Malaysia’s Ultimate Adventure

Malaysia’s Ultimate Adventure

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Description

Take the ultimate adventure through Malaysia, from the sun-kissed Perhentian Islands to Mt Kinabalu’s unmistakable peak. Whether it’s soaking up Penang’s sun or soaking in Poring’s hot springs, this trip will tickle all your fancies, especially when it comes to food and fauna. Discover the gastronomical delights of Penang’s street-food stalls then meet Sabah’s orangutans and turtles, all while learning the fascinating history of this country during this 26-day adventure.

Trip Name
Malaysia's Ultimate Adventure
Last Updated
2019-09-11
Days
26
Capacity
16
Highlights
  • Spend time with a local family at a homestay, an authentic local experience that gives a real insight into village culture
  • Pedal out to the rice fields around Kota Aur and learn all about how local coconuts are harvested
  • Walk through the historic shophouse lined streets of Georgetown, mixed in contemporary art galleries and boutiques, traditional temples and churches, and modern street art that all influence the vibrant cultural hub of Penang
  • Experience next-level vistas from the top of Mt Kinabalu climb on a two-day climb that will really get the heart pumping
  • Witness nature at its most beautiful with a night on Turtle island, watching mother turtles come ashore to lay their eggs
  • Cruise down the Kinabatangan river and search for wildlife in this rich and unique ecosystem
  • Snorkel the turquoise seas around the Perhentian Islands, a paradise of unspoiled forests and white sands

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. PASSPORT DETAILS Please provide passport details at the time of booking. If we have not received these details at least a 45 days before the departure date of your tour, there is a risk the internal flight (if included on your tour) cannot be booked, and we will not be able to request permits to climb Mt Kinabalu. If you do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu you can opt to stay the night at the base of the mountain and meet the group the following day when they descend. Please ensure you advise your sales agent at time of booking if you wish to opt out of the climb. Please note due to limited availability there may be an additional charge to book this alternative accommodation. The additional charge will be confirmed to you upon your booking request being confirmed and will be collected locally by your leader on day one. Please note any additional activities you choose to do during this time will be at your own expense and can be organised locally, Some include: 1. Guide hire - approx 100MYR - You can hire a guide and walk some of the many trails located at the base of the mountain. 2. Sabah Tea Plantation - approx 80MYR - Visit a tea plantation (approx 20 mins drive), cost only included transfers to and from the plantation www.sabahtea.net 3. Mt Kinabalu Garden - approx 15MYR entry fee - Free guided tour of the gardens 4. War Memorials - approx 40MYR - visit the surrounding war memorials, cost only includes transport.

Day 1 - Kuala Lumpur
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, get out and get a taste for Kuala Lumpur, the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia (affectionately known as 'KL'). Grab a map and talk to the hotel staff about things to do. The markets of Chinatown, exceptional Indian food and traditional Malay arts make up a large part of the city's essence. Your evening is best spent at the night market sampling the many different cuisines on offer and bargain hunting at the many stalls.
Day 2 - Melaka
This morning walk to your shuttle bus (approximately 10 mins), and transfer to the local bus station (approximately 30 mins). Board a local bus to the old port town of Melaka (approximately 2.5 hours). On arrival into Melaka take a minibus to your hotel in downtown Malaka (20 mins). A former colonial outpost, this town retains a distinctive old-world charm that makes it a delight to visit. Travelling by trishaw in the local style, you will take a tour of the town, cruising through the narrow, winding streets to get a taste of old Melaka and learn about the ancient spice trade the town is known for. Along the way you will pay a visit to Harmony Street, an aptly named strip of mosques and temples that exudes a tranquil air. You will also check out a mosque, a variety of Chinese Buddhist temples and a traditional Muslim house-museum.
Day 3 - Taman Negara National Park
Early this morning you will embark on a full day's travel by private minibus to the ancient rainforest of Taman Negara National Park (approximately 6 hours). This vast natural beauty is believed to be the oldest rainforest in the world, dating back some 130 million years. It's home to an incredible variety of wildlife, from elephants and monkeys to exotic birds such as the elusive Malaysian rail-babbler and the easily recognisable hornbill. The park also boasts one of the highest diversities of trees on the planet.
Day 4 - Taman Negara National Park
Experience the jungle from a monkey's point of view on a canopy walk that will take you high up in the trees. Following the walk, those seeking additional challenges can take the time to explore Bukit Teresek. This trail is rigorous but rewarding, offering some world-class birdwatching and some amazing panoramic views from the top. Afterwards you will head upstream (approximately 1 hour) on a longtail boat on the low-level rapids. There will be plenty of time to relax by the river amid the lush jungle surrounds before returning to the accommodation for the evening.
Day 5 - Taman Negara National Park
Meet your local guide and head off into the jungle for a challenging but rewarding trek (approximately 2 hours). This is the ultimate way to experience this pristine rainforest. As well as spotting wildlife, you'll be able to learn more about the plants and flowers and some of their traditional medicinal uses. While your journey only lasts a few hours, you'll be walking through primary and secondary jungle, so be prepared to sweat! The walk can be challenging, with some time spent on boardwalks and some time spent on trails that can get quite slippery and muddy. You will need to navigate over many tree roots that cross the trail and we recommend bringing leech socks as leeches are very common on this trail. The humidity can also affect even the fittest trekker so take plenty of water with you on this day. At the end of your trek you will arrive at the Tahan River where there's plenty of time to relax by the river. After lunch, the adventurous can continue walking 30 minutes to the cascades further upstream before it's time to head back down the Tahan River in a small dugout canoe.
Day 6 - Perhentian Islands
Take a private bus to Kuala Besut (approximately 6–7 hours). Here you will take a fun boat ride over crystal-clear waters to the sun-kissed beaches of the Perhentian Islands (approximately 45 minutes). Located off the east coast of Malaysia, the Perhentians are some of the most beautiful islands in the world, with unspoiled reefs and pure white sand. This will be well worth the long drive today!
Day 7 - Perhentian Islands
Enjoy a leisurely half-day snorkelling trip in these turquoise waters. You'll be among beautiful coral and an impressive array of tropical fish. See how many different varieties you can spot. It's worth keeping an eye open for the rarer beauties too – green turtles and, if you are lucky, maybe even a reef shark or two.
Day 8 - Perhentian Islands
Indulge in this divine coastal spot in your free time today. You can do some more snorkelling, laze and swim in the water near the shore, trek into the inland jungle, explore the nearby islands or simply lie in a hammock with a good book. And don't miss one of the delicious feasts of barbequed seafood on offer. 
Day 9 - Kota Bharu
Take a speed boat to Kuala Besut and then a minibus to Kota Bharu (approximately 1hour). Epitomising traditional Malay culture at its best, Kota Bharu is home to several cultural and historical museums. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk stopping by the Siamese Buddha Temple and perhaps visiting a Batik workshop. The night market of Kota Bharu is a popular local hawker style market. Don't miss this chance to sample some delicious northern Malay delicacies you won't find anywhere else.
Day 10 - Malay Homestay
A long bus journey (approximately 8 hours) and a short minibus ride takes you to the west coast. Arrive at your home away from home – Kota Aur. In this small traditional Malay village set amongst the rice paddies, you'll stay with a local family. Enjoy a cooking demonstration then home-cooked dinner on arrival. Afterwards you will meet your hosts and be billeted out to one of the various home lodgings found throughout the village. Tonight there is the opportunity to learn about the Malay game of congkak and enjoy a taste of family life in Malaysia. Relax and make yourself at home.
Day 11 - Penang
Awake to the sounds of village life. This morning you will take a tour of the village and rice fields by bike and learn about how the local coconuts are harvested. Experience a home cooked lunch together with the group and one of our hosts. Continue to Penang this afternoon (approximately 1 hour), Malaysia's prized island. Discover an exotic blend of cultures, and of course its signature foods which you can sample at one of the many street-side stalls. Try a sweet ice kacang (crushed ice, syrup and a mixture of jellies, nuts and sweet beans), or a hearty nasi kandar (steamed rice with curry, fried chicken, seafood or vegetables).
Day 12 - Penang
This morning take an orientation walk with your leader around your hotel and the Georgetown area of Penang that is best explored on foot. Take in the historic shophouses, narrow streets, and street art that give Georgetown it's unique atmosphere. Pass the Goddess of Mercy Chinese temple, Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple and Kapitan Kling Mosque. The rest of the day is free to explore the many different sides of Penang at your leisure. Georgetown is a particularly great area to delve deeper into. You will have discovered by now some of its impressive architecture, but this eclectic cultural arena seems to offer a new surprise at every turn. In the evening, perhaps head to the street food hot spot that is Lg Baru. Here you can indulge in a Assam Laksa, char koay teow, or maybe some spicy fish curry for dinner.
Day 13 - Penang
Today venture out to explore some city sites by private vehicle. See the historic Clan Jetties, and learn the history behind those that inhabit them, and perhaps spot some more of Penang's famous street artworks. Also visit Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. This afternoon enjoy some more time to explore the island. Perhaps venture on to Penang Hill and take the funicular to the top to take in the views around the island. Those looking to relax and cool off, on the other hand, might like to venture further afield to one of the superb local beaches. Perhaps even go for a short trek in Penang National Park on the North West tip of the island or explore a tropical spice garden.
Day 14 - Kuala Lumpur
Set off in the morning for Malaysia’s capital today catching a public coach bus to Kuala Lumpur (approximately 5 hours). You will arrive in the afternoon and you will be staying right amongst the night markets and hawker stalls of the famous Petaling Street in Chinatown. This is where you will find, among other things, all kinds of excellent local cuisine, from spicy Kin Kin with noodles to the popular Chinese-style soup Bak Kut Teh. You may want to gather the group and have a meal together before saying goodbye to Peninsula Malaysia and hello to Borneo tomorrow.
Day 15 - Kota Kinabalu
Fly unescorted from Kuala Lumpar to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. Transfers to and from the airport are provided, and on arrival in KK you can immerse yourself in the history of this intriguing city located between the Bornean jungle and the South China Sea. Visit the Sabah State Museum, the Mari Mari Cultural Village, or perhaps explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu, which are excellent for swimming and snorkelling. This is a combination trip, so your leader and some members of your group will change today for the remainder of the trip.
Day 16 - Dusun Village
Today you will travel by minivan to a Dusun village, nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of imposing Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea (approximately 2 hours). The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people, and while here you'll have the opportunity to learn about their way of life and spend a night in a village. Depending on the weather, you will then take a trek through the surrounding fruit and rubber plantations. Then your leader can point you in the direction of a local river for a great way to cool off. To ensure we do not disrupt the homestay community we split up our groups to stay in a couple of different family homes. All the homes are in waking distance from each other and you usually have a couple of group members with you at each home. Tonight you'll also get to watch a cultural performance in the village.
Day 17 - Mt Kinabalu National Park
This morning say goodbye to your new friends from the village and travel into the unspoiled wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park (approximately 1 hour). Take some time to enjoy the surroundings and prepare for the climb. There are nature trails through the lowland tropical forest and a Botanic Garden to explore. Otherwise, just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler clime. Before you depart, your leader will provide a safety briefing about the climb and assist with any last minute questions. Stay overnight at the park's headquarters in dormitory accommodation with shared facilities. Nestled among the lowland forests, this is the perfect place to chill-out before the climb.
Day 18 - Mt Kinabalu National Park
Rise early the next day to begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It's not an easy walk, uphill all the way, and you’ll need to be prepared to tackle a trail made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. Altitude can also affect you, regardless of your fitness level, and it will certainly slow you down a fair bit (it's important that you educate yourself about the dangers of altitude sickness and its symptoms). Ensure you have warm layers, waterproof gloves, hat, head torch, waterproof jacket and good walking shoes/boots. The top of the mountain can be deceptively cold. However, there's absolutely no rush so take your time and enjoy the pristine environment - this is an area that boasts a remarkable variety of plant life, including some 1,000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. You will cover 6 kilometres on the first day (approximately 4-6 hours) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272 metres) for the night. The resthouses have very basic, mixed gender, multishare bunk rooms, and additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Go to bed early, so you're ready for the final climb in the morning.
Day 19 - Mt Kinabalu - Poring Hot Springs
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 metres). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is incredible - the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, the temperature can change very quickly up on the mountain, so bring clothes for all weather conditions. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes 2-4 hours and, due to the altitude, can be hard going even for the fit. The first section from Laban Rata is along man made steps passing through vegetation. Once clear of the treeline you will be walking up a series of wooden steps all the way to the final check point at Sayat Sayat. The window for climbing the summit trail is quite narrow so Climbers need to reach Sayat Sayat check point by 6am to continue and must listen to the instructions of the mountain guide and leader - their decision is final when it comes to safety on the mountain. After Sayat Sayat there is a rope marking the trail all the way to the summit Peak. Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm). After witnessing the morning sunrise, return to Laban Rata for a well-earned breakfast, and then descend the mountain (approximately 3-6 hours) to enjoy a rewarding lunch at the bottom. Once everyone is down from the mountain you will continue on to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approximately 1 hour). Tomorrow you will be able to soothe your mountain-weary limbs in pools developed by the Japanese during World War II, where warm sulphur water - believed to have healing properties for the skin - is piped into several open-air baths. Depending on the time of year it might be possible to see the Raffelsia flower nearby. Rafflesia’s are the world’s largest flower and can grow up to 1 metre in size! Tonight you will stay at a hostel located right inside the springs complex itself, with a light and airy lounge room for you to relax in. The hostel has bunk beds, multiple beds and the bathroom is shared, there are no double beds.
Day 20 - Poring Hot Springs
Poring Hot Springs is an ideal place to kick back for a day to recuperate after the Mountain climb. There are a number of optional activities from which to choose. There are graded paths leading through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves - with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trail. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views or there's a visit the enchanting butterfly farm. You can choose to trek to the lovely Laganan Falls or just laze about in the hot and cold pools. There is a jungle camp located in primary rainforest about 30 minutes’ walk from the springs called Lupa Masa (which means forget time), and for those with more energy its possible to arrange a trek up here to bathe in a cool and refreshing river and take lunch. This must be arranged in advance through your group leader at the group meeting on Day 1.
Day 21 - Kinabatangan River
Today, journey by private bus into the steamy rainforest to Bilit, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Take a short boat tide to the comfortable jungle lodge where you’ll spend the night. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife. In the early evening as the sun sets, head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan, proboscis monkeys and, if you’re lucky, spot some pygmy elephants. In the evening take a night walk in search of the western tarsier. Rubber boots and leech socks are available to hire. The lodge tonight is comfortable with private bathrooms.
Day 22 - Sandakan
Today take an early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast, say goodbye to the Jungle Lodge and hit the road in a private mini van to the coastal city of Sandakan (approximately 3 hours). Along the way there’s the option to stop at the Gomantong caves (additional entrance fee). The caves are renowned for their valuable swiftlet nests, which are edible and harvested for bird's nest soup. Birds' nest collection is an ancient tradition, but nowadays locals must have licenses to climb to the roof of the caves and collect the nests, and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors. The nests are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, and supposedly high nutritional value and exquisite flavour. This stop is also a great chance to spot orangutans swinging among the trees. Arrive in the busy city of Sandakan and see the strong Cantonese influence, evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine. Here there is free time to catch up on laundry and banking as well as to explore the city.
Day 23 - Turtle Island
This morning, leave your large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past small fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approximately 1 hour), where green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year. In the afternoon, there's time for swimming, snorkelling or some quality time lazing about on the beach of this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire. In the evening, be touched by the sight of giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight, and watch the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It's a moving experience that makes you think more than twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies. Beware that this is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles. You will spend the night on the island.
Day 24 - Sepilok
After breakfast, return to the mainland (approximately 1 hours), collect your bags, and continue by minibus to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (approximately 45 minutes). The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat the supplementary diet of bananas and milk that is laid out for them twice a day. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. Also included is a new nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as to not disturb the animals. To see more of Borneo’s creatures there’s the option to visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Here rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages are cared for, with hopes of rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. There’s also the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary where you can watch up close the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding - an experience that can only be found in Borneo. A five minutes walk from your guesthouse is the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which also has a 147-metre long, 28-metre high canopy walkway with spectacular views of rainforest giants. Your guesthouse is located about 10 minutes walk from the rehabilitation centre.
Day 25 - Kota Kinabalu
In the morning get some insight into the city's past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped. We then transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour). The flight usually gets back in the afternoon, so the rest of the day is free for your own activities. Do some last minute shopping at the large shopping centres or take a wander down to the night market to pick up something more local. You’ll end this colourful Sabah Adventure with an optional final group meal.
Day 26 - Kota Kinabalu
Your Sabah adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying in Kota Kinabalu longer, then there are some additional activities that your leader can assist with booking. It’s best to pre book these activities with your leader on Day 1. There’s a scuba dive trip from Manukan Island to see the wonderful underwater world of Borneo, or an optional fun, interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live. Please also remember Most Scuba Diving companies would recommend you don't fly for at least 24 hours after your last scuba dive.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type

Accommodation

Guesthouse (3 nights),Homestay (2 nights),Hotel (13 nights) Chalet (1 night),Hostel (4 nights),Jungle Lodge (1 night),Resort (1 night)

Transport

Boat,Public Bus,Ferry,Longtail boat,Private minibus,Speed boat,Taxi,Train,Trishaw,Plane

Map