Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures. The main languages in Malaysia are English, Malay and Tamil. It is a mix of history and the modern. 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”. We will look at the best places to see and things to do in this Malaysia travel guide.
Best time to visit Malaysia
Malaysia is what one would call an all-year destination. The variations in weather are not much through the year. It is hot and humid through the year.
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 should 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
The capital of Malaysia is also its cynosure. Kuala Lumpur has a great skyline and the Petronas Towers rules it. There are also some beautiful mosques whose minarets add flavour to the skyline.
At the other end of the spectrum from the Petronas Towers are the Batu caves. The Batu Caves are a series caves in a limestone hill. The cave has a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan and is the one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside India.
Other highlights in Kuala Lumpur are the KL tower, the Colonial Secretariat, Old Kuala Lumpur Railway station and Chinatown.
Kota Kinabalu is the located on the island of Borneo. It has some beautiful beaches and lush rainforests. It is a must do on your vacation in Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu, after which the island is named, is a great 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 lot of activities to do and also a great beach. Kota Kinabalu offers a lot to see and do and so is in the top 10 places to visit in Malaysia.
Redang 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.
Perhentian roughly translates to “stopping point”. It is apt considering time seems to stop on this beautiful island.
The Perhentian Islands are very popular with divers and snorkelers. The reefs around the island are a great place to spot fish, jelly fish 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.
Cameron Highlands are a great place to beat the heat in Malaysia. The lush greenery around and the tea estates make it a perfect place to relax and unwind.
You could also explore the night markets here or go trekking in the jungle.
Taman Negara National Park
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.
Sarawak Cultural Village
The Sarawak Cultural Village is a great place to explore the arts and culture of Malaysia. You can also attend folk music and dance performances here.
You could also try your hand at fun activities like coconut bowling or blowpipe shooting.
Langkawi is one of the most popular islands of the Malaysian coastline. It has some great white sand beaches and luxury resorts making it a dream beach destination.
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”.
You will get the best of street food and street art in Penang. This makes walking a great way to explore Penang.
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 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.
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 connect the two towers. Post this, you can head to the 86th floor to enjoy the majestic views of the city.
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.
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.
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.
These islands boast of some of the best beaches in the region, make sure you have them on your vacation in Malaysia.
No Malaysia travel guide is complete without talking about the street food. Like most South Eastern Countries, Malaysia also boasts of some great sea food. 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.
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.
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.
Budget travel tips
Alcohol in Malaysia is quite expensive. The prices are comparable to those in the US or Europe. Spare you liver and your wallet and don’t drink on your trip to Malaysia
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 get your souvenirs avoid the 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 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 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 service fee of USD 20.7
Further read : Things to know before travelling to Bali