Long-weekend destinations filled with family-friendly activities
Being blessed with copious public holidays means if you plan in advance, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on short trips to neighbouring countries or explore your own backyard of Malaysia. By the TOM Kids team
Embarking on a jungle adventure to Taman Negara ( tamannegara.
asia), the sprawling 4,343 sq km national park spread across three states – Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang – is a must-do for adventurous families who relish the outdoors. A jungle experience like this will not only be big fun but imbue the kids with a deep respect for Mother Nature, especially when you consider that it’s over 130 million years old.
A wide range of activities caters to kids of all ages, from slow and easy jungle trekking to heart-stopping rides through the rapids on the choppy waters of Sungai Tembeling. Visit an aborigine settlement to try your hand at ‘hunting’ with a traditional blow pipe or stop by Kelah Sanctuary to feed and observe large schools of freshwater fish. Whether you’re traipsing on swinging canopy walkways or standing under the shockingly cold waters of the Four Step Waterfall, your collective experiences will prove more precious than physical souvenirs.
Where accommodation is concerned, staying at Mutiara Taman Negara Resort ( mutiaratamannegara.com) will save you time and energy since it’s the only resort located within the park. That being said, countless mid-range hotels and budget bed-and-breakfasts can be found in Kuala Tahan at lower prices. Getting there Taman Negara is accessible via public transport, shuttle bus, van or car. Visit tamannegara.asia for more information.
Kota Kinabalu, or KK as it’s affectionately known, is a delightful coastal city rich in history, and fascinating indigenous culture and tradition. A 1.5 hour drive away from the city is the Kinabalu National Park and while you probably won’t be climbing Mount Kinabalu, there are still plenty of activities for the kids in the vicinity such as nature walks or even fun farm tours at the Desa Cattle Dairy Farm ( fb.com/desadairyfarmkundasang), where it’s oddly reminiscent of an alpine scene complete with Friesian cows.
An easy 30-minute drive from KK is the Mari Mari Cultural Village ( marimariculturalvillage.com) where five main tribes of Sabah – the Dusun, Rungus, Lundayen, Bajau and Murut – are represented. Here you can get an interactive experience and more than a glimpse into the tribe’s culture and traditional activities. Taste traditional wine and foods and try your hand at playing the Murut warrior pipe.
Also, don’t forget to take some time to visit the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park houses orangutans along with other exotic animals in a zoo environment. Alternatively take a full day tour to the Sandakan Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation centre ( sepilokjungleresort.com), which is a great way to see orangutans in their natural environment.
Getting there Air Asia and Malindo offer several flights daily from KLIA.
Kuantan usually registers on most itineraries as a pit stop between long hauls of travelling. Its location and easy access (a 2.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur) also make it an easy weekend trip. Take a day trip away from the commotion of the city and go to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary to feed and bathe the elephants, and support the good work they do relocating and rehabilitating elephants.
A trip to the East Coast wouldn’t be complete without a blow-out local seafood dinner. Ana Ikan Bakar Petai specialises in fish char-grilled with sambal
petai (chilli paste with stink beans) wrapped in banana leaves – what you’ll get is a beautiful mess of ikan bakar.
Of course, if you go to Kuantan you’ll have to go to the beach too. Head to Teluk Cempedak, which is very popular with locals and visitors, and a great spot to unwind and take a quick dip in the South China Sea. There’s a boardwalk with scenic views connecting Teluk Cempedak to Teluk Tongkang, a cove more suitable for campers. If you’re willing to go further, Cherating is approximately 60km away where you can try surfing, treat yourself to Club Med Cherating ( clubmed.com.my), or just check into a beach hut and chill out while the kids run wild on the beach. Getting there Firefly offers several flights daily from KLIA. There are also express buses ( busonlineticket.com) from KL to Kuantan every hour. Driving takes approximately 2.5 hours via the Karak Highway and East Coast Expressway.