Malaysia is a great country which has a lot to offer. The country is really developed and English is wildly spoken. Traveling in Malaysia is really a breeze as everything is really well organized. Malaysia is divided into two parts: the peninsular part and Borneo. More remote and wilder, Borneo will wake up the adventurer in you, great experiences await you there. The peninsula’s interior is sprinkled with big cities rich in culture, its coast with gorgeous islands, and its center with a deep jungle.
Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Malaysia:
Planning your itinerary
Malaysia is relatively easy to visit, from Kuala Lumpur you can just make a big loop following the coastline with a detour to Taman Negara. You’ll need at least a month, if you have less time just make a smaller loop, either towards the south or the north.
In the north-west, you’ll find Cameron Highland, Penang and Langkawi to be worth a stop. Cameron Highland is famous for its tea plantations and trekking, it’s also a good place if you like cooler climate, it’s just a bit too much developed to my taste. In Penang, you’ll visit Georgetown, famous for its street art, ancestral houses and party scene. In Langkawi, you can enjoy some relaxing time at the beach or at one of the island many waterfalls.
South of Kuala Lumpur, don’t miss Melaka, a UNESCO World Heritage city. Rich in culture and history, the city is definitively worth spending a day or two.
On the east coast, you can visit Kota Bharu, home to many museums, historical places, and several Buddhist temples. Going south, the Perhentian Islands are a must go, these remote islands offer pristine beaches, you’ll feel directly transported to paradise. Next, you can make a quick stop in Kuala Terengganu to explore the old Chinese district and its street art. Then it’s time to head to the world-renowned Tioman Island, also a true paradise.
In the center, you can explore the famous Taman Negara (National Park) and explore the jungle. You can also spend a more relaxing time near Tasik Chini, a peaceful lake surrounded by nature and traditional villages.
Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, Tasik Chini, and Pekan are less frequented places. Pekan is located on the east coast and used to be a royal city, there are a lot of interesting places to discover there.
To truly get out-of-the-beaten-path, you’ll need to go to Borneo. Borneo has been one of my greatest adventures so far. It’s really wild, there are a lot of remote places, the tribal culture is still really well preserved, and you’re basically in the middle of the jungle. It’s also great for animals encounters with several Oran-Outan rehabilitation centers. Borneo is also home to hundreds of horn-bills, sun bears, and pygmy elephants.
What to eat in Malaysia
The food in Malaysia is delicious. Because the country is a blend of different culture, you’ll find Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine everywhere. One of my favorites is Roti Canai, flat bread dipped in sauce. A classic is also Satay Ayam, chicken kebab with peanut sauce, and you must try Teh Tarek, tea with some kind of cream made out of palm tree. As everywhere else in south-east Asia, you’ll find fried rice everywhere, I like the Malaysian one because they usually add a lot of veggies to it.
You’ll find a lot of street food and night markets, it’s hard to resist and you’ll always end up with more food than you need.
Transportation in Malaysia
Malaysia has probably the best roads in all south-east Asia, and probably the best buses as well. The buses are modern and really spacious, there are usually only 3 seats in a row. The only bad thing is that they put the AC so high that you can freeze to death if you don’t have a jacket.
Most places are usually well accessible, there’s always a bus. For shorter distance you can use Grab (similar to Uber), they have the car or motorbike option.
In Borneo, it’s often easier to travel by boat down the river than to take the bus. Some places there still have no road access.
Be careful in the subway in Kuala Lumpur, some of the wagons are reserved for women. Getting out of Kuala Lumpur can be a bit tricky as there are several bus-stations, each serving different destinations.
Bako National Park is one of Sarawak’s most visited National Park. Famous for its lush jungle, rugged landscapes, and impressive wildlife, the park offers unique experiences to its visitors. Easily accessible from Kuching, a short boat ride will take inside Sarawak’s oldest protected area.
More to come soon…