A Guide to Terengganu, Malaysia
Back in March I was lucky enough to explore Malaysia for Mister Weekender – check out my post here. Honestly, Malaysia has never really been very high on my list, but I'm never one to say no before I try. So, off I went to Malaysia on my very first press trip – it was definitely a pinch yourself moment.
Malaysia really surprised me. Not only is it full of history, culture and diversity, but the people move to a different beat. There's definitely something really intriguing about Malaysia but I urge everyone to take a trip outside of the major city of Kuala Lumpur and experience this amazing country for what it really is.
I found myself in Terengganu, a state on the east coast of the mainland of Malaysia. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur – depending on how fast your driver is going and the traffic at the time. The thing I really liked about Terengganu was that it's somewhat untouched from tourism, and represents what rural Malaysia is.
I find, once you escape a countries major cities and explore the less-touristy areas, is where you really get to see a country for what it really is. And that's really a major reason why we all travel.
Check-in: Tanjong Jara Resort
The thing about Terengganu is there's not really many places to stay and it's a little difficult to get around. To make your life easier – and totally luxe – I'd highly recommend staying at a resort. I mean, you're in paradise after all!
Well, that's exactly what I did. I stayed at Tanjong Jara Resort in Dungun, a small town of Terengganu located on a pristine, tranquil beach, surrounded by untouched jungle. It is, L U X E. It's seriously unlike anywhere I've been before. It's so much more than pools, cocktails and sunshine – although they're all an added bonus – Tanjong Jara is all about community spirit, which is right up my alley.
Tanjong Jara is like a close-knit family that welcome you with warm arms. The staff are incredible – they remember the last conversation you had together, what you did the day before, what your favourite drink is. The staff are totally and utterly themselves, quirks, big smiles and all. The great thing about staying in a resort is the
The great thing about staying in a resort is they can organise everything for you. Plus they offer loads of activities inside and outside of the resort. But hey, if you just want to chill out by the pool every day drinking Mojitos, no judgement!
What to do?
Snorkelling at Tenggol Island
Tenggol Island is part of the Terengganu Marine Park. This breathtaking little island takes 45 minutes to get to by speed boat, boasts some of the whitest sand I've ever seen, turquoise warm water and diverse untouched coral gardens – it’s a real-life tropical paradise. I was lucky enough to spot a handful of baby sharks, a turtle and loads of tropical fish.
Bike ride around the local village
Expect to be dripping of sweat. It's not that the bike ride is particularly difficult, it's that it's so damn humid any kind of movement gets your heart racing. But this ride is worth losing some sweat over. It's a really eye-opening experience to see how the locals live and learn what part Tanjong Jara plays to give back to the community through jobs and strictly buying local produce. My favourite part of the ride was visiting a local cafe to try their local coffee (kopi kampong) and roti that's made fresh, right before your eyes. I absolutely loved sitting amongst the locals in their village, eating their food and drinking their coffee – which for a Melbournian, was pretty damn good.
Learn from the locals
One thing I absolutely loved about Tanjong Jara, was that it feels like one big family. One afternoon the village locals and employees were invited to share their personal Malay traditions and way of life. Here you can try traditional food and drink made by the locals themselves, learn a Malay game or two, feed some baby goats and chat to the staff outside of their work hours. It’s a lovely way to bring everyone together for some happy fun times.
Learn how to cook traditional Malaysian meals
Tanjong Jara have a few characters you'll be sure to meet during your stay. One of them is Chef Ann. She's been cooking at Tanjong Jara for decades now and runs one of the two restaurants at the resort, Di Atas Sungei. You'll recognise her because she'll be the women walking around in a chef's uniform, smiling ear to ear, greeting every table personally. During the day she hosts a cooking class where you can learn her tips and tricks for making traditional Malaysia dishes. And of course, you get to eat afterwards.
Watch the sun rise
This is a must! No excuses, before you leave the beauty that is Tanjong Jara, you’ve got to wake up before the sun one morning!
Psst... I've got more tips over on Mister Weekender, check them out!
Where's your favourite spot in South East Asia?