Holiday For The Soul: Top Volunteer Holidaying Destinations In Malaysia

A trip that's good for your soul.

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Holiday For The Soul: Top Volunteer Holidaying Destinations In Malaysia
The world is definitely worth exploring as a traveller but have you had any whisper in the back of your head saying that perhaps it’s time to give back?

Although not really popular here, volunteering holiday is so much fun and returning home with a new perspective about people, cultures and mother nature, as well as building friendships over a good cause is even more rewarding than your regular travel itinerary.
Do and experience things that most people don't at these 12 spots in Malaysia:

#1 Help protect orangutans in Borneo

The Matang Wildlife Center.If you do know a little about animal volunteering in Malaysia, it could be because of the award-winning OrangUtan Project at Matang Wildlife Centre.

The orangutans here, alongside other rare animals such as clouded leopards and bearcats, are either rescued, left injured or orphaned, and as a whole are under constant threat due to deforestation, mining and forest fires.

Can you smile like me?
For two to four weeks, work with the staffs to help these amiable animals, with no physical contact since it would halt their rehabilitation. During your time here, scout through the dense forest, check out what daily life is to the Borneo’s indigenous people and get involved in organic farming.

Volunteers building boardwalks
Just remember to stock up some insect repellents and sturdy boots.

#2 Repair coral reefs at a secluded island in Sabah

Planting coral on a reef is so much fun.
Volunteering in one of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia? Yes, please! Work with TRACC (Tropical Research and Conservation Centre) at Pom Pom Island as an underwater gardener. Yes, you read that right.

The spectacular views would wash away your weariness.
Colourful corals contribute to the beauty of the ocean underneath and as a volunteer, you’ll dive in, clean the corals, plant new ones on those damaged and complete surveys that will help researchers. Novice divers need not worry as they provide training and you’ll begin at the shallow stage.

All the best little fellow.
On your downtime, spend time with kind-hearted locals and swim with turtles, or if you're solely committed to being a beach bum, opportunities are ripe for the taking.

#3 Join hands with Perhentian Islands Marine Project & Sea Turtle Conservation

Hey ocean, here I come!You may have stopped by these postcard-perfect islands as a visitor but they do need the volunteer side of you as well. The goals are to prevent the plummeting turtle population and preserve the surrounds.

Collect data for researchers by snorkelling into the turquoise water and snapping photos of the turtles for identification purpose, plus monitor the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds.

A gorgeous slice of nature.
At night, under the star-lit sky, blown by the soothing sea breeze, patrol the beach to keep turtle egg poachers at bay. You can also spend time teaching English to the local community, whom in return share delicious home-cooked meals and engaging stories with you. Volunteering hasn’t sound so soothing.

#4 Be fascinated by farm life in Pahang

Catching the sunrise should be part of your schedule.Snap out of farm games on your smartphone and step into reality at Bentong Happy Farm. The volunteering tasks and outdoor activities mirror the blissful backdrop - wake up to the call of roosters, chow down unpretentious organic meals and take on the day.

Reward yourself with durians after the hard work.
Assist in vegetable plantations, fish and prawn farms, gardening and play with friendly farm animals. The produces are sold to wholesale markets to bring income to poor families.

Make full use of your stay, hike up the neighbouring mountain to witness the rising sun gently break through layers of mist, go jungle trekking and SUP (Stand Up Paddling). 

#5 A peaceful escape with purpose at Lang Tengah Turtle Watch

Aerial view of the largely undeveloped island.Tucked in between the islands of Perhentian and Redang, Lang Tengah is a tropical isle where turtles are governed with much-needed care and affection. Fishing activities, water pollution and egg poachers have been contributing to the serious decline of these humble creatures.

Similar to other turtle conservation centres in Terengganu, your duties are to monitor their landing, protect their nests, and night patrol to save their eggs. At times, volunteers gather at night to watch the hatchlings crawl their way into the South China Sea for a new beginning.

Hello world!
The best part though, under two miles in length, you have the island all for yourself. Scenic strips of white sand beaches occupy the western side, while the eastern side features rugged granite rock formations. 

#6 A virgin rainforest in Pahang waiting to be explored

You'll need to hop onto a boat to reach Taman Negara.Everything you want as a nature lover, you’ll find it at Taman Negara, a 130-million years old rainforest that invites you to bask in the tranquillity and embrace the primitive pace of nature.

Volunteering activities are based on conservation of flora and fauna and improving the Batek tribe’s quality of life. Gather vital data such as pug and scratch marks to assist researchers, and deter away poachers. Teaching the indigenous people English is another way of doing it but in return, you’ll learn even more.

Village Orang Asli.
Whole-heartedly calling this virgin rainforest as home, watch how they cook in bamboos, sleep under natural shelters, adorn themselves with self-made ornaments, and always wearing a wide smile on their face.

If time is on your side, join a local cave excursion project, to examine the many caves that are occupied by strange species that are yet to be documented.

#7 Greet new friends at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Bornean Sun Bear.
Not very often that Malayan sun bears spring to mind when one thinks of animal conservations in Malaysia. For the uninitiated, these furry friends are the smallest bears in the world and are only found in South-East Asia.

Just like any endangered species, they are continually in danger due to forest degradation, illegal hunting and pet trading.

Sun bear taking a short break.
At this rescue and rehabilitation centre, you get to work with biologists and researchers. When not breaking a sweat, share your knowledge about the bears to visitors. These bears are extremely fun to watch, particularly because they are skilled climbers, often hanging out at the top of the trees while embracing life in a languid pace.

No worries, observation platforms are equipped with telescopes to offer a closer view. You’ll have a great time being with the friendly staffs too.

#8 Revel in the charm of Sabah’s rainforest

Scenic Kinabatangan River.Cradled at the heart of the Borneo Rainforest and next to a gorgeous lake, Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp is a place that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Lush greenery stretching as far as eyes can see, wild fruit trees attracting a plethora of wildlife, forest orchestra playing relentlessly and the calm Kinabatangan River not far away, you’ll completely unravel from the materialised world.

An eco-camp at the heart of Borneo Rainforest.
From restoring the lake and forest to marking a trekking path, collecting seeds and building a treehouse that would serve as an observation platform, volunteering options are endless.

You’ll be escorted by a local village guide, who would also introduce you to the rural villages that show a different side to the forest. 

#9 A beautiful village proving that tranquillity is not far away

Bamboo Village is a hotspot for peace seekers.Serenity and simplicity are the order of the day at Bamboo Village, a guesthouse located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Staying true to the name, all buildings are made out of bamboos, blending seamlessly to the scenic surrounding.

In fact, to reach this place is an adventure of its own, you’ll need to drive through gravel roads as the temperature turns much crisper. The volunteering work here is pretty laid-back, as compared to the other places in the list. Ensure the gardens and rooms are clean and plant new floras.

Clean and beautiful at every corner, and it's your duty it remains this way.
Volunteers are commonly from around the world, which bring many interesting stories to the social scene. Being like-minded buddies, plan your next volunteer trip together. If you’re itching to explore more, organise a jungle tour or take bath at a warm water spring nearby.

#10 Protect and pamper wild animals in Sabah

The entrance to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.Under the stewardship of Sabah Wildlife Department, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is a family-oriented park, home to Borneo’s native wildlife, animals from other parts of the world and a botanical garden.

Among the jungle members are orangutans, pygmy elephants, Malayan tigers, Proboscis monkeys, gibbons, clouded leopards, and a huge aviary filled with colourful birds.

A smiling elephant is the best kind of elephant.
However, rolling up your sleeves and turning into a volunteer is the real deal.  Inspect animals to see any change in their behaviour or illness, prepare them food, assist zookeepers in their daily duties, and the most heart-warming task is bottle feeding and bathing baby elephants.

They’ll love your company as much as you do. 

#11 A gorgeous island in Pahang filled with adventure

Hikers will be tempted to exlore Gunung Kajang.Those seeking to restore inner peace, experience a relaxed life, and of course, eager to make the world a better place, a trip to Juara Turtle Project at Pulau Tioman is definitely rewarding.

Heading to new home at night.
As the name suggests, protecting turtles and its surrounds are the main objectives. Be on the lookout for new nests, relocate turtle eggs and incubate them in hatcheries, and night patrol to ensure the eggs don’t end up in local markets.

Do good and feel good.
Don’t stick to the script entirely though, as the island offers even more. The island’s largest mountain and a scenic waterfall are pretty close to double up your adventure.

Also, don’t miss the opportunities to go biking and kayaking too. 

#12 Learn and practise permaculture principles in Kedah

An island that would remain in your memory forever.Championing a calm mixture of tropical rainforest and white sand beaches overlooking the pellucid water, Pulau Bidan is more like a breathtaking getaway even if you’re here for volunteering purpose. No surprise, it’s been a layover for local fishermen and permaculture principles are practised throughout.

Kick start your day by collecting oysters (they taste delicious too!), then help out at organic farms by feeding the animals and picking up fruits and partake in eco-projects.

Get involved in permaculture activities.
Besides that, play games with local kids, laze around with cats and drink fresh coconut juice to your heart’s content or simply get comfortable on your hammock while witnessing the sun lazily drift towards the horizon.

Visit the E-Travel Fair website for more information on the best travel plans offered. The complete list of packages and pricing will be officially released on 2 September, so watch this space!

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