A mix of vibrant cities, historic sites and unspoiled nature is what makes Malaysia a favorite of all holidaymakers. In fact, this Southeast Asian destination offers the best of both worlds, thus making it virtually a perplexing task to put together the best things to do in Malaysia. That said, we’ve still managed to do it for you; no matter you’re obsessed with culture, food or top-notch attractions, we hope this list would cater to all interests.
START AT THE CAPITAL CITY OF KUALA LUMPUR
Malaysia’s capital city is so exuberant that you would be tempted to spend your entire Malaysian holiday here, thanks to its charismatic blend of old and new sights. There is also nature and exquisite greenery in equal measure. So here are some of the attractions and experiences you shouldn’t miss in Kuala Lumpur.
- Petronas Tower: This iconic Malaysian structure is not anymore the world’s tallest building, but it’s still the world’s biggest twin-building. So if you’ve not been here, be sure to visit this; it’s absolutely worth visiting for its highest-of-its-kind double decker bridge as well as the most exquisite vistas from here.
- KLCC: KLCC Or Kuala Lumpur City Centre is the city’s one-stop destination for finest shopping, leisure, dining and entertainment options. Apart from Petronas Tower, it’s also home to some of the region’s greatest attractions like KL Tower, Suria KLCC (shopping mall), the massive Aquaria KLCC (with marine wonders from all over the world), and the verdant 50-acre KLCC Park.
- Merdeka Square: This vast open square is a place of historical significance, being the spot where the country announced its independence in 1957. You’ll find some of the region’s most elegant heritage structures in the vicinity, mainly the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
- KL Forest Eco Park: While in Kuala Lumpur, you don’t have to venture far if you wish to retreat to a refreshing spot drenched in greenery. Just visit KL Forest Eco Park right in the middle of the city. You can expect to have a cool rendezvous with nature through its many experiences including canopy walk, hiking tours, and herbal garden trip.
- Chinatown: This colorful ethnic quarter is one of Malaysia’s most visited attractions. It’s in close proximity to the legendary Central Market and is packed to brim with diverse shopping options, revered shrines, and dining outlets.
- Batu Caves: Lying 30 minutes’ drive away from Kuala Lumpur, this is a favorite of nature and culture lovers alike. There are three cave temples inside a limestone hill whose origin traces back to see over 400 million years. You’ll also see here a giant statue of Lord Muruga.
SPEND A DAY AT SUNWAY LAGOON THEME PARK
Lying within easy access from Kuala Lumpur, this is one of the ultimate venues for theme park lovers visiting Malaysia. Located in Petaling Jaya, this colossal park boasts of over 80 thrilling rides in its five unique parks like:
- Water Park: Main attractions include Waterplex 5D and Vuvuzela. There is also the biggest of its kind man-made beach.
- Amusement Park: It is made up of two sections such as Wild West and the World of Adventure, which together offer experiences as diverse as Pirate’s Revenge, Pedestrian Suspension Bridge etc.
- Extreme Park: True to its name, you’ll get to enjoy some of the most exhilarating attractions, particularly Flying Fox Trail and Slingshot Ride.
- Scream Park: A mash-up of terror and heart-racing experiences complemented by high-end audio / video technologies and energetic live performances makes this park outstanding.
- Wildlife Park: It’s the country’s only interactive zoo where you’ll see over 150 animal species displayed in an array of themed sections; Bird Savannah, Tiger Land, and New World Monkey to name a few.
ESCAPE TO THE GENTING HIGHLANDS
It’s only 45 to 50 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, but this serene hill station is a whole new world! It’s all courtesy to its breathtaking landscape with mighty mountains, lush rainforest of over 100 million years old and several farms. Don’t miss these activities when you’re in Genting Highlands:
- Visit the country’s biggest strawberry farm (Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm)
- Spend some time at Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre
- Watch a stunning show at the Arena of Stars
- Be surrounded by close to 400 different varieties of orchids at the Orchid Farm
- Hiking at the Berjaya Hills
- Take to the Genting Skyway Cable Car Ride
- Explore its many indoor and outdoor theme parks
- Travel to shrines such as Chin Swee Caves Temple
- Go shopping at Genting Highlands Premium Outlet
- Experience some unique and unusual attractions, such as Haunted Adventure and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Adventureland
STRIKE OFF THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Malaysia’s trump card is undoubtedly its historic sites and untouched nature. And this is evident from its four UNESCO World Heritage Sites including:
- Kinabalu Park: This park is located along the mind-boggling Mount Kinabalu at Sabah. It’s noteworthy for its awe-inspiring biodiversity with over 5000 species of flora and fauna.
- Gunung Mulu National Park: The evergreen tropical rainforest, intriguing wildlife and exciting past of over one million years making it one of the unique places to visit in Malaysia. Located on Borneo Island, it’s also captivating for its Sarawak Chamber which is the largest cave chamber in the world.
- Melaka and George Town: These are the historic cities of the straits of Malacca which was created as a spot for cultural exchange between western and eastern civilizations.
- Archeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley: This boasts of archeological sites that shed significant light on the country’s pre-historic phase tracing back to over 2 million years.
DISCOVER THE TROPICAL GEM OF LANGKAWI
Did you know that Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO-listed GeoPark is in Malaysia’s Langkawi? Yes, many more attractions await you in this archipelagic destination, celebrated for its surreal natural beauty, pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and of course legends shrouded in mystery. Must-experiences here include:
- Langkawi Sky Bridge: A stroll along this largest of its kind curved bridge allows you to take in the untouched rainforests, mesmeric islands, and striking oceans from a height of over
- Langkawi Cable Car: A scenic yet super thrilling ride up to Mount Cincang is a must-experience for the most commanding views over the region.
- Kilim Karst Geoforest Park: It spans over an area of about 100 square kilometers, and would take your breath away with its striking white sandy beaches, verdant mangroves, stunning lagoons, and exquisite limestone cliffs, among others.
- Dataran Lang: Langkawi’s main town is Kuah whose centerpiece is Dataran Lang or Eagle Square with a gigantic monument of an eagle in a ready to take flight posture.
- Mahsuri Mausoleum & Museum: This is one attraction which throws light on the mysterious and fascinating legend of Mahsuri.
- Pulau Payar Marine Park: No visit to Langkawi is probably is complete without visiting this marine park, approximately 30 kilometers away. Go on a diving or snorkeling tour here which proves that Malaysia’s wonders not only lie on its grounds but also beneath its water.
TAKE TO THE FABULOUS HEIGHTS AT CAMERON HIGHLANDS
Almost the size of Singapore, Cameron Highland is not only Malaysia’s largest as well as the most scenic hill stations but also the highest point in the country (at an altitude ranging from about 1130 meters to 1820 meters). Placed in the Pahang state, it’s noteworthy for its attractions and experiences including:
- Boh Tea Plantation: Cameron Highlands is especially striking for its vastly sprawling tea plantations and one of the most prominent and oldest among them is Boh Tea Plantation.
- Mount Brinchang: For adventurists, an ascend to the summit of this mountain finds the top position in their Cameron Highlands bucketlist.
- Mossy Forest: A hike up to Mount Brinchang will lead you to this natural reserved blanketed by the dense layers of moss. Yes, this is a fantastical place filled with several unique plant species, many of which are known for their therapeutic properties.
- Robertson’s Rose Garden: Tucked away on a mesmeric hillside, this is where you’ll get to take in a vast array of rose species while admiring stunning views over the surroundings.
- Cactus Valley: Cameron Highlands is not just famed for its tea plantations and rose gardens; it’s also a fertile ground for several different species of cacti. Visit the Cactus Valley to experience it for yourself.
DISCOVER MALAYSIA’S UNTOUCHED NATIONAL PARKS
The country is so outstanding for its diverse ecosystems that its national parks are absolutely worth a trip. So here are some of Malaysia’s top national parks, apart from Kinabalu Park and Gunung Mulu National Park.
- Taman Negara National Park: Boasting one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests, it’s also the country’s largest national park.
- Bako National Park: This is Sarawak’s oldest national park where you’ll find some of the most distinctive species of flora and fauna, along with natural formations like beautiful waterfalls and immaculate beaches. And the only way to reach this park is via a 30-minute cruise from Bako Village.
- Endau-Rompin National Park: It gets its name from two rivers (Endau and Rompin) that make their course through the park. Located in Pahang, it’s believed to be over 200 million year old and stands out for its paradisiacal lush scenery.
- Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park: This remarkably gorgeous marine park is placed off Kota Kinabalu and is made up of five islands such as Pulau Gaya, Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Sapi, and Pulau Sulug.
- Penang National Park: This may be the smallest national park but it’s certainly massive when it comes to its cool sights and superb opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping etc.
TRY LOCAL CULINARY DELIGHTS
Malaysia’s multicultural heritage and traditions are largely reflected in its cuisines. Yes, you’ll find strong influences of Indian, Chinese and Malay flavors in the local foods. Now if you don’t know which local specialities to sample here, some of our top recommendations are Mee Goreng Mamak (yellow noodles prepared using chicken, beef or shrimp), Ayam Percik (the barbequed chicken mixed in with percik sauce), Nasi Kerabu (the popular blue rice dish), and fish head curry, among others.
ATTEND COLORFUL MALAYSIAN FESTIVALS
From religious and traditional events to the liveliest and the most insane festivities, you’ll get to participate in a variety of Malaysian festivals all through the year. Most popular among them are Chinese New Year (January – February), Thaipusam (January – February), Pesta Kaamtan (which is celebrated in Sabah state in May), Kelantan Kite Festival (May), Rainforest World Music Festival (July), George Town Festival (August), Hungry Ghost Festival (August – September), Citrawarna or Colors of Festivals (September), and Dragon Boat Festival (December).
DISCOVER MALAYSIA’S HIDDEN GEMS
Finally, you should definitely travel to some of the country’s best-kept secrets, such as:
- Gem Island: The aptly named island is placed off Peninsular Malaysia’s East Coast at Terengganu. Also known as Pulau Gemia, this private island is sure to blow you away with its mindblowing features encompassing white sandy beaches, lucid waters, and exuberant underwater world with colorful coral reefs plus several unique marine species.
- Kenyir Lake: This is the region’s largest man-made lake, with several amazing rivers and waterfalls linked to it. That’s not all; it’s surrounded by rainforests and has natural attractions such as Taman Negara (limestone cave) in the vicinity.
- Rainbow Waterfalls: This waterfall in Pahang’s Sungai Lembing has got this name for a reason; the early morning sunrays hit its waters, forming a stunning rainbow across its slopes. What’s more interesting is that you’ll have to trek through a dense jungle to access this splendid natural sight.
- Astaka Morocco: Placed about 25 kilometers from Kula Lumpur, Putrajaya is popular as the country’s latest as well as the most appropriately planned Federal Territory. But it’s more than its beautifully laid-out roads plus elegant government structures, as you’ll get to visit some striking attractions such as the Putrajaya Botanical Gardens and the palace of Astaka Morocca complete with imposing architectural elements.
So that’s our suggestion for top things to do in Malaysia! So plan ahead, and also consider adding some of the above attractions or experiences into your travel program. But, before making the trip, be sure to have all travel essentials, such as the right clothing, prescribed medications, and appropriate Malaysia visa (if required).