Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, get out and get a taste for Kuala Lumpur, the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia (affectionately known as 'KL'). Grab a map and talk to the hotel staff about things to do. The markets of Chinatown, exceptional Indian food and traditional Malay arts make up a large part of the city's essence. Your evening is best spent at the night market sampling the many different cuisines on offer and bargain hunting at the many stalls.
This morning walk to your shuttle bus (approximately 10 mins), and transfer to the local bus station (approximately 30 mins). Board a local bus to the old port town of Melaka (approximately 2.5 hours). On Arrival into Melaka take a minibus to your hotel in downtown Malaka (20 mins). A former colonial outpost, this town retains a distinctive old-world charm that makes it a delight to visit. Travelling by trishaw in the local style, you will take a tour of the town, cruising through the narrow, winding streets to get a taste of old Melaka and learn about the ancient spice trade the town is known for. Along the way you will pay a visit to Harmony Street, an aptly named strip of mosques and temples that exudes a tranquil air. You will also check out a mosque, a variety of Chinese Buddhist temples and a traditional Muslim house-museum.
Early this morning you will embark on a full day's travel by private minibus to the ancient rainforest of Taman Negara National Park (approximately 6 hours). This vast natural beauty is believed to be the oldest rainforest in the world, dating back some 130 million years. It's home to an incredible variety of wildlife, from elephants and monkeys to exotic birds such as the elusive Malaysian rail-babbler and the easily recognisable hornbill. The park also boasts one of the highest diversities of trees on the planet.
Experience the jungle from a monkey's point of view on a canopy walk that will take you high up in the trees. Following the walk, those seeking additional challenges can take the time to explore Bukit Teresek. This trail is rigorous but rewarding, offering some world-class birdwatching and some amazing panoramic views from the top. Afterwards you will head upstream (approximately 1 hour) on a longtail boat on the low-level rapids. There will be plenty of time for a swim amid the lush jungle surrounds before returning to the acommodation for the evening.
Meet your local guide and head off into the jungle for a short trek (approximately 4 hours). This is the ultimate way to experience this pristine rainforest. As well as spotting wildlife, you'll be able to learn more about the plants and flowers and some of their traditional medicinal uses. While your journey only lasts a few hours, you'll be walking through primary and secondary jungle, so be prepared to sweat! The walk itself isn't overly challenging, but a good level of fitness is required, as the humidity can affect even the fittest trekker. At the end you will arrive at the crystal-clear waters of the Tahan River where there's time for a refreshing swim – very welcome after the hot and humid jungle. After lunch, the adventurous can continue walking 30 minutes to the cascades further upstream before it's time to head back down the Tahan River in a small dugout canoe.
Take a private bus to Kuala Besut (approximately 6–7 hours). Here you will take a fun boat ride over crystal-clear waters to the sun-kissed beaches of the Perhentian Islands (approximately 45 minutes). Located off the east coast of Malaysia, the Perhentians are some of the most beautiful islands in the world, with unspoilt reefs and pure white sand. This will be well worth the long drive today!
Enjoy a leisurely half-day snorkelling trip in these turquoise waters. You'll be among beautiful coral and an impressive array of tropical fish. See how many different varieties you can spot. It's worth keeping an eye open for the rarer beauties too – green turtles and, if you are lucky, maybe even a reef shark or two.
Indulge in this divine coastal spot in your free time today. You can do some more snorkelling, laze and swim in the water near the shore, trek into the inland jungle, explore the nearby islands or simply lie in a hammock with a good book. And don't miss one of the delicious feasts of barbequed seafood on offer.
Take a speed boat to Kuala Besut and then a minibus to Kota Bharu. Epitomising traditional Malay culture at its best, Kota Bharu is home to several cultural and historical museums. Take the time to learn about the art of batik, shadow puppets, silversmithing and kite making while you are here. This is also a good chance to do some souvenir shopping. The night market of Kota Bharu is a popular local hawker style market. Don't miss this chance to sample some delicious northern Malay delicacies you won't find anywhere else.
A long bus journey (approximately 8 hours) and a short minibus ride takes you to the west coast. Arrive at your home away from home – Kota Aur. In this small traditional Malay village set amongst the rice paddies, you'll stay with a local family. Enjoy a cooking demonstration then home-cooked dinner on arrival. Afterwards you will meet your hosts and be billeted out to one of the various home lodgings found throughout the village. Tonight there is the opportunity to learn about the Malay game of congkak and enjoy a taste of family life in Malaysia. Relax and make yourself at home.
Awake to the sounds of village life, maybe even the resident crowing cockerels! This morning you will take a tour of the village and rice fields by bike and learn about how the local coconuts are harvested. Experience a cooking demonstration and a home cooked lunch together with the group and one of our hosts. Continue to Penang this afternoon (approximately 1 hour), Malaysia's prized island. Discover an exotic blend of cultures, and of course its signature foods which you can sample at one of the many street-side stalls. Try a sweet ice kacang (crushed ice, syrup and a mixture of jellies, nuts and sweet beans), or a hearty nasi kandar (steamed rice with curry, fried chicken, seafood or vegetables).
This morning take an orientation walk with your leader around your hotel and the Georgetown area of Penang that is best explored on foot. Take in the historic shophouses, narrow streets, and street art that give Georgetown it's unique atmosphere. Pass the Goddess of Mercy Chinese temple, Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple and Kapitan Kling Mosque. The rest of the day is free to explore the many different sides of Penang at your leisure. Georgetown is a particularly great area to delve deeper into. You will have discovered by now some of its impressive architecture, but this eclectic cultural arena seems to offer a new surprise at every turn. In the evening, perhaps head to the street food hot spot that is Lg Baru. Here you can indulge in a Assam Laksa, char koay teow, or maybe some spicy fish curry for dinner.
Today venture out to explore some city sites by private vehicle. See the historic Clan Jetties, and learn the history behind those that inhabit them, and perhaps spot some more of Penang's famous street artworks. Also visit Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. This afternoon enjoy some more time to explore the island. Perhaps venture on to Penang Hill and take the funicular to the top to take in the views around the island. Those looking to relax and cool off, on the other hand, might like to venture further afield to one of the superb local beaches. Perhaps even go for a short trek in Penang National Park on the North West tip of the island or explore a tropical spice garden.
Set off for Malaysia’s capital today. Take a ferry to Butterworth (20 minutes), and then take the train to Kuala Lumpur (approximately 4 hours). When you arrive, you'll spend an evening among the hustle and bustle of KL. You are free to spend the evening as you please. This is a city that's best explored on foot, so stretch your legs and get amongst it. While you're here, perhaps shop at the Bukit Bintang, see the sprawling city from the Menara Tower, head out of town to visit the famous Batu Caves, or explore the Lake Gardens. At the latter you will find some excellent places to visit – the Botanical Garden, Orchard Park, a bird sanctuary and the Islamic Arts Museum.
Your adventure comes to an end today and you are free to depart at any time.