Welcome to Malaysia, where diversity is the spice of life. From energetic city to equatorial rainforest, idyllic island to beautiful bay, you’ll find heaps of fascinating sights, sounds and cultures in this utterly unique nation.
If you’re fortunate enough to be heading to Malaysia but don’t know where to start, then you’re doubly lucky – as we’ve complied this guide to all the best things to do in Malaysia on your first visit.
Gawp at the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur
Experience the truly spectacular cityscape of Kuala Lumpur from the best view in the house. The Petronas twin towers – the largest twin towers in the world – dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline, reaching up into the heavens and illuminating the skies at night. If you’re not scared witless by heights, take a trip up to the observation deck for the photo op of a lifetime.
Walk the Langkawi sky bridge
Another one for lovers of panoramic perfection, this singular structure is the longest curved bridge in the world, arcing across the top of the Machinchang mountain, and suspended by a single 82 meter pylon. The entire bridge had to be lifted to the top of the mountain by helicopter, and stands as a testament to genius design and the jaw-dropping views of the Langkawi archipelago.
Explore the holy Batu caves
These hills feature limestone cave formations said to be 400 million years old, which means a visit here is one of the best things to do in Malaysia. One – the cathedral cave – has been formed into a spectacular Hindu temple, where shrines sit beneath the 100m ceiling. Two other cave temples – the art gallery cave and museum cave – feature a whole host of Hindu statues and paintings.
Witness the pink Putra mosque
Throughout the world, mosques serve as architectural landmarks as well as spiritual temples, and the Putra mosque is one of most modern in the world. Fusing traditional Islamic architecture with indigenous materials and future-facing design, the Putra mosque is an elegant and spectacular landmark that can house up to 10,000 worshipers.
Sunbathe on Langkawi
This awe-inspiring archipelago is made of 99 islands, dotting the stunning Malaysian west coast. Sparkling seas and picture perfect paddy fields set the scene, but the real stars of the show are the beaches, where you can sunbathe and kick back with a cocktail, surrounded by absolute paradise – bliss.
Enjoy some Nasi Kandar
This hugely popular northern Malaysian dish originates in Penang. Mixing aromatic rice with fried chicken, beef spleen, lamb or seafood, Nasir Kandir is served with side dishes piled on a single plate, with the curry sauce served directly onto the rice. Filling, invigorating and unique, this can’t be missed on your trip to Malaysia.
Dive into Tunk Abdul Rahman national park
Home to some of the most beautiful dive spots in the world, Tunk Abdul Rahman national park is abundant with coral, marine life and and crystal clear waters. On land you can expect extraordinarily pretty islands bursting with vibrant flora. Check out this top tourist attraction in Malaysia and you won’t be disappointed!
Admire the architecture in Melaka
An important trading centre for nearly 600 years, Melaka is a hub of spectacular colonial buildings and fascinating fusions of the old and the new. Visit the local architecture museum to learn about the history of Malaysian architecture from beginnings, through colonial phases and up to the towering modern skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur. The museum itself is housed in a Dutch period building from the 1700s.
Explore Georgetown on Penang
Head to the vibrant suburb and UNESCO-listed capital of Penang, Georgetown – one of the most vibrant and interesting cities in the world. Enter a world of intoxicating temples and fascinating street art as you walk through history, sampling delicious street food and enjoying some buzzing nightlife.
Take a cable car over the Genting Highlands
Mount Ulu Kali reaches peaks of over 6,000 feet, and is home to the famed hill station: the Genting Highlands. Renowned for its vibrant nightlife and hotels, take the Genting skyway for spectacular views of the surrounding forests.
Conquer Mount Kinabalu
Nature lovers and adventurers can’t miss out on Kinabalu Park, home to the spectacular mountain that bears its name. On the way up you’ll find find a staggering array of fauna and flora, forming one of the world’s most important biological sites. It’s one of the safest peaks in the world, too, so as long as you’re fairly physically fit, you shouldn’t have any issues getting your own conqueror shot.
Snorkel and dive in the Perhentian islands
Is this the best snorkel spot in the world? Famed for its lush underwater world, snorkelling at the Perhentian islands means you’re almost guaranteed to see clown fish fish, sharks and turtles. Believe us – the coral itself is worth the trip.
Visit the Sepilok orangutang centre
Orangutans are beautiful, fiercely intelligent creatures who resemble us in so many ways, but they are also critically endangered. This orangutan rehabilitation centre in the Sabah District of North Borneo was founded to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans. Go during feeding times to observe young orangutans working towards the final stages of rehabilitation.
Explore the tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands is home to vast plantations of emerald green tea crops. Visit to witness the jaw-dropping natural beauty, and stay for a drop or two of some world class, truly unique teas.
Breathe in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown
Heaving with intoxicating colours, sights and smells, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown is one of our favourites in the world, such is its deep immersion within Malaysia’s oriental heritage. Get ready to haggle for all sorts of wild and wonderful food, clothing and more.