Avoid the crowds by setting course for Lankayan Island off the coast of Borneo. This unpopulated coral island is part of a Marine Conservation scheme and is home to hundreds of species of exotic plants, animals and marine life. Spend an afternoon discovering some of the 32 dive sites the island has to offer including 2 sunken shipwrecks. Whilst in the water keep an eye out for the enormous but harmless whale sharks known locally as ‘Lord Fish’ which frequent the area. For a night to remember, visit the small coastal village of Kampung Kuantan about 4O minutes north of Kuala Lumpur. The village is home to one of the world’s biggest firefly colonies and you can hire an eco-friendly electric boat with a boatman to take you down the Selangor river. Watch millions of fireflies twinkling in unison in the mangrove trees before enjoying dinner at one of the restaurants on the riverbank. Top tip: avoid wearing too much mosquito repellent so as not to drive the fireflies away.
Get away from the noise of the city and visit the state of Negeri Sembilan on the Malay Peninsula. The state is still relatively unknown to tourists and boasts beaches, nature reserves and tropical rainforests. Spend a few days in the Berembun Forest Reserve exploring the hills and forests with the help of a local guide and cool off in one of the natural rock pools filled by cascading waterfalls. Stay the night in one of the wooden villas at the Shorea boutique eco-resort and wake up in the refreshing forest air to the sound of birdsong and chattering monkeys.
Penang Island on the Northwest coast of Malaysia is the ideal place to experience the local culture. Penang is known as the food capital of Asia and is renowned for its delicious street food, order a spicy seafood dish from one of the many food hawker stalls and eat it perched on a stool in the middle of the crowd. Penang is also famous for the many festivals held throughout the year by its local communities and visitors are strongly encouraged to join the celebrations. Commemorate the birthday of Lord Murugan, destroyer of the demon Soorapadman by smashing coconuts during Thaipusam, celebrate Chinese New Year with lion dancers and firecrackers, watch traditional ko tai dancing and singing in the streets during the Hungry Ghost Festival or eat delicious Malaysian pastries during the Mooncake Festival, whatever the occasion, there is always something to celebrate in Penang. Malaysia is the ideal place for an exotic and unforgettable Asian charter. The adventures to be had whilst exploring this unique country will ensure it becomes a favourite location of everyone on board.