Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo. It's known for its beaches, rainforests and mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to colonial buildings, busy shopping districts such as Bukit Bintang and skyscrapers such as the iconic, 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers.
The official language of Malaysia is Malay, which is spoken in the vast majority of the country. English is widely spoken as well, though, so it’s easy enough to get by without knowing how to speak Malay.
Malaysia and Singapore share a lot of the same festivals and traditions, but Malaysia definitely has its own flair. From brightly colored street festivals to sobering religious days, the country has a lot to celebrate with its own unique cultural heritage. (Deepavali, Thaipusum, Holi color, Hari raya, Chinese new year, Vesak day)
Best Time to Go
Malaysia experiences high heat and humidity all year-round, and there isn’t a lot of distinction between the seasons. The most notable difference is that the monsoon season arrives in November/December and brings on the “rainy season” until mid-February. During this time, travel is not recommended on the East coast of the peninsula (unless you’re happy staying indoors all afternoon!).
An important distinction, though, is that while the East coast experiences extremely wet weather during this time, the West coast works on a different timeline. The West Coast’s rainy season goes from April to October, and while it lasts for a longer time, the weather is milder and the rain won’t have much effect on your travel plans.
The nice thing about the alternating wet seasons, you can visit Malaysia at any time of the year and have a pretty enjoyable beach holiday. Just be sure to align your travel plans with the right areas of Malaysia, or else you might find your beach vacation rained out!
Travel in Malaysia is pretty affordable. A little pricier than some other areas in Southeast Asia, but still far less than any western countries. If you’re happy sleeping in a hostel and eating street food, you can easily get by on $30 a day. If you want to splurge on a nicer hotel or a few gourmet meals, you might want to budget up to $40 or $50 (or more if you’re used to a more western lifestyle).
What to Pack for Traveling Malaysia
The most important thing to remember when packing for Malaysia is that it is going to be hot, humid, and that rain can happen at anytime of the day. Bring lightweight, comfortable walking shoes, breathable clothes, and pack an umbrella! I say it again, Buy an umbrella... I have been living in Malaysia since 2018 and when it rain there, its heavy !
While the cities are used to foreigners and are more relaxed, if you’ll be traveling in more rural areas outside the major metropolitan areas, it’s a good idea to wear more modest attire as Malaysia is a primarily Muslim country.
Dress a little more conservatively if you want to be accepted and welcomed. A cardigan to cover your shoulder for women or sweater to enter religious mosque or other temples is always a good idea, you will also needed for their freezing cold air-conditioning in restaurants and shops feels like winter compared to the heat outside!
Best Things to Do in Malaysia
1- Visit the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
One of the most iconic sights in the world, the Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers due to the fact that they come in a pair, are located in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and are the tallest twin towers in the world. The architecture is postmodern in style and also features motifs found in Islamic art to represent the Muslim majority in Malaysia. The main attraction is the sky walk over the sky bridge that joins them together and visitors can admire the views that stretch across Kuala Lumpur and KLCC Park at the base of the towers.
2- Sunbathe and relax on Langkawi
If you fancy getting out of the city then head to Langkawi Island, actually an archipelago of over a hundred islands in the Andaman Sea, only two of which are inhabited and of which Langkawi is the largest with a population of over 60,000 inhabitants. Langkawi Island is popular with both backpackers and honeymooners alike and has something to suit all budgets. The island is also has duty-free status so visitors can stock up on souvenir items cheaply.
3- Attend a Cooking Class
Next to Thailand, Malaysia, in my opinion, has some of the best cuisines in Asia + I am married to a beautiful Malaysian woman that offer cooking class. Seize the opportunity to get to know more of the incredible flavors of Malaysian cuisine by taking cooking classes with us, we will give you all the info you need on how to make the Nasi Lemak, Rendangs and other delicious dish.
4- Meander around Penang
Penang is an island off the west coast of Malaysia that has Georgetown as its capital, named after British king, King George. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Penang has a focus on conservation and preservation and visitors can experience this at one of the many famous hotels in Penang, such as the E&O established by Stamford Raffles who also founded the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Penang is also famous for its Tropical Spice Garden that showcases the best of the region’s local flora and fauna such as the Torch Ginger, a plant used in many traditional Malay dishes.
If you prefer traveling with a group tour, we highly recommend Get your Guide or Civitatis, They are both very reputable companies and have been running tours around Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia for ages. The reason why we love them is because they have loads of different tours that cater to different age groups. They have tours from 18-99 years old (and more...) and I am pretty sure that you will definitely find what you are looking for.
1- Taman Negara
Discover one of the world's oldest rainforests! Experience a true adventure hiking through the jungle, walking through the treetops and sailing the river rapids of Taman Negara. What better way to explore!
Here you'll have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the national park in a number of different ways, each one an adventure. Firstly, explore the rainforest on foot with a jungle trek of around two miles (1 - 3 km). You'll get up close and personal with the flora and fauna native to the region; if you're lucky, you should be able to see species such as the red junglefowl. Your hike will end at Bukit Teresek, one of the best viewpoints in the area, from which you'll enjoy unforgettable views over the jungle and across to Gunung Tahan, a peak which at 7,175 feet (2,187 m) is the highest point in Peninsular Malaysia. Keep reading
2- Cameron Highland
The first stop on your guided tour of Malaysia's biggest hill-station will be the tea plantation fields. You'll get to know the production process of tea, one of the typical plants grown in this luscious green valley, located in the north of the Asian country. To reach the hilltop Boh Tea plantation, one of the most famous in the region, you'll head out on a short hiking route. The trek is well worth the effort for the incomparable views of the stunning natural landscapes awaiting you at the end.
Discover the Rose Garden, home to a wide number of different species of these beautiful flowers. You'll also stop at a pick-your-own strawberry farm, where you can sample the delicious fruits that grow here thanks to the cooler Highland temperatures. Try more of the tasty fruits and vegetables produced in this region during your stop at a local market. Keep reading
3 - Sunway Lagoon
Water attractions, zoos and themed shows... Enjoy a family day full of thrills and spills in the Sunway Lagoon park, just 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.
We'll pick you up from your hotel in Kuala Lumpur, and make our way to the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, found about half an hour from the Malaysian capital.
When we arrive at the park we'll give you your ticket, which gives you free access to the following areas of the Sunway Lagoon park:
Water Park: including toboggans and water attractions for the whole family.
Amusement Park: attractions and spectacles set in the world of literary adventures and the North American Wild West.
Wildlife Park: a zoo filled with exotic animals from the Malaysian region and beyond!.
Extreme Park: an area filled with adventurous attractions sure to get the adrenaline pumping.
Scream Park: For the lovers of horror, this area is dedicated to all things scary!
Where to stay in Malaysia?
From $3 backpackers to $100 hostels up to $200 or more luxury hotels, Malaysia has a huge variety of accommodation options that suit all budgets. In rural areas you’re most likely to find accommodations like guesthouses and that is personally what we like the most while traveling.
If you’re traveling during peak season or holidays, it is best to book your accommodations in advance. We recommend checking sites like Agoda, hostellook or Hostel World. No matter where you stay, you’re almost certain to experience the wealth of Malaysian hospitality. It’s an amazing place to visit!
Transport around Malaysia
Traveling in Kuala-Lumpur is very easy even tho you have never been to big cities. We recommend you to use the train (LRT or MRT) it is very affordable and will safe you lots of times. If you plan to go to the Batu Caves you can book a tour that will organize everything for you or you can go by yourself using the ''Komuter''. If you are traveling in different cities around Malaysia and want to pre-book boats, buses and ferries check 12Go website In terms of safety, traveling around Indonesia is relatively safe but just to be sure, make sure you have travel insurance during your trip.
MUST READ BOOK WHILE TRAVELING TO MALAYSIA
Malaysia undoubtedly is one of the captivating and modern countries in Southeast Asia. The diversity of modern and colonial architectural style with the background of Titiwangsa mountains is exceptionally beautiful in Peninsular Malaysia. The following 7 must-read travel books to visit Malaysia and explore the best.
To help you make the most of your trip, here are a few recommended reading material.
Insight Guide Malaysia will definitely provide you the insight tips and information to explore the best of Malaysia. This travel guide also depicted about the history, people, and culture of Malaysia. Many travel tips from the local experts will surely help any first-time visitors to explore this diverse country.
Malaysia: Recipes from a Kitchen Family is a great cookbook to know all about Malaysian cuisine. It’ll be rare to find any traveler who didn’t love the food of Malaysia. Specially Satay with Peanut sauce, one of the famous street foods in Malaysia. There are many varieties of Malaysian food and must-try for all food lovers around.
Lonely Planet book phrases: With Lonely Planet's Malay Phrasebook, let no barriers - language or culture - get in your way. Grab this phrasebook and try Malaysia's amazing street food, soak up sun and sand at Palau Langkawi or Palau Tioman, or trek to the summit of Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia's tallest peak. Our phrasebooks give you a comprehensive mix of practical and social words and phrases in more than 120 languages