A visit to Malaysia is a must as part of your trip through Southeast Asia or if you’re looking for a tropical getaway close to home. Comprising Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, this country is a land of ‘diversity’ – cultures, religions, languages and landscapes.
This melting pot resulted in a very diverse country, especially where it matters most to me: food!
Malaysian food brings together Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines, and features a regional specialty, Nyonya, which mixes Chinese and Malay kitchens. Malaysian food means spices, blunt flavours, and more! Malaysians love to eat and love to go out to eat – all five times a day. Vendors or street food is the best way to eat in Malaysia. At street stalls or hawker centres, the stall owner specializes in only a few dishes. Embrace the chaos, emergency arrangements, and no air conditioning that usually comes with it and your stomach will thank you for it.
Launch your Malaysian adventure from the nation’s bustling capital city: KL. From the very high Skybridge across Petronas Twin Towers(Kuala Lumpur City Centre), you’ll get a taste of this sprawling metropolis (buy tickets early to avoid disappointment). On the ground floor, explore the city center on foot through Chinatown and Little India, shop till you drop at Jalan Bukit Bintang and sample Malaysian specialties at Jalan Alor Hawker Centre.
Find your green rest at Lake Gardens (Jalan Kebun Bunga, Lake Perdana) or Butterfly Garden (Perdana Lake Park, Cendarasari Street). Nearest KL, Batu Caves (Sri Subramaniam Temple) is a Hindu religious site consisting of three enormous limestone caves. It’s home to the Thaipusam festival and some pretty awesome rock climbing too.
This small island off the northwest coast is a must-visit for its heritage and street food. While you’ll find great food everywhere in Malaysia, you’ll be in a foodie’s paradise Penang where the quality is unbeatable (thanks to fierce competition between stall owners) and the variety is endless. With its colonial architecture – recognized with UNESCO World Heritage status – the capital city of George Town is best explored on historic streets.
You’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city from Penang Hill or the stunning hillside Kek Lok Si temple (No.1, Tokong Kek Lok Si) and enjoy the beautiful evening sea breeze at the Gurney Drive night food market.
If you want to relax, Malaysia has plenty of beaches to choose from depending on the season and your preference. off the west coast, Langkawi and easily accessible Pangkor island, the former most visited by tourists (it also has duty-free status). For a more pristine environment and great snorkelling, head to the east coast where Stop Island is a magnet for backpackers with lots of budget accommodations and a relaxed atmosphere.
Further south, Pulau Tioman is the most developed and easily accessible east coast island from Singapore. Practical tip: especially for the east coast, keep monsoons in mind – lots of places are closed at this time and besides, it’s no fun sitting inside all day on the beach!
Once a Portuguese, Dutch and British stronghold and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the regional city of Melaka (also known as Malacca) provides a window into Malaysia’s colonial past. Go back in time at the Museum of History & Ethnography (corner of City Street and Church Street) at Stadthuys – the former residence of the Dutch governor; browse the antique shops around Jonker Street; and enjoy local delights at the Nyonya or Portuguese-Eurasian restaurants.
To escape the heat, head to the beautiful hills Cameron Highlands, was once a popular vacation spot during the British colonial period. With an elevation of over 1500m and a mild climate, British summer is here all year round! While there are strawberry farms, scenic hikes and colorful markets to see, the real attraction is the tea plantations that sculpt the landscape. Your cup of tea at the hilltop BOH Tea Center comes with milk, sugar and spectacular views of the surrounding plantations.
State Park National Park
Be mesmerized by the primeval rainforest in the oldest national park in the country, and after the sun goes down, spend the night in the jungle! Take a canopy-level walk along the suspension bridge, explore the charted trails, take a challenging guided walk into the virgin forest, or cruise the river on a boat cruise. Leeches are given. Eek!
Nature lovers should cross over to Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia where they will be rewarded with the world’s best dive at Sipadan Island, meeting orangutans at Sepilok Sanctuary (Sepilok Road, Sabah) and overcame the highest mountain in Southeast Asia Mount Kinabalu (4095m).
Want to feel the tropical atmosphere? Book your flight to Malaysia and start your adventure.
Becky Hillard love to explore new culture and very close to Thailand. He’s not brave enough to visit the top of the Petronas Twin Towers in KL!