Malaysia the Southeast Asian country is truly a diverse country with an abundance of nature, rich history, amazing architecture, street art, pristine beaches and much more. The country is a melting pot of culture with a mix of three main ethnic groups Malay, Chinese and Indian which also makes it a foodies paradise with unique culinary experiences. If you are planning a trip to Malaysia these places should definitely make to your list.
Kuala Lumpur is a popular tourist destination in Malaysia. The capital city with a constantly evolving landscape should definitely be on your bucket list when traveling to Malaysia. This fascinating city has a variety of diverse attractions to choose from, which can be overwhelming for the first time visitors. There is so much to see and do, that you should plan your trip well if you don’t want to miss out on some of the great sights this magnificent city has to offer! People generally visit Kuala Lumpur for 2-3 days and here is a list of top attractions you must see/experience during your trip. It comprises the city’s most iconic landmarks, both natural and manmade, and showcases the best KL has to offer.
1) Petronas Twin Towers – Known as the Twin Jewels of Kuala Lumpur, a visit to KL just is not complete unless you have visited these 88 storeyed doppelganger structures.
2) Chinatown – The colorful multicultural Chinatown is deeply immersed in oriental culture, heritage, and history, and is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist spots in Malaysia
3) Central Market – Central Market is a KL cultural artistic landmark, similar to a flea market. You can shop traditional items here at cheap prices.
4) Jalan Alor – It is a paradise for mouthwatering local cuisine with Chinese hawker stalls set up on both sides of the road. If you are a foodie, you must visit here!
by The Opposite Travellers
Batu Caves is one of the most popular attractions in Kuala Lumpur and rightly so. Located just over 10 kilometers away from the city, the Batu Caves are a 400 million-year-old limestone natural marvel. It houses a 100-year-old temple and 3 remarkable caves that are just begging to be explored.
Standing tall at the foot of the towering limestone hill is an impressive 43-meter tall golden figure of Lord Murugan, which is the tallest of all of the Hindu deity statues in Malaysia. The stunningly beautiful statue and incredible view from the bottom of the 270+ steps of the limestone hill are reason enough to have this on the top of your bucket list, but there’s more.
Atop the steep climb up the stairs, there are 3 other marvels to be seen too. Batu Caves houses 3 large caverns: the Cathedral Cave, the Art Cave, and the Museum Cave, all of which are home to intricately detailed and beautiful colored Hindu statues, shrines and paintings. Once you are at the top exploring the caves and temples, you will be immediately awestruck by the incredibly high ceilings and the uniquely carved limestone walls.
The caves are definitely not something you should miss out on but be sure to arrive early as it can unsurprisingly get rather busy later in the day.
George Town, Penang
by Southeast Asia Time Traveler
Carved out of the Sultanate of Kedah by the British in 1786, the Malaysian state of Penang retains some of its colonial character – that is to say, a mix of East and West with a little swashbuckling dash thrown in.
Parts of its capital George Town (named after a British monarch) still feel as if the British never really left. The oldest part of town offers some stately European-style buildings, among them the HSBC Building, Saint George’s Anglican Church, and City Hall. Travelers looking for a natural experience don’t have to go too far afield – as Balik Pulau National Park, the Botanical Gardens and Batu Ferringhi are easy to reach from the city center.
But it’s Penang’s amazing food scene that keeps tourists coming back: the streets around George Town, particularly Lebuh Chulia and Jalan Kimberley, will feed you to bursting with delicious Malaysian street food. Close to the Thai border, Penang can be reached by bus from either Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Hat Yai. A ferry crosses from Butterworth on the peninsular mainland to George Town. Penang International Airport also serves direct flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Bangkok.
Malaysia for Foodies
by Survive Travel
Malaysia is a multi-cultural society which makes it a “hotspot” of fusion cuisine. It is similar to Indonesian food but there is heavy influence from China and India. One of the best places to sample all these dishes is in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Head to Jalan Alor and try some of my Malay favorites including Nasi Ayam (chicken rice), Kuih (Malay cakes), and Satay. One of the best hawker strips in Malaysia (if not all South-East Asia) is Kuala Lumpur’s Taman Connaught. The 2.4km food strip is only open on Wednesday nights so keep it open!
Some dishes worth trying there are:
1) Roti Bakar. Toasted break with an egg filling
2) Rojak. A sweet and spicy fruit mix
3) Bao. Chinese bread filled with meat or something sweet
Another great place for food in Malaysia is Penang. Be sure to head to the hawkers in Georgetown and try the famous Penang Laksa, a curry soup noodle. For dessert or a sweet treat at any time of day, get yourself an ABC. ABC is a mixture of mungbean, fruits, shaved ice, and condensed milk. Sometimes ice cream is in there too!
by Tara Lets Anywhere
Cameron Highlands is a nature paradise just a few hours’ drive away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Here you can stroll along tea plantations and strawberry farms, where you can handpick your own strawberries. This district is the most extensive hilltop in the country and hence the perfect location for agricultural businesses and tours. Although teas and strawberries are its top attractions, there is, in fact, a more diverse offering in the area. You can also see fields of lavenders and other flowers, cactus, and succulents, as well as various vegetation. In fact, one of my favorite experiences here is visiting a vegetable garden and plucking fresh and sweet cherry tomatoes.
There are also waterfalls around the area and, up north, what is called a mossy forest, a reserved park where you can see ancient plants from a thousand years back.Cameron Highlands is definitely a must-visit in Malaysia. It gives you a first-hand view of the ordinary lives of the locals and the agriculture in the country, which undoubtedly contributes to the reputation of Malaysian cuisine as being one of the best in the world.
Redang island is located not too far than a ferry ride from Pulau Terranganu’s Shahbandar jetty. This island is a perfect family-based and romantic destination in Malaysia as it’s very quiet and pristine, without much of a nightlife scene. I highly recommend you stay at the private villas over at Sari Pacifica and Spa Resort. This place also has an epic infinity pool and the service is second to none. At Redang island, you should indulge in an open sea scuba discovery lesson as it will enable you to see so many gorgeous little and big fish. We even spotted some turtles on our trip!
If scuba diving is not your jam, then you must snorkel here! Take your time off on this sleepy little island and go island hopping where you can see gorgeous corals and value the soothing blue ocean and soft shimmery sands. At night, tuck into the little local restaurants and enjoy beautiful music. If you’re traveling as a couple, you’ll particularly love walking down the beach with shimmering stars.
Kinabatangan – Borneo
by Travel For Difference
Borneo is a destination that’s becoming more and more popular as the years go on. It’s a place filled with so much natural beauty, incredible wildlife and an abundance of ancient history. Deep in the heart of the rainforest lies the Kinabatangan River – the place where the animals of Borneo really come to life. Here in this incredible location, wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants and an abundance of birdlife are present in drastic numbers. Nowhere else in Borneo will show you wildlife like this place will!
Here, wifi is weak and tv signal is sparse; there’s nothing else to do here apart from being immersed in nature and that’s what makes it so special. Wake up from your riverside camp, go on a morning river safari, spend the day observing the animals before going on another sunset cruise. During my time here I saw wild orangutans several times, along with an endangered pygmy elephant which is very hard to spot. Seeing these creatures in the wild is unlike anything else, and doing so in Borneo’s Malaysian state made it 10 X better.
But be quick! Don’t wait too long as their habitat is vastly being destroyed by Palm Oil plantations – It’s now or never!
Mt Kinabalu and Poring Hot Springs
by Kids and Compass
Mt Kinabalu is the highest peak in the Malaysian archipelago, found north of Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo. The mountain stands at 4095m tall and is relatively straightforward to climb – even I managed it and I’m not particularly fit! The hike takes a day to ascend 6km through the lush vegetation of Kinabalu park to Laban Rata resthouse where you spend the night. Get up early and climb the last 2km to the summit in time for sunrise before descending the mountain. You’ll need to book permits and hire guides well in advance.
Even if you don’t want to climb Mt Kinabalu then a visit to Kinabalu park is still worth your while. The park is much cooler than the lower areas of Borneo and it can make for a welcome break from the heat and humidity of the rest of the island. Hiking in the park is recommended – you can find all sorts of rare plants including Kinabalu park’s famous pitcher plants. After your exertions on the mountain make sure you stop off at Poring Hot Springs nearby. At the hot springs you can, of course, bathe in the warm water, but don’t miss the jungle canopy walkways, the butterfly garden and hunt for a giant rafflesia or two!
by Stingy Nomads
Pulau Sipadan on the northeast coast of Malaysia Borneo is one of the most famous places in Malaysia and a fantastic example of conservation. The reef surrounding this island is one of the best dive sites in the world and rose to fame when diving legend and ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau called it the best. The reef starts in ankle deep water and drops 300m to form a spectacular wall from the island into the deep. The variety of creatures inhabiting this reef is almost beyond imagination; schools of reef sharks, many massive turtles, schools of huge bump head parrot fish and thousands of barracudas and jackfish. A highlight is when the barracudas start swimming in a spiral to form a massive ‘tornado’ pattern around the divers.
There used to be many popular resorts on the island, but the Malaysian Government decided to protect the reefs and informed all resorts to relocate away from Sipadan Island in 2004. A permit is now required for all divers wanting to dive around the island and most resorts have been relocated to nearby islands. Only 120 permits are issued daily to visit Pulau Sipadan. Sipadan is very popular and permits have to be booked well in advance.
by Kungfu Princess On The Road
Next to KL, the Perenthians and Cameron Highlands I think everybody should visit Melaka for their Malaysia Trip. Many like to skip out on it because it isn’t that well known, but its position as well as it’s charm makes it the perfect Day Trip or a pit stop on your way from or to Singapore and KL. From great street food to quaint colonial influence and some fascinating historical buildings, with colorful Trishaws and great cafes and shopping. There is something found for every taste in Melaka.
But even though Melaka (also known as Malacca) isn’t your typical tourist place where you rush from one sight to the next, better you take your time, enjoy the quaint city and have a stroll along the river. Enjoy the slow life, lean back relax and have good food.
by Wander Lush
Kuching, capital of the semi-independent Sarawak state on the island of Borneo, is a Malaysian city like no other. Set on the banks of the Kuching River, the city is low-lying and laid back. Dilapidated shop houses, winding alleyways, and eclectic architecture define Kuching’s center. Wander through the brightly painted alleyways of India Street, with their fabric vendors and fragrant spice markets, and spot orang-utan street art by Ernest Zacharevic, the same artist behind the murals in Penang and Ipoh.
Semenggoh Nature Reserve, one of Malaysia’s leading orang-utan rehabilitation parks, is located just 30 kilometers from Kuching and makes for a perfect half-day trip. The city is also a gateway for jungle treks, river trips, and homestays in traditional Iban longhouses.
Bako National Park
by Vicki Via Ja
One of my highlights of our trip to Malaysia definitely was visiting the Bako National Park in Kuching on the Borneo Part of the country. You can either go there for a day trip or stay overnight. The Bako National park is located in an area that can only be accessed by boat. In the park are several options of accommodation for different budgets. In general, you cannot expect much luxury as all the rooms are located in the jungle. But staying the night is definitely worth it as you can go on a night hike. Moreover, they say in the morning the chances to see animals, such as the famous Proboscis Monkeys and the cool bearded pig, are highest.
In the jungle, there are different routes for trekking to choose from. Walking them can take from 1 hour to several hours. In the end, we did 3 different hiking trails and we absolutely loved all of them. Just remember to bring enough water with you because you will be sweating a lot in the jungle. Anyway, at the end of many hikes, you get rewarded with amazing views of the jungle and the beach.
The Perhentian Islands
by No Real Plan
The Perhentian Islands can simply be described in one word; paradise. They’re around 19km off the North Eastern coast of Malaysia. There are two main islands, Besar (bigger with more luxury accommodation) and Kecil (smaller and more popular with backpackers). Upon getting off the ferry on either of the islands, you enter another world. There are no roads or cars on any of the islands, just stunning scenery, and beaches that beg to be relaxed on.
There are multiple bars and restaurants to eat and drink at, which offer anything from simple cafe food to exquisite seafood. Accommodation wise there are also plenty of options to suit any budget, from dorm rooms to luxury rooms between the two islands. So what can you do on these stunning islands apart from just eat, drink and relax? First of all, I’d recommend getting a boat tour around the islands. These are cheap, and a great way to see the stunning surroundings that you are in. Many of these tours include snorkeling, and due to the colorful coral, make for a memorable experience. The marine life here is simply breathtaking, and you will get chance to see turtles and maybe even spot some (friendly) sharks too!
If you’re feeling more adventurous then scuba diving here is a must! It is very cheap in the Perhentian Islands and a great place to learn! There is even a shipwreck which you can explore and an opportunity to do night scuba diving!
If you’d rather stay on dry land, then make sure you explore the main island and head to the other side to see one of the best sunsets I’ve seen on my travels. The Perhentian Islands have a lot to offer and it’s really up to you to make it as relaxing or as adventurous as you want!
By Finding Beyond
Malaysia isn’t short on old towns and Ipoh Old Town is an up and coming UNESCO listed town that competes with the big boys of George Town and Malacca. In fact, Ipoh should be on every travelers Malaysia itinerary. Situated in the state of Perak, Ipoh is an easily accessible town with a beautiful historic center. Like popular George Town, the streets are full of interesting art from local and international artists but this isn’t the only thing to do in Ipoh.
Take a walk through the Ipoh Heritage Trail to discover the town’s 130-year-old history, wander the colourful streets of Little India and enjoy a spicy curry, squeeze amongst the tourists down pretty Concubine Lane, shop and dine at trendy Kong Heng Square, satisfy your sweet tooth at Desert Street and enjoy a cup of the town’s famous Ipoh White Coffee, in our opinion, the best coffee in the world! With regular cheap and comfortable buses from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and the Cameron Highlands, make sure to give Ipoh a try on your Malaysia adventure.
by Tiki Touring Kiwi
Kapas Island is a small island 4km off the east coast of Malaysia. If you want a few days to relax with nice beaches, Kapas Island is for you. Adventures are possible, but with the islands all accommodation backing right onto the beach, it’s easy to go back and forth between your accommodation and the beach all day (most do). On the island, WiFi is hard to find, and with a limited selection of restaurants, many ask you to order before 2 pm for dinner so they can get supplies from the mainland.
For those who like snorkeling, you’ll love the ability to walk from any of the beaches on the west side of the island and get straight into the underwater world. On the island itself, other than exploring the beaches (one offers watersports), there isn’t much to do but you might like to hike to the other side of the island that’s more exposed to the elements. There’s a reason many people come back several times, it’s a hidden gem.
Note: the island more or less shuts down during the monsoon season.
Langkawi Island or Pulau Langkawi
Langkawi, Malaysia is one of the more unique islands of Peninsula Malaysia. Located just off the Northwestern coast, the main island is part of a 99-island archipelago which is amassed with jungle-clad mountains, sandy white beaches, and padi fields. Arriving by plane or ferry, visitors are greeted by a truly breathtaking sight.
Available brochures barely touch the entirety of Langkawi’s what to see and do options, but rest assured there is something for nearly everyone. So, it’s recommended to do a bit of online research before arriving, especially if you want to make the most of your time here. The tourist agenda is dominated by Langkawi’s most popular beach Pantai Cenang and the world-renowned cable car that elevates hundreds of visitors daily to the peak of Mat Cinchang (mountain); recorded as the oldest mountain in Southeast Asia. Though visit worthy unto themselves the real Langkawi lies off the beaten path.
From waterfalls to mangroves steeping with flora and fauna, from charming night markets to backroad kampungs, Langkawi offers visitors a diverse view of Malaysia that few can compete with and is definitely not to be missed.
Kota Kinabalu Island Hopping
When I was looking for beach destinations in Malaysia for our family vacation, I had so many options to choose from. But we were going in January which meant that many of the beach destinations would be closed due to the rainy season. That is when I came across Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia. It was perfect for our family since it was just a 2.5 hr direct flight from KL. We reserved a day in Kota Kinabalu to go island hopping among the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
Based on your convenience, you can decide whether you want to go to 2,3 4 or 5 islands. Sapi, Manukan, and Mamutik are the three most popular ones. There are many activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, jet-skiing etc. from which you can choose from. But whatever you choose, you and your family will end up having a gala time on any of the Kota Kinabalu islands.
by Miss Filatelista
Sibu Island of Malaysia is simply paradise. The island is scattered with just a few resorts that all work hard to maintain the natural beauty of the landscape. I spent a few days relaxing at Rimba Resort and dream of returning to their ocean-front open-air beach huts. While Sibu itself may not have the white sand beaches and turquoise water that Southeast Asia is famous for the island is surrounded by many tiny uninhabited islands that are picture-perfect and surrounded by incredible aquatic life. Rimba Resort has a lively house reef so snorkeling trips weren’t required to discover neon coral, huge schools of fish, tiny black-fin sharks, and the occasional sea turtle.
They have a sea turtle egg rescue project and are working towards changing locals perceptions towards the endangered animals as shockingly sea turtle eggs are still eaten as a delicacy! As a digital nomad, a major bonus was that the WiFi on Sibu Island was actually much more reliable than the other Malaysian islands I had visited.
One of my favorite places to visit in Malaysia is Tioman island. To get there you take a 12 seater plane from KL which was an amazing experience and such fantastic views as we landed on the tiny island of Tioman. The beaches are pretty and I experienced some of the best snorkeling just out the front of my resort, I saw sharks and stingrays and beautiful coral by just swimming 20 meters out into the well-kept reef. You can also go scuba diving and I saw turtles.
Walking around Tioman is a lovely thing to do as it is full of nature, monkeys and the odd scary looking monitor lizard! The sunsets were also incredible and I would definitely recommend this island to anyone who loves getting back to nature and away from crowded tourist areas.
Genting Highlands or the Resorts World Genting is a hill resort located in the Malaysian state of Pahang. The hill resort hosts several entertainment activities like indoor and outdoor theme-park, water park, casino, snow world, bowling and much more. Genting Highlands make a perfect weekend getaway and respite from the humid climate of Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. The Highlands is also a popular venue for shows, performances, and concerts.
For a shopping spree, there are numerous shops selling clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes, and souvenirs. And apart from restaurants Highlands also has options like McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and many others. The highlands can be reached by private cars, taxis, buses (cheapest) or by cable cars where the lower station is located an hour’s ride from Kuala Lumpur.
A huge list of things to do in Malaysia but definitely not exhaustive. These places were suggested by our fellow travel bloggers as the top places to visit. Have you been to Malaysia? What has been your favorite part of the country? Do share with us if you think we missed something which is a must visit on a trip to Malaysia.
Would you like to pin this post?