Britain’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton is scheduled to visitÂ Sabah and Kuala Lumpur from Sept 13 to 15 as part of the Queenâ€™s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and it would be great to give them a royal welcome. While we are all excited about the royal visit, given the thought that if you were to host a royal family, where would you bring them around in Malaysia, especially in Sabah and Kuala Lumpur?
One thing about being a Malaysian, we always extend our hospitality. But sometimes I still find it hard to think of a tourist destination to bring my foreign guests around whenever they visit me here in Malaysia. Shamefully, I turn to the ever helpfulÂ TripAdvisorâ„¢, the worldâ€™s largest travel site, to find out some great recommendations and things to do, as rated by travellers around the world.
So here are some things to do as revealed by TripAdvisorâ€™s travelers…
Want to go where the royal couple has trekked? Ranked #4 in Sabah on TripAdvisor, Danum Valley is a vast tropical forest, covering close to 44,000 hectares of lush flora and fauna. Often recognised as one of the most complex ecosystems in the world, it is a wonderful retreat for those looking to be at one with nature.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œThe Danum Valley without a fraction of a doubt is one of the best places I have ever visited. Its unspoilt beauty and rich flora and fauna coupled with its diverse animal life make it a treasure to visit time and time again.â€
Turtle Island Park
Another wildlife park not to be missed is Turtle Island ranked #2 in Sandakan. Turtle Island provides an opportunity for animal-lovers to watch endangered green and hawksbill turtle landings. It consists of Selingan which is home to a turtle hatchery, as well as Bakumgan Kecil and Gulisan islands which have conservation activities. Plan an overnight stay to watch the turtles come ashore after dusk to lay their eggs.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œSaw turtles in their natural environment and the island was good to stay on. The food was good and the rangers informative.â€
Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures
Learn scuba diving with Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures ranked #2 for tours in Kota Kinabalu on TripAdvisor.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œDownbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures are fantastic to dive with. Their instructors are friendly and great fun to be around.â€
One of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu which ranks #2 in Kota Kinabalu, stands at 4,095 metres and is situated at the Kinabalu National park, Malaysiaâ€™s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You can have hikes lasting for a day or more than two days with certified guides.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œThe fantastic view of the surrounding valleys, the flora and fauna and being rewarded with the sight of Mount Kinabalu as you reach the top of the route is enough to take your breath away.â€
Mari Mari Cultural Village
Ranked #5 in Kota Kinabalu, Mari Mari Cultural Village transports you to ancient Borneo with its indigenous architecture and rituals. From blow pipe making demonstrations to sampling traditional delicacies, travellers will be able to experience Sabahâ€™s culture then and now.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œVery entertaining – well worth a visit. The staff were excellent – they took much pride in their job and willingly explain anything to us inquisitive tourists.â€
Islamic Arts Museum
The Islamic Arts Museum is ranked #2 in Kuala Lumpur on TripAdvisor. With over 7,000 artifacts ranging from the smallest piece of jewellery to one of the worldâ€™s largest scale models of the Masjid al-Haramin in Mecca, the Islamic Arts Museum is Southeast Asiaâ€™s largest museum of Islamic Art.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œThis museum contained one of the best collections of Islamic art I have ever seen.â€
Petronas Twin Towers
Ranked #4, the Petronas Twin Towers are impressive icons in Kuala Lumpurâ€™s city skyline.Â The infamous SkybridgeÂ which connects the 2 towers was featured in the film â€˜Entrapmentâ€™ starring Hollywood actors, Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Go on the Skybridge and admire Kuala Lumpur at 170 metres above ground.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œA must see if you’re into buildings and structures, this place at night is a photographerâ€™s dream come true.â€
Ranked #7, Aquaria KLCC is a world-class oceanarium showcasing over 5,000 aquatic and land-bound creatures from Malaysia and around the world in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, taking up 60,000 square feet.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œThis is fantastic for all ages – myself and my son had a wonderful couple of hours here, so much to see.â€
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
Ranked #8, the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is the world’s largest free-flight, walk-in aviary. Set in a sprawling valley, this renowned eco-tourism park is home to more than 3,000 birdsÂ of approximately 200 species of local and foreign birds.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œThis is a must for visitors to KL. It’s amazing to have storks and pelicans flying over your head and to be up close and personal with so many birds not in cages.â€
Royal Selangor Pewter Factory and Visitor Centre
Ranked #10, the Royal Selangor has grown from a small family-run business to one of the best known pewter brands. Its factory and visitor centre allows you to see, hear and touch pewter through interactive exhibits. You can make your own pewter bowl using traditional tools or craft your own pewter accessory.
As one TripAdvisor traveller said,Â â€œOur group of six visited the Royal Selangor pewter factory, and we absolutely loved it, especially the wonderful School of Hard Knocks class in making a pewter bowl.â€
More information on these attractions can be found atÂ www.tripadvisor.com.my.