You’ll discover that 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 South East 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 to spy fantastic wildlife like orangutans, tigers and elephants.
While you’re visiting Malaysia, it would be a shame not to explore some of its 4,675km of coastline and endless tropical beaches, with white sand and crystal-clear water. 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. All the 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.
History and culture
You’ll find Malaysia to be culturally very diverse. The native people are called Malays, but you’ll also notice strong Chinese and Indian influences. You might want to take home souvenirs of the traditional Malaysian crafts of weaving and carving, such as beautifully patterned batik fabrics and wooden masks. Visit George Town, one of Malaysia’s most historic and fascinating cities and a World Heritage Site. It’s the colourful capital of the island of Penang off the north east coast and known for its 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, you can take a tour around its 38 rooms and count the 220 windows.
Adventures with wildlife
You’re bound to spot the rich marine life while in the sea around Malaysia, but the country also boasts some fantastic animals in the rainforest which covers two-thirds of the land. You’ll feel like David Attenborough as you trek through the ancient jungle in search of tigers, elephants, orangutans, flying lemurs, proboscis monkeys, the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros and the unusual pangolin. You’ll find the Bornean orangutan, whose name means “people of the jungle”, in Sabah and Sarawak. Many visitors come to Malaysia just to meet these smart and endangered animals in the wild. Head to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, where glimpses of the orange orangutans can be seen from boat tours along the river, or Danum Valley or the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. At the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre you can watch orphaned babies being fed.