by Mark Heng
Conquer Kinabalu: Kinabalu National Park is home to Mount Kinabalu, which is known to be one of the most accessible mountains in the world, and makes for a great climb. The hike is popular with tourists, so it is recommended to book accommodation beforehand. Climbers are rewarded with a breathtaking view of Borneo's Crocker Range. Its World Heritage status reflects Kinabalu's importance as a biological site and ecosystem, with a rich collection of wildlife species, including the gigantic Rafflesia plant and the orangutan. There are also walking trails, jungle walks, botanical gardens and a museum for the less adventurous (i.e. the majority of visitors to the Park).
Back to Nature: Nature lovers and tree huggers will enjoy exploring the rich biodiversity and untamed forests of Malaysia's jungles and national parks. Taman Negara National Park is the largest national park in Malaysia, and offers a wide range of activities within its natural confines. It is famous for jungle treks through a dense canopy of 130 million years old primary rainforest and night hides to observe flora and fauna up-close. Alternatively, cruise down the exhilarating rapids, explore limestone caves, and meet the indigenous Orang Alsi communities.
Explore Gunung Mulu: Gunung Mulu National Park is Malaysia's third World Heritage Site, famous for its extensive system of limestone karst formations that include caves, rock pinnacles, cliffs and gorges. Many international expeditions have been mounted to explore these geographical features and their surrounding rainforest. The Sarawak Chamber is considered the largest known underground chamber in the world, and has been said to be able to accommodate 40 jumbo jets side-by-side! Gunung Mulu is also a rich tapestry of biodiversity, including hornbills, bats, and deer.
Island Paradises: Thrill seekers and beach lovers will find their paradise amongst the many beach resorts offering watersports in Malaysia's idyllic tropical island destinations. These conjure up romantic images of carefree days spent relaxing under swaying tropical palm trees on the seaside. Off the West Coast, Pangkor is a relatively secluded hideaway with fine beaches, while Langkawi is one of the region's best known holiday destinations.
Diving and Snorkelling: Malaysia's islands are also popular with scuba enthusiasts and for snorkelling. Tioman, once nominated one of the most beautiful islands in the world, is great for diving or snorkelling to admire the numerous white coral reefs in pristine waters. Off Terengganu on the East Coast, Perhentian and Redang offer equally enthralling diving and snorkelling opportunities admidst rich coral and marine life.
New Malaysia: Witness Malaysia's first big steps into the information age. The Multimedia Super Corridor is Malaysia's attempt to leapfrog into the future, and Putrajaya is its centrepiece. This planned showcase city is now the Federal Administrative Centre of Malaysia, where most government ministries have relocated to. These are set against lush landscapes of greenery and impressive bridges on the Putrajaya Lake. A walk down the wide but quiet Putrajaya Boulevard, bordered by colossal showcase buildings is at once both surreal and arresting.