Forget the usual cafes and tourist traps, these are the best natural Insta-worthy spots that our neighbour, Malaysia, has to offer. From crystal clear waters, a hidden lake, to treehouse in the jungle, your friends and followers will be suffering from serious FOMO.
1. Tasik Cermin, Ipoh
Located in a limestone quarry in Ipoh, Tasik Cermin or Mirror Lake, can be a little tricky to find but the payoff is worth it. After you get your fill of Funny Mountain tau fu fah, head towards Da Seng Ngan temple. After you park near the quarry, follow the dirt path that leads inwards towards the cave entrance – be warned, there are no lights.
Once you emerge from the darkness, prepare for the stunning panorama of the lake surrounded by lush vegetation. A covered platform has been built by the quarrymen, and makes for a perfect landscape picture.
There have been days when the lake has been closed (we presume due to quarry work), but if you’re lucky, you’re really lucky.
2. Gem Island, Terengganu
The state of Terengganu is best known for the island of Redang, but take a step off the well tread tourist path and check out Pulau Gemia, a small private resort and turtle conservation centre.
The island is a popular nesting spot for different species of turtle, and the staff educate and encourage guests to take part in saving these gentle, endangered creatures. The resort has a saltwater pool that is used to house injured or young turtles – and also guests when there are no turtles.
The water is crystal clear, and thanks to conservation efforts, the island is surrounded by vibrant sea life and coral (we love the iridescent Parrotfish) as watersports like jetskiing aren’t allowed.
While there is WI-FI, this is the perfect place to disconnect, relax and unwind.
3. Semporna, Sabah
If you want to get even further from the tourist hordes, the small town of Semporna is the place to go. Located on the southern part of Sabah near the border of Kalimantan, this is a paradise for sun seekers and divers.
The most popular island off Semporna is Sipadan, but Pom Pom, Mabul, and Kapalai are just some of the other stunning natural wonders.
Another spectacular site would be the stilt houses of the indigenous Bajau Laut people, perhaps one of the last remaining nomadic marine groups in the world.
The easiest way to get there is to fly to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu, then take a taxi from Tawau to Semporna.
4. Monkey Beach, Penang
Contrary to what its name implies, we did not see any monkeys at Penang’s Monkey Beach (unlike in Thailand). There were, however, a few Italian and Japanese tourists.
This quiet stretch of sand sits in Penang National Park, either a few hours hike or a short boat ride from the National Park entrance (we recommend this).
While there are no monkeys, there are plenty of wooden and rope swings for that shot filled with lazy summer vibes. There are one or two ramshackle F&B outlets, but a (large) coconut was all we needed.
Once you’ve had your fill of the beach, set sail for a mouthwatering bowl of assam laksa and some Penang char kway teow, so your friends get double the holiday envy.
5. Terra’s Tree House, Cameron Highlands
This rustic retreat is for those seeking adventure – to get to the hotel a 4WD ride is provided, before a 400m trek through Brinchang, Cameron Highlands on a wood-tiled track.
Unleash your inner Jane (or Tarzan) as you survey the jungle from your tree house – an eco-friendly structure built by the Orang Asli, made of bamboo, rattan and palm leaves. Organic food is provided from the hotel’s farm for you to whip up breakfast and dinner.
The clear water is directly brought in via a hidden mountain stream, and the bed sheets and blankets are made from mostly organic cotton.
Nature lovers and photographers can keep an eye out for majestic eagles, butterflies, swallows, owls and the occasional deer or wildcat.
Insta-worthy and environmentally friendly? It’s on.