Malaysia Travel Guide
In the heart of South East Asia is a tropical paradise in the form of Malaysia. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is popular for being home to the tallest twin towers in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers. But there is a lot more to Malaysia than this popular landmark as there are beautiful beaches, rainforests, and impressive scenery. The tropical rainforests in the country are some of the oldest the planet has to offer and some of them are surprisingly accessible.
Malaysia also has astonishing traditional crafts so you may consider leaving space for souvenir shopping if you are a handicraft lover. The cuisine is also delicious and you may find yourself not being able to get enough of Malaysian dishes.
This article is your complete guide to visiting Malaysia. Continue reading to find out the best attractions in the country and important information you should know about.
Malaysia Map Base
Capital city: Kuala Lumpur
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). 1 USD = 4.46 MYR.
Electricity: Power voltage is 240 Volts. Power socket type G.
Language: Malay (Bahasa Melayu) is the official language.
10 Handpicked Highlights of Malaysia
Below are some of the best places to visit in Malaysia:
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Many people have visited Malaysia just for the opportunity to visit the Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers. A bridge, called the Skybridge, connects the two towers and the skybridge is the world’s highest two story bridge.
The Petronas Towers are more than just an architectural feat. They are a national icon. Travelers are allowed access to the skybridge, the observation deck on the 86th floor, and the gift shop on the ground floor. You get scenic views of Kuala Lumpur on the skybridge and observation deck.
Malaysia is blessed with a number of beautiful tropical islands, one of which is the Tioman Island, also referred to as Pulau Tioman.
The island offers crystal clear waters, idyllic beaches with abundant white sands, cascading waterfalls, inland rainforests, characteristic giant boulders, and different marine life that makes snorkeling and scuba diving worth it. There are also several tranquil places on the island where you can enjoy some solidarity.
Taman Negara National Park
Nature lovers flock to Taman Negara National Park to see the beauty and elegance of nature. Spanning over four thousand meters, the park contains a rainforest that’s estimated to be over 130 million years old. Yepp, I know that’s mind-boggling.
There is the opportunity to see rare animal species at the Park. Climbing and trekking/hiking opportunities are also readily available and you can also spend the night at a forest hideout or visit a fish sanctuary.
Hike up Gunung Tahan, peninsular Malaysia’s highest peak
Gunung Tahan literally means ‘mount endurance’ and you indeed need a lot of endurance to conquer the highest peak in Malaysia. You can only reach the mountain after days through pristine forests and ecosystems which is an experience in itself.
The scenery as you make your way to the peak is astonishing. It’s not for the faint-hearted but the experience is worth it. Do you have enough endurance to conquer ‘mount endurance’? Then make your way to Gunung Tahan whenever you are in Malaysia.
Langkawi is not a place you visit once. The experience is so enjoyable you’ll always find a reason to visit again. I’ve visited Langkawi several times and I can still see visit Langkawi in my future.
The island is superb for a laid-back beach experience and there are several beaches for you to choose from. And did I mention the two stunning waterfalls on the island? Waterfalls never get old!
If you want to see the beauty of the Island, there’s no better way to do it than from a bird’s eye view on a cable car. The ride is exhilarating and you see amazing panoramic views of the island. Simply amazing.
George Town historical city and jungle hiking in Penang National Park
Penang is a city with a lot of history and you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to explore it whenever you are in Malaysia. From George Town’s historic center to the street art and several landmarks, there is so much to do and see in Penang. You can also visit the Penang National Park for a chance to see the country’s natural landscape – Untouched jungles and totally wild beaches.
Malacca Old Town
Malacca (also spelled as Melaka) old town is unlike any place you’ve ever visited before. Previously colonized by the Portuguese and Dutch, the old town has relics from both cultures. Put in some British influence and the traditional Asian culture and you have a rich and extremely diverse cultural town.
You’ll love the incredible sights in the town, the general low-key vibe it gives off, and how walkable it is. You are bound to have a great time exploring the architecture of the town and taking in the incredible scenery around you.
Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, East Malaysia
The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) was established to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans. Located within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, there are opportunities for trekking and bird watching in the area.
There are also other animal species in the rehabilitation center even though the focus is on orangutans. A visit here allows you to see orangutans in their natural homes and take amazing photographs.
Climb Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia
Oh, ye adrenaline junkies, you’ll have the time of your life climbing Mt. Kinabalu…but you must be fit. From primordial rainforests to amazing mountain views, serene environment, natural hot springs, and the opportunity to see the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia, there is no shortage of reasons to climb Kinabalu. Thousands of people travel to the mountain each year to attempt the climb.
You can’t climb Kinabalu solo as it’s mandatory to use a guide. However, a guide is allowed to lead up to 5 climbers which lowers the expense of hiring a guide.
Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak, East Malaysia
Gunung National Park is another interesting destination in Malaysia. One of the most famous activities to do here is the exploration of the park’s extensive underground cave network. There are also unique mountain peaks and the famous Pinnacle Hike which takes you to the Mulu Pinnacles, a cluster of massive and jagged limestone formations.
To see more of the park, take a walk on the long network of canopy bridges that are more than 20 meters (65.5 feet) above the ground.
Malaysia's Geography & Landscapes
Malaysia is composed of two noncontiguous regions namely Peninsular Malaysia (Semenanjung Malaysia), also called West Malaysia (Malaysia Barat) and East Malaysia (Malaysia Timur). Peninsular Malaysia is located on the Malay Peninsula while East Malaysia is on the island of Borneo.
The West Coast is made of mangrove swamps and mud flats while the East Coast consists of tranquil beaches backed by dense rainforests.
Best Time To Go To Malaysia
Malaysia possesses a tropical monsoon climate and seasons vary from one side of the peninsula to another. So, the best time to visit the country will depend on the part you are visiting. It’s worth noting that there is rainfall throughout the year in Malaysia due to the tropical monsoon climate. Expect short spells of rain even in the driest months and you should always pack a rain jacket whenever you are visiting the country.
The wettest months on the West Coast are May to October. In the East coast, September to October are the wettest months while it is March to April and September to November for the Capital city of Kuala Lumpur. If you intend to explore the outdoors, the best time to visit Malaysia is during the dry months or when rainfall is minimal. This means June and July on the East Coast and January and February on the West Coast.
Traveling in Malaysia
Malaysia is a generally safe country for tourists and violent crimes against foreigners are rare. Still, you should use your head and follow these safety tips:
- Don’t go anywhere alone at night.
- Petty theft is common. Incidents of bag snatching are especially common and bags with shoulder straps should be carried facing the pavement and not the road.
- Make photocopies of all your documents and keep the original in your hotel room, preferably in a safe.
- Don’t open your hotel door to anyone at night, especially strangers.
- Dress conservatively.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Don’t leave your drink unattended at bars.
- Don’t leave your items unattended at beaches.
- Don’t do drugs.
- If you won’t do it at home, don’t do it in Malaysia.
- Purchase good travel insurance.
Getting to & Around Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Penang International Airport are the two major airports in the country. There are several domestic airlines with the most notable ones being Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia. Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Kota Kinabalu revive most of the flight traffic.
Public transportation is excellent, especially in the capital city. It is also affordable. A free bus service, GO KL City, can be found in Kuala Lumpur. It covers most of the tourist hotspots and you should consider using it especially if you are on a budget.
Buses are the most popular and affordable means to get around. Major bus companies include Transnasional, Plusliner, Aeroline, and Super Nice. Trains are available in Malaysia. Two types of train service exist – express trains and local trains. Express trains are faster and more comfortable than local trains. However, they are more expensive.
Taxis are available and are ideal for short trips within town. Negotiate a fare before getting in or make sure the meter is one to avoid being scammed. You can ask your hotel management for typical taxi fares to avoid being ripped.
Car rentals are available although you’ll need an international driver’s license to drive in the country. Note that traffic flows to the left. But with public transportation cheap and fast, there is no real need to rent cars.
The main cities have several accommodation options. Mid range hotels, luxurious hotels, budget hotels, and hostels are all available. You’ll also find a basic hotel in every provincial town.
You can camp in some of the national parks for a small fee. Airbnb is also available in the country.