Everyone has seen the Petronas Towers in the movie Entrapment. This is the icon for the country, but there is so much more. There is the jungles of Borneo with many orangoutangs and amazing treks. Sipadan is an Island in Malaysia that is one of the worlds best diving locations. Cameron Highlands is a great escape from the warm weather and home to many tea plantations.
Many people do not understand the diversity of the regions in Malaysia. There is something for everyone. Not only is the destination beautiful, you also have some amazing food that is different than most places in Southeast Asia. This is usually a country that people pass through initially, but grow to love every day they are there.
Top Things to Do
- Explore the Capital – Usually the starting point for a Malaysian adventure. This capital city is full of life and excitement. Grab a drink at a hotel overlooking the Petronas Towers. Check out a fish spa and try not to giggle like a child. Eat amazing food that is mixer of indian and Chinese.
- Batu Caves – This is in Kuala Lumpur, but I added it because it is an amazing spot with religious significance. There is a giant Murugan statue at the base that is an icon of the city. Inside the cave, there are always monkeys and really interesting religious shrines. Just be warned, there are many steps and it a little bit of a climb.
- Perhentian Islands – There is amazing islands all over Southeast Asia, but this one is exceptional when it comes to snorkeling. There are great reef systems that have not yet been destroyed.
- Hike Mount Kinabalu – This is Malaysia’s tallest mountain that is located in Borneo. It is at an elevation of 13,435 ft. No special mountain climbing gear is required. It is possible to climb in one day, but most tour companies take two days so you can wake up with the sunset over the mountains.
- See Orangoutangs – Go on a trek in Borneo and see if you get lucky to see a group of orangutans. There are organized treks you can do that will take you deep into the jungle and explore the countryside at the same time looking for these animals.
- Cool Off in Cameron Highlands – A few hours from the capital, this place is at a higher elevation and is usually dramatically cooler than the hot KL. There are also many hiking trails. My favorite part is the tea plantations that grow in this region. A great place to learn about tea production and the cultural implications.
- Dive in Sipadan – This is one of the worlds best places to dive. It is located off the coast of Borneo and is a tough place to reach, but it is well worth it. You need a permit to dive this area and some dives require 40 logged dives due to currents. This is something to be aware of when planning your trip and dives.
Malaysian food is usually seen as a mixture of indian and Chinese. Each region has a local variation. Thus, there is a lot of meat dishes that are curries. One of my favorite staples is their Satay, which is bbq skewers of meat. They use a lot of coconut milk in their curries along with samba which accompanies many dishes as a spicy side.
One thing to not miss while in this country is the Laksa. There are many different styles of this noodle soup, but was one of my favorite dishes in SE Asia. They also serve a lot of Durian. If you have not tried it, you must. It is either a love or hate relationship with the fruit. Just be carefully eating it in public places!!!
Overall Country Cost – $ (1/4)
Hostels – $8 – $16 USD per person
3 Star Hotel – $30 – $60 USD
Breakfast – $2 – $5
Lunch – $3 – $8
Dinner – $3 – $10
You will most likely fly into KL or enter through Singapore or Thailand. Below is how I would spend my time to see all the highlights of the country. There are many other places to go, but these are the highlights.
3 Days in KL – Explore the markets and eat your way through this city.
2 Days in Cameron Highlands – Relax in the cooler temperature and get your tea culture on.
3 Days in Perhentian Islands – Relax on the beach and snorkel with sea tuttles.
4 days in Borneo – Go on a jungle trek and see amazing wildlife.
2 days in Sipadan – Scuba in one of the best spots in the earth.