| Sports facilities
have been hugely improved throughout Malaysia since it
hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998. The authorities’ initiative
to showcase Malaysia as an international sports venue continued
with an unusual bid for the 2008 Olympic Games and the construction
of a £44-million Formula One racing circuit in Sepang close
to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. However, they are the beaches
and tropical rainforests, that remain as the major tourist attractions for activity
holidays. A list of
companies that arrange travel tours
providing tailor-made holidays
is available from Tourism Malaysia (see Contact Addresses section).
Sabah, set in northern Borneo is Malaysia’s premier
haven for outdoor adventure activities. A great selection of sporting and activity events are available all the year round.
For more details contact:
Sabah Tourism Promotion Corporation
Telephone: (88) 212 121
Fax: (88) 212 075 or 219 311 or 222 666
The warm waters off peninsular Malaysia and Borneo provide great
conditions for scuba diving. Visibility is normally more than 30 metres
or 100 feet.
The choices below give a brief synopsis of some of Malaysia’s
best dive spots:
Layang Layang: Northwest of Kota Kinabulu, off the coast of
Sabah and is reached by air. This coral island has 13 coral
reefs connected together. Sights include a wide variety of marine
life, corals, and cliffs that plunge 2,000 metres to the seabed.
Miri: North of Kuching, off the coast of Sarawak, Borneo.
The favoured dive spots are "Atago Maru" (where a Japanese
World War II ship was wrecked and sunk), "Sea Fan Garden" and "Scubasa
Reef" (a shallow reef that offers refuge for migrating turtles
during August each year).
Pulau Redang: Malaysia’s first shielded marine park,
the Terengganu Marine Park is situated north of Kuala Terengganu.
The Pulau Redang archipelago has nine islands. Sights are the
"Mini Mount" (good for dives at night and during the day), the
"Picture Wall" (spotted with sea fans and corals) and "Cathedral
Arches" (canyon network with massive arches). "Turtle Bay" at the northern edge of the island is famous for its sea turtles.
Pulau Sipadan: Off the northeastern part of Borneo, Pulau
Sipadan is the country's only oceanic island and famous for its
amazing array of rare marine species.
Pulau Tioman: Inside the Pahang Marine Parks comprising 8
islands. 1 of the best sights is Tiger Reef with a specially
high variety of sea fans. Note that
the waves can be powerful at high tide and
can be very strong.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park: Located near Kota Kinabulu or about 15 minutes by
boat. Mamutik is one of the most popular spots in this region.
Pulau Tenggol: This favoured weekend destination for Malaysians
is situated south of Terengganu and is reached by air. This area
is protected by marine park status.
Pulau Paya Marine Park: On Peninsular Malaysia in the south
of Langkawi Island lies a bustling tourist resort.
Pulau Perhentian: Set in the South China Sea, off the
coast of Kelantan Malaysia’s northernmost island group comprising Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. It is accessible by a
fishing-boat trip from Kuala Besut, a small fishing village on the
mainland. It contains a good range of marine life and coral and is possibly one
of the finest tropical islands in the country. Its stunning beaches
and a tropical interior, full of wildlife like butterflies, flying squirrels, lizards
and monkeys. It is quite a peaceful area praised by divers for the giant soft corals, large schools
of pelagic fish and nocturnal shellfish.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park: In Borneo and is easily reached from Kota Kinabalu. Marine life are manta rays, lionfish and
whale sharks between December and April.
Labuan Island: A favoured wreck-diving site with two World War II shipwrecks and one recent Malaysian
Trekking and caving
Almost 75% of Malaysia consists of jungle and its rainforest
the world’s oldest (130 million years). There
are 7 national parks and a number of wildlife reserves and protected
sights. A variety of parks provide great trails for jungle trekking, especially
Taman Negara National Park (Peninsular Malaysia). The ideal
time to visit is dry season from February to September. Expert
guides are available and should be hired from the Wildlife Department
at the Taman Negara Resort at Kuala Tahan, the park’s headquarters.
Kuala Tahan can be accessible from Kuala
Tembeling by a 3-hour riverboat trip or by flights from Kuala Lumpur. Treks up to
Gunung Tahan Mountain which is 2,187 metres or 7,174 feet high are also possible.
A guide is required and one journey normally takes several days. In Eastern
Malaysia, the best trails are in Borneo, Sarawak and Gunung Mulu
National Park, which is well known among caving admirers.
The currently discovered Sarawak Chamber and the 51 kilometre or 32
mile-long Clearwater Cave which are reached by boat
are only the popular sits. Permits for Gunung Mulu National
Park need to be obtained in Miri. It is accessible either by a short
flight or a couple of 3-hour boat trips. Adventurers may
want to try the Kelabit Highlands around close-by Bario.
These are quite demanding and should only be explored in the company
of a local guide. Another popular trekking site is the Kinabalu
National Park, in the state of Sabah and its centerpiece is Mount
Kinabulu at 4,101 metres or 13,452 feet which is South-East Asia’s highest
summit. Despite its size it is very easy to climb. No skills are required,
but a guide and permit which can be bought on location are compulsory.
It involves an overnight stay in 1 of the rest houses along the
route. People with heart problems or high blood pressure are inadvisable.
Malaysia boasts about 250 golf courses. They range from coast to tropical
rainforest or the mountainous uplands. The Malaysian Open Golf
Championships, held every March attracts top professionals.
More details can be obtained from the Tourism Malaysia (see Contact Addresses
Over 150 karate centres provide frequent training sessions under black-belt
instructors 6 days a week. Customers can receive a one week free karate training
in any of the centres. A list is available at the Chief
Instructor, Karate Budokan International, Jalan Jubilee, Kuala Lumpur.
The country has many atypical sports such as Gasing-top spinning
(called Main Gasing), that uses tops fashioned from hardwood
and delicately balanced with lead. Wau-kite flying is popular
and a traditional pastime. Sepak Takraw is similar to volleyball
played with a ball made of rattan strips. Players can use their
feet, knees and heads but not their hands.
Malaysian longhouse's are usual, located along the rivers in Sarawak and
Sabah. They are entire villages kept under 1 single roof and
inhabited by native communities. Tourism Malaysia has been promoting
these characteristic habitations to tourists who are usually welcome
to stay without any charges though small gifts as a sign of appreciation
are recommended. A local guide can also take visitors on jungle
Malaysia’s central railway runs mainly through regions of dense
jungle. It begins near Kota Bahru and
to Kuala Krai,
Gua Musang, Kuala Lipis and Jerantut to meet the Singapore-KL railway
line at Gemas. Due to extensive road building, itineraries may change
so travellers should check with Tourism Malaysia (see Contact