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Top 10 Things to do in Malaysia
Situated across two distinct landmasses, Malaysia encompasses culture, adventure, excitement and luxury. Offering visitors the opportunity to hang around with orang-utans, watch playful elephants, shop in style or relax on a sandy beach, there is surely something for everyone in this incredible country. It’s always hard to pick our favourites, but we hope this list will give you some inspiration for your Malaysia holiday! Need more motivation? Speak to an experienced My Malaysia travel consultant today to tailor your experiences to your desires.
Top 10 things to do/places to visit during your Malaysia holidays:
One of the most iconic images of Malaysia are the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Holding many “world’s first” titles, the skyscrapers represent modernity within the traditional Malaysian capital while still embracing the cultural identity of the Malaysian people. Housing commercial offices, a tourist park and upmarket shopping options the Petronas (short for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, a Malaysian oil and gas company) Towers are a popular tourist attraction, with guided tours on offer. Nearby you will also find the Petronas Art Gallery, jogging tracks, a wading pool and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
The KL Tower reaches 100m taller than the Petronas Towers and offers spectacular views over the city both day and night. The tower sits atop the Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill) Forest Reserve; the oldest gazetted forest reserve in the country, which houses age-old trees as well as flora and fauna indigenous to Malaysia’s tropical climate. Primarily used as a communications infrastructure, the KL tower is the fifth-tallest telecommunications tower in the world.
Mentally prepare yourself for the 272-step ascent to Temple Cave, one of the many limestone caves that comprises the Batu Caves area outside of Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival visitors are greeted by a large (42.7m) statue of Lord Murugan before visiting surrounding caves, many of which house shrines, statues and paintings of various characters from Hindu folklore. Audio tours are available upon arrival, or just lose yourself in the throngs of people making their ways in and out.
Offering guests a completely different experience to the Batu Caves, the Gomantong Caves just outside of Sandakan hold a different purpose. Also made of limestone, the caves are renowned for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are harvested for bird’s nest soup. These swiftlets live alongside bats and various creepy-crawlies in the caves, but the wooden walkway around the edge allows visitors to experience the darkness of the caves while not treading on anything undesirable.
Kinabalu National Park, located in northwest Sabah, is home to the 4095m high Mount Kinabalu – Southeast Asia’s highest peak, as is also Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to one of the largest collections of flora and fauna in the world, the journey to the mountain or simply a day spent in the park will recharge even the most weary traveller.
A climb up Mount Kinabalu requires at least 2-3 days, so ensure you’re well prepared and have booked accommodation in advance. First summited in 1851, Mount Kinabalu – or Gunung Kinabalu as it’s known locally – is still an adrenaline-inducing experience. The park’s headquarters, where you pay your entry and guide fees, is about 90km from the town of Kota Kinabalu.
The Kinabalu National park is a paradise for botanists, with the world’s largest variety of the carnivorous pitcher plant. The Kindasang War Memorial and Ranau night markets are also located within the boundaries of the National Park, making for unique and active day out.
Some of the best diving and snorkelling is found of the coast of Malaysia, with two main sites attracting visitors from around the world: Tunkul Abdul Rahman National Park and Sipadan Island. With warm, shallow waters and a wide variety of marine life, including corals, fish and caverns to explore, day trips can be arranged in Kota Kinabalu. Just ensure the booking agent is reputable; if you’re not sure, speak to a My Malaysia travel expert to point you in the right direction.
Colonial facades abound in the towns of Melaka and Georgetown. Both represent unique times in Malaysia’s history and offer visitors an exciting (and often delicious!) glimpse of the past.
Georgetown, the capital of Penang, was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and is home to over 200 years of history and cultural heritage. With Chinese shop fronts, narrow roads, well-preserved colonial buildings, mansions and ornate temples, the city is an organized conglomeration of styles that have come and gone. Georgetown is well-known for its mouth-watering cuisine and surrounding landscape of beaches, forests and lakes.
Malaka, or Melacca, is considered the birthplace of Malaysia’s cultural and historical heritage. Dutch, British and Portuguese influences abound and can be seen in the architectural remains of the city. Beautiful colonial buildings allow visitors to understand the historical importance of this once-busy trading centre. With a blend of cultural attractions and offering outstanding food options, a visit here is well worth your trip off the beaten path.
Whether you take a day trip out to a remote island or just hang out on the white sand beaches of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia offers visitors a wide range of beach styles and options. It’s possible to do a wreck dive from the stunning Redang Island or dig your toes into the pristine sand of Tioman Island. Locals know more hidden spots, so ask around for a private beach experience, or have a wander along the coastlike to find your own piece of paradise.
Have you ever wondered what process is behind your morning cuppa? A visit to the Cameron Highlands allows you behind the scenes at the BOH Tea Plantation where you can enjoy a steaming tea in the cool morning mist as you gaze over the massive plantation. But there’s so much more to do in the Cameron Highlands! Pick your own strawberries, trek through the Mossy Forest, shop in the local markets, sample local honey or just stop to smell the flowers – literally. Due to its alpine climate, the highlands offer a reprieve from the heat and humidity of the jungles and beaches of Malaysia, so it may be worth staying a few nights to soak up the beauty.
The Kabili-Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary and Nature Reserve, located near Sandakan, is one of the main tourist attractions of Borneo. The sanctuary rehabilitates orang-utans that have been abandoned or mistreated then releases them into the wild. There are feeding times twice daily where the rangers leave out bananas and other assorted food for those who have only recently left the centre and aren’t yet fending for themselves 100% of the time. There are also many walking trails in the area, so plan a full day’s visit to make the most of your time.
You can go for an hour or a week, but a visit to a Malaysian village is well worth stepping outside your comfort zone for. Many of these cultural experiences are to be had in Sarawak, Borneo, where there are options to stay at a traditional longhouse (Kuching) for the night or simply stop into the Sarawak Cultural Village museum. Another option is the Monsopiad Cultural Village (Kota Kinabalu) where it’s encouraged to start a fire with bamboo, drink local rice wine and learn the history of head-hunting in the region. No matter which option you decide on, it will definitely provide a new perspective on your Malaysia visit.
See Langkawi in all its glory as you’re carried up the steepest cable car in the world! A true feat of engineering the top viewing platform is at 700m, where it’s possible to get out and walk along the steel sky bridge walkway suspended in mid-air between two mountain peaks. Stay as long as you’d like at the top, enjoy a cool drink or sandwich and bask in the beauty of your surrounds.