We are already beginning to see more local holidaymakers venturing beyond their backyard to visit places of interest in Malaysia. As tourism businesses and sites begin to engage and receive domestic travellers, there is a need for us to be more conscious of the impact we leave behind.
For more than a year, natural sites and tourist spots have been void of mass tourists. There was a clear decline in carbon emissions, air pollution and environmental deterioration. The pause meant that nature was able to restore and replenish at its own pace.
So, we must choose our holidays wisely by leaving positive footprints behind. By travelling in a way that brings sustainable benefits to the places and communities you visit, you help to ensure local economies are thriving and biodiversity is at its best.
Putting extra thought into where you go, what you do and the communities you will be meeting can make the world of a difference. Here are seven places just under two hours from Kuala Lumpur that will feed your adventurous soul and benefit the planet and people.
#1: Pulau Ketam: Slow Travel On The Island With Two-Wheels
Distance: 1 hour 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur (including a 40 minutes boat trip)
The sleepy town of Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) is located just off Port Klang, a small settlement with a population of around 10,000 people built in the 1920s. The inhabitants of Pulau Ketam are namely fishermen and predominantly Chinese (95%) with a few Orang Asli families left in Sungai Dua, one of the four villages on the island.
Be prepared to spend a day exploring the island as there are many natural attractions such as fishing, mangrove trekking and bird watching. The best way to get around the island is to rent a bicycle and stop at places that tickle your fancy. There are no roads or cars and the only way to get around is by boat or walking/cycling on the narrow wooden or concrete boardwalks within the village.
Observe the way of life on the island as small coffee shops come to life and fisherman set out to sea for the day’s catch. Patronize local restaurants and savour fresh seafood on the island to help the local economy. Venture into the mangrove jungles and look out for birds, crabs and other wildlife. The unique ecosystem of Pulau Ketam is part of the government’s rehabilitation and restoration programme.
This low-environmental impact day trip will slow your pace and it’s a great place to bring children as well. They will enjoy the ferry ride from the Klang Jetty terminal which takes approximately 40 minutes and the foot or bicycle exploration on the island.
Get there: Head to the Port Klang ferry terminal by car or by train and purchase your ferry tickets at the terminal. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes with the first ferry at 730am.
#2: Pulau Carey: Visiting The ‘Masked Men Of Malaysia’
Distance: 1 hour 10 minutes from Kuala Lumpur
Appreciate the cultural diversity that Malaysia has to offer by visiting Pulau Carey located 35km away from Klang town. The island is home to the indigenous Mah Meri tribe, one of 18 Orang Asli sub-tribes found in Peninsular Malaysia. Also referred to as the ‘Masked Men of Malaysia’, the Mah Meri people are known for their unique wooden sculptures, headpieces and face masks depicting flora and fauna, humans and deities. These carvings have gained recognition from UNESCO.
Once seafarers living on sampans, the Mah Meri people travelled the Southeast Ocean before settling on Malaysian soil long ago. Today, the population on the island is around 4,000 people and many of them are fishermen and traders living in kampung houses with basic amenities.
The Mah Meri Cultural Village is open throughout the year and the best time to visit is during Hari Moyang (Ancestor Day) which takes place between March and April. Tours are highly interactive and educational as visitors learn the way of life of these sea gipsies through powerful cultural repertoire, storytelling, life-skills demonstrations and craft demonstrations.
The village is a child-friendly place to visit as young ones can try their hand at the blowpipe, learn and play traditional games and create beautiful palm leaf origami crafts. The full package which starts at 10 am and ends at 3 pm includes a delectable lunch of traditional delicacies, seafood and island herbs.
#3: Bentong: Peaceful Small Town Vibe
Distance: 1 hour from Kuala Lumpur
Nestled in the foothills of Banjaran Titiwangsa, Bentong is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. The small town of Bentong is an interesting place to visit on foot. Venture into food stalls, take in the unique pre-war architecture of shophouses with more than 120 years of history and walk the market that comes to life every Saturday night.
Cool off the afternoon heat by indulging in sweet treats at Kow Po, a 40-year old establishment serving homemade ice cream and air batu campur. Learn about the history of Bentong and how this small town graduated from poverty following the tin mining boom in the early 1900s with a visit to the Bentong Gallery.
Learn about small local industries by visiting Kicap Bentong Soya Factory where you can see how soy sauce and other fermented soy products are made. Then make a beeline to the Bentong Tofu Puff, a business now run by the third generation of tofu puff makers using a recipe that is over a century old. Observe the art of turning soya beans into delicious, airy puffs and of course, buy some to taste.
Want a breath of fresh air, drive to Chamang Waterfall only 15 minutes from Bentong town. Grab some snacks along the way as the area surrounding the waterfall makes for a perfect location for a short picnic. Dip your feet into the cool waters, go for a full-on swim or just laze around and enjoy the forested scenery.
#4: Sekinchan: Land Of Fish And Rice
Distance: 1 hour 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur
The small town of Sekinchan is known for its picturesque views of sprawling paddy fields against the backdrop of blue skies. There are countless activities to suit everyone’s fancy. The famous Wishing Tree and “I love Sekinchan” sign are great photo ops.
Sekinchan is one of the major rice-producing regions in Malaysia and the largest rice mill in the area is owned by PLS Group. Visit their factory to learn about rice production; from cultivation to planting, harvesting to processing, packaging to distribution locally and overseas. The Rice Market and Paddy Gallery is open daily from 9 am to 530 pm.
Pantai Redang is a great stop for some sunbathing and splashing around. As you stroll the beach, buy from local seaside snack stalls, purchase some kites and catch the sea breeze.
Sekinchan is also known as the “land of fish and rice” because of its proximity to the coast. Bagan fishing village is a good stopover to savour some fresh seafood. Bagan’s economy depends on the fishing industry and this is apparent as you cast your eyes on the horizon with fishing boats dotted all over. Hong Kim Mooi Fishery is a great place to purchase fresh seafood on your way home.
#5: Hulu Langat: Wildlife and Hikers Haven
Distance: 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur
Take your family to Zoo Negara Malaysia, home to more than 5000 creatures include mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The aquarium at the zoo is known for its display of over 80 species of aquatic animals. During a recent re-opening of the zoo, local visitors thronged the place hoping to catch a glimpse of the baby panda, rare King Cheetah and lemurs.
If you love a good hike, Gunung Nuang standing at 1,483m, the tallest peak in Selangor is the place to be. The entire trail is quite arduous for a beginner hiker, but there are several stops to take a break including some by the river where you can take a dip.
Other popular outdoor stops in the district of Hulu Langat include Sungai Gabai Waterfalls, Sugai Congkak, Tekala Recreational Park and Semenyih Water Reservoir. There are also two natural hot springs called Dusun Tua and Sungai Serai that can offer you a unique natural spa experience to refresh and rejuvenate in nutrient-rich waters.
#6: Kuala Selangor: Diamonds In The Sky
Distance: 1 hour from Kuala Lumpur
Famous for its fireflies, Kuala Selangor has many other hidden gems that are worth exploring. While visitors typically sign up for a boat tour along the riverbanks of Sungai Selangor to watch the fireflies dance after sundown, plan to spend a day exploring Kuala Selangor before settling into the boat.
Start by exploring the Altingsburg Lighthouse, the town’s unmistakable landmark. Built in 1907, the lighthouse is a symbol that the area is a high place and can be seen from miles away from those at sea. The lighthouse lights up from 7 pm to 6 am and the light can be seen 18 nautical miles away. The Moon Viewing Pavilion, located in front of the lighthouse, is a beautiful pavilion built to see the new moon.
Immerse yourself in nature as you explore the Kuala Selangor Nature Park that occupies over 2.9 kilometres of coastland largely covered with mangrove swamps. The four walking trails in the park are easy and suitable for children and elderly folks. Rich in biodiversity, the park is a great place for spotting wildlife with over 150 species of birds and on occasion, the endangered silver leaf monkey can also be seen.
#7: Raub: Cave, Durians and A Chilly Getaway
Distance: 1 hour and 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur
Bentong and Raub are two districts in Pahang. While Bentong is a tin mining town, Raub is known for its gold. It was first mined in the 1800s when miners found specks of gold in every scoop of sand dug from the earth.
Today, Raub is also known for its golden fruit – durians. Dotted across the vicinity are umpteen fruit orchards, many filled with durian trees.
Take a detour and explore Gua Kechil (translated into a small cave in English) where you can see natural stalactite and stalagmite formations in the cave. Once a hideout for the Communists and Japanese soldiers, the cave boasts writings on the wall that illustrates part of Malaya’s history.
Fancy more outdoor adventures? Head to Sungai Pasu Recreation Centre just 13km from Raub town where there are several homestay programmes to choose from. For a fresh cool experience, make your way up to Fraser’s Hill just 19km from Raub town and enjoy the chilly weather, savour some scones, stroll the parks and do some horseback riding.
Explore Our Sources:
- Port Klang Integrated Coastal Management Project. Crab Island. Link.
- HappyGo KL. (2020). Pulau Ketam Day Trip. Link.
- Tourism Media Asset Base (Tour MAB). (2018). Men with masks and tigers in chains. Link.
- Mah Meri Cultural Village. Link.
- Selangor Travel. Discover Hulu Langat. Link.
- Kuala Selangor. History, Seafood, Firefly, Sky Mirror, Eagle & Blue Tears. Link.
- Samantha Liong. (2019). Plenty Places of Pleasure in Pahang. Travel Tales. Link.