Malaysia and Borneo elevate the intimacy of the experience. Find orangutans and you're close enough to analyze their curios expressions. Step out from beneath the rainforest canopy and world class beaches await, where exceptional snorkeling has you swimming along with turtles. You'll encounter some of the most diverse cultures on the planet, whether in the capital or in a remote jungle village. On a private Malaysia tour you find that the experience isn't just about what you see, it's about the atmosphere you can feel on Asia's final frontiers.
Before heading for the jungles and beaches, the capital city is more than just a convenient stopover. Watch how the city unfurls like a giant concrete map from the observation floors of the once tallest building in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers, splashed with the color of elegant mosques and Hindu temples. Despite its global status as one of Asia's high-rise commercial heavyweights, there's a lot more going on under the smooth, executive surface. Gourmets and gluttons thrill at the vibrant cuisine scene – from mouth-watering street-eats to upmarket fine-dining – and hardcore boutique-browsers will revel in the sheer diversity of the shopping. Luxury abounds in the hotels, many of them tailored to the contemporary business market. And when you inspect the maze of central streets and lanes there's an unforgettable juxtaposition of cultures; Malay, Indian and Chinese rubbing shoulders besides peaceful parks and shimmering towers. With so much diversity and multiculturalism, we think Malaysia luxury travel should focus on customized tours of the capital. This is a city where there are truly a thousand different ways to turn.
As sunrise paints the sky you're wakened by the loud calls of gibbons and hornbills. Take a quick breakfast and coffee then cruise down the river to this pristine lake, the early morning hours best for viewing birds and wildlife. Pygmy elephants live nearby and you spot their giant footprints in the mud. Various hornbills call from the trees, bashful wild orangutans are sometimes seen in the distance, while troops of monkeys jump past your boat. The rainforest of Borneo is home to dozens of unique waterways and trails; Kelenanap Oxbow Lake is just one of the exotic destinations for watching and listening to the life.
One glance and you're captivated. The orangutan looks back at you, communicating through his eyes, mouthing something silently. Continue your journey along the boardwalk and there's an even more curious primate, smiling effusively from just a couple of meters away. Fingers curl around sticks, feet cling effortlessly to trees as they hang upside down, and it seems like you can tell what the orangutans are thinking. This is one of our closest cousins, an animal both endangered and enchanting, one that marks the highlight of almost any private Borneo tour. Along with two well-known chimpanzee rehabilitation centers, we also know of excellent places for finding these special animals deep in the wild.
Like all our private Southeast Asia tours, cuisine plays a big role in the experience. Cooking classes with some of the country's best chefs can be arranged, as can reservations at revered restaurants and insight into some of the world's best fish. Malays generally prefer their fish fried, whole and stuffed with spices, or chopped into chunks or steaks and served with a spicy tamarind sauce. In Malaysian Borneo, raw fish marinated with lime juice and herbs is widely popular. Ethnic Chinese locals prefer to steam their fresh fish. The best of the ocean is also served in a variety of other ways, like rectangles of fish wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal.
Borneo's marine world is unparalleled. As the great Jacques Cousteau declared about the dive sites around Palau Sipadan, “we have found an untouched piece of art.” A flurry of sharks swim past (safely), huge schools of barracuda fill the water, turtles elegantly paddle past your fins, and many of the rays defy the imagination. It's not just the colors and pristine nature of the reefs, but the exotic and unusual fish that live here. We can build a private Borneo tour that incorporates scuba diving and snorkeling excursions, regardless of your level and experience, from excellent shallow snorkeling sites for beginners to deep dives that features dozens of reef sharks and turtles.
Deep in the jungle you spend the day with a local tribe, admiring the beautiful simplicity of their lifestyle, sharing stories beneath the canopy. Deep in the urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur you visit a Hindu temple before admiring the elegant lines of a whitewashed mosque. On the Peninsula you go in search of what it means to be Malay, as told through personal encounters, exotic cuisine and friendly invitations. Malaysia is a country of eclectic tribes and influences; experiencing the culture is part of the story on almost all our private tours.