11 Best Places to Visit in Malaysia

Malaysia, an amazing country located beautifully at the very end of Southeast Asia is one of the most gorgeous crowning jewels of the world and it is also said that if countries were nominated for witnessing the most level of diversity then Malaysia would come first in the list.

The country with diversity spread all around, Malaysia is pretty popular as a unique country that has been segregated into two vivid land masses i.e. West Malaysia and East Malaysia. A wonderful country showcasing the eclectic blend of ancient traditions, customs, and culture mixed with a dash of modernity.

It means more flavours, sights and sounds to explore and experience. Nowhere in the Southeast Asian region are there such exciting diversity of cultures, festivals, traditions and customs, offering a myriad experiences. Malaysia is home to a distinctive palette and a tapestry of flavours - a gastronomic haven of multiethnic foods from the main and various cultures.

From street food to hawker centres, from ethnic restaurants to fine dine, this is the Asian destination that offers the widest range of the most varied foods from the multicultural mix - an unique culinary experience. Geographically the country is as diverse as its people - verdant hills and mountains, pristine beaches and million year old rainforest. There's so much nature adventure to explore and eco activities to discover all in one beautiful country.

The country has a lot to allure its discerning travelers as the country is flooded with a plethora of tourist attractions including quaint towns, glimmering beaches, picturesque landscapes, adventure spots, and heritage sites. Whether you are seeking an adventure trip or in the urge to witness the incomparable architecture, wonders of nature, and so on, Malaysia always comes first in your mind.

Outdoor theme parks in Genting Highlands and Sunway Lagoon; tea, flower and strawberry farms in Cameron Highlands; indoor theme park at Berjaya Times Square; night pubs and clubs at Solaris Mont Kiara (where most expats live) and Changkat Bukit Bintang; beaches at Redang Island, Pangkor Island, Tioman Island, Langkawi and East Malaysia; excellent resorts at Avillion Port Dickson, The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat etc - whatever your interest is, you will always find something that suits you.

Singapore is located just four hours away from Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, and even though everything is at least twice as expensive there, it’s worth a visit.

Best Places to Visit in Malaysia

Below mentioned are some of the best places to visit in Malaysia you can explore on your holiday in Malaysia where you can visit to experience the best of what this captivating nation has to offer.

1. Langkawi Island


Its beaches are stunning as well, and not as crowded as their counterparts in the rest of South-East Asia. The gorgeous holiday destination, Langkawi Island is reckoned for its massive expanse of azure blue water and sandy beaches which enthrall the tourists coming to the country. The Langkawi Geopark, one of the most sought and thronged destinations in Malaysia is enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site and this makes it attract more tourists towards itself.

Being a perfect manifestation of the geological heritage in the country, Langkawi Island is one of the best places to explore in Malaysia with your family and friends.

Langkawi itself is actually a collection of 99 islands with few high-rise buildings. You may either do nothing at its beaches or fill your soul with adventures!

What to do in Langkawi? Explore pristine beaches and islands around Langkawi on a jet ski. Rent a bike and drive through the scenic route to Datai Bay. If you are the adventurous kinds, challenge yourself to a Skydive from 14000 ft to soak coastal views and a soft beach landing. Or explore the Geopark by small boat tours or private Jet Ski safaris. And don’t miss the cable car - the steepest cable car ride in the world.

Major Attractions: Famous Cable Car ride with your companions.

Entry Fee: INR 15-INR 20 per person for one hour stay.

Travel Tip: Gather some information about the place prior reaching there especially if you have planned your trip on your own.

2. Perhentian Islands


Immaculate white sand beaches, swaying palms, hidden coves, colourful reefs, fire shows and zero motorized vehicles, Perhentian Kecil is a tropical paradise! Located not far from the Thai border, the Perhentian Islands are the must-go place in Malaysia for budget travelers. The two main islands have some of Malaysia’s most beautiful beaches and great diving with plenty of cheap accommodation. Visitors can also explore the tropical jungle that covers much of the islands’ terrain.

Located closer to the border of Thailand, Perhentian Island is a collection of coral edged islands and has been serving as a stopping point for the traders moving from one country to another. Established almost 19 km ahead of North- Eastern Malaysia boasting an astonishing marine park where one can indulge themselves in various fun activities including and at this place you are not allowed to do fishing.

If you are on a Malaysia tour with your friends then Perhentian Island must be on the top of your bucket list of tourist destinations as here you can enjoy some amazing friend moments. The best known sea and sun destination in the country is Perhentian Island, which is famous for its marine wildlife, but you will find less exploited beaches in the eastern region of Sabah that are just as beautiful.

Major Attractions: The perfect glimpse of the colorful corals at this popular tourist destination.

Entry Fee: INR 80-INR 100 per person to enter into the marine park.

Travel Tip: Keep your camera charged and perfectly ready to capture the amazing views of the corals.

3. Sandakan - Perfect Place for Animal Lovers


Pretty popular for its rainforest remains, Kitabangan is located to the east of Sabah and is one of the must visit destinations on your Malaysia trip especially if you are an animal lover. Despite being named like a place full of animals, Kitabangan is also an amazing romantic destination where you can spend some really amazing moments with your loved ones.

You can also enjoy a cruise ride and also the jungle camp activity to add some thrill and excitement to your trip.

Major Attractions: Visiting the jungle camp to witness the wildlife experience in such a dense habitat.

Entry Fee: INR 6000 (a minimum of 2 adults must be there in the group) for 2 days and 1 night trip including the jungle camp to Kitabangan.

Travel Tip: Enjoy the jungle cruise ride in the morning to witness the rich wildlife.

4. Kota Kinabalu - A Wonderful Marine Life


The Mantanani Islands of Sabah is established near Kota Belud and is enlisted among some of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia that serves as one of the best platforms to indulge yourself in diving activities.

However, the site has a lot to offer its every travelers but if you are an adventure seeker and love water sport activities then do not skip visiting Mantanani Island which is dotted with clear waters and is a home to seahorses and stingrays. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most sought water activities that you can opt to make it an amazing holiday.

The Sun always shines on Sabah and that's why outdoors is where you gotta be as soon as the cocks crow to the morning light. Which by the way are many (cocks that is), as Sabah's rural life is a symbiotic identity of its multicultural ethnicity.

Major Attractions: The sites offering snorkeling and diving activities.

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee but to indulge in the fun activities you will have to pay accordingly.

Travel Tips: Carry your swimsuits to perform water activities.

5. Gaya Island


Malaysia is diverse and it’s filled with natural goodness. If you’re the type of person who enjoys natural beauty, then Malaysia should definitely be in your list. There are lots of wonderful beaches and natural parks.

In some islands bordering the coast, Gaya Island in Malaysia is the most imposing, allowing both to enjoy the beach and hiking in the interior jungle land for those who prefer to play sports to rest. You only need a few minutes to leave the urban environment of Kota Kinabalu to reach this preserved and relatively beautiful island.

Do not hesitate to tour the island, instead of settling for the first beach you find when you arrive. Maybe you can find a small resting place for yourself. Rest on a white sand beach north of the island, not forgetting a little snorkeling.

6. Miri


Borneo is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet and is known for its diverse wildlife. For those who harbor a love of nature and exploration, there are few locations so perfect. Journey to Malaysian Borneo where can visit the Danum Valley and Kinabatangan River. Here you will encounter the magnificent orangutan in its stunning rainforest habitat alongside an incredible array of other wildlife.

While many locations in Borneo offer a chance to view the regions incredible animals, among the most fascinating, are the native orangutans. These playful and intelligent primates give off a sense of serenity and wisdom and deserve to be treated with love and respect. This is especially as we are responsible for the widespread deforestation that has led to significant habitat loss for these noble creatures.

Like Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Camp Leakey Orangutan Rehabilitation Reserve was devised with the welfare of the animals rather than profits or tourism in mind.

Located just off the banks of the Sekonyer river inside Tanjung Puting National Park, the reserve has earned quite a reputation for itself since it was first founded in the 1970s. While it sees an influx of tourists, the facility is also an active research facility where scientists come together to protect and observe the orangutans.

The park itself is one of the most naturally beautiful of its kind with a wealth of beautiful and fascinating plant life. The orangutans here are treated with respect with minimal human interference, although in some cases tourists are invited to help feed some of the orangutans. But the park doesn't just stop at primates. It is also home to stunningly beautiful clouded leopards and Malaysian sun bears.

Aside from the life-affirming greatest adventures Southeast Asia also has a plethora of luxurious hotels, sumptuous Thai foods and no shortage of luxurious beaches. Here you can sun yourself, relax and recuperate. Make sure you add these destinations and activities to your bucket list. Your life will be all the richer for them.

Surrounded by the South China Sea, Pulau Tiga in Malaysia literally translates to three islands. It makes for a perfect weekend getaway and is far away from the hustle-bustle of the cities. Picturesque sceneries of the vast ocean, white sandy beaches to sink your toes in, and a therapeutic soak in the mud pools will be a sure way to ease away tension and churn out a couple of laughs within your party.

7. Malacca


Without a doubt, all cities open to the sea or with a river always have a special charm. Malacca could not be less. But do not be fooled, the Malacca River is much bigger than you might expect and it was much deeper that turned the city into one of the largest ports in all of Southeast Asia. There passed all boats from Europe, Asia, China, India.

After the conquest of the city by the Portuguese, the Dutch arrived. They were there for 200 years and definitely left their mark in the center of the city. The so-called Red Square or Dutch Square is one of the most photographed places in Malacca with its simple and smooth reddish walls with shutters, its clock tower and even a mill next to the bridge that goes in the direction of Jodamer Street.

On Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock street you will find a famous craft shoe store. Today you can still buy hand-made nine-centimeter shoes. During the 19th century, for Chinese women, having small feet was synonymous with beauty. So the feet were bandaged from girls to stop their growth and to be able to wear those tiny shoes.

8. Kuala Lumpur


Is Malaysia a melting pot where you will find a diversity of cultures and races? Yes, it is. The moment you arrive at KLIA airport you will be admiring the modern architecture of the airport, a ceiling design lined with a wood-look-alike. You know you are in Malaysia where the majority of the people you meet are Malay in traditional dresses.

Kuala Lumpur, a city when approaching from the North-South highway will amaze you when driving from the North. A skyline of the City Center with Petronas Twin Tower stands 450 meters tall, with the Merdeka Square, Islamic architecture in contrast when you pass by the Padang that shout, I am here, a crossroad between East and West.

The Merdeka squares a landmark and a monument and it has not changed for decades since my first trip to KL in the 70s. One can enjoy the magnificent skyline of Petronas Twin Towers, a stone's throw. Only when you get near, you will mumble to yourself: What a majestic design, Cesar Pelli, the late master architect had left his mark on Malaysian soil!

You may see people in dresses that depict Islamic countries, and with sights of many minarets in the background. But that won't stop visitors from having fun roaming the city. Great news for those who love to shop, Malaysia is relatively cheaper compared to other countries when it comes to fashion and shopping.

Luxury items and international brands can be easily found in shopping malls like Pavilion, Mid Valley, The Gardens, One Utama, and Sunway Pyramid. KL can be shopaholics' haven as one can shop until you drop, at Bukit Bintang street or KLCC the largest mall. Besides, street shopping at Jalan Petaling will not bore anyone.

KL is a business city rather than a prime tourist destination and you will quickly run out of things to see. Yes the Petronas Twin Towers are spectacular but after that - then what? At weekends KL livens up quite a bit with a big entertainment area (Tun Razak Entertainment Centre - TREC) and a few other party venues, otherwise its just shopping for branded stuff in the malls or fakes in Petaling St (Chinatown), eating in hawker stalls or coffee shops (Kopitiam) or lazing by the hotel pool.

There is a Light Rail Transit and a Monorail if you want to venture out of the central area but the local ride-sharing company (Grab) is cheap and reliable. Avoid the taxi touts parked outside some of the the malls. They overcharge and refuse to use the meter.

No one denies that Malaysian food is authentic and sumptuous, like satay, Mee Goreng, Char Kuay Teow, Laksa, and chicken rice, among others. Although many Singaporeans bang their heads on the wall, insisting that chicken rice and laksa originated from Singapore.

Food is everywhere from hawker fare to high class Chinese and Western restaurants. There are basically three kinds of food restaurants in Malaysia - Indian, Chinese, and Western - the newest entree to the market, because the owners may have studied and lived abroad for some years then return to start their own.

Malaysian Chinese vegetarian restaurants are a mixed lot; however they can loosely be grouped as ‘Home-cook style’, and ‘Restaurant style’ - the former may appear ordinary - everyday vegetarian dishes to accompany the usual white rice - staple meal. Upmarket Chinese vegetarian dishes can be ostentatious in appearance and tastes divine. Anyone would be attracted based on looks alone.

The famous KL Food Street Jalan Alor a bit too touristy but you can give it a try for the entertainment value. There are many websites extolling the virtues of various KL restaurant establishments so check them out. Laksa (Penang, Johor, Nonya or Sarawak style), Satay, Char Kway Teow and noodle based dishes are all readily available and uniquely Malaysian.

Ask any Sarawakian and they will tell you, the starting point to making a good Sarawak Laksa is making a good laksa paste. Simple enough. But the paste for this underrated dish is a concoction that'll make a cook quit the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Sarawak Laksa’s broth is not the typical laksa, it’is made mainly with sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), tamarind, galangal, lemon grass plus dozens of herbs and spices with just a bit of coconut milk.

The paste is a blend of shallots, garlic, lemongrass, galangal (not ginger), dried chillies, and ground spices like coriander seeds, cumin, star anise, cardamom, clove and nutmeg - lots of ingredients that require grinding and blending. Once that's done, the combined paste is then sauteed in a pan and more ingredients are added, like roasted peanuts, sesame seeds and curry powder.

When the paste is aromatic, both chicken and prawn broth are added, as well as coconut milk. The laksa can be seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar, salt or even fish sauce, according to your taste. It's not done yet. The cooked noodles are added to the laksa with the chicken, omelette and prawn toppings and a garnish of coriander leaves, with a serving of sambal (blend of red chillies, onions, garlic, dried prawns and oil) and fresh lime.

Packed and sold in supermarkets and night markets jackfruit is a popular and inexpensive fruit.

In Malaysia the Minang-style light curry called ‘gulai’ with young jackfruit is a wonderfully flavorful dish - the fleshy fruit (pod) is not used but the ‘rags’ the fibrous part that covers the fleshy fruit pods. There are numerous ingredients in the curry such as turmeric, spice powder, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, dried anchovies, etc.

You should also try Nasi Lemak the ubiquitous coconut rice-based breakfast dish which foreigners either love or hate and Roti Canai an Indian fresh paratha flatbread with curry sauce. Likewise the smelly but tasty durian fruit, if it’s in season.

The origin of bak kut teh is foggy, but it has become the comfort food of choice for Chinese in Malaysia. The herbs used may differ from one restaurant to the next, but the meat has always been pork (chicken or other meat just don’t go down as well), braised in a broth that includes whole garlic, soy sauce, star anise and Chinese herbs such as angelica, processed Rehmannia root and liquorice.

Another great drink very popular in Malaysia is asam boi - a delicious sweet and sour drink that tingles. Asam boi is made with the juice from calamansi limes mixed with dried plums that have been preserved with salt and sugar. Have it iced, it’s refreshing and cooling, even addictive.

You could consider taking trips to Langkawi (Sailing) Penang, Melaka, Cameron Highlands (Colonial charm) or one of the island resorts. Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Tioman or Pulau Redang (Scuba or Snorkelling). Alternatively jungle trek in Taman Negara (National Park), or travel to Borneo to explore the caves in Mulu, Sarawak or climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.

First and foremost, Malaysia is very cheap when compared to the western standards, and it’s quite average when compared to countries surrounding the area such as Indonesia and Thailand. There are lots of hotels in the KL area which cost only 60–70RM ($14–16) a night and these are decent hotels. You could even get cheaper hotels outside the KL area!

Despite being quite a cheap place to live and travel in, Malaysia is definitely clean and organized. So you should expect clean streets, beautiful architecture, decently organised places, good services and high standard of food hygiene.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is big and modern with many facilities to offer. Even though it is big you will find it easy to get around as the signage and construction of the airport is very easy to follow and understand. Don't forget to visit the KLIA Jungle Boardwalk in the center of the Satellite Terminal and have fun riding the Aerotrain!

While Southeast Asia offers outstanding natural beauty, don't be fooled into thinking that the pleasures of the region are solely rural. Indeed, the area is also home to thriving cities that are teeming with activity virtually 24 hours a day. For the adventurous spirit, however, the Malaysian capital has a whole lot to offer from bungee jumping to hiking trails in Kuala Lumpur.

You can enjoy a day of water slides and a whole lot of splashing at the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park. You can climb the Kuala Lumpur tower to see the city's incredible skyline from the greatest heights. Or you can surround yourself with fluttering beauty at the Butterfly Park. But for the true adrenaline junkie, the greatest challenge will be base jumping from the tallest towers in this sprawling city.

The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to a colourful mix of colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers such as the iconic 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers (height 452 m) - which also houses a mega shopping mall at its lower levels.

The Petronas Twin Towers stand at almost 1,500 feet. These giant monoliths are the most incredible place to see this beautiful city before you plummet down towards her busy streets. It doesn't get much more extreme than this. But if you are looking for a life-changing experience there are few that can match this adrenaline-soaked adventure. If you are feeling brave enough, you can book right here.

Leave your footprint at the oldest Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur. Sri Mahamariamman Temple was founded in 1873 as a private family shrine, later on the temple has relocated at present location Jalan Tun H.S.Lee. The Sri Maha Mariamman temple's gopuram is 75 feet high and made up of 5 tiers fully adorned with miniature sculptures of 228 hindu deities.

From authentic local street/restaurant food, hipster cafes/Australian style brunch places, to high quality Italian/Japanese/Middle Eastern fine dining, food in Malaysia will not disappoint you. Apart from the bustling KL city centre, these are the places you’ll usually find yummy food and experience the local cultures.

Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya, Kepong and Klang - If you love to explore what locals love to eat, these are some of the places in KL and Selangor you shouldn’t miss.

Foods are very cheap too. Street foods ranges from $1–2 and restaurant foods range from $1–4 per person. Those are cheap food but trust me, those foods are one of the best foods you could get in the world. Most of the local foods are a mixture of Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines and it taste rich and amazing! You shouldn’t worry much regarding food poisoning, which goes into the next point.

Wat Tan Hor is a Cantonese style stir fry noodle whereby the noodles - choice of rice noodles, thin or thick cut, and wheat noodles - are cooked separately and then drenched with an egg-y sauce consisting of pork slices, prawns, bit of squid and some greens. Noodles are eaten anytime of the day for breakfast until late night supper; they are a kind of filler, a change from rice-based meals at lunch and dinner time here in Malaysia.

There are numerous kinds of noodle dishes across Malaysia served in various styles - Malay and Indian mamak mie goreng, Chinese Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka style noodles, etc. Lip-smacking Hokkien Mee aka Fukien Chow is a noodle stir fry dish over a roaring charcoal fire. The mandatory crispy deep-fried pork lard topping is among the reasons why this favourite noodle dish is an occasional treat.

Mamak mie goreng is a popular stir fry noodles often fried without any meat, only cubed firm tofu, coconut cake, bean sprouts in a spicy chili based sauce. Addition of ready-cooked meat (fried chicken, or mutton curry) is an option.

Dragon Breath cookies/candies became very popular in the pasar malam (night market) and food bazaar circuits a few years ago, with many curious individuals eager to experience the smoky biscuits themselves. The Dragon strikes backs - youngsters suffered blisters on palms and pain in the throat after eating the cookies more than 30 hours later. Some felt as if boiling water was poured on the palm of the hand.

Yusheng or Cantonese lo hei translates to tossing good fortune is the most showy dining spectacle during Chinese New Year. It’s a colourful raw fish platter that is pretty to look at, and delicious to eat - hugely popular in Malaysian restaurants. The Prosperity Abalone Treasure Pot is possibly the most expensive dish during the Chinese New Year season, served in restaurants or take home.

10. Kuantan


Most tourists don’t know that Malaysia has a waterfall with an almost guaranteed appearance of a rainbow every morning at 9 (if the weather’s good). It’s called Air Terjun Pelangi, and it’s situated near the ex-mining town of Sungai Lembing in Pahang. Even without the rainbow, the pool is deep enough to bathe/wade in, and it’s among the nicer waterfalls in Malaysia.

If you’re adventurous, you can also explore parts of the tin mine in Sungai Lembing (once among one of the biggest in the world, with a depth of approximately 700 metres). Of course, you can’t go that deep as it’s an old mine from the 1880s. The whole town has quite a charming Bioshock-ish vibe, if you’re into the whole vintage and steampunk aesthetic.

The nearby Bukit Panorama also offers beautiful, misty views. Most tourists also don’t know that there are two beautiful mountains in Kedah called Gunung Baling and Gunung Pulai which offer awesome views. Both are accessible by day-tripping from nearby towns, and the hike up takes only 2–2.5 hours. Did you know that you can stay with some Bajau families on their above-water homes in Pulau Maiga, Pulau Selakan, and some other Semporna Isles?

It’s not going to be luxurious like a Maldivian water villa, but at least you get to enjoy a heavenly sea view without having to sell your organs. Plus, you contribute to the local economy directly. The hiking you can do near the Bajau’s backyard is not bad, either. For those who enjoy being challenged, have you ever dreamt of entering Sasuke or Ninja Warrior?

Well you can do so at your own leisure at the SkyWarrior Rainforest Challenge on Tasik Putrajaya. It’s really fun and doable for the average person. For avid rock climbers who are very determined to explore relatively unknown rocks, you can scale up this very obscure but unique mountain in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, called Gunung Batu Lawi.

When tourists think about Ipoh, they tend to think only of food (because the city’s been branded as such). What they don’t know is that there’s a hidden natural attraction in the city’s suburbs, in the form of a unique lake that is enclosed on all sides by limestone hills. By making a somewhat exhilarating trip through a man-made tunnel, you can journey to the mysterious, hidden world that is Tasik Cermin.

If you’re into exotic, traditional but modern dresses which would turn heads at cocktail parties (Because Chinese qipaos and South Asian sarees are too mainstream), you can get designer kebaya pieces like these in KL. You can also go tandem skydiving on Pulau Langkawi, Kedah. If you don’t like the idea of possibly falling to your death, you can always take a heli tour.

Lubang Biru Terumbu Tingkayu is situated in Teluk Darvel, which is near the towns of Kunak and Lahad Datu. With a depth of 15 metres, it’s not that deep, but there are two holes for you to explore.

Be an intrepid traveller and be your own gourmand and anthropologist or whatever they call people who study food and people culture. For Malaysia is 'Instant Asia' where English is the common lingua franca, in the urban areas. The three main races are Malay, Chinese and Indian. And then you have other indigenous races as well. That is on top of the different types of Malay, Chinese and Indian. It is truly a cosmopolitan multiracial multicultural multireligious multilingual multicuisine paradise.

When you land at KL International Airport, after clearing Immigration and Customs, catch the KL Airport Ekspres to Sentral or Brickfields. At Sentral Stesen ask for walking directions to YMCA in Brickfields. It is actually less than 10 minutes walk from Sentral Stesen.

Stay in YMCA and let that be your 'camp' for your stay in KL. They will advise you on what tickets to buy for use on the various metropolitan train lines which will get you anywhere in KL. They will also tell where to go for cheap eats (Malaysian hawker or street foods) and even buses to catch to outer suburbs not accessible by train.

Just a hint - tell them you were told about Brickfields (Indian), Malay Street (Indian), Petaling Street and Bukit Bintang (Chinese) and Kampung Baru (Malay) for food and culture. Of course visit all the modern mega malls as well for the air conditioning comfort. But remember you are not a 'tourist' but an 'adventurer'. If you drink, then note that it is miles cheaper to drink at any local 'kopitiam' (literally 'coffee shops').

Lots of kopitiams in Brickfields! Do not drink more than 1 big bottle. Control yourself and your senses. Your own safety and security is in your own hands. Unless you long for Western company and want to get drunk do not go to the fancy touristy pub areas where Western tourists go to get drunk and 'pick up'!

Better to travel 'incognito', i.e. do not be ostentatious - dress decently but cleanly and simply, and just tell people you are a student, travelling to write an article on Malaysian local food and culture. Wear a cheap watch. Do not wear jewellery. And do not carry more than RM200 on cash. That should be enough for each foray or expedition from 'camp' (YMCA). There is a safebox at the YMCA. Leave your passport with them.

Carry a photocopy of your passport as well as a YMCA contact card in case you get checked by the police or need to catch UBER in an exigency. Keep a sentinel eye on your smartphone. Ask YMCA for a list of emergency contact numbers to put in your 'Contacts' in your smartphone. Get your SIM card immediately as you complete Immigration at KLIA. There will be a row of telco competitors vying for your business.

Be always polite and civil, but act shyly inquisitive and be casually (i.e. not overly) friendly but be reticient and cautious and not be gullible. Even in paradise there are 'snakes' everywhere. So, trust no one unless you have been to their homes and met their parents. You can trust the staff at the YMCA. Or else, you will be taken for a ride.

Do not buy souvenirs or memorabilia off the street vendors. They are pirated or fake anyway and you might also end up being 'pickpocketed' in the process. Stick to eating and experiencing the living ambience. Take photos. The street food would naturally be ingrained in your memory. They are so delectable and fascinating to your tastebuds, that it is a culinary experience beyond description or measurement.

Try every local hawker delicacy that you come across. No venture, no gain. In experience at least. Each will be a testimony that speaks for itself. It will cost you 'peanuts' in your Western currency. The only possible discomfort is the torrid glummy high humidity or at least a 'rite of passage' diarrhoea or the runs. Bring your Imodium tablets.

And when you add in as well your experience of the idyllic ambience and atmosphere of the surroundings and backdrop, the waft and aroma of the different exotic scents and spiciness, the seductive smokiness and intermittent conflagration of hot flames from the frying woks, the magic of 'wok hei' (the Qi of cooking with hot woks), the delight in seeing the locals enjoying 'eating' in company, joking and laughing away, as the simple expression or pleasure of life.

Happiness is not about posh and luxurious surroundings and a ostentatious and decadent lifestyle. Happiness is having a simple meal with friends, and watching the world go by, and hanging loose in the tropics 'beneath the sway of the coconut palms' (speaking metaphorically of course). What more, you can venture out at 2 am or even later in the wee hours of the morning for 'teh tarik' and 'roti canai' at the 'Mamak' hawker stalls. That is the other thing - 'Instant Asia' never sleeps!

Then when you are ready to move on out of KL to the other major towns, ask at the YMCA for how to travel by air-conditioned inter-state bus to and stay at YMCA in Penang. The YMCA in Penang will be your 'chaperone' in Penang doing what you have done in KL. Then travel south to Melaka. Get advice from YMCA as well.

Once you have done the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, you will be ready to venture out to the Muslim East Cost of Peninsular Malaysia. It is dominated by Malays and Malay culture and therefore more conservative and rustic and bucolic. And English might be a problem as well. But that makes it more exciting. Just one simple rule in Muslim East Coast. No shorts or singlets.

You will quickly observe that the Malays do not frequent Non-halal premises. So, once again, if you want to be a bit more 'carefree' it at ease stick to Chinese kopitiams in the East Coast.

Approximately 13km from the Malaysia capital, Batu Cave, the Hindu temple complex is a series of cavernous spaces inside limestone rock, housing ornate shrines. It attracts worshipers and tourists, particularly for the annual three-day festival of Thaipusam. Just outside it stands the world’s tallest statue of Murugan, the god of war, at 42.7 metres high. The 272-step staircase, built fifty years ago was originally wooden and later replaced with stone, was painted in dazzling rainbow colours in preparation for the temple consecration ceremony (Kumbhabhishekam), which takes place every 12 years.

9. Kuala Selangor


Air Terjun Berkelah, Maran, Pahang are all quite hard to reach and are a bit off the beaten track for most people, local or foreign. That said, there is actually one emerald river just south of KL which is very accessible, called Sungai Rasau (One of the waterfalls here is erroneously called ‘Air Terjun Ayer Hitam’, ‘Air Terjun Bukit Puchong’, ‘Air Terjun Bukit Wawasan’, and ‘Puchong Blue Lagoon’).

It’s about a 35-minute drive from the Petronas Twin Towers and a further 2-hour trek into the jungle—a jungle in the middle of the city, albeit. Unfortunately, the area is off-limits as it’s been designated as a forest reserve and a research area. That hasn’t stopped people from trespassing, though.

10. Niah National Park


Nestled at the foot of Mount Santubong, the Sarawak Cultural Village is just 35km from Kuching City, the stage for the annual Rainforest World Music festival. The 3-day internationally acclaimed festival is staged against the backdrop of the rainforest in Kuching Sarawak, east Malaysia.

11. Tanah Rata


Watch the tea plantations while enjoying a cup of tea in a cafe overlooking the valley in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Cameron Highlands is a popular retreat in Malaysia because of its moderate weather. With temperatures between 25 degrees Celsius during the day and 18 at night, this area offers a nice break from the 30+ temperatures the rest of the country often has.

This makes the highlands a very good place for growing fruit, vegetables and of course tea. For lovers of history, Cameron Highlands offers numerous hikes in the cool hilly terrain. Dotted with colonial British architecture, prehistoric land formations, and tea plantations, it is a welcome respite from the heat in the city.

There is no dearth of tourist destinations in Malaysia but it is not easy to compile all of them in a single article so if you are excited to read about more places then write down in the comment box and motivate us by liking and sharing our post.
Kalyan Panja