The city of Kuala Lumpur is a fantastic place to admire the more modern architecture found in Malaysia, and in particular, the contemporary skyscrapers that create one of Asia’s most iconic skylines. If possible, take time to see the Petronas Twin Towers in the district known as the Golden Triangle. Once the tallest buildings in the world, and now connected by a sky bridge, the Petronas Twin Towers are just a short walk from other incredible structures like the KL Tower and its viewing deck.
Malaysia has been influenced and colonized by cultures from around the globe. Proximity to China means that Malaysia is home to excellent Chinese cuisine and vibrant heritage. You can experience this influence first hand by exploring one of the Chinatowns in Malaysia, the largest of which is in George Town. In this Chinatown, you can see a 200-year-old Kuan Yin Teng Temple or indulge in the local street fare. Don’t miss dining at one of the local dim sum restaurants or trying the hot egg waffles sold from vendors right on the street.
With Malaysia’s long colonial history, it boasts an array of colonial architecture. If you’re interested in this blast from the past, there can be no better spot to visit than Melaka. The city has been ruled by the British, the Dutch and the Portuguese, and its architecture reflects that. Just some of the buildings you can explore include the ruins of a 16th-century Portuguese fortress, the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia and the Stadthuys Town Hall, which still stands as the oldest as well as the largest Dutch colonial building in the region.
In Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, is Gunung Mulu, National Park. This park has a history dating back for more than 3,000 years, and it is best known for its incredible caverns. On guided tours, you can explore Turtle Cave, the so-called Garden of Eden or the Wind Caves, all of which are in the park. Some caves require you to bring flashlights and rappel, but others are simple strolls in incredible environments. If you’re staying closer to Kuala Lumpur, you can set off on a day trip to the Batu Caves, which are made from limestone and offer some challenging hikes as well as amazing scenery.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Malaysia is its diverse culture. In addition to colonial influences, there is a mixture of Asian cultures present in the country. Malays make up approximately half of the population, Chinese make up roughly one quarter and there is a strong Indian community. In addition, the Orang Asli people, a group indigenous to Malaysia, still makes up 12 percent of the population. These groups live together harmoniously in Malaysia and give the country its vibrant culture and heritage.
Beaches & Islands
Malaysia is a tropical country with a warm climate and miles of coastline, so it should come as no surprise that beaches are plentiful. While there are excellent beaches on the mainland, it is Malaysia’s islands that are the most popular for beach lovers. Langkawi is the ultimate spot for a relaxing beach vacation, complete with shopping and dining. If you’re after a more secluded, less touristy getaway, Redang is a pristine island that also serves as a turtle sanctuary.
The tea industry has long been a part of development and trade in Malaysia, particularly in areas like the Cameron Highlands. There, near the highest point of the country, temperatures are cool enough for tea plantations. In the Cameron Highlands, you can take a guided tour of the nation’s largest tea company, hike through the plantation itself or sip local teas at some of the smaller plantations in the vicinity.