Combine lemongrass, onions, garlic, ginger, galangal and chillies. Add some cumin, coriander and turmeric then toss in some tofu or beef. Pour in coconut milk and stir in cinnamon, lime and soy. Simmer. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be. You’ll end up with a delicious rendang curry, the epitome of Malaysian home-cooking. You might think, well that’s a little bit Indian, a little bit Chinese, a hint of Thai, and something else entirely. And you’d be right. That’s Malaysia all over. It’s a bubbling, bustling melting-pot bringing cultures together in a harmonious fusion.
One of Malaysia’s key attractions is its extreme contrasts. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit by ancient reefs. Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
The nation is actually made up of Peninsular Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo and 878 most uninhabited islands. This makes for a varied tropical climate with generally lots of sunshine and annual rains. Temperatures range from 23°C to 34°C with cooler temperatures in the highlands. Summer holidays and winter breaks are by far the busiest times. For the best deals try March to April or October to November. These can be wet with some flooding, although there are regional variations and much of the rainfall is in the afternoon. For the most part, locals just get on with life throughout the monsoon, and some of the very best adventurers are to be had in these seasons.
Climb Kuala Lumpur’s iconic landmark, the Petronas Towers, and walk the space between these twins on the record breaking 170 metre high skybridge. Explore China Town and the nearby Batu Caves before heading north to the endless verdant slopes of the tea plantation of the Cameron Highlands with its British climate and terrain. A little further afield, Taman Negara National Park offers some amazing chances to hike and stay in 130 million year old rainforest as you go in search of tigers, macaques and birdlife, as well as the enormous smelly blooms of the rafflesia plant.
A nature lover’s dream come true, Borneo is just teaming with life and is particularly known for its orangutan population. Visit these charming primates in a natural setting at the rehabilitiation centres in Sepilok or Semenggoh. Also highly recommended is a river cruise and overnight stay at Kinabatangan surrounded by swamps and mangroves where you’ll spot Proboscis Monkey, Pygmy Elephant, crocodiles and Hornbills.
Actually it’s an archipelago of 99 isles off the north-western coast but only 4 are inhabited. Our choice for both relaxation and adventure, Langkawi is known for its glorious sunshine and beautiful sands, 2,220 metre high cable car and great value luxury resorts, many built using natural sustainable materials. Get close to the amazing mangroves on a boat ride exploring limestone outcrops and caves to spot monkeys, snakes, eagles, and otters. Take to the Andaman Sea with a sunset cruise, feeling the breeze on to your face while you look out for dolphins and sip on a Mai Tai.