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OVERVIEW

Kuala Kangsar / Belum / Perhentian Islands / Kota Bharu / Penang

Sample exotic flavours, experience traditional culture and trek through unspoiled nature for an unforgettable Malaysia holiday. Travel from UNESCO-heritage Penang to tropical beaches, stopping on the way to explore the Belum Rainforest, stay in a village homestay and meet local artisans to discover the ‘real’ Malaysia.

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TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Tour Highlights for Cuisine, Homestay and Jungles - Northern Malaysia
Discover Malaysia’s culinary scene

Discover Malaysia’s culinary scene

Take a hands-on cooking class in Penang, learn about exotic herbs and sample home-cooked cuisine for a gastronomic adventure.

Experience authentic local life

Experience authentic local life

Spend two nights in a homestay, joining with the host family for typical daily activities in the village.

Explore Malaysia’s unspoiled nature

Explore Malaysia’s unspoiled nature

Seek out jumbo Rafflesia flowers, exotic wildlife and more with visits to Lake Cendorah, Belum Rainforest and Lenggong Valley.

Exo Travel

ITINERARY

Cuisine, Homestay and Jungles - Northern Malaysia - 12 Days / 11 Nights

DAY 1 - Arrival, PenangMealsMEALS [D]

Exo TravelPenang Airport to Hotel (20km): 40 mins Penang Walking Tour (3km): 3 hours Hotel to Night Market (4km average): 15 min

Penang is an evocative city. A trader’s port for centuries and once a British colonial stronghold for the trade route through the Malacca Strait, Penang exudes the charm of its rich heritage. Spend the next couple of days exploring the street art, hawker food and finding out why UNESCO awarded Penang a World Heritage listing in 2008.

Subject to the time of arrival, take an exploration of Penang with a wander through the colorful lanes that combine modern street art and 19th Century buildings. A walking tour of Penang can be customized to better suit guests’ interests and fitness levels, however all tours will include all the main buildings of interest, and where possible, the local artisans still plying their trade. Fort Cornwallis, the Street of Harmony, Little India and the Clan Temples all form part of this Penang discovery.

Tonight, experience the sights and sounds at one of Penang’s favorite eating locations. Dining under the stars with a range of local food options is one of the many ways the local Penangites catch up with their family and friends. The guide will point out the many and varied specialty dishes of Penang.

Overnight in Penang

Distances and journey time:

Penang Airport to Hotel (20km): 40 mins

Penang Walking Tour (3km): 3 hours

Hotel to Night Market (4km average): 15 min

DAY 2 - Penang Cooking Class Art and GardenMealsMEALS [B|L]

Pick up at 08:15 from the hotel 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 secondary jungle before a refreshment of Tea 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.

Cooking class commences at 10:15. 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. Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malays. The old Malay word “nyonya” a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing (part “madame” and part “auntie”), has come to refer to the cuisine of the Peranakans.

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)

Following lunch depart deep in the hills of the winding road of Teluk Bahang towards Balik Pulau to Art and Garden where nature meets with art. Within 1.5 acres of hilly land, in three-tier reaches, a green sanctuary showcases 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.

Take a pleasant walk along the terraced hill land with an explanation of each plant’s origin and use. Appreciate the seamlessly blended art glasswork with tropical planting and landscape along with many other mediums of work.

Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight in Penang

DAY 3 - Penang to Kuala Kangsar MealsMEALS [B|L|D]

Exo TravelDistances and journey timePenang to Kuala Kangsar (125km) 1.5 HoursKuala Kangsar to Lake Cendorah (33km) 35 minPier to Island (by speed boat) 20mins

Start the day the local way at 07:00, with a fabulous dim sum breakfast. Dining alongside crowds of Penangites, sample the city’s best dim sum. The guide will explain about the city’s culinary traditions and Malaysian dining etiquette while the din of conversation and clunking of chopsticks echo in the background. Once full, continue along Penang’s culinary trail with a visit to Chow Rasta. This wet market has been in operation since the early 1800’s and is the perfect place to observe scenes of daily life. Watch as housewives and chefs haggle with vendors for the freshest food and learn about the daily market culture of Penang.

Having enjoyed the vibrant culinary scenes of Penang, return to the hotel for check out.

Leave Penang for the 2-hour transfer to the beautiful royal city of Kuala Kangsar On arrival, take lunch at a location preferred by the locals, sampling a laksa recipe that has been in the family since 1955. Kuala Kangsar boasts perhaps the most beautiful mosque in Malaysia, which was designed in 1917 by AB Hubback, the famous Kuala Lumpur architect, and features a bold golden ‘onion’ style dome and gold tipped minarets. Like any place of worship respectful clothing is advised, however robes and headscarves can be provided. Inside the mosque, the intricately carved wooden privy screens set against the Islamic designed tiles are a must-see! Just next door to this mosque is Baitul Anor – a great example of ’kampung’ (village) architecture of the early 20th Century. Continue past the current Sultan’s Palace, a tribute to the art deco influences of the time, before stopping for a photo at Istana Kenengan, the former palace of the sultan and a very well-preserved example of classic Malaysian wood craftsmanship.

Being a royal city there are crafts that support the sultan, one of the most important being ’keris’ making. The keris is dagger-like weapon which features a design full of personal meaning, using a range of established symbols and flourishes. Guests can Learn more about this fascinating craft as they meet with the present day keris maker  for the Sultan of Perak.

Travel to a village that specializes in making Labu Sayong– a particular style of gourd-shaped pottery produced from the fine clay of the Kangsar River, which and used to keep water cool. This craft is currently experiencing a resurgence and these elegant water pitchers have found a new home amongst modern Malaysians across the country.

Leaving the Village behind and transfer to a traditional Malay Homestay to enjoy a two-night stay at Suka Suka Homestay in a traditional Malay home with Mr Aziz and his family. Located by the edge of Lake Chenderoh in Perak. Relax to the backdrop of the lake and forested mountains or take to the water in a kayak.

Mid-afternoon arrival. Meet and greet by the host for an introductory tour of the area. Immerse in a traditional Malays home and learn the various village activities and local food.

This afternoon take a 2.5 hour kayak before an evening BBQ dinner followed by local games.

Overnight Suka Suka Homestay.

Overnight in Suka Suka Lake Retreat Homestay

DAY 4 - HomestayMealsMEALS [B|L|D]

Exo TravelIsland to Village (by speed boat) 20mins Village Walk & Trek to waterfall (2 hours)

Enjoy a fulfilling breakfast at the homestay before departing at 09:00 for a village walk. Travel by boat to a traditional Malay Village, wooden stilted Malay houses, where the guide will explain about local village life.

Stop on route for a Teh Tarik before returning to the homestay for lunch.

The afternoon participates in learning the traditional way to wear a Malay Sarong before an afternoon to relax or for the more adventurous walk to a nearby waterfall or jump in the kayak once more.

A traditional authentic Malay Dinner will be served this evening.

Overnight Suka Suka Homestay.

Overnight in the homestay

DAY 5 - Homestay –Banding IslandMealsMEALS [B|L|D]

Exo TravelDistances and journey timeLake Cendorah to Banding Island (110km) 1.5 hrs

After saying goodbye to their hosts, continue to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Lenggong Valley, which has been inhabited for more than 200,000 years. It is also the site of the ‘Perak Man’, which, at around 11,000 years-old, is the oldest and most complete skeleton found in South East Asia. Whilst simple, the Archeological Museum is an interesting stop along the route to Belum State Forest, and houses 100,000 year-old stone tools amongst other artifacts.

Travel overland for 1.5 hours to Banding Island to spend the next couple of days exploring the nature and trails of Belum Rainforest.

A light lunch at 13:00 is served on route at a local cafe or on arrival to Belum Rainforest Resort.

Check in at the Belum Rainforest Resort and spend 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.

19:00 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 necessary in advance to submit to the Park authorities to purchase permits, alternatively a similar program can be offered in Lower Belum)

Overnight Belum Rainforest Resort

DAY 6 - Banding IslandMealsMEALS [B|L|D]

Exo TravelDistances and journey timeActivity: FD Boat Cruise and Jungle trekkingDifficulty: Jungle Trekking - Medium, uneven terrain

Early Breakfast at 07:30 to fuel for the full day ahead discovering Lake Banding and Belum State Park.

08:30 Meet the boat at the resort jetty 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 upto 1 hour on jungle terrain, crossing rivers to magnificent waterfalls. Pass huge Fig trees and discover some of the oldest rainforests in 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 Raflesia. (The exact routing of the day and stops will depend on the time of year, water levels and Raflesia 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 to arrive for 16:00.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure before dinner.

Overnight Belum Rainforest Resort

DAY 7 - Belum Rainforest to Kota Bharu Walking tourMealsMEALS [B|L]

Exo TravelResort to Banding Pier (by boat) 20-45min Banding Pier to Kota Bharu (175km) 3 hours Kota Bharu Walking tour (4km) 3 hours

After breakfast, depart the forest and transfer to Kota Bharu, the cultural heart of Malaysia, found on the east coast and affectionately known as KB.

reat location to explore a range of artisanal crafts, age-old architecture and one of the most photographed central markets in all of Malaysia – Pasar Siti Khadijah. It is a compact city where the most impressive sights are located within a small radius, ranging from one of the oldest match- making businesses (since the early 1930s) to the Sultan’s Palace, which has now been converted into a museum.

Along this journey into Malaysia’s heritage, guests will have the opportunity to explore traditional weaving and batik techniques, along with paying a visit to a silver and goldsmith who still uses foot pumps to create finely crafted pieces.

Visit early 19th Century Malay palaces housing an assortment of historical artifacts, which give a better of idea of the influences of the recent past. Guests can also hone their bargaining skills as they wander the diverse Temenggong Street, where handmade crafts, traditional fabrics and woodwork are available.

The State Mosque, influenced by the art deco architecture of the time, also houses a clock tower and provides an excellent photo opportunity on this walking tour. Indulge in a local lunch by the riverside while watching local life pass by.

Please Note: This tour can also be enjoyed by trishaw. Additional costs apply.

Tonight, explore some of the finest Kelantan dishes with a visit to the night market.

Overnight in Kota Bharu

DAY 8 - Kota Bharu - Perhentian Islands (March - October)MealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelKota Bharu to Kuala Besut (53km) 1 hour 20min Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands (by speed boat) 40 min

This morning, transfer to Kuala Besut and board a local speed boat and transfer to the Perhentian Islands.

On arrival, check in to the hotel before spending the day at leisure.

Overnight in the Perhentian Islands

DAY 9-11 - Perhentian Islands, leisure (March - October) MealsMEALS [B]

Swim, take a self-guided jungle walk, snorkel amongst the turtles or laze under a palm tree.

Overnight in the Perhentian Islands

DAY 12 - Perhentian Islands (March - October), departure MealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelPerhentian Islands to Kuala Besut (by speedboat) 40min Kuala Besut to Kota Bharu Airport (58km) 1 hour 15 min

This morning is at leisure until being transferred by boat to Kuala Besut, then by road to Kota Bharu for an onward flight.

DAY Alternative Day 8 - Kota Bharu – Langkawi Island (October - March)MealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelKota Bharu to Airport (10km) 20min Flight Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur (Firefly) recommended flight:MH5305 1325 Fight Kuala Lumpur to Penang (Firefly) recommended flight: MH5362 1535 Langkawi Airport to hotel (varies):30min

This morning transfer to Kota Bharu Airport for the flight to Langkawi, via Kuala Lumpur Upon arrival at Langkawi International Airport guests will be met by their guide and transferred to the hotel.

On arrival, check in to the hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight on Langkawi Island

DAY Alternative Days 9-11 - Langkawi Island, leisure (October - March)MealsMEALS [B]

Swim, walk the impressive Canopy Walk, take a boat trip on Maiden Lake, a full-day island tour, or simply laze under a palm tree.

Overnight on Langkawi Island

DAY Alternative Day 12 - Langkawi Island (October - March), departureMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelDistances and journey timeTransfer from Langkawi Hotel to Langkawi Airport (varies):30min

Spend the morning at leisure before being transferred to Langkawi International Airport for onward flight.

Exo Travel

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • English speaking local guide for Sightseeing and Nature Tours (for other languages supplements apply)
  • English Speaking Driver for Overland Transportation and Tours
  • Transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Activities in Belum are on a Join in Basis

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and Domestic Flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance (must include helicopter evacuation for Malaysia)
  • Visa for Malaysia
  • Camera/video entrance fees
  • Tourism tax of 10MYR per room per night

Notes

  • Seasonal and Weekday surcharges and blackout dates can apply
  • Transfers between 23:00 – 07:00 hrs attract a midnight surcharge
  • Children aged between 2 and 12 years at the time of travel will receive a 15% discount off the Adult Price.
  • Legislation requires a Guide from 7+ people for Overland
  • Belum Rainforest Lodge: Passport details are necessary in advance to submit to the Park authorities to purchase permits (at least 14 days prior to departure) to participate with the Belum Discovery tour. The exact routing of the program will be flexible depending on water levels, wildlife siting and when and where the Rafflesia is in bloom.
  • Plastic: It is advisable to bring in a reusable water bottle to reduce the amount of plastic in the State Park. Refillable water is available.
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