Malaysia Holiday Planning Guide
An unusual blend of a developing nation and the modern world, Malaysia ranks as one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia, its prosperity largely resting on thriving high-tech industries. Malaysia vacations remain a more affordable alternative to the expensive tourism in some neighboring countries. Take a trip to Malaysia to explore busy cities filled with colonial-era architecture, tranquil tea plantations supporting a large portion of the local population, and dozens of scattered islands happily evading the worst aspects of mass tourism. While there may be fewer visitors, there's no shortage of fine beaches, mangrove estuaries, and verdant rainforests filled with exotic wildlife.
Places to Visit in Malaysia
Regions of MalaysiaPenang
: From its picturesque beaches and verdant rainforests, to the Old World charms of its capital, Penang offers something for every type of traveler.Sabah
: Small and easily traversed, this Malaysian state is chock full of scenic landscapes, colorful marine life, and animal-rich jungles.Perak
: Add Perak to your Malaysia itinerary for unspoiled nature, quaint colonial architecture, and historic temples.Johor
: Often left out from tours of Malaysia, the southernmost peninsular state offers a glimpse into pristine jungles and islands, interspersed with modern towns.Sarawak
: The diverse scenery of this Bornean state reveals dense cloud forests, gargantuan caves, and rare wildlife and plants, including the odorous Rafflesia flower, orangutans, and the peculiar-looking proboscis monkey.Terengganu
: Nature lovers should consider adding Terengganu to their Malaysia itinerary, as the region houses an array of lush forests, sleepy fishing villages, waterfalls, and picture-perfect tropical islands.Langkawi
: Island-hopping, world-class dive spots, and long stretches of sand lined with coconut palms await in Langkawi.
Cities in MalaysiaKota Kinabalu
: A jump-off point for exploring the lush island of Borneo, Kota Kinabalu boasts a vibrant blend of cultures and a vivacious atmosphere.Kuala Lumpur
: Historic sights, booming shopping and culinary scenes, as well as an exuberant nightlife make the capital city a welcome addition to any tour of Malaysia.Melaka
: This World Heritage city boasts an eventful history as a colonial trading port, rich heritage, and an array of architectural jewels.George Town
: The maze-like streets of George Town, a colorful mixture of cultures and architectural styles, allow you to add vibrant art, shopping, and dining scenes to your Malaysia itinerary.Ipoh
: This large, historic town draws in more and more tourists each year, enticing those who visit with its famed cuisine and well-preserved heritage.
Popular Malaysia Tourist AttractionsPetronas Twin Towers
: These landmark buildings, the tallest in the world for a time, remain a recognizable symbol of Kuala Lumpur and offer sweeping views of the city from their skybridge.Batu Caves
: A perennial top-tier Malaysia tourist attraction, these ancient limestone caves, conveniently situated near the capital city, reveal sacred Hindu temples and shrines.
Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC): This sprawling modern complex in the very center of Malaysia's capital houses everything from swanky dining joints and nightlife spots, to shops, malls, and large company headquarters.KL Bird Park
: This spacious avian park continues to attract wildlife enthusiasts with its diverse bird population and scenic habitats.Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower)
: From the observation deck of this imposing tower you can relish unobstructed views of Kuala Lumpur, or enjoy a meal in the revolving restaurant.
Penang Hill: A hill station overlooking George Town, this colonial-era resort serves as a pleasant getaway from the tropical heat and can be reached via a scenic funicular route.Chinatown - Kuala Lumpur
: A variety of restaurants and vibrant markets dot the streets of the historic Chinese district in Kuala Lumpur.Legoland Malaysia
: Aimed at families, this theme park offers an array of rides and attractions inspired by the popular building blocks.Jalan Alor
: Add this iconic street to your Malaysia itinerary for a chance to sample a wide range of local snacks, street foods, and delicacies.Jonker Street
: The main strip of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown area is lined with colonial-era buildings and temples, interspersed with numerous shops and restaurants.
Planning a Malaysia Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Malaysia with Kids
There are plenty of places to visit in Malaysia with children in tow, many of them teeming with attractions and fun activities suitable for the youngest tourists. Kuala Lumpur
is among the most family-friendly destinations, filled with green areas, shopping malls, and water parks.
Hit the resorts of Penang
for palm-lined beaches, snorkeling, and picturesque scenery.
and its dense, verdant jungles hold many memorable experiences for the nature-loving child, while Johor
houses an array of amusement parks.
Things to Do in Malaysia with Kids
You won't have trouble entertaining your kids on a Malaysia holiday, as the country boasts a plethora of family-oriented attractions.
Water parks and entertainment centers are very popular in Malaysia, with some of the notable examples represented by Sunway Lagoon
, and Legoland Malaysia
For the budding animal lover there are certainly plenty of choices; Aquaria KLCC
ensures fun for kids of all ages, while Zoo Negara
, and Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary
are a great, family-friendly way to get to know Malaysia's diverse wildlife.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Malaysia
A tour of Malaysia can be a good option for a safe and affordable family vacation, with plenty of entertainment for the youngsters.
Plenty of kid-friendly hotels can be found all over the country, providing suitable accommodations for families eager to explore the region. In the spirit of catering to parents and their kids, many local restaurants offer high chairs or other child-care amenities.
As you finalize your Malaysia itinerary, keep in mind that mosquito repellent and sunscreen are a must when traversing the region, while precautions against malaria are needed only in certain areas.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Malaysia
Cuisine of Malaysia
Influenced by its own melting pot of cultures, as well as by neighboring countries, Malaysian cuisine is renowned for its diversity.
Staple ingredients, such as rice, vegetables, noodles, and meat are enhanced by a complex myriad of spices and herbs, from the fragrant lemongrass and turmeric, to hot chili peppers.
Fish and chicken feature prominently in Malaysian dishes, although vegetarian food is steadily gaining in popularity.
You'll be able to add numerous culinary experiences to your trip to Malaysia, as affordable and omnipresent roadside stalls offer local favorites and specialties. Sample the ubiquitous nasi lemak, rice cooked in coconut milk, opt for a flavorful fish-based curry, or feast on an array of kuih pastries, morsels of dough or rice that range from sweet to savory.
Shopping in Malaysia
From browsing the designer boutiques in glossy shopping malls to bargaining with roadside stall vendors, shopping opportunities are everywhere on a tour of Malaysia.
You'll find an array of affordable electronics, souvenirs, handicrafts, and apparel stores all across Malaysian destinations, especially Kuala Lumpur
, known for its malls and marketplaces.
Duty-free stores abound in every major tourist destination, offering tax-exempt goods like alcohol, tobacco, cosmetics, and tech gadgets. Hit the bazaars and night markets, found in most towns, to experience the lively atmosphere, sample local treats, and get deals on knick-knacks.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Malaysia
Interesting Facts About Malaysia
● Malaysia is home to the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia, also known as the "corpse flower"--a nickname earned by its overwhelming odor
● The currency in Malaysia is called "ringgit," which means "jagged" in the local language
● Malaysia's oldest nature reserve is situated in the heart of its capital, Kuala Lumpur
● Islam is the most prominent religion in Malaysia, although Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity are also common
Things You Should NOT Do in Malaysia
Generally, Malaysian culture remains conservative, so tourists should avoid any nudity, public displays of affection, or drinking alcohol outside of bars and clubs.
Drug-related offenses in Malaysia carry very strict repercussions, ranging from large fines and prison time, to capital punishment, depending on the type and amount of drugs in question.
On a Malaysia holiday, always remove your shoes before entering private homes or places of worship. Refrain from pointing at people or touching their head, as both gestures are considered rude in Malaysia.
Holidays & Festivals in Malaysia
Multicultural Malaysia observes a wide array of festivals and holidays each year, with every ethnicity and religious denomination boasting its own celebrations.
As the majority of locals adhere to Islam, the holy month of Ramadan is widely observed each summer, followed by a joyous Eid feast.
In January and February, the Chinese community celebrates the Chinese New Year with parties and parades, while the Tamil people host an elaborate religious procession.
If you happen to take a tour of Malaysia in the autumn, you might encounter lively street fairs and celebrations of Deepavali, the Indian festival of light. Buddhist festivals, such as Wesak Day, and Christian religious holidays are also observed by their respective followers.
Useful Malaysia Travel Tips
Common Greetings in Malaysia
A handshake will suffice when greeting someone on your Malaysia vacation. If you're a man, you may notice that Muslim women may not shake hands with the opposite sex; a nod and a smile will do in such situations, but if you're unsure what to do, just follow the other person's lead.
Although English is widely used and understood, it won't hurt to learn a few useful phrases in the local language. You can use the word "selamat" to say hello, and follow it up with "pagi" to wish someone a good morning; "tengah hari" will work in the afternoon, and "petang" in the evening.
Climate of Malaysia
Tropical and humid, the local weather is greatly affected by the wet seasons that differ across the regions, so if you're looking for the best time for a trip to Malaysia, you can choose the driest months for your destination.
On the peninsula, the eastern coast is driest in June and July, while the western areas experience sunny and dry weather in January and February. On the island of Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak are most pleasant from April to October, while January is the wettest month.
Temperatures are generally steady throughout the year all across the country, ranging between 23 C and 32 C (73 F and 89 F). The one exception are the highlands, where temperatures usually average between 15 C and 23 C (59 F and 73 F).
Transportation in Malaysia
A modern network of roads connects most towns and cities in peninsular Malaysia, while Malaysian Borneo remains less developed in terms of transportation.
Besides renting a car or using your own vehicle to travel, you'll find plenty of other transportation options for your tour of Malaysia. Affordable local transport choices, including long-distance buses, domestic air travel, and railway service are all available.
To get around larger cities, you can rely on buses, taxis, and the inexpensive bicycle rickshaws; in Kuala Lumpur, you can depend on commuter trains.
Tipping in Malaysia
As the country lacks a formal tipping culture, you will not be expected to tip during your Malaysia vacation. That said, if you do decide to reward someone with gratuity, your gesture will not be refused.
In restaurants, a 10 percent service charge will sometimes be added to your bill, covering the tips. Some tourists and even locals recommend leaving a small tip for bellhops, the cleaning staff in hotels, and waiters to ensure better service the next time you visit.