While most Southeast Asian tourists flock to Thailand, few do not know where Malaysia is going. Maybe that’s one of the reason why Malaysia doesn’t seem to get as much attention as Thailand. Long-term low-budget travelers tend to view Malaysia as “too expensive,” while short-term holidaymakers in Southeast Asia skip Malaysia for lack of time.
Whether you hit the beach in the countryside, jungle, city or tea plantation, here are the top 10 destinations in Malaysia.
1. Kuala Lumpur
There’s a good chance you’ll be flying to Kuala Lumpur, so this is an idea that shouldn’t be underestimated. But unlike other big Asian cities, where travelers arrive and get out of town as quickly as possible, Kuala Lumpur is a worthy destination.
The influence of Malaysia, China and India means there is no shortage of culinary uses in the Malaysian capital. Interesting sights like the Petronas Twin Towers, Perdana Lake Gardens and Menara KL Tower provide plenty of delightful distractions before setting off to explore Malaysia.
Check out Kuala Lumpur’s traffic conditions and get a sense of the city’s landscape.
Malaysians are proud of their big island on the west coast – they should be! The colonial city of Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many museums, forts, historic houses, and most importantly, famous for its food.
Penang is considered one of the best places in Southeast Asia to try an incredible variety of street food. On Penang’s waterfront plaza known as Gurney Drive, there are many places to sample local Malay, Chinese and Indian flavours.
3. Perhentian Islands
Backpackers and budget travelers love Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands, especially Perhentian Kecil – the smaller of the two islands – packed with fine sand and excellent snorkeling/diving before party nights begin. The nearby Perhentian Besar – the Big Island – is suitable for families and smaller holiday crowds who are willing to pay more to enjoy the clear water and bypass the crowds.
Perhentian Island is very seasonal. Accommodation can be hard to find during the peak months of July, while during the winter months the islands are mostly empty.
4. Malaysian Borneo
The option of exchanging dirty concrete for green rainforest and abundant wildlife is just a cheap, fast flight! Tourists to and from Malaysia often stick to the mainland and forget the natural wonders of the third largest island on Earth, only a short distance away.
From endangered orangutans to rainforest canopy walks and some of the best diving spots in the world, Malaysian Borneo should definitely be part of a trip to Malaysia.
Malaysia’s Peranakan city, known locally as “Melaka”, is a cultural, historical and colonial place of interest. UNESCO has even declared that Malacca a World Heritage Site in 2008.
Few tourists are disappointed by Old Melaka. If nothing else, the relaxed atmosphere is enough to keep people here for a few days. Many shops and museums are closed in Melaka on Tuesday – plan your visit accordingly!
Read more about visiting Melaka.
6. Taman Negara
Taman Negara literally means ‘national park’ in Malay, well, that’s it! Taman Negara is the oldest national park in Malaysia and is considered to be one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. A long canopy walkway gives visitors the opportunity to see living heights in the trees, normally not visible from the ground.
Visitors can enjoy waterfalls and beautiful hikes, bird watching, rafting, fishing, and the chance to see wild elephants. Tourists sleep on the opposite bank of the Kuala Tahan River and take an inexpensive boat to the park entrance.
7. Cameron Highlands
Malaysia’s green Cameron Highlands is one of the few places in Southeast Asia where a coat is required – especially at night – but after sweating in the tropical climate, you might appreciate the change. You’ll have plenty of lush scenery, beautiful tea plantations to visit, and decent hiking trails through the plantations and around the volcano.
Strawberry farms, butterfly gardens and flower greenhouses on Cameron Highlands are delightful distractions.
Check out more information on trekking in Cameron Highlands.