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Langkawi to Borneo: Malaysia with Remote Lands

As the world slowly opens to travel again, exciting new accommodations and pristine natural wonders are drawing travelers to Malaysia.

Whether you’re looking for colonial charm in the verdant Cameron Highlands or tracking the orangutans of Kinabatangan River, Malaysia’s hidden treasures remain some of the most diverse in Southeast Asia. As the world slowly opens to travel again, exciting new accommodations and pristine natural wonders are drawing travelers to Malaysia.

This 10-day journey through peninsular Malaysia begins in the whirlwind of Kuala Lumpur before journeying to the lush tea fields of the Cameron Highlands and the culture and wild wonders of Penang and Langkawi. 

Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital and a hotbed of cultural and culinary activities. Here, travelers will stay in the plush surrounds of the Mandarin Oriental, explore Chinese markets, and visit the Lake Gardens Butterfly Park. Leaving the city for a little peace and quiet, the Cameron Highlands are a little slice of colonial life remaining from the days of British influence, a place where travelers can find both tea fields and rainforest. Then, it’s off to Penang, the cultural capital of the north and one of the best places in all of Southeast Asia for street art. The final stop is arguably the best: Langkawi. Andaman sea, diving, eagles, and some of the best beach hotels in Malaysia. 

This short four-day journey allows travelers to wake up in the modern metropolis of Singapore and travel to the wilds of Borneo for safaris, hiking, and orangutans.

After a 2.5-hour flight from the Lion City, this is an opportunity to explore the 120 mammals and 300 species of bird in the Danum Valley. Travelers on this trip hit the ground running and get expert advice from experts at the Danum Valley Field Center. While staying in the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, visitors will walk above the jungle floor on the Canopy Bridge, have breakfast amongst the lush treetops, and learn about the indigenous tribes that call the valley home. Along the way, keep an eye out for orangutans, gibbons, and the pygmy elephants of Borneo. 

Sipadan and Mabul feature the best diving spots in Malaysia — if not the whole of Southeast Asia. Spend six days looking for greenback turtles, manta rays and whale sharks in crystal clear water.

While many are drawn to the orange apes and elephants of Borneo, Malaysia boasts some of its most impressive wildlife under the water. In Sipadan, divers can explore over 15 dive sites, including the Coral Gardens, which begins with a deep wall dive and continues on the shallow coral reef. The world changes in Mabul, where travelers will take on “muck diving”; here it’s all about large pelagics and schools of thousands of fish. The final stop on this journey is Kepalai, home to the blue-ringed octopus, stonefish, and ghost pipefish among others. 

For a family friendly romp through the peninsula, this journey from Singapore to the island of Langkawi is designed for relaxation and kid-friendly fun.

Wake up on Sentosa island in Singapore, one of the most vivacious places in the Lion City, where the family can spend the day in the famous Gardens by the Bay, head up The Singapore Flyer, and take the youngsters to KidZania, an interactive 81,000 square foot city for kids replete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, and functioning economy —- so somewhat better that the real world. Then, it’s off to Kuala Lumpur for Royal Selangor’s School of Hard Knocks, the monkeys of Batu Caves, and Chinatown. The Cameron Highlands are a chance to hike and relax before heading for island fun in Penang and Langkawi. Here, parents can take their kids to the SkyBridge 2,170 feet above sea level for views of mountains, rainforests, valleys, and the Andaman.

This weeklong expedition through Borneo will see travelers through the mountains of Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and the famed Kinabatangan River.

For the serious Borneo explorer, this trip has it all. After a quick stay at Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort in Kota Kinabalu, the journey gets wild at Sandakan. Sandakan’s orangutan rehabilitation center is the best place to learn about the plight of these critically endangered creatures, as well as watch them play and be fed.  Also, travelers will have the chance to take a river cruise down the Sukau River after dark to look for wild elephants and other nocturnal species drinking along the shore. The real treat for nature lovers is the Danum Valley, an area inaccessible as recently as the early 1960s, featuring primary forest and wildlife throughout.