It does not have as much fame as its northern neighbour, Thailand, nor does it have as many islands as the Philippines. Nor is it as fashionable as Vietnam, but the truth is that Malaysia is a country that, since we first stepped on it (and then followed many other visits), we have never stopped recommending.
And Malaysia has a rich gastrone… I mean culture! Malays, Chinese and Indians live together in every corner of a country where, wherever you are, you will find something to do, visit, tour or eat.
There are beaches for those who want to get brown, incredible sea beds for those who want to dive, jungle for those seeking adventure and authentic cities for those who prefer city. As you can see there is something for everyone and, if you are undecided about the route, you can consult the Malaysian itineraries of our readers. At the moment we tell you which are our favorites.
What to see in Malaysia: the best
Although the most famous thing about Kuala Lumpur is probably its Petronas towers and the Batu Caves, what we like most about the Malaysian capital is, as you may have deduced from the introduction to the article, eating. In this huge city you will find typical delicacies of the country, Indian, Chinese and international cuisine: nasi lemak, nyonya laksa, char kway teow, curris, roti canai, malay sweets… yes, yes, you can not miss their neighborhoods, temples or markets, but the most important thing is to eat well!
Petronas TowersThe impressive statue of Murugan, in Batu CavesHow about some dumplings?
It is the very history of Georgetown, founded by British merchant Francis Light in 1786, that has made it what it is today: a multicultural city in which they live more peacefully than you can imagine Malays, Indians and mostly Chinese. Walking through its streets is just as easy to find a mosque as a Hindu temple or a Chinese temple. And all this rich mixture in a city in which its colonial past is still evident in its architecture and some church. With such an amalgamation no one should be surprised that the city was declared a World Heritage Site in 2008.
The Kek Lok Si Temple
But probably the most characteristic thing about Georgetown is its urban art. If there is one thing that has made this city famous in recent years it is the graffiti that decorates its walls. The artist Ernest Zacharevic, with his enormous creativity and works, contributed to beautify the streets of Georgetown. And if you walk attentively to the walls you will be surprised to find many other drawings besides the most photographed.
Street art: Playing with a kitten
Bako National Park
The Bako National Park with its various routes to travel, its beautiful landscapes, proximity to the sea and the high probability of seeing animals, have made it our favorite.
Bako National Park, Malaysia
Bako National Park is located on the Muara Tebas peninsula, south of Sarawak province, Borneo. In a relatively small space, 27 square km, concentrates an enormous variety of plant species and according to the park’s website you can see almost any species endemic to the island because it hosts different types of ecosystems.
The undisputed protagonists of Bako National Park are the narigudos or proboscis. These monkeys to a nose stuck, are seen on many occasions by tourists who visit the park and sightseeing a specimen is the perfect cherry to any walk through the jungle.
But these are not the only animals that can be seen because, in the same area of the cabins, if you get up early and are lucky, you can see some silvery lobster taking advantage of the first rays of the sun to feed.
Bako National Park
Others who will probably appear at some point during the visit are the terrible kleptomaniacs of the jungle, the macaques, who will take advantage of any carelessness of the staff to get some valuable possession: a soft drink, a piece of bread or a camera that they neither know nor have interest in using, the question is to steal. You’ll always find them near the dining room, rummaging through garbage or breaking into a dwelling.
Taman Negara National Park
In the heart of central Malaysia, in the heart of the peninsular part of the country that conquered us long ago is Taman Negara, a 130 million year old rainforest covering three states: Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. The National Park, which protects the flora and fauna of what is presumed to be the oldest jungle in the world, has as its starting point for exploring the village of Kuala Tahan.
Impressive, isn’t it?
In addition to trekkings of one or several days with the opportunity to sleep in a cave, the park offers the possibility of canopy, walking on a network of hanging bridges up to 40 meters high to enjoy the jungle as you can not do from the ground. It is a bit of a dizzying activity on some stretches and, although seeing animals is really difficult, one can feel like a macaque from up there.
Situated in the north-central part of the peninsula, the Cameron Highlands are still a haven of peace and fresh air in Malaysia. At an altitude of between 1100 and 1600 meters, they are the perfect destination to take refuge from the suffocating sun of the rest of the country and an ideal place for tea plantations. In recent years the landscape has changed a lot, especially due to the avalanche of local tourism fleeing the high temperatures.
In addition to visiting tea plantations, in the Cameron Highlands you will have the opportunity to follow several routes and do small trekkings of a few hours.
Kuala Terengganu was founded by Chinese merchants and, honoring its origins, has one of the most impeccable and decorated Chinese neighborhoods in Malaysia, Kampung China. In fact, it is so much the emperifollado that sometimes you have the feeling of being in the bowels of a synthetic theme park. However, the taste of every dish served in their restaurants and the incalculable torn glances give you back the authenticity.
In this area there are also several works of urban art that you can not miss if you have a little time before heading to the next destination.
The most popular thing about Kuala Terengganu, the reason why some tourists drop by, is usually the majestic and attractive glass mosque, Masjid Kristal, built between 2006 and 2008. Situated in the Taman Tamadun Islam Heritage Park and a few kilometres from the city centre, forcing you to go there by bus or taxi, this modern mosque impresses from afar. Arriving late in the afternoon to observe this work made of glass, steel and glass and watch the sunset is really worth it. The dome and minarets change tonality until late at night to face the darkness.
The main islands of Perhentian, located in the China Sea, are two: Pulau Perhentian Besar, the largest and Pulau Perhentian Kecil, its younger sister. The difference between the two, they say, is that the former has a quieter atmosphere, more comfortable accommodations and is more frequented by families of travelers, although the pure truth is that we did not get to see it.
The second however, with somewhat more basic hostels, is more popular among backpackers and low budget travelers and the atmosphere, without becoming like the many beaches of Thailand where the party reigns, is more lively. Its most outstanding beaches are two, to the southeast Long beach, large and with many restaurants and to the southwest Coral beach, backpacker par excellence. Both islands are very close to each other and it is possible to cross to the opposite to discover it in a taxiboat.
Welcome to the Perhentians Islands
If you make the mistake of comparing it to other Malaysian islands, you may conclude that Pulau Tioman is not up to the task, but the truth is that the treasures of this island are not in plain sight. Some of their best surprises are animals and they are under the sea or hang upside down from the trees on the island.
Ignore the beaches at low tide and if you want to see a beautiful place wait to go to the Monkey beach by boat or trekking.
SnorkelingEnjoying the sunset
If you have time to spend a day trip, don’t forget your diving goggles or sunglasses, as the white sand of Coral Island will dazzle you.
What do you think of that?
Sailing along the Batang Rejang River is one of the most authentic things you can do in the Malaysian part of Borneo Island. The journey begins in Sibu and ends in Belaga, passing through Kapit. Travelling by ferry gives you the chance to delve into the province of Sarawak to get to know the famous longhouses where the area’s tribes still live and where you probably won’t see more tourists for several days.
Do you dare?
Camp Uncle Tan
Uncle Tan Wildlife and Adventures offers the chance to get to know the jungle and its fauna by staying at their campsite and doing various activities such as boat trips on the Kinabatangan River or short trekking in the area.
A gibbon on top of a tree
There is no time to get bored during the three days that the camp lasts, although it is not necessary to make any great effort, because most of the time is spent sailing along the river looking for animals quietly. Despite the extensive palm plantations that corner the area, we saw gibbons singing and jumping from tree to tree, several groups of nosed monkeys, dozens of naughty macaques, some silvery lobster, a couple of crocodiles, owls and many horns.
A narigudoIn one of the many journeys we made
Kuching, the capital of Sarawak province, is another city worth spending a couple of days in if you’ve arrived in Borneo. In addition to offering many things like a river walk, a Chinatown and an Indian, there is a cat museum! And Kuching means cat in Malay, so if you’re a cat lover, you know, write down the name.
Believe it or not, you learn a lot of things.
Malacca or Melaka
It is a charming little town just a few hours by bus from Kuala Lumpur. In the past, due to its geographical location, it was one of the most important commercial ports disputed by the Portuguese and the Dutch. Walking through the center, we come face to face with small restaurants, antique shops, Chinese temples, street art, mosques and a fort, which remind us of the impressive mixture of this country.
What about you? Have you been to Malaysia before or have we convinced you?