Malaysia is often overlooked by travelers heading to the beaches of Thailand or the historical sites of Cambodia or the latest travel hot spot of Myanmar. But take a second look and you’ll realize there are some awesome things to do in Malaysia, too.
You’ll find white sand beaches, the opportunity to trek to see orangutans and various species of monkeys, UNESCO-listed sites, street art, and temples. Not to mention the food which blends together Indian, Malay, and Chinese influences.
I asked the travel community to round up a large sampling of what to do in Malaysia during a visit. If you’re looking for attractions beyond the usual tourist traps, read on for a list that could easily fill a one or two-week Malaysia itinerary.
24 Best Things to Do in Malaysia
1. Watch the bat exodus at Gunung Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu National Park, located on the island of Borneo, is a magical place deep in equatorial rainforest.
The 52,000-hectare park opened its gates to tourists in 1985 and in 2000 was declared a World Heritage site. Mulu National Park offers a great diversity of geology, climate, and vegetation which gives rise to a large variety of habitats and species.
The only way into Mulu is by light aircraft or by river on a longboat. It’s remote but has a smorgasbord of adventures to choose from.
The park offers an exciting range of outdoor activities including some of the largest and most fascinating show caves in the world. There are also remote jungle hikes and circular boardwalk trails, as well as the longest Canopy Skywalk in the world set high in the tree tops.
Or you could choose to cruise up the river in a longboat to visit traditional tribes living remotely in longhouses.
We walked to amazing caves and into deep, dark caverns with underwater rivers and watched the incredible bat exodus from Deer Cave. If you’re lucky, around 3 million bats leave the cave at dusk to hunt for insects.
This is a standout scene in David Attenborough’s series Planet Earth if you ever get the chance to watch it. But in real life it’s incredible watching swirl after swirl of black spiraling clouds exit the cave into the sky, and you know they are the bats under which you walked just 30 minutes or so earlier as they hung upside down in the cavernous caves.
You might also travel by longboat up the river from the park’s headquarters to Clearwater Cave which has almost 200 kilometres of passages. It has a large pool of water to swim in that is fresh and icy cold that sits in a forest enclave so beautiful it can only be described as a garden of Eden.
By Jo of Lifestyle Fifty
2. Climb Mt Kinabalu
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a big challenge and needs at least two full days to complete. But it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done while traveling.
Mount Kinabalu is located in Sabah on the island of Borneo. It’s Malaysia’s highest mountain, reaching 4,096 metres.
The climb must be undertaken with a local guide and once booked, you will be assigned a guide at the park headquarters. The first day of the climb consists of 6 kilometres of walking from the Timpohon Gate at 1,866 metres above sea level up to Pana Laban at 3,273 metres.
This section is mostly through trees, so there is some relief from the hot sun. This part of the walk will take most people around five hours.
Once at Pana Laban, there is time to rest for the remainder of the afternoon. It’s then early to bed in the bunkhouse, before rising at 2 a.m. for the final climb to the summit to watch the sunrise from above the clouds.
Walking in the dark is tough, and at this height, it’s also really cold. Much of the time is above the tree line so there’s a lot of scrambling over exposed rock faces.
Every moment of aching legs is worth it once you reach the top! I just missed the sunrise, but it was still beautiful looking far into the distance over the surrounding mountains. The achievement of getting to the top was just exhilarating. I will forever remember conquering Mount Kinabalu.
Summiting Mount Kinabalu is also one of the Top 100 Travel Adventures in the world.
By Josie of Josie Wanders
3. Eat a smorgasbord of cultures
If there is one thing that you must have a list for when you’re visiting Malaysia, it’s food. Especially when you visit the joint UNESCO world heritage cities of Georgetown and Melaka, you must absolutely make time to eat. Everything.
Known as the food paradise of Asia, these cities are a melting pot of cultures. Here you’ll find culinary influences from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Portugal, India, the Netherlands, and Britain.
The best thing about making time to eat everything in Malaysia, most especially on the island of Penang, is that it’s not an expensive thing to do. Indulge in street food, at hawker centers, at food courts (yes even Tesco’s food court has some amazing options) and you’ll never want to leave!
Check out the specialties of the region while sitting on plastic chairs at plastic tables, drinking a cold beer or a glass of nutmeg juice. Char koay tew is Penang’s most famous street food – fried flat rice noodles with minced garlic and fresh prawns are mixed with soy sauce, bean sprouts, eggs, and chives.
Cockles are added at the end. For Thai food enthusiasts, think Pad Thai with a little va va voom! Check out fried oyster omelets. And my favorite, wan tan mee: egg noodles in a clear broth with mustard greens, spring onions, wan tans, and a garnish of barbequed pork slices. Oh my.
These are just a few of the specialties of the area – I could wax lyrical about roti canai, poh piah and Penang laksa, but you really need to get there and taste it all for yourself!
By Sarah of ASocialNomad
4. Snorkel in the Perhentian Islands
Found on the lesser-developed east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the Perhentians remain my favorite island destination in all of Southeast Asia (and I’ve seen my fair share).
The best beach for any stay is definitely Teluk Pauh Beach, found in a hidden cove on the northeast shores of Perhentian Besar (the Big Island), where it’s surrounded by towering rainforests, troops of silvered-leaf langurs, and the relentless noise of nature.
But the main draw to the islands is undoubtedly the snorkeling and Teluk Pauh Beach likely has the most diverse and abundant marine life in the region, something we realized on a half-day snorkeling tour that ended just a stones-throw from our beachfront bungalow at the famous sea turtle tour site.
While the sea turtles are found slightly further from the beach, there is the most fascinating marine life right up to the shoreline, and in just a short paddle and swim we lost count of the species of fish we spotted (I’d guess at 30) which included a stonefish, a ray and a whole load of clownfish.
Accommodation is slightly limited and quite pricey along this part of the island (it’s best to book in advance) although there are advantages to this. We stayed at the Perhentian Island Resort where the main beach felt almost like a beach of our own.
Alternatively, there are cheaper bungalows at the Coral View Island Resort if you adventure across the wooden walkway from the arrival pier.
By Allan of Live Less Ordinary
5. Eat your way along Malacca’s Jonker Walk
If you travel to Malaysia, you can’t miss the Jonker Walk in Malacca. Also known as Melaka, this port city hosts the infamous Jonker Walk markets every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night (from about 6 p.m. to midnight).
It is so much fun that I recommend you plan your trip to be in Malacca for the weekend to avoid missing out on an ultimate street food experience.
Jonker is the main street in Chinatown with lots of cute restaurants and cafes. But on the weekend it transforms into a bustling and lively thoroughfare with oodles of food vendors selling tasty dishes. Go hungry and you’ll thank me later.
We attempted to eat everything that looked delicious including dumplings, ice-cream desserts and even a liquid nitrogen snack. This unusual treat, sometimes called the “Dragon’s Breath”, is cereal infused with liquid nitrogen.
We shared a couple and although it was a novelty, I wouldn’t say it was delicious. Make sure you consider your health when choosing whether to consume foods prepared with liquid nitrogen and avoid if you have asthma.
While eating your way through the night markets, you can also wash your snacks down with happy hour-priced drinks or see impressive performances.
We stood watching the men preparing the coconuts for quite some time as they did so with flair. But no matter what you choose to eat or do on Jonker Walk, you are bound to have an amazing time.
By Chantell of Budget Travel Babes
6. Hike to Bukit Teresek
Deep in the Malaysian rainforest lies a beautiful and accessible hike to Bukit Teresek. I love this walk for many reasons, but mainly because it is so inclusive.
The track starts at the nearby Mutiara Resort and it’s a one-way journey that lasts around 40 minutes, the first 15 minutes of which are relatively flat. Not only that, but the trek itself is enjoyable as you are surrounded by a beautiful jungle complete with singing white-rumped shamas and screechy long-tailed macaques.
Once scaled, Bukit Teresek rewards you with a beautiful view of the rainforest canopy, Tahan River and on a clear day even the peak of 2,187-metre-high Mount Tahan. The views are such that you would be forgiven for thinking you were much higher than 334 metres above sea level.
I recommend giving yourself plenty of time to relax at the peak, both because you will need a short rest from the hike and because the views are worth it.
Snacks shouldn’t be necessary, but definitely take a bottle of water as the atmosphere is humid. I believe the best time to go is January or February as the crowds will be small, but this is the rainy season so don’t forget a waterproof jacket.
For more tips, guides, and reviews from around the world, please see my website. If you are on Twitter you can keep up with my travels here.
By Allan of More Passport Stamps
7. Be a beach bum on Kapas Island
Kapas Island, locally known as Pulau Kapas, is a small island in Kuala Terengganu, on the east coast of Malaysia. It’s considered a hidden gem since few foreign tourists know about it, and some even consider it to be the most beautiful island in the country.
Kapas Island has several beach coves, connected by bridges. You can walk end to end in half an hour or so. The water here is clear, in different shades of blue. Kapas Island is the perfect location for the beach bummer – just lay down a towel on the sand and while away the time.
If you’re looking for other activities, accommodations and shops rent out snorkeling equipment and kayak.
I went here on a weekend and loved the beautiful beaches as well as the fact that there were only a few visitors to the island! During local holidays, accommodations can be fully booked, but for the rest of the year, it’s usually quiet.
To get to Kapas Island, you can either take an overnight bus or flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu and then take a taxi to the port to Kapas Island. There are ferries that go to the island a few times a day.
By Katherine of Tara Lets Anywhere
8. Explore the cave temples of Ipoh
In the last few years, Ipoh has become more and more famous because of its tasty food and its diverse street art scene. But did you know that there are more things to do in Ipoh than just to eat and look at street art?
There are, for example, more than 30 different cave temples to be found in this underrated gem of Malaysia. With such a big choice it can be a bit difficult to choose which ones to visit (unless you’ve got the time to visit them all!).
A local recommended we visit the Perak Cave temple because in his opinion it’s the most popular and beautiful temple. We were not disappointed when we entered this unique building. Right in the entrance, you can find a magnificent 12-meter golden seated Buddha.
Around him are four divine guardian deities. The most spectacular though is the cave walls themselves on which you can find stunningly beautiful paintings from Buddhist and Chinese mythology.
You can also climb a staircase that leads out of the cave and directly to the top of the mountain. From there, you have not only a fantastic view, but also some benches to sit down and relax after the 450-step ascent. Try to go there early before the sun reaches its midday strength.
Other great temples are the Sam Pho Tong Temple, which claims to be the biggest cave temple in Malaysia, and the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple with its beautiful garden.
By Thomas of TripGourmets
9. Check out the best of Port Dickson
Port Dickson is a popular beach getaway for travelers and those who want to escape the busy city vibes of Kuala Lumpur. Just over an hour’s drive from the capital, visiting Port Dickson is one of the best things to do in Malaysia.
With 18 kilometers of white sand beach lined with palm trees and high-end resorts and hotels, there are many places to relax and indulge in the scenery.
Teluk Kemang is the most popular part of the beach, offering many facilities and activities such as canoeing, banana boat rides, speedboat rides, and beach volleyball, among others. The beaches in Port Dickson can get busy with tourists during the weekends, though.
A more recent attraction is the Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickinson Resort Hotel, which resembles a hibiscus flower when viewed from above, built on the sea much like the Palm Island of Dubai.
For nature trippers, Tanjung Tuan Beach, surrounded by the lush greenery of the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve, is a great place to escape. The peaceful beach has clear and clean waters surrounded by mangrove forests. Jungle treks run through the reserve that leads to Cape Ratchado Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Malaysia.
The city of Port Dickson offers another treat away from the beach. Set on top of a hill, the Lukut Museum and Fort give a glimpse of Port Dickson’s long history. The Wang Loong Chinese Temple showcases intricate Chinese dragon designs.
Malaysia is a melting pot of Indian, Chinese, and Malay cultures, so it’s not uncommon to see architecture that represents their respective cultures and religions, making Port Dickinson all the more interesting.
The food in Port Dickson is an experience in itself. Enjoy Chinese, Malay, and Indian food almost everywhere in Port Dickson. If you want to learn more about Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding area, check out these fun facts.
By Karolina of KarolinaPatryk.com
10. Discover a less touristy side of Penang Island
Mention Penang Island and everybody will tell you how amazing the UNESCO Heritage Site in Georgetown is and how delicious the street foods are. As a local Penangite, I couldn’t agree more, Penang is a food haven, but Penang Island has much more Penang to offer.
Most of the time, tourists and travelers only bother to travel the eastern side of the island, which is far more developed compared to the west. But the west is what we’re going to talk about today – Balik Pulau.
Imagine lush green paddy fields under the blue sky and old Malay-style “kampung” (village). Balik Pulau is the rural side of Penang where things are comparatively more slow-paced and chill.
Start your day by renting a bicycle and cycle around the paddy fields, visit the Mangrove Forest Reserve, feed the goats at the Saanen Dairy Goat Farm, and enjoy the calm sea.
Guess what, Balik Pulau has a lot of foods to offer too! Laksa and Hokkien mee are just some of the delicious hawker foods you can find on the eastern side of the island.
So, how to get there?
Depending on your budget, you have two options – one, take a cab or GrabCar (works like Uber), or two, take the bus. Check out the complete guide to Balik Pulau, the hidden gem of Penang for more information on the perfect getaway spot in Penang.
By Yen of Swing Abroad
11. Get close to nature on the Kinabatangan River
The Kinabatangan River is an area with tropical lowland rainforest vegetation and unique ecosystems. It’s a popular place to spot wildlife.
To get there, you first need to fly to Sandakan, then hop into a minibus for a 2-hour drive to the jetty. The final part of the journey is on a small boat for the last kilometers to your lodge. It may seem like quite the expedition but what you get in return is well worth it.
With the exception of a few small lodges, nature remains untouched. By the end of our three days there, we had spotted orangutans, elephants, crocodiles, snakes, many proboscis and macaque monkeys, and lots of birds (kingfishers, raptors, eagles, and owls). If you love nature this is definitely a place for you.
The forest is alive day and night and if you’re not afraid of a close-up with some big hairy spiders you should put your name on the list for a night walk. As well as spiders you’ll see many other nocturnal animals and experience a whole different side of the forest than you see during day time.
By Sylvia of Wapiti Travel
12. Escape to Tioman Island
Tioman is a favorite island escape for both local Malays and tourists coming from Southeast Asia. Although it is a fairly small island around 21 kilometers in length and 13 kilometers wide, it is the largest of the 64 islands in the region.
There is hiking up the 1,038-metre-high Mount Kajang, pristine diving at nearby Renggis Island, trekking to Asah Waterfall, and visiting cute reptiles at the Juara Turtle Project.
Tioman has something for everyone, from family-friendly large resort chain Berjaya, to ultra-luxe Japamala Resort by Samadhi, to backpacker-friendly huts on the beach. The snorkeling on the west coast is unparalleled.
All you need to do is take your snorkel and step into the crystal-clear ocean to see the abundant marine life. You may even spot enormous greenback turtles and blacktip reef sharks.
Apart from all the active adventures on land and in the ocean, I found that the best thing to do in Tioman is to interact with the friendly locals and definitely try out their food, especially the freshly caught fish.
Try Malay BBQ at Restoran Delima or Citra Anugerah Wah Leng. Mia Cafe is another local diner and Japamala is a more epicurean experience at Tamarind restaurant.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, you will find something on Tioman Island to delight you. It really is one of the most unspoiled islands in Malaysia to relax, cocktail in hand, while watching the sun go down.
By Callan of Singapore n Beyond
13. See rare pygmy elephants
Sabah in the Malaysian part of Borneo is home to pygmy elephants. They are rare and found only in this part of the world, so seeing them is a real treat.
It is extremely important that they go undisturbed, as their natural habitat is being taken over by palm plantations, so a river safari up the Kinabatangan River to search for pygmy elephants is the best way to see them.
The Kinabatangan River is brown and slow, heavily laden with silt, and surrounded by a narrow strip of rainforest that is teeming with wildlife squeezed into a narrow corridor between the river and palm plantations.
This is the elephants’ migratory path, and they come down to the river in the late afternoon to drink, so it is possible to see them from a small boat without impacting them at all.
Typically, travelers stay in a lodge on the river and go for daily trips to see monkeys, birds, crocodiles, and other incredible Borneo animals. The optional trip two hours further upriver, deep into the jungle, to see the pygmy elephants of Borneo is incredible.
Seeing these amazing creatures – smaller than other elephants but not exactly tiny! – lumbering slowly out of the trees, walking through the shallow water at the riverbank, and eating plants is an inspiring, incredible experience that makes us appreciate how important keeping them alive is. This is truly a highlight of any trip to Malaysia.
By James of Travel Collecting
14. Grab a cocktail with amazing views of Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is home to some of the most buzzing places in the country. From visiting everyone’s favorite Bukit Bintang Street to Surya Mall and Petronas Tower, there are tonnes of touristy activities to do in Kuala Lumpur.
However, during my trip, none of the activities excited me more than visiting the Helipad Lounge right in the heart of the city.
The Helipad Lounge is an urban café situated on the topmost floor of a building just five minutes’ walk away from the Shangri-La Hotel. The unique thing about this café-cum-lounge is that you can have a drink on the helipad on the roof of the building.
From here, enjoy a full 360-degree panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur. The Petronas Towers and KL Tower can be seen from the helipad lounge. For anyone who loves to take pictures, the helipad lounge has to be the perfect spot for your Instagram shots.
To get some seriously dramatic views of Kuala Lumpur, it is highly recommended to visit the Helipad Lounge during sunset.
By Rahma of The Sane Adventurer
15. Eat your way through Kuala Lumpur’s night markets
The street food in Malaysia is among the most delicious in the world. Given the unique mix of Indian, Chinese, and Malaysian influence, all of these cultures are reflected in the food and results in an incredible fusion of flavors.
If you visit Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, the night markets are a great way to experience the culture and food of Malaysia. Each day of the week, a small section of neighborhoods are closed to traffic from 6 p.m. onwards to make room for stalls. Locals go to buy a variety of goods in the evening and visitors can enjoy authentic local dishes at cheap prices.
Jalan Alor Food Street is among the most famous streets of Kuala Lumpur, located near the popular Bukit Bintang area. There you can find some of the best (and cheapest) food in the city, with many dishes that are not available at higher-end restaurants.
It’s easy to eat well even when traveling on a tight budget in Malaysia. At Jalan Alor, I was able to get ten sticks of perfectly grilled satay for $4, an oyster omelet for $5, and a scoop of coconut ice cream for $1. Eating your way through the night food markets of Kuala Lumpur is a great way to spend an evening and satisfy your taste buds.
By Lora of Explore With Lora
16. Take an overnight trek through Taman Negara
Get disconnected from civilization and embrace nature in one of the oldest rainforests in the world, Taman Negara.
Located in the northwest of Malaysia, it is only a couple of hours away from the capital. The easiest way to get to the park is by booking a transfer with a travel agency either online or offline. Make sure you book the option with a boat ride in the final leg. It takes half an hour long but is absolutely worth it for the scenery.
The 130-million-years-old national park offers a variety of fun outdoor activities for nature lovers. One of the best ways to explore the rich biodiversity of the forest is a two-day trek with an overnight stay in one of the jungle caves.
Although you will need to trek five to six hours a day, don’t get discouraged if you are not a fitness junkie. Comfortable shoes, a positive attitude, and a little perseverance will go a long way.
Have no idea what to expect? Expect to get wet, dirty, sweaty, and tired. Expect to find leeches on your body. Expect to face a challenge. At the same time, expect to have lots of fun climbing, crawling, jumping, balancing, and overcoming all sorts of obstacles while making your way through the jungle.
Expect to refresh yourself in the crystal-clear waters of the jungle rivers. Expect to connect with a couple of fellow explorers over a cup of tea around the campfire in the cave. Expect to see a rich diversity of plants, insects, and birds along the way. Most importantly, expect to have an unforgettable adventure!
By Darja of DeeGees
17. Uncover the history of Melaka
Melaka is a historic city that was once one of Southeast Asia’s biggest ports. Walking the quaint old town’s streets, you can still see Malay, Chinese, Portuguese and Dutch influences in its food, culture, and architecture. Melaka’s heritage old town is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its multicultural past.
Feast on Chinese-Malay fusion street food at the Jonker Street night market, visit elaborate Chinese temples (Cheng Hoon Teng is the oldest working temple in Malaysia), and take a trishaw ride through the city, taking in its pastel-color colonial-era mansions and townhouses.
Cross the bridge over the Melaka River to see the famous coral-pink Christ Church, which dates back to the 1700s.
One of the most interesting places I visited in Melaka was the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. It’s an ornate 19th-century family mansion, filled with antiques. The guided tours are a great way to gain some insight into local culture and tradition.
Melaka is around three hours south of Kuala Lumpur, and cheap bus transport is available, as well as organized day trips.
By Maire of Temples and Treehouses
18. Dive at Sipadan Island
Sipadan island in Borneo, Malaysia, is the number one spot to dive in Malaysia and was even praised by famous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau as one of the most beautiful reefs to dive in the world.
Diving at Sipadan, only a couple of meters offshore, there is a massive coral wall that drops 300 meters. The currents flowing over the reef create one of the most spectacular wall dives in the world. Diving here you can expect to see just about anything.
The most common sightings are huge green turtles, schools of massive bump head parrotfish, thousands of trevallies, and reef sharks hunting in the area.
The most famous dive site at Sipadan island is Barracuda point, where massive schools of barracuda can often be seen swimming around the island. If you’re lucky, these fish spiral around you to form a large “barracuda tornado”.
A popular piece of equipment to take along is a reef hook, a line with a handle on one end and a big, strong hook on the other. You hook it somewhere rocky on the reef, grab on to the handle and hang in the current watching pelagic species swim by!
The Malaysian government took a huge step in 2004 relocating all resorts from the island to protect this amazing place for future generations. Only 200 divers a day get permits to dive here and this is strictly regulated, so book your permit in time.
While diving at Sipadan is a special experience, the logistics can be a deal-breaker for some. If you’re looking for some mainland options, the diving in the Perhentian Islands is also amazing.
By Campbell of Stingy Nomads
19. Hike up Penang Hill
Most travelers already know that Penang is a necessary stop on any Malaysian itinerary. Besides Georgetown’s UNESCO-listed colonial heritage Old Town and the island’s oh-so-yummy selection of some of Southeast Asia’s best food, Penang shines in another area: its natural attractions.
The most obvious answer for nature lovers is to flock to Penang’s beaches. Active travelers who aren’t into the typical Southeast Asian beach-bummin’ scene, however, will find their bliss on the hiking trails of Penang.
Hiking trails are scattered throughout Penang Island, but none is more overlooked than the Penang Hill Heritage Trail.
Even with Penang Hill’s status as one of the best places to visit on the island, its main hiking trail doesn’t get much love from visitors. And, perhaps, it’s not so surprising.
Not only is the Penang Heritage Trail difficult to find, but it’s also quite a challenging hike. Even fit travelers will find climbing the over two thousand plus steps to the top a tough slog in Penang’s heat and humidity.
(Plus, with the Penang Hill Railway making the ride up a breeze, who needs all that extra effort?)
If you do decide to forgo the crowded funicular though, rest assured that you’ll quickly start to experience some of Penang’s most gorgeous scenery and quietude that’s hard to come by on the densely-populated island.
To find the Penang Hill Heritage Trail, start walking down the hill from the Lower Terminus of the Penang Hill Railway. Take your first left, and follow the road uphill back towards the funicular track. Shortly after passing the temple, you should see the well-signposted trailhead to your right.
Be sure to bring plenty of water with you for your hike as there are no refreshment stops along the way. If the hike becomes a little too challenging, you can always enjoy the fantastic views all to yourself at the Middle Station before catching the train for the remaining half of the journey up Penang Hill.
By Ryan of Treksplorer
20. Check out the food scene at Tapak Urban Street Dining
Malaysia is well known for its street food scene. While in Kuala Lumpur we decided to venture out on a slightly different food expedition than the typical night markets.
Very central, and also just down the street from our hotel, we discovered Tapak Urban Street Dining, which features an abundance of food trucks with loads of different types of food.
Although we did dine on some western food such as burgers and burritos, our favorite dishes happened to be the more authentic Malaysian foods, like nasi ayum gulai (chicken and rice in a spicy curry sauce) and ayam goreng kunyit (turmeric fried chicken).
Be sure to go in the evening and enjoy watching the city lights come to life around you (Kuala Lumpur happens to be absolutely beautiful at night when all the city lights come on). You’ll even get a bit of a view of the Petronas Towers.
Although you definitely won’t want to skip the street food markets while in Malaysia, visiting Tapak Urban Street Dining should definitely be on your list, especially when you’re in the mood for a bunch of different dishes and flavors from both the east and west.
Lastly, if you’re wondering about alcoholic beverages, you won’t find much of a variety but there is one convenience store-style truck that does sell beer.
By Anna and Trevor of Delightful Travellers
21. Relax in the Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands in Malaysia is a true gem for every kind of traveller. With its lush green environment, it’s the perfect destination to relax a little, especially if you’re coming from busy Kuala Lumpur.
There are no real “must-sees” around the Cameron Highlands but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to see and do. Especially if you love nature and hiking, the Cameron Highlands should absolutely be a destination on your Malaysia itinerary.
One thing you shouldn’t miss when visiting the Cameron Highlands is the Sungei Palas Boh tea plantations. This tea can be bought all over Malaysia and it’s interesting to see where this tea actually comes from. Plus, the tea plantations are perfect to take stunning pictures in.
After enjoying some delicious strawberries on one of the strawberry farms, you should also visit the Mossy Forest. It’s a great destination for a walk in nature. The walk through the forest is quite short, only around 25 minutes. If you join a tour you can learn a lot about the flora and fauna found in this unique forest.
One thing you will notice right away when arriving in the Cameron Highlands is that it is much colder than in the surrounding lowlands. You should definitely bring a jacket and a pair of long pants, especially if you plan to go out after sunset.
If possible, try to avoid arriving here during the weekends. The Cameron Highlands is a popular weekend getaway spot for Malaysian locals.
Every weekend many locals visit and the streets and attractions can be extremely crowded. In order to enjoy the beautiful nature in a more peaceful way, make sure to come here during the week.
By Vicki of Vickiviaja
22. Get active on Langkawi
Only a short one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, I had always thought that Langkawi was best suited to honeymooners, however, I was very wrong. There really is something for everyone on this tiny, picturesque island.
Our focus was definitely on the things to do in Langkawi with kids and I was surprised to find there is plenty of family-friendly activities. Langkawi’s main tourist attraction is the SkyCab and Sky Bridge, located at the foothill of the Machincang mountain.
The gondola rises 708 meters above sea level where you can wander around two viewing platforms with sweeping views across the island and right down to Langkawi airport. You can stand and watch the planes roll in for a bit.
We enjoyed a buffet dinner and cultural show at the Aseania Hotel. The show told the story of Malaysia through dance, which was a great way for the kids to learn. The buffet was delicious and had a good selection of local and western food options.
There is also a local market that moves around every evening to ensure that everyone on the island has the option to purchase fresh food.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous you can visit Paradise 101, a man-made island purely for entertainment and water sports. Our kids loved the aqua park, ziplining, the banana boat, jet skiing and parasailing.
There’s a buffet lunch provided and there are fully equipped bathrooms to shower and get refreshed. I particularly liked the sunset viewing deck with the full bar: Langkawi definitely has some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
Definitely don’t miss the Kilim Geoforest Park, the most successful geoforest on Langkawi, having been recognised by UNESCO in 2007 due to the significant geoheritage features like landscapes, caves sea arches and sea stacks, dropstones, fossils and local community involvement.
By Sally of Our 3 Kids V the World
23. Let your inner kid out at a glow-in-the-dark museum
One of the coolest things I did while backpacking around Malaysia was visiting the Dark Mansion, Penang’s 3-D glow-in-the-dark museum.
I actually stumbled across the museum by chance while walking around Georgetown. I had never heard of Dark Mansion before as it had only been open two weeks at the time but it is Malaysia’s first glow in the dark museum.
What makes Dark Mansion a must-do when in Penang? It’s the perfect place to be amazed and let out your inner child out. The museum contains creative and trendy artwork cleverly combined with technology to produce the stunning attractions that make this a must-visit museum.
The 3-D artwork is integrated with a special glow-in-the-dark effect that makes the artwork switch between daylight and nighttime. It’s a magical experience that will temporarily transport you into an exciting new world of wonder.
By Claire of Curious Claire
24. Learn about Islamic culture in Kuala Lumpur
The Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur is a great place to visit to learn more about Islamic history and culture. It is currently the largest Islamic museum in South-East Asia and houses over 7,000 artifacts.
They have a revolving exhibition in one section and a static exhibition in the rest of the complex. The revolving exhibits stay anywhere from three months to a year.
The static exhibits showcase ancient Islamic seals, miniature replicas of Islamic buildings from around the world, beautiful Arabic manuscripts, wall carvings, mosaics, metalwork, Qur’ans, prayer books, room replicas from the ancient Ottoman empire, portraits, ancient trinkets, swords, jewelry, armour, glassware, chess boards, clothing and so much more.
There are so many amazing things to look at and learn about. It really is a neat experience to see all of these incredible artifacts and learn more about Islamic art and history. Even if you’re not super interested in history or art, the items displayed are really neat and definitely worth looking at.
Along with the artifacts displayed, there is a restaurant, a gift shop, a children’s library, a research library, an inverted dome pavilion, and an auditorium.
By Erin of Traveling Thru History
More on Malaysia:
- Backpacking in Malaysia: 3 Week Recap & Travel Tips
- Trekking the Monkey Beach Jungle Hike (Penang National Park)
- Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur: Everything You Need to Know
- Backpacking in Borneo: 2 Week Recap & Travel Tips
- How to Visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary Borneo