Destination: Malaysia’s Hidden Gems
Travelling, both domestically and internationally is uncertain for the foreseeable future, with many countries still battling COVID-19. That said, after being cooped up at home for what looks like forever, we feel your thirst and need to go for a much-deserved trip. Instead of the cliched beach and highland getaways, we have curated a list of Malaysia’s hidden gems for you to discover when we have flattened the curve of this coronavirus pandemic.
Bukit Panorama, Kuantan, Pahang
After being confined at home for a long time, retreating to nature is just what the doctor ordered. On that note, the majestic Bukit Panorama in Kuantan, unbeknownst to many, offers breathtaking panoramic views. Located in Sungai Lembing, just 45 km northwest of Kuantan, the hike to the peak takes approximately an hour or less. We urge you to sacrifice a couple of hours off your beauty sleep to catch the sunrise from the summit of Bukit Panorama. It’s worth it. Depending on the weather, you can witness the gathering of clouds amid the hill and the sun rising from the bed — truly magical.
Desaru Sky Mirror, Johor
You’ve probably heard of the Salar de Uyuni or the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. Did you know that Malaysia has its very own Sky Mirror in Desaru, Johor? This is the country’s second Sky Mirror after Kuala Selangor. This phenomenon of a glassy, mirror-like surface is typically offered by salt flats and takes place during low tide and perfect weather conditions. To get an Insta-worthy photo that will make others eat their hearts out, all you need is creativity.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sabah
We have been living under a rock because it wasn’t until recently that we learnt that the smallest bear species can be found in Malaysia. Known as sun bears, this species is identifiable through the orange-yellow horseshoe-shaped patch on their chest. These bears can be found in their natural habitat at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sandakan. It is a wildlife conservation and research centre for improving animal welfare and rehabilitation of the Malayan sun bear. It also aims to raise public awareness of the plight of sun bears and conservation awareness of this species. It won’t take too long to fall in love with these animals and you’d be surprised to learn that sun bears have a shy and reclusive nature.
Antong Coffee Mill, Taiping, Perak
We’re letting you in on a secret — while we’re fond of drinking internationally-sourced coffee beans, the oldest coffee mill in Malaysia can actually be found in Perak. Antong Coffee Mill was founded in 1933 by Teah Ee Mooi and is currently helmed by the third generation. ‘Antong’ remains the mill’s favourite brew among coffee aficionados and the traditional art of roasting coffee beans using a wood-fired oven has been preserved to date. You’ll know you’ve reached the right place by the alluring aroma of the coffee beans. The beans roasted here are a mix sourced from several plantations across the country with some imported only upon request. At Antong Coffee Mill, feel free to experience the variety of blends and purchase its coffee products.
Kopi Hutan Monkey Cup Cafe, Penang
Kopi Hutan Monkey Cup Cafe in Penang renders the most surreal experience of savouring a cup of coffee in the middle of a forest, at the highest point in Penang. Very aptly named after its surroundings, this cafe is perched 730 metres above sea level on Penang Hill. It embodies every meaning of the word getaway — encapsulating you with verdant greenery, pristine air, highland coolness and chirps of birds, all while sipping on a cuppa complemented by home-baked cakes. Another cool aspect of this place is the Monkey Cup Garden which celebrates the monkey cup or known locally as periuk kera (pitcher plant) or Nepenthes. This is truly a hidden gem worth discovering, especially if you’re looking for some natural tranquillity.
Tasik Biru Kangkar Pulai, Johor
If you find yourself on a retail spree at Johor Premium Outlets (JPO), we suggest you take a detour to Tasik Biru Kangkar Pulai, which is just 15 minutes away from the famed shopping haven. Truly a sight to behold and a great place to up your Instagram game, this beautiful lake is an abandoned mine filled with water that turned bright blue. While the reason behind the lake’s aqua blue hue is a mystery, it’s said to be caused by the copper sulphate from the iron ore quarry nearby. Tasik Biru Kangkar Pulai is not meant for swimming. We suggest you gather your friends or family and take a short hike to witness it. If you’re lucky, on a clear day, you can capture the mirror-like effect of the surrounding limestone formation.