Top 20 Things To Do In Malaysia
With its blend of vibrant culture and unadulterated natural treasures, Malaysia is one of the most compelling tourist destinations in the world. The country offers a mix of cultures including Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan and European heritage. In this regard Malaysia is truly unrivalled in Southeast Asia.
On top of this, Malaysia has a truly unique natural heritage characterized by a rich array of flora and fauna and geological marvels. The list below contains 20 of the most exciting things to do in Malaysia, arranged in no particular order.
Things To Do In Malaysia
These shimmering steel and glass towers in the heart Kuala Lumpur epitomize the spirit of the city’s contemporary epoch, while still representing the country’s unique cultural identity. At 452 meters, they are the world’s tallest twin towers and fifth tallest skyscraper having previously held top spot between 1998 and 2004. The 58-meter-bridge that connects the two towers also forms the world’s highest double-decker bridge at 176 meters above ground level. The viewing deck on the 86th floor and the Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors both provide excellent views over the city’s impressive panorama. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the Suria KLCC mall are both located at the base of the towers.
To escape the heat of the lowlands, you can follow in the footsteps of the British colonial settlers and head to Cameron hills north of Kuala Lumpur. In between treks, you can treat your taste buds to some of the finest tea in South East Asia, grown on these very hills. The tea plantations rolling into the distance make for magnificent scenery. You can also sample strawberries and other fruits grown here in abundance.
This city, the fourth largest in Malaysia, is an excellent spot to experience life in Malaysia during the British colonial era. You can take a walk along the Kinta River banks in the city’s old town. Later, gaze at the Edwardian town hall and railway station. Just outside the city lie bigger thrills as you can go white water rafting, caving and jungle trekking.
A contemporary city in every sense of the word, Kuala Lumpur is packed with shopping malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs ideal for any visitor yearning for a city fix. The city is as cosmopolitan as any in the world making it a vibrant meeting point for culture. Little India, Chinatown and Central Market are some of the cultural enclaves which give tourists the chance to buy crafts and artworks from respective cultures making them immensely popular with tourists. Other highlights in the city include the Islamic Arts Museum and the National Mosque among others.
Barely eight miles north of Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves comprise a series of three dramatic limestone caves with majestic stalactites protruding from the roof. The caves are an important Hindu shrine and each year between January and February, you can join a million Hindu pilgrims during the Thaipusan festival for the exhilarating walk up the 272 steps that lead to the entrance of the cave. At the bottom of the steps you can feast your eyes on an imposing 140-feet-high golden statue of Lord Muruga amid the watchful eyes of mischievous monkeys.
The KL tower is easily the most recognizable landmark in Malaysia alongside the Petronas towers. Its spindle-like apex rising from a nodular protrusion near the top is visible from any place in Kala Lumpur. Set atop the Bukit Nanas at a height of 421 meters, this monumental structure towers over much of the city and it is the seventh tallest communication tower on the globe. At 276 meters above the ground, 100 meters higher than the Petronas Towers’ observation bridge, is an observation deck from which you can take in the city's skyline. The tower, located in the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve also boasts a revolving restaurant where you can have a meal as you enjoy a 3600 view of the city. The KL tower is the only tower in the world located within a forest and is one of the most popular landmarks in Malaysia.
There is hardly a holiday that is ever complete without a trip to the beach. You will find the perfect beach in Tioman Island some 56 km off the coast of Pahang. This Island is renowned as one of the world’s best sun and sand destinations. The beaches are set amid flourishing tropical rainforests dissected by cool mountain springs teeming with aquatic life. Postcard perfect twin volcanic peaks overlook this setting making for magical scenery akin to one from an epic movie. When not sun bathing on the soft golden sands, you can go diving or snorkeling for a glimpse of the mesmerizing corals and a kaleidoscope of aquatic species.
This park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the Sarawak Chamber, the largest cave chambers in the world as well as the Deer Cave which has the largest cave passage in the world. Other attractions within the Mulu National Park include razor-sharp protrusions of limestone called “The Pinnacles” as well as a vast array of unique flora and fauna.
Sarawak is home to another impressive national park, the Bako National Park. Located barely 37 km from the city of Kuching, this park represents the Borneo rainforest as any other place in the region with its rich concentration of plant and animal life. Its impressive network of nature trails enables visitors to explore the vast expanse of jungle with ease. At the waterfront, impressive rock formations make for truly magical scenery.
The Island of Penang is the most visited tourist attraction in Malaysia. Penang presents guests with a quintessential fusion of modernity and an eastern cultural heritage that simply refuses to die. The island’s capital Georgetown harbors well preserved ancient buildings which have earned it its status as a World Heritage Site. Georgetown also boasts a rich culinary culture with restaurants that serve delicacies passed down the generations as well as a host of dishes from around the world.
The ancient city of Malacca was one of the most important trading ports in South East Asia before it was eclipsed by the fast rise of Kuala Lumpur and other high rolling cities. It has regressed to a dreamy backwater city, but its heritage as a thriving port still lies bare to be witnessed by all. Its buildings display mainly Chinese architecture with British Dutch and Portuguese influences, a testament to the city’s old reputation as a melting point for cultures. Malacca remains a top tourist destination for visitors seeking a glimpse of Malaysia’s unique heritage.
This vast expanse of jungle is the perfect personification of Borneo. Aside from being home to South East Asia’s highest peak in the form of 4095m Mont Kinabalu, this park boasts one of the world’s richest collection of flora and fauna. For any intrepid climber, the two day trek to the peak is a rewarding experience without compare. The view from the top of the mountain is simply breathtaking. Kinabalu Park was Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site.
This magical recreational park surrounds Lake Titiwangsa, located a 10 minute walk east of Titiwangsa Monorail Station. The park is a popular spot for walking, jogging and boat rides and provides a picturesque view of the city skyline. A popular place for courting Malaysian couples, police are usually on the lookout for couples getting too cozy with one another. There are also tennis courts, table tennis and squash courts as well as a golf course not so far off.
This reserve is dissected by the Kabili and Sepilok Rivers hence the name. It is perhaps most famous as home to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center, which helps to preserve this interesting species of primates. The vegetation around the park is mainly composed of mangrove forests and dipterocarp and this in turn supports a rich concentration of wildlife.
It is part of the Redang Archipelago, which is designated as a protected marine park by the government. The magnificent island of Pulau Redang lies 45 km off the coast of Kuala Terengganu. The island is a popular destination for scuba-divers, snorkelers and beach lovers. The waters surrounding it harbor some of the most impressive corals in the world as well as myriads of other ocean species including sharks, sting rays and clown fish. The island is inhabited by descendants of the Bugis people from Indonesia, many of whom now work in local tourism industry.
This island, located of the coast of Kedah boasts of incomparable natural beauty and is subject of ancient mythology and legend. At Pantai Kok, you can ride one of the most exhilarating cable car rides to the top of Mount Mat Cincang, providing a breathtaking view across the island and Mat Cincang Mountains. At the end of the cable car ride, a bridge is suspended across from Mat Cincang to a neighboring mountain, making for a heart-in-mouth walk across. Langkawi is a renowned tax-free haven making it popular with honeymooners. At the top of Telaga Tujuh waterfalls are crystal clear pools which are great for bathing and splashing during hot afternoons.
Genting Highlands is a one-stop hill resort with hotels, a casino, theme parks, restaurants, retails stores and other amenities. Located atop Ulu Kali Mountain at an elevation of 1800 above sea level, this resort enjoys cool climate and being just an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, it is popular with city dwellers looking to escape the noise and sweltering heat of the city. Genting Highlands also hosts the only legal on-land casino in Malaysia.
flickr/Qasim Al Khuzaie
This theme park located in Petaling Jaya covers 80 acres making it one of the biggest in Asia. The Sunway is packed with thrills for people of all ages. It is divided into three sections; the Waters of Africa, World of Adventure and Wild Wild West. The Waters of Africa is the only African-themed water park in Malaysia, featuring exhilarating rides such as the Congo Challenge and the African Python tubes. The Jeffrey’s Bay wave pool is the largest artificial surf pool in the world. The Wild Wild West takes visitors to the days when cowboys and Red Indians tussled for the Western frontier. The 260 m long Niagara Falls Flume Ride and 350 m Grand Canyon Rapid Falls ride are the main attraction. At the Asian-themed World of Adventures, visitors can ride the Pirates Revenge, the only 3600 rotating pirate ship that swivels 24 meters from the ground. The tunnel rides on the Lost City of Gold are also worth a try. You can also take a walk across the 428 m suspension bridge across the Sunway lagoon for a spectacular view of the entire landscape.
The Kinabatangan sustains one of the world’s most varied ecosystems along its glorious path. Its forest-covered floodplain on the lower reaches of the river is a world renowned sanctuary, home to many endangered species such as the Sumatran rhino, Asian elephants and proboscis monkey. A trip up or down the river course will be a great way to set up an encounter with some of Malaysia’s most impressive animal and plant life.
This national park harbors one of the world’s oldest rainforests estimated at 130 million years old. This park is teeming at the seams with plant and animal life and is undoubtedly Malaysia’s number one park. The park boasts the world’s longest canopy walk from which you can enjoy an overhead view over the forest. Mount Tahan, which is the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia is found within the park, availing an excellent avenue for climbing enthusiasts. At the four entrances to the park there are additional activities which guests can take part in.