missed.

SPORTS & RECREATION

There are a variety of sports that are played in Johor. As the state is surrounded by water on three sides, water sports are particularly popular. Activities like diving, wind surfing, boating, canoeing, snorkelling and fishing often attract locals and overseas tourists as well as athletes.
Scuba diving enthusiasts should head for the marine park designated islands like Pulau Rawa, Pulau Besar, Pulau Hujung, Pulau Sibu Tengah, Pulau Pemaggil, Pulau Aur and Pulau Dayang. These sites have many species of corals to be admired.

The Johor Racing Circuit is a world-class venue for international racing events. It has hosted the World Super bike Series and various local races. Other sporting events include bird watching, horse rising, jungle trekking, golfing, mountain climbing, kite flying and off-road driving.

SIGHTSEEING AND ENTERTAINMENT

Sightseeing in Johor can mean gallivanting in the exciting metropolitan or sauntering in the serene forests. Interesting sights in the city include the Sultan Ibrahim Building, Istana Besar, the Royal Abu Bakar Museum and the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque.

Constructed in the 1940s, the Sultan Ibrahim Building is located on Bukit Timbalan. The Japanese army used it during World War II in their final assault on Singapore. Today, the building serves as the main office building of the state and houses the state secretariat.

On the nature side, travellers usually love to visit the Endau-Rompin National Park, Gunung Ledang and Tanjung Piai (famous for its mangrove swamplands).

SHOPPING

Johor Bahru is a shopping haven for travellers, especially those from Singapore. Shopping in Johor allows you to feast your eyes on famous local and international designer merchandise, souvenirs and antiques. Visitors usually throng hypermarkets, shopping malls and supermarkets but you would not want to miss the grand bargains at open-air bazaars and the night and farmer markets.

Looking to take a piece of Johor home? The state is renowned for its batik, songket, local paintings, pewter, ceramic and copper wares, traditional herbal products and traditional Malay musical instruments.

Ipoh

The name Ipoh originated from a local tree, pohon epu or now more commonly known as pokok ipoh. This particular plant is known for its tree sap which is poisonous and used by the orang asli in their blowdarts.

In the Cantonese dialect, Ipoh is known as san seng which means “city surrounded by mountains.” Ipoh is also known among Chinese Malaysians as ‘Pa-loh’. The old nickname for Ipoh is ‘City of Millionaires’, referring to the vast fortunes made during the tin and rubber days. Located in the rich tin-bearing valley of the Kinta river, Ipoh grew up as a mining town and is one of Malaysia’s largest cities, with a population of 637,200 (2004) and urban area population of 798,800 (2004).

Ipoh is famous for its cuisine. Natives claim that Ipoh’s water, relatively high in alkali content owing to Ipoh’s location on top of a large karstic formation, makes the food especially tasty. Many people, some even from Singapore and other nearby countries, travel to this city just to taste its especially excellent local cuisine. Also worth a visit are the limestone cave temples on its outskirts.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Perak Tong

Near Gunung Tasek, 6 km north of Ipoh on the main trunk road, there are some huge limestone caves which were places of meditation for Buddhist monks two centuries ago. The Perak Tong Temple within one of the caves leads to caverns and grottoes with statues and paintings of the Buddha set in nooks. The main attraction is a 12.8m-high sitting Buddha which is the tallest and largest of its kind in Malaysia . A passage leads into the cave’s interior, and after a steep climb of 385 steps, it opens onto a ledge, which gives a fantastic view of the countryside. Also here is a café that serves excellent vegetarian food.

Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple

Another famous cave-temple is the Sam Poh Tong Temple (Cavern of Three Precious) in Gunung Rapat, 5 km south of Ipoh. The temple is an impressive work of art with various statues of Buddha set among the natural stalactites and stalagmites. A Chinese symbol of longevity, tortoises are in kept in a pond in the inner courtyard. Devotees release tortoises into the pond wishing for luck and longevity, and the pond is invariably crowded. The tortoises can be fed with stalks of vegetables. There is also a wishing well for those seeking better fortunes. An ornamental garden in front of the temple is a a great place for taking photos. There is a vegetarian restaurant within the temple grounds.

Mekprasit Temple

The Mekprasit Temple is a Thai Buddhist temple located about 3km north of Ipoh along Jalan Kuala Kangsar on the main trunk road to Taiping. The highlight of the temple is a 24m-long reclining Buddha, which is one of the largest in Malaysia.

Ipoh Railway Station and City Hall

Constructed between 1914 and 1917, the station is affectionately known as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh to the locals. Situated near Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab it bears a resemblance to its Kuala Lumpur counterpart, and combines Moorish and Victorian architecture. Its charm and design recently earned it to be one of the locations for the filming of the Hollywood remake of Anna and the King staring Jodie Foster. Also here is one of the best station hotels in the country known as the Majestic Hotel. Just across from the railway station is the Dewan Bandaraya (City Hall), a huge, white, neo-classical building. Both of these buildings bear testimony to Ipoh ‘s great wealth, originally from tin mining.

State Mosque

Opposite the Railway Station is the State Mosque. An architectural masterpiece, the State Mosque has a 38m high minaret. Thousands of mosaic tiles adorn the domes.

Darul Ridzuan Museum

Built more than 100 years ago, the Darul Ridzuan Museum was previously the official residence for Malay dignitaries in the Kinta District. The collections here include those that chronicled the development of Ipoh, the mining industry and forestry.The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm except on Thursday when it is open till 12noon and is closed on Sundays. Admission is free.

Geological Museum

Established in 1957, the Geological Museum has an impressive collection of minerals, fossils, precious stones and rock specimens. There are 600 samples of minerals, classified according to chemical content and structure. The museum is also noted for its exhibition of tin ore, including the best existing specimen of cassiterite. Visiting hours are from 8.00 am to 4.15 pm (Monday-Friday) and 8.00am to 12.45pm (Saturday). Admission is free but visitors must obtain entry permission from the information counter.

Dewan Bandaraya Ipoh Sports Complex

The Dewan Bandaraya Ipoh Sports Complex is the largest of its kind in South-east Asia. It has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a beginner’s pool, a children’s pool, a wave pool, a rugby pitch, a velodrome, an astro-turf hockey field, and indoor squash and badminton courts.

Kellie’s Castle

Forty kilometers south of Ipoh, on the road leading to Batu Gajah, looms Kellie’s Castle, an unfinished mansion commissioned in 1915 by William Kellie Smith. In the middle of its construction, Smith left for England where he died, and the castle was never completed. Shrouded in mystery, it is believed that Kellie’s Castle has hidden rooms and a secret tunnel. The road which leads to the Castle follows the contours of the land in a dizzying, maze-like fashion, adding to the mystery and romance of the place.

St. Michael’s Institution

Ipoh has provided the country with a good share of scholars and international achievers. One of the most imposing is St. Michael’s Institution, a solid three-storey building with long hallways and arched verandas.

Pasir Salak Historical Complex

Situated 70 km from Ipoh , Pasir Salak is of special importance in the historical development of Malaysia as an independent nation. It was here that the original flames of Malay nationalism were sparked. The assassination of the then British Resident of Perak, J.W.W. Birch, ignited a war between the British colonial administration and the Malays.

The Historical Complex pays tribute to warriors such as Dato’ Maharaja Lela, Dato’ Sagor and Si Puntum by erecting special memorials in their honour. Other interesting sights include Mr. Birch’s memorial monument, the burial site of Si Puntum, Dato’ Maharaja Lela’s fortress, the Lela Tentaka cannons used against the British army, a souvenir shop, as well as an information centre.

The Perak Museum

Located along Jalan Museum, the Perak Museum was built in 1883. The country’s oldest museum has displays on zoology, pre-history, economy and ethnology. It contains an impressive collection of archeological treasures like ancient weapons, aboriginal implements and ornaments which reflect Perak’s rich historical heritage. The Museum visiting hours are from 9.30am to 5.00pm daily. Admission is free.

Kedah

Kedah

The Funan Kingdom of Vietnam, the Sumatran Kingdom of Sri Vijaya, the Thais, the Portuguese, the Achenese and the British also occupied Kedah.

The oldest civilization in Peninsular Malaysia is the land of padi fields, Kedah. One of the most appealing northern states, Kedah mirrors the quintessential Malay persona and offers visitors a glimpse into interesting people and mind-boggling attractions. Lembah Bujang in the state of Kedah contains the remains of the Langkasuka Kingdom believed to date back to the fifth century. The Funan Kingdom of Vietnam, the Sumatran Kingdom of Sri Vijaya, the Thais, the Portuguese, the Achenese and the British also occupied Kedah.

Kedah is the most interesting states you will visit. It covers an area of 9,425 sq km and has an interesting landscape as it has miles upon miles of lush green padi fields, which are only occasionally interrupted by huge limestone outcrops. The state also has its share of rich cultural traditions, songs and dances. Its capital, Alor Setar is a treasure filled with historical royal buildings of impressive architecture that date as far back as 200 years.

GETTING THERE

Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia offer daily return flights between Alor Setar and Kuala Lumpur via Penang or Kota Bahru. Trains from various towns to Alor Setar are also available along the north-south track. Likewise, you can hop into a bus or taxi to Alor Setar from most parts of the country. If you wish to drive, the North-South Expressway (NSE) is a safe and convenient route to take. You can break at rest stops along the way to use the restrooms or prayer rooms. A number of food stalls also serve food and drinks. The highway links Kuala Lumpur to Bukit Kayu Hitam-Hutan Kampung toll plaza over a distance of 490.4km and 458.2km to Alor Setar, which translates to about five hours’ drive.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS – NATURE’S PARADISE

Pantai Merdeka

Pantai Merdeka (Merdeka Beach) is located in Kuala Muda, 30km from Sungai Petani and 40km from Butterworth. It is a beautiful white sandy beach with tall palm trees and spots for picnics and relaxation. Water skiing and sailing are popular sports here. You can also visit nearby islands like Pulau Bidan, Pulau Telur and Pulau Song by boat. A cave with historical artefacts lies near the beach.

Waterfalls

Kedah’s waterfalls make lovely picnic spots amidst greenery and clear, crisp mountain air. Among the well known waterfalls are Batu Hampar in Yan (32km south of Alor Setar), Puncak Janing (25km northeast of Alor Setar in the Padang Terap district), the Junjung Waterfalls in Kulim and Lata Mengkuang (Menkuang Rapids) in Sik, about 72km north of Alor Setar.

Pedu Lake

Pedu Lake is an eco-tourist destination located 80km from Alor Setar. There are comfortable village-style accommodations of good standard here with skiing, canoeing and wind surfing among the most popular activities you can take up. Bird watching and fishing are also popular, as is spotting bears, elephants, deer and wild boar. Golfers will love it here too, as there is an 18-hole course.

Gunung Jerai

Rising 1,200 metres above sea level, Gunung Jerai is a huge limestone outcrop and Kedah’s highest peak. It features calm surroundings and a magnificent view of Kedah from its peak on clear days.

Taman Rekreasi Gunung Keriang

The Gunung Keriang Recreational Park is a natural habitat for hundreds of tree and plants species. It offers a wonderful panoramic view and adventure activities like jungle trekking, camping, jungle jogs and caving.

Bukit Hijau Recreational Forest

Located in Baling, 120km southeast of Alor Setar, this park offers a wide variety of flora and fauna. Elephants, tigers, tapirs, barking dears, grey long-tailed monkeys, squirrels, birds and wild fowls are among its residents. It is also famous for its seven-tier crystal waterfall. The forest won an award in a landscaping competition under the category of agriculture and forestry in 1997. It is classified as an Educational and Research Forest and there is also a Virgin Jungle Reserve nearby.

Alor Setar

A town that is rich in interesting histories and culture. It is also a place to see the marvels of local and regional architecture, as there are many magnificent old buildings here.

Balai Nobat

This octagonal building houses the sacred instruments of the Royal Orchestra, which are played only during royal ceremonies. Though it is closed to the public, you can take pictures of the building from the outside.

Balai Besar

This is one of the oldest palaces in Malaysia. It is a wooden edifice embodying Thai architecture. It houses the royal throne of the Kedah Sultanate. These days, this great hall is frequently used for royal and state ceremonies.

Muzium Diraja

Muzium Diraja or the Royal Museum is located right opposite Balai Besar. It was used for royal wedding ceremonies and to house royal guests at one time but is today a museum of royal regalia and cultural heritage.

Masjid Zahir

This mosque was officially opened in 1912 and like many places of worship of the time, was inspired by Moorish architecture. A Quran-reading competition is held here annually.

Balai Seni Negeri

Located close to Masjid Zahir, Balai Seni Negeri or the State Art Gallery houses paintings, antiques and relics.

Royal Boat House

Situated near the banks of Sungai Anak Bukit, the Royal Boat House contains several boats used by the former rulers of Kedah. The boats are still in very good condition. Descriptions of their origins and usage are well placed here.

Pekan Rabu

Pekan Rabu (which literally means Wednesday Market) originally got its name because it used to be held only on Wednesdays. These days, it is open everyday from morning to midnight. The stalls offer lots of variety from farm fresh products to local handicrafts. You can also sample local delicacies like dodol durian, a sweet delicacy made from the durian fruit, and other Malay titbits.

Menara Alor Star

The 19th tallest telecommunications tower in the world and also the 2 nd tallest in Malaysia stands proudly at 165.5 metres. This towering landmark is also major tourist attraction and a recreational centre for arts and cultural activities. It has a revolving restaurant, an amphitheatre, a conference room, a viewing gallery and a cafeteria (on the ground floor). Binoculars are available at the viewing gallery (observation area) located on the 88-metre level, where visitors can enjoy a panoramic bird’s eye view of the beautiful Kedah countryside scenery. Dining at the tower’s revolving restaurant is a pleasant experience and you can also pay your phone bills at the Kedai Telekom there.

Nikradharam Buddhist Temple

This temple was inspired by Siamese architecture. It is decorated with statues, painting and colourful mosaics. A golden Garuda is suspended over the main entrance while the outer walls contain inscriptions of Buddha’s teachings in three languages.

Muzium Negeri

The State Museum is situated at Lebuhraya Darulaman. The museum has three floors filled with antique weapons, jewellery, costumes and furniture.

Birth House of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Malaysia ’s former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was born in this house at 18 Lorong Kilang Ais, off Jalan Pegawai. The National Archives restored and gazetted the house as a historical building in 1992. Photographs, furniture, household items and even his favourite bicycle are displayed here.

Kuala Kedah

Kuala Kedah is located at the mouth of the Kedah River. Kota Kuala Kedah is a fort on the outskirts of the town, which was built to ward off Kedah’s enemies from then Siam. When you are here, you must try the famous local favourite, laksa. It is a dish of rice vermicelli, fresh cucumbers and onions served in spicy fish gravy. Another attraction here is the two floating seafood restaurants that were once fishing vessels.

Bukit Kayu Hitam

The main tourist attraction here is the duty-free shopping complex. It is housed in a modern three-storey building with over 5,000 sq meters of retail space and ample car parks, near a stall. Visitors can also dine at the fine restaurants or try their hand at golfing at the Black Forest Duty Free Resort here.

Lembah Bujang Archaeological Site

Lembah Bujang is considered Malaysia’s richest archaeological site. It stretches between Gunung Jerai in the north and Sungai Muda in the south. More than 50 Hindu and Buddhist temples were discovered along the Bujang River and to date, eight have been restored to their original structure using original materials. The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum in Pengkalan Bujang, Merbok displays numerous artefacts, stone caskets, gemstones, beads and photographs. This site is not to be missed by visitors who are fans of history and archaeology.