Where to go when you need a quick, short break from the hustle and bustle of the city
Whether you live in the city or there on vacation, Malaysia’s bustling capital certainly won’t leave you wanting for things to do. With its plethora of shopping malls jam-packed with local and overseas labels, exciting cultural attractions, year-round happenings and restaurants offering some of the best food in the region, there’s plenty to do from sunrise to sundown. But if you’re looking to slow the pace, take a day trip out of the city to explore its diverse surrounds. From verdant rice paddy fields and historic towns to hiking trails and picturesque fishing villages, here are seven day trips to consider.
1. Kuala Selangor
Formerly the old royal capital of Selangor, this small fishing village is a 60-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur. It’s home to one of the world’s largest firefly colonies, so come here in the afternoon and stay late into the night to experience this for yourself. First, make a stop at the Nature Park, a lush wildlife sanctuary that contains over 150 bird species. Then, grab dinner before heading to Firefly Park. This is where you can hop on a sampan for a meandering cruise along the Selangor River, where you will see thousands of fireflies in all their shiny, twinkling glory. Don’t forget to apply a copious amount of mosquito repellent.
This historic town is an immensely popular day trip destination, and with good reason. Located a two-hour drive from the capital, the UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a myriad of activities. Art aficionados can embark on a street art tour by checking out the murals painted on buildings near the river. Meanwhile, history buffs can explore the town’s historic structures, such as the ruins of St Paul’s Church, Hang Li Po’s Well (the oldest water well in the country) and the A Famosa fortress. If you’re here on a Friday or Saturday evening, stop by the Jonker Street Night Market in Chinatown, where you can shop till you drop, snack on delicious street food and even catch a live performance or two.
3. Pulau Ketam
Also known as Crab Island, this offshore gem is accessible via an hour-long drive (or a train or bus if you prefer) to Port Klang followed by a short ferry ride. The mangrove island was first settled by fishermen from southern China in the early 19th century, and today has a population of under 10,000 people. Come here hungry and make a beeline for one of the many seafood restaurants situated along the town’s main strip, where you can order dishes such as fried oyster omelettes, whole crabs slathered in a delicious gravy and crispy cereal prawns. Once you’ve had your fill, spend the afternoon cycling around the island (no cars are allowed), exploring the main jetty or simply chilling out by the water.
While Sekinchan is technically a fishing village – only an hour’s drive away from Kuala Lumpur – one of the biggest draws here are the area’s rice paddy fields. If you visit between March to May or September to November, when the fields are in full bloom before harvest season, you’ll be greeted with endless swathes of green stretching as far as the eye can see. Snap some pictures for the ’gram, then make your way to the Paddy Processing Factory & Gallery – look out for the giant smiling rice mascot at the entrance – where you can gain a deeper insight into the methods used to harvest and process the rice. We also recommend Ah Ma House, a bakery filled with plenty of antique furniture and vintage trinkets from yesteryear.
5. Fraser’s Hill
Hiking and nature enthusiasts will enjoy a day jaunt to Fraser’s Hill, a hill station located around a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Situated high up in the mountains of Pahang, it stands at an elevation of roughly 1,280m above sea level and enjoys a cooler climate than the rest of the country. There are plenty of jungle trails scattered throughout the town, such as the steep and challenging Pine Tree Hill trail and the much easier Mager Trail. All of these provide prime opportunities for bird-watching – over 250 different bird species have been spotted in the area. If hiking isn’t so much your thing, you can stay in the town centre and tuck into a warm steamboat meal or English-style afternoon tea.
One of the quickest day trips from Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya is the federal administrative centre of the Malaysian capital and is just over a half-hour trip by car. Besides the requisite political buildings, you’ll find plenty of other things to see. Spend a few hours exploring various monuments and cultural buildings – such as the Putra Mosque, located next to Putrajaya Lake; the Millennium Monument, which was constructed to commemorate important milestones in Malaysia’s storied history; and the war memorial National Heroes Square. Then, get a dose of nature at the Putrajaya Botanical Garden – the biggest of its kind in the country. Spend a relaxing afternoon wandering around the 92-hectare site, marvelling at the over 700 species of plants that call it home.
8. Kuala Langat
This sleepy coastal town, located just over an hour away by car from KL’s city centre, is known for its beach and fascinating indigenous culture. Discover the traditions of the ancient tribe of Mah Meri (sometimes referred to as the Masked Men of Malaysia) who are known for their expressive masks and expert carving skills, all of which you can discover in the Mah Meri Cultural Village on Carey Island. Morib Beach is popular among day trippers and especially beautiful during golden hour, but for those who enjoy the occasional adrenaline rush, head to Jugra Hill, where you can paraglide off a lighthouse atop the hill or drift trike around the town’s winding coasts.