How do you like to experience a destination in its true form? Do you visit its clubs and great landmarks or do you hit the offbeat, less traveled roads? You do the latter.
You want to drink from the cultural wellspring, to really feel the heartbeat of a destination. Of course, we’re not telling you to avoid the theme parks, gala viewpoints, and major attractions. We’re trying to get you to notice and appreciate the lesser known, but deeper aspects of a place, like national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, temples, islands, remote beaches, villages and so on.
Malaysia is a destination that has a never-ending list of offbeat destinations, each one richer than the other. Come join us on our journey of exploration, as we check out some places off the beaten path in Malaysia!
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The first place on our list of places off the beaten path in Malaysia is Kota Kinabalu. It’s on the west side of Borneo. You can explore the nearby islands, rainforests, and Mount Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu has four nearby islands, which have fabulous beaches, hiking trails and plenty of lush landscapes to keep you happy.
One of the most lush and beautiful places to visit in Malaysia; Kota Kinabalu is a visual and emotional treat to visitors. Kota Kinabalu’s lively night market is the best place to absorb some of Borneo’s vibrant culture. Pick up some local crafts, clothes and food for the guys back home.
Kinabalu National Park
Welcome to Malaysia’s first World Heritage site, Kinabalu National Park. This is the second places on our list of places off the beaten path in Malaysia.
Here you can explore over 5,000 species of flowers. The national park also contains 90 species of lowland mammals and has been nominated as the Centre of Plant Diversity for South East Asia.
You can get great views of the gigantic Mount Kinabalu from here, which stands majestic at 4095 meters. Dare yourself to stroll along the canopy walkway over the rainforest, located at a height of 41-43 meters, and 175 meters long. You’ll be standing 8 levels up, and enjoy a wonderful view of the animals and flowers at the rainforest.
Kinabalu Botanical Garden
While at Kinabalu National Park, be sure to visit the botanical garden where some of the rarest orchids are housed, along with rare pitcher plants. These are present exclusively only in Borneo and South East Asia.
Explore the 700-meter trail in the garden, or sign up for a tour of the garden for a guided exploration. You’ll get to learn a lot about Kinabalu National Park and the flowers are grown in the Botanical Garden on the tour.
Kinabalu Rafflessia Farm
Have you ever smelt a flower that smelled so bad, it brought the thought of dead creatures to mind? Well, you’re in for a morbid treat.
At the Rafflesia Farm, you’ll come face-to-face with the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, which grows more than 100 centimeters in diameter. It actually weighs about 10 kilograms – a single flower! The smell is overpowering – the exact smell of rotting flesh.
In fact, Rafflesia means “corpse flower”. Challenging oneself to get up close to one of these awful flowers is one of the ‘coolest’ things to do in Malaysia.
Sandakan is an old Malaysian city that was raised to the ground by the British during WWII. However, the city re-energized itself, via a vibrant timber trade.
They exported wood globally, and Sandakan had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world. Check out the amazing museums around the city that detail the rise and fall of this city. You’ll enjoy an excellent visit to a time that’s passed us by.
Puu Jih Syh Buddhist Temple
While you’re in Sandakan, don’t miss the Buddhist temple Puu Jih Shih that overlooks this port city. The temple sits on a hilltop, from where you can enjoy a mindblowing view of the Sandakan Bay.
Admire the giant statues of Buddha at this classic yet rather ostentatious temple. The Buddha statues and the statues of the dragons are covered entirely in gold. The amount of gold used in this extravagant temple makes it one of the top Malaysia tourist attractions.
Agnes Keith’s House
Don’t miss visiting Agnes Keith’s House while you’re at Sandakan, especially if you’re a history buff. Agnes lived in Sandakan during the 1930s and wrote several evocative books pertaining to her life and experiences during the Japanese occupation in Borneo and Sandakan. She was imprisoned in a Japanese camp at one point, and she wrote about this in one of her books.
Visit this tiny town on the eastern side of Bornean Island, located deep inside the jungle’s heart. It’s a town that animal lovers will delight in, as they can learn so much more about this country’s unique wildlife here.
Be sure to visit the Orangutan Sanctuary in Sepilok and watch the orange primates up close. Learn what threatens their habitat. You can get up close to Sun Bears, at the nearby Sun Bear Sanctuary.
Borneo Rainforest Discovery Center
If you’re a wildlife and jungle enthusiast, you’ll love to lose yourself amidst the lush green jungle canopies at this forest. The Rainforest Discovery Center is literally an area of one of Borneo’s best rainforests. The center raises public awareness towards conservation, and how to use forest resources sustainably.
Take a walk in the protected forest, and be sure to stroll along the 147-meter long canopy walkway that’s located 28 meters above the ground. You’ll get a glorious eyeful of the mesmerizing foliage and birds from here. There’s also a lovely forest lake, where you can unwind after your walks and relax in lush surroundings.
Pulau Perhentian is an island that’s covered entirely by lush green jungles untouched as yet by man. The amazing powdery white beaches bordered by waving palms are the balm to the soul. The warm sapphire blue waters are just what the doctor ordered. Pulau Perhentian is the place to head to if you want to watch migratory birds and the occasional offbeat traveler.
If you’re into trekking, camping, bird-watching, fishing and horse riding, head straight to Fraser Hill. It’s a small highland resort that’s located 1,524 meters above sea level. This hamlet houses a huge number of animals and birds of many species that call this place home. Be sure to bring a pair of powerful binoculars when you get here.
Known locally as Bukit Fraser, this holiday retreat remains cool in summer as well, which is why the British used this place as a holiday destination. If you don’t like wet surroundings, travel to Fraser’s Hill during April and September, when it doesn’t rain.
Malaysia is rich in mountains, rainforests, limpid lakes, lovely beaches, and many islands. It is a land blessed by nature in every way.
Make sure you take plenty of mosquito repellent and a hat for your head in summer. It rains a lot in Malaysia owing to the presence of so much water and rainforests, but the amazing scenery makes up for it.
Malaysia has a rich history, covering the rulers of ancient times, the advent of Buddhism, and the foreign occupation including British and Japanese and much more. It’s the perfect place to experience a rich culture and gorgeous nature. Furthermore these places off the beaten path in Malaysia will make for a trip you won’t forget!
Priya is an avid travel writer who specializes in adventure travel writing. Her blogs and articles give deep insight into various tourist places and act as a perfect travel guide for someone who is traveling to a place for the first time. Her blog is extensively about her travel experiences in places like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Europe, Dubai, USA, Canada, etc. Visit her at Rayna Tours.