First of all, you should know that Malaysia consists of two parts, you have the peninsula of West Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia. This is the northernmost part of the island of Borneo. Although the western part is the smallest, 85% of the population lives here.
1. Perhentian Islands
The Perhentian Islands are an archipelago on the northeastern coast of Western Malaysia. This is one of the absolute highlights of Malaysia and is composed of two general islands: Perhentian Kecil (small) and Perhentian Besar (large). Both are extremely popular with diving and snorkelling enthusiasts because the crystal clear waters offer a rich variety of colorful marine life and coral reef. You’ll find sea turtles and sharks here as well! This makes the Perhentian Islands one of the best places in the world for diving. On top of that you can relax on one of the many beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, this paradise also has a price, because it’s one of the most expensive parts of the country.
On the other side of the west coast of Western Malaysia lies Langkawi, another example of a paradisiacal beach. There’s a wide variety of wild animals, so if you want to admire pythons or monkeys in their natural habitat, you have to come here. On top of that you have a lot of beautiful karst stone caves that are more than 550 million years old and in which many bats now live.
When you’re here, you must take the cable car over the rainforest at a height of 708 meters (2322 feet). It’s one of the greatest experiences you can have in Malaysia!
Another, similar tourist attraction is the Langkawi Sky Bridge. For many it’s considered as one of the best things to do in Malaysia. You’ll be walking on a bridge about 125 meters (410 feet) above the ground and in the meantime you’ll enjoy the breathtaking view of the mountains and the ocean around you.
3. Penang and George Town
The “easiest” way to get to Penang is by bus from Kuala Lumpur. With the car it takes about four hours but with the bus it usually takes twice as long. Don’t let this stop you from visiting one of the most diverse parts of the country, however. In the past, there was a lot of trade with Europe and the Middle East, and that has left its mark on this spot.
George Town is the most important city on the island and the charming center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is also supplemented with beautiful graffiti, which makes the city a wonderful place to stroll around in. Furthermore, you can enjoy jungle and beaches. A great combination! Rent a scooter and drive around to explore the entire island. I can assure you that you’ll never get bored.
Beautiful waterfalls, a pristine jungle and several paradise beaches with magnificent blue-green water. Tioman doesn’t only sound like a painting, it also looks like one. Add to this the authentic village and you have one of the most beautiful places to see in Malaysia. It’s also great diving here and you can get your diving license here fairly cheap as well. Don’t forget to go to Berjaya when the sun is setting. The sunset in Berjaya will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life!
In the 15th century, Malacca, which is located in the southwest of the peninsula, was one of the most important trading places in Southeast Asia. Just like in George Town, the historic center is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to Portuguese architecture from the sixteenth century. In addition to Chinese temples, a Red Square and other Oriental buildings, you can also find Dutch influence in the ‘Stadhuys’ from the seventeenth century. You can also stroll around in one of the many interesting museums or visit the Sultanate Palace. It’s not for nothing that Malacca is called the historical state. This makes Malacca one of the most interesting things to see in Malaysia.
6. Cameron Highlands
You can cool off in the fresh mountain air within three and a half hours from Kuala Lumpur. Those who come here can visit the largest hill station in the country and admire the many tea plantations or strawberry farms. The British came here to seek refreshment at the time and you’ll see why many of them continued to live here. The Cameron Highlands are without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to see in Malaysia.
7. Kuala Lumpur
There’s not so much to do or see in the capital.
Admittedly, the skyline (with a mix of skyscrapers and minarets) is quite impressive, but otherwise the city isn’t that special. The food on the other hand is great here and you also have some of the best restaurants in the country in KL. Whether you’re eating at a food court in one of the many shopping centers or on the street: Malaysian food is delicious. Be sure to try nasi lemak, curry laksa, beef rendang and satés with peanut sauce.
If you don’t like anything from these specialties, you also have other delicious Asian food that you can find in Chinatown and Little India.
The most popular attraction is without a doubt the world-famous Petronas Towers. Almost equally popular, but in my opinion more fun, are the Batu Caves. These karst stone caves are easily accessible by public transport and have been a place of pilgrimage for Hindu pilgrims for more than 120 years. Under the eye of the 42-meter (138 ft) high statue of Murugan (a Hindu god) you’ll notice hundreds of monkeys who’re playing around. Make sure you don’t have anything to eat in your backpack because these rascals will find a way to steal it!
8. Danum Valley, Sabah
If you really want to know what a traditional rainforest and tribal life looks like, you have to be in Sarawak. Here lies the Danum Valley that has been recognized as one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. It’s also one of the best places on earth to admire unspoilt nature. In the Danum Valley you also have the opportunity to observe the amazing orangutans in their natural environment. About 500 of them live in the wild and seventeen live close to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. With their ‘canopy walk’ you can watch one of these beautiful creatures and other primates early in the morning if you’re in luck.
And to end this list with another amazing place to visit in Malaysia: go and visit Kuching, the capital of the eastern part of the country. The city is also called the “City of Cats” and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can visit a cat museum here. This is the original cradle of Malaysian culture and they even speak another dialect of Malaysian here. Furthermore, you also have lots of adventurous activities such as mountaineering, rafting and canyoning. For such activities you need a lot of calories and then a piece of ‘layer cake’ is exactly what you need. Be careful though, because this colorful sweetness is addictively delicious!
Of course there are a lot more things to do in Malaysia than just the ones listed here. You have a number of beautiful national parks such as the Gunung Mulu and Bako National Park, where you can see the fascinating nose monkeys. Add some interesting cities such as Ipoh and you can spend a couple of weeks or even months in this amazing country.
Tours in Malaysia
It’s not always easy to get around in Malaysia. Fortunately, there are numerous tours and excursions that are only too happy to take you with them!
» All tours and excursions in Malaysia
Deals to Malaysia
Does Malaysia seem like a dream destination? Then check out these magnificent deals:
Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival
Borneo : Hike, Bike & Kayak
Borneo Family Holiday Comfort
Best of Malaysia
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.