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Reasons to Visit Malaysia

By Khal Rasdam

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia consisting of Peninsular Malaysia on the Asian mainland and East Malaysia occupying the northern third of Borneo Island. The country is home to nearly 29 million people and a potpourri of communities including Malays, Chinese, Indians, Thais and several indigenous groups. Malaysia is a fascinating travel destination, receiving nearly 25 million visitors and the 9th most visited country in 2011 according to the World Tourism Organization. Though developing into a modern nation, Malaysia still retains it rich cultural heritage including traditions, festivals, cuisines and religious plurality.

Kuala Lumpur is the country’s capital and a fast growing city with modern high-rises existing alongside heritage buildings from the legacy of the British colonial rulers. The city is very accessible and you can easily discover yourself using a combination of commuter trains, taxis and on foot. A well-known landmark is the Petronas Twin Towers, standing at a height of 1,483 feet (452 meters) and was the world’s tallest building from 1998 to 2004. For retail therapy, Kuala Lumpur boasts several large modern shopping malls (many located in the Golden Triangle) as well as a number of markets. When it comes to eating out, Kuala Lumpur offers a wide range of menus including local, other Asian and Western. 

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Parliament Building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 Parliament Building in Kuala Lumpur

About 15 miles (26 km) south of Kuala Lumpur is Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital and a model of urban design with its impressive architecture, majestic lake and scenic gardens. Moving further south is Melaka City, a historic city with old building and ruins from the legacies of the Portuguese, Dutch and British rulers. Penang Island is about 260 miles (420 km) north of Kuala Lumpur and its historic heart is Georgetown, settled by the British more than 200 years ago. Kuching is the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and features old shops selling exotic products, lively markets and several interesting museums. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the other East Malaysian state of Sabah and the gateway to nearby beaches, islands, white water rafting and national parks.

Along Malaysia’s long coastline are fantastic beaches and islands fringed with clear blue waters and corals. Langkawi is an archipelago of around 100 islands with Langkawi Island being the largest and features several scenic beaches. Pangkor Island’s Pasir Bogak Beach is an ideal site for snorkelling with its shallow waters and wide reef. The waters off Tioman Island offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and windsurfing. Redang Islands and Perhentian Islands feature tranquil beaches, clear waters and rich marine life. Cherating Beach on the mainland is a laid-back beach and a popular spot for turtle watching.

Beach on Langkawi Island, Malaysia

Beach on Langkawi Island 

Beyond the beaches and islands are the highlands and nature parks. A popular highland destination is Genting Highlands, dubbed the “City of Entertainment” with its outdoor and indoor theme parks. Cameron Highlands is situated on the mountainous Titiwangsa Range and a good place for walks in the highland rainforest, visiting tea plantations and vegetable farms. The hill stations of Fraser’s Hill and Maxwell Hill are perfect for a quiet and laidback holiday as well as enjoying the cool mountain air. Take the funicular train to the peak of Penang Hill and enjoy a panoramic view of Penang Island. Kinabalu National Park is a wildlife sanctuary and the location of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.

Malaysians love to eat out and there are plenty of options ranging from cheap eats at the street stalls to the posh restaurants. Many visitors discover that eating out in Malaysia is often much cheaper than back home. For cheap eats, you can get a decent meal with soft drink for less than MYR10 (USD3.50) and at a reputable restaurant for MYR30-60 (USD10-20). There are also the choice of three main cuisines namely Malay, Chinese and Indian. Other foods you’ll also find (mainly in the major cities) include Japanese, Korean, Thai, Middle Eastern, Italian and other Western cuisines. For the less adventurous, there are the American-style fast food chains including McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.

This article is available under a Creative Commons licence. 

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