Malaysia Destination Guide
Malaysia, a melting pot of diverse races and cultures, is home to the tallest twin towers in the world and to satay - among other things. Thanks to the Malay natives, the Chinese, the Indians, various other ethnic groups and the globalisation of today's computerised world, it is difficult to track down a typical Malaysian ethos. While Malay remains the national language, it is English that is the language of choice, spoken everywhere in Malaysia. But all this hardly matters to the tourist because Malaysia has so much more to offer. Islands and beaches with crystal clear waters, old rainforests rich with rare flora and fauna, unblemished jungles in the National Reserves, a slice of history from the Colonial, Dutch and Portuguese monuments, gastronomic delights down Malaysia's small lanes, exciting shopping options - you can enjoy them all in the backdrop of a well developed tourist infrastructure!
A land of extreme contrasts and multicultural communities, Malaysia is a travellers dream with first class tourism infrastructure, friendly people and natural beauty to boot!
Our Malaysia Destination Guide together with our Malaysia tour suggestions will tell you all you need to know about the many amazing Malaysia sightseeing opportunities and the best way to see them. For tips on the best way to get around Malaysia take a look at our Malaysia transportation guide.
Check out all the local exciting things to see and do in the following Malaysia destinations:
Things to See & Do in Malaysia
Check on the links to the right or scroll down the page for some useful information about some of the exciting tourist attractions in Malaysia:
Kuala Lumpur is the nerve centre of Malaysia. The federal, political and commercial capital of Malaysia, KL was once a mining settlement carrying on trading in tin in the 1800s. Today, it is a global city, with a head count of about 1.5 million people. Kuala Lumpur is a throbbing metropolis, offering bright lights and fine entertainment comparable with any other international city.
The Palace of Culture, Istana Budaya, is a beautiful white and blue edifice bearing both contemporary and traditional Malay influences. Touted as one of Kuala Lumpur's most striking sights, Istana Budaya is the venue for many prestigious international concerts and shows.
Another prominent tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur is the Menara Kuala Lumpur. Located at a stone's throw from KL's premium hotels, Menara Kuala Lumpur enjoys the distinction of being the fourth tallest telecom tower in the world and the tallest in South East Asia. Various events like X-treme sports performances, B.A.S.E Jump and the Kuala Lumpur International Towerthon are held at the Menara Kuala Lumpur. High speed lifts transport you to an observation deck from where you get a breathtaking view of KL and beyond. Don't forget to notice the ceiling at the lift lobby, which is embellished with small mirrors. Round off your visit with a lunch, dinner or high tea at the revolving restaurant in the tower, with the city sprawling below you!
Petaling Street or P.S. is Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. A very popular tourist attraction, P.S. is where you can pick up anything from knickknacks, leather goods, clothes and even food from colourful, vibrant evening markets that work till midnight. Though the goods are not very expensive, do bargain as it is the accepted norm.
The towers at the KLCC or Kuala Lumpur City Centre are the tallest freestanding towers in the world. They have 88 floors and scale a height of over 1,482 feet above KL's skyline. A sky bridge connects the two towers at the 41 floor. You can visit the bridge between 8.30 am and 5.00 pm.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, constructed between the years of 1894 and 1897, is the most photographed building in KL. It houses the High Court and the Malaysian Supreme Court. This edifice, which is a combination of Moorish and Victorian architecture, was designed by A.C. Norman, a British architect, to house the Secretariat of the British Administration. It is indeed is a beautiful sight, with its shining copper dome. Along with the erstwhile City Hall next to it, the Samad Building is certainly worth a visit.
Malaysia has rain forests that are over 150 million years old and stretch across forest reserves, national parks and, of course, the hills and mountains. The best way to explore this wealth is to trek. Well orchestrated jungle treks in Malaysia give you close-up view of the varied ecosystem and its exotic and in some cases, endangered creatures like the Malayan Tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, elephants and tapirs. There is a jungle trek to suit every kind of trekker, from the novice to the veteran.
Fresh trekkers can break their teeth on treks at the Air Keroh Recreational Forest (Malacca), the Malaysian Agricultural Park at Taman Bukit Cahaya in Shah Alam (Selangor) and the Forest Reserve Institute of Malaysia in Kepong (Kuala Lumpur).
If you are a seasoned trekker, then head for the more arduous treks at Taman Negara (Pahang), which is reputed to be among Asia's best wild lands. You can also choose from the treks at the Lambir, Mulu and Niah National Parks (Sarawak), Endau - Rompin (Johor) and Danum valley (Sabah).
Treks in Peninsular Malaysia are best attempted between March and October, when there is no rain. Treks in Sarawak and Sabah are recommended between November and June. Many forest reserves and parks can be accessed only with prior permission or permits. Do check on these with your travel agent before you start.
Malaysia is also the bird watcher's delight. There are about 580 types of birds in Borneo and more than 600 species in Peninsular Malaysia, thanks to the diversity in the habitat. While some species are found in both places, some endemic species are specific to certain locations.
Cameron Highlands and Fraser's Hill with their lush greenery, trekking trails and breathtaking views support many types of birds and are worth visiting. If you are pressed for time, then take a day trip to the Kuala Selangor Nature Park. This park among the mangrove swamps, on the west coast, is home to many migratory seasonal birds and almost 130 other types of birds.
Taman Negara, the 150 million-year-old, thick lowland forest, has over 200 species of birds and is an ornithologist's paradise. A trip to this park, however, needs a bit of careful planning. Between April and October, many birds migrate from the West Coast to Sumatra and other regions. You can catch these birds at Tanjung Tuan (Malacca), which is a great favourite with bird watchers around the world.
The authorities of the national parks and bird sanctuaries are particular not to disturb the birds in their natural habitat and request the tourists to exercise restraint. Many reserves allow bird watching only after prior permission from the respective forest departments. This is something your travel agent can arrange.
Though bird watching in Malaysia is possible all around the year, do try and avoid the months between September and December on the west coast and the months between October and February on the east coast.
Malaysians celebrate many festivals and enjoy many public holidays during the year. Some public holidays are gazetted nationwide holidays while others are applicable only in the respective states. Festivals of ethnic groups do not classify as public holidays.
Hari Merdeka or Independence Day is the most important holiday in Malaysia. It is celebrated on the 31 August to mark the Independence of the Malaysian Federation in 1957 and is a federal gazetted public holiday. International Labour Day on the 1 May is also a federal gazetted holiday, but Malaysia Day is celebrated only in Sabah on the 16 September, to mark the creation of Malaysia in 1963.
Hari Raya Puasa (Eid-Al-Fitr) is the most important festival of the Malaysian Muslim community. It marks the end of the Ramadan month. Muslims also celebrate Hari Raya Haji (Eid-ul-Adha), the Birthday of the Prophet and the Islamic New Year.
The Chinese people of Malaysia celebrate all Chinese festivals with gusto. The Chinese New year is their most important festival and involves a fifteen day celebration that concludes with Chap Goh Mei. They also celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Qingming Festival. Chinese Buddhists celebrate Vesak.
The Malaysian Indians are mostly Hindus and they celebrate Diwali in a big way. Thaipusam is another important festival for which Hindus from all over Malaysia congregate at the Batu caves. Indian Sikhs celebrate the Sikh New Year, Baisakhi.
Christians in East Malaysia celebrate Good Friday and Christmas. The Dayaks (Ibans) celebrate Hari Gawai and the Kadazan-Dusuns celebrate Pesta Kaamatan (Pesta Menuai).
Thanks to the myriad ethnic groups in Malaysia, there are festivals throughout the year. It is a tribute to the Malaysian people that these festivals are celebrated not only by the respective minorities but by all Malaysians irrespective of their caste, race or creed.