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Adventure Travel in Malaysia


Patrick van der Meer has done a lot of adventure traveling including in Malaysia. Special for the Pulau Pangkor website, he wrote about his experiences in Malaysia. He gives a great insight in his Malaysian travel adventures.

kek lok si penang
The Kok Lek Si temple in Penang

Adventure Travel is not the obvious way of traveling in a modern state like Malaysia. But Malaysia is a very diverse country. It has a history of colonization, a population mix of three races, and a territory full of primary rainforests. And then there is east Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, with lots of Indigenous tribes and National Parks. A lot to explore for adventure travelers.

Different cultures in one country

The mainland of Malaysia is obviously the best developed part of the country. Its capital Kuala Lumpur, in which the three population groups (the Malay, Indian, and Chinese) are equally represented, is buzzling with all the signs of a modern city. A piece of colonial history can be found here as well, although that can best be explored in Malacca.

Move to the other side of the peninsula, though, if you want to experience the Malay culture, for instance in Kota Bahru.

Taman Negara

In the middle of this is Taman Negara, the national park with the oldest rainforest in the world, never destroyed by ice ages or other causes. From the headquarters in the park, or the village Kuala Tenga near it, many trails through the forest can be explored.

Most of the tourists stay close to the headquarters, hiring a guide to make the most of their rainforest experience. But the true adventure traveler sets out on a longer trail, staying overnight in one of the hides in the park, watching for the larger wildlife. They tend to see more wildlife, although not everybody is lucky enough to spot the larger species, like the sunbear, or even a tiger or elephant.

In Taman Negara, the indigenous Orang Asli people can be found. But indigenous culture can be found in east Malaysia. On Borneo, two Malaysian states share the island with Indonesian Kalimantan and Brunei. The Malaysian states, however, offer the best combination of a developed infrastructure and the preservation of the rainforest on Borneo. Although illegal logging and oil palm plantations are also a threat for the forests in Sarawak, and especially Sabah, there are a number of activities here to prevent deforestation.

Eco travel in East Malaysia

Patrick in Penang

In both East Malaysian states, there are a number of eco-tourist destinations, a visit to which might help preservation activities in the region. On Sabah, there is Orangutan Sanctuary Sepilok, where even the faint hearted can take a look into the rainforest to see the semi-wild orangutans.

But for more excitement and hardship, you should head for Uncle Tan’s jungle camp. In just some shacks in the middle of the jungle near Kinabatangan river, Uncle Tan tries to keep the illegal loggers at a distance, while catering for a great backpacker experience.

In Sarawak, there are several National Parks to explore, like Bako, Gunung Mulu, and Niah Caves. But there is more to explore here than the beautiful forests and endangered species. A large number of ethnic tribes still live in the hinterlands of Sarawak, for instance near Belaga.

In longhouses along the rivers they try to find a good mix between their traditional lives, and the modern society which is getting closer and closer. For the adventure traveller there are many possibilities to visit these longhouses. But be aware of dubious tour operators, offering expensive tours which turn out to be disappointing. However, if you find the right place, the experience will be great.

And of course, there are many other great places to visit in Malaysia. What about the beaches on Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman, or other islands? And the Cameron highlands? Or climbing Mount Kinabalu in Sabah? So pack your backpack, and head for Malaysia for a great Adventure Travel vacation or journey.


Patrick van der Meer is the creator of Adventure Travel Tales and Tips, a website composed of his experiences during a 15 month world journey and other trips. Visit his website for exciting travelogues, tips on preparations, means of transport, a wide range of destinations and much more.

Patricks adventure travel tales and tips logo

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Irina and Jonathan

Irina and Jonathan live in Korea. They spend their New Years Eve 2007 in Pangkor and they were very enthusiastic about Pangkor. Both wrote a long story about their stay at the island, their visits to the Dutch Fort, Teluk Segadas, Nipah Bay and their adventures on the scooter.

Irina and Jonathan on holiday in Pangkor


Johanna, does a 4 hours jungle trekking in 2008

As we are talking about "amazing"! Johanna, 5 years old does a jungle trekking.

We left for an obstacle course, continued in the canyon in between Teluk Batik and Teluk Rubiah and came back through two remote beaches challenging the sea current, more jungle and wasps. Johanna did the trek without a problem (though she was hungry after)

Jungle trekking with Johanna
Johanna in her challenge with the rope at the obstacle course

Here is the report