By Hania Rafei on September 12, 2019
When it comes to vacation, it’s always the big cities that get the spotlight, no matter which part of the world. For a refreshing break, how about venturing out of the cities and head to the small towns instead?
The following is a short list of seven amazing small towns that you definitely should visit when you are in Malaysia, especially during Malaysia Day that falls on 16 September every year! You are bound to learn more about Malaysia when you visit the small towns because not only are they interesting, but also downright unique!
Speaking about Sabah, most tourists are already familiar with Kota Kinabalu. For a change, how about heading to Sandakan, the second largest urban centre in Sabah? It is accessible from Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) by air and takes only two hours and 55 minutes one way. Once you arrive in Sandakan, you can visit a number of wondrous attractions such as Sepilok to witness the iconic orangutan and Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) to enjoy Borneo wildlife, on top of ogling at mischievous proboscis monkeys at Labuk Bay. Located next to the sea, seafood is abundant and cheap! You could also see how the turtle lay eggs on Turtle Island. There are lively night markets every single day in Sandakan too for you to savour local food.
This tranquil small town is quite underrated because not only it is peaceful, but it also offers spectacular beach views that can be found at Kampung Rampayan Laut, only around half an hour from town centre! Kota Belud is also ideal for nature lovers because they can simply set up camp at Polumpung Melangkap View Camp site, which has running stream containing fresh and clear water originating from Mount Kinabalu. Travellers can also witness the majesty of Mount Kinabalu from the camp site!
Curious on how would it feels to live underground like the ants? Tuaran offers you the experience to go underground at the Borneo Ant House that has walls filled with crawling ants! Tuaran also has Cowboy Town, where travellers can enjoy horse-riding and become cowboys for a day! Those who prefer a slower pace can opt for the laidback atmosphere the Peak of Hope where they can watch sunset on a beautiful swing and even enjoy doing barbecue!
If you prefer hiking, you should visit Kampung Baru, Broga, to hike up Broga Hill with family and friends! You can also savour grilled fish at a stall nearby called “Nan Peng You” that has been operating since the 1990s. Another attraction within the area is the 150-year old Sak Dato temple, which has been serving as the house of worship for Broga’s predominantly Chinese community for over 140 years and rebuilt in 1991.
If you are tired of Johor Bahru, then head to Bekok, Labis in Johor! Some of the activities that you can do here are exploring Sungai Batang Recreational Park, having a refreshing dip at Bekok Waterfalls, and rejuvenating the body at Labis Hot Springs. Curious about Hakka culture? Then head to Bekok Mini Hakka Museum. Travellers can use the Malayan Railway (KTM) service to reach Bekok.
Those seeking for a family-friendly destination should visit Taiping, Perak, which is home to Taiping Zoo, Malaysia’s oldest zoo that offers the chance for travellers to see animals not only during the day but also at night! There are also interesting museums such as Taiping Museum, Old House Museum, Matang Museum and more that give the glimpse of how life was like in the past. You can also have fun playing in the water at Burmese Pool (Kolam Renang Batu Besar) or click away at 5D Art Paradise Taiping!
Loving the smell of fresh tea bags, cool weather and lush green landscapes? Tanah Rata, Pahang is definitely the place! You can go enjoy standing in the middle of the vast tea plantation and happily take numerous photos. There is also lavender garden where you can heal your mind and soul just by watching the flowers bloom in various colours and even taste lavender ice cream, besides relishing freshly plucked strawberries!