Ten Good Reasons to Visit Malaysia

We have spent the whole of April retracing the steps of our trip to Malaysia, to celebrate Visit Malaysia 2014. We got lost in the jungle and witnessed ancient festivals, tried delicious food and explored amazing nature.

Do you need any more convincing? To say farewell to Malaysia, we have rounded up ten good reasons to visit this great country.

1) Locals are kind and friendly

Cameron Highlands Ridiculously Photogenic Tea Picker
A friendly tea picker in Cameron Highlands

There’s something different from the rest of South East Asia. None of that walking ATM feeling; fewer touts, no attempted scams, and a general feeling of being safe at all times. To us, Malaysians seemed genuinely happy to see tourists and were always ready to help whenever we found ourselves in trouble.

On top of that, English is widely spoken, courtesy of the fact that Malaysia used to be a British colony. It was easy to chat, on the bus and in food courts, on beaches and in hostels. Some of these connections became wonderful travel memories.

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2) Wildlife

Sepilok Orangutan Sitting
An orangutan in Sepilok

Whoa, don’t get me started! Wildlife was one of the reasons why we decided to visit Malaysia, and perhaps THE reason why we flew over to Borneo for two weeks. And let me tell you, we were not disappointed. We visited Sepilok, an orangutan rehabilitation centre, that allowed us to get close to these wonderful creatures. Then, we spent an amazing three days in the jungle, where we saw wild orangutans, gibbons, proboscis monkeys, monitor lizards and thousands of colourful critters.

3) Scenery

Cameron Highlands Tea Hills with Road
Stunning views in Cameron Highlands

From jungles to mountains, hills to beaches, Malaysia offers a variety of beautiful landcapes that will please even the fussiest photographer and landscape junkie. We fell in love with the jungle of Taman Negara and the tea plantations of Cameron Highlands; and there are several scenic spots we did not have time to visit, such as Gunung Mulu National Park and the Perhentian Islands. Well, another excuse to get back!

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4) Trekking

Mt Kinabalu Sunrise
Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia

Malaysia is a land of natural beauty, and exploring on foot gives you the chance to get close to nature. There are plenty of trekking opportunities; we explored the jungle of Taman Negara independently (even though we did end up getting lost…), trekked around Penang Hill and Mount Kinabalu, and spent two days hill walking in Cameron Highlands. And this is not all. We heard about the great beach scene of Langkawi, a tropical island paradise, and that the world’s tallest trees have recently been discovered in Borneo.

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5) Culture

Kinabalu Prayer and boy with drink
Men praying in front of Kota Kinabalu’s waterside mosque

This is probably the reason why we loved Malaysia so much. Few countries are as culturally diverse as Malaysia, and that becomes instantly clear walking around cities; mosques give way to Taoist pagodas, while South Indian temples appear just around the corner. Malaysia today is the product of three different cultures, Malay, Indian and Chinese. Truly Asia, indeed.

6) Festivals

Penang Chinese New Year Drummer boy
Little boy playing drums on Chinese New Year

Great festivals are a direct consequence of cultural diversity. We visited for a month between January and February, and we had the chance of witnessing two great celebrations; Thaipusam and Chinese New Year. Every month there are festivals around the country; religious or secular, sports and cultural events. Malacca is also supposed to be an amazing place, definitely on our list for our next visit!

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7) Value for money

Penang Blue House
Our pad in Penang… one day maybe!

It may not be the cheapest South East Asian country, but Malaysia offers great value for money. Prices are more than reasonable in comparison to Western standards, and the quality of accommodation and transport is excellent. On average, we spent between RM 50 and RM 80 for double rooms in hostels and budget guesthouses, often even with air-con and private bathrooms. Buses and trains are also a step up from cramped Thai and Laotian affairs!

8) Cities

Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers in KL

I have a soft spot for big cities in Asia. I love the traffic and the buzzing atmosphere, the food courts and the street markets, faiths and cultures mingling. Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur (KL) is one of South East Asia’s best cities, with enough sightseeing to keep you busy for a few days. However, the real surprise for us was Penang; our favourite destination by far. A great city, delicious food, cultural sights and incredible nature packed into a small island.

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9) Beaches

Kinabalu Beach
Stunning beach on Pulau Sapi

We are not beach people, one day or two is plenty enough for us. Having said that, we did find some amazing beaches in Malaysia. Pulau Sapi off the coast of Kota Kinabalu makes for a wonderful day trip, and there are some lovely stretches of coast on Langkawi, a honeymoon island a short ferry ride from Penang. Diving enthusiasts will also be spoilt for choice; the coast of Pulau Sipadan is considered among the top dive sites in the world!

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10) Food

Fried tofu with spring onions and chilli
Fried tofu with spring onions and chilli

There was no other way to conclude this list; pure and simple, Malaysian food is the best in the world. The best of the best in our opinion is the food from Penang; have a look at our Penang in Ten Dishes post, but be careful if you’re hungry!

Do you have any other Malaysia tips? Great places, treks, beaches or festivals? Places to go to sample Malaysian food?

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32 thoughts on “Ten Good Reasons to Visit Malaysia”

  1. Nice list of reasons! Being a Malaysian, I might be a bit biased though, heh! 😉

    In my blog, in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign, I have a monthly guest post section for local Malaysian travel bloggers to write about top things to do/see in their hometown from their (a local’s) point of view. Some of the recommendations are quite interesting and different, even for another local like me. Feel free to check them out here:


    • Thanks! Loved the post and will definitely share it of I hear of people visiting Malaysia!

  2. Hurrah! So glad you enjoyed your visit to Malaysia. I haven’t even been to East Malaysia although I grew up here. Perhentian is definitely worth coming back for, and Mulu is a UNESCO site — can’t get any better endorsement than that!

  3. An excellent post of traveling to Malaysia, all of those resonate with me and my experience there, although my favorite small city filled with cultural and historic significance is Malacca and the food there outstanding!

  4. We definitely have to make some time to visit at least one or two spots in Malaysia this year. It’s so close – we’re not taking advantage!

    • Hey Bronwyn! You should definitely visit Malaysia if you live close, the food (and everything else, of course) is so amazing you’ll always want more!

  5. You’ve seen more of Malaysia than I have, and I’ve been here for 3 years. I agree it’s a great place to visit or even live. I think that the blending of cultures, multitude of festivals and fantastic food are why I love it so much. Ever since the monkeys stole my clothes and roaches infested my car, the wildlife has been a love-hate relationship for me.

    • hey Michele! I guess that’s what always happens. You end up visiting more when you travel than when you live somewhere, but experiencing different lifestyles is just as good as travelling, if not better!

  6. Thankyou for sharing such amazing tips! I love the idea of the Cameron Highlands! We loved Penang culture and food so much!

  7. Just stunning! I travelled around Malaysia 16 years ago, and I think it’s time I went back! Such a great place! 🙂

    • Definitely save some time for Malaysia in your itinerary! It’s often overlooked, but it was my favourite South East Asian country!

    • Malaysian food is so good, definitely reason enough to travel! Hope you make it down there one day!

  8. Great round up, guys! Not surprised you felt in love with the Cameron Highlands – the scenery is really breathtaking. I also like the fact that you’ve encountered fewer touts, and no attempted scamps. Enjoyed reading your Penang in Ten Dishes post. Everything on your photos looks delicious.

  9. For people with kids, I can add another reason! It is a fabulous country to visit with kids. I actually wasn’t a fan of Malaysia until we went with our young children. To me, it felt like there was a warmness missing, compared to when we have been to Bali or Thailand. Kids changed all that. People were so welcoming and loving towards our children. It made it a real pleasure to spend time in Malaysia.

    • Great to hear that Sharon. I thought Malaysians were great people, I can only imagine how warm and kind they would be with children.

  10. I have about one more week of vacation to plan and I want it to be this fall. It’s going to be Jordan but now I am in doubt because I got a really cheap offer to fly to Malaysia and it sure looks stunning. I’d only have about 10 days though… the Cameron Highlands seem so gorgeous!

    • Hey Antonette! Jordan is amazing too, keep Malaysia for your next vacation as ten days won’t be enough!

  11. Great list, and I agree with all of your points. I’ve been to Malaysia three time, with side trips to the state of Sarawak — to me, the most amazing part of this amazing country. But every part of Malaysia has great things to discover. I recently wrote a post highlighting my six best undiscovered destinations, and Malaysia was at the top of the list.

  12. When we visited Malaysia last year, I didn’t really know what to expect.

    However, I fell totally in love with it. It is such a friendly country, with so much history and culture. And you are definitely right about the food – delicious!

    We spent a month there and managed to visit Melaka, KL, Cameron Highlands, Penang and Langkawi…. But there is still so much I want to see! Definitely need to go back!

  13. I’m malaysian. Thank you for a best review about my country. Malaysia is indeed the food paradise and have a magnificent of cultural diversity. we really flexible about food. we like to try new food from around the world too, that’s why you can find a diversity of foreign restaurants here. Thank you again and please welcome to my country again and again and we’re very pleased to give a warmth welcome to tourists. 🙂

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