Malaysia travel guide

Malaysia travel guide


A vast vat of Chinese, Indian and colonial ingredients combine across the Malay Peninsula to present a captivating and slightly conservative cultural soup. Opposite coasts boast beautiful beaches with the Perhentian and Langkawi islands promising plenty both above and below the waves. Further inland lush green forest trails combine with hill stations and butterfly farms to help the Cameron Highlands stand out from the more bizarre attractions of Genting; whilst Georgetown and Melaka are dream destinations for anyone embarking on an artisan inspired UNESCO odyssey.
Food is fundamental to all Malaysians and hearing the expression ‘dah makan?’ (have you eaten?) during a home stay is usually followed by a veritable banquet of regional dishes to welcome guests into the fold. If you're looking for one iconic image of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur’s twin towers may spring to mind; however, as with most soups, it’s probably best to add a pinch more spice.
Malaysia is...

a potpourri of cultures which form the same nationality.
Malaysia isn't...

just about the
wild men of Borneo

Malaysia map & highlights


A visit to Kuala Lumpur may not electrify an absolutely authentic Asian experience; however, it will present transport links to the rest of Malaysia as well as Thailand and Singapore. Roads are excellent and although bus rides can be a bit hairy they offer the most affordable access to the Cameron Highlands, Belum Rainforest, Penang and the northeastern state of Kelantan. Trains take a little longer but the scenery, en-route to Taman Negara in particular, more than makes up for the travel time, and if you’re looking to whizz to either coast or further east to Borneo there are numerous internal flight paths to get you from A to B.
Cameron Highlands Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Borneo Penang Perhentian Islands Taman Negara National Park

Cameron Highlands

Lush green tea estates and British hill stations make the Cameron Highlands a much milder alternative to city life around 200kms north of KL. Aside from the stunning tropical scenery, pitted with golf clubs, temples and lake houses, the Highlands offer a perfect place for hikers with marked tracks through jungles and mossy forests leading to hidden waterfalls and misty mountain views.

Kuala Lumpur

KL isn't everyone's cup of teh tarik but it's not completely bereft of charm with Chinatown, Little India and Merdeka Square all worth a visit. The monorail system is the best way to get around, often because it's nigh on impossible to cross the road; and if you're looking for shade or refreshment then Lake Gardens or KLCC Park are often preferable to indoor alternatives.

Malaysian Borneo

This one time headhunter homeland now provides about 130 sq km of protected rainforest in the states of Sabah and Sarawak as well as two of Malaysia’s most popular highlights: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Mt Kinabalu. Staying in a traditional longhouse, boat rides on the Kinabatangan River and coral reef dive excursions all make Borneo ideal for travelers who like to unleash their wild side.


If you're all about the art, Penang's UNESCO capital, Georgetown, is literally covered in paintings and sculptures as well as indoor galleries and heritage museums. Coined: the food capital of Malaysia, as well as a multi-cultural mosaic, Penang features a cornucopia of festivals, colonial architecture, parks, beaches and hillsides, making it pretty special, even by Malaysian standards.

Perhentian Islands

Sitting 20km off West Malaysia's northeast coast, the Perhentian Islands have long provided a sublime stopping point for firstly traders and more recently travelers. The two main inhabited islands Besar (‘Big’) and Kecil (‘Small’) are accessible by boat, usually from Kuala Besut, and feature turtle conservation centres, white sand beach resorts, jungle trails and the odd monitor lizard.

Taman Negara National Park

As one of the oldest tropical rainforests on earth, Taman Negara National Park has quite rightly gained protected status and provides essential habitat for many of Malaysia’s endemic mammals, including: critically endangered Malayan tigers and North Sumatran rhino, as well as over 300 species of bird. Canopy walkways, jungle treks and white water rafting all help to add to the natural attraction.

Photo credits: [Top box: Christian Holmér] [or - gold statue: Shubert Ciencia] [Cameron Highlands: Ken Marshsall] [Kuala Lumpur: Jorge Láscar] [Malaysian Borneo: Joe Hunt] [Penang: Phalinn Ooi] [Perhentian Islands: Nguyn Thành Lam] [Taman Negara National Park: RoB]

Written by: Chris Owen
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