Malaysia is the crowning jewel that lies at the very end of Southeast Asia, jutting out with the Malacca Straits to meet the islands of Indonesia and the Java Sea. It’s a nation distinctly divided in two. Tha Malaya on the western side of the world was the old stronghold of British colonial power that’s now buzzing with electric Kuala Lumpur and multicultural UNESCO towns in Penang. Towards the eastern side is the wild and mist-topped Borneo. This place is full of wildlife, nature and flora with swinging orangutans in the primaeval forests, ancient volcanic domes loom overhead, beaches are filled by turtles instead of sunbathers, and rustic fishing towns leading to the South China Sea. This magical country is really beautiful and that is why so many opt to travel here, whether they come for the verdant reaches of the tea-scented Cameron Highlands, the pearly waters and the raucous markets of the capital, and the historic monuments of Malacca. Some of the best places in Malaysia :
1. Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur boasts two great spires of the Petronas Towers, packed with markets and the crowded bazaars down Petaling Street, throbbing with the energy of Bukit Bintang and food walks with the scents of everything from frying Chinese chow mein to sizzling Portuguese fish barbeques. This is one of the world’s great multicultural countries, with lantern-lit Chinatown leading to Nepalese curry houses districts and Indian thali kitchens. The breathtaking views of the city landscapes from the countless sky bars, visit the mysterious Batu Caves and the Islamic art institutions.
The Red- hued Churches and colonial frontiers in the tight-knit lanes of colourful Malacca remain one of Malaysia’s great draws. Over decades back, this was under the colonial rule by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. The city today was once a mighty trading powerhouse on the edge of the Malay Peninsula. The Malacca Strait was a part of a huge trade, from silk transports to spice convoys to military contingents passing through its ports. Today, there are numerous maritime museums to help unravel its past, along with a night market down Jonker Walk – one of the best in the country!
In the city of Georgetown, clicking rickshaws weave past smoky Cantonese kitchens, blue-hued mansions from the 19th century, and the aged remnants of a vainglorious British past hence this place has numerous UNESCO World Heritage designation. You can have an awesome medley of food with both Indian curries and Chinese pancakes. And then there are the beaches, which glisten in deep blues and golden yellows at Batu Ferringhi, and come lined with lanky coconut palms on the edge of Jerejak Island.
4. Gunung Mulu National Park
The weathered hoodoos and ancient ridges of Gunung Mulu National Park rarely fail to capture the imagination. This UNESCO heritage site represents one of those last enclaves of untrodden land, and is the hardest reserve to get to in Borneo. You can either take a plane ride down to the asphalt of tiny Mulu Airport, or take a 12-hour riverboat inside a snake-infested jungle. The reward? Mossy rainforests where helmeted hornbills issue their cries; deep and dank cave systems riddled with rare bats; trekking over swinging canopy bridges; the mighty grykes and caverns of Mount Api.
Straddling the border with Thailand where the Andaman Sea becomes the Malacca Straits in the extreme north of the country, Langkawi is a laid-back, lazy place that offers a real dose of the tropics. With mesmerising iconic beaches, which have wide varieties of watersports or the secluded Pantai Kok, it’s established itself as the place to come for sun, sea, sand, scuba, and some pampering. At last, you can get to experience the 5-star all-inclusive resorts that are covered in the coconut groves of Datai Bay. Those looking at adventure can pull on the boots and trek to the Seven Wells, enjoying the panoramic SkyBridge atop the jungles.
6. Taman Negara National Park
Taman Negara is the green jewel that is situated at the heart of the Malay Peninsula. The park covers a huge area of 4,300 sq km, across the primaeval rainforest and winding rivers where elephants can be spotted basking on the muddy banks. Taman Negara is a part Malaysia’s eco-tourism mecca, and travellers visit this place to enjoy the wide walk on the swinging rope bridges, hike the tree on shrouded trails and seek out the likes of the elusive Malayan tiger, cheeky wild macaques, Indian elephants, galumphing guard – the list goes on!
7. Cameron Highlands
Soaring at a height of over 1,000 meters above the lower reaches of the Malay Peninsula, the hill station known as the Cameron Highlands rarely fails to take the breath away. The plateaus of these plateaus range between Penang and Kuala Lumpur, in the lush green rainforests and emerald-green tea fields as it goes. The unique weather and cold temperature that dominate on the highlands make it a perfect environment for unique flora and fauna life, while worn hiking routes promise awesome vistas of Batu Brinchang and the ramshackle tea villages, and you can even have cultural encounters with the local Orang Asli aborigines.
8. Perhentian Islands
The Perhentian Islands have all the good looks and sun-kissed beauties you’d expect of an archipelago set at the entrance to the Thai Gulf. The islands have sparkling dashes of exotic coral reefs, which are generally accessed by a boat from Kuala Besut. Its significant location on the east coast of Malaya keeps it void of the same booming crowds descending on Penang, which is great if you’re after long and lazy days kicking-back between Turtle Beach and Coral Bay. But that’s not it.
9. Bako National Park
With pearly waters jutting into the South China Sea on the other side of Kuching from Semenggoh, Bako National Park is a must-visit especially when you visit Malaysia for wild jungles and beautiful backcountry. The landscapes here are unique from inland with chiselled rock stacks and sheer-cut cliffs by the ocean, and dense forests with mossy undergrowth dominating the backcountry. The nature bonds with a huge variety of fauna, which includes monitor lizards and elusive proboscis monkeys. You can walk with your loved ones on the trails covering the whole park, across the woods, the mangroves and the coastal coves alike.
You can venture far into the east and discover the tropical treasures of Sipadan, which is Malaysia’s sole oceanic island. It’s a veritable picture-perfect diving destination that’s just waiting for the travel brochure photographers to pass through. Cotton-white sands welcome the few boaters starting their trip from Borneo’s mainland to the craggy hills of jungles in the isle associated. The real glory lies under the sea. Get your oxygen cylinders and dive suits ready to explore the hammerhead sharks and endangered hawksbill turtles, shimmering coral gardens and kaleidoscopic parrotfish!