Malaysia is a nation of contrasts, where various languages and cultures coexist side by side to form a singular Southeast Asian country that is quite distinct from any of its neighbors. There are a lot of things to know before traveling to Malaysia. Tropical islands, stunning coastlines, and sunbaked coral reefs can all be found in Malaysia. Rare wildlife can be found in the humid rainforests of Borneo and the mainland, and the highlands are always a refreshing haven from the heat.
Places to Visit in Malaysia
1. Kuala Lumpur
The nation’s capital and largest city, Kuala Lumpur, is where any trip to Malaysia should begin. At first glance, it might appear to be a vast metropolis, but after you get settled, you’ll see that this is the center of contemporary Malaysia. The Petronas Towers and other gleaming skyscrapers cast a shadow over ancient markets and colonial structures. This vibrant city offers delicious food, fascinating museums, and a unique fusion of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European influences.
2. Sipadan Island
Sipadan Island offers the best scuba diving and snorkeling in all of Malaysia. It is the best island in Borneo. It is a coral atoll surrounded by some of the most unique and vibrant reefs and marine life in the entire world. The island is home to white sand beaches and gorgeous green palm trees, and you can see a wide variety of underwater creatures, both big and small. It’s not the easiest island to get to because it’s far away and uninhabited, but the extra effort required to get there is well worth it.
3. Taman Negara National Park
The largest national park on the Malay Peninsula is Taman Negara. Taman Negara means “National Park” when translated from Malay to English. It is one of the last remaining rainforest and wildlife habitats in the nation outside of Malaysian Borneo. The best route to take to get here is along the river, and there are nearby villages connected by boat where you can stay the night before trying out the high-altitude canopy walks.
One of the most ancient tourist destinations in Malaysia is Malacca. There is a diverse range of architecture and culture to discover on the west coast. Ruins from the Portuguese colonial period, structures from the British era, and a bustling Chinatown have all helped the area earn the UNESCO World Heritage designation. Discover regional delicacies on famous Jonker Street, and take a look at the unusual “floating mosque” that is perched out in the ocean on stilts.
5. Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is the city to visit if you’re looking for a place to go in Malaysia that’s off the beaten path because not many people seem to travel there. Singapore, which is located across the border to the south, casts a shadow over Johor Bahru, but this city is one of Malaysia’s largest and historically one of the most significant. You can explore the local culture and visit the lavish palaces of the former ruler of much of the peninsula, the Sultan of Johor.
6. Genting Highlands
Just outside of Kuala Lumpur, the Genting Highlands have long served as a wonderful getaway. In the highlands, there are vacation spots and theme parks that serve KL locals, but it’s an interesting look at local tourism and a good place to include when making travel plans to Malaysia.
7. Cameron Highlands
One of Malaysia’s top tourist destinations in the Cameron Highlands. Head into these central hills for something entirely different if you’re sick of the heat on the coast or the humidity in the cities. The Cameron Highlands is cool, rainy, and incredibly refreshing. They were established as a hill station for the colonial British to escape to during the summer. Up in these lovely hills, there are jungle walks, tea plantations, and strawberry farms to see.
8. Palau Pangkor
One of the best tourist destinations in Malaysia is sleepy Pulau Pangkor, which is also one of the last undiscovered treasures on the west coast. Although the island is halfway between Malacca and Penang, it only attracts local Malaysian tourists. Although it is a rural area with few hotels and guest houses, there are many beautiful beaches and relaxing areas there.
9. George Town
George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a prime example of Malaysia’s multiculturalism. This is a foodie’s paradise located on the island of Penang where you can eat roti for breakfast the way the Malay people do, then a steaming bowl of Chinese dumplings for lunch, and a delectable Indian curry for dinner. There is vibrant nightlife every day of the week, and the streets are full of character and street art.
One of Malaysia’s most stunning tourist destinations and its preferred tropical getaway is Langkawi. This duty-free island is tranquil and lovely, with some of the best beaches on the west coast, making it ideal for a weekend getaway. There are lots of bars and restaurants along the beaches, fantastic island hopping opportunities, and breathtaking views from the top of the Langkawi Cable Car and Sky Bridge.
When traveling from the Cameron Highlands to the north, Ipoh is often just seen as a stopover on the map, but it’s worthwhile to stay to see one of Malaysia’s most rapidly expanding cities. Ipoh is a historic city with a vibrant food scene and many cobblestone streets to wander through. There are lakes and limestone karsts nearby that can be visited, as well as the remains of Kellie’s Castle, the only castle in Malaysia that was constructed in the 19th century by a crazy Scotsman.
Since few people are familiar with Taiping, a small provincial city in the state of Perak, most travelers to Malaysia are unlikely to include it on their itinerary. Though Taiping is a very welcoming, laid-back city with some lovely gardens, mangrove reserves, and cool hill stations that offer a welcome respite from other, more populated parts of Malaysia, it’s ideal for those looking to visit a more unknown destination in the nation.
13. Kuala Kangsar
The Malaysian state of Perak’s royal capital is Kuala Kangsar, a small town that has long been surpassed in size by Ipoh and Taiping but still holds a significant place in the history of the region. The Perak Sultans ruled from this location, which is still the location of the Sultan’s royal palace and where he still resides today.
14. Kuala Perlis
Kuala Perlis is only a short distance from the Thai border, and as a result of its proximity to the border, this city has developed into a true melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures. It’s an incredibly unusual place to see because a large portion of the older city is constructed on wooden stilts that extend out across the mangroves that are found here along the length of the coastline.
15. Kota Bharu
On Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast, Kota Bharu is well-known for being the starting point for trips to the Perhentian Islands. Kota Bharu is one of the most traditionally Malay cities in the nation, so stay a little longer than just passing through. This is a conservative area, but it’s an interesting one because you can still see parts of Malaysia here that have long since disappeared from the east coast. Visit the local mosques and museums to see the magnificent royal palace architecture.
16. Perhentian Islands
One of the most picturesque areas on the east coast, if not the entire nation, is the Perhentian Islands. There are many islands to explore, and traveling by boat or taxi is enjoyable. These tropical clichés feature spectacular blendings of white sand and blue water. Enjoy excellent diving and snorkeling as well as the laid-back island atmosphere.
17. Palau Redang
Pulau Redang, another tropical island and one of Malaysia’s most stunning locations, is located just south of the Perhentian Islands. There is a large marine reservation on Pulau Redang, and the waters there are completely transparent and teeming with life. That means it’s a great place to dive into the water with a snorkel or scuba equipment.
18. Kuala Terengganu
The east coast city of Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia receives very few tourists. It is very conservative in nature, like much of the eastern shore, but equally fascinating thanks to an eclectic mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences. The most well-known attraction in the city is the Crystal Mosque, a stunning structure made of glass, steel, and crystal.
19. Pulau Tioman
Pulau Tioman is situated off the southeast coast of Malaysia’s mainland. Make sure to visit Pulau Tioman if you’re wondering what to do in Malaysia to experience relaxed island life. Once you get tired of the coast, there are plenty of dense jungles and hiking trails. There are also white sands and coral reefs. On Tioman, there are no taxes and a laid-back atmosphere.
Don’t skip a trip to Kuching when you are in Malaysia. The island of Borneo, serves as both the capital and largest city of Sarawak. It’s a multicultural, multifaceted city that can serve as the starting point for any journey deeper into the region’s rainforests and stunning scenery.
One of the more affluent and contemporary Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia offers a wealth of attractions. The places mentioned above are just a few of Malaysia’s top tourist destinations. When traveling, be sure to know the safety tips when visiting Malaysia. Don’t even think about avoiding this incredible nation, which is home to delectable cuisine, breathtaking scenery, and fascinating history and culture.