Now is the perfect time for everyone to visit Malaysia. Located at the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia enjoys a strategic location and a year-round tropical climate. With 13 states, three Federal Territories and a population that currently stands at more than 30 million, Malaysia is well known for its cultural diversity – Malay, Chinese and Indian – and the unique ethnic communities such as the Kadazan-Dusuns and Ibans from Sabah and Sarawak. Together with the influence of the British, Portuguese, Dutch and Thais, Malaysia is indeed a blend of cultures.
Malaysia is known for the hospitality of its multi-racial, multi-religious, and multicultural people. Malaysian diversity reflects well on the uniqueness of its local cuisine, arts, culture, and tradition.
Blessed with a wealth of natural wonders, Malaysia is also a well-known ecotourism destination. Home to thousands of species of flora and fauna and some of the oldest rainforests, Malaysia is recognised as one of the 12 mega biodiversity countries in the world. The country’s lush rainforests and rugged terrains make it one of the best places for eco-adventure.
Well-known ecotourism destinations in Malaysia include the Mulu National Park, the Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary, Endau-Rompin National Park, Pahang National Park and the Rantau Abang Turtle Hatchery. A wide range of ecotourism activities is also available, such as jungle trekking, rafting, bird watching and river cruising.
From pristine beaches and breathtaking islands to a rich tapestry of cultures and well-preserved heritage treasures, Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is a bustling metropolis with unique landmarks of KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world). Not only is KL Forest Eco Park - the natural rainforest - located at the heart of Kuala Lumpur, but the administrative capital of Putrajaya also boasts impressive architecture and bridges.
Malaysia’s other destinations, such as Melaka, Penang, Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak, each have their own charms. The historic cities of Melaka and Georgetown are generously endowed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, not to mention Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site.
Uncover new pursuits at Langkawi, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Global Geopark, the tropical island paradise with incredible landscapes. Hopping on Langkawi's cable car – the world’s steepest cable car - will bring you an elevated experience at 708 metres above sea level. Located on the west coast of the island, this SkyCab journey by Panorama Langkawi covers a total distance of 2.2 kilometres, linking the Base Station at the foot of Machinchang Range to the top station at the summit.
Besides that, go for a spine-chilling walk on the 125-metre Sky Bridge, the longest free-span and curved bridge in the world. Alternatively, discover the Kubang Badak BioGeoTrail in Langkawi, the island’s newest ecotourism destination, which bagged the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Awards 2021 under Heritage Category.
At Kuching, Sarawak, tuck into its foods to experience and understand what makes Kuching a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Sarawak also hosts a number of world-class events throughout the year, such as the Rainforest World Music Festival, Borneo Cultural Festival, Borneo Jazz Festival and Borneo International Kite Festival. Others include extreme sports like Spartan Race, Kuching Marathon, Sarawak Adventure Challenge and International Dragonboat Race.
Malaysia’s stunning islands and beaches offer ideal sun, sea, and sand getaways, with some of the world-class dive sites located along the coasts of Terengganu and Sabah, boasting amazing underwater landscapes. Sipadan Island is well known as one of the world's top diving destinations.
In addition, the latest attractions in Malaysia include the newly-opened Genting SkyWorld, an outdoor theme park in the highlands, and the magnificent Merdeka 118 Tower in Kuala Lumpur, currently the world's second-tallest building. On the other hand, Desaru Coast in Johor Bahru, chosen as one of the 100 World's Greatest Places 2021 by TIME Magazine, boasts world-class and ultra-luxury hotels, including two world-class golf courses and the region's largest adventure waterpark.
There are many reasons for tourists to choose Malaysia as a holiday destination, from its beautiful natural wonders, vibrant culture, friendly people, and reputation as a safe and family-friendly destination to its value-for-money experiences. Moreover, Malaysia has excellent healthcare facilities with state-of-the-art technology and medical expertise, complete with international accreditation. With English widely spoken, Malaysia offers a winning combination of affordable and relaxing holidays.
Here are ten things to do in Malaysia:
1. Experience the enchantment of Malaysia’s idyllic islands and golden beaches
Bordered by Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south, Malaysia also stretches across the northern tier of Borneo to form the states of Sabah and Sarawak. With 4,800km of coastline, Malaysia boasts some of the most beautiful islands and beaches. Surrounded by the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea, the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea, the country has a number of natural treasures that lay nestled in tranquil bays and coves. Beneath the aquamarine waters is a fascinating world of corals and marine life waiting to be discovered. Beautiful islands such as Langkawi, Perhentian, Mabul, Sipadan, Redang, Tioman, and Bohey Dulang, to name a few, are some of the breathtaking spots for scuba diving and snorkelling. Other beautiful beaches include Cherating, Teluk Chempedak, and Port Dickson.
2. Explore local food in Malaysia
Eating out in Malaysia is a real gastronomic adventure. There is such a great variety of choices, from spicy Malay food to a seemingly endless variety of Chinese food,
exotic Indian cuisine, as well as Nyonya Peranakan fusion food. Popular Malaysian dishes include satay, nasi lemak, rendang, roti canai, murtabak, teh tarik, laksa, chicken rice, and fried noodles. Western cuisine is also available, with international fast-food chains operating in many towns, not to mention thousands of roadside stalls and food bazaars. Seafood is a major attraction in Kuala Perlis, Sabah, and Labuan, with fresh fish, prawns, crabs, lobsters, squids, and shellfish available in abundance. Besides that, experience local cuisine at four restaurants based in Penang and Kuala Lumpur recognized with one MICHELIN Star for their high-quality cooking in the recent MICHELIN Guide Kuala Lumpur and Penang 2023.
3. Enjoy the beauty of Penang Island
Penang is a vibrant state with its capital, George Town, having the rare distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a melting pot of cultures with strong Eastern and Western influences.
Penang is also famous for its array of street food. Whether it is assam laksa, nasi kandar, char kuey teow, cendol, or pasembor, why not try eating like a local? In 2017, CNN Travel listed Penang as one of the world’s top eating destinations. Street food or hawker food is the city’s big draw. Penang hawker food reflects the multicultural makeup of the town, which has a mixture of Chinese, Malay, and Indian descent.
4. Visit Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers
While you are in Kuala Lumpur, Petronas Twin Towers is a must-visit. At 451.9 meters, the 88-storey twin towers stand proud as the world's tallest twin skyscrapers.
You may experience unparalleled views of Kuala Lumpur and immerse yourself at the Observation Deck on the 86th floor of the tower. Stand above the clouds as you catch a close-up view of the pyramidal structure of the towers while diving into state-of-the-art exhibits and digital displays about the history of the building.
5. Explore Mulu National Park, Sarawak
Home to the Deer Cave and Clearwater Cave, the Mulu National Park also boasts one of the longest chains of caves in the world. The Sarawak Chamber is the largest natural underground chamber that can fit a total of 40 Boeing 747 aeroplanes! Besides that, its karst formations in mountainous equatorial rainforest settings are the most studied area of tropical karst in the world. The Mulu National Park’s limestone pinnacles are also a sight to behold. Alternatively, tourists can enjoy the bat observatory and the 480m rainforest canopy skywalk.
6. Visit Melaka
Strategically located along the Straits of Malacca, Melaka was once the epicentre of a trading empire. The birthplace of the nation’s historical and cultural heritage, remnants of its long and illustrious past are well-preserved and can still be seen today. Beyond the historical crowd-pullers are scenic kampong settlements and a rich cultural landscape. Take a cruise down Melaka River and enjoy the beautiful view on the riverside. Accompanied by an informative commentary, the Melaka River Cruise lets you see parts of historical Melaka, which includes old warehouses, ancient shop houses, original bridges and Kampung Morten, a traditional Malay kampong.
7. Discover Royal Belum, Perak
Nestled within the protected Belum Valley, Royal Belum’s unspoilt natural beauty is one of the world’s oldest rainforests. Its virgin rainforest possesses a complex ecosystem and is one of the few places in Malaysia where one can find the Rafflesia. It is also an essential habitat for a number of endangered species, such as the seladang (a Malaysian tapir or dark-coated ox), the Asian Elephant, the Malayan tiger, and the Sumatran Rhinoceros. Royal Belum is also the only forest in Malaysia where all ten species of Malaysian hornbills can be found.
8. Visit Batu Caves, Selangor
Batu Caves is a unique and fascinating limestone cave temple. It consists of three big caves, with the main cave housing ornate Hindu shrines. This destination draws a huge international crowd during Thaipusam, an annual festival which pays homage to Lord Muruga. The main attraction is the statue of the Hindu God at the entrance, besides the steep 272 steps to get to the top of the caves to finally get the view of the stunning skyline of the city centre.
9. Get to know Malaysia’s culture and heritage
Malaysia has a rich tapestry of different cultures and a well-preserved heritage. The country’s population is an amalgamation of varying ethnic backgrounds, bringing together an enchanting medley of cuisine, crafts, traditions, and architecture. Malaysia’s diverse cultural heritage is evident in its costumes, social practices, handicrafts, food, music and other forms of entertainment. Fine craftsmanship is one of Malaysia’s cultural legacies. High in quality and rich in detail, these works of art are highly sought after and make great collectables. Beautiful hand-woven songket and hand-painted batik textiles remain popular souvenir items, while the country’s woodwork and jewellery are regarded as some of the finest in the world. Pottery, ornaments made from organic materials, metal craftworks and traditional attire such as Nyonya kebaya are also very much sought after. Kelantanese, for example, are gifted craftsmen with many cottage industries around the state producing silverware, textiles, kites, and brasswork. Alternatively, experience the unique local culture first-hand by staying with a host family in a Malay kampong or a tribal longhouse under the Malaysian Homestay Programme. Visitors can learn more about their lifestyles and customs, or participate in local activities such as traditional games and cultural performances. Some homestays are tucked away in the hinterland, while others are situated in the vicinity of major towns. The Banghuris, Sungai Pelek, and Sungai Haji Dorani Homestay, for instance, are located only an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.
10. Don’t skip shopping
Malaysia is regarded as a paradise when it comes to shopping. Whether your preference is high-end or budget, you are more likely to find what your heart desires here. Sprawling shopping complexes and lifestyle malls can be found in major cities, especially Kuala Lumpur. Areas such as Bukit Bintang, KLCC, and Bangsar are well-known shopping districts offering everything from designer labels to computer peripherals. These malls offer floors of retail therapy with dining and entertainment options, from bowling alleys to cinemas.
In addition, duty-free shopping is available on the islands of Tioman, Langkawi, Pangkor, Labuan, the Thailand-Malaysia border, and at airports. Those looking for traditional handicrafts and ethnic souvenirs can find them in craft centres. Local day and night markets such as Chinatown and Pasar Seni (Central Market) in Kuala Lumpur, and Pasar Payang in Terengganu are also great places to find some fabulous bargains.