ONE of South-East Asia’s favourite holiday destinations, Malaysia is a country where “something for everyone’’ is more of a daily itinerary than a promise.
Packed with attractions, experiences, and activities to meet every traveller’s needs, it is truly the ideal holiday destination.
From its postcard white sandy beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, eclectic cities, adventure activities and rainforests abundant with nature, it is a bubbling melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions.
Throw friendly and welcoming people into the mix, along with some of the best cuisine on the planet, and the Malaysian experience is hard to beat.
But where to start?
Here is a shortlist of the top things to see and do in Malaysia.
Penang a foodie paradise
Penang has long been regarded as one of Malaysia’s favourite tourism spots.
The island boasts an enviable range of historical and cultural attractions, not to mention an abundance of beautiful beaches and some excellent shopping for those after a little retail therapy.
And, of course, there is the cuisine. Penang’s multicultural heritage, with its strong Chinese, Indian and Portuguese influences, has produced a thriving local foodie scene characterised by myriad tantalising flavours – with the result that the city is now regarded as one of the world’s top food destinations.
Penang is home to one my favourite hotels in the world, the majestic Eastern and Oriental (E&O).
With 134 years of history, the E&O is a treasure trove of memories that evoke a sense of nostalgia when you meander through its hallways.
The hotel was established in 1885 by the famed Sarkies Brothers whose architectural landmarks include the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and The Strand in Rangoon. The hotel’s famous guests have included heads of state along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Hermann Hesse.
Nature in Taman Negara
Taman Negara, which means national park in Malay, is one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.
It features massive trees, waterfalls, jungle treks of various duration and the world’s longest canopy walkways.
Taman Negara is also a haven for endangered species such as the Asian elephant, tigers, leopards and rhinos, along with some spectacular birdlife, small deer, lizards, snakes and perhaps even a tapir.
Cast away on Pilau Tioman
This tiny island located off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia is a frequent inclusion on travellers’ lists of the world’s most beautiful places.
A magnet for visitors seeking a taste of paradise, the island is surrounded by numerous white coral reefs, making it a haven for scuba divers, while the interior is densely forested.
Cuddle up to an orangutan
No visit to Malaysia is complete without a visit to Sabah’s Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
Opened in 1964 for rescued orphaned baby orangutans from logging sites, plantations and illegal hunters, for over half a century the centre has successfully trained its charges to survive in the wild and releases them as soon as they are ready to do so.
Get batty in the Mulu Caves
To some people the simultaneous exodus of millions of bats from a cave might send chills down the spine – especially one big enough to accommodate 40 Boeing 747 airplanes.
Laze away in Langkawi
Malaysia’s best-known holiday destination, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea.
Fringed with long, white beaches and with an interior of jungle-covered hills and craggy mountain peaks, it’s easy to see why this is a honeymooners’ delight.