To explore a country often means not just to visit its capital and several other famous landmarks. But it could include penetrating various natural zones, presented in this country. And for this, you would need to prepare your luggage according to the conditions that you will meet there. Now, let’s penetrate to the natural areas in Peninsular Malaysia and determine your special packing list for such an adventure.
Why “special packing list”
Preparing your luggage is an important part of your trip. You arrange your packing list, which normally includes all the standard daily things, regardless of your destination. It includes your daily clothes, underwear, and toiletry, your electronic devices, your documents and money, and probably some other additional things. It varies only depending on the climate and season, and your personal preferences. And usually, it is enough if you only go to visit “places of civilization”- cities, old towns, etc.
But if your trip includes natural areas, you may need something more, some special gear. Gear for hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, caving, or any other types of diving into the nature. So, now we will focus only on those additional things that you have to bring with you, if you want to fully enjoy your trip to Peninsular Malaysia, arranging your “special packing list”.
Natural zones and conditions in Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia is the western part of Malaysia, located on the southernmost land of Eurasia- the Malay Peninsula. It is situated very close to the Earth’s equator. So, the climate is humid equatorial. There are two seasons, depending on the two monsoons blowing in the country, but the difference between them is not too big. It is always warm- an eternal summer.
So, the natural zone of Peninsular Malaysia consists of an equatorial rainforest- same as the rainforests in Amazonia, Papua, or Congo. Now a large part of this rainforest doesn’t exist and is replaced by urban and rural areas, but there are still equatorial jungles with rivers, waterfalls, caves, some of which protected in natural parks. These places are where you can see how natural Peninsular Malaysia has looked like since thousands of years ago.
There are also some high mountains, many of which still covered by natural rainforests. But due to the high altitude (between 1500 and 2200 m), the forests are different, with a “subtropical” element, and the weather on the summits is much cooler, sometimes even cold.
And finally, there is a sea tropical paradise- long sandy beaches, especially on the east coast, stunning islands (like Perhentian, Redang, and Tioman) with coral reefs, more pristine island beaches with jungle and coconut palms, and crystal clear seawater. There are a lot of opportunities for swimming, diving, surfing or just playing.
So, let’s get into detail, what you need to bring with you, to taste and enjoy all of these natural environments in full, without regretting.
Special packing list for the lowland rainforests
The equatorial rainforest in Peninsular Malaysia is a whole local world, full of wildlife. Exploring this forest is an amazing adventure. But to do it, it’s not enough only to see it from a road, а parking, from the bus or a village, you need to penetrate inside it. And you can do it in several ways.
You can make trekking in the jungle. If you go to Taman Negara, the largest equatorial forest in Peninsular Malaysia, you can walk on the trails which are specially arranged for trekking. Some trails are well-arranged with wooden boards, but most of them are wild and relatively difficult in some places. At the same time, it is hot, humid, and sometimes rainy, so the trails can be muddy and slippery.
If you only walk on the wooden boards’ paths (arranged for tourists), you can do it wearing your sandals only. But if you hike longer, on the wild paths, you need good hiking shoes, proper for the conditions in the jungle. So, let’s see some examples.
Hiking shoes for men:
Hiking shoes for women:
Socks against leeches
In addition to these conditions in the jungle, there is something more: leeches. They crawl and stretch on the wet paths, mainly beside the rivers, and usually are active after rain. While you walk, they can easily stick on your leg and suck your blood, and you could not feel it, because their saliva contains anesthetic substance. They are small, quick and no matter how carefully you watch your feet and legs, they can still lurk you without your notice.
The leeches are harmless but are definitely something that you would not enjoy. And there are some ways to protect yourself and walk without worrying. One of these ways is to wear socks against leeches- anti-leech socks. While the smaller leeches can penetrate through the normal socks, the anti-leech socks can prevent it, so they can be good protection against these creatures. Let’s see some anti-leech socks.
When the weather is hot, I don’t like long pants. Usually, they make me feel hotter, one of the purposes of the long pants is to protect us from cold, which is useless in the jungle. But they can also protect you from some „jungle things”, including the leeches that I share above. They can protect you from thorns, insects, various other biting things, as well as from wounds if you fall on the ground.
But because the weather in the Malaysian rainforest is hot, you have to choose pants that don’t make you feel hot. And there are such pants, designed specifically for jungle adventures. Let’s see some of them.
Hiking long pants for men:
Hiking long pants for women:
Long sleeve shirts
Same as the long pants, the long sleeve shirts protect your body, including your arms, from various things in the jungle. At the same time, everybody would prefer wearing short sleeves in the hot weather near the equator. So, again, you need protection from the jungle environment, without heating and sweating. And there are such long sleeve shirts, that can be proper, and at the same time, enough comfortable. Let’s see some examples:
Long sleeve shirts for men:
Long sleeve shirts for women:
Of course, if you are not afraid of the jungle, you can still go hiking with your short pants and short sleeve shirt- with the same clothes that you wear when you walk in the big city or well-arranged tourist destinations. And you can be ok during your whole hike, that can be several days long. I am not afraid of the jungle plants and insects, but everybody is different. Some people have more sensitive skin, others are more sensitive or just afraid of biting. So, everybody’s choice can be different.
Exploring the equatorial rainforest would be not enough if you don’t float on a jungle river. There are such opportunities in many forests in Peninsular Malaysia. In Taman Negara, there are river cruises arranged by the local travel companies- for fun, or just for convenient transportation. The river cruises are by motor kayak boats and usually, you remain dry.
But some of the local river floating attractions are „rapids shooting” when the boat crosses some rapids or just the boat driver intentionally shake the boat to make everybody wet. It is fun, but not for your mobile or camera. So you need a waterproof bag to protect your electronic devices. They usually provide such bags, but bringing your own one is always better. Let’s see some bags below:
Special packing list for the high mountains
Taman Negara is the largest equatorial rainforest in Peninsular Malaysia, and there are many activities you can do there. A large part of it is lowland, not higher than 300-400 m altitude. But there are mountainous parts of Taman Negara, rising to more than 2000 m altitude, and there is the highest peak in the country- Gunung Tahan (2187 m).
So, if you join the 7-days trek from Kuala Tahan, through Mt. Gunung Tahan, to Merapoh, you would need more than just some hot and humid jungle gear. When the altitude begins to rise and reaches more than 1000 m, you start to feel cool. And over 1500 m, it can be even cold, especially at night. While you walk, you can still wear just a shirt, but when you finish your daily hike, you would need to wear something more.
You would need it mainly in the evening, early morning or probably in the night if you sleep in high altitude area. During the other time, especially if it is sunny, you would not need it, and you have to put it in your backpack. So, it is important to bring a comfortable and light jacket, which at the same time can protect you warm during the cold nights on the summit. Let’s see some examples.
Hiking jackets for men:
Hiking jackets for women:
The climate in Peninsular Malaysia is humid. So, you can expect rain even during the dryer season. The rain can be short, or not too heavy, but enough to make you wet. If you are in the lowland, it would be a not too big problem, because it’s hot (although if you don’t move, you can still feel cold, and also, your electronic devices can be in danger). But in the high altitude, it is important to protect yourself from rain, including your backpack. For this purpose, you have to bring your raincoat (poncho). Let’s see some examples:
Actually, you don’t necessarily need boots, shorter hiking shoes can be enough. But the lower temperature, the steeper paths in the mountainous terrain may require more choices for your feet. Another advantage of the taller boots is that you can walk on deep mud and puddles much easier. The disadvantage is that boots are heavier for your luggage, and hotter in the lowlands, but if you plan to spend a long time hiking in the high mountains of Peninsular Malaysia, the boots can be very useful. So, let’s see some examples below:
Hiking boots for men:
Hiking boots for women:
It is a typical accessory for every mountain hiker, no matter he hikes in the polar regions, in the Himalayas, in Africa, or Peninsular Malaysia. Yes, in some forests, you may find wooden sticks that can replace the hiking poles, including the forests in Malaysia, but that’s not sure. At the same time, without poles hiking can be more tiring and more difficult in some trail sections.
Fortunately, the hiking poles are not heavy and can be stowed easily in your luggage. Maybe you would not need them too much if you don’t plan several days trekking, but let’s see some good poles that you can bring with you anyway:
Now, let’s look at the seaside of Peninsular Malaysia. There are incredibly beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and islands, and it is worth to taste more of them, not just to look them from a ferry, bus, or a hotel. So again, you need to bring something more in your luggage, to enjoy the seaside in full.
Special packing list for the seaside
Of course, everybody who goes to the seaside would bring his/her swimsuit, and maybe some other beach accessories like a mat, a swim ring, a towel, slippers, or something else. But I would suggest a bit more, by which you can get more from the beautiful Malaysian seaside.
Although it is something that most people would bring to the seaside by default, I would like to stress on it. It is because when you explore more of the sea beaches and underwater world, most probably you would spend a long time under the sun than if you just relax on the beach. Everybody’s skin has a different sensitivity, anyway, if you have experienced a sunburn, you should know how uncomfortable is it. So, let’s choose a good sunscreen, with high SPF (sun protection factor).
Here I would propose a non-standard adventure (which probably many people have tried, but somehow don’t consider an outdoor activity)- walking on the coastline. Just follow the coastline of an island, walking on beaches, then on rocks, stones, mangroves, or any other kinds of the coast. Sometimes you would walk on the dry ground, but sometimes- on the bottom of a shallow water place, which will not always be soft and sandy, it can be covered by sharp stones, shells or corals. Yes, you can wear slippers, but it is not so convenient. So, the best solution is to wear waterproof sandals. Actually, it is very convenient and you can use them during your normal city walks. So, let’s take a look at some of them:
Finally, this is the classical gear that you must bring with yourself if you go to the seaside destinations with clear water everywhere on the Earth, including Peninsular Malaysia. There are a lot of clear water areas, mainly on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula and nearby islands, especially on the places hidden from the wind and big waves. There you can discover the fantastic views of the underwater word- something that you would not want to miss. You don’t need to be a scuba diver (although it would allow you to penetrate much deeper, of course) to enjoy it. But you still need this basic gear- the snorkeling set.
It can consist only of a snorkel and a mask or can include fins too. Here you can get into more details. You can buy these things separately too, and both options (in a set, or separately) have their pros and cons. Also, many cruise tours offer their own sets to their customers. But still, if you bring your own set is much better. So, let’s see some good snorkeling sets below.
Yes, if you want to try everything of the nature in Peninsular Malaysia, and bring all of the above things, it can significantly increase the weight of your luggage, which can be inconvenient or can cause additional charge in the airports. So, you have to make some balance with your priorities. But if you arrange it well, you would ensure a great time in this country, giving you an unforgettable experience.
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