Travelers to south-east Asia are finding out that a vacation in Malaysia offers something for everyone, from those looking for exciting nightlife in the big cities to people seeking the peace of the country’s wonderful natural habitats; from culture and history buffs, to fans of new culinary experiences, Malaysia has it all. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this incredible country.
Most people arrive in the country via Kuala Lumpur, and it’s worth making time to explore the city before you head off. The city looks at its best at night, with the 450m tall Petronas Towers illuminated and providing a stunning landmark. There are seemingly endless options in terms of bars and nightclubs, particularly around Changkat Bukit Bintang where things really come alive late at night. Casino enthusiasts can visit the Genting Casino, 50km north of the city.
You can think of Malaysia as two countries; the Peninsula and Borneo. Malaysian Borneo is truly wild, though it’s an easy flight from KL. Try a visit to the canopy-level walkways of the rainforest and search for orangutans, either at one of the rehabilitation centres like Sepilok or Semenggoh, or even by taking a Kinabatangan river trip. You may also see hammerhead sharks, turtles and many other species while scuba diving from Sabah.
Malaysian culture is a fascinating combination of that of the original indigenous people and those who arrived later, including Chinese and Indian influences as well as Arabic and British. Arts and crafts include traditional fabric designs including batik as well as the construction of various musical instruments, particularly drums and other percussion pieces. While English is spoken widely, there’s a very strong Malay poetry tradition which is well worth seeking out.
The cultural mix of Malaysia is naturally reflected in the cuisine on offer. Delicious local treats are on offer at low prices all over the country, with Capitol Satay on Lorong Bukit Cina in Melaka being a popular stop. Chinese and Indian influences are strong, and the country’s history as part of the spice trade is always obvious. One of the best – and most addictive – ways to enjoy Malaysia’s cuisine is to eat at street stalls. Bangsar in KL is a superb spot for the adventurous diner, where you can choose from hundreds of stalls selling everything from mutton curries to nasi lemak, a spicy rice dish. Just remember to save room for the next stall!