Kuala Lumpur may be a modern city with skyscrapers and the impressive Petronas Twin Towers, but take a drive one hour or more out of the city and the landscape changes altogether. From forests and hill stations to waterfalls and beaches, Malaysia has plenty to offer urbanites looking to escape city life. For those seeking some time with nature to refresh the mind and soul, you’re spoilt for choice as there are numerous jungle resorts and eco retreats located within Malaysia’s lush rainforests. Breathe in the fresh air, let your eyes rest on the lush greenery, put on your hiking shoes and insect repellant, and explore all that nature has to offer! Little Steps rounds up some of the best nature retreats across Malaysia for you to experience Mother Nature at her best!
If you want to wake up to the sight of a stunning lake and the sound of the forest, this is the perfect place for you! Experience rustic living at Belum Eco Resort on Khong Island located in Temenggor-Belum, Perak. Royal Belum is about 400km from KL city, and takes over four hours to reach by car to the Banding Island public jetty, where the resort’s boat will pick you up. Here, you can escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and instead be awaken by the sound of birds, insects, and more interestingly, spot wildlife such as deers, wild boars, hornbills, monkeys and more. Some guests have even spotted wild elephants here! The huts are basic, but you’ll be rewarded with the magical surroundings, and fun activities like visiting the Orang Asli village, fishing, canoeing, jungle trekking, sunset watching, and splashing in the waterfall.
Belum Eco Resort, Khong Island, Gerik, Hulu Perak, Perak, Malaysia, +6012 307 2876, www.belumecoresort.com.my
Mangala Resort and Spa in Gambang, Pahang is a stunning, luxurious property offering tranquil surroundings and total relaxation surrounded by flora and fauna, perfect to rejuvenate tired minds and bodies. Formerly an abandoned mining land, today, beautiful villas sit among wetlands and palm oil plantation. Located about 220km from KL city, it’ll take you just two hours thirty minutes to get here by car. Spend the weekend here just chilling, or grab a paddle board or kayak to explore the lake, lounge by the pool, go on a nature walk or pamper yourself at the spa. If you’re the sort who still want total luxury even in nature, we reckon this place will fit you to a tee!
Mangala Resort & Spa, Lebuhraya Tun Razak, Kuantan, Pahang , 26300 Malaysia, +609 505 7788, www.mangalaresortandspa.com
Just an hour away from KL city, this privately-owned property offers villas and bell tents for glamping in Batang Kali, Selangor. The proximity makes it an easy getaway for a short weekend where you can sleep in cute tents in a fruit orchard, or opt for the villas. The place is designed to welcome families, so it's child-friendly and equipped with a man-made waterfall, pool, and playground. Be warned though, there's no internet available here, so families are able to reconnect and spend time together away from their gadgets!
Dusun Bonda, Lot 2121,Jalan Ulu Tamu, Batang Kali, Selangor, Malaysia, +6012 663 3667, www.dusunbonda.com
Set in a rubber tree plantation, The Rubber Escape in Alor Gajah, Melaka is a quiet, modern retreat with just 12 guest rooms for absolute privacy and relaxation. Great for couples or families wanting to get together, spend time doing absolutely nothing here. If you prefer some fun activities, there's swimming, biking, card and board games, karaoke, and junior archery. And if you request from the management, they may even allow you to observe the rubber tapping of trees.
The Rubber Escape, Lot 2443, Jalan Lendu Bakti 8, 78000 Alor Gajah, Melaka, Malaysia, www.facebook.com/therubberescape
Back to nature is on the cards when you choose to stay at The Sticks where you can experience their living quarters called 'tendoks', a cross between a tent and a hut. There's a river close by to enjoy a little dip, and we hear the home-cooked food here is an absolute delight. Opt for full board so that you won't have to worry about your meals, and spend the day going jungle trekking, or for the more adventurous, ask about the white water rafting experience. There's no Internet connection here, so forget about Netflix, and instead spend the night gazing at the stars and listening to the sounds of the river and jungle critters.
The Sticks, Lot 213 Jalan KKB - Fraser's Hill, 44000 Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor, Malaysia, thesticks.my
Treat yourself to a stay at the Mulu Marriott Resort in the Island of Borneo, the hotel chain's first Rainforest Resort. Built above ground in the style of traditional ethnic long houses in the state, this beautiful property is flanked by the Melinau River. Expect your standard five-star facilities here, and indulge in activities like visiting the Mulu National Park cave, river boat cruise, and get a massage at the Mandara Spa.
Mulu Marriott Resort, Sungai Melinau, PO Box 1145, 98008 Mulu, Sarawak, Malaysia +60 85-792 388, www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/myymu-mulu-marriott-resort-and-spa
Thrill-seekers wanting a taste of adventure, head to Adeline Villa & Resthouse in Gopeng, Perak where lodgings comes with full board and adventurous activities. Best done in bigger groups, sign up for white water rafting, wet abseiling, caving, jungle trekking, river boarding and more. And not to be missed is the delicious food served here using fresh ingredients.
Adeline Villa & Rest House, Lot 13302, Mukim Teja, Kampung Geruntum, Sungai Itik, Perak, Malaysia, +6019 556 1113, www.adelinevilla.com
Just one hour south of KL lies Mantin Forest Art Farmstay, a private farm stay with chalets and timber longhouses surrounded by the forest in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Designed to appeal to families and large groups, you won't have time to feel bored here because there are lots to see and do. Some of the attractions here include a bird park, farm animals, and activities like trekking, horse-riding, fishing, kayaking, karaoke, and more. The package comes with a full board to make your stay here as relaxing as possible.
Mantin Forest Art Farmstay, Lot 1813, Kampung Mantin Dalam, 71700 Mantin, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, +6013 361 6633, mantinfarmstay.com
Located in Balik Pulau, Penang is a cluster of traditional Thai Lanna Rice Barns converted into villas known as Malihom. Designed with an open-air concept and low-pitched roofs, you'll be surrounded by lush greenery in this 40-acres property. Opt for just bed and breakfast or full board, and spend your day chilling by the pool, soaking in the sight and sound of nature.
Malihome Retreat, Kiri N/t 168 Bukit Penara Mukim 6, 11000 Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia, +604 226 1997, malihom.com
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort sits within the Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia's first and largest National Park. It offers basic but adequate amenities such as air-conditioned rooms, hot showers, TV and more for visitors keen on experiencing a stay in a forest reserve. You might spot wildlife or two just outside your door, and get a glimpse of the many types of plants, and critters rare or indigenous to this country. Spend your time with river cruises, guided walks, bird watching, fishing, swimming by waterfalls, and night safaris. To reach Taman Negara, you'll need to drive for four hours from KL, and hop onto a short boat ride to reach the resort.
Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, Kuala Tahan, 27000 Jerantut, Pahang, Malaysia, +609 266 2200, www.mutiaratamannegara.com