Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures. It is a mix of tradition and modern. The main languages in Malaysia are English, Malay and Tamil. The religions found here are Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. Malaysia is home to dense rainforests, beautiful beaches and manicured tea gardens. Malaysia is a mixture of everything Asia and that’s why it calls itself “Truly Asia”. This Malaysia Travel guide will help you plan a perfect exotic holiday in this Asian country.
Malaysia Travel Guide: Overview
From the best time to visit Malaysia to top places to add to your Malaysian holiday itinerary and must do things, this guide will help you experience the best of Malaysia. To know essential tourist information like what to eat, top events in Malaysia and best money-saving tips read the blog till the end.
Best time to visit Malaysia
Malaysia is what one would call an all-year destination. The variations in weather are not much as the climate is hot and humid throughout the year.
- The best time to go sightseeing in Malaysia in between November to March, as this time sees the least amount of rain.
- If you want to explore the beaches on the east coast of Malaysia, then plan your holiday anytime between March to September. Whereas to visit the beaches on the west coast, plan your holiday in Malaysia between November to August.
- The best time to visit Malaysia for honeymoon is in September and anytime between March to May.
You should avoid heading to the East Coast of the main peninsula during the monsoon months. The monsoon on the east coast is from November to mid-February. So, avoid places like Redang Island or Perhentian Islands during this time. The west coast receives its rainfall during the months of April to October. But, since the rains are not as heavy as on the east coast, and thus, won’t affect your travel plans much.
Top Ten Places to Visit in Malaysia
- Kuala Lumpur – Capital city of Malaysia known for its iconic skyline
- Kota Kinabalu – A city in the Malaysian Island of Borneo
- Redang Island – An island off the east coast famous for its beaches
- Perhentian Island – Picturesque islands with perfect conditions for snorkelling
- Cameron Highlands – The most scenic hill station in Malaysia
- Taman Negara National Park – Home to113 million-year-old tropical rainforest
- Sarawak Culture Village – Experience the local life and culture
- Langkawi Island – An archipelago of 99 islands
- Penang – Malaysian state with the best of natural and cultural attractions
- Genting Highlands – A world-renowned hill resort in Malaysia
1. Kuala Lumpur
The capital of Malaysia is also its cynosure. One of the top cities in the world, Kuala Lumpur boasts a unique blend of cultures. Kuala Lumpur’s food, shopping and nightlife are one of the best in the world!
The city’s iconic skyline is dominated by the Petronas Towers and some beautiful mosques whose minarets decorate the skyline. At the other end of the spectrum from the Petronas Towers are the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are a series of caves in a limestone hill. The cave has a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan and is one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside India.
Top tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur
- Petronas Towers
- Islamic Arts Museum
- Bukit Bintang
- Sunway Lagoon Theme park
- Kuala Lumpur Tower
Tip: During your Kuala Lumpur City tour, take a detour from Chinatown to a nearby lake. The Lake garden park is a perfect spot to go on a picnic or to simply take a break from the city crowd.
2. Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu is located on the island of Borneo. It has some beautiful beaches and lush rainforests. It is a must-visit place on your vacation in Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu, after which the island is named, is a popular place to go hiking. It is the tallest mountain in South East Asia at 4000 metres above sea level. Also, worth visiting in Kota Kinabalu is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. It has a lot of activities to do as well as a great beach. Kota Kinabalu offers a lot to see and do and so is in the top 10 places to visit in Malaysia.
Top Tourist Attractions in Kota Kinabalu
- Shangri La’s Orangutan care project
- Lok Kawai wildlife park
- Tunku Abdul Rehman Park
- Poring Hot Springs
- Kota Kinabalu City Mosque
Tip: Swing by the Sunday Market in Gaya street to buy souvenirs as well as experience the local market scene.
3. Redang Island
Situated on the east coast of Malaysia, Redang Island is a protected marine area that looks like a surreal dream. With picture-perfect beaches and plenty of water activities in store, Redang makes its place in every Malaysia travel blog that lists best places to visit.
Redang Island has some of the best of nature in Malaysia. Apart from the lovely beaches, it also has some great sites for diving and snorkelling. The dense jungles on the island offer some great hiking trails.
Top Tourist Attractions in Redang Island
- Pasir Panjang Beach
- Redang Marine Park
Did you know: Scuba Diving is the most popular water activity in Redang. There are over 30 Dive sites around this island.
4. Perhentian Island
The word ‘Perhentian’ roughly translates to “stopping point”. It is apt considering time seems to stop on these beautiful islands. The Perhentian Islands are comprised of two islets Perenthian Besar (Big Perhentian) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian). Each of these islands attracts a different tourist group; The Larger island is more suited for those visiting Malaysia with kids whereas the smaller one is perfect for couples and backpackers looking for tranquil beaches and roaring nightlife.
These islands are very popular with divers and snorkelers. The reefs around the island are a great place to spot fish, jellyfish and baby sharks. The Islands are a great place to relax and enjoy the beach. You must head here if you are looking for an offbeat place for your vacation in Malaysia.
Top Tourist Attractions In Perenthian Islands
- Teluk Keke beach
- Kincir Angin Pulau Perhentian
- Coral Bay
- Bubu Long beach resort
Tip: Plan your trip around the Perenthian islands such that you catch the sunset from Coral Bay. It is said that the sunsets at coral bay are one of the most beautiful sights in the world.
5. Cameron Highlands
Located 200 Km away from Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands is a great place to beat the heat in Malaysia. Blessed with lush greenery, picturesque orchards, and rejuvenating tea plantations make Cameron Highlands a perfect place to relax and unwind. What most Malaysia Travel blogs often miss capturing is the mindboggling diversity of this place. From thrilling adventure activities to blissful gardens, from stunning landscapes to inspiring religious places, Cameron Highlands has something for everyone.
Top Tourist Attractions in Cameron Highlands
- Boh Plantations
- Lavender gardens
- Sungai forests
- Butterfly Farm
- Big Red Strawberry Farm
Tip: Going on treks and Nature walks is a popular activity in Cameron Highlands. Thrill seekers must take the trail through the Mossy forest and hike to the Gungung Bricnchang mountain peak.
6. Taman Negara National Park
Almost every Malaysia Travel guide lists Taman Negara National Park as one of the top 10 places to visit in Malaysia. The Taman Negara National Park is said to be the world’s oldest rainforest. It is estimated to be roughly 130 million years old. There are treks for all levels of expertise – for people looking for an afternoon stroll to a 100 km trek. You can also explore rock climbing and canoeing here.
Tourist Attractions in Taman Negara National Park
- Bukit Teresek
- Gunung Tahan
- Kampung Orang Asli
- Lata Berkoh
- Kelah Sanctuary
7. Sarawak Cultural Village
The Sarawak Cultural Village is a great place to explore the arts and culture of Malaysia. Famous for being a living museum, Sarawak culture village is one of the top places to visit in Malaysia. Apart from learning about the lifestyle and cultures of the indigenous people of Sarawak, you can also attend folk music and dance performances here.
Tip: You could also try your hand at fun activities like coconut bowling or blowpipe shooting.
Tourist attractions in Sarawak cultural village
- Chinese Pavillion
- Rainforest music house
- Orang Ulu Longhouse
- Melanau Tall House
- Malay House
Also See: Top 5 Theme Parks in Malaysia
8. Langkawi Island
Every Malaysia Travel Guide’s highlight, Langkawi is a district that encompasses 99 islands of which just 4 are inhabited by people. The largest island on this archipelago is the Langkawi island which is among the most popular islands of the Malaysian coastline. Home to the most excellent white sand beaches and luxury resorts, Langkawi is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia.
Top Tourist Attractions in Langkawi Island
- Langkawi Sky Bridge
- Datarang Lang
- Langkawi Cable Car
- Underwater World Langkawi
- Gunung Raya
Suggested Read: Top 10 Islands in Malaysia
You won’t find a guide to malaysia without the mention of Penang. The state of Penang has been an important port in the region since the colonial times of Malaysia. This has brought in the best of culture and food here. This is why Penang is called the “Pearl of the Orient”. Blessed with both raw natural beauty and polished modern city, Penang makes it to every travel blog that speaks of top 10 places to visit in Malaysia.
You will get the best of street food and street art in Penang. This makes walking the best way to explore Penang.
Top Tourist Attractions in Penang
- Penang hills
- Kek Lok Si Temple
- Penang Khoo Khongsi
- Adventure Zone Theme Park
- Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
10. Genting Highlands
Genting is a popular hill station and a weekend getaway for the locals. It has something for everybody in the family – malls, theme parks and casinos. This resort town has accommodation options for all budgets.
There are two cable car rides in Genting which are a must do. You will get a beautiful bird’s eye view of the place. Genting Highlands is very popular and will make most people’s list of top 10 places to visit in Malaysia.
Top Tourist Attractions in Genting Highlands
- Genting Skyway
- Chin Swee Cave Temple
- Genting Highlands Theme Park
- Snow World
- Strawberry Leisure Farm
Guide To Top Things to do in Malaysia
Next up on our Malaysia travel guide, we will look at top things to do in Malaysia. We will also explore some of the things to do in Malaysia on a budget.
- Soak in the city skyline from Petronas towers – Kuala Lumpur
- Visit the Tunuk Abdul Rehman Marine Park – Kota Kinabalu
- Explore the mystical Batu Caves
- Go island hopping around the Malaysian archipelago
- Devour the heavenly street food of Malaysia
- Say hello to the orangutans in the Malaysian Borneo
- Buy souvenirs from local handicraft stores in Malaysia
1. Head up the Petronas Towers
The Petronas Towers symbolises Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia’s modernity. The towers showcase post-modern architecture and also incorporate the country’s Islamic beliefs. You could walk the 170-metre sky bridge which connects the two towers. Post this, you can head to the 86th floor to enjoy the majestic views of the city.
2. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Kota Kinabalu
This Marine Park has tons of activities like snorkelling, kayaking, etc. If you are looking for things to do in Malaysia on a budget you can head here. Enjoy the gorgeous beach and all the nature to take in.
3. Batu Caves
The Batu Caves are caves in the limestone cliff. The caves are located at fifteen kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. The caves are also home to a Murugan Temple and a 140-foot statue of the deity. The Cathedral Cave, which is the most famous of the caves here, has a climb of 272 steps leading to it.
The Batu Caves is another of the sites you must consider if you are looking for things to do in Malaysia on a budget.
4. Island Hoping
A Malaysian Travel Guide is incomplete without the mention of Island hOPPING.There are islands for all reasons and all seasons in Malaysia. Langkawi if you want to experience luxury or Perhentian which is a haven for backpackers. Redang Island is known for its natural beauty or head to Kapas if all you want to do is relax and unwind.
Redang island and Kapas boast of some of the best beaches in the region, make sure you visit them on your vacation in Malaysia.
5. Street Food
No Malaysia travel guide is complete without talking about street food. Like most South Eastern Countries, Malaysia also boasts of some great seafood. The streets of Kuala Lumpur and Penang come alive with the food trucks in the evening. If you are looking for things to do in Malaysia at night, exploring Malaysia’s street food is one of them.
Also See: Best Indian Restaurants in Malaysia
6. Visit the Orang-utans
Sepilok in Malaysian Borneo is a great place to meet these beautiful creatures. Known for their friendly and intelligent nature, Orang-utans are on the endangered list. So make sure you head to Sepilok to see them on your vacation in Malaysia.
7. Shop for Souvenirs
You will find plenty of souvenirs made of Malaysian handicrafts. You will also happy to know that bargaining is acceptable in Malaysia. So, you can add this to your list of things to do in Malaysia on a budget.
Also See: Best Shopping Places In Malaysia
Malaysia Travel Guide: Budget travel tips
1. Don’t drink
Alcohol in Malaysia is quite expensive. The prices are comparable to those in the US or Europe. Spare your liver and your wallet and don’t drink on your trip to Malaysia
2. Public transport
Cities like KL and Penang have a very good public transportation system. KL has a good and cheap monorail system while Penang is well connected by buses. If you need to use cabs, try Uber or Grab. They offer competitive rates.
One of the simplest ways to save money on food is to eat like the locals. The local food is the cheapest on the menu. This doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality at all. You will get very good options for a limited bill amount. Also, explore the street food. Malaysian street food is unique, delicious and most importantly inexpensive.
No doubt, you will want to get back souvenirs from your vacation in Malaysia. To buy your souvenirs avoid regular places like malls or city centres. Explore places like Little India or Chinatown for better bargains.
The last stop on our Malaysia travel guide is the visa process. The Malaysian visa process is simple and hassle-free. The Malaysia tourist visa fee is relatively inexpensive.
You will need to get a visa for Malaysia before you visit there. The visa process takes around 2 weeks. You could apply for the visa online or by sending in all the required documents to the visa centre.
You will need a few lists of documents and enclosures for visa stamping processes. These include your original passport and visa application form. Your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date of arrival in Malaysia. The covering letter should mention details of the travel and photographs as per standard visa requirements. You will need to produce confirmed Air tickets and hotel bookings. And your original saving bank statements of last 3 months updated with bank seal & sign on all pages. The account statement should show a balance of more than INR 30,000 per person. Your tourist visa will be valid for 30 days.
The Malaysia tourist visa fee is around USD 45.7, this includes a visa fee component of USD 25 and a service fee of USD 20.7
This Malaysia Travel Guide covers a wide range of topics from top tourist attractions in Malaysia to best tips to save money during your Malaysian holiday. You can now plan a perfect vacation in this Asian Paradise.
Further read: Things to know before travelling to Bali