Currently in Sumatra, flying across to Penang on Tuesday. We've got 8 weeks in Malaysia before we fly from KL to Bali and spend a month in traveling Nusa Tengarra. We've got to be in Sipidan on the 5th September for a week.
Our rough plan is to spend a month in Peninsula Malaysian. Penang, Perhentian, Cameron Highlands, Tioman, then KL to Tawau in Borneo, spend a week diving then spend 3 weeks in Borneo and then fly out of Kota Kinabalu or Kuching.
My questions are, is 3 weeks enough to do the whole of Malaysian Borneo, or should we concentrate on Sabah.
Should we spend 4 weeks on the Peninsula or head to Borneo early.
We're not going to climb Mount Kinabalu, my missus has had enough of trekking, what else is worth doing, anyone been to islands near KK? We've seen the Orangutans in Bukit Lawang in Sumatra so we've also ticked that box.
Any suggestions for the8 weeks would be gratefully received, i'm finding this part of the trip hard to plan.
#1 Muzz has been a member since 27/3/2012. Posts: 3
3 weeks in Malaysian Borneo sounds enough, especially if you're tired of trekking.
Mulu National Park is arguably mainland Borneo's highlight. It's not about trekking there: it's about the spectacularly varied caves - you could easily spend a few days there. Since you need (reasonably priced) flights in and out, it would make sense to visit in between Sarawak and Sabah and cut down journey time.
As for primate life, Borneo's proboscis monkeys are in my opinion more interesting than the Orang Utans anyway. There's a slightly cynical "sanctuary" built by the people who destroyed their national habitat which can be visited from Sandakan for close up sightings; you might catch a glimpse of them in Bako National Park too.
Kuching with it's pretty riverside setting is a good place if you want to spend a few days in a city. Bako National Park is a good day trip from there, as is the Sarawak cultural village.
Kota Kinabalu is a dull grid-planned concrete city, but the islands offshore are very pretty.
A lot of people use Sandakan as a base for river trips to Kinabatang as well as the Proboscis monkey sanctuary: the town itself has no appeal.
I certainly wouldn't skip the Perhentians and/or Tioman, especially not for more time in Cameron Highlands (pretty tea plantations, ugly towns albeit with good food and rooms) or KL (typical Asian megapolis). Perhentians are a more logical fit with your itinerary and IMHO better, but Tioman has cheaper beer and wider availability of accommodation. You have time for both. Consider Melaka for your itinerary as well: it's not as immaculately preserved as it should be and a lot of the attractions built for domestic tourists might not appeal but the Chinatown is not without its charm.
#2 enigmatic has been a member since 14/4/2011. Posts: 84
Depends on what you like to do. If you like to explore caves then go to Sarawak. Sabah is famous for its Mount Kinabalu (which normally require up to 6 months advanced booking) and beaches. Peninsular Malaysia is famous for its foods, cultural activities, highlands and shopping malls.
#3 thor has been a member since 9/8/2012. Posts: 2
I agree with the above post by flashpacker.
I would also note that Mt Kinabalu is worth a visit even if you don't want to climb the mountain. There are shorter walking trails at the base of the mountain, or you can just spend some time enjoying the views, the surroundings (lots of native birds), and watching the climbers heading off or coming back down from the peak.
Also, the Rainforest Discovery Centre at Sepilok is worth a visit. There are easy walking trails, a treetop canopy walk, an excellent information centre and botanical garden. If you go early morning or evening you might spot some birds or other wildlife, they also offer guided night walks as do the Orangutan Centre at Sepilok.
Some recommendations for the Peninsula
Redang and the Perhentians have beautiful white sandy beaches. Accommodation tends to be more bare bones then what you find in Thailand but its part of the tropical island experience. I haven't been to Redang in a few years but a friend of mine just visited a few months ago and she reported that despite some overcrowding, the corals and marine life are flourishing.
I recently went to Tioman to complete my OW dive course and stayed at Paya beach. I wouldn't recommend it for diving or snorkelling as visibility was poor, and marine life limited. Night life was also non-existent. For Tioman, its important to choose the right beach (there are 5 options I believe) as mobility around the island is not so great. I've heard good things about the other beaches e.g. Salang and ABC.
One of my favourite things to recommend to visitors is white water rafting. You can do it at Kuala Kubu Baru or Kampar River on the peninsula (both not far from KL), a bigger challenge is Padas river in East Malaysia. You can also ride all terrain vehicles at Kuala Kubu Baru.
Not sure how much your budget is but if you have some extra change, spend a few nights at The Banjaran in Ipoh. Its a beautiful property that takes advantage of the peninsula's natural formations (an alternative to the oft suggested islands). For a Bali-esque experience in Malaysia, stay at The Japamala in Tioman. Both are good for relaxing and escaping.
8 weeks is ample time to spend in Malaysia, so take your time and engage with the locals. Its always the people that make the experience :)
#5 oneoftheows has been a member since 27/8/2012. Posts: 1