Discover Malaysia’s diverse range of activities: explore thriving cities buzzing with people, national parks teeming with wildlife and incredibly vast rainforests. Whether you’re living out of your backpack or living it up in luxury, there’s something for you in Malaysia. Read this Malaysia travel guide to plan your travels.
Stunning hiking trails to start your day the right way, dozens of temples to discover, and cascading waterfalls to marvel at… Sound like your kind of destination? I like your style.
From skyscraper city buildings and bustling markets to hidden caves and seemingly endless green fields, Malaysia will blow you away with all it offers. Even with the perfectly planned itinerary, you’d find it hard to explore every golden gem of this country in just one visit.
Read on to discover the amazing things to do while in Malaysia, where to stay and some cool travel itineraries to help you plan an unforgettable trip.
One thing to keep in mind when planning your trip to Malaysia is that seasonal weather will impact your adventure.
To visit its western hotspots, such as Kuala Lumpur, go between November and August. For excursions to the East Coast, opt for any time between March and September.
For Borneo, plan your visits for the dry season, which runs between March and October.
Skyscanner should (if it’s not already) be your go-to when looking for the best flights.
Holiday Autos offers an easy-to-use service to compare rental car prices.
12Go is an excellent option to search for and book any bus tickets for your trip.
Omio brings together booking services for trains, buses, and flights.
Booking.com makes getting accommodation and airport transfers hassle-free.
G Adventures gives you the accessibility to book multi-day guided tours.
Where to Stay
With a vivacious energy, the capital city of Kuala Lumpur is one of the best destinations to spend a night. Boasting numerous religious landmarks and architectural wonders, what’s not to love? Book your stay at the opulent Arte by Thomas Chan.
For a city where Malaysian history and culture are on full display, stay in Penang. Aside from the world-famous George Town, there are plenty of beaches, temples, and hiking spots second to none. Grab a room at the Bertam Resort.
The riverside Melaka oozes charm and a hidden gem quality. Fill your days roaming colonial streets, delving into engaging museums, or indulging in the best food. Spend your nights at Liu Men Melaka.
The 99-island-archipelago of Langkawi showcases a collection of the best beaches in the entire Malaysia. If you love the outdoors, its majestic waterfalls, mysterious cave systems, and rainforests beckon. Stay at The Datai Langkawi.
For the many fantastic hiking trails, remember your hiking boots.
It’s always a good idea to get the best travel insurance, regardless of where you go. Especially when you travel to Malaysia, where there are endless opportunities for potentially dangerous sports or activities. I cover any possible issue with AXA Travel Insurance.
Malaysia Visitor Guide: What to Do During Your Malaysia Trip
Top Things to Do
Kuala Lumpur is home to a range of spectacular architecture and historical monuments. Skyscrapers tower over this bustling city, and below, you’ll find vibrant nightlife, busy markets and stunning buildings waiting for you to explore.
Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s delight, whether that’s in the swanky setting of its many (many) gleaming shopping malls or in the lively and bustling street markets you find in different parts of the city.
I cannot rave enough about the street food in Kuala Lumpur – take your pick from the authentic, flavour-packed dishes steaming with Malaysian spices. Two words. Roti Canai.
Ever fancied escaping to your own private island escape? Who hasn’t… Tucked off the west coast of the Malaysian Peninsula, Pangkor Laut is consistently voted as one of the best hotels in Asia.
More than just a fancy hotel, the private island is home to a diverse array of wildlife, spectacular beaches, a high-end spa and clear waters. Book in for a few days – just don’t blame me when you inevitably don’t want to leave.
Penang is a hugely popular holiday destination and a UNESCO-listed site, boasting an abundance of history and rich natural splendour.
Penang was once nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, so it’s no wonder that visitors flock to it every year. It’s the perfect place to lounge on a soft, sand-covered beach or explore some of the local temples.
George Town, Penang’s capital, is special enough to warrant a section of its own. With its definitive urban edge and colourful character, I dare you not to fall under its spell.
One of George Town’s big draws is its stunning colonial architecture – but it’s also carved out a reputation as a thriving street art hub. This city is a comfortable combination of tradition and modernity: you’ll find Chinese temples, mosques and skyscrapers heaped together amidst its maze of streets.
Half the fun is just taking a few hours to walk around, following the scent of aromatic spices and finding yourself in a lovely cafe or bar to spend a lazy afternoon.
Away from city life, Langkawi is an island archipelago with a whopping 99 islands. Fringed by the shimmering blue sea, the islands’ interiors boast stunning paddy fields and gorgeous hilltops.
During your exploration, you can find the Langkawi Sky Bridge, take a ride up and above in a cable car or visit the gorgeous rainforest of Gunung Raya, the highest peak in Langkawi. Langkawi is also well-known as an international diving hotspot. PADI up and take to the waters to discover its wealth of marine life – just don’t forget your GoPro.
Sarawak is Malaysia’s rainforest state, and that’s what draws most travellers. Who doesn’t want to see a plethora of wildlife, including monkeys, crocodiles and Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower?
A highlight of any visit to Sarawak is its capital city of Kuching. Beyond the nature-centric allure of the region, the town itself brims with history and culture. Visit the Museum of Sarawak for an in-depth look into the country’s past.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Borneo, plan a trip to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah. Then again, as the gateway to the many things to do in Borneo, you’ll have a hard time not exploring further anyway.
Experience the beauty of the city as you stroll along the Jesselton Point Waterfront, and from here, hop on a ferry to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Don’t skip out on a tour of the Mari Mari Cultural Village or an evening visit to the Masjid Bandaraya mosque.
If the word ‘enticing’ had only one visual counterpart, it’s Cameron Highlands. A spectacular part of the Malaysian hill country showcasing endless fields of lush green tea plantations. The mountain scenery you’ll find here is beyond comparison.
The number one thing to do? Visit a tea plantation or two. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Aside from indulging in tasting sessions, it’s also a hiker’s paradise, with numerous trails extending throughout the area.
Suggested Malaysia Itineraries
Malaysia for Nature Lovers
Kuala Lumpur – Batu Caves – Ipoh – Penang
Combine the best of Malaysia’s cities with the highlights of its many natural hotspots.
City Lovers Trip to Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur – George Town (Penang) – Kota Kinabalu – Miri – Kuching
Tackle the adventures that await in Malaysia’s epic cities over 14 days.
A First-timers Perfect 10 Days in Malaysia
Malacca – Kuala Lumpur – Cameron Highlands – Penang
Indulge in the highlights of Malaysia on this whirlwind 10-day excursion.
Get the Best of Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur – Malacca – Cameron Highlands – Penang – Langkawi
Make sure you don’t miss anything that makes Malaysia unique on this 12-day trip.
Definitely off the touristy trails that many follow in Malaysia, sitting on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, Taiping has oodles of local charm. Roam around the central colonial area and finish off at the Taman Tasik Taiping gardens.
Even among Malaysians, Gua Tempurung is a proper secret spot. Hidden away in Gopeng Perak, it’s the largest limestone cave in West Malaysia. Strike out on a caving tour, or tackle some whitewater rafting or jungle trekking.
In the Kelabit Highlands lies Bario – a collection of roughly 16 indigenous Kelabit Villages. Courtesy of its remote location and authentic culture, it’s a remarkably immersive experience. If you can, opt to spend a night or two in one of the traditional longhouses.
Although George Town steals much of the Penang limelight, right across from it, you’ll find Bukit Mertajam. It’s a genuine offbeat town with a striking beauty and plenty to see and do, — hiking in the Cherok Tokun Reserve is an absolute must.
How to See the Best of Malaysia for Free
Visiting Malaysia doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and if you include some free tours or trips to spots without an admission fee, you’ll save quite a bit.
Global attractions such as the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Forest Eco Park are open to roam through at no cost.