• Malaysia, main image
  • Overview

    Malaysia lies strewn across the South China Sea. Spanning, from west to east, the islands of the Malay Archipelago, the Malay Peninsula and the northern quarter of Borneo, is an intriguing potpourri of Asian culture. Malaysia is also a heady and enticing mix of the ancient and modern; dynamic cities rub up against dense jungle interiors, idyllic islands feature exceptional beaches, rainforests sustain incredible wildlife, and contrasting cultural influences are evidenced in architecture, religion and cuisine.

    Sharing borders with Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia, Malaysia’s cultural diversity is underscored by an indigenous population, and tribes known collectively as Dayaks, living harmoniously alongside Malay, Indian, Chinese and European peoples. Half of the 30 million population identifies as Malay. Festivals, events and a varied cuisine, play an important part in preserving the religious and cultural identities of each ethnic group. Malaysia is perhaps best known for its lush rainforests and wild jungles. These predominate on the Malay Peninsula and in the Sabah and Sarawak areas of Malaysia’s northern Borneo territory, playing host to a huge variety of wildlife. Malaysia’s west coast islands feature tranquil beaches and waters rich in coral reefs and exotic marine life.

    Sultry best describes the climate of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, and the views from the skybridge which joins the city’s Petronas Towers, detail a metropolis where skyscrapers, Mogul domes and slim minarets share the skyline. In their shadows are splashes of lush green parkland, historic monuments, colonial buildings, glitzily oversized shopping malls, and colourful streets shaded by banyan trees and framed by hectic markets and tempting foodstalls. An ambitious riverbank regeneration project and a tranche of ancient rain forest, a haven for wildlife, are both part of the many contrasts of this city known as KL.

    The beautiful islands of the Langkawi archipelago hang off the Malay Peninsula’s northwest coast. Part of Thailand-bordering Kedah state, Langkawi is known as the jewel of the Kedah, with waterfalls, hot springs, forest parks, jungle vegetation and traditional kampung fishing villages. The primary visitor attractions are beaches of blonde and pure white sand and clear, calm waters. Relaxation seems likely. Exploration is achievable, be that of the jungle or the coral. On Langkawi Island, the Sky Cab cable car passes above the rainforest to the peak of Mount Machinchang, and the Sky Bridge curves across the landscape. Spas, seafood restaurants and beach bars are abundant. Penang is home to inviting and soft palm fringed beaches. George Town, Penang Island’s colourful capital, where British colonial buildings, Hindu temples, mosques and Buddhist statues neighbour Chinese shophouses, is overlooked by a funicular railway and thoroughly modern skyscrapers. Penang’s long history as the link between Asia, Europe and the Middle East makes it great for food; dine on excellent regional cuisine, sublime seafood, or take a seat at the hawker stalls of the bustling night markets.

    Malaysian Borneo, which occupies a northern strip of the island, is pure joy for wildlife lovers. Kota Kinabalu, known as KK, is the capital which mixes old world charm and history with a modern dynamism. It's framed by superb beaches and surrounded by rainforest, and is the gateway to Kinabalu National Park and towering Mount Kinabalu.

    Wildlife lovers can glimpse endangered orangutans or snorkel close to hawksbill and green sea turtles in the South China Sea.

    Malaysian wildlife encounters may include colourful birdlife, tapirs, silvered leaf monkeys, orangutans, tropical fish, turtles, sharks and dolphins. Even the urban centres present excellent opportunities for wildlife watching: KL Bird Park and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Borneos’ Gunung Mulu National Park boasts two of the world’s largest caves, Sarawak Chamber and Deer Cave. Malaysia has its own species of striped, big cat, the critically endangered Malayan Tiger, which is found in small and diminishing numbers on the Malay Peninsula.

    Climate and when to visit

    Malaysia’s capital and west coast are hot and humid year-round. Tropical rain showers are expected and intermittent. The wet season, to the east, is between November and February. The west coast has wetter weeks from September to October.

    Malaysia highlights include:

    -Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

    -Blue Mansion, George Town, Penang

    -Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

    -Cameron Highlands’ tea estates

    -Taman Negara National Park

  • What to do?
  • Hotels
 

Malaysia lies strewn across the South China Sea. Spanning, from west to east, the islands of the Malay Archipelago, the Malay Peninsula and the northern quarter of Borneo, is an intriguing potpourri of Asian culture. Malaysia is also a heady and enticing mix of the ancient and modern; dynamic cities rub up against dense jungle interiors, idyllic islands feature exceptional beaches, rainforests sustain incredible wildlife, and contrasting cultural influences are evidenced in architecture, religion and cuisine.

Sharing borders with Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia, Malaysia’s cultural diversity is underscored by an indigenous population, and tribes known collectively as Dayaks, living harmoniously alongside Malay, Indian, Chinese and European peoples. Half of the 30 million population identifies as Malay. Festivals, events and a varied cuisine, play an important part in preserving the religious and cultural identities of each ethnic group. Malaysia is perhaps best known for its lush rainforests and wild jungles. These predominate on the Malay Peninsula and in the Sabah and Sarawak areas of Malaysia’s northern Borneo territory, playing host to a huge variety of wildlife. Malaysia’s west coast islands feature tranquil beaches and waters rich in coral reefs and exotic marine life.

Sultry best describes the climate of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, and the views from the skybridge which joins the city’s Petronas Towers, detail a metropolis where skyscrapers, Mogul domes and slim minarets share the skyline. In their shadows are splashes of lush green parkland, historic monuments, colonial buildings, glitzily oversized shopping malls, and colourful streets shaded by banyan trees and framed by hectic markets and tempting foodstalls. An ambitious riverbank regeneration project and a tranche of ancient rain forest, a haven for wildlife, are both part of the many contrasts of this city known as KL.

The beautiful islands of the Langkawi archipelago hang off the Malay Peninsula’s northwest coast. Part of Thailand-bordering Kedah state, Langkawi is known as the jewel of the Kedah, with waterfalls, hot springs, forest parks, jungle vegetation and traditional kampung fishing villages. The primary visitor attractions are beaches of blonde and pure white sand and clear, calm waters. Relaxation seems likely. Exploration is achievable, be that of the jungle or the coral. On Langkawi Island, the Sky Cab cable car passes above the rainforest to the peak of Mount Machinchang, and the Sky Bridge curves across the landscape. Spas, seafood restaurants and beach bars are abundant. Penang is home to inviting and soft palm fringed beaches. George Town, Penang Island’s colourful capital, where British colonial buildings, Hindu temples, mosques and Buddhist statues neighbour Chinese shophouses, is overlooked by a funicular railway and thoroughly modern skyscrapers. Penang’s long history as the link between Asia, Europe and the Middle East makes it great for food; dine on excellent regional cuisine, sublime seafood, or take a seat at the hawker stalls of the bustling night markets.

Malaysian Borneo, which occupies a northern strip of the island, is pure joy for wildlife lovers. Kota Kinabalu, known as KK, is the capital which mixes old world charm and history with a modern dynamism. It's framed by superb beaches and surrounded by rainforest, and is the gateway to Kinabalu National Park and towering Mount Kinabalu.

Wildlife lovers can glimpse endangered orangutans or snorkel close to hawksbill and green sea turtles in the South China Sea.

Malaysian wildlife encounters may include colourful birdlife, tapirs, silvered leaf monkeys, orangutans, tropical fish, turtles, sharks and dolphins. Even the urban centres present excellent opportunities for wildlife watching: KL Bird Park and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Borneos’ Gunung Mulu National Park boasts two of the world’s largest caves, Sarawak Chamber and Deer Cave. Malaysia has its own species of striped, big cat, the critically endangered Malayan Tiger, which is found in small and diminishing numbers on the Malay Peninsula.

Climate and when to visit

Malaysia’s capital and west coast are hot and humid year-round. Tropical rain showers are expected and intermittent. The wet season, to the east, is between November and February. The west coast has wetter weeks from September to October.

Malaysia highlights include:

-Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

-Blue Mansion, George Town, Penang

-Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

-Cameron Highlands’ tea estates

-Taman Negara National Park

Featured hotels

The Datai

5 Star Superior

A magical, luxury escape and wildlife paradise Set in the heart of a ten million year old virgin rainforest, against a backdrop of primordial mountains, this superbly designed luxury property overlooks the Andaman Sea and the beautiful white sand beach of Datai Bay.

Request a quote

Shangri-La Rasa Ria

5 Star

Set amidst 400 acres of untouched natural beauty and on a broad sweep of soft golden sand, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa is a wonderful introduction to Borneo’s tropical rainforest wilderness. The hotel’s Garden Wing is geared towards families, the Ocean Wing is aimed at adults.

Request a quote
See all hotels in Malaysia

Featured hotels

The Datai

5 Star Superior

A magical, luxury escape and wildlife paradise Set in the heart of a ten million year old virgin rainforest, against a backdrop of primordial mountains, this superbly designed luxury property overlooks the Andaman Sea and the beautiful white sand beach of Datai Bay.

Shangri-La Rasa Ria

5 Star

Set amidst 400 acres of untouched natural beauty and on a broad sweep of soft golden sand, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa is a wonderful introduction to Borneo’s tropical rainforest wilderness. The hotel’s Garden Wing is geared towards families, the Ocean Wing is aimed at adults.

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Before you go, you should seek up to date advice from the UK FCDO www.gov.uk about travel to, and within, your chosen destination, noting the importance of regularly checking for the latest information. Additionally, with regards to vaccinations and health requirements, you should check with your GP surgery or www.travelhealthpro.org.uk for specific advice.

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