Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation – Kelantan

Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Kelantan

Longest Sleeping Buddha in Southeast Asia

As perception goes, Kelantan is viewed as a pre-dominant Islamic community. Yet, it showcases a melting pot of different religions and cultures that belie its conservative strain of religious tolerance.

An hour away from Kota Bahru is Tumpat, whose appeal rests on the 25 Buddhist temples or “wats” found in this district. Tourists and devotees flock to admire these attractions which are mainly Thai influenced both in culture and architectural splendor, as Tumpat is near the Thai border.

Not to be missed are Wat Photivihan. the largest reclining Buddha in South East Asia. Measuring 40 m long, 11m high and 9m wise, this statute was completed in 1979 by Thai craftsmen. Other attractions at this wat is the Chinese pavilion, a hall featuring Tibetan architecture, and the statue of the 18-arm Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

Wat Machimmaram or The Sitting Buddha in Kampung Jubakar, is among the largest in the region. It is a work of art that took 10 years to build.

You might be mistaken to think that this is a Chinese temple with its pagoda like structure. It is not. Popularly known as the “Beijing Mosque”, this mosque also combines Indian and Uzbekistan features in its interiors. Sited on a 3.7 hectare site in Rantau Panjang, this mosque can take in 1,000 visitors.

Bijan Bar and Restaurant

Bijan Bar and Restaurant

Experience Malay cuisine at this chic restaurant to get a taste of local cuisine at its finest.


Price range $$ - $$$
Distance from KLCC 2.5 km
Address 3-5 Seri Bukit Ceylon, 8 Lorong Ceylon Off,
Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur
Contact (60)3 20316568

Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation – Perak

Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Perak

Trip out of Ipoh

Did you know that you can hop on an electric train ride from KL Sentral and head straight to Ipoh town, north of Kuala Lumpur, the focal point of the SI Convention Kl2019? In 2 hours time, you and your aficionados can begin your food trail and heritage discovery.

Alternatively, rent a car to coordinate your trip. Or contact Soroptimists from Ipoh, Malaysia to help you coordinate your plans for a day affair or a stay over, which will allow you to explore more of Perak’s attractions including eco-resorts like the Banjaran Hot Springs, the Haven and many others.

Ipoh is the birthplace of the famed White Coffee (do check out what this is), and is touted to have the most authentic principally Cantonese, street-hawker and city food.

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Whilst savouring the food delights, don’t miss out on Ipoh’s heritage landmarks and other points of attraction. Plan for a heritage walk to view the iconic Ipoh Railway station, the Ipoh Town Hall and not forgetting the Birch Memorial Clock.

5 kms south from Ipoh city is the must-see Perak cave temples or Sam Poh Tong as it is famously called. A top international tourist site nestled on a scenic limestone hill, you will be greeted by a cave entrance and some of the oldest Buddhist statues (40 of them) and murals within the temple complex. Carved among natural stalactites and stalagmites, overall it is an impressive work of art & deep faith.

After the gastronomic treats, and your stamina holds, climb the 246 steps to the top of the hill. The reward – a panaromic view of Ipoh city & its beautiful surroundings. If not take a break by the pond and feed the tortoise (sign of longevity) or cast a wish at the wishing well.

 There is another point of attraction to explore.

In the Batu Gajah district near Ipoh stands Kellie Castle. Built in 1915 by a rag-to-riches Scottish planter, William Kellie Smith for his wife Agnes, find out why this beautiful mansion was subsequently abandoned. A Malaysian Taj Mahal story some might conclude. Hence the tag ‘Kellie’s Folly’.

Built by 70 craftmen from Madras, Keliie’s Castle was the site for the film ‘The King & I’(of Jodie Foster’s fame)

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Of course, a trip to Ipoh would not be complete without a visit to Ipoh’s famous pomelo farm. ‘Limau bali’ as Malaysians call them, is a citrus fruit akin to a large grapefruit. Pomeloes are native to South and South East Asia. Given the agro-tourism drive by the Perak government, you will plenty of pomelo farms to visit.

If you plan on staying longer, the Tambun Hot Springs can be a welcomed balm and much needed treat. Rejuvenate and enjoy magical moments in mineral rich bio-thermal hot spring pools. Now that’s a real treat!

Contact your Soroptimist sisters from SI Ipoh or the Hospitality Committee when planning your Ipoh trip.


Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation – Pahang

Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Pahang

Day trip out of Kuala Lumpur

Are you a travelholic like many Soroptimists? Here’s a suggestion for a day trip out of Kuala Lumpur, the focus of SI ConventionKL2019.

A 2-hour car drive eastwards towards the Lanchang district of Temerloh in the state of Pahang, will head you towards the Kuala Ganjah Elephant Conservation centre. Located in the Krau Wildlife Reserve, this visit will give animal lovers the opportunity to see elephants in their natural state.

As opening hours are from 10.30 am to 4 pm, would recommend that you get there by 10.30 am for a slew of activities that you can do.

Watch a National Geographic documentary on how these elephants were translocated to this conservation centre. You will appreciate the importance of the species and efforts made towards protecting their habitat.

You can also enjoy bathing elephants in the river. Don’t forget to bring a fresh change of clothes, if you plan to do so. Feed them with fruits you may. Interaction with these gentle giants is so surreal. Otherwise observe these wonderful creatures in all their glory. Watch out for herbs in a tropical herb garden near their surroundings. Savour their heady smells.  Ahead of your visit, do check visitor times which are available online.

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Whilst in Lanchang, we recommend that you visit Deerland Park some 2 km away from the Kuala Ganjah Sanctuary. It’s a privately- owned animal shelter where you can pet some tame deers, parakeets, friendly rabbits and pose with strutting peacocks and Golden Pheasants. There is a Sunbear and Bengal Cat, and pythons too.

Across the Deer Sanctuary is a nature garden set on an elevated walkaway where varieties of herbs and plants thrive. This includes Malaysia’s famous Tongkat Ali (tropical Viagra), its feminine equivalent Kacip Fatimah, and 40 other herbs all found in the lush rainforest. See for yourself.

On your return journey to Kuala Lumpur, you could chill out at Colmar Tropicale, Bukit Tinggi.

This French-themed resort located in Berjaya Hills is 2,700 feet above sea level, nested in 80 acres of natural rainforest. You will be transported to a medieval French village, while you savour your drink and cool surroundings. Once energised, do visit the quaint Japanese garden. That ends your day trip out of Kuala Lumpur.

Contact your travel agent, your friendly Malaysian Soroptimist Club or the Convention Hospitality committee for more information.

SI Kuantan -

Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation – Nature & Adventure

Soroptimist Sisters’ Recommendation - Nature & Adventure

Whether a lover of nature and the outdoors, or a supporter of the eco-tourism efforts to lift the local community, here’s the good news.

Malaysia is host to some 30 national Parks in Peninsular Malaysia, and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.  Whatever your interest, be it trekking through the jungle trails, birdwatching, caving, fishing, or mere relaxation, the range and diversity its national parks is indeed wide. Here are 10 national parks to select from, so plan ahead  for the best results.

Taman Negara National Park – Pahang, Terengganu & Kelantan

It is Peninsular Malaysia’s largest national park at 4,343 sq km, and home to the oldest rainforest in the world. This 130 million years-old diversity hotspot boasts countless species of rich flora and fauna that covers the 3 Malaysian states of Pahang, Terengganu & Kelantan.

As a must, navigate the canopy walk above the dense forests to see the endangered but ferocious Malaysian tiger, Asian elephants, the Malaysian ‘gaur’, and many others wildlife in their natural habitat. Your guide can lead you to the salt licks where these animals gather to get their dose of much-needed minerals. Your experience is a surreal ‘up close & personal’. Do visit an aboriginal settlement, and cruise leisurely down the Tembeling river to enjoy nature’s wonders.

Royal Belum National Park – Perak

Whether traversing northern Peninsular Malaysia like I did via the East-West Highway from Kelantan, or travelling north from Ipoh on the western coast, the Royal Belum National park offers breath taking scenery. 290,000 hectares of land of which 146,000 hectares are virgin rainforests. In scale that’s about 4 times the size of Singapore.

Largely unexplored, it is home to a variety of some 3000 species of flowering plants, 10 species of hornbills, and 3 species of Rafflesia – the world’s largest flower. The Sambar deer, tapirs, wild boars and many other mammalians roam the Belum Forest Reserve. Stay at the eco-tourist Belum Resort or a houseboat to indulge in kayaking, fishing, bird watching and naturally, jungle trekking. Visit an Orang Asli settlement to experience their way of life and naturally, enjoy the sunset over the Temenggor Lake. You will not want to miss this.

Penang National Park – Telok Bahang

As Penang is a must-visit UNESCO World heritage attraction, take the time out to savour its National park in Telok Bahang within relatively easy access from the city, Georgetown. Within its 2,300 hectares are hiking trails, a meromictic lake (that’s fresh & salt water lake), mangrove swamps and nesting sea turtles. Stop first at the Interpretation Centre for detailed info, register your presence and plot your trail.

Walk the Monkey beach if your choice is an easier route along the coastline. This is generally the most popular trail. But if a steep climb is what you want, then head to the Muka Head Light House. There are other trails to Kerachut Beach to test your stamina too.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) National Park - Sabah


The five islands that make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park are simply divine. Close to the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, island hopping within the park has become a favourite pastime. Lovely beaches to laze by or to picnic, the surrounding coral reefs and clear waters make snorkelling and scuba much desired sports activities. With its lush verdant forests merging seamlessly with the dazzling beaches and surrounding seas, this gives the TAR park added appeal and a convenient must-visit attraction in Sabah.

Kinabalu National Park – Sabah

Located in Kundasang, the Kinabalu Park gained Malaysia’s 1st UNESCO World heritage status in 2000. Its highest point, Mount Kinabalu (4,092m) is also South East’s tallest mountain, attracting adventure seekers and marathon runners seeking to conquer this granite peak.

The trek up is blessed with a wealth of vegetation that includes endemic pitcher plants, the showy tropical rafflesia flower and more than 1500 orchid species. With an abundance of more than 205 species of birds, of which 17 are endemic to the Kinabalu National park, there are fertile opportunities for bird and butterfly-watching. Explore the Botanical gardens and the cool surrounds at leisure. Check in at the Visitor Centre and seek advice from the Park guides for your memorable outing.

Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary – Sukau-Sandakan, Sabah

This 27,000 hectares wildlife sanctuary offers views of dense tropical rainforests and large mammals. These include the Borneo pygmy elephants, 10 primate species including the Orangutans, 8 species of hornbills as well as resident and migratory birds.

River cruises are best accessed through Sukau, the gateway to the Kinabatangan heartland.  With many eco-homestays and lodges in the area, the choice is yours. Crème la crème of the crop is the award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge, highlighted by National Geographic.

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Gunung Mulu National Park – Sarawak

This is Sarawak’s 1st UNESCO Heritage Site. Covering some 544 sq km of primary rainforest dotted with stunning karst rock formations, Gunung Mulu National Park has the most spectacular cave system found on earth. The ‘Sarawak Chamber’ boasts the world’s colossal natural chamber; ‘Deer Cave’ the largest cave passage whilst ‘Clearwater Cave’ is South East Asia’s longest cave. Be here to experience seeing the famed ‘Bat Observatory’, the longest tree-based walkway in the world, and if you wish, challenging treks to the Mulu Pinnacles and Gunung Mulu Summit. You have come so far to this part of ASEAN, we are sure you would not want to miss this attraction.

Niah National Park – Sarawak

Nah is an important archaeological site, the birthplace of the earliest human habitation in South East Asia,  40,000 years ago. Traces of pottery artifacts, axes, and even jewellery testify to these caves being used as havens for shelter and protection, as showcased in the informative Archaeological Museum.

Be sure to explore the spectacular ‘Great Cave and Painted Cave’ for their impressive geological formations, and the thriving flora and fauna that surrounds this complex of caves. Trekking the trails, watching the bat and swiftlet swarms are a must-do when at the Niah National Park.

Bako National Park – Sarawak

While only 37 km from Kuching, access to this unique place is only via the sea. Bako features seven distinct plant ecosystems and is known for its extraordinary variety of natural scenery, plant life and wild life too. Catch the long-nosed proboscis monkeys feeding in the mangroves. Bako has 16-colour coded hiking trails to choose from, ranging from the easy ones to the more challenging. So take your pick.

Nature & Adventure

Nature & Adventure

Bako National Park

Sarawak's oldest national park was established in 1957. It covers a modest 27 sq. km., and is 37km from Kuching. It is known for its extraordinary natural scenery, habitats, plants and wild life. Its most significant features are secluded coves and rugged rocky headlands with magnificent steep cliffs that overlook the South China Sea.

The Habitat

The Habitat on Penang Hill, some 820 metres above sea-level, is an ecotourism site easily accessible via a 7-minute ride on the Penang Hill Funicular Train. It’s a place to visit for the most complete, exciting and educational Malaysian rainforest experience. The first of its kind in Malaysia, The Habitat aims to promote environmental consciousness and conservation awareness among its visitors.

Rainforest Discovery Centre

The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sepilok, Sandakan is part of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve – home to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. Located in Sabah, it is one of the state's most popular environmental education (EE) centres today. Take a stroll through the forest or walk along the 147- metre long canopy walkway and enjoy a spectacular view of the beautiful rainforest - 28 metres above ground.

Gunung Mulu National Park

Sipadan Island is rated among the world’s top 10 best dive sites, and clearly the most famous scuba destination in Malaysia. What makes it a Crown jewel is its amazing diversity and abundance of marine life. Barracudas, trevallies, silver jack fishes, tunas, mantas, sharks, turtles and over 3,000 species of fish roam its crystal-clear waters.

Nearby islands of Mabul, Kapalai and Mataking, also offer dive sites with interesting names as the Lobster Wall, Froggie’s Lair and Mid Reef. Read more.

Taman Negara

Taman Negara (National Park) is the first and the oldest official Protected Area in the country, originally named King George V National Park. Declared in 1938 by the Sultans of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu (during King George's Silver Jubilee), it was gazetted to preserve the land's indigenous nature in perpetuity. The park was renamed Taman Negara after the nation gained independence in 1957. The most popular activities at Taman Negara are river cruises and jungle trekking. The canopy walk is also a must-see, offering a fantastic close up view of activity in the rainforest canopy.

Kuala Selangor Fireflies

Kuala Selangor is a small coastal village northwest of Kuala Lumpur. The village is renowned for the great attraction alongside the Selangor River that runs through the village. On this river you can spot the famous fireflies (Kelip-Kelip in Bahasa Melayu) during evenings/nights. The fireflies all are found on the mangrove tree species called berembang. It is said that this is one of the biggest firefly colonies in the world.

Wetland Park

Birdwatching in the Wetlands. Grab your binoculars and flock down to Putrajaya Wetlands Park for a day of birdwatching! As one of the largest man-made freshwater wetlands in the tropics, the Putrajaya Wetlands is made up of the Wetlands Park (138 hectares) and the wetland areas (1,977 hectares). It is also recognised by UNESCO as an Ecohydrology Demonstration Site, a place where researchers can observe the interactions between water and the ecosystems. The wetlands has a high rate of biodiversity due to its unique ecosystem.

Island getaways

Island Gateways

Port Dickson Beach

Port Dickson is more famous for its attractive beaches, ample amenities and good infrastructure. There are also various types of accommodation for those wishing to holiday here. The beaches of Port Dickson (PD) is a famous weekend retreat for city dwellers.

Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island is rated among the world’s top 10 best dive sites, and clearly the most famous scuba destination in Malaysia. What makes it a Crown jewel is its amazing diversity and abundance of marine life. Barracudas, trevallies, silver jack fishes, tunas, mantas, sharks, turtles and over 3,000 species of fish roam its crystal-clear waters.

Nearby islands of Mabul, Kapalai and Mataking, also offer dive sites with interesting names as the Lobster Wall, Froggie’s Lair and Mid Reef. Read more.

Pulau Redang

Pulau Redang, is the largest of a group of nine protected islands dotting the South China Sea, off the Terengganu coast. The island offers crystal clear waters and numerous dive sites for enthusiasts. Sheltered within the Pulau Redang Marine Park, the waters here are rich in marine life. At midday when sun rays penetrate the sea, brilliant hues of coral, anemones and fish can be seen.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Located just a 10- to 20- minute speedboat ride away from Sabah's capital, Kota Kinabalu, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park comprises of a cluster of five idyllic islands spread over 4,929 hectares, of which two-thirds is sea.

Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi

This well-preserved, uninhabited marine park extends over a number of islands, with Pulau Payar being the largest. Your base out here is the floating platform moored off Pulau Payar. But the real attraction of this platform lies below sea level, where you can snorkel or dive. It is an ideal choice for a day outing.

Tioman Island

About 56km off the coast of Pahang lies Tioman Island, an alluring holiday paradise in the South China Sea. Acclaimed as one of the best island getaways in the world, Tioman was the location of the Hollywood musical, 'South Pacific' in 1959.

Cultural Attractions

Cultural Attractions

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

This mansion has gained famed in several television series (including The Little Nyonya) and reality shows such as ‘The Amazing Race’.

Kellie’s Castle

Spooky Palace or Romantic Ruins? Explore Malaysia’s Most Famous Castle. Overlooking the picturesque view of Batu Gajah, Perak, is the unfinished castle of William Kellie Smith, better known as Kellie’s Castle. The brainchild of the Scottish rubber plantation owner to celebrate his child’s birth, the castle and surrounding ruins bear signs of Smith’s grand vision for his family home.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Known as the 'Living Museum', the Cultural Village was set up to preserve and showcase Sarawak's cultural heritage, it is the perfect place to get introduced to local culture and lifestyle. Sprawled across 17 acres, there are about 150 people living in the village, demonstrating traditional daily activities from Sarawak's diverse tribes like the processing of sago and the making of handicrafts. They wear traditional costumes and also put on dances for visitors.


The Portuguese colonised Melaka from 1511 to 1641. The first thing they did was build a fort overlooking the river, calling it A'Famosa. As Melaka was the centre of struggles between super powers of the time, and suffered the constant threat of attack, the A'Famosa fort was critical in Portugal maintaining its colonial foothold in the Far East.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves is an iconic and popular tourist attraction in Selangor. Site of a Hindu temple and shrine, Batu Caves attracts thousands of worshippers and tourists, especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam. A limestone outcrop located just north of Kuala Lumpur, its main attraction is the large statue of the Hindu God at the entrance, besides a steep 272-step climb up its steps to finally view the stunning skyline of the city centre. Monkeys frolic around the caves, and it is a popular spot for rock climbing enthusiasts. Batu Caves is a place where you should not miss on your next visit to Malaysia!

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a stately mansion, refurbished to reflect bygone days of the Straits Chinese settlement in Penang. This magnificent townhouse is the former residence and office of Chinese Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee. He was a 19th century Hakka tin-miner and a secret society leader of the Hai San against arch rivals, the Ghee Hin.

Sri Menanti Royal Museum

Sri Menanti Royal Museum is among the must visit destination in Kuala Pilah. It served as a palace for the Royal family of Negeri Seremban and is located in the Royal town of Negeri Seremban, just off Seremban.It is black in colour, intricate with beautiful flowers motif. This 5 stories wooden palace is built with wooden pegs, using no nails or screws. It has 99 solids timber pillars, standing 65 feet tall and furnished with matching furniture and bed chambers. Other royal belonging like costumes and documents of the royal of linage are also exhibited.

Kek Lok Si

Also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss, Kek Lok Si is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, and arguably one of the most famous in Penang. Located in Air Itam, the hills in that area (called “He San” or Crane Hill) have traditionally been regarded as geomancy-significant, having all the right “feng shui” elements for a temple. In fact, it is extremely popular as a retreat for monks and Taoists striving for immortality.

Sam Poh Tong Temple

Sam Poh Tong is a famous cave temple located in Gunung Rapat, about 5km south of Ipoh. It is said to be the biggest cave temple in the country, and is an impressive work of art with various statues of Buddha interspersed among the stalactites and stalagmites.

St.Paul's Hill (A'Famosa)

Built in the 1880s, this famous indigo-blue Chinese Courtyard House in Georgetown was the residence of Cheong Fatt Tze, a prominent Chinese figure in the newly established Penang Straits Settlement during the 19th century. The mansion was built by master craftsmen brought in especially from China, who used their skills to fashion the mansion with 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows.

Culinary Delights

Culinary Delights

China Town

Petaling Street is where you can find roadside hawker stalls selling a variety of things such as clothes, food, drinks, electronic goods and fresh produce. With a myriad of goods and items, you will definitely be spoilt for choice. In case you’re hungry or thirsty, the restaurants and stalls here are more than capable of quenching your thirst and satiating your hunger for local fare.

Gurney Drive

If Penang is the food capital of Malaysia, Gurney Drive is arguably the best of Penang on a plate. This popular seafront promenade exemplifies the colours and atmosphere of Penang – fun, lively and vibrant. Also known by its Malay name, “Persiaran Gurney”, Gurney Drive offers delightful street and high-end cuisine.

Kuching Waterfront

Kuching Waterfront, which lines the south bank of Sarawak River, is the place to sample the city’s cosmopolitan vibes. During the daytime, it offers scenic views of the Astana, Fort Margherita and the Malay kampungs across the river; but night-time is when it really comes alive! It seems like half of the city is out meeting friends, watching a show, or just shooting the breeze. For something different, why not try jetty-hopping along the river on the local Penambang boats, and savour the different sights, sounds (and delicacies!) between the two riverbanks.

Central Market

Central Market Kuala Lumpur began life as a wet market in 1888. It served as a prominent landmark in colonial and modern-day Kuala Lumpur. When it was relocated in the 1980s, the Malaysian Heritage Society successfully petitioned against the demolition of the building, and it was subsequently declared a centre for Malaysian arts, culture and handicraft.

Highly accessible via the Kuala Lumpur Metro, LRT, do your souvenir shopping here and bargain ferociously to get best value for your purchases.