Holiday in Malaysia
Your Malaysian Bucket List
Home to many natural sites and wonders, Malaysia is truly Asia in all its glory. We recommend the following items to add in your bucket list to make your trip truly Malaysian.
#1: You have to try the authentic Malaysian cuisine especially the spicy, street-food version of it. A fusion of Indian, Chinese and Malay taste, Malaysian food makes your eyes water so much you might actually kneel down in prayer because of its aroma and spiciness. From Kuala Lumpur (a.k.a. KL) to Penang, satisfy your gustatory senses to the fullest;
#2: You have to see, partake and immerse yourself in at least one of the many Malaysian festivities, which we guarantee will further deepen whatever be your innate interest or preference in life. Malaysia’s cultural heritage is best experienced in these festivities which range from kite flying to religious festivals. Fans and followers of Gautama Buddha frequent Malaysia on Wesak Day, the celebration day which pays tribute to his life --- from birth, enlightenment to death;
#3: You have to visit at least a couple of the 23 national parks found in just two of the states in the country, Sarawak and Sabah on Borneo. Interesting to know is that Malaysia is composed of two geographic lands --- one is Peninsular Malaysia located on the main land of Southeast Asia composed of eleven states and the two capitals of Putrajaya and KL and the other is Malaysian Borneo located on the South China Sea, the border of which Malaysia shares with Indonesia. We recommend visiting Niah National Park, the site of significant archaeological finds which date back to the last ice and Pleisotcene age and Gunung Mulu National Park where you can trek through the limestone pinnacles of Mount Api or marvel in the exoticness of the different fauna endemic only there like the upper pitcher of Nepenthes faizaliana;
#4: You have to conquer both Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo’s highest peaks, Gunung Tahan and Mount Kinabalu, respectively. Gunung Tahan is located at one of the national parks called Taman Negara, consequently the location of one of the most ancient tropical rainforest in the whole world. Mount Kinabalu, on the other hand, is equally majestic with its virgin wildlife found 4,101 metres above sea level on the smaller Malay state of Sabah; and
#5: You have to swim alongside the many turtles found on Perhentian Islands or just take that amazing jungle trek and spot the many wildlife inhabitants, most notable are the humungous insects like millipedes and ants.
Best Time to Drop By
As can be expected of countries in Southeast Asia, the whole year sees hotness and humidity to its fullest. The months from November to February, however, leave Peninsular Malaysia’s eastern part and Malaysian Borneo really wet. The west coast, on the other hand, undergoes rainy season during May and September. So you have to take note of these months when planning to visit to avoid the unnecessary inconvenience rain might bring to your vacation.
Good to Know: What Malaysia Has to Offer
Malaysia was the key country which opened Southeast Asia to European conquest during the 16th century when the Portuguese sent out ships to Malacca in search of spices.
Indeed, Malaysia has gone a long way since those times of subjugation. The Malaysia thriving now is more diverse in ethnicities and cultures. And what best way to see this diversity than by soaking in the richness of this country through backpacking escapades, jungle treks, diving, and snorkelling, to name a few. The diving in Malaysian Borneo is by far the best in the region. It is no surprise then that the beaches of Malaysia, although lacking in the glitter and glamour most often found in neighbouring Thailand, are emerging competitions as they showcase their white, powdery beaches complimented by surprisingly affordable hotel accommodations.
Take note too that contrary to what most backpacker aficionados’ belief that Malaysia is on the expensive side of the travelling cost spectrum and would rather choose its more economical neighbours like Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, you would do service to your wallet if you try out backpacking here. In addition, think “fewer tourists” while in Malaysia and your money will sure go a long way in getting you that exclusive holiday feeling.
Accessible public transportation also makes travelling around Malaysia, from Penang to KL to Melaka (all members of UNESCO), very easy and quite affordable so you get to see all the sites.
If you decided to start at the capital of KL, it is best to savour the avant-garde quality of the metropolis by visiting its many restaurants and bars while immersing yourself to get the hang of the friendliness of the locals through a casual chat here and there. The malls and the buildings, complimented by state-of-the art road infrastructures and public transportation are reminiscent of the stylish and commercialized status of Singapore. This is all made possible through the leadership of Mahathir Mohamad and his development thrust of converting the nation from an agrarian reform to one of the region’s economic competitor.
Move on towards Melaka, south of KL, and get the chance to witness where Malay civilisation all began. Here, you can see both Portuguese and Dutch influence in the architectural designs of its buildings and homes.
Same can be observed on the island of Penang, a once British settlement, now the site of the many restored edifices and surprisingly the location also of the best reported cuisine in the country.
And if Thailand has its Phuket, Malaysia has its Langkawi to display with its expansive beach front properties and resorts and its waves worked on by immense yachts and wickedly fast jet skis. If you prefer the simpler islands, however, head on towards the nation’s east coast and look for the Pulau Tioman and the Perhentians islands for activities like diving and snorkelling and the Ko Tarutao islands near Thailand for magnificent vistas.
If you can tell so far that Malaysia indiscriminately caters to both kinds of travellers such as the gung-ho backpacker and the more laid back, with money to spend tourist, you’re definitely on the right track.
Recently, with the birth of environmentally aware or “green tourists”, Malaysia has been seeing an equal upsurge of visitors to its many natural sites such as the island of environmentalism Taman Negara, established as a national park in 1938, which limited the expansion of palm plantations that threatened most of Peninsular Malaysia during those times. In addition, the islands of Manuka, Gaya, Mabul and Pulau Sipadan are models of untouched wilds, where you can still see flocks of sea creatures swimming its waters.
Another is Cameron Highlands, a “green destination” and a moderate temperature alternative to the national parks offering activities such as bird-watching, tea sessions and golfing.
Finally, there is the largest state called Sarawak with its colonial relic of a capital named Kuching. Sarawak also offers many national parks to explore, more forested and wilder than those found on Peninsular Malaysia.