Malaysia is the crown jewel at the end of Southeast Asia, bordered by the Strait of Malacca, the Indonesian archipelago and the Java Sea.
This is a country that is clearly divided in two.
To the west is the Malaya of the complex; an ancient stronghold of the British colonial power, now buzzing with the UNESCO multicultural towns of Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
To the east is the wild and misty Borneo.
Here, orangutans swing through primeval forests, ancient volcanic domes loom, beaches are trampled by turtles instead of sunbathers, and rustic fishing villages flow into the South China Sea.
A look at this amazing country is enough to see why so many people choose to travel here, whether they are for the verdant verdures of the tea-scented Cameron Highlands, the pearly waters of Sipadan, the raucous markets of the capital, or the historic site of Melaka – The list goes on…
Let’s explore the best attractions in Malaysia:
1. Kuala Lumpur
At the heart of Kuala Lumpur are the twin towers’ two massive spires, Petaling Street packed with markets and exciting hawker bazaars, full of the vibrancy of the entertainment city of Bukit Bintang, and filled with everything from deep-fried Chinese dishes to The aroma of food ranges from chow mein to sizzling Portuguese fish BBQ.
It’s one of the world’s great multicultural metropolises, with brightly lit Chinatown bordered by Nepalese curry houses and Indian thali kitchen districts.
In addition to taking in breathtaking views of the cityscape from countless sky bars, you can also visit the mysterious Batu Caves and some famous Islamic art institutions.
The red churches and colonial-era facades on the fringes of tight alleys in charming Melaka remain undoubtedly one of the top attractions in Malaysia.
Founded by the Portuguese, Dutch and British under decades of colonial rule, the city was once a powerful trading center on the edge of the Malay Peninsula.
With control of the Strait of Malacca, it sees everything from silk shipments to spice convoys to military contingents passing through its ports.
Today, there’s an immersive Maritime Museum to help unravel this past, and a pandemonius night market along Jonker Street – one of the best in the country!
Penang is known as a small country in Southeast Asia.
It’s easy to see why.
In George Town, rickshaws zip through smoky Cantonese kitchens, 19th-century blue mansions, and ancient remnants of pompous British history—no wonder the whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can also try a great mix of Indian curries and Chinese pancakes.
Then there’s the beach, gleaming in the deep blues and golden yellows of Batu Ferringhi, lined with slender coconut palms on the edge of Jerejak Island.
4. Gunung Mulu National Park
The weathered hoodoos and ancient ridges of Gunung Mulu National Park rarely fail to capture the imagination.
The park itself (another UNESCO site) represents the last piece of undeveloped land and is one of the most inaccessible reserves in all of Borneo – you have to take a heart-pounding flight to Little Mulu Asphalt airport, or take a 12-hour riverboat ride between snake-infested jungles.
Awards? Mossy rainforests, where the helmeted hornbill chirps; deep, damp cave systems teeming with rare bats; trekking across swinging canopy bridges; the vast canyons and caves of Mount Appi – the list goes on and on.
Langkawi straddles the border with Thailand, and the Andaman Sea becomes the country’s northernmost Strait of Malacca, a laid-back, laid-back place that offers a truly tropical feel.
Filled with iconic beaches such as the water sports paradise of Cenang Beach or the secluded boulder-dotted sands of Pantai Point, it has become a place to enjoy sun, sea, sand, scuba diving and relaxation.
Finally, you can head to a 5-star all-inclusive resort hidden in the coconut groves of Greater Taiwan.
For an adventure, put on your boots and hike to the seven wells that gushing out, or take in the panoramic skywalk atop the jungle.
6. Taman Negara National Park
Taman Negara is a vast green gem in the heart of the Malay Peninsula.
Covering 4,300 square kilometers, it straddles pristine rainforest (some say the oldest woodland in the world) and meandering rivers where elephants can be seen sunning themselves on the muddy banks.
Today, Taman Negara is being promoted as an eco-tourism mecca in Malaysia, with tourists from far and wide flocking to wander the swinging rope bridges, hike the tree-lined trails, look for the elusive Malayan tiger, playful wild macaques , Indian elephants, galumping guars – the list goes on!
7. Cameron Highlands
Known as Cameron Highlands, towering over 1,000 meters down the Malay Peninsula, this hill station is hardly breathtaking.
It sweeps across the mighty Main Range plateau, halfway between Penang and Kuala Lumpur, and spreads out along verdant rainforests and emerald green tea plantations.
The highlands’ unique microclimate and cooler temperatures make the area the perfect incubator for interesting plant and animal life, while plenty of shabby hiking trails herald stunning views of Batu Brinchang and crumbling tea villages, even with local Aboriginal people carry out cultural exchange with Asri Aboriginal people.
8. Perhentian Island
Perhentian has all the beauty and sun-drenched views you would expect from an archipelago at the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand.
Surrounded by sparkling coral reefs, it is usually reached by boat from Kuala Besut.
Their location on the east coast of Malaya keeps them away from the same thriving crowds in Penang, which is great if you’ve had long, lazy days between Turtle Beach and Coral Bay.
but it is not the truth.
There are plenty of SCUBA dives and famous spots such as Pinnacle and Sugar Wreck provide good visibility.
There are jungle hiking trails where you can mingle with oversized lizards and snakes.
Also had some great fish and chips in the evening!
9. Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Semenggoh continues to reign as one of the legendary natural gems of Borneo.
Located on the edge of Kuching City, it flows into pristine tropical rainforest that rises alongside the peaks of inland Sarawak.
Between its borders are towering teak trees and swaying jungle vines, full of papaya and banana trees in bloom.
These are chewed on by the resident pack of 25 orangutans, the main reason why thousands flock to it every year! (There is a famous reserve in Semenggoh land for some up-close and personal encounters with these fascinating apes.)
10. Bako National Park
Bako National Park, which juts out from Semenggoh into the pearly waters of the South China Sea on the other side of Kuching, is also worth a visit – especially if you’re coming to Malaysia for the wild jungles and beautiful backcountry.
The landscape here can change dramatically from coast to inland, with chiseled rock mounds and sheer cliffs by the sea, and lush forests and mossy underbrush dominating remote areas.
This has resulted in an awe-inspiring array of fauna, including the mighty monitor lizard and the elusive proboscis monkey.
Walking trails cover the entire park, passing through woods, mangroves and coastal bays.
For many travelers, Kuching will be their first visit to East Malaysia and Borneo.
Where is the best place to start? The 200-year-old city is the capital of the state of Sarawak and has a backstory of British colonialism and Sudanese rule.
You can see this in buildings like the whitewashed Astana, and in the bustling chapel of the Jamek Mosque.
Kuching is also known for its diversity – the Chinese market has five spice here; the Indian kitchen churns out cheese fries and naan there.
Oh, not to mention the town’s proximity to such wonders as Bako National Park and the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary!
You’ll have to venture east to discover the fabled tropical treasures of Sipadan: Malaysia’s only oceanic island, and a veritable perfect diving spot just waiting for the photographers of the travel brochure to pass by.
Pure white sandy beaches greet the few boaters from mainland Borneo, while rugged jungle-covered rocky hills lie on the island.
However, the real food here is underwater.
There, strap on an oxygen tank and you’ll be able to find hammerhead sharks and endangered hawksbill turtles, sparkling coral gardens and kaleidoscope parrot fish!
13. Lambir Mountains National Park
Just a stone’s throw from the Brunei border, Mount Lambir National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Malaysia.
Size doesn’t seem to matter here, however, as tourists still flock to marvel at the gushing waterfalls and ancient rainforest that fill the nooks and crannies of the valley.
Wooden bridges, winding stairs cut into the rock, and well-maintained boardwalks all make it a great place to put on your walking boots.
Deep in the reserve is a family of rare primates and the heavenly cataracts of Mount Lambir Falls – wait until that one is revealed!
14. Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is located on the edge of Singapore, right at the tip of the Malay Peninsula.
For decades it was just an executive visa town, but the moniker is too simplistic for a city full of cultural attractions and great shopping.
Visit the Zen-like ancient Chinese temple in the city center, and don’t miss the elegant colonial-style tower of the Sultan Abu Bakar National Mosque.
For shoppers, there are many large shopping malls and markets to pass through, such as Tebrau City and KSL. However, it is the rides and arcades at Legoland Malaysia that attract the most locals – not to mention tourists from the Singapore border.
Super humid Taiping is nestled in the rainy shadow of Mount Perak, not far from the sunny beaches and multicultural streets of George Town and Penang.
Like Penang, the city has been heavily influenced by settlers from China over the centuries, and the place was once the focal point of the exodus of large Cantonese and San people rushing to mine the nearby ridge.
Today, there are some beautiful city gardens and parks to explore – don’t miss the relaxing Maxwell Hills, the mirrored waters of Taiping Lake Gardens or the thought-provoking Taiping War Cemetery.
Meanwhile, the town centre showcases a mix of colonial-era facades and Asian timber buildings, all of which hide local cookers and malls.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Malaysia
Lowest price guaranteed.