Welcome to another feature in Wellness in ASEAN, our blog series exploring all the best local highlights within southeast Asia, where you can unwind, relax and restore.
Join us as we take our wellness-seeking journey further to explore the beautiful countries of Malaysia and Myanmar. Boasting characterful ancient forests, magnificent magical lakes, and wondrous local wildlife, there’s an array of natural beauty to stimulate the mind, body, and soul.
Mount Kinabalu View from Nabalu Town.
Blessed with delightful tropical climates and immense raw beauty, Malaysia is abundant with gorgeous natural landscapes and secret finds. With its unique cultural blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisine - Malaysian food is a fantastic way to introduce the senses to local culture. English is also spoken by most Malaysians, allowing more in-depth conversations for English-speaking visitors to fully embrace warm Malaysian hospitality. With a range of options to tailor your self-care trip, there are lots to enjoy within this enchanting country.
Danum Valley, Sabah
The pristine untouched jungles of Danum Valley in Sabah, offers the perfect stop for all nature-lovers. A large eco-tourist conservation project, Danum Valley is nestled within ancient Malaysian forests spanning millions of years.
Pygmy Elephants - one of the thousands of species residing in Danum Valley.
Abundant with thousands of species of luscious fauna and flora, this spectacular natural wonder features an unrivaled diversity of wildlife. To enjoy an overnight stay amidst the jungle, visitors have the option to stay at the award-winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Each of its 30 chalets features an outdoor tub and adjoins a viewing deck displaying panoramic views of the river and tranquil forest landscape. Guests would have the rare opportunity to see various animals from here, including deer, orangutans, and pygmy elephants.
At 4,095 meters tall, Mount Kinabalu stands as the highest mountain in Malaysia and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Flights run from Kuala Lumpur direct to Sabah’s capital city – Kota Kinabalu, offering quick accessibility. The park advises that visitors in good health and generally fit from the ages of 10 to 70 years old can climb Mount Kinabalu. Many local beliefs surround the name of Mount Kinabalu, with one popular one thought to mean “a widow mother” deriving from the Dusun phrase “tina balu” – the spirit of the mount itself. A two-day climbing trip of Mount Kinabalu provides the perfect release for those preferring a more exhilarating health getaway.
The second longest river in Malaysia, the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, features some of the best views of wildlife in Asia. The surrounding area is home to a variety of animal species including proboscis monkeys, elephants, birds, crocodiles, and Bornean orangutans. The Kinabatangan River is one of the areas of forest that remain untouched by deforestation and still contains an extraordinary range of fauna and wildlife. Local tours can be organized for three days and two nights, giving visitors a chance to enjoy sunrise river cruises and experience trekking through the jungle at night. From dorm-beds to private villas, there is a range of accommodation to suit every budget.
Tanjong Jara Resort, Terengganu, Malaysia. Image: Tanjong Jara Resort
Tanjong Jara Resort
If your idea of blissful escapism involves palm-lined beaches, turquoise waters, and a traditional Malaysian touch - look no further than luxury health haven Tanjong Jara Resort, in Terengganu. Designed in the style of a 17th century royal Malay palace, guests are treated to an authentic experience of the local spirit of Malaysian hospitality. Surrounded by tropical jungles with incredible views of golden coastlines facing the South China Sea, this resort provides everything you could need to achieve total relaxation. Featuring lush gardens, luxurious spa treatments, three restaurants, and a range of signature activities, you’ll be spoilt for choice here. Choose from diving, snorkeling, traditional handicraft classes, or traditional Malay exercise classes to customize the ultimate self-care getaway.
TRAVEL FROM MALAYSIA TO MYANMAR
With flights running from 17 Malaysian airports - including Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu - to Yangon, Myanmar, it couldn’t be easier to travel by air. The fastest route is a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon, taking just 2 hours and 40 minutes in total. There are also indirect flight options from Kuala Lumpur to eight other Burmese destinations, including Mandalay, Heho, and Thandwe.
Inle Lake, Myanmar. Image: momo / CC-BY-2.0 / Flickr
A country of diverse geographical landscapes, Myanmar’s charming allure continues to draw in thousands of visitors each year. A mainly Buddhist country, Myanmar’s culture can instantly be observed through its temple etiquette, conservative dress code, and fascinating cuisine influenced by Indian, Thai, and Chinese flavors. Boasting glittering temples, breathtaking sunsets, and ravishing rolling countrysides – there’s much to see and do in this captivating part of southeast Asia.
For those inspired to experience something “a little different”, a trip to Inle Lake will not disappoint. The communities, local traditions, and ecology around this remarkable lake offers a fascinating chance to see local culture up close. The best way to experience Inle Lake is on a two-day trip. It’s best to book accommodation online in advance to secure reasonably-priced accommodation before you arrive.
Some of the most expensive fabrics in the world are weaved from lotus and are available to watch in fabrication firsthand at Inle Lake, Myanmar.
With a range of tours available, visitors can witness the magnificent sunset over the lake and day-time trips through the quaint local villages. A wonderfully calming experience in one of the most stunning parts of Myanmar - head here for a truly enthralling taste of Burmese nature and local culture.
Shwedagon Pagoda’s beautiful colors reflect the majestic feeling of Buddhism for its locals and visitors all around the world.
The Shwedagon Pagoda
Considered the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, The Shwedagon Pagoda – also known as “the crown of Burma”, is considered one of the old pagodas in the world. Standing at 99 meters high, this striking piece of architecture glistens in its gold majestic glory under the sunshine, exuding an astounding presence and calming ambiance amongst its surrounds. Most locals are Theravada Buddhists and come to perform significant Buddhism rituals at this sacred historical pagoda. For those seeking to visit one of Myanmar’s breathtaking temples, the Shwedagon pagoda remains unrivaled as an important national treasure.
To enjoy an off-the-beaten-track exploration, the capital city of Karen State - Hpa-An delivers a fantastic option. With its immensely alluring Saddan Cave, towering limestone formations and serene lake, there’s a wealth of natural beauty in this southeastern region of Myanmar. With various caves to explore, one that stands out is the bat cave which offers an unforgettable chance to witness hundreds of bats flying in and out of the mountains. Be sure to seek out of the secret lake at Hpa-An for a truly magical escape to tranquility.
Treehouse villas are just one of the many styles of stay on Wa Ale Island Resort
Wa Ale Island Resort
If barefoot luxury on an isolated island is your idea of paradise, then the idyllic Wa Ale Island Resort is for you. Nestled in a breathtaking protective cove amidst a 9,000-acre wildlife reserve, this exceptionally intimate resort is neighbored by untouched rainforest, pristine beaches, and emerald sea views. This heavenly sanctuary exudes excellent service within a laid-back atmosphere, delivering relaxation at every corner. Featuring a jungle gym, yoga sessions and a range of activities including diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and jungle trails - there’s plenty to offer to help you unwind and recharge.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup of these two delightful southeast Asian countries. Which destination will you choose for your next escape?