Ever heard of ‘Mandi embun’ – Malaysia’s forest bathing ritual?

Marvel in the magnificence of a thousand-year-old rainforest, as you try Mandi embun, a forest bathing ritual that has its roots in the ancient Malaysian culture.
Mandi embun
Mandi embun roughly translates to ‘bathing in morning dew’. Image: Shutterstock/Vilshanskyi.

From heading deep into the lush jungles and scaling mountains, to hiking in the cooler highlands, Malaysia is every nature enthusiast’s dream come true. Its countryside treasures not only promise great adventures, but also offer ancient traditions that bring along a sense of calm and healing to your body, mind, and soul.

Mandi embun is one such practice that has stayed with the Malays for centuries. Roughly translating to ‘bathing in the morning dew’, Mandi embun largely entails a leisurely early morning stroll in a rainforest followed by a dip in one of the cool jungle creeks. This forest bathing ritual was originally introduced to the world by the Japanese as Shinrin-yoku. It is the act of simply being in the forest or a natural area and basking in its surroundings.

The datai
This forest bathing ritual is rooted deep into Malaysian culture. Image: Courtesy The Datai.

The concept is simple — immerse yourself into a natural atmosphere and let it heal the incessant stress of the modern world that you carry all the time. To truly experience the nature’s healing ability, arrive at one of the many rainforests in the country. The green slopes of Gunung Mat Cincang located in the Malaysian island of Langkawi remain enveloped in a blanket of mist and clouds. The 550 million-year-old, UNESCO-listed mountain isn’t only one of the oldest ranges in southeast Asia, but is also surrounded by an ancient, dense rainforest.

Start early to enjoy the silence and solitude of dawn before the rest of the world wakes up. Trek up to Mat Cincang, walking through the jungle trail and immersing all your senses into the thick rainforest canopy. Years of research has shown that being one with nature through Mandi embun has endless health benefits — ranging from reduction of stress, mood elevation to enhanced creativity, sound sleep, and an improved immunity system.

Forest bathing
Immerse in the natural surrounding of a rainforest in Malaysia to experience many healing benefits! Image: Shutterstock/Halfpoint.

Along the way, listen to the birdsong, the gentle babble of a jungle brook, the crisp crackling of a twig or two. Breathe in the sultry island air mixed with the fresh fragrance of wild flowers. Plants and herbs of a rainforest emit airborne chemicals called phytoncides that have antibacterial and antifungal qualities. When we breathe in these chemicals, it responds by increasing the number and activity of the white blood cells.

Towards the end of your stroll, sit in absolute silence for transcendental meditation and soak it all in. Before you plunge into the pool of icy cold water, practice some deep breathing and gentle stretching in a Malay practice called Senaman tua. Finally, jump into the cool, clear water, cascading from a creek and reaching the stream before you after traversing through the rainforest!

Irshad mobarak of the datai
Irshad Mobarak, resident naturalist at The Datai takes the guests on the unique forest bathing expeditions. Image: Courtesy The Datai.

This final act of the healing ritual is called Mandi maul hayat that means ‘bathing in the water of life.’ Take the cooling dip in the stream, and you’ll be floating on the clear waters in no time. It’s amazing how a simple, aimless stroll followed by a forest bathing can do so much good to your mental and physical health, rejuvenating you from within.

Try it at:

The Datai: This luxury resort in Langkawi is home to both: a pristine beach and, of course, a million-year-old rainforest. A nature walk with Irshad Mobarak, The Datai‘s resident naturalist and one of Malaysia’s most respected conservation experts, will take you through the practice of Mandi embun, leaving you completely relaxed and refreshed.

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