2024 travel resolutions: Visit more Malaysian attractions

Gua Kelam in Perlis is a popular tourist attraction. — MARUFISH/Wikimedia Commons

Malaysia is blessed with many good things, among them a rich history and culture, a multicultural community, and beautiful, unspoilt nature.

For those of you who have already started planning your travels and holidays for 2024, consider putting a handful of local spots on your list of destinations. Here are some suggestions to start you off.

Dabong, Kelantan

Dabong, a quaint town in the Kuala Krai district of Kelantan, thrives with natural wonders. It’s little wonder that Dabong is on the radar of adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. From unique cave formations to untouched forest reserves to fantastic waterfalls, Dabong offers a slice of paradise to visitors.

Gunung Stong State Park, for example, is home to one of South-East Asia’s tallest waterfalls – Jelawang Waterfall (cover picture) – towering at over 300m. You can also hike up the mountain in the park to enjoy picturesque views of the valley.

Meanwhile, for those looking to do some cave exploration, there is Gua Keris, an ancient cave complex named after the traditional Malay dagger. As you explore the cavern, you will come across beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that were formed over centuries.

Another must-visit spot in Dabong is Gua Ikan, a cave that has a stream flowing through it.

One of the best ways to get to Dabong is by taking the train. In the past few years, this train route has gained popularity thanks to the many videos and posts on social media platforms by travellers and rail enthusiasts. The views of lush greenery and idyllic kampung scenes are what most passengers look forward to while riding this train.

Kaki Bukit, Perlis

Kaki Bukit in the northern state of Perlis is another eco-adventure destination with an abundance of natural attractions. Thrill-seeking travellers flock to the place to check out Gua Kelam, a beautiful limestone cave that was once used to mine tin.

Aside from its tin excavation history, the cave’s 370m-long interior makes it a great spot to do some exploring.

Visitors will also soon get to experience various adventure activities at Kaki Bukit, as the country’s first rock climbing base camp is set to open here early next year.

Wang Kelian View Point, just a stone’s throw away from Gua Kelam, is where you can go to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding areas.

Kaki Bukit also makes an ideal stopover for those travelling to Thailand, as it is located close to the border town of Padang Besar.

The state is hosting the Visit Perlis Year 2024 next year, so expect to see more new attractions and experiences introduced over the next few months.

Limbang Museum in Sarawak is where visitors can learn about the history of Limbang community. — JACOB MOJIWAT/Wikimedia CommonsLimbang Museum in Sarawak is where visitors can learn about the history of Limbang community. — JACOB MOJIWAT/Wikimedia Commons

Limbang, Sarawak

Forget hot springs, why not try “hot mud-dipping” in Sarawak for a unique experience?

These warm bubbling pools of mud volcanoes can be found at Kampung Meritam, some 36km away from the town of Limbang.

The town is also a good spot for birdwatching, and the best place to do this is at the swampy highlands known as Payeh Maga.

Thanks to Sarawak’s rich biodiversity, you might also chance upon some proboscis monkeys (the primates with the large fancy noses) or even crocodiles as you paddle through the mangrove forest of Limpaki Wetland in a canoe or sampan.

Limbang Museum, on the other hand, is where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the town and community. The museum was once a fort, where soldiers stood guard to keep the town safe from enemies, but it was burnt down many years ago. The fort was then rebuilt, and transformed into a museum.

If you do make your way to Limbang, do try the local fish, tahai, which can be found in the Limbang River.

The Bangsa Muar Johor mural can be seen on the Tanjung Emas clock tower. — GISELE SOOThe Bangsa Muar Johor mural can be seen on the Tanjung Emas clock tower. — GISELE SOO

Muar, Johor

If you are a fan of otak-otak, then you must taste the Muar version, which can be easily found in the quaint Johor town.

Besides eating, mural hunting is also something you could do when visiting this part of the state. For instance, the giant art pieces known as the Root Of The World Furniture that adorn the walls of Kompleks Legenda, were painted as an homage to the town’s furniture industry.

Meanwhile, the 11.8m-tall Loving Sisters is a black-and-white potrait mural of two siblings done by Russian artist Julia Volchkova, who also painted other iconic murals in other states like Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

There are two clock towers that visitors need to check out: the Muar Clock Tower and Tanjung Emas Clock Tower. The Muar tower sits across the Sultan Ismail Bridge at Jalan Abdullah, and features British colonial architecture. The Tanjung Emas tower, meanwhile, is across the Muar River, and is decorated with the Bangsa Muar Johor mural, depicting Malaysia’s multi-racial community.

Another leisurely activity to try in Muar is the river cruise – enjoy the nice view of a mangrove forest with migratory birds perched on the trees.

Unknown to some, Muar is actually a royal town as well as the home of a traditional stringed musical instrument, the ghazal.

One of the highlights in Bagan Datuk, Perak is its sunflower garden. — GISELE SOO/The StarOne of the highlights in Bagan Datuk, Perak is its sunflower garden. — GISELE SOO/The Star

Bagan Datuk, Perak

Your visit to Bagan Datuk in Perak is not complete without stopping by the Bagan Datuk Sunflower Garden. If you are lucky, a full bloom of bright, yellow flowers may greet you upon arrival.

The Bagan Datuk waterfront offers a laid-back atmosphere for those who want to enjoy some peace and just relax. If you go in the morning, the air is cool and nice, and the place won’t be too crowded too.

There’s a blue-domed mosque built on stilts nearby as well.

This coastal town is merely an hour from Teluk Intan, which is known for its Clock Tower and Leaning Tower. It is possible to visit both Bagan Datuk and Teluk Intan in a single day, provided there is no traffic congestion along the way (there rarely is, actually!).

Do try Teluk Intan’s famous chee cheong fun – steamed rice noodles – as it is stuffed with preserved vegetables instead of the usual meat or seafood.

Perak is also hosting its Visit Perak Year 2024, so it’s a good time to visit the quieter or lesser-known towns in the state to avoid the crowds.

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