Malaysia holidays

You’ll discover Malaysia has many different sides to explore, from the most modern of cities to wildlife-packed rainforests and idyllic islands. The first thing you need to know is that Malaysia is separated into two halves, divided by the South China Sea. Peninsula Malaysia extends out from the mainland of Southeast Asia, between Thailand to the north and Singapore to the south. You can discover dozens of unspoiled Malaysian islands dotted between the two halves of this beautiful country.

Head to the west of the peninsula for the buzzing capital Kuala Lumpur, with its impressive skyscrapers including the world’s tallest twin towers. If it’s nature you’re after, head into the rainforest for sightings of orangutans, tigers and elephants.
 

Things to do

While you’re visiting Malaysia, it would be a shame not to explore some of its 4,675km of coastline and endless tropical beaches. You’ll discover some of the best on the islands of Redang, Perhentian and Tioman off the east coast and Langkawi and Pangkor off the west coast of the peninsula. 

On Borneo, head for Turtle Beach, Golden Beach and Sipadan. Famous for their white sands and crystal clear waters, Malaysian beaches are perfect for diving and snorkelling around the coral reefs within easy reach of the shore. You’re likely to see colourful fish, turtles, barracuda, manta rays, dolphins and sharks.

You’ll also find Malaysia to be culturally diverse, and nowhere is this more evident than in George Town, a World Heritage site and one of Malaysia’s most fascinating cities. As the colourful capital of the island of Penang, you’ll find British colonial buildings, Indian shrines, mosques and Chinese shophouses. Make sure you visit the Blue Mansion. Built in the 1880s and rescued from ruin in the 1990s, its mixed design is what makes it unique from its Chinese tiles to its British stained glass. 

With its rich marine life and its wildlife-filled rainforest, Malaysia isn’t short of adventures. Jungle trekking is a popular activity here, giving visitors the chance to feel like David Attenborough while trekking through the jungle in search of tigers, elephants, flying lemurs, proboscis monkeys, the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros and the curious pangolin.The undisputed king of the Jungle is the Bornean orangutan. Its name in Sabah and Sarawak translates as 'people of the jungle' and many visitors come to Malaysia just to meet these 

Head to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, where you’ll catch glimpses of these unique creatures from boat tours along the river, Danum Valley or the Tabin Wildlife Reserve as well as the the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where you can watch orphaned babies being fed.

 

Map of Malaysia

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22°C - 34°C

Depending on which side of the coast you’re on, Malaysia’s weather varies from the west to the east. Temperatures are high all year round but its tropical, humid climate also causes prolonged periods of rain, known as the monsoon season.
 

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13- 14 hours

As the busiest airport in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) has great connections including a high-speed railway which takes you to the city as well as a number of bus services.

Malaysia is best for...

City folk: Kuala Lumpur has a buzz like no other, which is hardly surprising as the country’s capital. The twin skyscrapers Petronas Towers have become symbolic of the city, but the hawker centres and wet markets are where you’ll discover its true Malaysian identity. 

Nature lovers: Malaysia also has a scenic side, with wildlife and flora in abundance. As the largest of its rainforests, Taman Negar National Park is definitely worth a visit. As are its tea plantations, where you can learn how the country’s most famous drink is brewed while admiring the surrounding greenery.

Culture vultures: Known for its blend of cultures, every community has left a mark on this diverse country. Expect a fusion of flavours, a mix of religious buildings and a colourful calendar of events. 

Fast facts for Malaysia

Language: The official language of Malaysia is Malay. However, the country is known for being multilingual so don’t be surprised if you hear locals speaking English, Madarin and Tamil. You should get by speaking in English, but the natives have been known to offer a better service if you attempt to say a few Malay phrases. 

Currency: The currency in Malaysia is the Malaysian ringgit.

Local time: Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of the UK (GMT+8). 

Fly to: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is around 75 kilometres south of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre.

Flight time from UK: 13 - 14 hours

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at Malaysia’s official tourism website.

Visa / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Malaysia safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Malaysia, please visit the FCDO website.

Malaysia weather

You’ll be pleased to know that Malaysia is a year-round hot destination, but you do need to keep the monsoon in mind. The most important thing to remember about the weather in Malaysia is that the monsoon season is between November and March. In these months you’ll experience lots of rain on the east coast of the peninsula when many resorts will close.

So, if you want to travel in our winter, your best bet is to choose a western island like Langkawi and Penang. They’re pretty perfect all year round but especially nice in January and February, when it’s dry and bright with calm seas. You’ll find ideal conditions to top up your tan and swim, with up to nine hours of sunshine and temperatures averaging 29°C on land and in the balmy sea.

If you’re on the west coast you’ll experience a lighter wet season from April to October, but the rain is unlikely to spoil your holiday. You’ll have brief refreshing thunderstorms in the afternoons, with the sunshine never far away. Pangkor Island tends to be a little drier than the rest. If you want to go diving, avoid September and October when visibility under the water is poor due to choppy seas.

Have you set your heart on the tropical paradise island of Redang in the east? Then the best time to visit is from June to August, when the average temperature is 29°C, it’s dry and the sea is warm.

If you’re Borneo-bound, you’ll find similar conditions to Redang. The months to avoid are November to February because of the monsoon, although if you don’t mind the rain you’ll have fewer visitors with whom to share the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The best months, with dry and warm weather, are from May to September. Temperatures average between 27°C and 32°C.

You’ll notice the high humidity in Kuala Lumpur all year round, as it’s a constant 80%. The temperature is a steady 28°C and it’s driest in July, with most rain falling in November. If it gets too sticky, head to the coast for fresher sea breezes or up into the highlands, where temperatures average a pleasant 22°C.

Being close to the equator, the temperature throughout Malaysia doesn’t fluctuate a great deal. It’s hot and humid all the time, with the thermometer measuring between 21°C and 32°C. Wear lots of sunscreen and seek shade around midday. Take layers of light, breathable loose clothing and rainwear. Note that Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country so pack a scarf to cover your head if you want to visit a mosque and wear modest clothes which cover your shoulders and knees. Mosquito repellent will also come in handy.
 

Best hotels in Malaysia