OF all the countries in southeast Asia, Malaysia is the one that offers the greatest variety of holiday resorts, with the liveliest and most sophisticated found along the west coast while those in the east are far less developed.
All of Malaysia's best-known holiday resorts are located northwest of Kuala Lumpur on the Indian Ocean. These include Penang, Langkawi, Pangkor and Pangkor Laut. They offer a choice of four and five-star hotels, a range of sporting activities, shopping, excursions and nightlife.
The east coast of peninsular Malaysia bordering the South China Sea has an entirely different feel. Its resorts are less westernised, there are fewer international-style hotels, and it boasts large stretches of unspoilt sandy beaches.
Dividing the two areas are the Cameron Highlands where holidaymakers can escape from the lowland heat amongst tea plantations and strawberry farms, and the tropical rainforests of the Taman Negara national park which lends itself to adventure tours.
Situated 30kms from the Malay Peninsula, this is a relatively unspoilt island covered with tropical rainforest. It has some stunning scenery, the best of which is in the north of the island, and long sandy beaches interspersed with hidden coves.
Sights include The Seven Wells, the Field of Burnt Rice, and the Mahsuri's Tomb.
There is a choice of good quality hotels, some of which offer watersports including windsurfing, canoeing, water skiing, sailing and golf.
This an ideal location for honeymoons and those looking for a relaxing holiday without being too isolated.
Prices range from £520 to £1,500 for a five-night package including flights, transfers and accommodation.
Situated off the coast, Pangkor offers a choice of first-class resorts surrounded by sleepy fishing villages, small towns and tropical rainforest.
It has numerous fine sandy beaches, including Emerald Bay which is reputedly the best beach in the Straits of Malacca.
There are few sightseeing attractions and this is really best sold to clients looking for a relaxing beach-based holiday.
Several of the hotels offer a choice of watersport activities including windsurfing, jet-skiing, waterskiing and fishing. Biking and jungle trekking are also available.
Five-night packages cost from £549 to £889 including flights, transfers and accommodation.
A mountainous, jungle-clad island with three palm-fringed beaches, the most popular of which is the Lalng, but even this is still unspoilt. It has some colourful offshore coral making this an ideal resort for divers. The clear water means it is also good for snorkelling and swimming, and there are also facilities for fishing, sailing and windsurfing.
Jungle treks can be organised on Tioman, and there are also organised boat trips to the nearby volcanic islands.
Tioman has only one international hotel, the three-star Berjaya Tioman Beach, which has a host of facilities including swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, volleyball, horse-riding, a PADI dive centre, and an 18-hole golf course. It is best suited to couples or singles looking for a beach-based, sporty holiday.
Five-day packages cost between £570 and £890.
Taman Negara is a National Park covering 4,343 square kms. Its tropical rainforest is home to abundant wildlife such as the bright-striped tiger, and the indigenous Orang Asli tribe.
Activities include swimming and fishing at Lata Berko lake (best from Feb-April, June-August), river boat trips, jungle treks to Teresik Hill from where you can view Mount Tahan, the highest peak in peninsular Malaysia, and trips to Gua Telinga to see snake fossils on the cave walls.
The Taman Negar Resort offers accommodation in more than 100 units plus camping. It is a three-hour boat journey or a 45-minute flight from Kuala Lumpur followed by a 30min boat transfer.
A three-day trip from Kuala Lumpur costs about £130 including transport, accommodation, services of a guide and some meals. As this is quite an adventurous destination, visitors should be prepared for some fairly strenuous trekking.
There is little to see or do above the water on Redang, but the island has recently become popular with scuba divers due to its clear water and underwater scenery.
There is one international-standard hotel, the Berjaya Redang Beach Resort which also offers windsurfing, snorkelling, canoeing, cycling and tennis (its golf and country club has been closed for refurbishment). Six-night packages cost from £540 to £830 including flights, accommodation on a bed-and-breakfast basis and transfers.
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