When most people think of Malaysia, they think of the Petronas Towers. Calling downtown Kuala Lumpur home, these twin towers are the tallest in the world. Way more than just another set of skyscrapers, the building was designed to resemeble the minarets of Muslim mosques, as is a symbol of Malaysia’s large Islamic community. Once you’re done admiring the architecture, jump in the elevator and head straight to the top of this 88-storey tower for some insane panoramic views. If you’re keen to get out of the clouds and a little closer to the life below, check out the Skybridge. Walk from one tower to the other along this adrenaline-inducing glass bridge.
Enjoy the culture in Melaka
Formerly called Malacca, this historic region is located in southern Malaysia, right on the Malacca Strait. Given its prime position right on the water, this place is quickly becoming the go-to spot for travellers in Malaysia. Originally a fishing village with Malay, Chinese and Burmese inhabitants, it was seized by the Portuguese until it was traded to the British in the 19th century. Given how long the Portuguese stayed, you’ll be able to see their influence everywhere, from the crimson-red of the buildings and their terracotta roofs, right down to the local cuisine. Check out the waterfront homes, ride a colourful trishaw and grab a bite to eat at the Night Markets – you’ll love every second in Melaka.
Sunbathe on Langkawi
When most people think of a summer holiday, they usually think of European coasts or Filipino beaches. It’s time to think again: let us introduce you to Langkawi, your new-favourite summer getaway. A stunning archipelago of more than a hundred islands, the white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests and turquoise sea the major drawcards. Explore the islands by boat and by foot, hiking up to the Langkawi Skybridge for an awesome view of Moun Gunung Mat Cincang and wander over to the Telaja Tujuh waterfalls. If you’re just down to kick back and relax, pull up a deck chair, order a cocktail and say ‘bagus’ to life on Langkawi.
Get out of town at Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is a collective of five islands – Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik – all located off the coast of Sabah, Borneo. With resorts located in the national park, you can make a stay of it, or hitch a boat ride over from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s closest city, for a day trip. Be blown away by the stunning white beaches and turquoise blue waters of the islands. For those who want to head further inland, grab a friend and hike right into the jungle. For those preferring to stay by the shore, the best way to explore these islands is by scuba diving or snorkelling your way around them. Get a mask and get busy exploring.
Watch the orangutans in Sepilok
If you’re an animal lover, you’re probably keen to escape the big city lights of Kuala Lumpur and head straight for the jungles of Borneo. We don’t blame you. This state is one of the natural wonders of Malaysia, for none other than the amazing orangutans that call this place home. You can catch these cute, furry creatures at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah District of North Borneo. Founded in 1964, this centre aims to rehabilitate orphan orangutans. Located on 43sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve, there are hundreds of orangutans are living free on this reserve. Pay the centre a visit to support their good works and get up-close-and-personal with these amazing creatures.
Things to do in Malaysia
Chinese New Year
The most important festival on the Chinese lunar calendar, Malaysia celebrates Chinese New Year alongside its massive Chinese community. Marking the start of a new lunar year, cities all around the country go all-out for the celebration. Experience street parades with dragon dances, street vendors selling dumplings and moon cakes and amazing firework displays.
Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival that occurs in late January. With a huge Tamil community, Malaysia marks this special day with a national holiday. Honouring Lord Murgan, the Hindu god of war and son of Shiva, Hindu devotees pierce their bodies with hooks and skewers to display their devotion to the deity on this day.
Wesak is celebrated by Buddhists to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha – which, according to Buddhist belief, all happened on the same day. Buddhists gather at temples before dawn to pray, chant, give alms to monks and make offerings to the Buddha. Cities around Malaysia hold street processions to celebrate this day.
Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival)
Culture & Food
Known locally as Tadau Ka’amatan, the Harvest Festival is a celebration of the Kadazan-Dusun, the largest ethnic group in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Occurring every May, this festival honours Bambaazon, the spirit of the rice padi. Ancient traditions, rites and customs are performed on the day, before traditional sports and games begin.
Hungry Ghost Festival
Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated by the Chinese community in Malaysia. Usually celebrated between August and September, associated with a time of harvest and preparation for colder months, this celebration sees locals making offerings to the moon goddess. Many Malaysian cities celebrate with red lanterns and selling freshly-made mooncakes.
Top 5 Festivals in Malaysia
National Museum, Kuala Lumpur
From early Hindu influences in the region to its conversion to Islam, discover the history of this fascinating country at the Malaysian National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1963 after the independence of Malaya from Britain’s colonial forces, the National Museum’s collection spans from prehistoric life to the modern-day story of Malaysia.
Islamic Arts Museum
With most Malaysia’s population identifying as Muslim, much of the Malaysian art scene is based around Islamic tradition. Learn about the history of Islam in Malaysia through paintings, sculptures and calligraphy at the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur. The museum’s collection also details the spread of Islam from the Middle East to various parts of the globe.
National Textile Museum
Silk weaving is a national institution in Malaysia. Learn about the traditional methods and techniques of this beautiful art at the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Housing traditional machinery, costumes, headpieces and jewellery, this museum is a feast for the eyes. The building itself is a pretty spectacular sight, based on the traditional Moghul-style once prominent in the region.
Royal Malaysian Police Museum
The Royal Malaysian Police Museum is a showcase of the history of the Royal Malaysian police force, since its origins under the British colonial rule right up until the 1970s, following Malaysian independence. Find out more about the role of the police force in Malaysian society and check out the uniforms, weapons and other artefacts that officers used.
Batik Painting Museum Penang
Located in George Town in Penang, the Batik Painting Museum is home to 80 traditional batik paintings. Using traditional wax-dying techniques, the museum showcases some of the best Malaysian and international batik artists. If the colourful artworks aren’t enough of a calling, the collection is housed in a renovated three-storey British-style terrace.
Top 5 Museums & Galleries in Malaysia
From prehistoric times, life under the British and its modern-day achievements, the impressive history of Malaysia comes to life in its many museums. Learn about its religious and political history, as well as art and textiles, throughout the country. Here are our top five picks.
It’s pretty safe to say that nasi lemak is Malaysia’s national food. You won’t get any dispute from the locals, who serve up this rice dish on the regular. A pile of coconut-infused rice is served with spicy sambal and an assortment of sides, including fried anchovies, eggs, cucumbers and beef or chicken curry. If you find yourself in Kuala Lumpur, get this Malaysian staple at Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa.
Best eaten at Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa, 4 Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru, 50300 Kuala Lumpur
A special curry served during festival time and special occasions, rendang is one of the most beloved dishes of Malaysia. Usually served with beef or chicken, this rich Malaysian curry is made using galangal, lemongrass, turmeric, kaffir leaves, coconut milk and tamarind. Rich, spicy and seriously satisfying, pick up a bowl of rendang at Opium Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.
Best eaten at Opium KL, 50 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur
Anything fried always goes down well on holiday, especially after a night on the town. Tuck into some nasi goreng, Malaysia’s version of fried rice, which you’ll be able to find all over the country. Dressed up with eggs, prawns, chicken or pork, this rice dish is flavoured with onions, shallots, soy, tamarind, chilli, nuts and spices.
Best eaten at Village Park Restaurant, 5, Jalan SS 21/37, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Hainanese chicken rice
If you ask what the best Malaysian comfort food is, many of them will tell you it’s Hainanese chicken rice. This delicious chicken dish was brought to Malaysia by immigrants from Southern China, but the locals have made it their own. Chicken is added to sub-boiling waters along with garlic and ginger. The fatty water from the poached chicken is then used to cook the fragrant rice. Yum.
Best eaten at Restoran Hainanese Chicken Rice, No. 651-1, 3 1/2 Miles Jalan Ipoh, Wilayah Perseketuan, 51200 Kuala Lumpur
Literally translating to “fried noodles,” mie goreng is one of the staples of Malaysian street food. Delicious, thick egg noodles are fried up with garlic, onions, Chinese cabbage, kecap manis, chilli and fried chicken, pork and shrimp. You’ll find this dish at street vendors all over the country, but we really like how they do it at Mee Goreng Tanglin in Kuala Lumpur.
Best eaten at Mee Goreng Tanglin, Kompleks Makan Tanglin, Jalan Cenderasari, 50480, Kuala Lumpur
Food in Malaysia
Rich curries, fried rice and fragrant spices are a recipe for success in Malaysia. With culinary influences from its Malay, Chinese and Indian communities, eating in Malaysia is a food safari. Here are our pick for five foods you have to try in Malaysia.