At the tip of Southeast Asia is a stretch of land which juts out into the java sea toward Indonesia. Here lies the crowning jewel of Malaysia.
For travelers, there are two very distinct regions to explore. To the west, you can find the built up side where there is the historical stronghold of British colonial power. Here sits the buzzing metropolis of Kuala Lumpur from which stretches out into the wilds.
Here you can find the many UNESCO World Heritage Site locations that serve up multicultural towns and villages which circle around the Penang areas.
Toward the east, you will find the misty mountains where the forests and National Parks are full of orangutans, volcanic domes, and some very secluded beaches which are visited by wildlife more than humans.
As you stand looking out, you can see signs of the local fishing boats which head out to the South China Sea for their daily fishing excursions.
The country is a magical place, and it is easy to see why so many families visit. The list is endless of things to do in Malaysia.
Any Malaysia travel starts in the capital city of KL. As soon as you land, it’s hard to believe that less than 200 years ago, the place was a sleepy tin-mining town. Nowadays, the city tells a very different story.
Highlighted by the world’s largest twin-towered skyscrapers, the skyline is remarkable, and is just the tip of what lies beneath. Unlike other cities, there is no city center so to speak, rather there are countless sub districts.
These all possess their own characteristics, with the main one being the ‘Golden Triangle.’ Here you will find Bukit Bintang which is the entertainment and shopping capital of KL.
Here you will find KLCC where the Petronas Towers sit, among lots of other things to see and do.
With the National Museum, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple you can soak up the historical atmosphere, or if you have kids in tow?
You can visit the Aquaria KLCC or one of the numerous theme parks spread over the region in the form of the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park.
Penang is known as a world-class exotic destination, but this doesn’t paint the full picture of what there is to see and do. T
The colonial city of George Town which is another Unesco site that offers a world of diversity.
There are museums, historic homes, a fort overlooking the sea, and the 19th century streets are alive with rickshaws hurtling past smoky Cantonese kitchens which line the streets.
It is easy to see why the street-food scene has become famous, there are many dishes to sample. When you venture out of the urban areas, you will find many more things to do in Penang.
There are sandy beaches in Tanjung Bungah, the views from Penang Hill and the slithery vipers in the Snake Temple.
3. Cameron Highlands
Rising to 1,000 meters above the lowest point, the Cameron Highlands brings a refreshing change from the heat of the cities. Sitting in between KL and Penang, there are views which will take your breath away.
Malaysia tourism is at its best in this area, and such is the difference, you may need to grab a warm jacket or blanket during the evening.
There are exotic trails you can hike along, butterfly gardens and many other sedate distractions.
If you are here for a day and are the sporty type, you can visit one of the many golf courses that are in the area.
Other trips can take in the famous local honey or strawberry farms, art galleries, the Thompson waterfalls or climb to the top of Mount Brinchang, if you are not up for the trek, you can take the hair-raising twisty mountain road.
Far on the east coast lies the city of Kuching. This can be the ideal place for any visitors to get their first taste of eastern Malaysia and Borneo. The city is the capital of the Sarawak state and is around 200-years old.
The local history goes back to Sultanate rule and British Colonialism. There are many Chinese markets which are always full of hustle and bustle, the aroma of five-spice and countless Indian kitchens which churn out paneer fries and bhajis.
There are many other Kuching attractions that are ideal for all the families. For kids there is the Kuching Upside Down House or the Cat Museum.
Other places to venture to are the famous Gunung Mulu National Park where there are countless caves for kids to explore or the jungle treks where you can see all the different wildlife or take the canopy skywalk.
Back closer to town, you can take an evening stroll along the Kuching waterfront and look over at Fort Margherita which was built by the second white Rajah Charles Brooke.
On the very tip of the Malaysian peninsular sits Johor Bahru. While full of culture and great shopping, it has taken on the moniker of an admin visa town.
There are many Johor Bahru attractions to satisfy any visitor’s needs. There is the new waterfront complex which is home to plenty of kid’s attractions.
The world petting zoo can keep little ones occupied where they can get up close and touch some of the animals.
With many more themed parks in the Danga Bay area there is plenty to choose from. Parents can leave the kids alone for a few hours and visit the famous Istana Bukit Serene where you can marvel at the oversized crown which adorns the top of the art deco arch.
The glass temple is a one of a kind feature and was the first Hindu building constructed from glass.
Catching this is the sunlight shows off the design in all its glory while inside, you can see Buddha and statues of Christ scattered around.
In the evening, there is an adventure that awaits everyone in the form of the flea market. Starting at seven it carries on until one in the morning. Here you can find shoes clothes and so many local souvenirs, you won’t know which ones to buy.
One more trip for the kids before you head off to other regions is Legoland Malaysia. There is a water park to the side where all the family can cool off on any of the 70+ rides which are on offer.
Johor Bahru is one of the places to visit in Malaysia because a modern influence is changing the city as time goes on. Before you know it, it will be smaller but very similar to Singapore which sits a short distance away.
6. Kota Kinabalu
What was known as Jesselton, Kota Kinabalu has become the state capital of Sabah? It has a unique feel to it compared to the areas around KL. It is like you have taken a step back in time, but this doesn’t mean you take a step back in entertainment.
Mount Kinabalu sits just outside the city, once you reach these areas, you can take wetland cruises or train rides. These are more than adequate to entertain kids for part of the day.
For avid adventurers, there is the chance for an overnight trek high up Mount Kinabalu. This monolithic mountain reaches 13,000 feet above sea level.
Like all areas, there are handicraft markets to explore, and the one in this area couples well with the KK Waterfront. This area is dotted with bars and restaurants, so it is a great place to end the day.
If you are the kind who likes architecture, then you can take a trip around the State Mosque, catch the views from the Signal Hill Observation platform or look at the magnificent city mosque.
For the adventurous family’s you can take a quick 3km trip to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park which is situated on a small island.
This is untouched paradise, and for a day trip you can have your fill of swimming, sunbathing, diving and hiking around the 50 square kilometer park.
7. Taman Negara
In the heart of Malaysia is Taman Negara. This encompasses some of the world’s oldest woodlands and tropical rainforest.
Visitors can take in the extensive canopy walkways where you can see life from above, and back on the ground, there are many treks and waterfalls you can marvel at.
When you look for things to do, you can do some bird spotting, take the kids white water rafting, fishing or one of the night safaris.
Here you can see plants which bloom in the dark, fungi that glows and some of the nocturnal creatures such as leopard cats and water dragons.
You have the chance to lay your eyes on rare Malayan Tigers, Asian Elephants and Sumatran Rhino’s.
To get a real sense of what it’s like in a jungle, this is unspoiled and is one place everyone needs to visit Malaysia for before they leave.
8. Tioman Island
If you are a long-term traveler to Malaysia, you can take in a couple of days to Tioman Island. This is at the tip of the Pahang state and sits off the east coast.
The best time to visit the island is the middle of the year. June is peak season, but you can enjoy warm clear breeze from the coastline.
For keen divers, August is the better time so you miss all the foreign tourists.
At this time, the waters are warm and clear where you can make the most of the marine life. With an abundance of coral reefs, it is a joy to behold.
There are many things to do, but most sports and attractions relate to the ocean. Sea kayaking, surfing, island hopping or you can have a round of golf.
If trekking is more your scene, then you can take a walk to Air Batang, hike to Asah Waterfalls or explore Monkey Beach.
For wining and dining, there will be no disappointment because you know all the food will be fresh.
One good thing about the island is that it is ‘duty free’ so you may pick up some bargains when you go hunting for souvenirs.
All the above is just a taster of what is on offer when visiting this country. There are countless things to see and do when you explore every corner.
This can be from nature, historical or modern, and you’ll never know what you can see and experience when visiting Malaysia.
Examples are the Batu Caves that are located north of KL. This limestone hill is riddled with caves and lots of steps, 272 to be exact so comfortable shoes are recommended. Sitting at the foot of the steps stands a 42.7 meter statue of Murugan.
If you want something to please the kids, and give them something they’ll never forget, then a trip to the Langkawi Sky Bridge may be just the finishing touch to a pleasant trip.
Measuring 125 meters long, it is accessed by two rides. First a cable car that takes visitors up to the sky glide which delivers you to the bridge.
At this point you are 660 meters above sea level, and you have views that change perspective as you walk around the curves of the bridge.
Malaysia is a remarkable country and serves up delights one after the other. Old or young, there is something for everyone.