Malaysia

Nation of contrasts, mouth-watering cuisine, amazing wildlife and golden beaches

Overview

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.

Peninsular Malaysia

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.

Malaysian Borneo

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.

Langkawi

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.


Low Season Saving

From 50% versus Peak Season


Tourist:Local Ratio

Peak Season

Low Season

1:4
1:6


Flight Time from UK

13 Hours

Low Season Months

Jan Feb Mar
28°C
260mm
7hrs
Apr
28°C
240mm
8hrs
May
28°C
190mm
8hrs
Jun
28°C
160mm
8hrs
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Hotels

Coming online very soon

Top Experiences

Selingan Turtle Island Overnight

From Sandakan take a boat to this isle dedicated to the protection of green and hawksbill turtles. See mother turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs and the support given by professional conservationists.

Mount Kinabalu

Climb this stunning 4,095 metre peak with a two or three day guided trek up the mountain. It’s challenging but worth it. Alternatively take an unforgettable helicopter journey over the summit.

Jungle Trekking on Langkawi

Take a 3 hour guided hike into the tropical rainforest and experience the island’s trees, birds, butterflies and mammals. Start late afternoon to witness the change from day to nocturnal creatures.

Insider Tips

  • Tiny and remote in the Celebes Sea, Sipadan, Malaysia’s only oceanic island is a world-renowned destination for diving amid turtles, sharks, and barracuda.
  • Malaysia is home to four UNESCO sites: Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park, Malacca & George Town, and the archaeological site of the Lenggong Valley.
  • Borneo is huge, the world’s third largest island after Greenland and New Guinea. Just the top 75,000 square miles is Malaysian though, the rest belongs to Indonesia.

Good To Know

  • Langkawi, along with Labuan and Tioman, is a duty free island which means alcohol and other goods can be a third cheaper than on the mainland.
  • If you are lucky enough to be invited to a local’s home, never enter their house with your shoes on. It is simply not done and considered disrespectful.
  • When booking low season accommodation, look out for value added offers or bonus nights. If none are advertised, it is always worth asking.

Food & Drink

Dining in the Dark KL

£££

Fabulous international and local dishes served and eaten in complete darkness. Every mouthful is a feast for the senses, all except the eyes that is.

Rimba at Ambong Pool Villas, Langkawi

££££

To die for fresh seafood and fusion cuisine with beautiful views of Pulau Tepor and the verdant forest. Superb rooftop cocktail bar.

Kedai Kopi Fatt Kee, Kota Kinabalu

££

Small but busy humble-looking coffee shop with excellent local food. Try the chicken wings and asam laksa fish soup.

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