Malaysia is a potpourri of cultures, an amazing blend of the East and the West. The tagline for this country, “Truly Asia”, perfectly fits this wonderful nation. It is truly asia because of the fact that here you will find people from almost all Asian countries co-existing peacefully. Although a Muslim nation, this country is very welcoming when it comes to other religions and cultures. Not only do ethnic Malays (Bumiputera) live here, you also have Indians, Chinese, and of course the Orang Asli or the indigenous people of Malaysia. In this post, you can find a guide that will help you fix up an itinerary for your trip to Malaysia. A member of the ASEAN countries group, Malaysia sits in a fairly convenient location that makes it well worth a visit. Sunny and humid all through the year, the country is blessed with rains all year round as well, thus maintaining the greenery in the region – typical of a tropical paradise. Here are some recommendations to help you get the most out of your trip to Malaysia.
Tips & Recommendations for Malaysia
1. Petronas Twin Towers - Skybridge
The twin towers, or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, were built in the late 1990s and are the tallest twin towers in the world at 452 metres (1483 feet). They are identical towers inspired by Islamic architectural designs. This project that put Malaysia on the world map was pioneered by the visionary former prime minister of the country, Tun Mahathir Mohammed. The towers are a pleasure to watch at night, especially with the lighting on, but it is equally fascinating to look at during the day. The towers are connected by a sky bridge on the 41st and 42nd floor. You can purchase tickets to go up to the sky bridge to have a look at the city from that height. Ticket prices for adults comes to around 80 MYR (approximately 20 USD), and it is closed on Mondays. You can reach the twin towers via LRT at the KLCC station. It is also easily accessible by taxis as well.
2. KLCC Lake Symphony – Water Fountain Show
An interesting option for those who wish to enjoy viewing the Petronas twin towers by night and also spend some time while they wait till it gets dark. The KLCC Lake Symphony water fountain show is highly recommended for any tourist visiting Malaysia. Water fountain shows happen all through the day but the musical fountain show happens only in the evening near about 7.30pm or 8pm. Some of the songs that the fountains “dance to” include: Desert Rose by Sting, and Contradanza by Vanessa Mae. Lots of other songs and musical accompaniments also take place. You could also take a stroll in the KLCC Park nearby to breathe in some fresh air, a wonderful green patch right in the heart of the city!
3. Batu Caves
Batu Caves is a limestone hill comprising of a series of caves and temples inside these caves. Located a bit outside of Kuala Lumpur, this temple is home to the world’s tallest statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity. Batu Caves is one of the places in Malaysia where all the action takes place during the Hindu festival of Thaipusam. This is one festival not to be missed if you are touring Malaysia at that time. There are several other temples at the ground level; you will reach the main sanctum after climbing a flight of around 272 steps. To reach this place, you can take the KTM Komuter train from KL Sentral and reach Batu Caves station which is right outside the temple complex.
Tip – there are quite a few monkeys that you will encounter when you climb the steps, ensure you do not have any food in hand when climbing. The temple is open every day and entry is free!
4. KL Bird Park
One of the largest bird parks in the region, KL Bird Park claims to be the world’s largest walk-in aviary. You will find loads of species of birds in this park, some very rare ones as well, walking freely so don’t be shocked to see a peacock opening up its feathers right next to you! Open every day of the week from 9am to 5pm, the tickets are priced at 50 MYR for adults (approximately 12 USD). You can reach here using a taxi or the Hop on Hop off buses.
5. Taman Negara
The ideal place for people who love wild life, trekking or hiking is Taman Negara National Park. Open all through the year, this national park is located 240 kilometres (149 miles) from Kuala Lumpur and can be reached via buses, train or even boat! There are lots of packages available for tourists; you can choose what you wish to do, for how long, you could even stay there! This spot is popular among corporates who are keen to do activities that help with team building.
6. Taman Botani Perdana
Formerly known as Taman Tasik Perdana or Lake Gardens, the Botanical Garden was initially created as a recreational spot in the city – a green patch in the centre of the city. This garden not only has botanical collections, there is also a Deer Park, and is a favourite spot for kids and adults alike. Kids have their play areas, adults can run, walk, play ball or a game of badminton. It is heart-warming to see so much greenery in a fast-paced city such as Kuala Lumpur. Entry is free and the gardens are open all through the year. There are several activities conducted all year round and quite interesting ones at that. You can reach here via taxi or walk from KL Sentral or use the Hop on Hop off buses.
7. Aquaria KLCC
A world-class aquarium which is located in KLCC, beneath it to be precise. The aquarium showcases all varieties of marine life. The aquarium is open from 10.30 am to 8 pm every day of the year. You could club the visit to KL twin towers with this visit since they are located in the same place. Tickets are priced at 64 MYR for adults (approximately 16 USD). One interesting time to visit might be when the sharks or piranhas are being fed!
8. Kek Lok Si Temple
Located in Air Itam, in Penang, this is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, more than a century old! The words Kek Lok Si mean temple of supreme bliss. Apart from the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, you can also get to see the giant bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. You could choose to reach the top via taxi or if you are game, you can sweat it out by climbing the stairs from the bottom. You can reach the temple via public transport – Rapid Penang. The temple is open from 9am to 6pm every day. Entry to the temple is free, but you will have to pay 2 MYR (0.50 USD) each way to use the inclined lift to reach the Kuan Yin statue at the top.
9. Langkawi Cable Car
Also referred to as Langkawi Sky Cab, this is one must-visit tourist spot in everyone’s lifetime – an exhilarating experience to say the least. It is said to be the steepest cable car ride in the world, this will leave you with goosebumps at the end of it. The views from the top are breath-taking, and it is surely not for the faint-hearted. You get to see all the islands around Langkawi from the cool and nice machinchang mountain. The sky cab also holds the record for “longest free-span mono-cable car”. The sky cab opens for tourists at around 930 am in the morning, costs 45 MYR (approximately 10 USD) for international tourists and about half that price for Malaysian citizens. This price is inclusive of entry to Sky Dome and SkyRex which are two other new attractions at Panorama Langkawi. Alternatively, if you wish to skip the queue and not wish to mingle with other tourists, you can add 50 MYR (13 USD) to this ticket and zip your way to the top!
10. Sky Bridge Langkawi
Completed in 2005, this is the highest bridge in Malaysia. The bridge is accessible from the top station of the cable car. It is a suspension type of bridge and hangs about 100m (328 feet) from the ground. The view of the surroundings is absolutely fantastic. The entry to the bridge is around 5 MYR (1.30 USD), you can choose to reach the bridge via the Sky Glide or climb down the trail (not advisable for older people and those with knee/arthritic/breathing problems.) The ticket to travel in the Sky Glide is 10 MYR (2.60 USD) for adults, and it takes about 3-4 mins to reach the bridge via the sky glide.
11. Genting Highlands
A hill resort developed by the Genting group, this is surely a place to cool off from the humid weather of the rest of Malaysia. The highlands are a part of the Titiwangsa mountains and consist of hotels, mall, restaurants and the Casino. The theme park was closed down recently as it was getting renovated. We can expect it to be re-opened very soon for a very much refurbished and enthralling experience at Genting Highlands.
12. Mount Kinabalu
The tallest peak in South East Asia, located in the state of Sabah, East Malaysia, is a protected region (World Heritage Site) as Kinabalu Park. Its height is 4095 metres (13435 feet) and it is certainly a pleasure to watch the sunrise from atop Mt Kinabalu. It is a highly recommended expedition for anyone visiting Sabah. The Low’s Peak can be climbed by anyone with a good fitness level, no expertise or mountaineering equipment is required. Once you reach the top, don’t be surprised to receive a certificate from the Kinabalu Park authorities to congratulate you on your accomplishment.
13. Manukan Island at Kota Kinabalu
Snorkelling at Manukan Island in Sabah, off Kota Kinabalu is a highly recommended activity for those visiting the East Malaysian state of Sabah. A short distance from the jetty point at Kota Kinabalu, you can reach here by ferry from the jetty point. It is one of the 5 islands that come under the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. This island is actually surrounded by a coral reef that is protected. The island has pristine white sandy beaches and loads of fun activities such as snorkelling. There are 2 other major islands called Gaya and Sapi, which are equally interesting but Manukan attracts more tourists.
14. Legoland Malaysia
Who doesn’t know Lego? What if the Lego blocks become a real huge game by itself? That is what Legoland is all about. It is the first international theme park in Malaysia, located in the state of Johor (near Singapore). An excellent place to go with your family, kids will have the time of their lives. There are two separate parks within – the water park and the main legoland theme park. There is Lego everywhere your eyes can see! It is cheaper to buy a single park, single day ticket or a combo ticket. Do check their website for offers. There are lots of rides, such as Lego kingdom. You can even build race cars and test them out! The water park will be very welcoming because Malaysia can be very hot! There is food available inside the park so worry not! You can reach Legoland from Singapore by road, from Johor Bahru, the capital city of the Johor state, it only takes 20 minutes by taxi. You can even choose to stay in the Legoland Hotel that is less than 10 mins away from the park.
15. Hello Kitty Land Malaysia
Yet another attraction in Johor Bahru, in the state of Johor, West Malaysia is Hello Kitty land. You can find an indoor theme park called Hello Kitty Town inside. You get discounts for showing your Legoland tickets (so club the visits to both these places). As can be predicted, there is no rush during weekdays, so plan accordingly. You can get to watch Hello Kitty and her friends perform for you on the Purrfect stage! Get yourselves photographed at the well-made photo booths. All in all, it is a little girl (and the big girl)’s delight to be here!
16. Glass Temple in Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru’s yet another attraction to woo tourists apart from Legoland and Hello Kitty Land is the Arulmigu Rajakaliamman glass temple. This temple has a Guinness record under its name for being the only glass temple in the country. This temple is embellished with glass artwork that is impressive to look at. The old temple was renovated with this glass work and reopened in 2009.
17. Christ Church at Malacca
Malacca or Melaka, is a historic town and the capital has been designated as a UNESCO heritage site. One of the interesting spots to visit in the Melaka heritage zone is the Christ Church. This was built in the 18th century by the Dutch who were ruling Melaka at that time. Melaka has a history of being ruled by Dutch, Portuguese and subsequently the British and only much later did it merge with mainland Malaysia. The distinctive red colour is said to be the hallmark of the Dutch era.
18. Georgetown, Penang
Yet another UNESCO heritage site, the capital of the island of Penang, Malaysia. It is located in the north of Malaysia. This town is truly a colourful potboiler of cultures, food and people. You can see Malays, Indians and Chinese – Chinese in Penang mainly speak Hokkien rather than Mandarin. There is also the Peranakan Chinese or Baba Nyonya. There is way too much to do and see in Georgetown – 3 days minimum is required to see the entire place, and it is splendid!
19. National Mosque, Malaysia
Also referred to as Masjid Negara, this mosque is located in Kuala Lumpur. It can house about 15000 people at any one time. The main roof is shaped like an umbrella to signify the “tropical” region that Malaysia is in. This mosque is located right at the entrance of the Botanical Gardens, so if you are using the Hop On Hop off buses to reach the Botanical Gardens or the Bird Park, you can get down here first and then walk up to the rest of the spots in this area.
20. Putrajaya Cruise (Cruise Tasik Putrajaya)
The Putrajaya lake is a man-made lake which is located very close to the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office and residence in the administrative capital of the country, Putrajaya. It is roughly 33 kilometres (20 miles) from Kuala Lumpur and can be reached by taxi and buses from Pudu. You could enjoy having dinner with your beloved on the cruise or you could just opt to take the evening cruise on one of the local boats. There are different packages depending on the number of people in your group, and special days have special discounts, such as Independence Day or Federal Territory Day discounts, so do check at the counter before booking your tickets. The cruise is about 20-25 minutes long and you can check out the bridges and the surroundings. This cruise/boat ride is a very pleasant one to go with your loved one or family.
21. KL Tower
The KL Tower is called Menara KL in the local language, and stands at 420 metres (1377 feet) tall. There is an observation deck on top that helps you have a fantastic view of the KL skyline. Some other attractions at the tower include a revolving restaurant called Atmosphere 360 that provides a variety of food all through the day.
There are several other attractions at the KL Tower including a mini zoo, F1 simulator, and an aquarium to name a few. Priced as per package, it is advisable to check the website for promotions before heading there. The tower is open every day from 9 am until 1 am.
22. Thean Hou Temple
One of the most popular attractions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is a 6-tiered Chinese temple and also one of the oldest and not to forget, largest temples in South East Asia. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Tian Hou, and also referred to as The Heavenly Mother. This temple is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day and is most crowded on festivals such as Vesak Day or during the Mooncake festival.
23. Petaling Street
The Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur, which should sum it up! Wish to find cheap imitations of your favourite brands of watches or bags? You must head to Petaling Street. Haggle like a pro and shop till you drop! It is always busy and bustling with people, be it locals or tourists, you will find anything under the sun here at Petaling Street.
24. Bukit Bintang shopping
The trendiest place in Kuala Lumpur to shop, eat and walk around is Bukit Bintang. From top shopping brands to awesome deals, you can find everything in a single area. You can find all the top hotels and restaurants here in Bukit Bintang. Truly one of the best places for shopping in Kuala Lumpur.
25. A’famosa resort Malacca
Named in memoriam of the Portuguese rule in Malacca, this resort is a short drive from the Melaka town. This resort houses a golf course, water theme park, animal safari, villas, condos and more. An ideal place to relax on a weekend. Kids and adults can have loads of fun at this resort.
26. Ride up the Penang hill!
Reach the top of the Penang Hill via the ages-old funicular railway, a totally enthralling experience of its kind. Top of the hill is chilly and cool, unlike the humid and sunny Penang. Both types of weather are equally welcome though!
27. Meet an Orangutan at Sandakan (Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre)
The rehabilitation centre at Sandakan for Orangutans is a tourist as well as a research attraction. You can get to see the orangutans up close and personal in their natural habitat. This centre is located in the town of Sandakan in the state of Sabah in East Malaysia.
28. Putra Mosque, Putrajaya
Putra Mosque is the principal mosque of Putrajaya, Malaysia. It is located very close to the Prime Minister’s office in Putrajaya and right next to the lake. It has the capacity to accommodate 15000 people at any one instance.
29. Redang Island
This is one of the largest islands off the eastern coast of Malaysia, in the state of Terengganu. Pristine beaches, crystal clear waters – the most ideal kind of beach that we would have either seen in the movies or in our dreams! There are several service providers that you can choose from for a cruise around the island. An ideal honeymoon destination because it is truly a paradise on earth!
30. Sipadan – Deep-Sea Diving
This is one activity not to be missed when you are in Malaysia. It is located off the east coast of the East Malaysian state of Sabah. This is the best place to do deep sea diving, snorkelling and also learn scuba diving or PADI certification. You will feel absolute bliss when you are surrounded by schools of fish, when you swim with the turtles or even post a postcard from the post box deep under the sea! Absolutely enthralling and a once in a lifetime opportunity! Don’t miss it!
Malaysia has something for everyone
Come to Malaysia, Selamat Datang – Welcome in Malay. These are reasons enough to make not just a single trip but multiple trips to this country. Come with your family, there is something for everyone.