Malaysia in the south-east of Asia is a nation that can be surely cleaved into two. One half of it goes with the peninsular stature that attracted varied colonial exposures and so culminated as modern extravagant regions that seem to outshine its influencers. The other half of Malaysia has its pockets filled with nature’s creations and is expository of the true Malaysian ethnicity, religions and culture. Can be a little confusing to grab the best of both the sides. After pondering hours over each of its moods, here is our list of the top 25 things to do in Malaysia.
Petronas Twin Towers: Top Things to do in Malaysia
The architectural pride of Malaysia, Petronas twin towers’ is as majestic in broad daylight as it is dazzling when the sun goes down. This iconic landmark in the city of Kuala Lumpur stands as one of the tallest structures in the world (88 storeys) with a bridge to connect the two at its towering heights. Do we need to say much about the spectacular and gigantic view of the whole KL city it offers from the bridge? Clearly not!
Petronas with its world class infrastructure attracts a lot of attention from the corporates. However, amidst all the multi-national set ups in the towers; Accenture, Braclays Capital, IBM, McKinsey & Co, it still manages to be fun for everyone. Providing one of the best shopping experiences in Malaysia, this shimmering steel tower has Suria shopping mall, located right at its footsteps. Besides, it has art galleries, a convention center, concert hall, restaurants, KLCC Park, Aquaria; you certainly will not get a breather.
Cool in all its Senses: Penang Hill
Now who would have thought to get a cool, hill station like experience in the tropical corners of Malaysia. Honestly, I did not. Famous as Penang hill, the location is a hill resort which offers a much needed break from the heat of the country. It has its invigorating environs in the western coast of peninsular Malaysia. With Georgetown at its base, tourists can make the climb by using a special Swiss made funicular train. However, best suggestion for the climb always speaks about traveling on foot; as the train ride is most likely to cost the panoramic sight of the mist valley, strikingly blue ponds and beautiful farms that would be coming on the way.
Embarking on such a jungle trek may seem a little unfair for leisure travelers, but that can be adjusted by the fantastic view of the whole island down below. Moreover, the trek goes through exotic botanical gardens, Hye Keat Estate in Air Itam and the Tiger Hill. This makes Penang largely visited by hiking enthusiasts.
Walk on the Sky Bridge
Malaysia’s fascination for making sky high-end structures is not only limited to the urbans. They have done the unimaginable by making it true even in the raw and unspoiled forest surroundings of the country. It is in the form of a pedestrian bridge that connects the two ends above Mount Mat Cinchand in the Langkawi island group of Malaysia. The cable car ride is the only medium to make it to the Sky Bridge.
Offering splendid view of the lush rain forests and enchanting Telega Tujuh waterfalls, it is one of the most amazing tourist attractions in Langkawi. Bollywood movie lovers can have a moment of recall as some action scenes from the Hindi blockbuster ‘Don2’ was shot at this one of its kind bridge. Besides the spectacular views, the attraction has souvenir stalls at the cable car ends of the bridge. Langkawi Sky Bridge is also considered one of the scariest skybridges in the world.
10 Nights / 11 daysTaman Negara National Park Package
3 Nights / 4 daysMalaysia and Bali Tour
7 Nights / 8 daysMalaysian Wonders with Genting Highlands Tour
5 Nights / 6 days
Introducing Cameron Highlands
Another one for wiping off your sweat and it is huge; almost the size of Singapore. Making an official entry as one of the most extensive hill stations is the Cameron Highlands’ that is in the northwestern edge of Pahang. A beautiful collage of tea plantations, alpine jungles and foamy waterfalls, the place deciphers the true natural heritage. Explore it as you walk through the misty tea plantations on the rolling hills, known as Boh. The most prioritized by tourists for its never ending beauty, the Boh has a collection of three types of plantations to explore.
For the tough, the highlands have strenuous jungle walks, some of which are also fit for the casual travelers. As you will walk to the high altitudes, towns like Ringlet and Brinchang will come your way. Don’t forget to have a look at the large vegetable and fruit farms. Flower farms are also the region’s best offerings. Also learn how the lush and cool topography can provide fodder to the favorite plant of the deserts: Cactus. To your amazement, the highlands juxtapose with a valley of cactus, close to one of its main towns.
Watch Down from the Highest Mountain, Mount Kinabalu
Raising its neck high above North Borneo, Mt. Kinabalu with its staggering altitude (4095 m) stands tallest in Malaysia. Highly contradicting to the meaning of its name, ‘The revered place of the dead’, the peak is considered to be amongst the safest and most conquerable in the world.
At the top, the mountain wears a crown of granite which sometimes get a silver lining of glaciers as it shines peacefully in the daylight sun. How can the mountaineers reprieve such a tempting summit? During the climb, mountaineers and adventure enthusiasts can have a great time exploring the immense bio diversity of the world heritage site-Kinabulu Park, where the actual summit is located.
A recent study of Kinabalu and the upward regions of the Crocker range stated immense botanical (5000 to 6000) and biological species that are a mix of Indo-Malayan, Australasian and Himalayan region. On an average, it takes 2 days to make the climb. This can be done via two mountain trails- Summit tail and Mesilau trail.
Go Underwater at the Redang Island
Malaysia being the hot spot of exotic coral reefs tempts water sport lovers with all its urges. Coasts of it are all beach territories. However, the best action happens at one of the largest islands off the east coast of the country, ‘Redang’. Officially known as Pulau Redang, the island makes its introduction with crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and most importantly, numerous reefs that are mostly within 50 feet of its radius.
All the desired underwater things to do in Malaysia like snorkeling, scuba diving, boating and canoeing are managed by the Pulau Redang Marine Park. Being under the shelter of a marine park, fishing close to the shore is certainly not allowed. Nevertheless, floating in the underwater, catching all the marine action at Redang is simply a mind-blowing experience making it one of the top places to visit in Malaysia.
Aerial Clicks from Cable Cars of Langkawi
One of the best things to do in Malaysia is the sky high cable car ride in its Langkawi region. It hovers all over the lush rainforests and ends at the top of Mount Mat Cincang. The heights of the mountain makes this cable car ride highly alluring. You can actually feel the difference as you will start with the uphill climb.
From the warm and tropical to cool and windy, these atmospheric fluctuations become highly apparent as the ride ascends. After some height, you will need to change your cabins. The second ride will not be rising that much sharply, thus, it will give you moments to admire and click the beauty of the rainforests, gushing waterfalls and low hills down below. Climate here remains the coolest. At the final stoppage (mountain peak), you can also pick up various traditional souvenirs.
Savoring the Tropical Flavors of Taman Negara
Now this one’s a true tropical sojourn for wildlife lovers; apt justification of Malaysia’s hot and humid ambience. Hidden within its damps are numerous creations of nature; some of it glow in the dark, while others simply entangle across the region’s varied lengths. In the name of wildlife, Taman Negara National Park has a lot to amaze you. The big ones which you won’t mind coming across are the elephants and rhinos need to be left undisturbed. Tigers and leopards rule the big cat segment of this swampy rainforest.
The too much stress on the swampy nature would have given you some hint about the crawling ‘creepy’ creatures that are the children of this tropical world. Yes, the reptiles, which you can expect to be hidden at every corner, camouflaged shrub and silent spaces of the national park. From masculine reticulated pythons to agile and poisonous vipers and kraits, expect every one of them. One small wonder, the flying squirrel can also be the reason of your amazement, but they are little shy to make frequent appearances.
On the national park’s list of routines are the blood sucking annoying leeches, the very compulsions of a rain forest and so, be prepared for that. Head on to a jungle trail or simply settle with a boat trip, wonderful experiences would just be laying naked for you at Taman Negara’s every direction.
Looking for Religion? …Head to Batu Caves
Such is the power of devotion that even nature cannot stop itself to bow before it. Nature being a slow constructor, started with its religious project some 400 million years ago in the form of limestone caves. These are actually a series of caves and cave temples, which have become the highly popular tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur. Right at the entrances of the main caves stand numerous structures of deities erect.
Most important cave being the Cathedral cave houses several Hindu temples, the wall of which are all decorated by limestone formations. In order to watch the region getting transformed into a whole new avatar, visit this popular Hindu religious site during the festival of Thaipusam. The renowned festival of Thaipusam at Batu caves is known to attract more than a million pilgrim in the past.
Cave adventure at Gunung Mulu National Park
Gunung Mullu National Park is a tranquil escape from the crowded spaces of Malaysia. However, the national park is no idle zone, but one of the most amazing and thrilling. The region has one of the longest network of caves, for which UNESCO declared it a world heritage site a decade back. Exploring this heritage site is one of the most popular activities in Malaysia.
The most gigantic of its underground chambers is the ‘Sarawak’; big enough to have room even for 40 Boeing 747. Then there is the Deer cave and the Clear water cave (longest in south-east Asia). These are some of the finest limestone weathering caves in the world. But watch out for those millions of bats and cave swiftlets that may swarm out from these caves.
Lazy Beach Escapades
Like the other island nations in South-east Asia, Malaysia has also its name accredited with some of the finest sandy beaches in the world which undoubtedly count as one of the top things to do in Malaysia. To enjoy the best of them, head to the island of Langkawi. Drawing the boundaries of the island with sand, these beaches are adored by the locals, beach lovers and travelers from all over.
Amongst them the most prominent is Pantai Cenang, which certainly is the most developed and crowded. Quieter options in Langkawi include Pantai Tengah, Pantai Kok and Tanjung Rhu. The serenity of these generously breathtaking shorelines dramatically changes as the night starts to make it presence felt.
Kelabit Highlands; Hikes and Walks
Travel 100 Km southeast from the tropical Gunung Mulu and you will find yourself at a long forgotten tribal region, which the moderns prefer to call the Kelabit Highlands. It wasn’t until World War II that this region of the Kelabit tribes found a mention in the map. It got its first introduction only when foreign powers had some military business with the geography of these highlands. Ancestors of the Kelabits were into weird rituals and traditions. Although discontinued now, these practices have left their traces in the form of rock carvings; enough to draw the attention of anthropologists and archaeologists from the far offs.
For commoners like us, Kelabit region acts as a nice countryside walk. There are a total of 14 villages, seven of them which you can explore in the Bario area while the rest are settled at the boundaries of the highlands. From here, an adventure lover can also make its way to the peaks of the nearby Pulong Tau National Park.
Shopping and much more at Chinatown
Malaysia’s very own Chinese corner is believed to be always awake and bustling with ever changing faces of tourists of different origins. Possessing a central location in the city of Kuala Lumpur, the market reflects an immersion of heritage, culture and history. Here you can buy everything (not literally everything), but a great variety of items. From merchandise, everyday used goods and even rare traditional herbs that belong to the mainland of China. All these at such a low price would make you feel like buying the whole market. However, we wish to show you the other aspects of Chinatown as well.
Only at a walking distance from this bargainer’s paradise are temples that are known to be older than most of the city attractions. Start exploring with Shri Mahamariamman temple, then make your way to Chan See Shu Yuen temple and Kuan Ti temple.
You wouldn’t have doubted this market’s fascination when it comes to culinary delights. Setting the clichés straight, Chinatown has Chinese restaurants at every corner and hawker stalls at every few steps you take in the market. Despite being high on Chinese tastes, the market does have something unique that strictly is its patent. The market maintains this special status even in its nightlife segment. Here, it’s not just the usual clubs or pubs offering alcohol fused entertainment, but the vibrancy and colorfulness which makes Chinatown one of the most popular places to stroll in Kuala Lumpur after the sun goes down. Hence, one of the best places to visit in Malaysia.
Walk into the Jonkers’s Night Market
Well this is a special corner in Chinatown, therefore it does deserve a separate introduction. Previously the street only had shops selling antiques, though those items of it greatly made it famous. With the passage of time, the street has turned into a hub for clothes, crafts, eateries and numerous restaurants. To catch the best of the Jonker’s, visit its night market on Fridays and Saturdays, when it gets bustled with food hawkers, trinket sellers and even fortune tellers.
Historic Melaka City
Back in the 15th century, when every major Malay area was only indulged in maintaining a sustainable existence, Melaka was booming as a full-fledged trading center that has its popularity extend far beyond the peninsula. The city had its genesis evolved by the Melaka Sultanate, who gave a new definition to the political and cultural system of the regions of Malay.
Though short-lived, Melaka has its faded charm destined as the heritage face of Malaysia. This heritage charm flaunts Chinese presence (in the form of Peranakan communities) that is strongly and deeply rooted into it. A portion of it talks about the colonial influences of the bygone Europe. When put altogether, Modern Maleka looks highly fascinating. There lies many world-class edifices for you to explore at this southern region of Malaysia.
Selfies at the Dataran Lang (Eagle Square)
Truly one of the best structures ever created by the Malay people, the Dataran Lang has a giant structure (12 m) of an eagle in a poise to take a flight. Due to this striking structure, it is also known as the Eagle Square. The eagle is surrounded by fountains, terraced gardens and bridges, making the square highly perfect for those postcard holiday pictures. In our list of top things to do and see in Malaysia, you better not skip this one.
Magical Telaga Tujuh Waterfall
Malay people call it home to the fairies. This wonderful natural attraction is actually a collection of seven waterfalls that form seven pools. Altogether with the lush flora it creates such a magical effect that you will also start speaking like the locals (fairy land). Telaga Tujuh waterfall is located in the lush greens of Mount Mat Cincang on the Langkawi side of Malaysia. You can simply go to the waterfall site, find a right spot on its rocky floor and witness the mystique enchantment it throws all around. Can be a good picnic spot for family. Isn’t it? Well adventure lovers, it’s for you also. Climb up the adjoined rocks or simply trek through the jungle, the place will be your perfect host.
Baba Nyonga Heritage Museum
In the bygone era, Chinese of the Malacca straits were also known as the Baba and Nyonya. They were the true nobles and adopted a much portion of the traditional Malay culture into theirs. However, some distinct and unique traits of them have set interests of the world on a high rise. Speaking of which; the country has dedicated a heritage museum to them.
Built as a traditional Peranakan residence, the Baba Nyonga Heritage Museum is situated in the Maleka region of Malaysia and a visit here does counts as one of the top things to do in Malaysia. It is largely regarded for the historical artifacts of this unique Malay clan. So, take a short break from the country’s thrilling attractions and devote sometime at this conventional 19th century residence of Baba Nyonga.
Walk into the Past at Melaka Sultanate Palace
Melaka tour is definitely not complete without visiting the palace of the city’s creator; Sultan Mansur Shah. Well, they don’t have the actual palace of the sultanate as it was destroyed long back in the 15th century. Instead, the town of Melaka has a wooden replica of it, which is designed into a seven-tier palace.
Filled with all the historic artifacts and items, the palace offers a good sneak peek in to the erstwhile traditions and cultures. For this reason, the Sultanate Palace is appreciated as a museum. It has eight chambers, together which house a huge variety of brassware, traditional costumes, decorative arts and weaponry. Don’t miss the galleries of the famous legends of ancient Melaka.
Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park
It’s your chance to taste the flavors of all the 13 states of Malaysia in one single go. They call it Mini Malaysia; officially known as the ASEAN Cultural park. Highlighting part about this park is it uses traditional Malaysian homes to showcase the vibrant culture of the country.
As you will explore these homes, you will notice that a proper home set up with all the furnishings, fixtures and life-sized wax dummies dressed in traditional costumes, has been organized. The cultural park serves as a good excuse to spend your afternoon. You can even play traditional Malay games or learn to blow an Iban pipe here.
Catch the Legends at Dalam Taman
Mythical creatures, brave and heroic giants, fairytale princesses. No we are not talking about the sets of any Hollywood fantasy adventure production, but a theme park that takes you to a journey of the magical lands. Amidst the natural surroundings of Langkawi in Malaysia is this wonderfully landscaped park. It is known for its 17 colorful sculptures that inform about the legends Langkawi has in its folklores. To make you more versed with the tales, the property has an open air garden museum. Colorful statues of the fancy creatures cover every major portion of the park. Dalam Taman is not so big, so you can explore it on foot. If not, you can hire a buggy for yourself.
Ruins of St. Paul’s Church
It has been more than 150 years that is started decaying. However, even in its ruined state, the historic St. Paul’s church still manages to draw a lot of attention of the tourists. Not because of its magnificent architecture, but for its dedication to the Virgin Mary. After undergoing numerous changes in its structures and various ups and downs in its history, today the St. Paul’s church in the Melaka region of Malaysia has a museum status. Its insides are filled with inscriptions and carvings, which can be easily read be one and all.
The church is located at the summit of St. Paul’s hill (Melaka) and is amongst the top places to visit in Malaysia.
Swimming with the Sharks at Aquaria KLCC
The largest of its kind in the world, Aquaria KLCC has its address in the prime centers of Kuala Lumpur-the Convention center. In few hours at this aquarium land, you can visit more than 5000 marine creatures, and still you have more to see. Therefore, it is definitely among the top things to do in Malaysia. Certainly a must visit attraction in Kuala Lumpur, the Aquaria KLCC houses over 150 of the underwater species that include the blue rays, bright coral fish, seahorses and the scary tiger sharks.
Well adults you can even try swimming with them. No Kidding! The authorities of the aquarium run a ‘Diving with the Sharks’ program only for those few daredevils. Under this, you can get close and personal with those bunch of scary looking sharks. Not only sharks, but the tank would be having giant sting rays as well.
Exclusive Bird watching in the City (Langkawai Wildlife Park and Bird Paradise)
If you are a bird lover and do not feel like walking long distances in the jungle, then the Langkawai Wildlife Park and Bird Paradise is your ultimate solution. The makers of it has designed it as a tropical paradise to accommodate bird species possessing a mammoth number of 2500. Offering a great variety for bird lovers, these species come from the parts of South America, Russia, Africa, South-East Asia and Malaysia. Interesting thing about this bird paradise is that it is the first indoor park in Asia.
It may look like a zoo, but the activities of it are not the same. Tourists can feed the birds and the animals directly from their hands. Imagine feeding a beautiful Macaw as it gracefully picks up every of the food from your palm. Indeed a great fun for you and your children. You can also feed the animals over here. Friendly species like raccoons, guinea pigs and bear cats won’t shy away at all to wipe off the food from your hand.
Wonderful Pulau Payar Marine Park
A marine park that comprises 4 islands and has coral reefs surrounding it; what more can a marine lover ask for. Malaysia’s oldest marine sanctuary, Pulau Payar is little away from the western coast of the country. The emerald waters near the shoreline are such contrast, you will have a clear visibility of the marine life till 30-50 feet away from the land. This makes the site highly suitable for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving.
For those who are not into water sports, check the hiking trails that have been specially constructed for them. These trails run through the magnetic natural surroundings of the island. As you walk to the southwestern tip of the island, you will come across an exotic Coral garden; one of the park’s prime specialty.