Going to Malaysia and not visiting Kuala Lumpur would be like flying all the way to Australia and not seeing Sydney. You’ll still have a great time if you miss it but Kuala Lumpur (or KL to the locals) is the epicentre of the country’s economy and all that goes with it. Yes, we mean mega-malls, streamlined architecture and world-renowned restaurants. Spend a few days here and soak up the trendy hipster scene in Bangsar, source hidden speakeasy-inspired bars in Chinatown and revel in the old 1940s shophouses in Chow Kit.
Once you’ve had your fill of futuristic Kuala Lumpur take things down a notch in Maleka (also commonly called Malacca). A city that wears its history on its sleeve with architecture influenced by Dutch colonisation, British and Portuguese rule. Here you’ll see ornate Chinese trophy houses alongside grand Spanish-inspired villas, making it a dream for photographers and history buffs alike.
George Town on Penang Island is another must-do thanks to its world-famous hawker stalls each selling dishes flavoured by cooking styles from Thailand, China, India and locally in Malaysia.
But it’s not just noodles on the menu in George Town, in recent years the city has become a haven for street artists who add their detailed and curious works to the mostly unloved side of shophouses.
Best Time To Visit
Island-hoppers flock to Langkawi between December to February, when the western side of the country experiences relatively calm weather and minimal rain.
Those looking to enjoy the low-key beauty of the Perhentian Islands on the eastern side of Malaysia will do best to visit during the dry season of March to November (keeping in mind that July is peak season).
Tours and Deals
Malaysia is a country that inspires exploration, even if it’s just through one of the many hawker markets. However, those craving a history lesson as a side to their Nasi Kerabu will love joining a Simply Enak culinary walking tour. Operating throughout George Town, Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Simply Enak guides steer travellers away from the traditional ‘tourist traps’ and introduce them to the locally loved restaurants and stalls that showcase the real flavours of Malaysia.
Those looking to shy away from the bustle of the cities and towns and delve deep into the jungles of Sabah and up-close and personal with orangutans should enlist themselves into a G Adventures Experience Borneo group expedition STAT. This 14-day journey crosses the volcanic mud baths of Pulau Tiga, through to night walks within Mulu National Park, all the way to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. It’s also been approved and endorsed by world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, so you can rest easy that you’re aiding the local wildlife communities while exploring.