If you’re looking at a long weekend with no plans, perhaps you should book yourself a short vacation at one of these nature resorts in Malaysia.
Longer holidays out of the country typically require planning ahead, but the beauty of vacationing within the country means that you have the luxury of being spontaneous. With the abundance of nature that we have in Malaysia, it makes perfect sense to kick back, relax, and enjoy all that the lush rainforest and gorgeous beaches have to offer us.
With these luxury nature-forward resorts in Malaysia, you’ll be able to experience the best of what our backyard has to offer in the most exquisite of settings. Bookmark this post, and you’ll have no shortage of inspiration the next time you want to make a trip within the country.
The Datai Langkawi
You can’t make a list of luxury nature resorts in Malaysia and not mention the premiere destination in Langkawi: The Datai. Designed by renowned architect Kerry Hill alongside architect and interior designer Didier Lefort, the resort first opened in 1993—but you would never be able to tell with its timeless, nature-centric design that it’s already 30 years old. Hill wanted to honour the richness of the rainforest that every tree felled in the construction stages was repurposed to build parts of the resorts, including the villas.
Sustainable practices aside, at The Datai Langkawi, you can experience the best of the rainforest and the blue sea, with a stretch of private beach just below the resort. Learn more about the local flora and fauna on nature walks with their resident naturalist, Irshad Mubarak, whose vast knowledge of the area will fill you with wonder.
During your stay, you have three types of accommodation to choose from: The Canopy Collection, a collection of luxury rooms situated in the main building; The Rainforest Collection, villas tucked within the rainforest and situated atop stilts, not unlike your traditional kampung house; and The Beach Collection, comprising one-bedroom and two-bedroom private villas that offer direct access to the beach. Be sure to make a dinner reservation at The Gulai House for a delectable Malaysian-style dinner, and enjoy all-day dining at The Pavilion and The Dining Room.
Belum Rainforest Resort
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At the Belum Rainforest Resort, you’re situated as close to nature as you can be—it’s right at the doorstep of the Belum-Temengor rainforest that dates back 130 million years and remains largely untouched. The resort itself has various types of accommodations, but we recommend the chalet-style Kampung House, which comes in one-, two-, and three-bedroom variations. While the infinity pool at the resort is a must-visit, those who prefer their privacy may choose between Villa Santubong, a three-bedroom villa with a private pool. Larger groups can also opt for Villa Tanjung Wan, which boasts seven bedrooms and can accommodate up to 18 people—all with its own private pool. For a truly unique experience, Belum Rainforest Resort offers Houseboat, a floating hotel right on Temengor Lake. With four cabins and an open-roof deck, it’s the perfect excursion to be one with nature as the gentle waters of the lake rock you to sleep.
The Kasturi Resort
Perfect for a quick weekend trip out of the Klang Valley, The Kasturi is anyone’s answer for a nature-centric retreat. The small resort is lovely, with only 23 chalets overlooking the beach and the Tanjong Geliga forest right behind you. The main building houses the restaurant, bar, lounge, fitness facilities, spa, meeting room and the main pool are found. The beach also leads towards the estuary of Sungai Pak Siak, which is great for fauna-sighting.
On the topic of fauna, the beach is famously known for endangered green turtles to lay their eggs. The founders of The Kasturi actually has a turtle hatchery built in 2014 before the resort development began, to compensate for the inevitable environmental damage that would happen. Sustainability is at the heart of the resort with simple—yet impactful—efforts such as rainwater tanks in each chalet, energy-efficient LED lights, fertilising their garden with local goat dung, perforating buildings so that they didn’t need to fell large trees, and using as much local produce where possible.
A property by the same people who brought you Villa Samadhi in Kuala Lumpur, Japamala Resort is tucked in a quiet corner on Tioman Island. The resort features chalets along the hillside and also on the beaches, all featuring a luxe-rustic design that truly brings you back to the Malaysian roots. Like most of the resorts featured here, Japamala Resort is serious about sustainability. The timber used throughout the resort has been salvaged from old kampung houses around Malaysia, and all wooden fixtures are handmade by the resort’s own craftsmen on the island.
Tiarasa Escapes Glamping Resort
Let’s get real: we city folk only like the idea of camping. When thrown into the wilderness with a nylon tent and no plumbing, we’d hightail it out of the jungle within the minute. Enter: The luxurious world of glamping. Tiarasa Escapes does it best, with over 20 luxurious safari-style tents to choose from and five treehouses. Located in Janda Baik, Pahang, the glamping resort is less than an hour’s drive away from the Kuala Lumpur city centre, yet transports you to a totally different world.
All accommodation types are equipped with modern amenities like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and hot showers. Some of the more luxurious tents even have a bathtub! If you’re looking to really live it up, try the White Rajah Presidential Suite, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, including a stately lounge area for you and your party to soiree.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
The beauty of Malaysia is that we have so many types of natural environment settings to choose from. Pristine sandy beaches? We have them. Hilly rainforests? Check. Hot springs surrounded by limestone hills? Head to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat just outside of Ipoh, Perak.
Not only do the villas offer you private pools and stunning views of the limestone hills, but you’ll also get to enjoy all the nature that the resort has to offer. Soak in the natural hot springs and literally feel your body relax, or even have a romantic dinner for two inside a cave. That’s right—the resort’s in-house restaurant, Jeff’s Cellar, is set within the 260 million-year-old limestone cave, serving a degustation menu featuring farm-to-table ingredients. The wine list is also impressive, and you can pick them out the restaurant’s wine cellar itself.
Batu Batu Resort
Imagine an island far away from Peninsula Malaysia where you can escape to—that’s precisely what Batu Batu Resort offers in Pulau Tengah, Johor. The resort was built from the ground up by Cher Chua and her husband, Laurent, and features 20 one-bedroom villas and 2 two-bedroom villas. The villas feature design ethos inspired by Malaysian architecture, and are constructed from tropical hardwoods and designed to blend in with the island’s indigenous nature.
The founders of the resort were mindful to preserve the island’s natural beauty and biodiversity, so they created the Tengah Island Conservation housed at the Tunku Abdul Jalil Conservation Centre. The resort also implements technologies that make the island operate more sustainably.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge
Sidney Samson songs aside, staying by the riverside—along the Kinabatangan River, to be exact—is an experience that one must have at least once in their lifetime. The Sukau Rainforest Lodge is an eco-retreat that has been crowned one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. Place a reservation for the Borneo Villas for a luxury respite that has Borneoan design influences set within the lush rainforests.
As for activities, be sure to roll up your sleeves and hop on a low-carbon-emission river safari cruise to watch for the local flora and fauna with your own eyes. The ecosystem is incredibly diverse, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a rare species or two.
Located in the foggy hills of Fraser’s Hill, 80 Colonie is the guest lodge you’ll want to stay at with a larger group of people. Escape the heat of the lowlands in less than two hours to these artfully-designed apartments and while the weekend away with the crisp air and a steamy serving of homemade hotpot, perhaps?
Guests have five types of apartments to choose from at 80 Colonie, most of which are able to fit between eight and ten pax, with Colonie 12—the largest unit—able to fit up to 16 people. The apartment has all modern amenities so you don’t have to truly turn off, allowing you to enjoy the indoors while looking out to the quiet and serene hilly scapes.