Destination Malaysia

12 magical Malaysian rainforest retreats

David Hogan Jr., for CNNUpdated 26th November 2015
Editor's Note — CNN Travel's series often carries sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.
Malaysia (CNN) — Malaysia's amazing islands, cool highlands and stunning coastlines are blessed with beautiful rainforests.
Hiding within them are some of the world's best tropical retreats.
From a 550-square-meter private mansion to a VIP apartment inside a restricted research center, here are 12 of the best.

Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL), Danum Valley, Sabah

Best feature: Danum Valley Canopy Walk
Affectionately known as BRL, Borneo Rainforest Lodge is probably one of the most exclusive, luxurious and private resorts in Malaysia.
Located deep in the Danum Valley Conservation Area, the nearest civilization is a cool four to five hours away.
The entire place is built on wooden stilts with walkways above ground to preserve the rainforest floors.
Its 30 chalet units are spaced perfectly for privacy while everything is back to basics.
This means no air conditioning as BRL's cottages are cooled using an impressive, traditional method.
Wildlife sightings at the multiple-award-winning resort are common, even at the resort grounds.
Service is top notch with professional and knowledgeable staff and nature guides.
Prices start from RM3,200 ($736) per person for a 3 day 2 night package

Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa, Mulu National Park, Sarawak

Best feature: The Mulu Caves tours
Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa (previously known as the Royal Mulu Resort) is located just a five-minute walk from Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sarawak Borneo.
It's the only five-star luxury resort in the entire Mulu region.
The resort offers everything from a banquet hall, Balinese spa and cooking classes to cultural demonstrations.
Activities include rainforest hikes and the awe-inspiring Mulu caves tours.
This resort and its walkways are also built on wooden stilts.
Prices start from RM460 ($106) per night

Belum Rainforest Resort, Pulau Banding, Perak

Malaysia rainforest resorts, Belum Rainforest Resort
There are about 55 species of hornbills in the world and 10 of them have been spotted here.
courtesy Belum Rainforest Resort
Best features: The houseboat, 10 species of hornbills (there are about 55 in total in the world) and the world's largest flower
Belum Rainforest Resort is the main gateway to the 130-million-year-old Belum-Temengor Rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
In addition to hotel rooms and traditional Malay chalets, guests can also stay in a houseboat or a luxurious standalone Villa Tanjung Wan at RM18,000 ($4,110) a night.
This five-star resort offers some of the best nature experiences in Peninsular Malaysia -- the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia can be spotted all year round.
Birds are abundant.
Elusive Malayan tigers, tapirs or even Asian elephants can sometimes be sighted.
Prices start from RM700 ($161) per night

Tabin Wildlife Resort, Lahad Datu, Sabah

Best features: Pygmy elephants and lots of birds
As an exclusive resort inside the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Tabin Wildlife Resort focuses heavily on conservation and environmental practices.
The beauty of the 30-year-old rainforest resort lies with the large number of highly endangered animals living in the reserve, making it one of the premier destinations to see Borneo wildlife in its natural habitat.
Bird watchers will particularly find this place incredible as to date more than 260 species of birds have been spotted around the reserve.
Activities include jungle-trekking, night safari, wildlife-spotting and rainforest education.
Prices start from RM1,750 ($402) twin sharing for 3 days 2 nights

Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Sabah

Best features: Maliau sky walk, canopy walk and the treks.
Known also as Sabah's Lost World, the Maliau Basin Conservation Area totals at 58,840 hectares (588.4 square kilometers).
It's declared a Protection Forest by the government and is one of the few relatively untouched wilderness areas in the world.
The site is mainly a research center, but it does have a luxurious villa on site -- with three rooms including a master bedroom that has a jacuzzi with a rainforest view.
The villa is located at the main study center where standard air conditioned twin bedrooms and dorm units are available too.
Most of the sites are open to visitors, but they're required to obtain a permission in advance from Yayasan Sabah or a tour company that provides the Maliau Basin tour packages to enter Maliau Basin.
Guests should also take note that Maliau Basin is an atavistic and isolated area with limited access, communications and safety facilities.
Perfect for any hardcore nature and outdoor lover.
Prices start from RM4,500 ($1035) per person for a 5 day 4 night package

The Datai Langkawi

The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia rainforest resorts
Far pavilions: The Datai Langkawi.
courtesy The Datai Langkawi
Best feature: The isolated, peaceful and beautiful -- we can go on -- nature walks.
If venerable British wildlife broadcaster David Attenborough owned a luxury villa, it might resemble the prestigious Datai Langkawai.
Sitting in the thick rainforest at an isolated area on Langkawi island, the Datai's 125 rooms and villas offer incredible views of the forest as well as the Andaman Sea.
Having been around for many years, the multiple award winning Datai is no longer a "best-kept-secret" but remains one of Malaysia's top rainforest resorts, offering world-class service and facilities.
The Datai's attention to detail is incomparable.
Guests won't regret splurging on a Villa Hutan Datai, a 550-square-meter complex away from the main resort ground with individual pavilions for each of the three rooms as well as dining and living areas.
Prices start from RM4,000 ($920) per night

Lake Kenyir Resort and Spa, Terengganu

Best features: The hikes and the waterfalls.
The only luxury resort located next to Lake Kenyir (Tasik Kenyir), the largest man-made lake in Malaysia, is the Lake Kenyir Resort and Spa.
The classic timber resort will please any nature lover.
Shielded from all commercial areas, the chalets and villas offer front-row views to the lake.
The spa is highly recommended -- it sits perfectly next to the water.
Other activities include fishing, nature walks and a boat visit to the waterfalls.
Prices start from RM450 ($103) per night

Permai Rainforest Resort, Santubong, Sarawak

Best feature: The tree houses. Enough said.
Eco-resort Permai Rainforest Resort sits inside a pristine forest at the foot of the mystical Mount Santubong.
Carefully designed to minimize impact on the natural environment, it's been offering visitors a unique experience since the 1990s.
Accommodation comes in the form of cabins, single and double story units and the amazing tree house villas.
Permai Rainforest Resort described itself as "undisturbed natural beauty and wonderfully rich biodiversity," which won't disappoint nature seekers.
As for nature activities, there's hiking, flying fox and bird watching. The list goes on.
Prices start from RM350 ($80) per night

Mutiara Taman Negara, Pahang

Mutiara Taman Negara, Pahang
Mutiara Taman Negara is located in one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests.
courtesy Mutiara Taman Negara
Best features: Countless wildlife and river cruises using longboats
Also one of the world's oldest tropical rainforest and the largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia, Taman Negara boasts endless nature and ecotourism experiences for anyone who loves green and the outdoors.
There are more than 10,000 species of plants, 25,000 invertebrates and 200 mammals found around the national park.
And Mutiara Taman Negara Resort is well hidden at among ancient forest.
The eco-resort houses 108 rooms, Malay timber chalets, bungalows and guest houses.
Also available are dormitories, hostels and a 2.5-acre camping ground for those who prefer to sleep under the moonlight.
Tents and sleeping bags are available for hire.
Prices start from RM470 ($108) per night

Borneo Highlands Resort, Sarawak

Best features: Cool (both temperature and vibe) highland rainforest
An hour's drive from Sarawak's capital city Kuching, Borneo Highlands Resort hides in the mountainous highland rainforest, 1,000 meters above sea level.
It's well known among golfers due to the 18-hole Hornbill Golf Course.
But there are plenty of other activities for just about any visitor.
It's possible to trek in the cool highland where temperature ranges from 18-25 C all year round to the Kalimantan View Point -- with a sight of Indonesia -- or simply explore the area to spot montane birds, insects and plants.
The spa is also one-of-a-kind -- the only traditional Bidayuh Spa in the world (named for the region's indigenous tribes).
Prices start from RM200 ($46) per night

Batang Ai Longhouse Resort by Hilton, Sarawak

Best features: The longhouses -- the original one and one that you can live in
Probably Hilton's only resort in the world that resembles a traditional Iban Longhouse, Batang Ai is located next to the national park with the same name in Sarawak.
Want more?
There aren't other hotels or resorts for miles, so guests will have this place all to themselves.
The traditional native Borneo designs are a talking point.
The spa and restaurant offers authentic menus.
One of the activity highlights is a visit to a real, original longhouse up the river.
There's a canopy walk at the back of the resort for those wanting to do some rainforest exploration.
Prices start from RM600 (138) per night

Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort, Sarawak

Best features: Two national parks and one water park
Bordering Brunei, the Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort is conveniently located.
It's just a 40-minute drive from Miri City, Sarawak's second biggest city, and is close to two national parks: Niah (where the Niah Caves archeological sites are found) and Lambir Hills .
With facilities like its own water park and rope bridge, this resort is perfect for groups and families and suitable for team building activities.
Prices start from RM300 ($69) per night
By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. More information about cookies