Malaysia travel guide
Malaysia is a melting pot of Chinese, Indian, European and South Asian cultures, with a British legacy rearing its head around many corners. The country has cities sprawling with bright lights towering skyscrapers and quaint hillside towns with remnants of the British-designed railways.
Each state within the Malaysian federation has its own customs and history; many following Chinese and Indian traditions. With a population of over 30 million, and being one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world, ranging from the hilltops of central Malaysia to the rainforests of Borneo, this Southeast Asian country is quickly becoming a popular destination, for both backpackers and luxury tourists alike.
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When to go to Malaysia
With its location so close to the equator, temperatures during the day rarely fall below 30 degrees Celsius, and little rainfall occurs throughout the year. Between November and February the eastern part of Malaysia is hit by monsoons, during which time rains are heavier and longer lasting.
Forest fires between March and October in neighbouring Indonesia often cause air pollution in the southern half of Malaysia, but humidity and rains are more bearable between these months. In mountainous areas, particularly in the Cameron Highlands, rain clouds are a regular occurrence, so it helps to be prepared.
With its two towering skyscrapers forming the Petronas Twin Towers, its abundance of street food, and combination of colonial and modern architecture around every corner, Kuala Lumpur is one of the most iconic cities in Southeast Asia.. Kuala Lumpur, or ‘KL’ as the locals call it, is not a typical cultureless city, there’s a wide array of temples, mosques, pilgrimage sites, and green parks throughout. Shopping is a popular pastime in the city, hosting some of Asia’s largest shopping centres, including Suria KLCC between the Twin Towers, Bukit Bintang shopping street, and Berjaya Times Square with its indoor theme park and ice rink. The country’s main airport is located just outside of the capital, with a high-speed train connecting the city to the airport.
As the main city for travellers visiting the jungles of Sabah and Borneo, and with the towering Mount Kinabalu, ‘KK’ Does not deserve to be written off.. Nature is the main attraction in Kota Kinabalu, given its location so close to the country’s main nature reserves. The boardwalk beside the South China Sea, Manukan Island, Tanjung Aru Beach, and Likas Bay are popular both during the day and at night for their spectacular scenery. Buddhist pagodas, grand mosques, unusually shaped churches and cathedrals, and animist sites are present right across the city.
Comprising of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, the archipelago of Langkawi is one of Malaysia’s most popular areas; with the official name ‘Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah’ it’s easy to see why. Langkawi Island, by far the largest island with the largest town of Kuah, is more reminiscent of a South Pacific paradise than a bustling commercial hub. The Langkawi cable car and skybridge takes visitors above the forest canopy, and the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park is fitted with indigenous wildlife such as otters, monitor lizards and Macaque monkeys swimming amongst the mangrove swamps.
Malaysia highlights not to miss
Among the many highlights of a trip to Malaysia, some that we would recommend are:
- Witnessing the many religious festivals that take place across the country throughout the year, but particularly at the Batu Caves where thousands of Hindus gather to sing, dance and attempt to enter trance-like states in January/February.
- Visiting the colonial hillside railway stations in the stunning surroundings of the Cameron Highlands.
- Paying a visit to see the wild orangutans in their natural jungle habitats in Borneo.
- Climbing Mount Kinabalu and taking in the scenery as the sun sets.
- Taking the lift to the top of the towering Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s tallest dual skyscraper.
- Visiting the pink 18th century Christ Church of Malacca, Malaysia’s oldest Protestant church.