Attractions in Malaysia
Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures from the diverse Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. The country has stunning natural scenery, from the lush green Cameron Highlands to the exotic sandy beaches in Langkawi.
Mix in the rich colonial charm of Malacca, Penang and Kuala Lumpur and it is easy to see why Malaysia is a travelers' paradise. The majestic and dense tropical forests, the marine world and wilderness in Borneo await 'discovery' by nature lovers and adventurers alike.
Beaches & Islands
Penang & Langkawi Islands
Penang's outstanding beaches and history during the British rule have made it one of the most popular destinations in the region. It is also called the Pearl of the East. The trio of Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang all have white sandy beaches and are popular with visitors. This area features many world class hotels with beach fronts, restaurants and shops.
Langkawi Island is an island north of Penang noted for its Malay legends. It has dense jungle in the interior and fringed by white sandy beaches on the rim. There are many first class resorts, theme parks and golf courses along the coast.
Pangkor Island & Pangkor Laut Island
Pangkor is an idyllic island, with forest and hills sloping gently down to white sandy beaches and blue waters. The island is inhabited only by local fishermen and is the location of several excellent hotels, including the luxurious Pangkor Island Beach Resort.
Pangkor Laut is a privately owned but uninhabited island located two miles west of Pangkor. On this secluded and private island is the Pangkor Laut Resort. Apart from the resort development, the entire island is still covered with lush green rainforest.
Pulau Redang & Tioman Island
Redang Island in Terengganu is recognised as one of the finest coral and marine ecosystems in Malaysia. Massive coral formation, white sand and good visibility make Redang a great family holiday and diving site. There are several quality resorts on the island catering for the honeymooners or family. Redang is closed during the monsoon season between October - February.
Tioman Island in Pahang is a popular island paradise for adventurers and deep sea fishing. It is a big island with sparse population. Secluded beaches in the north and east are popular with backpackers. The movie 'South Pacific' was filmed on this island.
Meaning 'stopover' in Malay. They are some 21km off the coast of Terengganu and comprises the islands of Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil.
Covered by virgin jungle, powdery white beaches and surrounded by sapphire-blue waters, the islands have resorts such as the Tanjung Jara Resort or the Aryani Resort - both offer exceptional services and facilities.
Sipadan - Sabah
Sipadan, lying off the north-east coast of Sabah is one of the 10 best dive locations in the world. It is an incredible oceanic island formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano. A unique feature of this island is the precipitous reef which plunges 680m into the seabed attracting rich and diverse marine life such as turtles, jacks, barracudas and colourful coral creatures.
Sipadan is an unrivalled diving destination of international class. The diving experience here is truly special and up to 5 dives can be achieved in a single day. Besides the beach and reef, the island has a luxuriant rainforest which is home to monitor lizards, fruit bats and coconut crabs.
Asia's first Club Mediteranee is located at Cherating, 40 km from Kuantan in Pahang. There are several quality hotels on the beach front apart from Club Med along the white sandy strip. A visit to experience the local 'kampung' or village life is nearby.
Rantau is 60 km south of Kuala Terengganu, the beach where the famous giant leatherback turtles come ashore each year from May to September to lay their eggs and hatch the young turtles. These turtles can grow to 2.5m long and weigh some 375 kg. The best time to turtle-watch is at full moon and during high tide. The leatherback turtles are protected by the local wildlife authority.
Highland & Hill Resorts
At 1800m above sea level, undulating tea plantations and vegetable gardens dominate the hill side of the Cameron Highlands. It has captivating landscape, lush forest and green farming reminiscent of Tudor England. Here the indigenous Orang Asli people still hunt small animals with blow pipes. Cameron is the fresh vegetable-growing centre of Malaysia and a visit to the local fresh produce market is an experience not to be missed.
Genting Highlands, less than 1 hour from Kuala Lumpur is the most developed hill resort in Malaysia. At 2,000 meters above sea level, it offers a cool respite from the heat. The resort has a combination of world class casinos, hotels, theme parks, international performances, a golf course and many unique outdoor activities.
Fraser Hill is a charming old-world hill station built in the 19th century as a hideaway for the British civil servants. Named after a British adventurer, it is 1500m above sea level and is popular with bird-watchers. The International Bird Race is held there annually.
Bukit Tinggi Resort
Bukit Tinggi Resort is set amidst 6,475 hectares of rugged hills surrounded by lush tropical rainforests. It is just an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur. Here you will find the picturesque French-styled Colmar Tropicale and Zen-inspired Japanese Village.
Historical & Colonial
Kuala Lumpur began as a mining settlement in the late 1800s with the discovery of tin by Chinese miners at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers.
Under the British, Kuala Lumpur was chosen as the administrative center. Uniformed British officers and bureaucrats administered Malaya from the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. This building is a beautiful fusion of Moorish and Victorian architecture designed by AC Norman in 1894. The City Hall next door has similar architecture.
Masjid Jamed, located behind the Abdul Samad building is a stunning display of Indian Muslim architecture designed by AB Hubbocks a British architect in 1909. It has onion shaped domes, arched colonnades and polished marble floors surrounded by palm trees.
Malacca was the centre of the ancient East-West spice route. The oldest trading port in Malaysia, it has undergone Portuguese, Dutch and English rules during the past 500 years.
The Portuguese influence is most visible in the city's architecture. The Portuguese taxed buildings based on frontage width, resulting in the construction of narrow façade and deep shoplots along the ancient streets. The Chinese influence is felt most on the streets where they advertise their business using bright red signage. On the fringe of the city is Bukit China, the largest Chinese cemetery outside of China.
Over the centuries, the Chinese and local Malays in Malacca assimilated, producing a unique society and culture, now known as the Baba-Nyonya.
The must-see places in Malacca include:
- Portuguese Fort de Santiago - A Portuguese fortress constructed in 1511
- St. Paul's Church - the former burial ground of St Francis Xavier
- The 'antique' shops in Jonker Street
- Cheng Hoon Teng Temple - oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia with a commemoration for Admiral Cheng Ho
- Kampong Kling, a typical Malay village in ancient Malacca
- Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum
Taman Negara National Park is the world's oldest rainforest, renowned for its diverse range of flora and fauna. It is home to the most pristine primary rainforests in the world and over 130 million years old.
Activities here include the jungle walk to the peak of Bukit Teresek. Part of the walk is a 600 metre long 'canopy walk' through the treetops (30 metres from the ground) where visitors can experience the rain forest from tree-top height. Lata Berkoh is a spectacular waterfall cascade marking the end of the riverboat trip. The deep pool below the cascade and rocky area overlooking the rapids is an ideal place for a picnic.
Mt Kinabalu - Sabah
Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in south-east Asia. The climb to the top starts from Mount Kinabalu Park HQ, a few of hours drive from Kota Kinabalu on the coast.
It is compulsory to hire a guide. Hiring a porter to carry your backpack is an optional luxury. There are comfortable and affordable cabins and dormitories in the mountain.
The ascent offers the climber the unique experience of walking through the tropical oak forest and unique flora in the sub-alpine mountain. Of the flora on the mountain, the pitcher plant is the most impressive. This monster plant lures and drowns the passing insect first before consuming it.
Pulau Layang-layang - Sabah
Layang-Layang is a diver's paradise approximately 300km northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
The island covering six hectares is surrounded by an atoll of over 7km long and 2km wide. The atoll has a 2000m drop around the rim, making it an excellent marine and dive site. The water is crystal clear with visibility averaging 50m deep. One of Layang-Layang's biggest attractions is the Hammerhead Shark colony. Manta rays with a fin span of over 10ft are common here. The eastern end of the atoll is home to thousands of migratory birds, a haven for bird watchers.
Niah National Park - Sarawak
Niah National Park is 300 miles up the coast from Kuching. The park spreads over 3,140 hectares of peat swamp, dipterocarp forest, massive limestone formation and caves.
The Niah Great Cave is a world renowned archeological site where a 40,000 year-old skull was unearthed, along with tools, ornaments and potteries dating back to the Stone Age.
Next to the Niah Cave is the Painted Cave (Kain Hitam). This cave was used by prehistoric man for religious and burial site. Boat-shaped coffins and wall paintings of human figures rendered in thick red hematite cover some 32 meters.
Semenggoh - Sarawak
The Semenggoh Oran Utan Rehabilitation Centre is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places to visit. Semenggoh became the first forest reserve in Sarawak in 1920. It was turned into a wild life rehabilitation centre for monkeys, Oran Utans, honey bears and hornbills in 1975. The Centre gives visitors the opportunity to interact with the intelligent, friendly and wild Oran Utans.
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