Wanna escape the heat in Malaysia? We all know about Genting Highlands and Cameron Highlands. But did you know that there are many highlands in Malaysia that are not just mountainous regions, but towns with an array of activities, accommodations, dining options and of course, cool weather! We know the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia is really bad now, but let’s hold out hope for the day we can visit our neighbour again.
1. Fraser’s Hill, Pahang
Two hours north of Kuala Lumpur is a nature getaway and a quirky slice of history from the colonial-era. A mountain town in Pahang, Fraser’s Hill has much to offer other than its rolling hills and green forests. The little England of Malaysia is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and it offers plenty of hiking opportunities. If you’re not an outdoor person, simply sit back and enjoy some scones, Sunday roast, and a steaming hot cup of tea at one of its English teahouses! Check out other things to do in Fraser’s Hill here.
2. Kundasang, Sabah
Tucked away on the highlands of Sabah in Ranau district, Kundasang sits just below the majestic Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain. Even though Sabah belongs to Malaysia, it feels worlds and cultures apart. If Fraser’s Hill is the little England of Malaysia, then Kundasang is the New Zealand of Malaysia! Here, you can visit Desa Dairy Farm where the cool climate, rolling green pastures, blue skies, fluffy white clouds and dairy cows will make you second guess where you are.
3. Tambunan, Sabah
So there’s a little England and a New Zealand of Malaysia. What’s more? How about Switzerland? Sabah boasts of beautiful landscapes that look like foreign countries, and Tambunan is one of the hidden gems that’s not so well-known… Yet! Tambunan is surrounded by lush green paddy fields. There are many trekking opportunities, along with waterfalls to visit. Tambunan is also known for producing high quality rice wine. If you get the chance, make sure to try the local Lihing and Tapai rice wine.
4. Bukit Tinggi, Pahang
Bukit Tinggi and the colourful Colmar Tropicale Berjaya Hills are perfect for a weekend getaway. Although it is a French-inspired village reminiscent of the 16th-century Colmar town in France, there is also a Japanese Village here that will temporarily soothe your travel blues if you miss Japan. Apart from a soothing waterfall Zen-inspired gardens, you can also rent a kimono and join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Prefer coffee instead? One of the most unique Starbucks outlets in Malaysia can be found here!
5. Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill), Perak
Bukit Larut is one of the oldest hill resorts in Malaysia. Sitting at an altitude of 1,250 meters above sea level, you’ll be greeted by crisp, cool air and breathtaking views. Undisturbed and serene, Bukit Larut is one of the highlands in Malaysia that offers some respite away from the concrete jungle. There are many hiking trails for you to explore, but if you’re not keen on hiking, you can also hop on the Bukit Larut Jeep that’ll take you to the top in just 30 minutes!
6. Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak
Want something off the beaten path? Then head over to Kelabit Highlands in the deeper part of Sarawak. This is where you wanna be to temporarily escape it all and experience a life close to nature. Don’t expect to find any hotels or restaurants here. The region is dotted with small villages and visitors usually stay in the town of Bario. Some of the things to do here include hiking or climbing Mount Murud, a local mountain to the locals. Or take it easy and visit the local villages and get to know the local Kelabit people!
7. Penang Hill, Penang
The history of Penang Hill dates back to 1788, and the group of peaks are a must-visit in Penang. At over 800 metres above sea level, Penang Hill offers amazing views of the city and stands out prominently from the lowlands. It was used as a retreat during the British colonial period, but is now a popular tourist destination thanks to its breathtaking views and cool, unpolluted air. The top of the hill is accessible via the Penang Hill Railway. To date, this funicular railway system is the only one of its kind in Malaysia!