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Showing posts with label Serenity Malaysia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Serenity Malaysia. Show all posts


Malaysian Homestay Programme 

What is a homestay programme?

A homestay programme gives tourists the opportunity to stay with a chosen family, interact and experience the daily life of their homestay family and learn the culture and lifestyle of the rural community in Malaysia. A homestay programme cannot be classified as a lodging facility. It focuses more on lifestyle and experience, including cultural and economic activities.

What types of activities are offered in a homestay programme?

Each homestay programme offers different types of activities, depending on the culture, food, economic activity as well as location. Every state in Malaysia has its own uniqueness in terms of culture, ranging from the nasi dagang in Kelantan to the sumazau dance in Sabah, as well as the long houses in Sarawak. Examples of homestay activities include:

(i) Culture and Lifestyle

    Traditional dances, traditional songs and traditional food
    Traditional games and sports
    Culture: marriage, assembly of animal sacrifice and festivals

(ii) Economic Activity

    Rubber tapping
    Fish breeding
    Agriculture: paddy, cocoa, oil palm, fruit

(iii) Recreation

    Jungle trekking
    White water rafting
    Visit to nearby tourism products

(iv)  Environmental preservation

Tree Planting Programme: Tourists are encouraged to plant trees at their homestays with the aim of preserving the environment and further beautifying the landscape of the homestays.

The Malaysia Rail Explorer is a new homestay package where tourists are invited to experience rural life in Kelantan. Visiting Kelantan by train is the best way to experience the culture and traditions of the state apart from enjoying the railway journey from Singapore to Kelantan. For further information and to make reservations for this package.

How much are the homestay packages?

A 2-day 1-night homestay package is between RM150 and RM250 inclusive of accommodation, food and activities (the cost depends on the activities offered by the homestay operator and activities requested by tourists). A detailed cost for each package can be obtained from the official Homestay Malaysia website.

How do I make a reservation for a homestay?

The particulars and cost of each package can be obtained at the official website of Homestay Malaysia. Tourists may choose the state they wish to visit as well as the activities they wish to participate in. The map to the homestay and the information about each homestay can also be found at the website which makes it convenient for tourists to make their reservations directly.

The Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) at Jalan Ampang is the focal point for information about tourism in Malaysia. It also provides the facility to make reservations for homestays.

"The Malaysia Rail Explorer" is a new homestay package inviting tourists to experience rural life in Kelantan by taking the train from Singapore. It is the best way to learn more about the culture and traditions of the state.

Searching for Wild Orangutans in Borneo (By Amy Blyth)

My only plan for our three-week trip to Malaysia was to find wild orangutans in Borneo. I’ve long dreamed of seeing these incredible human-like creatures in their natural environment and was prepared to do whatever it took to achieve my goal. Our search for the so-called man of the forest took us deep into the jungles of Borneo; we sailed down rivers and spent hours trekking through tropical heat to try and catch a glimpse of these secretive and endangered primates, but did we succeed?

The Search for Orangutans in Borneo

Our quest to find wild orangutans began with a difficult but extremely rewarding trip to Batang Ai National Park which took us well off the beaten track. We stayed with a local family in their longhouse and camped out in the jungle, but although we had an incredible experience we didn’t see any orangutans. According to locals we would have had to trek for days into the dense jungle, camping along the way to have a chance of spotting any.

The WWF says that there are only between 45,000 and 69,000 orangutans left in the wild due to deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade. This means that sadly there are very few places left to spot wild orangutans in Borneo; one of which is Sabah in Eastern Borneo, which is where we headed next to continue our search.

Our Trip to Danum Valley Field Centre

On arriving in Sabah we stayed at Bike and Tours, one of the nicest guesthouses we’ve come across on our trip so far. Our hosts Simon and Tish cooked us an amazing Indian-Malaysian meal and told us about the Danum Valley Field Centre, a scientific camp located in a prime location for spotting orangutans. While it’s not really meant as tourist accommodation, Simon and Tish were able to arrange for us to stay there a couple of nights and even agreed to drive us over the next day.

The field centre is set deep in the heart of Danum Valley next to a river; bearded pigs, deer and monkeys regularly wander into camp from the surrounding jungle. The first morning we were there we set our alarm for 5am and ventured out into the pale half-light of the jungle. Within minutes of shining the torch around we were met by two amber eyes gazing unblinkingly back at us – a deer perhaps. We slipped on the muddy uneven path until we got to a huge fig tree with a very precarious looking ladder attached leading up to viewing platforms. From there we could see the tree tops and part of the camp obscured in morning mist.

We spent the next day and a half trekking the jungle paths surrounding the camp searching for orangutans while being attacked by leeches and mosquitoes. Even though it was hot, sticky and exhausting work I loved exploring the maze of trees, spotting leaf monkeys and macaques, hearing the calls of birds and watching hornbills soar high above us – I felt so small surrounded by the vast infinity of the jungle.

All through our visit to Danum we kept hearing maddening rumours of orangutan sightings but as the final morning of our stay arrived we still hadn’t spotted any and we were beginning to feel desperate – we had only one more destination left to search for the elusive creatures.

Cruising the Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan is supposedly one of the easiest places to spot wild orangutans in Malaysian Borneo. Sadly, the fact that the forest surrounding the Kinabatangan river has been so severely logged means that only a narrow strip remains on either side of the water, forcing all the animals into this small area. The best way to view the wildlife is to take a boat trip straight down the river; we arranged afternoon, night and morning boat trips, certain that we would finally spot orangutans on one of them.

We spent hours whizzing down the river, stopping to watch leaf monkeys, macaques and rare long-nosed proboscis monkeys in trees lining the river banks. We spotted all kinds of birds, from kingfishers to huge hornbills and we even floated just feet from a huge crocodile but sadly, we still didn’t spot any orangutans. Despite all the time and effort we’d put into our search, the hundreds of pounds we’d spent and miles we’d travelled we had somehow failed to find any wild orangutans in Borneo.

Visiting Rescued Orangutans in Sepilok Rehabitilition Centre

Although we were pretty disappointed about the outcome of our orangutan quest we did have some incredible experiences during the course of our journey. While our trip to Borneo had been all about orangutans to begin with, somewhere along the way it became more to do with the journey than the end destination. The experiences we had in the jungle, all the amazing people we met and the incredible animals we did see more than justified our visit to Malaysia.

In addition, the fact that we didn’t spot any wild orangutans in Borneo just goes to show how endangered they’ve become. We learnt even more about the plight of orangutans when we visited the Sepilok Rehabilition Centre before we left Borneo. The centre rescues orphaned orangutans and attempts to teach them the skills they need to go back to the wild while still providing food and support for them if they need it.

We got the chance to see some of these orangutans feeding when we visited Sepilok. Although the experience wasn’t what we’d hoped for, especially since we were surrounded by hordes of noisy and pushy tourists, it was still a magical experience seeing the rusty-red creatures swinging out of the jungle to feed. We’re determined to return to Borneo one day to see orangutans where they truly belong: in the wild.


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10 Romantic Luxury Resorts in Malaysia (By Ashley Yeen)

Leading a fast-paced city life can be exciting, but what we often neglect is not only our own need to relax, but also our partner’s need for intimacy. When we recently asked a number of young, career-focused couples if they’ve been on a romantic holiday recently, a lot of them answered in the negative, and the main reason for it was the lack of time to organize one.

We’ve put our heads together and decided that there shouldn’t be an excuse not to enjoy a break and re-ignite the fire of romance with your loved one, so we’ve cooked up a list of the best romantic resorts we love in Malaysia. You’ll have no problems with long flights or foreign languages – just choose a resort you like, book a room, and ta-da, start packing for an intimate getaway with your man!

Four Seasons Langkawi Malaysia (5 Star)

One of the most luxurious villas on Langkawi island, the Four Seasons Langkawi is surrounded by a tropical rainforest and dramatic cliffs. Explore the entire island or enjoy an intimate barbeque by the beach as the sun sets. For something even more luxurious, bathe in the villa’s exclusive celadon soaking tub.
Address: Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000, Langkawi Malaysia
Phone: 04-9508888

Eastern and Oriental Hotel, Penang (5 Star)

The E&O Hotel is well-known in Penang as it eludes the grand elegance of the British Colonial era. It was also named one of Penang’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Located in Georgetown, you will enjoy great sea views during the day and then simply walk over to Penang’s famous clubs right opposite the hotel at Upper Penang Road at night.
Address: 10, Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Penang
Phone: 04-2222000

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh, Perak (5 Star)

If you love to get close with Mother Nature, Hotel Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat offers the best experience nestled in the lush tropical rainforest. Couples can enjoy a romantic dinner in Pomelo Restaurant with nourishing cuisine and fine wines in the cellar carved out of limestone. Embrace the company of each other in a dazzling plunge pool, outdoor rainshower and sunken Jacuzzi with geometrical hot springs water.
Address: 3, Persiaran Lagun Sunway, 31150, Ipoh, Perak.
Phone: 05-2107777

Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Island (5 Star)

This is the only hotel located on Pangkor Laut Island. It has been rated one of the best local honeymoon getaways on numerous travel articles as both of you can enjoy romantic moments sitting by the private beach, or pamper yourselves with a luxurious fine dining experience. Their specially designed huts and pavilions all feature private balconies or courtyards, and most bathrooms open out to the rainforest.
Address: Pangkor Laut, 32200 Perak.
Phone: 05-6991100

Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu (5 Star)

If you wish to have both luxury and nature on your holiday, this could be your choice. The beautifully located resort is set on an island that’ll promise serenity and breath-taking views of beautiful tropical plants and of the ocean. Spend  intimate moments with your loved one in spacious bedrooms with oversized bathtubs and two vanity units, or laze around on the outdoor verandah with day beds.
Address:  Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Phone: 03 27831000 / 018 9391100

Lone Pine Hotel, Penang (5- Stars)

The E&O Group promises to bring their guests to the highest level of excitement by offering them the most luxurious and relaxed environments. Lone Pine Hotel is designed to combine British colonial elements with contemporary touches. Dine in tranquility by the beach and listen to the sound of nature while sipping fine wines with your loved one.
Address: 97, Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang.
Phone: 04-8868686


Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala Lumpur (5 Stars)

If you want a romantic, colonial feel that’s right in the middle of Klang Valley, then book a weekend at Carcosa Seri Negara. In the 1900s, it used to house the Governor of the Straits Settlements as well as other prominent guests of the Malay Federation. Each suite in this hotel is not only spacious, but is also distinctive from each other to give its guests a luxuriously unique experience. Fans of colonial films like ‘Anna and the King’ will truly appreciate the interior of Carcosa Seri Negara and its beautiful manicured gardens.
Address: Jalan Kebun Bunga, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03 2295 0888

The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort (5 Star)

One of the most private locations in Redang, The Taaras is a bespoke beach residence that is known for its luxury and hospitality. We recommend trying Taaras’ exclusive twinning package which combines both ocean adventures and seaside relaxation for couples who want the best of island stays. If green rainforests and beautiful blue waters aren’t convincing enough, then these highlights about The Taaras will: oversized beds with hand-picked linens and fabrics. spa bathtubs overlooking the bay, sixteen meter infinity pool…need we say more?
Address: Pulau Redang, 20928, Redang Island
Phone: 09-6308888

Tanjong Jara Resort, Kuala Terengganu (4 Star)

This idyllic beachside property blends both contemporary luxury and old-world Malaysian warmth. You’ll feel as if you had travelled back in time to the olden days of Malay kings when you’re at Tanjong Jara, as it’s designed to reflect the elegance of 17th century Malay palaces. The rooms overlook either tropical landscaped gardens or panoramic views of the South China Sea and are furnished in local timber and luxurious fabrics. Activities are numerous here, from unique cooking lessons, jungle trekking, reef explorations to river cruises. You can also pamper your body at the Spa Village Tanjong Jara, where they offer programs for relaxation, reinvigoration and stress relief.
Address: Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun, 23000 Kuala Terenganu
Phone (Reservation): 03-27831000

Tanjung Rhu Resort Langkawi (5 Star)

The boutique resort is located on the northern tip of Langkawi, surrounded by tall palm trees and enormous outdoor swimming pools. Spanning over 2.5km of white sandy beach, the rooms here exude an Asian-Eastern influence, decorated with with upholstery and drapes in Thai silk and Indian cotton fabrics. For an unforgettable romantic experience, arrange for a special private dinner on the beach where a private butler will spoil you with champagne and mouthwatering barbeque selections. At the moment, they’re undergoing some renovations for service upgrade purposes until December 2013. However, if you don’t really mind some renovation noise, the hotel management will offer complimentary activities such as nature walks, fish and eagle spotting. More information on special rates during Tanjung Rhu’s refurbishment period, go here
Address: Mukim Ayer Hangat, Pulau Langkawi, 07000, Langkawi
Phone: 04-959 1033

Ashley Yeen

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