Malaysia Travel Guide

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Malay villages Malaysia

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If you're thinking of diving in Peninsular Malaysia, the first thing to understand is the great difference between the east coast and the west coast. They're very much two different worlds, separated by rugged, jungle-covered mountains. The west coast has a broad coastal plain, easy access, and a long history of international com≠merce and trade. It's here that you'll find all the cities and industrial development. The east coast has a narrow coastal plain that's always been relatively difficult to access. Very little settlement or develop≠ment has taken place here, and it remains a place of sleepy kampungs (traditional Malay villages) where farming and fishing are the main activities. For divers and for holidaymakers in general there is another very important difference. The east coast faces open ocean.

The sea here is clean, often crystal clear and has great visibility. On the coast and offshore islands, you find long, glistening beaches and beautiful coral reefs. On the other hand, much of the west coast faces into the Straits of Malacca, with the great landmass of Sumatra barely over the horizon. The straits are shallow, muddied by coastal mangroves and siltation, and constantly stirred up by heavy sea traffic. It is only in the far north, where islands like Langkawi face into the open ocean and there's less sea traffic, that you find really good visibil≠ity under the water.

Most of the best diving available on the peninsula is on the east coast so that's where we'll start this review.

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