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PERHENTIAN ISLANDS, TERENGGANU
Split into two islands, the Perhentians are a popular choice with foreigners and locals coming in droves from KL to visit. Perhentian Besar is larger and known for luxury stays, honeymooners or families, and beaches tend to be closer to the accommodations. Most of the better snorkeling spots are also located here. The distance between the two islands is very short so going daily to explore is certainly doable. Be prepared for lots of walking on either island — there are no paved roads or cars! Perhentian Kecil offers a wider variety of activities and is considered the ‘budget’ option although you can find lovely chalets or guest houses as well. Regardless, you’re guaranteed clear blue waters as far as the eye can see and the chance to see some amazing sea life up close like baby reef sharks, turtles and plenty of colourful corals.
$ave: Alunan Resort @Pulau Perhentian Kecil / Adik Beradik Guesthouse @Pulau Perhentian Kecil
$plurge: Perhentian Island Resort @Pulau Perhentian Besar / Tuna bay Resort @Pulau Perhentian Besar / Bubu Resort @Pulau Perhentian Kecil
Catch a regional flight inot Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Kota Bharu, or hire a car and then head to the Kuala Besut jetty where you can take a boat across. Cars can be parked at the jetty for daily fee.
Visit : www.beautifulterengganu.com
This 99-island archipelago will take your breath away with its stunning landscapes and the eponymous main island, Langkawi, has activities for all ages. Staying at Cenang Beach will give you easy access to restaurants and night entertainment, and it’s a great spot for families with lots of watersports vendors present along the two kilometer stretch of soft white sand and crystal blue waters. If you’re looking for a little more peace and quiet, head north for extra seclusion but slightly fewer restaurants.
Langkawi is a UNESCO-designated geopark area and you should definitely take the cable car from the instagrammable oriental Village to Langkawi Sky Bridge, which winds like a floating silver dragon atop Gunung Mat Chinchang. Keen to explore? Rent a car or motorbike and make you own adventure as you discover why Langkawi is called the ‘Jewel of Kedah’. Did we mention Langkawi is a duty-free haven?
$ave: Goldsands Hotel / Langkawi Chantique
$plurge: Ritz-Carlton / Bon Ton Antique Wooden Villas
Catch a flight inot Langkawi International Airport, or take the high-speed train from Kuala Lumpur Sentral then enter via ferry from the malaysian states of Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Penang.
Visit : www.naturallylangkawi.my
TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PARK, SABAH
This state marine park is a collection of five islands with their own distinct charms. If you’re looking to stay in the park area itself, Manukan Gaya Island offer a variety of accommodation, and camping is allowed at Sapi and Mamutik. There are barbeque and pits and rest facilities available for use on most of the beaches. As a protected marine area, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park has plenty to offer ocean lovers, particularly if you’re staying in Kota Kinabalu city itself and want to take some day trips to explore. there will be a minimal fee to visit the park. if you’re short on time, this is the best option to experience the balmy turquoise waters of the South China Sea. Sandflies are aplenty here so make sure to bring lots of reef-safe repellent!
$ave: Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre / The Klagan (Warisan Sq)
$plurge: Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (Manukan Island) / Bungaraya Island Resort / Gaya Island Resort
Flying into Kota Kinabalu International Airport and from there it is a 35-minute car/taxi ride to the city centre and then a 20-minute boat ride to the marine park. Love a road trip? Brunei to Kota Kinabalu’s centre is about a five hour’s drive and you’ll need your passport for the border crossing. Boats depart for Tunku Abdul Rahman park every hour from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal in downtown KK.