Nature Safari In West Malaysia

Escape everyday life on a nature safari in West Malaysia. Visit The Habitat in the Penang Hills. Explore jungle trails, rivers, limestone hills, caves and saltlicks while you enjoy boat rides and observe wildlife in Ulu Muda, a lush tropical rainforest located in the northern Peninsular Malaysia state of Kedah. Head to the ancient rainforest of Belum State Park and end your trip with a beach stay on one of Malaysia’s pristine east coast islands.

Best time to visit: Nov to April on the West Coast and April to Oct on the East Coast. On balance, April will be the best month for this self-drive.

Touring style: Self-guided adventure with local guides

Prices are seasonal, include hotels, breakfast and car hire Starts from:

GBP 1955 per person sharing a twin room, Standard Class Hotels

International airfares are extra.

  • Escape to nature in Penang With a specialist nature guide learn all about The Habitat and the work in conserving the environment.
  • Trek and cruise down rivers to spot amazing wildlife at Ulu Muda forest reserve.
  • Relax on pristine beaches of the East Coast
Nature Safari In West Malaysia at a glance
  • Day 1: Fly to Penang
  • Day 2: Arrival in Penang. Visit The Habitat
  • Day 3: Soft trekking in Penang National Park
  • Day 4: Tropical Spice Garden and Malay Cooking Class
  • Day 5: Discover the wilds of Ulu Mada Forest Reserve
  • Day 6: Search for wildlife in Ulu Mada Forest reserve
  • Day 7: Head for Belum Rainforest
  • Day 8: Explore Upper Belum
  • Day 9: Head to the East Coast
  • Day 10: Escape to an East Coast Island. Pulau Redang, The Perhentians or Lang tengah Island.
  • Day 14: Departure
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Day 1: Fly with your choice of airline to Penang

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Day 2: Arrival in Penang

Upon arrival in Penang, you will be met at the airport for a transfer to your hotel..

Pick-up by your driver and guide at 14:00 to visit The Habitat on Penang Hill. You will take the funicular railway to enjoy panoramic views of Georgetown and the Malaysian mainland.  Located just a short walk from the iconic funicular railway top station, The Habitat preserves the natural beauty of the Penang Hills. Discover the flora and fauna of the highland forest through a guided nature walk by a specialist guide from The Habitat. Take a leisurely stroll along its 1.6km nature trail, Then go on the Habitat Canopy Walk, which offers spectacular views of the rolling hills of Penang. The Habitat Canopy Walk and the Treetop Walk offer spectacular views, with the walkways being ‘tree friendly’. There is no rigging of steel cables directly onto the trees. Other attractions at The Habitat are Red Garden, Butterfly Bank, Yellow Garden, Purple Garden, Ginger Grove and Fragrance Garden.

18.00 hrs: Return to your hotel.

Overnight in Penang.

Transfer from Penang Airport to Penang Hotel (20km): 40mins

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Day 3: Penang National Park soft trek

This morning you will be picked up at the hotel and transferred to the north-west of the island to the main entrance of the Park at Telok Bahang. Meet with the Penang National Park nature guide for an introduction on the park.

Take the 3km trail to Pantai Kerachut, a beautiful white sand beach with a seasonal meromictic lake. The trail today will take around 2-3 hours to Pantai Kerachut stopping en route to learn about the ecosystem of the park. The nature guide will point out wild herbs and wildlife in the National Park as well as numerous other plant species along the way. Pantai Kerachut Beach is a great place for a banana-leaf wrapped local lunch, water and seasonal tropical fruit.

The undulating trail crosses streams amid lowland rainforest where there is also a variety of migratory birds that call the Park home as well as macaques and langur monkeys and a host of medicinal flora & pitcher plants.

At 12:15, be transferred by boat for a slow cruise around the headland to Monkey Beach. Choose to stop to spend some free time at leisure or be transferred back to the park’s headquarters.

At 13:15, depart the park’s headquarters by private air-conditioned vehicle for a 45 minutes ride back to Penang. Arrive approximately at 14:00.

Return to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

(Trekking trail will take min. 1.5 hours with no information and up to 3 hours with the nature guide.)

Recommended Kit: It is recommended to wear walking shoes and bring mosquito repellent, sun cream and a wide brim hat.

Overnight in Penang.

Transfer from Penang Hotel to Penang National Park (20km): 40mins

Day 4: Penang Tropical Spice Garden and Malay Nyonya cooking school

Pick up at the hotel at 08:15 for a transfer to Tropical Spice Garden. On arrival take a guided tour of the Spice Terraces, explore the lush landscaped award-winning gardens set out over 8 acres of the secondary jungle before a tea refreshment in the Bamboo Garden. Tucked away in a secluded corner of the gardens, the cooking school is surrounded by jungle trees and wildlife, a small herb garden and a glimpse of the Andaman Sea.

At 10:15, go for a cooking class and learn how to cook tasty Malay, Nyonya and/or Indian cuisine with the help of professional chefs. Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine is a combination of Chinese, Malay and other influences into a unique blend. 

Nonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. This gives rise to Peranakan interpretations of Malay/Indonesian food that is similarly tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. Mix this with traditional Malay style cooking and the influence of Indian cuisine encompassing a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India and conclude with a delightful selection of dishes to enjoy for lunch on the patio.

Please note: Dishes will vary depending on the day and menu set. Examples: Penang Nyonya flavours/Best of Malay/Spices of India or Tropical Thai. Vegetarian options are available and must be requested.

After lunch, be transferred towards Balik Pulau to Art and Garden where nature meets art. Within 1.5 acres of hilly land, in three-tier reaches, a green sanctuary showcasing an amazing variety of bromeliads, air plants, aloes, agaves, gingers, trumpet pictures and orchids amidst glass, clay and metal sculptures as well as paintings and colourful mosaics.

Return to your hotel.

Overnight in Penang

Transfer from Penang Hotel to Tropical Spice Garden (15km): 35mins

Transfer from Tropical Spice Garden to Arts and Garden (10km): 25 mins

Transfer from Art and Garden to Georgetown (25km): 1 hour

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Day 5: Discover the wilds of Ulu Mada

Early morning transfer to Ulu Muda Jetty. Arrive at noon. Take a traditional long-tailed boat across the Muda Lake and up the Muda River to Earth Lodge. The duration of the boat journey depends very much on the water level and conditions and would usually take approximately 1 - 1.5 hours.

Arrive at Earth Lodge for a briefing by the Park Ranger. Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is particularly known as an important site for Malaysia’s megafauna. The main wildlife here is the Asian elephant, Malaysian tapir, sambar deer, barking deer and wild boar. The other large mammals known to call Ulu Muda home are the gaur, tiger and leopard.

Late afternoon, take a river cruise in search of wildlife. With some luck, see elephants along the river bank.

Overnight at Earth Lodge.

Important Notes:

It is advisable to travel light on the journey into Ulu Muda Rainforest. Heavier luggage can be left at the previous hotel if returning to there or with the driver.
The seats of the boats from Muda Lake Jetty to Earth Lodge are made of wooden planks without back-rest.
Earth Lodge – chalet-style accommodation equipped with two single mattresses, attached bathroom, balcony and ceiling fan. There is no water heater or bath towels and toiletries. Electricity to the Earth Lodge is powered by a generator which will be switched on between 1800hrs to 2300hrs daily.

Transfer from Penang to Lake Muda Jetty by vehicle(150km): 2hrs

Transfer by boat from Lake Muda Jetty to Earth Lodge: up to 1.5hrs

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Day 6: Ulu Muda Forest Reserve

Wake up to the mysterious call of gibbons and the cacophony of various species of Ulu Muda’s avifauna.

After breakfast take a two-hour trek (easy to moderate) through the pristine jungle to Bukit Labu (Labu Hill), a newly discovered limestone hill with several caves. While visiting the hill and its mysterious caves, learn the importance of this mostly forgotten habitat. These pristine and beautiful caves were only discovered in 2006. Be prepared as there are many leeches on the trail (leech socks can be borrowed at Earthlodge).

Enjoy a simple lunch by a cool, wide stream before trekking back to the Lodge.

In the afternoon, go for a casual walk in search of Ulu Muda’s abundant avifauna and other wildlife. Ulu Muda is listed by Birdlife International as an important bird watching area. This is mostly due to it being home to many rare and globally threatened bird species. These include the very rare plain –pouched hornbill, masked finfoot, and the argus pheasant. Ulu Muda has recorded sightings of over 300 species of birds and still counting!

In the early afternoon, return to the lodge for some free time.

(Please note: An additional River Cruise can be organised and tailored to special requests depending on what nature sightings that are of interest. Wildlife photographers may need more time on the cruise for photo shooting opportunities.)

In the late afternoon cruise upstream to the Saltlick. Take a short 10-minute muddy walk into a saltlick where elephants, gaurs, deers, wild boar and tapirs are frequent visitors. From here, get back in the boat to cruise downstream in search of the late afternoon’s wildlife activities on the lake.

Overnight at Earth Lodge

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Day 7: Ulu Mada Forest reserve to Belum Rainforest

Have breakfast and relax before departing Earth Lodge at 11:00 and return to Ulu Muda Jetty to meet the driver. Upon arrival at the Jetty, head on a scenic overland ride to Banding, an island of Temenggor Lake on Malaysia’s East Coast.

Check-in at the Belum Rainforest Resort and spend some time at leisure. Take a short walk to the herbal garden on-site to learn about the many local herbs. Alternatively spend the time at the infinity pool overlooking Lake Banding for a cool, refreshing afternoon dip.

This evening, take dinner followed by an evening night trek at 20:30. Discover the rainforest at night on a 2-hour guided night walk close to the resort.

(Please note: For tomorrow’s tour to the Royal Belum State Park passport details are required to submit to the Park authorities to purchase permits.

Overnight at Belum Rainforest Resort.

Lodge to Lake Muda Jetty: 1.5hrs

Lake Muda Jetty to Banding (165): 2.5 hours

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Day 8: Belum Rainforest

Meet the boat at the resort jetty at 08:30 to head to the wilder parts of Upper Belum. Cruise in a covered boat in search for the Rafflesia, the biggest flower in the world. Trek to one of the several multi-tiered waterfalls and enjoy a swim. Most trails are only accessible by boat and once in the rainforest trek for up to 1 hour on jungle terrain, crossing rivers to magnificent waterfalls. Pass huge fig trees and discover some of the oldest rainforests in the world, dating back over 130 million years.

Enter Upper Belum by boat and cruise deeper into the rainforest. There are several waterfalls in and around the Belum State Park and places to stop for short treks to view the Rafflesia. (The exact routing of the day and stops will depend on the time of year, water levels and Rafflesia sightings)

Reaching the furthest part of the lake it’s time to stop for a packed lunch, learn about the Orang Asli Villages dotted around the lake only accessible by water before a relaxing cruise around the lake in search of wildlife. Hornbill sightings are very common so for bird lovers ensure to bring binoculars.

Stop off at a final waterfall, take a short trek and a quick dip before heading back to the Resort .

Overnight Belum Rainforest Resort

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Day 9: Head to the East Coast of Malaysia

Depart for a 4-hour overland discovery to the East Coast of Malaysia. Stay overnight at Terrapuri Heritage Village, part of a conservation and restoration project of Terengganu Malay Classic Houses.

Overnight Terrapuri Heritage Village.

Transfer from Banding island to Terrapuri Heritage Village by vehicle (225km): 4hours

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Day 10: Relax on a pristine beach in East Coast Malaysia

Extension to a  beach resort on the East Coast,

Drive to. Kuala Besut Jetty for the Perhentian Islands or Merang/Shabandar Jetty for Redang Island, Kapas Island or Lang Tengah Island.

Please note: The east coast Islands are not available between end of October and beginning of March annually due to the monsoon season.

Transfer Terrapuri to Kuala Besut (55km) 1 hour

Transfer Terrapuri to Merang Jetty (22Km): 30mins

Kuala Besut to Perhentian Island or v.v: 30 minutes

Merang Jetty to Redang Island or v.v: 45 minutes

Syahbandar Jetty to Redang Island or v.v: 1 hour 40 minutes

Speed boat timingKuala Besut to Perhentian Island: 1130hrs & 1400hrs (on Friday is at 1430hrs)

Merang Jetty to Redang Island: 1100hrsSyahbandar Jetty to Redang Island: 0900hrs, 1030hrs & 1500hrs

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Days 11 to 13: Relax on the beach

Spend the next few days free and at leisure, enjoying the quiet, remote and pristine beach landscape.

Overnight at Perhentian, Redang Island, Kapas Island or Lang Tengah island.

Day 14:Departure

Check out and depart to Besut/Merang/Syahbandar Jetty.

Be picked up for departure flight back home.

Kuala Besut Jetty to Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Kota Bahru (62KM): 1.5hours

Merang Jetty to Sultan Mahmud Airport, Kuala Terengganu (36KM): 45 minutes

Syahbandar Jetty to Sultan Mahmud Airport, Kuala Terengganu (14KM): 30 minutes

Speed boat timing

Perhentian Island to Kuala Besut Jetty: 1030hrs & 1230hrs

Redang Island to Merang Jetty: 0900hrs

Redang Island to Syahbandar Jetty: 0730hrs, 1100hrs & 1300hrs

Not quite right? This itinerary is just to give you an idea of what is possible. Need some more inspiration? Please get in touch at 01473 214305 or email to sales@eastravel.co.uk.  We welcome your questions. We're here to help!

Highlights

Belum Forest Reserve

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Penang cultural heritage and sun-kissed beaches

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Pulau Perhentian: a tropical paradise

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Pulau Redang: a diving paradise

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Accommodation

Ulu Mada Forest Reserve, Simple Lodgings
Earth Lodge

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Kampung Mangkuk, Terengganu, Heritage Village
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