Dive Into Malaysia

Dive Into Malaysia

Top 21 BEST Places To Visit In Malaysia [2024]

Malaysia is a popular travel destination but when many visitors think about where to visit in Malaysia, they settle for the big city of Kuala Lumpur and the beautiful beaches in Penang and on the island of Langkawi, leaving so many other best cities in Malaysia to visit.

The reality is that there are so many more Malaysia tourist attractions to see. Malaysia spans several large and small islands, and the truth is there are many answers to the question “where to travel in Malaysia”!

A diverse country, there are so many wonderful and attractive places in Malaysia. Not just in its pristine beaches and islands but nature parks too. You could spend months visiting Malaysia tourist places and not cover it all.

Top 20 Best Places To Visit In Malaysia [2021]

What’s more, Malaysia is very budget friendly, the locals are warm and welcoming and the food is inexpensive and delicious.

Travelling to Malaysia? Click here to download your free Malaysia Trip Planning checklist . We’ll help you get ready for your trip!  

So, if you’re wondering Malaysia – where to travel or perhaps you need more encouragement to visit Malaysia? Read on for our list of 21 of the best places to go in Malaysia. This is our ultimate list of the very best Malaysia travel destinations and you’re sure to find some must see places in Malaysia that are perfect for your vacation!

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions?  Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

Top 21 Best Places To Visit In Malaysia

Kuala lumpur.

top travel destinations malaysia

A list of the best places to visit in Malaysia would be incomplete without the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Top on my list of Malaysia attractions 2024, KL is often the first place people think of when planning where to go in Malaysia, and regularly features as one of the top cities to visit in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur is the largest city in Malaysia, the major financial center of a melting pot of different cultures. This makes it one of the most exciting cities in Malaysia and shouldn’t be missed.

Things to do in Kuala Lumpur include a trip to the world famous Petronas Towers if you’re looking for the best place to visit in KL, taking a trip to the ancient Hindu temple at the Batu Caves, sampling some of the most amazing street food, visiting markets, mosques, theme parks, shopping and much more.

There’s no shortage of wonderful places to visit in Kuala Lumpur and you’ll likely struggle to fit in all the Kuala Lumpur tourist spots in a single visit. When it comes to the Malaysia best places to visit, Kuala Lumpur is a very strong contender, and it’s also one of the most fun places to visit in Malaysia.

If you’re wondering where to start with where to travel in Malaysia 2024, then you can do no wrong with starting in KL.

Getting to Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur has two major airports – KLIA and KLIA2. It is also well connected to the rest of Malaysia by bus and train.

Top Attraction to visit: The Petronas Towers are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia.

Top place to stay:  Berjaya Times Square Hotel – Click here for the latest prices

Read our best guides to Kuala Lumpur here .

visit Malaysia 2021 Langkawi island

One of the top travel destinations Malaysia has (especially for beach vacations), Langkawi is a Malaysia must see and many would argue the best island in Malaysia. Not only a beautiful destination with great beaches and attractions, there’s something to suit everyone in Langkawi on either ends of the main island.

When you picture best places to visit Malaysia in your head, it’s very likely the image you see is of Langkawi. This island is definitely one of the options for best place for vacation in Malaysia.

Langkawi is actually an archipelago but the main island offers a range of different locations to visit and stay. Pantai Cenang is one of the most popular beach destinations and home to Underwater World. Other more peaceful destinations are dotted throughout the island. If you love beaches, Langkawi is definitely one of the places to visit in Malaysia that you’ll want to consider. 

Temurun Waterfall is another popular attraction in Langkawi, as well as the Langkawi Cable Car which takes you to the peak of Gunung Machinchang where you’ll find restaurants, shops and other attractions. This is the best way to see that this option of Malaysia best places is not just about gorgeous beaches but also gorgeous jungle interior.

Getting to Langkawi: The best way to get to Langkawi is to fly. Flights leave multiple times daily from Kuala Lumpur and other cities.

Top Attraction to visit: Langkawi Cable Car 

Top place to stay:  Ritz-Carlton Langkawi – Click here for the latest prices

Read our best guides to Langkawi here .

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There are three different options depending on whether you want to concentrate on street food, nightlife or off the beaten track places.

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There’s no better way to discover this great city.

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top travel destinations malaysia

Another popular Malaysia tourist spots and top destinations in Malaysia is the state of Penang. This state offers many Malaysia places to visit for both first time and return visitors as it’s quite diverse, and it’s one of my personal favourite places to go Malaysia.

There’s a multicultural mix of influences and plenty of beaches, interesting architecture and affordable resort style accommodation. It’s also one of the best places in Malaysia to eat, offering some of the best cheap food.

If you’re wondering what to visit in Malaysia, you will love the array of things to do and see in Penang. Penang is home to important and culturally significant temples like Lok Si Temple, as well as British colonial leftovers like Fort Cornwallis, dating back to the 18th century when Penang was occupied by the British, as well as the historic George Town.

There’s so much to see and do in Penang, making it one of the top places in Malaysia and somewhere you should add to your list of what to see in Malaysia!

In fact, the combination of great food, interesting heritage, beaches and ease of getting here and around makes Penang my personal pick for the best place in Malaysia and definitely one of the best holiday places in Malaysia. If you’re new to Malaysia, best place to travel options are plenty here in Penang.

Getting to Penang: You can get to Penang by train, bus or plane. From Kuala Lumpur, flying is the quickest way to get there.

Top Attraction to visit: George Town

Top place to stay:  Shangri La Rasa Sayang – Click here for the latest prices

Read our best guides to Penang here .

Bukit Merah

top travel destinations malaysia

Malaysia is well known as the home of the orangutan, and another thing visitors often include on their list of what to do in Malaysia is seeing orangutans.

One of the famous places in Malaysia where you can see orangutans is Bukit Merah.

Located just outside of Taiping, the town is surrounded by a lake. Its main attraction is Orang Utan Island – a sustainable tourist destination and one of the top things to see in Malaysia. The town is home to another sustainable attraction, the EcoPark – an enclosure home to many native and rare animals.

When you’re comparing Malaysia vacation destinations, know that this isn’t a cheap destination to visit, but this eco-tourist destination puts what they receive back into maintaining the environment, so it’s a place you can feel good about visiting. It really is the best place to see the orangutan in peninsular Malaysia.

If you want to support ecotourism and want to have a once in a lifetime experience, then Bukit Merah is definitely one of the best place to vacation in Malaysia options for you.

Getting to Bukit Merah: The best way to get there is to drive from Taiping. There are also buses. It’s also possible to day trip here from Penang.

Top Attraction to visit: Orang Utan Island

Top place to stay:  Bukit Merah Laketown Resort – Click here to see the latest prices.

Kuala Kangsar

top travel destinations malaysia

Kuala Kangsar is a royal capital, and there is some amazing architecture to see and explore. When we visited, we found the city quiet yet still with a commanding presence owing to the grand buildings. These buildings are why it’s on this Malaysia place to visit list.

This is a town of palaces, and there are plenty to view like the Istana Iskandariah, the Istana Kenangan (constructed of wood), and the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery.

If you want to go and explore somewhere off the beaten tourist track, then this best destination Malaysia might just be right up your street.

The major draw-card of this town is definitely the pretty architecture. There aren’t many attractions, but it does make a nice Malaysia tourist destination for a day trip.

Getting to Kuala Kangsar: You can get there by car, train and bus. The journey takes about an hour from Ipoh.

Top Attraction to visit: Ubudiah Mosque

Top place to stay:  The Shop Hotel – Click here for the latest prices

Streets of Ipoh

When we visited Ipoh, we didn’t know what to expect. We ended up loving it. Ipoh is the state capital of Perak and a fantastic destination for a short getaway with plenty of interesting places in Malaysia located in this city. Ipoh is definitely one of the nice places to visit in Malaysia which sees fewer tourists (a good thing in our view!).

If you’re idea of a Malaysia best place to visit includes fantastic food, interesting attractions and lots of fun then visit Ipoh.

There’s the unfinished Kellie’s Castle to explore, Tempurung Cave, the popular Sunway Lost World Of Tambun (great for families) and much more. The Old Town area is a fabulous place to walk around with cute alleyways and numerous street art to find and enjoy.

Plus, there’s Ipoh’s famous white coffee – a must try.

Ipoh is also a gateway to the Cameron Highlands – coming up next. If you’re wondering where to go in Malaysia for short trip, or just looking for an interesting place to visit in Malaysia, Ipoh is somewhere to consider.

Getting to Ipoh: The best way to get there is train, bus or hiring a car. You can also fly.

Top Attraction to visit : Old Town street art

Top place to stay:  Regalodge – Click here for the latest prices

Find all our Ipoh guides here.

Want the Easiest (and BEST) Way to travel around Malaysia?

We can book a taxi for you between anywhere in peninsular Malaysia. Travel straight from one hotel to your next without any fuss or sweat.

You can pick your own departure time, relax and know everything will go to plan.

Click here for prices and online booking.

Cameron Highlands

Boh Tea Estate, Cameron Highlands

To escape the city life in Kuala Lumpur and the heat at lower altitudes, Malaysians go to The Cameron Highlands. It’s easy to see why and be tempted to join them if you’re looking for the best place for holiday in Malaysia to escape the heat and see something of the interiors of Malaysia too.

This best place to go in Malaysia option is beautiful. Its located high in the hills with rolling tea plantations, places of worship, museums and more. It’s also home to the highest point in Malaysia – Gunung Brinchang , as well as many beautiful hiking trails.

The higher altitude makes it a great place to cool down in tropical Malaysia, and with plenty of places to eat, drink and stay to suit all different budgets, it makes for a great place to see in Malaysia. If you love hill stations and greenery, the Cameron Highlands are definitely one of the best places in Malaysia to visit for your trip.

Getting to Cameron Highlands: The best way to get to the Cameron Highlands is by bus or hiring a car. Top Attraction to visit:   Boh Tea Plantation

Top place to stay: Nova Highlands Resort and Residence – Click here for the latest prices

Find all our Cameron Highlands guides here.

Port Dickson

top travel destinations malaysia

Port Dickson is a popular destination from Kuala Lumpur for a beach getaway. There are plenty of top quality resorts with particularity good accommodation for families. We found the Avillion Port Dickson to be the best resort in Malaysia for family visits to Port Dickson or the Grand Lexis if you want your own pool. If you’re looking for a beach holiday within easy access of KL and fun places in Malaysia by the beach, PD is a place to consider visiting.

The resorts are generally outside of the main town, which is small but does have some nice restaurants and shops. There’s also some pretty beaches, but many of these are private.

There’s not a huge range of Malaysia attractions in Port Dickson, but there is the Tanjung Tuan lookout. Time is best spent here at one of the great resorts or the beach. This is my pick of the Malaysia destinations if you want some great priced resort time.

Getting to Port Dickson: You can get there by bus, taxi or rental car. It is about 60km from Kuala Lumpur.

Top Attraction to visit: Tanjung Tuan

Top place to stay: Lexis Hibiscus – Click here for the latest prices.

Read our best guides to Port Dickson here .

Melaka (also known as Malacca)

top travel destinations malaysia

One of the other best places to see in Malaysia is Melaka. This is also one of the top historical places in Malaysia to visit, and a contender for the best city in Malaysia if you like your cities bite-sized, navigable and full of history. Malacca is also home to some of the main tourist attractions in Malaysia when it comes to cultural history.

This is a very pretty city and one of Malaysia points of interest for those interested in theology. The city is dotted with numerous churches like St Paul’s church, as well as temples and mosques, thanks to its rich cultural past.

There are also numerous other heritage sites around the city. What’s more, it’s a super easy place to explore on foot or on a trishaw.

Two of the major attractions in Melaka are the A Famosa Resort and the Dutch town of Stadthuys. Jonker Street is where you’ll find many of the main attractions. You’ll also want to visit Melaka River and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum.

Melaka isn’t just a great place to visit but also makes top 10 places to visit in Malaysia lists because it is so easy to get here. It’s very accessible from Kuala Lumpur or Kuala Lumpur International Airport and you can day trip here from either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.

Getting to Melaka: You can get there by plane, bus, car and boat.

Top Attraction to visit:  Jonker Street

Top place to stay:  Swiss-Garden Hotel Melaka – Click here for the latest prices.

Read our best guides to Melaka here .

Johor Bahru

Legoland Malaysia The Great Lego Race VR Coaster

Johor Bahru is one of the easy places to go in Malaysia from Singapore as it’s just across the border.

While not necessarily being one of the Malaysia holiday destinations, it’s still worth a visit, particularly if you are in Singapore. The city offers visitors several attractions including a mix of museums and natural landmarks like the Gunung Ledang National Park and Gunung Lambak.

For families with young kids, there’s also the famous Legoland which makes the city one of the best places to visit in Malaysia with family.

Other attractions include the traditional Kukup Fishing Village. You can also explore the shops and restaurants at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee.

As the city is also just across the border from Singapore and one of the practical places to visit in Malaysia from Singapore, it’s one of the best place to visit in Malaysia for a one day trip.

Getting to Johor Bahru: Get there by plane, bus, car and boat.

Top Attraction to visit:  Legoland Malaysia

Top place to stay:  Hotel Jen – Click here for the latest prices

Read our best guides to Johor Bahru here .

Tioman Island

Juara Beach Tioman Island

Tioman Island was once named one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Despite being a somewhat popular nice place to visit in Malaysia, it’s easy to feel like you have escaped the world here. It’s relatively untouched and makes for a wonderful destination to visit in Malaysia. And the beaches are some of the best in Malaysia.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs which make it great for scuba diving. Must see spots include Air Batang (or ABC Beach), one of the main settlements on the island, where you can find cheap beer and meals, and J uara beach.

The Island is also great for hiking. You’ll want to visit Aash Waterfall, hike across the island from west to east , as well as visit Paya beach.

If you are looking for Malaysia places to go which are not too hard to get to but feel like you are away from it all, consider Tioman.

Getting to Tioman Island: You can get to Tioman Island by ferry or plane. Flights leave from both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Click here for full details.

Top Attraction to visit: Air Batang is the main village on the island.

Top place to stay:  Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort – Click here to see the latest prices

Click here for our full guide to Tioman Island.

Taman Negara National Park

Taman Negara Canopy Walk

You may have noticed a theme – Malaysia is home to a vast array of beautiful national parks. Taman Negara National Park holds the title as Malaysia’s largest national park. This 130 million year old rainforest is home to a huge array of local plants and animals and offers plenty of short and long hikes. It’s definitely worth adding to your Malaysia where to go list.

Once inside the park, there are several attractions to visit including Lata Berkoh , which is a short boat ride and a place where you can swim. You can also opt to climb Bukit Teresek, a 334m high hill. The Canopy Walkway is also a must do – and the longest like it in the world.

Note that the best time to visit is during the dry season, which is between February and September each year. If you are visiting at this time of year, definitely go to this Malaysia best place.

Getting to Taman Negara National Park: You can get there by train, taxi or car. It is a 3.5 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Top Attraction to visit: Lata Berkoh

Top place to stay:  Mutiara Taman Negara Resort – Click here to see the latest prices.

Malaysia holiday destination 2021

Speaking of tourist places in Malaysia, have you considered Cherating if you’re planning to visit Malaysia 2024? This laid back coastal town has some lovely beach resorts and guest houses, as well as Club Med is also located here – arguably the best beach resort in Malaysia.

While the main attraction in Cherating are the beaches and resorts, there’s other Malaysia interesting places to visit like the nearby Turtle Island. This island is free to enter but you need to pay for the boat there. It helps nurture endangered turtles in an environment where they can thrive.

The beaches in Cherating aren’t as pretty as other parts of Malaysia (apart from the stunning option at Club Med) but the resorts are great and many are well priced. It’s a great place for a short trip in Malaysia.

Getting to Cherating: The best way to get there is by bus or hire car. You can take a bus from Kuala Lumpur.

Top Attraction to visit: Cherating Beach

Top place to stay:   Club Med Cherating Beach

Kuala Terengganu

Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque Kuala Terengganu

Kuala Terengganu is the state capital of Terengganu, a city on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. It is one of the best places Malaysia if you love good food, friendly locals and an interesting range of low key attractions, and you’re looking for places to visit in East Malaysia.

It’s also the jumping off point for beautiful Redang Island (coming up next as it’s also a best place to visit Malaysia).

There is an interesting Chinatown to visit complete with street art, some great museums and some magnificent mosques. What really stood out to me when I visited this best destination in Malaysia, however, is the friendly locals. I have never felt so welcome anywhere in Malaysia.

Getting to Kuala Terengganu: Flying is the fastest/easiest way to get there with direct flights from Kuala Lumpur but it’s also a major bus hub.

Top Attraction to visit : Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (or Floating Mosque)

Top place to stay:  Grand Puteri Hotel – Click here to see the latest prices.

Click here to see our full guide to Kuala Terengganu..

Redang Island

Long Beach, Redang Island from Laguna Redang Malaysia visit places

A list of the most beautiful places in Malaysia often includes Redang Island, and it’s easy to see why. This is most simply, the most beautiful place I have ever visited, and unsurprisingly Redang was my best trip in Malaysia of recent years. 

Redang Island is a mix of pleasant resorts and pristine, white sand beaches. It makes for the perfect relaxing getaway and best tourist place in Malaysia. Several of my memories of the best travel in Malaysia are from here.

The main beach is Pasir Panjang (or Long Beach) and, located on the east side of the island, it is one of the popular holiday places in Malaysia for those visiting the east of the country.

While there’s not a whole lot to see if you aren’t a nature lover nor is there a big nightlife scene like some other islands in Malaysia, this is a best place to travel in Malaysia for a calm stay and for cheap, beautiful and easy snorkeling. If you love islands and beaches, then Redang is definitely one of the best place to travel in Malaysia!

Getting to Redang Island: You can get there by plane or boat. Several flights leave daily from Kuala Lumpur.

Top Attraction to visit: Pasir Panjang

Top place to stay:  The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort – Click here to see the latest prices

Read our best guides to Redang Island here.

Kenyir Lake

top travel destinations malaysia

An artificial lake located in Terengganu, Kenyir lake is the largest man-made lake in South East Asia. This lesser known attraction in Malaysia has been developed as an ecotourism destination and the lake provides hydroelectric power to the region.

It’s also one of the top inland fishing destinations in Malaysia and a gateway to Taman Negara.

This interesting place in Malaysia has several attractions around the like the caves of Bewah and Taat as well as Anglers Heaven, jungle walks and waterfalls. Lake Kenyir Resort is also a pleasant place to stay.

To access the actual lake you’ll need to have a boat to access the lake which you can organise with a tour operator easily. A visit to this Malaysia travel place is the perfect way to see a different slice of Malaysia while enjoying nature.

Getting to Kenyir Lake: A 50 minute drive from Kuala Terengganu Airport. You can fly there from Kuala Lumpur.

Top Attraction to visit: The lake

Top place to stay:  Lake Kenyir Resort – Click here to see the latest prices

Perhentian Islands

resort long beach Perhentian

Less explored than Langkawi, but rated by many as the best holiday destination in Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands offer serene beaches with crystal clear water.

These islands are a travel place in Malaysia that you won’t want to leave, and although there are no museums or culturally significant monuments, there are pristine beaches, crystal clear water and beautiful coral reefs at the appropriately named Coral Bay with sunsets that’ll linger in your memories for a while after you do have to go home.

This is the ultimate place to go snorkeling and scuba diving in Malaysia. You can also go jungle trekking and do activities like kayaking.

Although there’s not much else to do on the island, its natural environment shows the best of Malaysia and it’s one of my personal best places to travel in Malaysia.

Getting to Perhentian Islands : You will need to take a boat there. The main ferry terminal is in Kuala Besut. Instructions are here.

Top Attraction to visit: Coral Bay

Top place to stay:  Perhentian Island Resort – Click here to see the latest prices

Read our best guides to the Perhentian Islands here .

Kampung Kraftangan, Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu is the state capital of Kelantan, a conservative city on the east coast of the mainland.

This one of the Malaysia cities to visit is relatively laid back with some interesting places to visit like Istana Jahar, a 19th century royal residence, Istana Balai Besar or Grand Palace, as well as other museums and mosques.

There’s also a vibrant night market and street art scene. While Kota Bharu may not make it to top of the list for the top place to visit in Malaysia, spending a few hours or a couple of days in Kota Bharu allows you to see laid back Malaysian life – without the tourists – and it’s a useful stop over if you’re heading to Kuala Besut for the Perhentian islands as well.

The one of the best cities to visit in Malaysia offers visitors a chance to experience a different pace of life and to see the cultural heart of Malaysia. As such, it’s one of the interesting places to visit in Malaysia.

Getting to Kota Bharu: Flying is the fastest/easiest way to get there, but you can also get there by train, bus and car.

Top Attraction to visit : Istana Jahar

Top place to stay:  Hotel Perdana – Click here to see the latest prices

Click here to see our guide to Kota Bharu.

top travel destinations malaysia

Kuching, also known as Cat City, is a port city located on the island of Borneo. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sarawak, Borneo. The city is interesting yet still one of the more relaxing places to visit in Malaysia, so if you want to head to Borneo, why not give Kuching a try?

This charming city is abound with museums like the Sarawak Museum and Cat Museum (a must visit in Cat City!) and places of worship like Tua Pek Kong Temple.

It’s also located near some beautiful national parks like Bako National Park as well as Kubah National Park.

The range of activities to visit in the surrounds and the lovely riverfront area makes Kucking my pick for the best city to visit in Malaysia.

Getting to Kuching: The best way to get to Kuching is to fly. Several budget airlines fly here.

Top Attraction to visit: Cat Museum

Top place to stay:  Hilton Kuching – Click here to see the latest prices

Kota Kinabalu

Sunset in Kota Kinabalu

A quiet destination in Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is a pretty city on our Malaysia tourist places list offering visitors several attractions and activities.

Kota Kinabalu is one of the top places to visit in Malaysia to go island hopping – but think relaxation, not partying. Gaya Island is one of the most popular, as well as Manukan which is one of the islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. These islands great for jungle trekking and diving.

In town, you can climb to Signal Hill Observatory to soak in the city sites and do some shopping at the local markets.

The access to beautiful beaches as well as nature treks make Kota Kinabalu a top destination in Malaysia Borneo. If you’re looking for the best place Malaysia to stop over en route to trekking and jungle exploration, consider stopping off in Kota Kinabalu.

Getting to Kota Kinabalu: The easiest way to get to Kota Kinabalu is by flying.

Top Attraction to visit: Signal Hill

Top place to stay:  Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort – Click here to see the latest prices

Borneo Orangutan in Sandakan, Sepilok, Sabah

Sandakan is a small option of where to go Malaysia with few attractions inside the town itself. However, it has huge historical significance from World War II. The Sandakan Memorial Park pays homage to this dark part of history.

The small museum and accompanying walk is dedicated to the prisoners of war from the Borneo Death Marches and commemorates those who lost their lives. This makes for a confronting memorial. While it’s not the most obvious of vacation places in Malaysia, it’s well worth a visit if you’re interested in history or are visiting to see the graves and memorials here.

The city itself has plenty of cheap markets and places to eat, and is a gateway to other significant attractions like the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, one of Malaysia famous places. Here, you can get up close to rescued orangutans who are being rehabilitated. There’s also the Turtle Islands Park.

Getting to Sandakan: Located on Borneo, the quickest way to get there is to fly.

Top Attraction to visit: Sandakan Memorial Park

Top place to stay:  Sabah Hotel – Click here to see the latest prices

Looking for the easiest way to get around Malaysia to these great places? Find our long-distance taxi service here . It can take you door-to-door anywhere in peninsular Malaysia.

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions?  Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now!  It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

We hope you found somewhere just right for you in this Malaysia tourism place list. Read more about other destinations in Malaysia or find the best time to visit Malaysia here or the best things to do here. Looking for places to visit in Malaysia in 2 – 4 days? Read our itineraries here  and find our ultimate article to planning your trip to Malaysia here.

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top travel destinations malaysia

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.

Wow, Very beautiful places I must visit this year. Love from Pakistan

It’s worth it!

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top travel destinations malaysia

Things to Do in Malaysia

Common Greetings

Currency in Malaysia

Scams to Avoid

Visiting Kuala Lumpur

Neighborhoods to Know

Best Hotels

Public Transportation Guide

Top Things to Do

Guide to Malaysian Street Food

Where to Eat in Kuala Lumpur

Eating at Kuala Lumpur's Jalan Alor

Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Kuala Lumpur International Airport Guide

Top Destinations in Malaysia

Malaysia's Top 10 Destinations

The Most Popular Places to Visit in Malaysia

top travel destinations malaysia

The most popular places to visit in Malaysia are stunning — and the country's excellent infrastructure makes getting to them relatively painless.

Although Malaysia is always ranked well among the most visited countries in Asia, China usually steals the limelight and #1 spot. Long-term budget travelers often shun Malaysia as being "too expensive" (mostly because alcohol does cost more than in Thailand). Meanwhile, short-term vacationers in Southeast Asia seem to skip Malaysia for lack of time.

But Malaysia has a lot of beauty, diversity, and adventure on offer, as showcased by these tempting top destinations.

Kuala Lumpur

You'll most likely fly into Kuala Lumpur when traveling to Malaysia, so this one's a no-brainer. But unlike some other big cities in Asia where travelers arrive and get out of town as soon as possible, Kuala Lumpur is a worthwhile destination of its own.

The mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influence means you'll have no shortage of culinary exploits in Malaysia's capital city . The cultural diversity is a big part of Kuala Lumpur's allure. Take a short walk or jump on the extensive train network and you can see the delights of numerous cultures.

Kuala Lumpur has no shortage of unique neighborhoods to explore . Interesting sights such as the Petronas Towers , the Perdana Botanical Garden, and the Menara KL Tower provide plenty of enjoyable distractions before you head farther afield in Malaysia.

TripSavvy / Jess Macdonald

Malaysians are proud of their big island on the west coast — and they should be! The colonial city of Georgetown was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has plenty to offer in the way of museums, a seaside fort, historic homes, and most importantly, a famous street-food scene.

Numerous artists have left their marks in the form of murals along the streets of Georgetown. Cafes, shops, and things to do can be found dotted throughout.

Penang is considered one of the best places in Southeast Asia to sample delicious street food of all types. The waterfront esplanade known as Gurney Drive in Penang is lined with stalls and eateries for trying local Malay, Chinese, and Indian treats , among others.

The Perhentian Islands

Backpackers and budget travelers love Malaysia's Perhentian Islands , especially Perhentian Kecil — the smaller of the two islands — where fine sand and excellent snorkeling/diving fill the day before parties start at night.

Nearby Perhentian Besar — the big island — caters more to families, couples, and travelers who are willing to spend more to enjoy the blue water and skip some of the partying. Regardless of the island you choose, getting to the Perhentians requires taking a speedboat. There are a few challenges for setting up shop on the islands .

The Perhentian Islands are very seasonal . Accommodation can be difficult to find on Perhentian Kecil in July, the peak month, but the islands are mostly empty during the winter months due to rain and stormy seas.

Malaysian Borneo

The option to exchange dirty concrete for green rainforests and abundant wildlife is only a cheap, quick flight away ! Visitors to Malaysia often stick to the mainland and forget about the natural wonders on earth's third-largest island only a short hop away.

The Malaysian part of Borneo is divided into two states: Sarawak in the south and Sabah in the north. Both have different vibes and charms . The Rainforest World Music Festival held outside of Kuching each summer is one of the most exciting music-and-culture events in Southeast Asia.

From endangered orangutans to rainforest canopy walks and some of the best diving in the world, Malaysian Borneo should definitely be a part of any trip to Malaysia.

Spelled locally as "Melaka," Malaysia's Peranakan city of Malacca is a worthwhile stop for cultural, historical, and colonial sites . UNESCO even declared Malacca a World Heritage Site in 2008.

Visitors are rarely disappointed by the old town in Malacca. If nothing else, the relaxed vibe is pleasant enough to keep people around for a few days. The close proximity to Kuala Lumpur makes getting there by bus easy. Train isn't an option in Malacca.

Tip: Many shops and museums close in Malacca on Tuesdays — plan your visit accordingly!

Taman Negara

Westend61 / Getty Images

Taman Negara literally means "national park" in Malay, and well, that's what it is! Taman Negara is Malaysia's oldest national park and is considered to be one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests. A long canopy walkway gives visitors a chance to see life high in the trees that normally isn't visible from the ground.

You can enjoy waterfalls and beautiful trekking, bird spotting, rafting, fishing, night safaris, and there's even a chance to see wild elephants — if you're very lucky. Tourists sleep across the river in Kuala Tahan and then take cheap boats to the park entrance.

Some serious guided trekking is available in Taman Negara as is caving.

Cameron Highlands

Malaysia's green Cameron Highlands are one of the few places in Southeast Asia where you'll actually want a jacket or warm blanket at night. After sweating across tropical climates, you may appreciate the change of climate.

The Cameron Highlands are like nowhere else in Malaysia. You'll see plenty of lush scenery, tour beautiful tea plantations, and enjoy access to decent hiking trails that weave through plantations and around volcanoes.

Strawberry farms, butterfly gardens, and flower greenhouses are all enjoyable distractions to be found in the Cameron Highlands. The climate provides good conditions for growing fresh vegetables and producing delicious local honey.

Tioman Island

Located on Malaysia's east coast not too far from Singapore, Tioman Island is a different kind of island destination . Accommodation and excellent diving are surprisingly inexpensive; development is relatively minimal for such a nice island. Abundant nature and scenery make up for the island's severe shortcomings in the culinary department.

Tioman is carved into many different beaches; you'll have to choose when arriving by boat. Some beaches are secluded and surrounded by jungle. ABC Beach is arguably the most popular beach, particularly for budget travelers. Moving between beaches by boat is the regular option, unless you're up for a jungle hike through the interior.

Tioman Island enjoys duty-free status just as Langkawi does, but don't even consider taking your tax-free liquor across the border into Singapore !

simonlong / Getty Images

Located off the northwest corner of Malaysia, Pulau Langkawi is one of the top island destinations in Malaysia for both foreign tourists and Malaysians.

With an airport and ferries connecting it to the mainland, as well as a large tourist infrastructure, Langkawi could unfairly be called Malaysia's version of Phuket, the busiest island in Thailand.

Langkawi has many tourist attractions on offer such as Malaysia's largest indoor aquarium, a cable car, and the Sky bridge that allows views across the island. Unfortunately, the drone of jet skis cause the busiest beaches to be less serene. Duty-free status means that beer is sometimes barely more expensive than bottled water!

Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi can be found for as cheap as US $20! Getting to the island is fast and inexpensive .

Selangor actually describes Malaysia's most developed and populated state that leads up to Kuala Lumpur's urban sprawl. Here you'll find a Formula One racetrack, the National Zoo of Malaysia, and enormous theme parks including an indoor snow park.

Selangor is busy and booming; shopping malls sprawl in many directions. When you can't possibly shop anymore, head to the nearby Genting Highlands — Malaysia's version of Vegas perched on top of a mountain. The First World Hotel and Plaza is the world's largest hotel with 10,500 rooms and a theme park.

But Selangor isn't just about concrete and glowing signs: The famous Batu Caves there are a Hindu shrine with the largest statue of Lord Murugan (the god of war) in the world. The Batu Caves draw large crowds, especially during the Thaipusam holiday .

When you're ready to be wooed by nature, the abundance of fireflies along the river in Kuala Selangor is a dazzling spectacle worth seeing!

The Top 12 Things to Do in Malaysia

Top Islands in Southeast Asia

Weather in Malaysia: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

Taman Negara in Malaysia: The Complete Guide

Your Trip to Malaysia: The Complete Guide

Where Is Kuala Lumpur?

The Best Time to Visit Malaysia

July in Asia: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Malaysia's Perhentian Islands: Pocket Paradise

June in Asia: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Langkawi, Malaysia Travel Guide

How to Find Cheap Flights to Borneo

The Banana Pancake Trail

Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Asia

Southeast Asia Countries to Travel

Important Tips for Malaysia's Perhentian Islands


Where to Go in Malaysia: Top 30 Unmissable Destinations

Where to go in Malaysia – 30 of the very best places to visit in Malaysia, as recommended by locals and travel experts.

From the steel-and-glass metropolis of KL to the jungles of Borneo, Malaysia has to be one of the most diverse countries in Asia.

Visitors drawn in by Malaysia’s legendary national parks and tropical islands usually find the food culture , street art and layered history is reason enough to linger a little longer.

Despite having visited Malaysia half a dozen times, I’ve still only scratched the surface of this diverse nation. To help with curating this list of the best places to visit in Malaysia, I asked a group of experienced travellers and locals to share their recommendations.

This guide explores some of the best things to do in Malaysia for every interest, travel style and budget. From must-see cities to small towns, cultural sites and religious monuments to hiking and ethical wildlife encounters, the best beaches, islands and resorts, this list has something for everyone.

If we’ve forgotten to include your favourite place in Malaysia, please let us know in the comments!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

How to get around Malaysia

I use Bookaway to reserve bus and train tickets when I travel in Malaysia. You can use the site to check up-to-date routes and times and compare prices between different companies. Online payment is secure and it’s easy to change or cancel your tickets if plans change.

→ Check timetables and book tickets online through Bookaway .

Where to go in Malaysia: Cities & culture

Kuala lumpur.

Skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city.

Anyone who’s wondering where to go in Malaysia will inevitably wind up incorporating Kuala Lumpur into their itinerary. Malaysia’s capital city is simply a must-see for first-time visitors. The scale of the city will blow you away.

KL has the glossy veneer of a big, anonymous city, but beneath the surface, it’s a hotbed of history, culture and cuisine. Whether you only have time for a short layover in KL or you’re planning an extended stay, there are a couple of things you need to check off your list.

The first is the iconic Petronas Towers . Viewed from the park below, they cut an immaculate figure against the inky blue night sky and define KL’s urban horizon. Take a trip up to the viewing deck (advance reservations essential – book tickets here ) for a magnificent view of the city.

Spend a few hours wandering the Central Market and Chinatown precinct (be sure to visit Petaling Street and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple ), both lively destinations for shopping, eating and socialising. Save some of your pennies for KL’s beautiful boutique gift shops, including Batik Boutique where you can find gorgeous handmade souvenirs . A stop at the National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara) and the nearby Islamic Arts Museum is another must-do.

When night falls, head to the Jalan Alor Night Food Court and see how many Malaysian delicacies you can squeeze in. If you have more time, there are dozens of convenient day trip opportunities from KL – keep reading to discover the best of the best!

George Town (Penang)

A street art mural in Penang depicts two children reaching for baskets on a bicycle.

Possibly Malaysia’s most popular tourist destination, George Town is the biggest city and capital of Penang island. There are three things George Town is best known for: Street food , street art , and vibrant laneways dotted with heritage architecture .

You could easily spend a week or more in George Town exploring the UNESCO Heritage Listed Old Town , which consumes the eastern end of the island. Stroll down the iconic Penang five-foot ways and step back in history, keeping an eye out for Ernest Zacharevic’s best murals along the way. Join a food tour to sample the best Penang eats – there are simply too many to list here – and immerse yourself in the local craft scene at the Batik Painting Museum .

Other must-sees include Cheong Fatt Tze (The Blue Mansion) and the nearby Goddess of Mercy Temple . Climb Penang Hill for an epic view of the island. Set aside an evening for Chew Jetty , a laid-back waterside clan community where you can get a small taste of what Penang must have been like during its heyday as a Straights trading hub.

Where to go in Malaysia: A temple set against a backdrop of limestone caves in Ipoh.

The quieter cousin of George Town, Ipoh boasts many of the same virtues – amazing street art, historic laneways and architecture, a fantastic hawker market scene – only without the crowds of Penang.

The capital of central Malaysia’s Perak state, Ipoh is a captivating city that oozes history and charm from the cracks in the plasterwork and flaking shutters of its buildings. Walk the Ipoh Heritage Trail , a mapped route that takes in 27 of the city’s most important landmarks, including the British Colonial railway station , to peel back the layers of Ipoh’s history.

Some of the best things to do in Ipoh revolve around eating and drinking. Malaysia’s iconic white coffee , an iced drink made with coffee beans soaked in margarine, was born here in Ipoh and is served in sweet little local cafes across the city. Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken is a must-try for dinner and can be found at any of the hawker markets.

While you’re pounding the pavement, keep an eye out for the large-scale murals painted by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (the same man responsible for George Town’s street art). Hundreds of smaller works by local artists and collectives are sprinkled throughout the city, concentrated around Mural Art’s Lane .

Beyond the city limits, Ipoh gives way to the lush landscapes of Perak, with its thick rainforest and limestone caves . Mirror lakes and hidden temples are waiting to be explored via walking tracks – including the magnificent Perak Cave Temple .

A distinctive golden building in Kuching, Malaysia.

Capital of Malaysian Borneo’s semi-autonomous Sarawak state, Kuching has a lovely laid-back feel. The Kuching Waterfront precinct sprawls out along the beautiful Kuching river, reflecting the golden roof of the New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building .

Dilapidated shophouses, curling alleyways and eclectic architecture define Kuching’s centre. Wander the brightly painted alleyways around India Street , with their fabric vendors and fragrant spice markets, and spot orang-utan-themed street art by Ernest Zacharevic .

Like all Malaysian cities, Kuching has a great food scene. Choon Hui Cafe is a local institution – the prawn laksa and popiah ( Fujianesespring roll) are both must-eats. Other dishes to try in Kuching include kolo mee (yellow noodles cooked Kuching-style) and Sarawak laksa .

Culture lovers will appreciate Kuching’s excellent museums. The Museum of Sarawak , which catalogues Iban culture, Textile Museum and Tun Jugah Collection , a private collection of hand-woven textiles displayed alongside Iban artefacts, are all worth the ticket price. For the perfect Kuching souvenir , look for Iban black-and-white rattan mats and other Bornean antiques in Kuching’s Main Bazaar .

Kuching is a departure point for exploring Sarawak’s natural beauty and Iban culture, with river boat rides, longhouse homestays and jungle treks all within a few hours of the city. Don’t miss Semenggoh Nature Reserve (more on that later), a wonderful orang-utan sanctuary just outside Kuching.

Kota Kinabalu

Recommended by Khushboo, Munni of All Trades

A beautiful mosque in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

The capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu – or KK as it’s fondly known – is considered the gateway city for anyone looking to enjoy the beauty of Borneo. However, it’s fast emerging as a popular tourist destination in its own right.

To experience the true beauty of Kota Kinabalu, you must visit the Jesselton Point Waterfront . It’s perfect for anyone who’s looking for delicious local food and scenic views. Tourists also have the option to take a ferry to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park or one of the five islands that are just 15 minutes away. Sipping on a beer in a local cafe at Jesselton as you watch the sun set or enjoying karaoke with friends is a wonderful way to end the day after your island trip.

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is a great place for anyone looking to experience Sabah’s rich heritage. During your half-day trip to Mari Mari, you can witness traditional dance performances, hunting and fishing practices practiced by the region’s five ethnic groups: Rungus, Lundayeh, Bajau, Murut and Dusun.

For adventure enthusiasts, a hike to Mount Kinabalu is of the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu . The hikes are often overbooked so it is advisable to make a reservation in advance. Be sure to spend an evening by the iconic city mosque, Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu , where you can enjoy some peace and solitude.

Colonial architecture and colourful street vendors in Melaka, Malaysia.

A convenient day trip from Kuala Lumpur , Melaka (Malacca) is a historic port city set on Malaysia’s southwestern coast. With its layers of Malay, Nyonya, Portuguese, Dutch and English heritage, Melaka perfectly captures Malaysia’s multicultural spirit and multifaceted history.

Start in the Dutch-era Stadthuys square , Melaka’s most recognisable landmark. The 1753-built Christ Church stands proudly at top of the square, surrounded by a flurry of colourful vendors and cafes organised around beautifully manicured gardens. The cacophony of food, souvenir and bric-a-brac stalls continues down Jonker Street . If you’re wondering what to eat in Melaka, Nyonya Laksa is the best local dish to sink your teeth into.

Above the waterfront, St. Paul’s Church and Famosa Fort offer interesting ruins and panoramic viewpoints. The Melaka Straits Mosque , which juts out into the water on a narrow peninsular, is one of the most beautiful mosques in all of Malaysia.

Recommended by Sharon, Dive into Malaysia

Where to go in Malaysia: A tree set along the river in the city of Taiping.

For somewhere off the tourist trail with plenty of local charm, visit Taiping! Located near the west coast of peninsular Malaysia close to Penang, Taiping is easy to visit by train or bus from Kuala Lumpur or anywhere in the western region of Malaysia.

Taiping itself has similar charms to Penang with street art, great food and colonial architecture , but without the crowds. It was one of the first cities to be established in Malaysia and has many firsts – the first railway station, first museum, first post office, first wet market and more.

A trip to Taiping should start with a walk around the central colonial area to see the well-preserved architecture while looking out for street art. Next stop is Muzium Perak to learn more about this part of Malaysia. Finally, finish at Taman Tasik Taiping , Taiping’s famous gardens. These 64-hectares of lagoons and grassland are a great place to relax, look out for monitor lizards or take a paddle on a paddleboat. Read more about Taiping here.

The most delicious way to cool down from the heat is at Ansari Famous Cendol for one of Malaysia’s best shaved ice treats. To taste many of the local dishes, head to Pusat Makanan Taman Tasik , a popular foodcourt by the lake.

For a comfortable place to stay in a central location, try the Louis Hotel .

Bukit Mertajam

By Marco Ferrarese, Penang Insider

Motorbikes parked outside a heritage building in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia.

Everybody goes to UNESCO-listed George Town on Penang island for an overdose of food and street art. Few people realise that right across the Penang bridge, the town of Bukit Mertajam in Seberang Prai, the mainland part of Penang state, has plenty of interesting stuff to do as well.

Bukit Mertajam is an offbeat, beautiful town with strong ties to the local Chinese triads (yes, the local mafia). Set next to the hill of the same name, there’s hiking galore in Cherok Tokun reserve .

The old town of Bukit Mertajam, developed around the Pek Kong Cheng temple (sadly partially destroyed by fire in 2019), has a lot of great food. Try BM Best Cendol (self-titled as such, and for good reason) and the ‘Black Man Rojak’, a praised local stall selling Malaysian rojak – pieces of tropical fruit drenched in thick, black sweet-sour sauce. Also try the famous BM Cup Rice, which dishes up delicious duck and pork meat with local rice.

Don’t forget to look around – Bukit Mertajam’s old town has decrepit, old-world buildings that are much more authentic than Penang’s gentrified boutique hotels and cookie-cutter cafes.

There are many opportunities to get out and about in nature near Bukit Mertajam. For starters, you can try the Cherok Tokun hiking trail that leads to the TV towers on top of Bukit Mertajam. Take a stroll at Bukit D.O. , a nature park for local hiking enthusiasts. Pay a visit to St. Anne’s Church , an important pilgrimage site for Catholics from all over India and Southeast Asia who come here to celebrate every year at the end of July.

During Malaysia’s nation-wide Hungry Ghost Festival , Bukit Mertajam hosts the tallest statue of the King of Hell Tay Su Yeah.

Penang’s gentrification? Please leave it across the Penang bridge and come to Bukit Mertajam for a timeless Malaysian experience.

Kuala Kangsar

A beautiful mosque in Kuala Kangsar, Malaysia - a day trip from Ipoh.

Located in central Malaysia’s Perak state, the town of Kuala Kangsar is an easy day trip from Ipoh by train. Known as the ‘royal city’, it served as the seat for the Shah of Perak between 1877 and 1887.

Ubudiah Mosque is considered one of Malaysia’s most distinctive mosques and is reason enough to take a trip to KK. Designed by British architect Arthur Benison Hubback (also responsible for Kuala Lumpur’s railway station), it’s defined by golden domes and towering palm trees. The bands of colour on the facade are created from Italian marble. When the mosque was being built, it’s rumoured that two of the Sultan’s elephants damaged some of the marble tiles, delaying construction!

Apart from the mosque, KK boasts a number of other distinctive landmarks, making it an architecture-lover’s paradise. The Istana Kenangan , a distinctive building that houses the Royal Museum of Perak, Baitul Anor , a decrepit mansion house that was once home to Perak’s prince, and turn-of-the-century-built Victoria Bridge are just some of the highlights.

Recommended by Sonakshi and Mainak, Places In Pixel

Where to go in Malaysia: The beautiful Putra Mosque in Putrajaya set over the water.

Putrajaya is the present federal administrative centre of the Malaysian Government. Being only 35 km from KL city centre, it can easily be explored as a day trip from KL .

The most sought-after place to visit in Putrajaya is the Putra Mosque . Its nickname, the ‘pink mosque’, comes from the rose-tinted granite. Putra Mosque’s Islamic-architecture artistically blends traditional designs, local craftsmanship and the use of indigenous materials. As with any mosque, modest dress is essential if you want to enter the prayer hall and enjoy the elegantly designed interiors.

No trip to Putrajaya is complete without taking a tour of the Perdana Putra complex , which houses the Prime Minister’s Office and other administrative offices. Although visitors are not allowed to go inside, it’s free to admire the exterior and gardens (which includes a couple of Instagrammable spots!).

Other interesting things to do in Putrajaya include driving the beautiful Seri Wawasan Bridge , enjoying the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta , visiting the Putrajaya Botanical Garden , and the Steel Mosque . For adventure seekers, Putrajaya lake offers multiple outdoor activities including stand-up paddle boarding, water jetting and flyboarding.

Johor Bahru

Recommended by Ania, The Travelling Twins

If you want a bit more modern city life before diving back into the jungle or exploring Malaysia’s beaches, Johor Bahru makes for an interesting change from Kuala Lumpur. The city is located right down in the south of the mainland peninsula, on the border with Singapore .

And indeed Johor Bahru could be called Malaysia’s answer to Singapore. It is set up to attract visitors from the neighbouring city state with much of the sparkle, but at much lower prices. Excellent shopping and fabulous restaurants are what JB is known for.

If you want to go from JB to Singapore itself, then it’s just a 45-minute bus ride away. But don’t just pass through – this place is a destination in its own right.

With Legoland Malaysia and Hello Kitty Town both in close proximity, this is a great destination for families with young kids.

A huge golden statue of a Hindu deity at the Batu Caves in Malaysia.

Batu Caves in Selangor, just north of KL, can be counted among Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations. As well as being rather Instagram-friendly, this is an extremely important spiritual pilgrimage site. I recommend visiting with a local guide to make the most of the experience.

The limestone cave complex is a sacred shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity. In late January/early February, the Hindu Thaipusam festival is celebrated here. If you can brave the heat and humidity, this is the perfect time to visit.

Outside of festival time, visitors can explore the largest cave, Temple Cave , accessible via 270 steps (now painted in a rainbow of colours). The towering gold statue of Murugan is the tallest of its kind in the world.

Kek Lok Si Temple

Recommended by Rose, Where Goes Rose

Where to go in Malaysia: Colourful lanterns and architecture at Kek Lok Si Temple on Penang island.

Buddhist Kek Lok Si Temple on the island of Penang is yet more proof of Malaysia’s diversity. While there are Hindu and Taoist temples, mosques and churches in the nearby city of George Town, this iconic temple is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over Southeast Asia. 

Built in 1980, Kek Lok Si is home to temples, statues, prayer halls and towers with impressive views over Penang. You could easily spend a half-day exploring the complex. Don’t miss the three-storey shrine (as the tallest building for miles around, it would be hard to), donated by King Bhumibol of Thailand. Here there’s a vegetarian restaurant as well as a few shops. You also have the option to pay 3 MYR to catch a lift to the enormous Kuan Yin female goddess statue.

An ideal time to visit Kek Lok Si is for Chinese New Year celebrations in February when the whole temple is illuminated by strobe lights and a firework show takes place.

It takes just 30 minutes to reach Kek Lok Si Temple from George Town by bus or taxi. The nearest town is Air Itam, where you should stop afterwards for a bowl of assam laksa at Pasar Air Itam Laksa , voted one of the best foods in the world by CNN.

Where to go in Malaysia: Nature, adventure & wildlife

Cameron highlands.

Recommended by Luke, The Coastal Campaign

Where to go in Malaysia: Tea fields in Malaysia's Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highlands is a spectacular part of the Malaysian hill country covered in lush green tea fields. Visitors come here to see the beautiful mountain scenery and to enjoy the cooler temperatures that comes with the higher elevation.

The number one thing to do in Cameron Highlands is visit a tea plantation and enjoy a cup of the local brew. One of the most popular choices is the BOH Tea Plantation , and that’s because the tasting room has spectacular views from the veranda perched on the hillside. Visitors can also enjoy hikes in the surrounding jungle, the local farmers’ markets , and a walk through the enchanting Mossy Forest .

After a full day of exploring, try Restoran Kumar which serves delicious Indian-style food for very reasonable prices. It’s found in the town of Tanah Rata.

Cameron Highlands is a beautiful part of the country with unique scenery and climate compared to the rest of Malaysia and is absolutely worth visiting.

Teman Negara

Recommended by Stephen, Asia-Hikes

A rainforest boardwalk in Taman Negara, Malaysia.

Taman Negara (literally ‘National Park’) is the first protected area in Malaysia, established in 1939, and one of the oldest deciduous rainforests in the world . Easy to visit as a weekend away from Kuala Lumpur (but worthy of a month of exploring in its own right), this expanse of more than 4,300 square kilometres has options for every traveller.

Laid-back weekenders out of Kuala Lumpur might opt for easy exploring – boat rides and short hikes to remote jungle waterfall, Lata Berkoh , canopy walks high in the treetops, or just relaxing at the luxurious Mutiara Taman Negara Resort , which offers guided interpretive walks on the in-house boardwalk.

More adventurous travellers might opt for two to three-day guided hiking in Taman Negara , overnighting in the famous ‘Elephant Cave’ and slipping along muddy jungle trails and through countless streams. For the ultimate Taman Negara adventure, consider the strenuous weeklong round trip to the top of Gunung Tahan , the highest point of Peninsular Malaysia at 2,187 metres.

Almost all tourist services, including restaurants and accommodations, are based in the village of Kuala Tahan across the Tembaling river from the entrance to Taman Negara. A wide range of budget and mid-range accommodation options are available, and a plethora of tour operators make it easy to book guided hikes and other excursions on-site.

Gunung Mulu National Park

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Where to go in Malaysia: Rocky peaks inside Gunung Mulu National Park.

Gunung Mulu National Park is one of Malaysia’s true gems. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its extensive underground cave network and unique mountain peaks.

Mulu Caves is the longest cave system in the world by surface area. Take some time to explore the Lang Cave, Deer Cave, Clearwater Cave, Wind Cave and Lady Cave. They each have their own unique attributes such as rock formations, coral structures, and interesting patches of habitat.

At Deer Cave, you can see the mass bat exodus . From 5pm to 7pm each day, bats numbering in the thousands leave the cave at the same time in search of food from the forest. There is a viewing platform and the event can last for 45 minutes.

Outside of the caves, Gunung Mulu National Park is famous for the Mulu Pinnacles , a series of otherworldly limestone formations that require a three-day hike to reach. It is a somewhat difficult hike, but well worth the exertion.

Recommended by Rachita, Nomllers

A small town set at the foot of a dramatic mountain peak.

Safely tucked away on the largest island in Asia, Sabah is a relatively unexplored destination in Malaysia. Sabah is home to more than 32 different ethnic groups and is a great place to learn more about local culture. Apart from that, Sabah is also quite well-known for its rainforests, beaches, and abundant wildlife . Most of the state is covered with reserves or parks.

When visiting Sabah, make sure you try a few local dishes such as Tuaran noodles, Butod, Roti Cobra, and a lot more. While the best local food is served at homestays , you have to try Roti Cobra at Kedai Makan Islamic Restoran in Kota Kinabalu . It is simply delicious.

Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Malaysia and is a popular hiking spot. If you’re interested in exploring the coral reefs , then head to the nearby islands for a fun diving experience. And if you’re a nature lover, then a visit to Kinabalu Park , Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must.

From climbing Mount Kinabalu to meeting headhunting warriors and nomadic sea gypsies, Sabah is a place you won’t soon forget.

Danum Valley

Recommended by James Ian, Travel Collecting

Where to go in Malaysia: An orang-utan in the treetops in Danum Valley.

Danum Valley is an area of virgin rainforest in the Sabah area of Malaysian Borneo. While much of the island has been deforested in order to create palm oil plantations, the Danum Valley Conservation Area has been protected.

There are only two places to stay – the Danum Valley Field Center, just outside the area, offers basic accommodation and limited guides. The second option, Borneo Rainforest Lodge , is smack bang in the middle of the virgin rainforest. Rates include meals served inside the beautiful, open lodge that faces a forested escarpment.

Danum Valley is one of the best places in Borneo to witness Malaysia’s incredible flora and wildlife. Highlights include guided hikes to lookouts, waterfalls, and a small river where fish come and nibble your feet (great for exfoliation!), a canopy walk built through the tops of trees (with excellent chances of seeing orang-utans and hornbills ), and a night drive in the back of a truck with a powerful spotlight (possible sightings include giant flying squirrels, lemurs and even cloud leopards ).

Gua Tempurung

Recommended by Iuliya, Vidadeliya

Where to go in Malaysia: A lake surrounded by forest in Gua Tempurung.

Gua Tempurung is something of a ‘secret’ spot, even among Malaysians. Tucked away in Gopeng, Perak – some 3 hours’ drive from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur – Gua Tempurung is the largest limestone cave in West Malaysia .

The best thing to do is join one of four caving tours . If you’re particularly adventurous, try the epic 4-hour long Grand Tour. This not only takes you through the incredible limestone stalactites and stalagmites, but also deep into the belly of a cave once used as a communist hideaway. You will have to crawl through narrow cave rivers, climb steep slopes and slide down ledges, all in the pitch dark! For a full account of what it’s like, check out this blog post . 

If caving doesn’t take your fancy, there are many other things you can do nearby, including whitewater rafting , jungle trekking (to search for the ever-elusive Rafflesia!), or waterfall abseiling .

For food, the foodie hub of Ipoh is a mere 30-minutes away. Top choices include the local salty chicken and taufufa , a sweet tofu-based dessert.

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Situated in the Kelabit Highlands near the Indonesian border in East Kalimantan, Bario is a small community of 13 to 16 indigenous Kelabit villages . If you’re looking for a remote place to experience authentic indigenous culture, Bario is a great choice.

Bario may be less popular than other destinations in Sarawak, such as Niah Cave or Gunung Mulu, but it’s no less interesting. Organise your accommodation at one of the longhouses and immerse yourself in the local culture during your stay in town. Some accommodations include meals in the booking package, so you can taste the local food provided by your host.

A great time to visit Bario is in June/July, when the area hosts Pesta Nukenan , a showcase of local food and culture.

Travelling overland takes days, thus flights from Miri, Marudi or Kuching are the most convenient way to get to Bario. Before you go, make sure you have enough cash with you since there’s no ATM available (there’s no phone or internet connection either).

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

Semenggoh Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Kuching is one of the most accessible places in Malaysia to see semi-wild orang-utans. If you want a quick taste of the Borneo jungle, this is a perfect half-day trip.

Established in the 70s, the patch of rainforest is home to more than 30 endangered orang-utans , all orphaned or rescued from captivity. The centre trains them to survive in the wild.

A tightly controlled viewing area is open twice daily at 9am and 3pm. Carers provide fruit to entice the orang-utans – but whether or not they surface from the thickets is entirely up to them. The best time to visit Semenggoh is during the fruiting season. We went in August and saw half a dozen orang-utans.

Semenggoh is located just 30 kilometres from Kuching and is easy to reach by car or taxi.

Where to go in Malaysia: Islands & beaches

Recommended by Cathy, Mummy Travels

Where to go in Malaysia: the skywalk through the forest on Langkawi island.

This beautiful tropical island in the north of Malaysia might be small – you could drive around it in just 3 hours – but Langkawi has plenty to tempt visitors, from glorious golden beaches to the wildlife of its lush jungle.

The biggest attractions are the Skycab and Skybridge . The world’s steepest cable car takes you from the Oriental Village complex to a bridge suspended 100 metres in the air for amazing views across the island. If you’re feeling energetic, you can trek partway.

Along with its other attractions, Oriental Village is home to Art in Paradise , Langkawi’s 3D art museum, the biggest of its kind in Malaysia, where you can pose with artwork designed to trick the eye. Huge fun, it’s also ideal during rainy season or as a way to escape the heat.

But Langawki’s biggest attractions are natural. Take a boat tour through the mangroves of the protected Kilim Geoforest park , see bats roosting in Gua Kelawar cave , eagles soaring above the karst peaks , and head out to some of the smaller islands.

Not to forget the beaches: the white sands of Tanjung Rhu are among the loveliest, busy Pantai Cenang is great for water sports and beach bars, while minerals turn the sand of Pantai Pisar Hitam black.

Port Dickson

Recommended by Allison, Urbanite Diary

Where to go in Malaysia: Sunset on the beach at Port Dickson.

Port Dickson is a coastal town about 1.5 hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. One of the country’s most popular beach destinations due to its proximity to the capital, the English name originated from the British High Officer, Sir John Frederick Dickson, who was posted at the Straits Settlement during the end of the 19th century.

Top things to do here include a visit to the many beaches along the coastal road. Teluk Kemang is the most popular one, and due to the street market located right in front of it, the most crowded. Other famous sites to visit are the Cape Rachado Lighthouse , the oldest lighthouse in Malaysia built by the Portuguese, as well as the Wan Loong Temple , an ornate Chinese Temple that pays homage to several oriental deities, such as the Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) and the Monkey King. For family travellers with kids, the Port Dickson Army Museum is an interesting place to visit.

Being so close to the sea, Port Dickson has some great seafood restaurants for foodies. Local favourites include Weng Yin Seafood Village, Chardin Seaview Restaurant and Double Queue Thai Cuisine.

Last but not least, one of the highlights of Port Dickson is staying in an overwater chalet . Although the sea water here is not as pristine as some of the other beach destinations in Malaysia, it is still an enjoyable experience to look out to the sea from your room while listening to the sound of the waves. Recommended hotels are Avillion Port Dickson and Lexis Hibiscus .

Sipadan Island

Recommended by Campbell and Alya, Stingy Nomads

A long jetty reaches into the ocean on Malaysia's Sipadan Island.

Sipadan island in Borneo is the top dive spot in Malaysia and often rated as one of the best places to dive in the world .

Surrounding the island, there is a massive coral wall close to shore that drops 300 metres straight down. Strong currents flowing past the reef bring sharks, big pelagic fish and unreal marine life, creating an amazing wall dive.

This is an incredibly biodiverse spot with huge green turtles , big schools of massive bumphead parrot fish, big eye trevally, and reef sharks hunting in the area. The island’s most famous dive site is Barracuda Point , where you are often engulfed by massive schools of barracuda.

All these incredible marine animals swim close to shore and in the past, divers could walk from their hotel room and jump from the beach into this amazing natural aquarium. If you’re not a diver, Sipadan also offers fantastic snorkelling .

The Malaysian government has taken bold steps to preserve this diving mecca and the island. Since 2004, only divers with the necessary permits are allowed on the island. All resorts were relocated to nearby islands, and only 178 divers per day are granted permits. This is policed and strictly enforced.

Sipadan is very popular, so book your accommodation and diving from the nearby island, Mabul, ahead of time.

Perhentian Islands

Recommended by Lotte, Phenomenal Globe

Where to go in Malaysia: A beachside cafe in Malaysia's Perhentian Islands.

The beautiful Perhentian Islands are located just off Malaysia’s northeast coast. The largest islands are Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar, but there are several small, uninhabited islands in this amazing archipelago as well.

For adventurous travellers, diving in the Perhentian Islands will be an unforgettable experience as the underwater world here is spectacular. If you don’t want to go scuba diving, consider snorkelling instead. There are several (short) hiking trails on Perhentian Kecil , just be sure to bring plenty of water as it gets very hot and humid, especially between April and June.

Coral Bay is located on the west side of Perhentian Kecil and is the perfect place to admire the sunset while enjoying a cocktail on the beach at one of the restaurants or bars. For food, there is no better place to eat fresh seafood (often barbecued). Be sure to try some freshly caught fish during your stay.

If you choose Perhentian Kecil as your base, BuBu Resort is a great place to stay. At Perhentian Besar, the Tuna Bay Island Resort is an excellent option.

Redang Island

Recommended by Kirsten, Sand in My Curls

There are many reasons to visit Malaysia , and Redang Island is definitely one of them. Pulau Redang is one of those postcard-perfect islands with bright white sand and warm azure water.

Located off the east coast of Malaysia and part of the Coral Triangle between Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Indonesia, it’s a global centre for marine biodiversity. No trip would be complete without snorkelling or scuba diving . You can learn to scuba or get started with a discovery dive.

But there are more than just water activities available on the island.

Head to the Taaras Resort for a visit to the SEATRU Turtle Lab . Here, you’ll learn all about the turtle life cycle, predators, and how the lab measures the gentle creatures. April to October is hatching season and the perfect time to see the baby turtles being released into the sea. 

The interior of the island is packed with jungle, and there are a bunch of hiking routes choose from. Most aren’t that difficult and will only take a couple of hours. If you’re lucky, you’ll see rare plants, monitor lizards, monkeys and all sorts of colourful birds.

The best place to eat in Redang is at the Laguna Food Court , where you can sample local delicacies at affordable prices. Be sure to try the fish head curry – it’s a favourite in Malaysia.

Tioman Island

By Vivien and Aaron, The Dharma Trails

Where to go in Malaysia: Clear water and towering palm trees on Tioman Island in Malaysia.

Tioman Island is located off Malaysia’s east coast and is accessible by ferry. It’s a perfect getaway for anyone interested in eco travel due to its natural beauty and abundant wildlife .

Apart from the stunning beaches and amazing coral reefs, there are jungle walking trails and waterfall hikes that offer unique insight into the tropical flora and fauna.

Alternatively, you can relax on the beach with an ice-cold beer and enjoy some of the great local restaurants. Be sure to check out Golden Dish Cafe , who grow their own organic vegetables, use locally caught fish, and can also whip up some traditional, herbal drinks with medicinal properties.

The Juarta Turtle Project at Mentawak Beach works with the local community to educate and protect marine life. They offer volunteering experiences for those willing to stay a while.

Where to go in Malaysia: Resorts

Avani sepang goldcoast resort, sepang.

Recommended by Stephanie, History Fangirl

People eating and drinking at a poolside bar in Sepang, Malaysia.

The gorgeous town of Sepang is home to the Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort , which has the distinction of being one of the least expensive overwater bungalow resorts anywhere in the world.

Located on the coast roughly halfway between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it’s the perfect place for couples and solo travellers looking to relax and rejuvenate. If you are a spa lover, check into the resort and soak up all the amenities. Schedule yourself a few treatments so you can take full advantage of your surroundings.

If you want to explore Sepang itself, visit the beautiful nearby mosque, or enjoy a mangrove river cruise . Make sure you set aside some time to see the absolutely stunning sunsets over the water. They are some of the most vibrant anywhere in the world.

You can get to Sepang from Kuala Lumpur by bus, train, or by hiring a private driver.

Resorts World Genting, Genting Highlands

Recommended by Sandy and Vyjay, Voyager

Resorts World Genting is an integrated leisure centre on the peak of Mount Ulu Kali, about 55 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. It’s a favourite holiday getaway popular among locals as well as tourists.

Resorts World Genting is a collection of premium hotels, resorts, shopping arcades, theme parks, and restaurants. It is a complete leisure and entertainment destination that also has the advantage of enjoying pleasant temperatures throughout the year. One of the largest hotels in the world, the First World Hotel , is located inside.

Some of the top things to do in Genting include a visit to the Chin Swee Temple , a virtual reality experience at The Void , and the Skytropolis Indoor Theme Park. Whether you’re looking for local cuisine, Mexican, Italian or Pan Asian vegetarian fare , there are a plethora of cafes and fine dining restaurants to cater to every palate. The famous local desserts like ice kacang and cendol are not to be missed, either.

Berjaya Hills, Bukit Tinggi

Bavarian-style architecture in Berjaya Hills, an interesting place to visit in Malaysia.

Berjaya Hills is a resort theme park set in the cool hills above KL, adjacent to the Genting Highlands. Similar to Vietnam’s Ba Na Hills in Danang , it was created in the picture of a European village (in this case, France’s Colmar Tropicale). It’s definitely one of the more touristy places to visit in Malaysia, but if you’re travelling with kids, it’s a fun way to break from the city.

The centre of the small town is dominated by Bavarian-style houses , each containing a restaurant or cafe (most of them dishing up European cuisine). Botanical Gardens and Japanese Gardens , a golf course and a number of shrines are embedded in the forest beyond the town.

Malaysia essentials

Here are some of the resources I use when planning a trip to Malaysia.

FLIGHTS: Find affordable flights to Malaysia on Kiwi.com , a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (if you miss your connection, you get your money back).

VISAS: Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Malaysia and apply for an expedited visa online.

AIRPORT TRANSFER: Pre-book a private transfer from Kuala Lumpur Airport to your hotel or pre-purchase your KLIA Airport Train tickets online and skip the queue.

SHORT ON TIME? Try this KL layover city tour to see the best of the city in a short period of time.

SIM CARD: Purchase an Airalo eSIM for Malaysia and get instant access to the net when you arrive.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best hotel deals in Malaysia on Agoda or book a Malaysia hostel .

BUS & TRAIN TICKETS: Buy your bus or train tickets online in advance using Bookaway .

MARKET TOURS & COOKING CLASSES: Find the best cooking classes and foodie experiences in Malaysia here on Cookly .

DAY TRIPS & CITY TOURS: Find the best city tours and day excursions in Malaysia here on Get Your Guide.

MALAYSIA GUIDEBOOK: Pick up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet guidebook for Malaysia .

Which of these beautiful places in Malaysia do you want to visit? Do you have any extra recommendations for travellers wondering where to go in Malaysia? Share your best tips in the comments below!

30 of the best places to visit in Malaysia for culture, history, nature and beaches. Decide where to go in Malaysia and start planning your dream trip!

Where to go in Malaysia: Share it on Pinterest


Hai Thanks for sharing the list of places to visit in & around Malaysia it help me as a ready reckoner for me to visit the places. I’m planning to visit the incredible country Malaysia Truly Asia in the coming Yr.2024 Thanks once gain !

So nice of you. Very good explanation and beautiful places you mentioned.

So many great places in Malaysia that I missed. I will just have to go back soon!

Ahhh you and your photos make Malaysia seem absolutely incredible and enticing. I hope one day I can go to every one of these places. It’s hard to pick a top place, though. Maybe Kilim Geoforest park or Gunung Mulu National Park? Thank you for this comprehensive post!

So many amazing places I haven’t visited in Malaysia yet! Can’t wait for travel to open up again and explore some of these places. And maybe even go back to places and take better photos;) I’ll keep this list handy for when I do travel.

After reading your post, I am dying to visit Malaysia. I hope I start travelling soon after everything settles down. I am saving this post for future reference.

Thanks for this comprehensive blog! I’ve had Ipoh on my list for some time now, but I see I need to add sooooo many more places thanks to your blog 🇲🇾Pinning & saving it for future travel inspo.

Thanks Shelley! Ipoh is my favourite place in Malaysia for sure 🙂

Malaysia is such an incredible country! I’ve been twice and there is still so much more for me to explore. Definitely pinning this to reference for my next trip!

All of these spots look so beautiful! Malaysia is next on my Southeast Asia bucket list. I’m definitely keeping this article handy. 🙂

This is such a great post!! I already know that there are so many beautiful places in Malaysia but with this article, I know that I will love this country!

What an awesome list of the best places to visit in Malaysia. I’ve been to Malaysia but I definitely did not see enough. Next time, I’m in Malaysia, I will definitely use this blog!

The most unusual location is the one with the Bavarian-style houses. I had no idea about it!

Thanks for this excellent post!

Thanks Diana! Yes, that’s definitely one of the more out-of-the-box destinations! I love how diverse Malaysia is 🙂

When I backpacked SE Asia, I was only in Malaysia for 2-3 days. This blog post makes me want to go back and spend a whole month there. Thanks for such a comprehensive list!

A month might not even be long enough! There are so many beautiful places in Malaysia; it’s such a diverse country. Definitely worthy of a return visit!

What a cool place! George Town looks really interesting. Thanks for sharing

I’m so bummed I never got to visit Malaysia when I lived in Thailand! It looks amazing and I love how diverse it is! Can’t wait to go back to Southeast Asia and explore all Malaysia has to offer 🙂

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Discover 20 Best Places to Visit in Malaysia in 2023

top travel destinations malaysia

Malaysia is a country that boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, and a thriving tourism industry. Its unique blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences has created a vibrant and diverse culture in its cuisine, architecture, and festivals. From the bustling cities of Kuala Lumpur and Penang to the tranquil rainforests of Taman Negara and the beaches of Langkawi, Malaysia offers something for every type of traveler.

In this article, we will highlight the 20 best places to visit in Malaysia in 2023, providing you with an ultimate travel guide to plan your trip. Whether you want to explore the country's rich history and heritage, immerse yourself in its stunning natural landscapes, or simply relax on its beautiful beaches, we've got you covered. So, pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the best that Malaysia has to offer.

Top 20 places To Visit In Malaysia In 2023

1. kuala lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city, is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the country. The city is home to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which offer breathtaking views of the cityscape from its observation deck. Other popular attractions include the Batu Caves, the Merdeka Square, and the vibrant night markets.

You May Also Like to Read: Explore Kuala Lumpur: Attractions, Activities, And More

2. George Town

George Town, located on the island of Penang, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a melting pot of cultures. It is known for its colorful street art, colonial architecture, and delicious food. Visitors can stroll along the historic streets and sample the local cuisine, including everything from Indian curries to Chinese noodles.

You May Also Like to Read:  Exploring George Town In Penang: Malaysia's Pearl Of Orient

3. Langkawi

langkawi island malaysia-Leisure

Langkawi is a group of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. It is a popular destination for water sports, including snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and exploring the island's lush rainforest.

You May Also Like to Read:  Explore the Tropical Paradise of Langkawi: Reasons To Visit

Malacca is a historic city on the west coast of Malaysia, known for its rich heritage and cultural significance. Visitors can explore the city's museums, galleries, and temples or stroll along the famous Jonker Street night market.

5. Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands is a picturesque hill station in the heart of Malaysia's tea country. Visitors can take a guided tour of the tea plantations, sample the locally grown tea, or hike through the lush forests and rolling hills.

6. Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, located on the island of Borneo, is a vibrant city known for its stunning sunsets and bustling markets. Visitors can explore the city's many museums and galleries or take a boat trip to nearby islands for snorkeling and diving.

7. Taman Negara

rainforest cave in taman negara malaysia-Leisure

Taman Negara is a vast national park in the heart of Malaysia, known for its pristine rainforest and diverse wildlife. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park , which includes trekking through the jungle, exploring the caves, and spotting rare animals like tigers and elephants.

8. Tioman Island

Tioman Island is a small but stunning island located off the east coast of Malaysia, known for its turquoise waters and coral reefs. It is a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, and relaxing on the beach.

Kuching, located on the island of Borneo, is a charming city known for its colonial architecture and vibrant culture. Explore the city's many museums and galleries, or take a boat trip down the Sarawak River to see the local wildlife.

10. Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Malaysia's Sarawak region. The park is known for its incredible limestone formations, including the world's largest cave chamber, the Sarawak Chamber. Visitors can explore the park's caves on guided tours, hike through the rainforest, and see various wildlife, including hornbills, gibbons, and bats. The park also offers a unique experience called the "bat exodus," where visitors can witness millions of bats leaving the caves at dusk to hunt for food.

11. Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sabah, known for its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. Hike to Mount Kinabalu's summit, Southeast Asia's highest peak. Visitors can walk to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia, or explore the park's many trails, which wind through the lush rainforest and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

12. Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands are a pair of stunning islands located off the east coast of Malaysia, known for their pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can relax on the beach, swim in the turquoise waters, or go snorkeling or diving to explore the vibrant coral reefs.

13. Johor Bahru

legoland theme park in johor bahru malaysia-Leisure

Johor Bahru is a bustling city across the border from Singapore, known for its shopping and cultural attractions. Visitors can explore the city's many museums and galleries or visit the famous Legoland theme park.

14. Putrajaya

Putrajaya is a modern city located just south of Kuala Lumpur, known for its stunning architecture and beautiful parks. Tour the city's many landmarks, including the Putra Mosque and the Seri Perdana complex.

15. Genting Highlands

Genting Highlands is a popular hill station located just outside Kuala Lumpur, known for its cool climate and stunning views. Visitors can take a cable car ride up the mountain to the Genting Highlands resort, which offers a range of attractions and activities, including a theme park and a casino.

16. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah is a sanctuary for orphaned and injured orangutans. Visitors can watch the orangutans being fed and playing in their natural habitat or take a guided tour of the center to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

17. Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is a popular beach destination on Penang island, known for its stunning coastline and vibrant nightlife. Relax on the beach, sample the local cuisine at the many restaurants and street stalls, or shop for souvenirs at the night market. Plenty of water sports activities are also available, such as jet skiing and parasailing. 

You May Also Like to Read:  Island Paradise: Unveiling the Beauty and Charm of Penang

18. Redang Island

Redang Island is a popular destination for beach lovers and snorkelers, located off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The island is known for its crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and colorful coral reefs. Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive to see the diverse marine life, relax on the beach, and soak up the sun.

19. Kuala Terengganu

boat park by the coast of kuala terengganu malaysia-Leisure

Kuala Terengganu is the capital city of the Terengganu state and is located on the east coast of Malaysia. The city is known for its rich cultural heritage. It is home to several historical landmarks and museums, including the Terengganu State Museum, one of Southeast Asia's most prominent museums. Visitors can also explore the city's many markets, sample the local cuisine, and cruise along the Terengganu River.

20. Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island is a stunning tropical paradise in the Celebes Sea, off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo. This small island is known for its incredible marine life, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for divers and snorkelers worldwide.

The island is surrounded by one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world, with over 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of species of coral. Divers can explore the stunning coral gardens, underwater caves, and stunning drop-offs surrounding the island. Highlights include the Barracuda Point, Turtle Cavern, and South Point dive sites, all teeming with various marine life.

In conclusion, Malaysia is a truly unique and diverse country that offers travelers numerous natural and cultural attractions. Malaysia has it all, whether you're seeking a bustling city experience or a peaceful escape to nature. The 20 destinations highlighted in this guide are just the tip of the iceberg; there is so much more to discover in this beautiful country. From its mouth-watering cuisine to its fascinating history and stunning natural landscapes, Malaysia is a destination that should be on every traveler's bucket list. So, start planning your trip today and get ready to experience Malaysia's best in 2023.

Keep reading Leisure.com for more information on your favorite destinations, tips on travel planning, and inspiration for your next adventure. Happy travels!

Which is the most visited place in Malaysia?

The most visited place in Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city. Known for its iconic Petronas Twin Towers, vibrant nightlife, and rich cultural heritage, Kuala Lumpur attracts millions of visitors annually.

Is Malaysia an excellent place to travel?

Malaysia is a great travel destination for natural beauty, cultural experiences, and modern amenities. The country is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Whether you're a solo traveler or traveling with family, there's something for everyone in Malaysia.

How many days are enough for Malaysia?

The time you need in Malaysia depends on what you want to see and do. A week or two should be enough if you're interested in exploring the country's major cities and attractions. However, you may want to explore the more remote parts of the country or participate in adventure activities like trekking and diving. In that case, you should plan for a more extended trip.

What is the best month to visit Malaysia?

Ideally, the best time to visit Malaysia is between March and October, when the weather is dry and pleasant. However, remember that some parts of the country, particularly the east coast, experience a monsoon season from November to February. It's also worth noting that some festivals and events, like Chinese New Year and the Rainforest World Music Festival, take place at specific times of the year, so plan accordingly if you want to experience these.

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Asia , Malaysia , Travel Guides · July 6, 2019

25 Most Incredible Places to Visit in Malaysia

Planning a Malaysia itinerary and wondering where to go? Fuel your wanderlust with these 25 most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia!

Malaysia is one country that simply has to be on your destination hit-list! Diverse in all senses imaginable, it is a beautiful country full of gorgeous scenery, history, delicious food, and some of the most incredible landmarks in Asia .

But with all the culture to experience, history to uncover, fascinating cities to visit, and gorgeous beaches to kick-back on, choosing where to go in Malaysia can be a tricky task. That’s where this guide comes in! We cover everything from must-go places, like Kuala Lumpur , Georgetown, Ipoh, Melaka, and Sipadan Island to lesser-known gems like Kapas Island, Port Dickson, the gorgeous Perhentian Islands, Danum Valley, and more!

Ready to spend less time planning and more time discovering all of Malaysia’s best bits? Read along to find the very best places to visit in Malaysia!

The colorful fare of fresh fruit and vegetables in a local market in Malaysia.

Disclaimer: This post probably contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I might receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Table of Contents

Before you visit these places in Malaysia

If this is your first visit to Malaysia, it’s important to know that the “Land of Mountains” is huge! The country is divided into two main islands – West and East Malaysia. West Malaysia, also known as Peninsular Malaysia, is probably the most popular side for mainstream tourism. In contrast, East Malaysia is famous for Borneo’s lush jungles full of diverse wildlife, fantastic hikes, and off-the-beaten-path islands.

So, how to decide where to go and what to see in Malaysia? Well, that will ultimately depend on your interests and what you’d like to get out of your Malaysia itinerary. 

However, since we’ve included ALL the best places to visit and different trip suggestions, this Malaysia travel guide can easily be tailored to match your needs, interests, and budget – whether you have 1 week in Malaysia or more!

Before choosing which where to go and what to do, these handy  Malaysian travel tips will also come in handy.

In a rush? Pin The Best Places to Visit in Malaysia for later.

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

The Best Places to Visit in Malaysia Quick Overview

Malaysia packs the perfect mix of lush jungles, jaw-dropping islands, bustling cities, and charming little towns! All in all, there’s something for everyone in Malaysia!

However, since there is so much to do and see, I reached out to fellow blogging friends to compile this epic list of Best Places to Visit in Malaysia ! Here’s a quick look at which places are covered in this guide:

Peninsular Malaysia :

Kuala Lumpur

Port dickson, johor bahru, tioman island, kapas island, taman negara national park, cameron highlands, perhentian islands, sungai lembing.

West Malaysia :

Sipadan Island

Danum valley, kinabatangan river valley, kota kinabalu.

  • Kampung Meritam’s Mud Volcanoes

Mulu National Park

Niah national park.

Without further ado, here are the 25 best places to visit in Malaysia plus all our PRO tips on where to go and what to do to help you plan the perfect Malaysia itinerary.

Places to Visit in Malaysia Peninsular / East Malaysia

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Malaysia’s capital hub, Kuala Lumpur, is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and colorful architecture. 

The  perfect KL travel itinerary  starts with a visit to the most iconic landmark –  Petronas Twin Towers  –  towering above the city at 451.9m. After getting a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape, drop by the Thean Hou Temple, the National Mosque of Malaysia, and the famed  Batu Caves . 

Central Market is another must-visit spot full of traditional handmade arts and crafts. Nearby, Petaling Street Market’s bustling alleyways also offer the chance to bargain for cheap knockoffs and local souvenirs.

Another great draw to Kuala Lumpur, apart from its scenic streets and loads of places to explore, is that  nature is within easy reach . Some of the best green spaces to explore include the Botanic Gardens and the KL Forest Eco Park, where you can wander through a rainforest on a forest canopy walkway.  Right in the heart of the city!

If it’s delicious food you’re after, KL has a booming street food scene, and one of the easiest ways to sample the city’s eclectic local fare is on a  street food tour .   Alternatively, head straight to one of the bustling street markets, where you’ll find everything from Malay to Chinese and Indian to Western cuisines!

Pro Tips: Since there are so many things to do in KL , spend at least 3-4 days here to get a real feel of what the city has on offer. It’s also good to know that KL has a comprehensive subway system. However, we found taking the Hop On Hop Off bus and Grab Taxi cheap and quick modes of transport. More adventurous travelers looking to explore the area in an entirely unique way, could also consider cycling in Malaysia .

ALSO READ: The Best Layover Cities in Asia

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Recommended by Karolina | Lazy Travel Blog

Port Dickson is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia. This haven for nature lovers lies just south of  Kuala Lumpur . 

The town has a long coastline dotted with beaches that lead to Tanjung Tuan, one of the country’s biggest wildlife reserves. You will also find a 16th-century lighthouse, a 14th-century Islamic tomb, and megaliths in this beautiful area for a dash of history. To add a bit contemporary flare, there’s also a 3D art gallery that will literally take you to another world.

Port Dickson can be reached from Mainland Malaysia or Singapore . The best way to get there is by car, as it allows the flexibility to explore the area. By taking the Seremban-Port Dickinson Highway (E29), which connects to the North-South Expressway (E2) from Kuala Lumpur, it will take around 1h30 to reach the destination. A drive from the Lion City through the Causeway will take 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The cheaper option is to take the bus to Port Dickson. Hop on a bus to Seremban and there, change buses to Port Dickson. The trip will take around an hour and will set you back RM4, which is less than a US Dollar.

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Recommended by Campbell & Alya|Stingy Nomads

The small and cozy town of Malaka is a great place to come for a weekend from bustling Kuala Lumpur. Located just 150km from the Malaysian capital Malaka is easily accessed by bus. It takes about 2 hours, and the ticket costs US$3. The town looks very different from other places in Malaysia with its canals, boats, bridges, colorful houses, and many cafés.

There are many things to do in Malacca like visiting the city’s attractions, wandering around the Malay Village, going on a boat along the canals, enjoying the city view from the Menara Taming tower, and of course, tasting and trying local delicacies at the Night Market on Jonker Street. The main tourist attractions in Malaka are the Dutch square, Kampung Kling mosque, St.Paul’s Church, Maritime Museum of Melaka, Stadhuys, and the Botanical Garden.

You can easily move around on foot, or if you get tired, hire one of the famous trishaws. It’s a local version of a rickshaw with three wheels. Carts are richly decorated with flowers and lights, and riding these at night is an exciting activity. Another option to move around the town is by bike. There are several cycling routes and tours in the city.

The best area to stay in Malaka is at the Malacca River. Here you will find many hostels, hotels, and guesthouses. Some of them are located close to Jonker Street, which guarantees a stay right in the town’s busiest nightlife area. For a quiet holiday, rather choose one of the places on the other side of the river.

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Recommended by Noel Cabacungan | Ten Thousand Strangers

Johor Bahru doesn’t really have many unique points of interest that are not in other places in Malaysia. However, the presence of Legoland Malaysia and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town turned Johor Bahru into a popular tourist destination among families, especially those traveling from Singapore.

Johor Bahru is easily accessible from Singapore by private vehicle or public bus.  Crossing the border from Singapore to Malaysia will take less than an hour, including border controls. Because of its proximity, people usually do Johor Bahru as a quick day trip from Singapore. However, I would recommend families to stay in Johor Bahru for at least 3D2N. This will allow you one day for Legoland Resort, another for Legoland Water Park, and a few hours in Puteri Harbor and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town.

Airbnb also has several listings of top quality condominium units, which a family can book for less than US$20 per night. 

How to get to Johor Bahru

To reach Johor Bahru from Singapore, catch a bus right outside the MRT Kranji Station. You can even use your Ezlink card with at least SGD1.39 credit (or pay SGD2 cash to the driver). This way, you won’t need to reserve a ticket online.

If coming from elsewhere in Malaysia, take a local bus to Larkin Bus Terminal. And from there, take Grab Taxi to your chosen accommodation in Johor Bahru.

ALSO READ: Jaw-dropping Instagram Spots in Singapore

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Recommended by Emma | Small Footprints, Big Adventures

Tioman Island is a beautiful place to visit in Malaysia. It is relatively unspoiled, with the jungle within it still pristine, and several coral reefs sought for diving and snorkeling. There are also waterfalls and great hiking options within the island. Not to mention, some mangroves that you can kayak through and spot wildlife like monkeys and snakes.

The beachfront of Juara Bay is stunning and not crowded like most other beaches of its quality. The water is calm, and it’s safe for swimming all year round, and there are several dive shops to hire equipment from. Also, there are many excellent local cafes on the beach serving fresh Malay and Western food.

There is accommodation to suit every budget on Pulau Tioman, some even with their own private beach.  Juara Turtle Project  – a sea turtle conservation program is well worth a visit. You can also opt to volunteer with them for a week or more and help with many tasks while meeting other travelers from around the world.

To get to Pulau Tioman, catch one of the daily ferries from Mersing on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It takes two hours to reach Tioman Island and arrives at the main port, Tekek. Plan to stay at least a week to really enjoy all that this beautiful island has to offer! By the time you’ve relaxed sufficiently in your hammock, explored the amazing natural wonders, and feasted on heaps of great food, you’ll be struggling to leave Pulau Tioman!

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Recommended by Dave | Jones Around the World

Malaysia is home to some truly spectacular islands and beaches, but one of the best hidden gems is Pulau Kapas , more commonly known to tourists as Kapas Island!

Located just a few kilometers off the west coast of Malaysia, nearby to Kuala Terengganu, it’s become a popular destination for weekend trips. While there isn’t actually that much to do there besides go snorkeling right off the beach, enjoy delicious beachside restaurants, and watch beautiful sunsets every night – you will definitely be amazed at the relaxing atmosphere found here. The island is simply stunning, and the color of the water will leave you speechless!

While it could be easy to stay there for a week or longer, most people find that a 3-4 day stay is more than enough to experience the Kapas magic. Accommodation options range from beach camping (for the budget travelers), beach chalets, or the more expensive resort on Gem Island, just a 5-minute boat ride away from Kapas. It’s a truly remarkable place in Malaysia, and shouldn’t be skipped while planning your itinerary through the country!

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Recommended by Erika | Erika’s Travelventures

In the heart of Malaysia lies Taman Negara National Park, an ideal introduction to what the Malaysian jungle has to offer visitors. The best way to reach Taman Negara National Park is by a 3-hour scenic boat ride, which departs from Kuala Tembeling and costs 35 Ringgit (USD 8.40). Buses or minivans depart from Kuala Lumpur or the Cameron Highlands heading to Kuala Tembeling each day. Alternatively, you can bus to Jerantut, then bus to Kuala Tahan, the village next to the national park.

You have to take a boat across the river from Kuala Tahan to reach Taman Negara’s main visitor center. Entry to the park costs 1 Ringgit (USD 0.25). You can depart on many treks from the visitor’s center – some are only a few kilometers, and others are overnight treks. Whichever hike you embark on, you are sure to see some interesting insects, plants and flowers, and views over the jungle! If you’re lucky, you may see some jungle animals too.

There are a few tours that you can do in Taman Negara National Park, such as a guided trek at night, to try and see nocturnal animals. Inside the park are some elevated animal viewing huts and a fun canopy walkway where you can walk from platform to platform far up in the trees! Overall, Taman Negara is a great place to experience walking in the dense Malaysian jungles and spend time in nature. Unless you’re an avid jungle trekker, I recommend staying 1-2 nights in Kuala Tahan for visiting Taman Negara National Park.

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Recommend by Renata Green | Bye Myself

A visit to the Cameron Highlands is not to be missed when traveling Malaysia, especially since it is one of the most famous landmarks in Malaysia . The wide tea plantations, lush jungles, and mysterious mossy forests at the significantly cooler highlands will amaze you. 

This region, named after British explorer and geologist William Cameron, ranges from 2,600 to 5,259 ft above sea level and is a Malaysian Garden Eden. There are over 700 species of plants growing here, and the vegetation changes according to the ascent of the mountains.  Around April , a guided hike to the jungle is a must since the famous Rafflesia Arnoldii, a stemless blossom looking like some weird red cabbage, being the largest single flower of any flowering plant, is in full bloom. If it’s not the season, you do not need a guided tour to explore the jungle trails around.

But the highlands are especially known for tea farms – BOH being the most popular one. Therefore, the views of the breathtaking landscape are obstructed by ugly, plastic-covered hothouses. But no worries, it gets better. Once you get into the woodlands, you’ll be amazed by the perfect and undisturbed ecosystems. Besides the sumptuous flora, this area is also a shelter for various animals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

There are two main places to stay in the Highlands, namely Brinchang and Tanah Rata. Brinchang is a rather touristy place frequented by groups, while Tanah Rata is more popular with the laid back backpacker crowd. To get to the highlands is easy since there are frequent buses going from Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Penang. Also, accommodations can arrange direct trips being a little more expensive but much faster and more comfortable.

top travel destinations malaysia

Recommended by Chris | More Life in Your Days

Ipoh has to be one of the best places to visit in Malaysia. Despite being the largest city in Perak state, it has a great small-town feel to it and a cool, retro vibe. You will find street art, hawker markets, cute architecture, and trendy cafes all in the relatively small historic center of the town in Ipoh.

If you are a foodie, you will love Ipoh, which many people consider Malaysia’s culinary capital. At night, hawker food markets spill out into the streets and alleyways. And, you will be spoiled for choice when deciding how to fill your tum! Ipoh is also the birthplace of Malaysia’s famous white coffee. This you can enjoy at one of the many retro cafés around the town center.

Stay in the town for at least a couple of days to give you a chance to soak up the vibe and visit some of the other attractions nearby. Be sure not to miss the many cave temples or Sunway Lost World (ideal if you have kids) on your visit here.

Ipoh is easy to get to from Kuala Lumpur and is around a 3-hour journey from the capital. We prefer the train for this journey, but you could also take the bus. Other tourist destinations like the Cameron Highlands and Penang can also be reached from Ipoh by bus.

Penang Island

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Recommended by Nate | Travel Lemming 

Perhaps no place in Malaysia better encapsulates the country than the island of Penang. The UNESCO World Heritage town of Georgetown is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia in its own right. Still, the entire island is also worth inclusion on your Malaysian itinerary.

From soaring skyscrapers and lush jungle to white sand beaches and bustling street stalls – you can find nearly everything that Malaysia is known for packed into this small island, which can be traveled from end to end just over an hour.

There are so many great activities in Penang to keep you busy during your stay. So, I recommend at least three to four days to truly do the island justice. 

Try hiking to the aptly-named Monkey Beach for a rewarding jungle trek that ends with a picturesque beach filled with the critters who gave it its name. Or you can ascend the longest and steepest funicular track in Asia to the top of Penang Hill, where you’ll be treated to heavenly views of the island and surrounding water. And of course be sure to check out one of the many hawker food stalls that dot the island for a taste of the cultural vibrancy that makes this place so special. 

Whatever you do, Penang is sure to be an island that will capture your heart! 

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

No Malaysia itinerary would be complete without visiting Georgetown – Penang’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So it comes as no surprise that this little town is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia! 

Georgetown packs the perfect mix of culture, history, and Instagrammable places. One of the most popular things to do in the city is to hunt for street art. The town is chock-full with cute and quirky street art dotted along colorful streets lined with broken down shophouses, colonial-style buildings and age-old temples. The best way to find these gems though, is to grab a Street Art Map as soon as possible. Many of the murals are hidden, which means finding them on your own can be tricky.

Getting an  iconic view of the cityscape at Komtar  is another must while visiting here. Go at sunset for magnificent views and, more importantly, cooler temperatures! The Clan Jetties is another popular point of interest. Here you can get a closer look at Chinese settlers’ local life and snap up some great pics of the colorfully decorated stilt houses. Of course, ioining a fun food tour  is yet another great pastime here. Head to one of the hawker stalls where it’s easy to mingle with locals and get a real taste of authentic Malay cuisine.

Whatever you do, try to spend at least 2-3 days in Georgetown before exploring the rest of the island in-depth.

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Recommended by Aurelia | Daily Travel Pill

This beautiful island, situated in the north of Malaysia, is one of the most incredible places to visit in Malaysia. Endless beaches with white sand and tall palm trees are waiting for you here! Every corner of this island is simply postcard-perfect.

Langkawi is well known for snorkeling and island hopping, but there are many other things to do too. You can visit the Langkawi Sky Bridge, which offers the most beautiful views of the island. Alternatively, visit the amazing Seven Wells Waterfall . The waterfall is a popular attraction among both locals and tourists. You can explore the falls or swim in the small pools formed at the base of the waterfall. It’s the perfect place to cool down on a hot summer day.

To get to Langkawi, you can take the fast boat for a few hours from Penang. I recommend spending at least two days in Langkawi . You will be amazed by the beautiful beaches and the island’s incredible natural beauty. While you’re in Langkawi, don’t hesitate to try the seafood. Simply delicious!

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Recommended by Ann | The Road Is Life

When considering an island getaway in Malaysia, Langkawi is the first thing that comes to mind for most people. But, just off Malaysia’s northeast coast lies the ultimate tropical paradise: the stunning Perhentian Islands. Upon arrival, you will be met with lush jungle, calm turquoise water, and pristine white sand beaches that aren’t packed with tourists.

The Perhentian Islands are made up of two main islands: Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar. The island you choose to stay at comes down to the type of traveler you are. Besar, the larger of the two, is known for its luxurious villas and resorts. Whereas, Kecil caters to backpackers and budget travelers.

No matter which one you choose, the laid back island vibes make this place truly unique. With no roads or cars and limited Wi-Fi, time just seems to slow right down. Besides spending your time relaxing on the beach, you might wonder what people fill their days with.

The main attraction of the Perhentian Islands is what lies beneath the surface of those crystal clear waters. For a surprisingly affordable price, you can enjoy world-class snorkeling and diving here. Fancy swimming with turtles and snorkeling with reef sharks? Look no further! Depending on how much diving/snorkeling you’re planning to do, 5 nights is the perfect amount of time to spend on the Perhentians.

The reason you don’t see tourists lining these perfect beaches is that getting to the Perhentians is no simple task. Depending on where you are coming from, it can take up to a full day of travel. The quickest way to get there from Kuala Lumpur is to fly into the city of Kota Bharu. From there, take a taxi (1hr) or a bus (1.5hrs) to Kuala Besut.

Fast boats to the Perhentian Islands depart regularly daily from the jetty at Kuala Besut . It’s not necessary to book your boat ticket in advance. However, if you wish to do so for peace of mind, find more information here .

ALSO READ: What are the Best Islands to visit in Asia?

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Recommended by Aaron from  Aaron Teoh  

Once a bustling tin mining town that was home to the deepest and largest tin mine in the world, Sungai Lembing was fading into oblivion with the collapse of tin ore prices in the 80s. It is experiencing a revival as a tourism spot in recent years, mostly among locals but with a growing reach.

The biggest draws at Sungai Lembing are its mining history, the surrounding nature, and the local food. At the mining museum, it is possible to explore parts of the old mine and learn about its history and miners’ lives.

For more nature, the two popular morning hikes from town are to Panorama Hill and Rainbow Waterfalls. Both start pre-dawn and are done on separate days.

Finally, the ingredients and food made in Sungai Lembing, from noodles to beancurd to broths, draw visitors from all over Malaysia. Mainly because the mountain spring water used to make them, give the food a unique flavor not found in similar dishes elsewhere.

Given the two morning hikes that are often part of the itinerary, a weekend trip of 3 days would be ideal for covering the main attractions and exploring the old town a little. Most people travel to Sungai Lembing by car or with tour coaches. To experience some of that old-time vibes, with accessible hikes and fabulous food without the crowds, Sungai Lembing would be the perfect candidate, at  least until everyone else hears about it.

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Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

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Places to visit in East Malaysia / Borneo

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Recommended by Marco | Monkey Rock World

Most people come to Tawau flying from Kota Kinabalu as a pit-stop on their way to Semporna and its famous islands. Besides a good coastline and some incredible food, it doesn’t have many attractions for travelers to linger longer. But that’s a pity because Tawau’s outskirts have some interesting things to do for nature lovers.

Tawau Hills Park

First of all, 20km north of town is  Tawau Hills Park , a treasure for nature lovers and people interested in spotting tropical snakes. Guests can stay in the charming wooden accommodation at park headquarters. It’s possible to see hornbills fly overhead, spot colugos, many frogs species, and hundreds of local insects. 

But with at least three days on your hands, you should hike to Mount Lucia, one of the three peaks in the park. This 10-km trek brings you through pristine forest and a mountain ridge inhabited by clouded leopards – feel extremely lucky to spot one. You need a ranger and a guide for this trek, and you will stay in a dorm on top of the ridge, with plenty of great jungle walks around you, and the chance of seeing gibbons and wild Malay civets.


Not far away from Tawau is the Sabah Soft Woods plantation and their Plant4Borneo Elephants project. Guests come to join jeep safaris to see the herds of wild elephants who have taken up residence in this huge plantation. As part of the trip, they also help plant trees that serve to reforest a wildlife corridor the animals will later use to move between this area and the nearby Danum Valley Conservation Area. A 4 days/3 Nights tour of both Tawau Hills Park and the elephants cost RM1700 per person and is organized by the NGO 1StopBorneo Wildlife. 

You can otherwise go to the park yourself, but it takes a bit of time and effort to organize guides if you wanted to trek further – getting on a tour is the most time and cost-effective way to go. 

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Recommended by Lora | Explore with Lora

In Borneo, Malaysia, Sipadan Island is regularly ranked as one of the best dive destinations in the world. And it’s not hard to see why. This small island, formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano, is one of the world’s richest marine habitats.

When  diving Sipadan Island ,   you can expect to see giant green sea turtles and hawksbills all over the place, tornadoes of barracudas, parrotfish, sharks, and morays, all in one dive. More than 3000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in the waters surrounding Sipadan.

There are twelve dive sites, and each has its own distinctive views of coral and aquatic life. But the Barracuda point is definitely the highlight of the trip. This dive site has a great barracuda shoal where you can see thousands in a tornado-like formation. During interval stops, divers get the chance to relax and recharge on Sipadan island’s beautiful beaches.

The island is located in the state of Sabah, in the northern part of Borneo. It is not possible to stay on the island overnight. You can either stay in the town of Semporna or on the nearby islands of Mabul and Kapalai. The closest airport to Sipadan is Tawau, about an hour’s drive from Semporna. From Semporna, you can arrange dive trips to the island through any dive shop. Be sure to book in advance, though. Dive permits are limited to 120 a day, and space can fill up quickly.

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Recommended by Wendy | The Nomadic Vegan

Most foreign visitors pass through Semporna rather quickly to go diving or snorkeling on one of the nearby islands like Sipadan or Mabul. But if you can spare a day, it’s really worth stopping to experience something beyond the typical tourist attractions and see what life is like for the locals in Borneo, particularly the Bajau people who live in Semporna.

The most prominent building in town is the main mosque, which stands proudly painted in green and white and is topped with golden onion domes. A great way to while away a morning is by strolling through the local markets. As you might expect in a coastal town, there is a busy fish market, where you will see fish and other sea creatures that have been caught in the nearby waters.

Vegetarian and vegan visitors to Malaysia will probably prefer the produce market, which is quite colorful and much less smelly. Around the mosque and the jetty, you will see many ramshackle houses built on stilts.

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Recommended by James | Travel Collecting

One of the best places to visit in Malaysia Borneo is the Danum Valley in the Sabah area. This is one of the few parts of Borneo that has never been logged by humans. The primeval rainforest is magical. There are towering trees with enormous buttresses that are draped in thick vines and shrouded in the early morning mist.

The only place to stay in the Danum Valley Conservation Area is Borneo Rainforest Lodge, an upscale lodge that provides guided hikes and night walks and drives. A typical stay is three days/ two nights. 

The lodge has an office near the airport in Lahad Datu, where a jeep or minivan picks you up for the two-hour drive to the resort. There are hikes up the escarpment where you can look out over the lodge and rainforest. Alternatively, hike to waterfalls deep in the jungle, shallow creeks, or along the canopy walkway. 

There is also a guided night walk and a night drive in the back of an open truck, with a powerful spotlight and an expert guide to help spot wildlife. Possible sightings include orangutans, pygmy elephants, red leaf monkeys, giant flying squirrels, flying frogs, and even rare clouded leopards. 

After the hikes, you can relax in the open-air restaurant and bar or have a spa massage. This is a truly incredible experience rightly deserving a spot on your best places to visit in Malaysia list!

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Recommended by Sarah | A Social Nomad

The Kinabatangan River  in Malaysian Borneo is the second-longest river in Malaysia and is located not far from Sandakan’s town. It’s home to a wide variety of wildlife, some of which can’t be seen elsewhere globally. The river and the rainforest banks are home to the probosci’s monkey, orangutans, monitor lizards, macaques, and many different birds.

The river’s area is also home to the Borneo pygmy elephants – the smallest elephants in Asia, and there are only 1,500 of them left. They’re distinctly different from mainland elephants, having evolved when Borneo’s island separated more than 300,000 years ago. Even when these elephants are fully grown, they look like babies. And they are seriously cute when viewed from a distance.

Visit the Kinabatangan River from Sandakan by taking a bus and boat transfer. Most visitors will pre-book a stay in one of the lodges located on the river banks. There are both basic and luxury options available. The Kinabatangan River is not a protected area, so there’s no National Park fee to pay, but you are likely to see wildlife directly from your lodge. Otherwise, boat trips are available, and wildlife spotting is best early morning or early evening. Don’t miss out on nighttime walks to see another side of the rainforest. 

You should spend at least two days and one night here, although two nights will give you a better sense of the area.

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Recommended by Chad | Adventure Filled Life

Sandakan is a quiet city in the Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo that has maintained it’s local feel quite well. It is only a 1-hour flight from Kota Kinabalu, making it an easy choice for those wondering ‘where to go next.’

You won’t find much in the way of resorts and high-end restaurants here. However, you will find a connection to nature and a city known as a haven for foodies. Food is definitely a major draw, and visitors should prepare to feast on a wide range of spectacular Cantonese and Malaysian food. Things like Bak Kut Teh (pork soup with a rich broth) and Char Kway Teow (stir-fried noodles) are dishes that visitors must try.

If you only have a day in the city, it’s a good idea to check out the Sim Sim Fisherman’s Village, the Sandakan Central Market, and the War Memorial at Sandakan Park. 

Sandakan lends itself to nature lovers and active travelers, as many of the highlights are located outside of the city. If you have a bit more time, there are a great number of exciting day-trips in the area. Some highly recommended excursions include visiting the Gomantong Bat Cave, taking a cruise on the Kinabatangan River, or seeing one of the many nearby sanctuaries. For a truly bucket-list experience, consider spending the night on Turtle Island!

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Situated in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is a fairly newish city with plenty of development still underway. Despite mainly serving as a pit-stop to those wanting to climb Mount Kinabalu, explore the nearby islands, or trek through the lush jungles here, the city itself is a great add-on to your list of places to visit in Malaysia. 

There’s a lovely promenade at the KK Waterfront where you can stroll along and enjoy a sundowner or fresh seafood dinner. Those wanting to immerse themselves in the local life, head to one of the daily markets where fresh produce and seafood are on display. The “Floating Mosque” is another great attraction in the area, and so are the white sandy beaches nearby. 

When you’re ready to explore the outdoors, hop on a speedboat to the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Taking a day trip to  Sapi and Manukan Islands   is the perfect way to soak up some island vibes. Spend the day relaxing on the beach and swimming in the turquoise waters. Adrenaline junkies can also get their fix by doing an array of water sports. Or better yet, zip line through the lush jungles! 

Be sure to also head to Mount Kinabalu – even if you aren’t into hiking. There’s a great trail through the botanical garden where you can familiarize yourself with the unique plant life. Alternatively, book a  Kinabalu Park & Poring Hot Spring   tour for a hassle-free experience. 

With three to four days, you’ll have ample time to get to know the city and explore its surroundings. 

Kampung Meritam’s Mud Volcanoes

top travel destinations malaysia

Recommended by Penny | Globe Trove

Not many people have heard of  Kampung Meritam’s mud volcanoes . Fewer people have visited the spot. Located in the Sarawak district of Malaysian Borneo, the mud volcanoes are rather hard to reach. Especially seeing that you have to drive through the Brunei borders. However, they are worth the effort and still ranks as one of my favorite things to do in Borneo.

Caused due to tectonic activity, these volcanoes are a curious sight to see. If you have seen a real volcano, these look like little pimples in the ground. The grey clayey mud that spills out of them is warm to the touch and quickly dries as it is exposed to the hot surroundings.

It is much fun to smear it on your face, and you will find that it is rather cooling. You can also immerse yourself in one of the larger mud pools formed by some of the volcanoes if you want. Just make sure to see if the tanks are filled with water for a bath post your soak.

top travel destinations malaysia

Recommended by Fiona | Passport and Piano

Mulu National Park is a Unesco World Heritage site in the Miri Division of Sarawak.   In the heart of the tropical rainforest, Mulu’s main attraction is the show caves.

The show caves are unique and can only be visited on day tours with a national park guide.   Inside the caves are some of the world’s most exceptional examples of stalactites and stalagmites.

There are four caves to visit; the Deer Cave has the largest cave passage globally and is home to millions of bats. You can watch the bats leave the cave at dusk. It’s a spectacular sight as they form waves of black swirls in the sky. At the end of the passage is the Garden of Eden. Here a hole in the cave allows light to filter through, and a plethora of flora and fauna grow below.

Another spectacular cave is Clearwater, which is the longest cave in Asia. There’s a river through the center, with stunning scenery to admire from the well designed wooden walkways inside the cave.

To experience the rainforest from a different angle, you can participate in a sky canopy walk. The 480km rope bridge swings high in the sky, and you can see all the trees and vegetation from above. You can also get a little closer to the monkeys that swing amongst the treetops.

Another spectacular cave is Clearwater, which is the longest cave in Asia.   Through the centre, there’s a river, with stunning scenery to admire from the well designed wooden walkways inside the cave.

Pro Tips: The only way to get to Mulu is by air. Flights go from either Miri or Kuching and can be booked through Malaysian airways. The best hotel in the area is the  Mulu Marriott Resort and Spa . To experience the caves and explore a couple of trails around the park, you need at least 3 days. Although, staying longer is recommended, especially if you want to do some of the overnight treks.

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Located on the Malaysian part of Borneo’s island,  Niah National Park  is often overlooked by tourists. The closest town to this gorgeous place is Miri. The National Park is located around 80 kilometers from Miri, and you can reach the park in 1h30.

One of the interesting things about the park is that it encompasses a part of Borneo’s tropical forest. This makes it an interesting experience to walk through. The boardwalks and well-marked trails make it easy to explore the park, and you do not need a guide.

The highlight of the park, however, is the Niah Caves, which are enormous. The interconnected network of caves will leave you spellbound. Make sure you carry a torch, though, as one of the caves is explored in pitch darkness. If that wasn’t enough, at the end of the cave, you could marvel at wall paintings that date back to the Iron age.

The walk itself is long, so set out early and carry water. It isn’t strenuous and can be done easily but watch your step as it can get slippery in parts. If you are in the Sarawak area of Borneo, make sure to put it on your list places to visit in Malaysia! 

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

Recommended by Ania | The Travelling Twins

Fancy visiting the Cat City of Borneo? Kuching is a fascinating place. Both within the city and on day trips. There’s everything from jungle hikes (Orangutans, insect-eating plants, mud-skipping fish), street-art trails and a Cat Museum.

Firstly about those cats. The word Kuching means “cat.” The place is full of cat statues, and you can even listen to Cats FM radio. Visit the museum in North City Hall containing thousands of moggie images, and even a cat mummy (the Egyptian kind.)

The lovely character of Kuching city follows through with more street art, including our favorite: a wheelbarrow full of orangutans.

If this is your first trip to Borneo, visit the Sarawak Cultural Village early. It gives an enjoyable and painless introduction to ethnic diversity and is a great place to explore in its own right. Staff demonstrates the timeless pursuits of the jungle economy in a village of reconstructed folk-houses.

Then go on into the real jungles and parks. Bako is close to Kuching and is one of Borneo’s richest wildlife areas (and the world.) Explore diverse habitats and see those mud-skipping fish, snakes, lizards, and endangered probosci’s monkeys. On other day trips from Kuching, we saw orangutans and the ghastly Rafflesia plant with its one-meter diameter flowers smelling rotten meat.

We loved our five-day stay in  Kuching with kids  as it combined fascinating learning with the fun of spotting rare and exciting living things. All in a vibrant, friendly place.

Where to go in Malaysia Conclusion

As you can see, there are heaps of amazing places to visit in Malaysia! I hope this guide has helped you decide where to go and what to do!

That’s all I’ve got on Malaysia for now. Have you visited Malaysia yet? If so, what tips do you have for fellow travelers planning a Malaysia itinerary? Feel free to share your tips on best places to visit, best things to do and see, and anything in between below!

Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

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Malaysia // Discover the very best places to visit in Malaysia in this comprehensive guide. We highlight the best Malaysia points of interest plus pro tips on where to go in Malaysia and what not to miss on your trip. #malaysia #travel #exploringmalaysia #SoutheastAsia #travelplanning #travelguide #traveltips #visitmalaysia #malaysiadestinations

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20 Things to do in Malaysia + Tourist Spots

20 Things to do in Malaysia + Tourist Spots

Malaysia sits between Singapore and Thailand, literally and on the scale of how easy it is to travel.

The country is divided into two main regions, Peninsular Malaysia on the west, composed of Kuala Lumpur & nearby states.

And, East Malaysia, composed of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo Island.

You can enjoy many of Southeast Asia’s best heritage cities, natural spots, food havens and urban experiences in Peninsular Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur offers direct connections from major cities in Asia & beyond. It’s the primary hub of AirAsia, so finding cheap flights shouldn’t be hard to come by. There’s also the option to a bus or train and cross the border from/to Singapore easily within a day. Once you’ve arrived, getting to main tourist spots is convenient by land or air.

Venture to East Malaysia for the best beaches, diving & trekking. It is home to Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in archipelagic Southeast Asia (outside of Papua) as well as many beautiful off-shore islands.

Is Malaysia on your bucketlist? Inspire your trip with these must-visit places and top things to do for first-time travelers.

1. Kuala Lumpur

Location : Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Peninsular) . Save on Google Maps .

Kuala Lumpur is definitely worth exploring if ever you’re visiting Malaysia. The capital city’s urban landscape, dominated by iconic KL Tower and Petronas Towers, is dotted with grand heritage buildings, worthwhile museums, well-maintained parks, revered temples, and mosques.

How to go :

Arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), the main flight gateway to Malaysia. It’s one of the busiest and most well-connected airports in the world with direct flights to tourist hubs in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, South Asia and major cities in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Major airlines include Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Lion Air, Malindo Air & Firefly. The airport is 30 minutes to 1 hour south of the city center by land. You can take the train, bus or private car.

From the Philippines, go on a flight to Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Malaysia Airlines. Travel time takes nearly 4 hours. Flights to KL are also available from Clark, Cebu & Kalibo.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Essentials

Where to stay Tours + discounts Check Fares

Top discounts

KL Tower Observation Deck Admission Ticket

Malaysia 4G Data SIM Card (MY Pick up)

Malaysia 4G Pocket WiFi Hotspot (MY Pick up)

Kuala Lumput Skyline view

Malaysia Travel Essentials:

Where to stay in Malaysia (click below to see rates and book online) |

Malaysia Fares & Transport

Malaysia Tours & Discounts

Malaysia  WIFI/SIM Card

See also :   Places to Visit in Malaysia  |  Kuala Lumpur Itinerary  |  Singapore Travel Guide .

To help with your trip planning, I’ve added links to the locations on Google Maps. Feel free to click/tap on the links posted. Then, use the “save” feature on the Google Maps app for easy reference.

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2. Penang & Georgetown

Location : Penang, Malaysia (Peninsular) . Save on Google Maps .

Food in Georgetown, Penang is widely known as the best throughout the country and is reason enough to visit. It’s definitely my favorite place to visit in Malaysia. There is no place in Southeast Asia that can match its satisfying mix of old-world cosmopolitan heritage, relaxed feel, exotic allure, and lush natural landscapes.

Georgetown & Penang Island is one hour north of Kuala Lumpur by flight. Penang International Airport (PEN) serves frequent direct flights KL, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Taipei & many domestic destinations in Malaysia including Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi, and Kota Bharu. Popular airlines include AirAsia, Malindo Air, Malaysia Airlines, Tigerair, Jetstar & Cathay Dragon. You can also reach Georgetown by bus/train/car, after a 4 to 6-hour land trip from Kuala Lumpur.

Penang Travel Essentials

Penang Hill and Temple Sightseeing

THE TOP Komtar Penang

The Habitat Penang Hill Admission Ticket

Kek Lok Si (Temple)

Location : Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Melaka (Malacca) is a former Portuguese-colonial trading port conveniently located between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. If you’re traveling to both cities by land, this heritage and food destination is worth a stopover.

Melaka is easy to reach by land from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The bus ride from Kuala Lumpur usually takes 2 to 3 hours. If you’re coming from Singapore, travel may take between 3.5 to 5 hours, depending on the queue at the Singapore-Malaysia immigration checkpoints.

Melaka Travel Essentials

19 Things to do in Melaka + Tourist Spots

4. Langkawi

Langkawi Sky Bridge

Location : Kedah, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

If you’ve been to the best beaches in the Philippines and Thailand, Langkawi’s natural scenery is probably not going to blow you away. That said, it still is a stunning place to visit with worthwhile things to keep you busy for a day or two. What I like about Langkawi the most is that is easy to travel yet remains approachable and largely underdeveloped. It’s also one of the few tax-free islands in Malaysia where you can enjoy duty-free shopping.

Langkawi is one hour north of Kuala Lumpur by flight. Langkawi International Airport (LGK) serves flights from KL, Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Penang, Guangzhou & Shenzhen, operated by AirAsia, Tigerair, SilkAir, Malindo Air & Malaysia Airlines. If you want to go by land & ferry, ride a bus or train from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis (6 to 8 hours travel time). Then, ride a ferry to Kuah in Langkawi Island. The sea journey takes around 1 to 2 hours. You can also arrive in Langkawi on a direct ferry from Penang or Satun in Thailand.

Langkawi Travel Essentials

Shared Ferry Transfers Between Langkawi and Koh Lipe

Ferry Ticket between Koh Lipe and Langkawi by Hi Lipe

Asia 4G LTE WIFI Hotspot (Manila Airport Pick Up)

13 Things to do in Langkawi + Tourist Spots

5. Putrajaya

Location : Putrajaya, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Putrajaya is home to many of Malaysia’s most impressive monuments. Here, you’ll find grand mosques, government buildings, and iconic bridges surrounded by manicured parks and a 600-hectare lake. It can be reached on an easy day trip from Kuala Lumpur or on a drive-by to the airport.

Putrajaya is easy to visit from Kuala Lumpur. It is located between KL city centre and Kuala Lumpur International Airport. You can go by train on the KLIA Transit or by bus. Travel time may take as quick as 30 minutes or up to 1 hour depending on the traffic.

Putrajaya Travel Essentials

Where to stay Tours + discounts

Putra Pink Mosque

6. Legoland & Johor Bahru

Location : 7, Jalan Legoland, 79100 Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Legoland Malaysia is one reason to visit Johor Bahru, located just across the causeway from Singapore. It is the first Legoland theme park in Asia and features many cool attractions including a Lego-themed water park, Lego-themed hotel, and impressive miniature recreations of many of Asia’s best-known landmarks.

Most travelers visit Legoland & Johor Bahru on a day trip from Singapore. Travel time usually takes 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending on the queue at the Singapore-Malaysia immigration checkpoint. If you’re traveling from abroad, Johor Bahru-Senai International Airport (JHB) serves direct flights from Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Surabaya & Shenzen. Fly with AirAsia, Firefly, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, Sichuan Airlines or Spring Airlines. You can also reach Johor Bahru by bus or train from Kuala Lumpur. The travel time is 4 to 6 hours.

Johor Bahru Travel Essentials

Legoland Malaysia Admission Ticket

Legoland Malaysia – SG Transfers

Legoland Malaysia

7. Kota Kinabalu

Mamutik Island, Kota Kinabalu

Location : Sabah, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Kota Kinabalu is a bustling yet laid-back city in Sabah, East Malaysia known as a gateway to Borneo’s amazing natural sites including Mount Kinabalu, Mulu Caves National Park, diving spots, and pristine jungles.

From the Philippines, you can fly direct to Kota Kinabalu from Manila on Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. Flight duration is 2 hours.

Kota Kinabalu is 2 hours and 30 minutes easy of Kuala Lumpur by plane. Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) serves flights from KL, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tokyo and many domestic destinations in Malaysia. Major airlines include AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines & Malindo Air.

Kota Kinabalu Travel Essentials

Kinabalu Park & Poring Hot Spring

Tunku Abdul Rahman Island Visit & Boat Snorkeling Experience

Kota Kinabalu Sunset and City Night Dinner Cruise with Complimentary Drinks

8 Places To Visit in Kota Kinabalu

On My Bucketlist

8. Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

Location : Ranau near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

9. Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands

Location : 39000, Pahang, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

10. Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands

Location : Terengganu, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

11. Redang Island

Redang Island

Location : Pulau Redang, 21090 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

12. Sipadan Island


13. Tioman Island

Tioman Island

Location : Pahang, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

14. Genting Highlands

Genting Highlands

15. Mulu Caves

Mulu Caves

Location : Sarawak, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .


Location : Perak, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Ipoh Travel Essentials

6 Things to do in Ipoh + Tourist Spots

17. Kuching & Sarawak


18. Sandakan


19. Pahang Taman Negara

Pahang Taman Negara

Location : 27000 Kuala Tahan, Pahang, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Pahang Travel Essentials

Where to stay Check Fares

20. Bukit Tinggi

Bukit Tinngi

Location : 28750 Bentong, Pahang, Malaysia . Save on Google Maps .

Beyond Malaysia

Location : Southeast Asia (mainland) . Save on Google Maps .

Singapore Travel Essentials

Universal Studios Singapore Admission Ticket

Singapore 4G Data SIM Card (SG Airport Pickup)

33 Things to do in Singapore + Tourist Spots

Location : Indochina, Southeast Asia (mainland) . Save on Google Maps .

Thailand Travel Essentials

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link (ARL) Ticket

Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess Cruise

Pattaya-Nong Nooch Tropical Garden Ticket

20 Things to do in Thailand + Tourist Spots

What places have you added to your bucketlist? Have you been to beautiful places in Malaysia that should be on this list? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Places to visit in Malaysia

Malaysia tourist spots, things to do in Malaysia, where to go in Malaysia & more.

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.

Book your way to Malaysia

How much does it cost to travel to Malaysia? Click below to compare flight, ferry & buses fares posted on these booking sites:

Where to Stay in Malaysia

Click below & search recommended Malaysia hotels/hostels/home rentals within your budget. Remember to set your  min/max price , travel dates, and  sort by review ratings . I often book online with these trusted booking sites below for rock-bottom prices & convenient bookings.

Book sooner rather than later if you already have your dates set. Cheaper-priced rooms and hotels with high reviews tend to get fully booked faster, especially during busy days like weekends, holidays & peak tourist seasons.

Malaysia Essentials & Top Discounts

Japan mobile data sim card/pocket wifi.

Travel with ease & confidence throughout your trip. Get a data SIM card or pocket WIFI device! Access Google Maps and all your favorite travel apps. Share your travel stories instantly with all your friends. Click below and choose your pick-up location:

Japan SIM card Pocket WIFI See all discounts

Popular discounts and tours booked by other travelers:

Kuala Lumpur Airport Train Ticket (KLIA Ekspres)

KL Hop On Hop Off Bus Pass

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Don’t Stop Here

Click below for more travel inspiration:

8 Things to do in Kuala Lipis + Tourist Spots

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December 11, 2015 at 4:09 am

How much po ba dpat ang show money sa airport for them to allow u to leave? Im gona stay in malaysia for 3 weeks

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December 11, 2015 at 1:48 pm

There’s no set amount that’s required to be shown at the airport. You just have to justify that you have enough money to spend on your whole trip, depending on your budget. If your budget is P1,500 per day, for example, you simply need to have at least P31,500 on your bank account. It also helps to have extra, to show them you are able to pay for unforeseen expenses, like emergencies or last-minute flights.

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November 20, 2018 at 1:30 pm

So many great destination ideas! Even though I have already had mine, I still like to get to know some nice destinations, even for holidays with my wife. I would also add one more place that we really like to visit, Bali in Indonesia

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January 28, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Wow! Such a great resource you have here! Been in love with Malaysia since day 1 of our visit. The beaches and culture is outstanding! Sooo looking forward to our comeback. Wonderful guide! Kudos!

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December 5, 2019 at 2:15 pm

The most famous places to be visited in Malaysia especially Kuala Lumpur is Twin Tower, KL Tower, Dataran Merdeka and many more.

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May 5, 2020 at 8:35 pm

There are so many great places in Malaysia, it’s so hard to choose the best! Awesome round up :)

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October 4, 2021 at 11:59 pm

You summed it all up in one post. Great coverage and definitely great recommendations.

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  • Malaysia S Most Beautiful Places...

The 17 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Malaysia

top travel destinations malaysia

Wondering where to go in Malaysia? With its diverse landscapes, culture and activities, it can be hard to know where to start. If that’s the case for you, try our guide to the country’s most beautiful places to visit. From walking around Unesco-listed historical marvels to exploring 130-million-year-old jungle, you’ll always have plenty of things to see and do in Malaysia .

1. malacca city, malacca.

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Malacca City, Malaysia

2. George Town, Penang

Irene Navarro / © Culture Trip

3. The Perhentians, Terengganu

Natural Feature

Perhentian Islands, Terengganu, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands are a small archipelago in the South China Sea off the coast of Terengganu. They are consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful places in Malaysia. The region is comprised of seven islands in total, five of which remain uninhabited; the other two are named Besar and Kecil. If you fancy holidaying there, picture white sand stretching around sparsely populated areas, while crystal-clear water laps against the shore. Favourite activities include scuba diving, snorkelling and canoeing. Avoid coming between March and October though, as that’s when most hotels and guesthouses close.

4. Danum Valley, Sabah

Forest, Hiking Trail

Are you an ecotourist? Then Danum Valley is by far your best place to visit in Malaysia, as you get to experience untouched jungle with incredible biodiversity. Inside the 169sqmi (438sqkm) conservation area are hundreds, if not thousands, of fauna and flora species. Among the untamed wilds, you may well spot orangutans , pygmy elephants or a clouded leopard. Activities include jungle treks with experienced guides, night safaris and visiting ancient Kadazan-Dusun burial sites.

5. Alor Setar, Kedah

Zahir Mosque in Alor Setar, Kedah

Most who visit the state of Kedah spend their time in Langkawi. But, approximately 34mi (55km) southeast of the popular island sits an unexplored city called Alor Setar . The central square features the intricate Zahir Mosque, the Big Clock Building, the Royal Hall and the Sultan Museum. A little further afield, you can visit the 218m (715ft) and 250 million-year-old Gunung Keriang limestone hill. Head to nearby Kuala Kedah and walk through the ruins of a 17th-century Malay fort, the oldest in Northern Malaysia.

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6. Kota Kinabalu

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark, Mosque

Kinabalu national park, Malaysia

The capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, might not appear beautiful at first. However, behind the malls and buildings lie stretches of orange sand, islands reachable within 10 minutes, and the iconic floating mosque. Head to Tanjung Aru Beach for a spectacular sunset, or stroll along Likas Bay to marvel at the coast and islands. The five islands, known as Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, are a brilliant day trip for snorkelling, beaches and relaxation. Drive a short distance from the city and find untouched jungle.

7. Ipoh, Perak

Abandoned Kellies Castle in Batu Gajah, Malaysia

Ipoh is fast becoming an obvious answer to the question of where to go in Malaysia. The historical core consists of colonial buildings and traditional shophouses, while a plethora of Buddhist and Hindu cave temples surround the city. Kellie’s Castle, an incomplete former colonial mansion, is a short drive from the city too.

8. The Cameron Highlands, Pahang

Tea field, Malaysia

British surveyor, William Cameron, discovered the Cameron Highlands in 1885 and it has only grown since as a tourist hotspot. Today, emerald green tea plantations dominate the skyline, along with strawberry and vegetable farms. If you plan on going, you’ll almost definitely enjoy the cooler climate and the opportunities to go hiking.

9. Pangkor Island, Perak

Pangkor Island, Perak, Malaysia

10. Pulau Tioman, Pahang

Pulau Tioman Juara Beach

Back in the ’70s, Time Magazine mentioned Pulau Tioman as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Little has changed since then. With untouched beaches and dense rainforest, the island offers a more secluded feel than the likes of Langkawi. Favourite activities include snorkelling and scuba diving. There’s also trekking in the jungle, touring the island on a motorbike or bicycle, and plenty of opportunities to see gorgeous waterfalls.

11. Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Shopping Mall, Architectural Landmark


You can’t visit Kuala Lumpur without visiting Bukit Bintang. Cosmopolitan yet local, commercial yet cultural, the neighbourhood of Bukit Bintang is buzzing with activity. During the day, you’ll want to visit Pasar Seni, a popular handicrafts market, as well as Kasturi Walk, a covered walkway with vendors selling local delicacies. Once the sun sets, head over to Changkat Bukit Bintang for the real fun, where an obedient row of colonial-style shophouses have been converted into boisterous pubs, bars and cafes. Recommended by Michelle Leong .

12. Pulau Langkawi, Kedah

top travel destinations malaysia

Also known as the ‘Jewel of Kedah,’ Langkawi is one of those places which even Malaysians visit (and Malaysians are a thrifty lot). Pristine white sand meets gentle ocean waves at Cenang Beach, which is long enough to mean you won’t feel crowded in with other travelers. As long as you’re prepared to pay a fee, the Langkawi Cable Car also offers a majestic and sweeping view of the island. Recommended by Michelle Leong.

13. Mulu World Heritage Area, Sarawak

Caves in Mulu National Park, Borneo, Malaysia

If you want proof of Mother Nature’s blessings, this is the place to see it. Sheer limestone cliffs rise like the tower(s) of Sauron over the quiet, verdure, unsuspecting rainforest. The two caves — Deer Cave and Clearwater Cave — are massive with an array of natural limestone formations and sleeping bats. Small waterfalls offer a refreshing view while making your way through the forest. Sounds like paradise? Wait until you see it in person. Recommended by Michelle Leong.

14. Talang-Satang National Park, Sarawak

This marine protected area encompasses four islands, three of which are known as the ‘turtle islands’. The clear waters and shallow coral reefs are ideal for expectant turtle mothers, who come ashore between July and October to nest . Giant green turtles account for 90% of turtle landings here, but if you’re lucky you’ll also spot a hawksbill turtle making her slow ascent towards her nesting spot. Recommended by Michelle Leong.

15. Johor Bahru, Johor

Red House building, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

It’s been said that Singaporeans love Johor Bahru — but it’s not just because the currency is a good deal in their favor. It’s because of the banana cakes at Hiap Joo Bakery, the lovely stretch of fine sand at Desaru Beach, and the laid-back culture of Johorians. Recent years have seen quaint boutique cafés mushrooming up all around town, particularly along the Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Street. Night markets are also a big draw . Recommended by Michelle Leong.

16. Kuching, Sarawak

Park, Natural Feature

cat monument kuching

‘Kuching’ literally means cats. That’s right — Sarawak’s capital city is named after furry domestic felines, who dominate the city in the form of numerous strategic sculptures. But there’s more than just cats to look at here. You can explore history at the Fort Margherita, discover religious culture at Tua Pek Kong Temple, and say hello to the proboscis monkeys at Bako National Park . Recommended by Michelle Leong.

17. Lambir Hills National Park

Waterfall, Lambir Hill, Malaysia

Experienced hikers will enjoy the challenge of Lambir Hills. Selected parts of the journey offer hiking aids like handlebars and wooden steps – but even this convenience doesn’t beset the steep climb at the final part of the hike, towards the top of Bukit Lambir. Waterfalls abound, birds are aplenty and trekking trails fork several ways. Bring water, snacks and a towel if you’re likely to sweat. Recommended by Michelle Leong.

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23 Top Tourist Attractions in Malaysia

By Kaeylen McCrea · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Known for its sprawling landscapes rich with rainforests and mountain peaks, and rich cultural diversity, Malaysia is grounded as an ideal getaway travel destination. Most tourists are from neighboring countries such as Singapore and Indonesia but a growing number of other foreign tourists are discovering this country as well.

Malaysia offers two very distinct experiences: the peninsula and Borneo (an island shared with Indonesia and Brunei). The peninsula or West Malaysia is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors with an efficient and modern capital, Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Borneo features some of the most interesting places in Malaysia with a wild jungle, orangutans, granite peaks and remote tribes. Combined with some luxury resorts and colonials towns, Malaysia, for most visitors, presents a happy mix.

The numerous islands and rural areas offer chances to trek through jungles, sunbathe on beaches, and snorkel through rich marine life ecosystems. However, this spectacular part of the world has much more things to do for visitors, so strap on your camera, and it’s time to see the top attractions in Malaysia!

23. Gunung Gading National Park

Gunung Gading National Park

Witness the uniqueness of the Rafflesia flower in bloom at Gunung Gading National Park in Kuching Division, Sarawak.

The Rafflesia is the world’s largest flower, growing up to one meter in diameter. The gigantic flower species is a parasitic plant that requires 18 months to infest and take over a host vine before taking nine months to mature and then flower for four to five days. They can bloom anytime of the year, though the best time is November through January.

Other attractions draw visitors to Gunung Gading National Park beside the Rafflesia flower, including the numerous jungle trails, streams, waterfalls, and the famous Gunung Gading Summit Trail, the longest and most challenging trail in the park. It takes three to four hours to reach the summit of Gading hill, though the rewarding panoramic views are worth it!

22. Manukan Island

Manukan Island

The second largest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Manukan Island, is off the coast of Kota Kinabalu and accessible by boat.

The island has significant markers that draw frequent visits from tourists and Kota Kinabalu residents. One of them is the long stretch of white-sanded beach made paired with sparkling clear waters.

As the waters are easy to swim in for beginners and are refreshingly clear, Manukan Island is the best snorkeling site out of all five islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. It’s not hard to find clownfish or other vibrant-colored fish lazily swimming about.

21. Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple

Located in Air Itam, Penang, Malaysia, Kek Lok Si Temple was built in 1891. It remains the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and a vital pilgrimage center for Buddhists traveling from other countries, such as Singapore and the Philippines.

The intricate design of Kek Lok Si Temple features a seven-tired Ban Po Thar pagoda, a towering 36.5-meter bronze Kuan Yin statue, stunning pavilions, trickling fish ponds, and luscious gardens. Walking through the Kek Lok Si Temple, visitors will see impressive sculptures, murals, and carvings decorating the archways, pagodas, and walls.

The base of the temple’s pagoda was established in a Chinese style, with the next section influenced by the Thai and the top of the pagoda Burmese. Each section hosts different cultures and histories that can be viewed inside and outside the pagoda, displaying varying styles of Buddhas and decorations from each culture. At the top of the Kek Lok Si Temple’s pagoda are outstanding viewpoints of Penang that you should not miss out on!

20. Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Made from limestone, the Batu Caves are one of the top attractions of Malaysia. The caves welcome Tamil Hindus as a place of pilgrimage and tourists looking to explore the impressive caves.

The main cave of Batu Caves, known as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, is painted in vibrant colors and is free for tourists to visit. Reaching the main cave requires a 272-stair climb up the limestone cliffs. Within the first cavern of the main cave are Hindu shrines and other religious artifacts to peruse. Continuing in the second open-air cave, a pit cave features towering cave walls covered in jungle plants and a Hindu shrine inside.

Before or after exploring the main cave, tour the museum caves and art gallery, they cost an entry fee and are worthwhile if you appreciate art and how it transforms with different cultures.

19. Semenggoh Nature Reserve

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

The Semenggoh Nature Reserve is one of three orangutan rehabilitation centers in Malaysia where visitors can see orangutans in their natural habitat in the trees.

Established in 1975, the reserve initially started to care for animals owned illegally as pets, found injured in the rainforest, or orphaned without the ability to survive on their own. Since its founding, Semenggoh Nature Reserve has successfully rehabilitated and released orangutans into the forest’s reserve, where they spend the rest of their lives roaming freely.

Two times a day, in the morning and afternoon, many orangutans from the forest travel to the center for feeding. Rangers from the park will offer an educational and safety briefing before visitors can follow the ranger down the jungle path to the feeding area, where the orangutans will feed on bananas, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, and more yummy snacks to fill their bellies.

The Semenggoh Nature Reserve also has a thriving bird population with colorful exotic Malaysian birds, including the Bornean black magpie, yellow rumpled flowerpecker, Malaysian honeyguide and brown hawk owl.

18. North Borneo Railway

North Borneo Railway

The only rail transport system operating on the island of Borneo, the North Borneo Railway, runs from the state capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, to the town of Papar. The entire trip down the North Borneo Railway spans four hours one way.

Established in 1896, it is also the oldest steam locomotive in Borneo, once used to transport tobacco for export. The British Vulcan steam locomotive runs on wood and offers a refurbishing nostalgic historical touch of the Colonial days of British North Borneo.

Throughout the memorable trip, passengers can bask in the natural beauty of Malaysia’s countryside. Passengers can fill their appetites with breakfast or lunch on the train before hopping off at the towns of Paper and Kinarut to scour the shops for souvenirs and other treats.

17. Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur

Bukit Bintang

A bustling entertainment and shopping district in Kuala Lumpur , Bukit Bintang is full of exciting things to do and activities!

Often referred to as Starhill or Bintang Walk, the district is teeming with restaurants, cafes, bars, Malaysian night markets, and shopping malls. There’s food galore in Bukit Bintang, and if you’re one to shop, it’s not hard to find plenty of great shopping options at Bukit Bintang’s shopping malls, including Berjaya Times Square, Sungei Wang, and Lot 10.

Berjaya Times Square features the largest indoor amusement park in Malaysia and is one of the country’s largest shopping malls. To get a taste of the local cuisine in Bukit Bintang, eat at Jalan Alor, the famous food street in Bukit Bintang and Kuala Lumpur. The vibrant colored lanes are bustling with people looking to socialize and eat favorite dishes like pineapple rice and Chilli crab.


Redang Island is one of the largest islands off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The island is notorious for its natural beauty featuring white-sanded beaches and sparkling crystalline waters.

Found in Kuala Nerus District in Terengganu, the island is a superb getaway destination featuring luxurious beachfront resorts and thrilling activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and a much-needed beach day. The breathtaking scenery and fresh air do wonders to rejuvenate and refresh a person.

Part of the Terengganu Marine Park, Redang Island’s marine environment is under protection. Coral reefs and schools of colorful fish scour the waters, drawing in visitors to adventure the waters to witness the marvelous underwater world rich in abundance and life.

15. Sarawak Cultural Village

Sarawak Cultural Village

An award-winning living museum, Sarawak Cultural Village teaches others about the culture of Sarawak’s different ethnic groups. In the past, Sarawak was inhabited by numerous tribes. Presently, many tribes have retreated deep into the jungle forests of Borneo, away from civilization.

Near Kuching in Sarawak, the village helps visitors experience the local culture using authentic homes and workshops. Guests can participate in the workshops for a hands-on experience to learn the customs of Sarawak’s culture and diversity.

Some highlights of visiting Sarawak Cultural Village include traditional dance performances from professional dancers from each tribe and touring the village to glimpse how Sarawak’s tribes live.

14. Bako National Park

Bako National Park

The oldest national park in Sarawak, Bako National Park spans an area at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula found at the mouth of the Bako and Kuching Rivers in the Kuching Division.

Bako National Park is well-known for its diverse seven ecosystems featuring coastlines, rainforests, beaches, mangroves, and jungles. The biggest attraction in the park is the bizarre, obscene-nosed Proboscis monkey, though they are rare and difficult to spot. These big-nosed pot-bellied monkeys are endemic to Borneo.

The park’s trail system allows visitors to see the majestic beauty of Bako National Park with wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities. Other notable species of wildlife that can be seen at Bako National Park include bearded pigs, long-tailed macaques, silver-leaf monkeys, and monitor lizards.

13. Christ Church in Melaka

Christ Church in Melaka

Founded in the 18th century, Christ Church is an Anglican church located in Melaka City , or Malacca in English, that remains the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia.

After the Dutch took over the city of Melaka from the Portuguese, numerous buildings were constructed, including the Christ Church, to serve as a place of worship. Construction of the church was completed in 1753. Later, the British temporarily took over Melaka, converting the church from Protestant to Anglican.

The coral red painted building and defining white cross establishes the Christ Church as an architecturally dazzling landmark surrounded by vibrant flowers and thriving greenery on Church Street, or Jalan Gereja. Visitors can view the outstanding architectural skills of the Dutch and the finishing touches added by the British, like the bell and weathercock, and a tiled glass window depicting The Last Supper.

12. Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River

The second largest river in Malaysia, Kinabatangan River, or Sungai Kinabatangan in Malay, travels from its headwaters in the mountains of Sabah to its outlet at the Sulu Sea.

Part of the river is included in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. Lower-Kinabatangan River nurtures one of the world’s richest ecosystems. The forest surrounding the river is home to ten species of primates, one of two places in the world to boast such a feat. One of the more notable species is the indigenous orangutan and Proboscis monkey.

River cruises are offered to travel down the Kinabatangan River to peer at the numerous wildlife in their natural habitats, like the Bornean pygmy elephant, saltwater crocodiles, the Proboscis monkey, and all eight species of hornbills found in Borneo!

11. Sipadan


The only oceanic island in Malaysia, Sipadan Island, is found off the east coast of Sabah in the Celebes Sea.

Formed from living corals that grew on top of an extinct volcanic cone, which took thousands of years to form, the island is overflowing with luscious tropical nature. Sipadan Island is boasted as one of the best dive sites in the world, with 12 available dive spots to explore.

The island has a boisterous amount of green and hawksbill turtles. These turtles travel to Sipadan Island to mate and nest, so it’s not uncommon for divers to swim with these glorious creatures. As a recognized prosperous ecosystem, Sipadan Island hosts hundreds of coral pieces and over 3,000 species of fish. It is also a Bird Sanctuary, with migratory birds like sea eagles, sunbirds, starlings, and kingfishers taking a dip in the island’s waters for food.

10. Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands

A district in Pahang that borders Perak and Kelantan, Cameron Highlands, was developed in 1885 by Sir William Cameron.

Adored for its sensational scenery and tourist attractions , such as its tea plantations, orchards, and gardens, Cameron Highlands presents a refreshingly cool highland climate. The landscape is similar to rural England. It was founded as a “hill station” retreat where people traveled during British colonial times to escape the hot seasons.

One of the most popular things to do in Malaysia is stopping by one of the many tea plantations for a tour and a cup of tea to refresh, surrounded by dazzling views. Numerous gardens and farms to visit in Cameron Highlands include rose gardens, lavender gardens, bee farms, and strawberry farms.

Go on a hike through the famous Mossy Forest. Climb the highest peak in the Highlands, Mount Brinchang. Eat and socialize with the locals at the Tanah Rata night market.

9. George Town Inner City

George Town Inner City

The capital city of Penang Island and the sixth most populous city in Malaysia, George Town was established in 1786 as a British trading port. It became the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. The city is a favored tourist spot home to prevalent architectural structures and enriching street art scattered throughout the area, like Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s collection, “Mirrors George Town.”

George Town has been widely recognized for homing one of Southeast Asia’s largest collections of pre-war buildings. Many of these maintained buildings are first-generation brick structures dating back to 1790-1870.

The historic core zone in George Town contains numerous other noteworthy attributes. One is Beach Street, one of the city’s first streets that acts as its commercial centre. Another prominent historical landmark within the inner city of George Town is Fort Cornwallis, the oldest and largest fort in Malaysia.

The Clan Jetties of Penang, historic Chinese villages established over the water, represent the diverse cultural history of Penang. The most popular of these is the Chew Jetty, available for visitors to explore and learn more about history and life on a Clan Jetty.

8. Taman Negara

Taman Negara

A thriving tropical rainforest found on the Malay peninsula, Taman Negara is an expansive national park believed to date back 130 million years.

Taman Negara is Malaysia’s largest and one of the most famous national parks. Its luscious ecosystem and spectacular scenery have notched the park on the list for an array of fun outdoor activities.

Explore caves and underground tunnels, like Gua Telinga or Kepayang Besar. Then, climb to the summit of Gunung Taha, the tallest peak in Peninsular Malaysia, with rewarding views of Taman Negara below. Next, visit the Orang Asli settlements, the two aboriginal villages, and communities that have made home to the forest for centuries. Finally, walk the world’s longest canopy, embarking above the treeline to bask in the majesty of the rainforest.

7. Pulau Tioman

Pulau Tioman

Pulau Tioman, or Tioman Island, is a tropical nature reserve located in the South China Sea off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia in Rompin District, Pahang. In the 1970s, Time Magazine selected Tioman as one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Tourists have surged to the island ever since, seeking a taste of paradises.

Pulau Tioman is popular for its excellent dive sites featuring shipwrecks, coral reefs, and sea sponges. But, of course, if you don’t have a diving license or any experience, snorkeling in Pulau Tioman is just as popular! And for those more inclined to sit back and relax, sunbathing on Nipah Beach or scheduling a spa treatment at Paya Beach Resort is always an option.

If you’re more inclined to stay active on land, then don’t miss out on hiking to Asah Waterfall, sampling the local cuisine and learning about the local marine life at the Marine Park Information Centre. You can also schedule a fishing trip to see what you can catch, or walk to the village of Air Batang for plenty of food options, trails, and nearby beaches to check out.

6. Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

The highest mountain in Malaysia and Borneo, Mount Kinabalu, hones the record as the third-highest peak of an island in the world.

A towering natural landmark and World Heritage Site in Kinabalu Park in Ranau district, Sabah, the mountain is renowned for its outstanding biological and botanical species biodiversity. The numerous flora and fauna range in varying elevations, many of which come from Indo-Malayan, Himalayan, and Australasian origin. One botanical survey revealed Mount Kinabalu to be one of the world’s most significant biological sites due to its impressive ecosystem and biodiversity of plant species.

Hiking Mount Kinabalu is accessible to all with a suitable fitness level. The hike requires no technical climbing, only a hefty trek to the summit with rewarding views of the rainforests from above.

5. Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur were the world’s tallest buildings before being surpassed in 2004 by Taipei 101. However, the towers are still the tallest twin buildings in the world. The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia’s Muslim religion.

The mega project was commissioned by the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad. Finally, after six years, the Prime Minister ceremoniously opened the Petronas Twin Towers. The towers were designed by world-renowned architect César Pelli, who also designed NYC’s World Financial Center.

The Observation Deck of the Petronas Twin Towers is located on the 86th floor, featuring views above the clouds to test your courage. Then, walk the double decked Skybridge that travels from one tower to another. Inside the structure are world-class exhibits and digital displays detailing the impactful history of the structure.

4. Langkawi


A duty-free island and an archipelago of 99 islands, or 104 islands at low tide, Langkawi Island is widely known as the Jewel of Kedah.

Found off the coast of northwestern Malaysia near Ko Tarutao in neighboring Thailand , the island is favored for its temperature climate, sprawling beaches, and flourishing forests. Langkawi also offers some of the best things to do in Malaysia with plenty of different activities. Go snorkeling at Pulau Payar Snorkeling Reef Platform. Visitors can also view marine life around the reef through the underwater observation chamber.

Zipline above the canopies. Sunbathe at Pantai Tengah or Pantai Cenang for a relaxing day in the sun. Hike the challenging Gunung Machinchang trail, traversing past a waterfall, up steep inclines, and through a river crossing in Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park.

3. Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands

Located off the coast of northeastern Malaysia not far from the Thai border. The Perhentian Islands are the must-go place in Malaysia for budget travelers. They have some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and great diving with plenty of cheap accommodation.

The two main islands are Perhentian Besar (“Big Perhentian”) and Perhentian Kecil (“Small Perhentian”). Both the islands have palm-fringed white sandy beaches and turquoise blue sea.

More isolated, Perhentian Besar homes are more expensive resorts, catering primarily to couples. Perhentian Kecil caters to those looking for adventure and socialization, with Long Beach being popular for its nightlife and Coral Bay offers opportunities for unrivaled sunset views. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and hiking are popular on both islands as the ecosystem is vibrant and thriving, with clownfish and massive sea turtles swimming through the waters.

2. Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

West of Sandakan in Sabah, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was opened in 1964 as the first official orangutan rehabilitation project. The project is dedicated to rescuing orphaned young orangutans kept as illegal pets or from illegal hunting, logging sites, and plantations and repopulating Borneo’s rainforests with native orangutans.

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre allows visitors to see these indigenous, intellectual creatures that share over 96% of human DNA. Feeding stations are available for guests to see the orangutans up close. The nursery homes the younger orangutans, though protected behind a glass screen, unlike the other adult orangutans seen through the centre.

About 60 to 80 orangutans are living free in the reserve. It is one of Sabah’s top tourist attractions and a great stopover on any Malaysia itinerary.

1. Mulu Caves

Mulu Caves

A protected rainforest and World Heritage Site in Borneo, Gunung Mulu National Park is home to the famous Mulu Caves, which include four showcased for their astonishing magnificence, Deer Cave, Clearwater Cave, Wind Cave, and Lang’s Cave. The Sarawak chamber found in one of the underground caves is the largest cave chamber in the world. It has been said that the chamber is so big that it could accommodate about 40 Boeing 747s, without overlapping their wings.

Deer Cave is the most visited, home to 12 species of bats, including a giant colony of Wrinkled-Lipped Bats. A raised plank walk extends from the park’s headquarters to the cave’s entrance for easy access.

Wind Cave features a plethora of awe-inspiring stalagmites, while Clearwater Cave is named after the underwater river that winds through it. Both of these caves are accessed by boat. And then, Lang’s Cave, much smaller than Deer Cave, boasts intriguing rock formations to ponder over.

Map of Tourist Attractions in Malaysia

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Reader interactions.

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January 14, 2018 at 6:30 am

Batu Caves is best for me. Have been there with my family, several times. It still feels refreshing. Want to go Serawak after this. Thanks

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December 26, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Extra Careful about the Scams and Cheating, which I have experienced. Otherwise, I have no complain about Malaysia, its a beautiful country, that’s why I went there three times

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July 13, 2016 at 3:05 am

Cameron highland is still the Best!

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September 16, 2015 at 9:43 pm

Thanks for the useful information, I needed this to prepare for my next trip there.

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June 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

cameron highlands was so great.

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September 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I can spend only 5 days, so which will be the best place for me?

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April 15, 2014 at 3:47 am

Breathtaking images! I wish to visit Malaysia but I couldn’t spend more than 3 days. Which among these should I visit with my limited time?

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March 4, 2014 at 8:43 am

Malaysia is my beloved country.. thanks for all your good response about Malaysia… i hope u guys experience more at Malaysia… “terima kasih ” 🙂

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January 13, 2014 at 5:01 am

I would like to advice the traveler to Malaysia to be Extra Careful about the Scams and Cheating, which I have experienced. Otherwise, I have no complain about Malaysia, its a beautiful country, that’s why I went there three times !!!

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October 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Thank you for nice and intresting informetion about malasiya.

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August 21, 2013 at 4:41 am

I have visited Malaysia once with my wife and another friend alongwith his family. I was very much impressed the way Airport at KL is maintained. The hospitality and friendly behaviour at the hotel where we stayed. I am 65 years old. If I got a chance to travel outside my country Malaysia will be my first choice. I always cherish the memories of those 5 days when I stayed at Kuala Lumpur and visited Twin Towers and Hindu Temple and caves thereat.. Hope I find time to visit the place for the third time with my wife and 2 sons.

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June 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

I have visited Malaysia (KL) twice already. The first time, I visited our head office in Rawang and the second time with my wife and son. Malaysia is such a nice place where people are friendly and hospitable. I love visiting the twin tower and the Hindu Cave. Hope I find time to visit the place for the third time with my wife and 2 sons.

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September 9, 2011 at 11:09 am

very nice Malaysia photos and especially Langkawi photo

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December 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Malacca, the melting pot & historic “New York City of the 14th century” is missing. Malacca….is where it all begun in Malaysia…world heritage site, good food, culture, legacies, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian remnants should definetly be among the Top 10. The other spot should go Kinabatangan in Sandakan, Sabah Borneo. Superb ecotourism spot & one of the best in Asia where you are likely to spot wildlife like the endangered orang utans, pygmy monkeys, darters & hornbills. Pulau Sipadan in Borneo Sabah is also missing??

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November 29, 2010 at 7:59 am

You have beautiful imagery. I just returned from Malaysia – thanks for the walk down memory lane 🙂

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November 18, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Nice post .Wow lovely photo. Malaysia’s best-known holiday destination, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea

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13 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Malaysia

Written by Diana Bocco Updated Sep 24, 2021

Malaysia is a multicultural country with much to offer visitors-regardless of their budget or what their idea of fun might be. Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital, is a cosmopolitan city with amazing shopping and stunning architecture-within blocks, you'll find both the ultramodern Petronas Towers and a number of colonial palaces and buildings.

Just a short drive away from the capital, there are plenty of things to do-from islands, mountains, and record-breaking caves, to countless temples and a unique chance to explore the fauna-rich jungle of Borneo .

Malaysia is also a popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving , with beautiful coral reefs and soft sandy beaches that regularly make top destinations lists.

For more ideas on how to spend your time, see our list of top tourist attractions in Malaysia.

1. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

2. batu caves, selangor, 3. mount kinabalu, sabah, 4. perhentian islands, 5. sipadan island, 6. gunung mulu national park, sarawak, 7. penang hill, 8. sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre, sandakan, 9. kek lok si temple, george town, 10. langkawi skycab, kedah, 11. bako national park, borneo, 12. cameron highlands, pahang, 13. ipoh caverns, map of tourist attractions in malaysia.

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur

The tallest twin towers in the world , the Petronas reach an impressive 452 meters high up into the clouds. The towers are 88 floors tall and have an impressive total of 76 elevators.

Built using reinforced concrete, steel, and glass, the two towers are connected to each other by a double skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors. Visitors can make their way up here for stunning views of KL and the 6.9-hectare KLCC Park below-the views are particularly impressive at night.

While most of the floors on the towers are rented to companies-IBM, Microsoft, and Huawei Technologies all have offices here-the bottom floors of the towers are reserved for Suria KLCC, one of the largest shopping centers in Malaysia . With over 300 stores, an art gallery, and even space for a Philharmonic Hall, this retail and entertainment space will keep visitors occupied for hours.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Kuala Lumpur

Entrance to Batu Caves

Located less than an hour outside Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves complex consists of three main caves plus a series of smaller ones, most of them containing statues and 100-year-old shrines dedicated to Hindu gods.

The main cave, known as Cathedral Cave , is at the top of a massive colorful staircase-make it all the way up the 272 steps, and you'll find a space decorated with statues, altars, and lights. At the bottom of the stairs, a 43-meter-tall gold statue of Lord Murugan welcomes visitors.

Visitors are allowed to explore the caves on their own or can join a guided tour to learn more about the caves. During the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in January, thousands of people flock to the cave for the celebrations.

Hiker at the top of Mount Kinabalu

At just over 4,000 meters high, Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia. The mountain is part of Kinabalu Park, one of the oldest national parks in Malaysia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Because of its unique ecosystem mixing alpine meadows, grasslands, and shrublands, Kinabalu is home to an impressive range of both plant and animal species, including the threatened orangutans.

Mount Kinabalu is a major destination for climbers-but summiting here can be tricky. Only 185 climb permits are issued daily by the park, and visitors must make accommodation reservations and hire a mountain guide in advance in order to be allowed to hit the trails. Although people under 16 are allowed to join climbing groups, there are restrictions in place.

Climbers should plan a stay at the Kinabalu National Park before attempting the climb-since the park itself is already at an altitude of over 1,800 meters, this will allow for acclimatization before attempting to reach the peak.

Official site: https://www.mountkinabalu.com/

Aerial view of the Perhentian Islands

Once a stopping point used by traders traveling around Southeast Asia, this group of small islands is part of a marine park and has become a major tourist destination in northeastern Malaysia. Most of the islands can be accessed by either ferry or small motorized boats, although only the two larger islands offer accommodations, shops, and amenities-of these two, Pulau Perhentian Besar has more of a backpacking scene, while Pulau Perhentian Kecil is a little more upscale and family-oriented.

While you can hop on a water taxi to move from one beach to the next here, it's also possible to follow the island's walking trails instead-a much-recommended option as you get to trek through jungle paths and get open stunning views of the water along the way.

Scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking are popular activities here, but visitors can also volunteer in turtle conservation programs and get unique access to the areas where turtles come to lay eggs.

Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island and its surrounding ocean waters are part of the world's richest marine habitat , home to endangered hawksbill turtles, whale sharks, monitor lizards, and hundreds of coral species. The island is also considered one of the best diving destinations in the world and is fiercely protected-visiting requires a permit in advance and only 120 permits are given out per day.

Reaching the island requires an hour-long ride on a speed boat. Once here, the island can be easily explored on foot, with different beaches and reef sites within minutes of each other.

Since it's no longer possible to stay on the island because of environmental protection laws (the nearby Mabul Island offers accommodations), visitors usually come here early in the morning as part of snorkeling and diving tours. All visitors must leave the island by 3pm.

Deer Cave, Gunung Mulu National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site might be more famous for its impressive karst limestone pinnacles that resemble people standing in large formations, but the park's massive caves are just as stunning.

Thick rain forest covers most of the park and makes some areas difficult to access-one of the reasons some of the caves here weren't really explored until the 1970s. Another reason is how massive the cave systems are: both the largest passage and the largest underground chamber in the world are located in caves here.

Deer Cave is particularly beautiful, with ceilings over 122 meters tall, waterfalls cascading through the rocks, and an opening over a sinkhole that's over one kilometer wide. Visitors to the park can also trek up to the Sarawak Chamber and Paku Waterfall or try a climb up on The Pinnacles Summit Trek, which takes three days and involves ropes, ladders, and an arduous walk through the jungle.

Funicular on Penang Hill

The top of Penang Hill can be reached via the Penang Hill Railway, an air-conditioned funicular that makes the 2,007-meter-long climb up in five to 10 minutes. Although there are mid-stops between the base station and the highest point, these are done only on request and mostly used by residents who live at those stops.

The top of Penang Hill offers beautiful green views over the city and is home to the Habitat Penang Hill, with a 1.6-kilometer nature trail cutting through the rain forest and a number of tropical gardens; a canopy walk 40 meters up in the sky; ziplines ; and the Skyway, which offers three viewing decks and a 360-degree view of the bay and islands.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Penang

Baby orangutan at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center was founded in 1964 to help orphaned orangutan babies rescued from the pet trade or saved from illegal hunting. The center's main goal is to help these orangutans learn how to survive in the wild (in fact, replacing what they would usually learn from their mothers), so they can be eventually released into the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, which is covered in virgin forest and extends for 4,300 hectares around the rescue center. Over 80 orangutans currently live free in the reserve.

While visitors cannot interact with the animals or approach them, they can come to the center to learn more about orangutans and the challenges they face today, see the nursery and the climbing area through a glass window, and attend feeding times (seen from a platform) twice a day.

The boardwalk that cuts through the center offers plenty of opportunities to explore and see the orangutans playing and jumping around on the trees nearby.

Kek Lok Si Temple

Malaysia's largest Buddhist temple sits on a hill, at the bottom of Air Itam mountain. As Asian temples go, Kek Lok Si is relatively new, as construction began in 1890-but the massive seven-story Pagoda surrounded by 10,000 Buddha statues make this a striking destination that can't be missed.

Surrounded by gardens, fish ponds, prayer halls, and a number of stalls selling both religious and secular souvenirs, the pagoda is also home to a 36-meter-tall statue of Kwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.

The temple attracts many visitors from all around Southeast Asia who come here to "make merits" but also to see one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the area. Chinese New Year celebrations are particularly beautiful at the temple, as the entire space is decorated with thousands of lanterns.

Official site: https://kekloksitemple.com

Langkawi cable car

The Langkawi cable car makes a 2.2-kilometer trip between the Base Station and the top of Gunung Machinchang mountain, where a number of attractions-including a pedestrian skybridge-are located. There's also a middle station, where travelers can get off to access a viewing platform.

The journey to the top, in glass-bottom gondolas, takes about 15 minutes and offers sweeping views of the bay , the Telaga Tujuh waterfall, and the turquoise waters surrounding Langkawi Island .

In addition to the skybridge, the top station also offers a number of amenities, two additional viewing platforms, and a trail that descends all the way to the middle station through the evergreen jungle.

Sandstone rocks in Bako National Park

Bako National Park sits right against the water, sandy beaches, and steep sandstone cliffs surrounding the beautiful mangroves and peat swamp forests. Reaching the park requires taking a bus followed by a 20-minute ride on a small motorboat that's not for the faint of heart.

Once at the shore, you can follow any of the 16 marked trails on the island to help you explore (there's no transportation within the park) and hopefully catch sight of the unusual local flora and fauna , which includes carnivorous plants, the endangered proboscis monkeys, and the rare and friendly bearded pig. Two of the best trails include the Lintang Loop for great sightseeing on relatively easy terrain, and the Tajor trail, which takes you to a waterfall and pools you can swim in.

To better appreciate the beauty of the park, consider staying overnight, as most animals only come out once the sun sets. There are bungalows for rent as well as a designated campsite at the park headquarters.

Official site: https://www.bakonationalpark.com/

Tea plantation at the Cameron Highlands

A stunningly emerald green hill station, the Cameron Highlands cover an area of over 712 square kilometers. The main attraction here is the tea estates, a legacy from British colonial times. The area, however, also offers orchards; lavender farms; and plenty of opportunities to hike through the local mossy forest to reach aboriginal villages, waterfalls, and lakes.

Both locals and visitors head here to enjoy the cooler climate and experience a true high-tea experience in places like the Boh Sungei Palas Tea Estate , where you can not only tour the plantation but also see the tea-making process, sit at the café, and stock up on goodies at the gift shop.

The Cameron Highlands area is also the native domain of the Rafflesia, the largest individual flower on Earth , which grows directly on the ground and can reach a diameter of over 100 centimeters.

Gua Tempurung cave, Ipoh

There are two big reasons to visit vibrant, bustling Ipoh - the city is known as the gateway to the Cameron Highlands and the home of many limestone caves.

Massive Gua Tempurung is one of the longest caves in Malaysia, filled with viewing platforms to help visitors get closer to the stunning crystal formations covering the walls, the giant chambers, and the underground river. Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple is filled with Buddhist statues and home to a garden and turtle pond, while Panjang Cave is famous for its 5,000-year-old Neolithic paintings.

Ipoh's colonial past is another important attraction, with plenty of beautiful architecture in buildings like the Birch Clock Tower and the Railway Station, as well as a 6.5-kilometer-long Heritage Trail that stretches around the city.

Ipoh is also considered one of Malaysia's food capitals (along with Penang). There are plenty of restaurants and cafés around the city, but Ipoh's street food stalls offer an equally amazing culinary experience where you can try taugeh chicken rice or curry mee. For an afternoon break, it's hard to beat a serving of caramel egg custard with the famous Ipoh white coffee.

Other things to do in Ipoh include visiting the Lost World of Tambun theme park, shopping the flea market at Memory Lane, and checking out the beautiful street art in Oldtown Ipoh.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com


More of Malaysia : Malaysia is a stunning mix of jungle, beaches, and cities that offer examples of both colonial and futuristic architecture. Most visitors coming to Malaysia arrive in Kuala Lumpur first, a city full of interesting sights you can learn more about on our Top Tourist Attractions in Kuala Lumpur article. If you're going to Penang or George Town instead, check out the top tourist attractions in Penang . Still in the early stages of planning your trip? Take a look at everything Malaysia has to offer in our article about the best places to visit in Malaysia .

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Malaysia Travel Guide

Last Updated: September 2, 2023

Colorful historic temples in Malaysia on a sunny day with rolling green hills in the background

Malaysia is one of the most underrated destinations in Southeast Asia . While the country does see a fair share of backpackers, it sees only a fraction compared to popular neighbors Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

In my opinion, people are missing out.

From the dense urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur to the pristine beaches of the Perhentian Islands , from the jungles in the interior to the delicious food, Malaysia has a ton to offer travelers.

Explore tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands , trek through the vast national parks of Gunung Mulu and Taman Negara, and admire incredible wildlife, including tigers, elephants, sun bears, and more.

Or head to Borneo to look for wild orangutans, hike through the rainforest, and marvel at the knife-sharp peak of Mount Kinabalu.

All too often, travelers breeze through Malaysia on their way to places like Thailand or Singapore. I’d encourage you not to make that same mistake as there is a ton to see and do here — and it’s all super affordable.

This Malaysia travel guide will give you the best places to visit, help you save money, and ensure you make the most of your time in this incredible destination!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Malaysia

Click Here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in malaysia.

The stunning skyline of Kuala Lumpur lit up at night featuring the Petronas Towers

1. Visit Kuala Lumpur

Chances are you’ll be spending at least a few nights in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur . Visit the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, see the famous Sri Mahamariamman Temple, explore the Batu Caves, and see the colorful butterfly garden. It’s a great foodie city too.

2. Dive in the Perhentian Islands

These islands are hugely popular with snorkelers and divers because of their reefs and crystalline waters filled with a wide variety of coral, turtles, sharks, and reef-fish. They are getting more popular every year but are a beautiful respite from the tourist-packed islands in Thailand.

3. Visit George Town

George Town is Malaysia’s most enchanting city, with Chinese temples next to mosques and colonial British Raj architecture amongst modern skyscrapers. George Town’s crisscrossing streets teem with bustling shops, historic buildings, and busy cafes.

4. Hike Mount Kinabalu National Park

Mount Kinabalu is Malaysia’s tallest mountain and a popular hiking trek in which you make your way through dense jungle to reach the summit. Admission is 15 MYR, a climbing permit is 200 MYR, and mandatory insurance is 7 MYR. There are only a set amount of permits allowed per day and you must make go with a guide so plan ahead!

5. Tour the tea plantations

Other things to see and do in malaysia, 1. go wildlife spotting.

Malaysia has a rich diversity of wildlife. Orangutans, Malaysian tigers, Monitor Lizards, and Sumatran Rhinos are all indigenous to the country (Borneo and Sumatra and the only places in the world with wild orangutans). Malaysia’s national parks and wildlife reserves are the best places to go to see wildlife, including Taman Negara and Bako National Park. For Orangutans, go to Borneo. Most day tours cost under 500 MYR, while multi-day tours start around 1,500-2,650 MYR.

2. Dive Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island is one of the world’s best dive sites. The famous French explorer Jacques Cousteau declared the island an “untouched piece of art” — and he wasn’t wrong! Barracudas, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, and greenback and hawksbill turtles fill these crystal waters. Only 176 permits to dive at the island are issued each day, costing 140 MYR per person. The resorts (located on neighboring islands) each get a specific number of permits per day and require divers to stay with them for a few days, diving the surrounding areas, before they can get a Sipadan permit. A 3-dive package at Uncle Chang’s, a budget-friendly dive lodge, costs 550 MYR.

3. Explore Taman Negara National Park

At an estimated 130 million years old, Taman Negara is the oldest rainforest in the world. You can embark on the world’s largest canopy walk, take a 4×4 safari to look for elephants and tigers, go spelunking, or visit some Orang Asli villages (belonging to the country’s Indigenous peoples). Admission is 1 MYR, and 5 MYR if you want to take photos within the park.

4. Relax at Pulau Langkawi

Featured in thousands of different magazines, websites, and articles, Pulau Langkawi is a picturesque retreat on an archipelago of more than 100 islands made up of white sandy beaches and endless sunshine. Pantai Cenang is the most popular beach area, especially for its strip of restaurants, bars, and shops. For something slower, visit some of the area’s traditional villages, go snorkeling at Payar Island, or check out the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls on the northwest side of the island. This is one of the best places in the country to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy a slower pace of life.

5. Go whitewater rafting

Outside of diving, Malaysia is also known for its challenging whitewater rafting conditions. You can find all grades of rafting on the rivers here, and prices start around 200 MYR for a half-day excursion. Kuala Kubu Bharu River and Ulu Slim River are two popular options.

6. Understand Malaysia’s colonial roots

Malaysia has a tumultuous colonial past. The country was annexed by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British before finally gaining independence. For a deeper understanding of this history, visit Malacca (Melaka). Located just two hours from Kuala Lumpur, the city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and the Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum offers an in-depth overview of Malaysia’s colonial past. Admission to the museum is 16 MYR.

7. Tour Borneo

Just to the east of Malaysia is Borneo, the third-largest island in the world and home to some of the most diverse rainforests on the planet. Pair that with unlimited wildlife viewing opportunities (including endangered orangutans and proboscis monkeys), and rich Indigenous culture, and you’ve got the makings of a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If you’re an experienced climber, you can also climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4,095 meters (13,400 feet) high.

8. Visit the temples

Malaysia has countless beautiful Hindu and Buddhist temples scattered all around the country. Some of the most impressive temples include the Batu Caves (Kuala Lumpur), Sri Mahamariamman (Kuala Lumpur), Thean Hou (Kuala Lumpur), Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani (George Town), and Sam Poh Tong (Ipoh). As most temples are still practicing centers of worship, appropriate dress is required to enter. Admission is always free.

9. Dine on street food

Malaysia’s mix of cultures means that there’s an incredible variety of delicious and cheap street food to enjoy here. Markets and roadside stalls are great places to pick up hawker food and dine on a budget. Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Alor, Little India, and Chinatown all have tons of inexpensive food stalls with prices starting at 2-4 MYR. You can also take a street food tour to dive in-depth into food culture and history for around 260 MYR.

10. Celebrate Deepavali

Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights and is one of the biggest Hindu celebrations in Malaysia. Also known as Diwali, Dipavali, Dewali, Deepawali, or the Festival of Lights, it’s celebrated in October or November for five days. Traditionally, people host open houses, light candles, have fireworks displays, and serve Indian delicacies. In Kuala Lumpur, the biggest celebrations are in Brickfields (Little India).

11. Go jungle trekking

Don’t miss out on exploring Malaysia’s lush landscapes and dense forests while you’re here. The Cameron Highlands are a great place to go trekking, with 14 trekking routes heading out from the main town of Tanah Rata. Most of the hikes lead to waterfalls and scenic views, but if you want a more challenging trek, you’re required to hire a guide and obtain a permit. Eco Cameron Tours offers 4-hour group tours for 80 MYR per person, including a visit to the famous Mossy Forest (a lush forest with ferns, moss, orchids, and a pedestrian boardwalk).

12. Shop at the markets

Indoor and outdoor markets, operating both morning and night, are everywhere in Malaysia. You can get everything at the markets, from prepared food and produce to clothing and souvenirs. They’re also a great way to experience local culture. Don’t be afraid to barter and haggle – it’s what the locals do! If you don’t want to shop, come here to people-watch and take in the local pace of life.

13. Visit Masjid Negara

Malaysia’s national mosque, this huge house of worship in Kuala Lumpur has the capacity to hold 15,000 people. Opened in 1965, its bright blue star-shaped dome represents the 13 states of Malaysia and the five pillars of Islam (over 60% of Malaysia is Muslim). Non-Muslims are welcome to visit the National Mosque outside of prayer time. Be sure to dress modestly, although there are robes available to put over your clothing as well. It’s free to enter.

14. Help the sea turtles

Malaysia’s islands are great places to see turtles, either by diving, snorkeling, or volunteering. In the Perhentian Islands, the Perhentian Turtle Project accepts volunteers for multi-week stays from April to September. A two-week volunteer program costs 3,621 MYR, with food and accommodation. All money raised goes toward helping the turtles, who face extinction due to climate change, habitat loss, and pollution.

  For more information on specific cities in Malaysia, check out these guides:

  • Cameron Highlands Travel Guide
  • Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide
  • Perhentian Islands Travel Guide

Malaysia Travel Costs

People walking down the beach with clear waters and lush palm trees in Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Accommodation – A bed in a 4-6-bed hostel dorm costs 35-70 MYR per night. A bed in a room with 10 or more beds can cost as little as 20 MYR per night. Popular destinations like the Cameron Highlands and Perhentian Islands are on the higher end of the spectrum. A private hostel room costs around 105-130 MYR per night. Free Wi-Fi and free breakfast are common, though most hostels do not have kitchens if you want to cook your own food.

Camping is popular in places like Taman Negara and the Cameron Highlands as a way to save on accommodation costs. Expect to pay around 10-35 MYR per night for a basic plot without electricity.

Budget hotels with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and free breakfast start around 75-90 MYR per night. For a three-star hotel with more amenities (such as a swimming pool), expect to pay closer to 200-300 MYR per night.

Airbnb is available throughout the country, mainly offering entire homes and apartments catering specifically to travelers. These start at 100-160 MYR per night.

Food – Malaysian cuisine, like the country itself, features a mix of cultures. China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore have all influenced the country’s dishes. Rice or noodles are the basis of most dishes, and seafood and fish feature prominently, especially on the islands and coastal areas. As a Muslim-majority country, chicken and beef are common and are usually halal. Popular vegetables include cabbage, bean sprouts, lotus root, sweet potatoes, taro, and long beans.

The unofficial national dish is nasi lemak , fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, flavored with pandan leaf, and accompanied by different sides, usually served for breakfast. Other popular Malaysian dishes include roti canai (a sweet or savory flatbread), ikan bakar laksa (spicy noodle soup), and many different regional fried noodle and fried rice dishes.

Steamboat (known in other countries as hot pot), a method of dining in which you cook meat and vegetables in a boiling pot, is popular as well.

Street food (like stuffed pancakes, skewers, and bowls of noodle soup) is the cheapest and most delicious way to eat in Malaysia. Each dish costs only 5 MYR-15 MYR. Snacks like skewers cost 2-6 MYR.

You can expect to pay 10-20 MYR for a meal in a Malaysian restaurant, including food like nasi lemak and rojak (chopped fruit and dough). Simple dishes like fried noodles or a bowl of soup are no more than 13-17 MYR each.

Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 14 MYR for a combo meal, but other western meals can be double or triple that. Pizza, burgers, or pasta can cost up to 50 MYR.

A beer costs 13-17 MYR and a glass of wine is 20-27 MYR. Cocktails are pretty expensive at 20-45 MYR so I’d skip them if you can. A cappuccino is 8-12 MYR.

A week’s worth of groceries costs between 90-150 MYR for basic staples like rice, noodles, seasonal produce, and some meat or fish. Stick to local food items, as western specialties like wine and cheese will destroy your grocery budget.

Backpacking Malaysia Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking Malaysia, my suggested budget is 115 MYR per day. This budget covers staying in a hostel dorm, eating street food, taking public transit to get around, skipping alcohol, and sticking to mostly free activities like walking tours, hiking, and relaxing on the beach.

A mid-range budget of 295 MYR per day covers a private Airbnb or private hostel room, drinking more, taking the occasional taxi to get around, eating street food and the occasional sit-down meal, and doing more paid activities like museum visits, food tours, and diving.

On a “luxury” budget of 520 MYR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel with a pool, eat at restaurants for all your meals, have more drinks, visit the islands, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in MYR.

Malaysia Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

A little goes a long way in Malaysia, but it’s still easy to wreck your budget here if you splash out on fancy meals and tours. Here are some ways you can save money in Malaysia:

  • Barter with your taxi driver – Taxis aren’t usually metered in Malaysia (even though it’s required in bigger cities like Kuala Lumpur), so make sure to agree on the fare before you set off. Ask your hotel/hostel staff what you should pay so you don’t get ripped off.
  • Camp – It’s possible to camp in places like Taman Negara and the Cameron Highlands to save on accommodation. Expect to pay around 10-35 MYR per night for a basic plot.
  • Eat the street food – Street stalls are the place to go for delicious hawker food and meals that cost just a few bucks. The street food is the best food in the country — and the cheapest!
  • Don’t drink – As Malaysia is a Muslim country, drinking is frowned upon, but it does happen. However, to restrict it, the authorities have made drinking very, very expensive so skip the booze.
  • Take a free walking tour – A free walking tour is a great way to explore Kuala Lumpur on a budget. You’ll not only get to see the sights, but you’ll connect with a local guide who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Travel in the off-season – Traveling during the monsoon season (late November to mid-February) is an easy way to save money on flights and accommodation. With significantly fewer visitors, everything is cheaper. To avoid the worst of the rains, skip the east coast.
  • Use Grab – Grab is like Uber and often cheaper than both taxis and tuk-tuks, especially if you’re getting a ride from the airport in Kuala Lumpur. Just download the app and go!
  • Escape the city – Much of the popular areas in Kuala Lumpur are designed for tourists and can be expensive. Skip the crowds and head to somewhere like Pataling Jaya, a smaller nearby city that has all the perks of KL with none of the downsides.
  • Pack a water bottle – The tap water here isn’t always safe so bring a water bottle with a filter with you to avoid buying single-use plastic. My preferred bottle is LifeStraw , which has built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Malaysia

Looking for budget-friendly places to stay? Here are my suggested places to stay in Malaysia:

  • Kitez Hotel & Bunks (Kuala lumpur)
  • Sunshine Bedz Kuala Lumpur (Kuala lumpur)
  • Birdnest Collective Cafe & Guesthouse (Kuala lumpur)
  • The Bed Klcc (Kuala lumpur)
  • Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel (Penang)
  • Traveller Bunker Hostel (Cameron Highlands)
  • Westwood Highland (Cameron Highlands)
  • De’Native Guest House (Cameron Highlands)
  • Hikers Sleep Port (Cameron Highlands)
  • Anis View Perhentian (Perhentian Islands)
  • Senja Bay Resort (Perhentian Islands)
  • Besut Guesthouse (Perhentian Islands)
  • Akinabalu Youth Hostel (Kota Kinabalu)

How to Get Around Malaysia

Stunning view of the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia and its lush, rolling green hills

Public transportation – Most cities in Malaysia have excellent public transport, especially Kuala Lumpur with its buses, light rail, commuter rail, and monorail that all connect every part of the city. A ride costs between 1-15 MYR. If you plan on mostly using public transit, pick up a Touch ‘n Go (TnG) card to use on all modes of public transportation, saving 20% per ride. You can also load unlimited transit passes onto this card.

In Kuala Lumpur, try to use the free GO KL City Bus. It’s a free service that covers most of the tourist hotspots, like Bukit Bintang and Chinatown.

Other cities, like George Town (Penang), are full of city buses that run all over the island. The KOMTAR complex and the Weld Quay jetty are the two primary bus stations. You’ll have to tell your driver where you’re headed, but a typical one-way fare is 2-7 MYR. There are also free buses that go to significant sites in the city, just look for buses labeled “Free CAT Bus.”

Bus – Buses are an easy and efficient way to get around Malaysia. Expect to pay around 5-15 MYR per hour for a bus trip. The main bus companies include:

  • Transnasional

Aeroline and Super Nice are high-end services that come with air-conditioning and sometimes even meal service, but they’re still affordable. The 5-hour bus from Penang to Kuala Lumpur costs around 35-45 MYR, while the 3-hour bus from Kuala Lumpur to the Cameron Highlands costs about 44 MYR.

Train – Mainland Malaysia has 1,849 kilometers (1,149 miles) of rail, with the main line connecting Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to Thailand.

There are two types of service: express trains, which are air-conditioned and have three different classes; and local trains, which usually only have economy class and are much slower than the express trains. All are operated by Keratapi Tanah Melayu (KTM), the national railway service.

You can use the KTMB.com.my website to look up schedules and to book tickets. Reservations open 30 days in advance.

A train from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth (where you’d catch the ferry to Penang) costs 66 MYR, while the 2.5-hour journey from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur is 30-45 MYR.

In East Malaysia, there is a round-trip sightseeing train that runs from Kota Kinabalu to Papar, with a stop in Kinarut. The North Borneo Railway runs the entire trip, and it takes four hours. The cost is 345 MYR, which includes breakfast and lunch.

Flying – The two leading domestic airlines in Malaysia are Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia. Kuala Lumpur’s airports receive the most flight traffic, followed by Kota Kinabalu and Penang. There are several smaller airports around the country as well.

A flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur can be found for as little as 100 MYR, while a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok ranges between 220-600 MYR. Flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu cost around 225-300 MYR.

Hitchhike – It is common for people to hitchhike in Malaysia, and the locals are eager to pick up travelers. HitchWiki has additional information on hitchhiking in Malaysia.

When to Go to Malaysia

Malaysia’s two peak seasons occur from the start of December to the end of January, and then from June to mid-September. The first tourist peak season occurs during Hari Raya Puasa (Eid al-Fitr), which celebrates the end of Ramadan. Check ahead to see when this occurs as the dates vary every year. Malaysia’s Muslim population celebrates by taking the week off so your travels could be disrupted if businesses are closed.

Late November to mid-February brings the arrival of the northeast monsoon, affecting much of the east coast with heavy rainfall. September and October are the wettest months on the west coast, with downpours sometimes going on for hours. This is also true in mountainous areas like the Cameron Highlands.

Overall, the best time to visit is from March to early November when it’s drier and less humid. Visiting just after the rainy season isn’t a bad idea either, as it’s still warm, the countryside is lush and full of waterfalls, and tourism is still not overly busy.

Temperatures do not fluctuate much across the country. The daily average is 22-32°C (73-90°F), while in the hills the temperature averages 21°C (67°F). Humidity is high year-round.

How to Stay Safe in Malaysia

Malaysia is safe place to backpack and travel — even for solo travelers and solo female travelers. Violent attacks against foreigners are rare.

Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime in Malaysia. When out and about, always keep your valuables secure and out of reach just to be safe. This is especially important in crowded tourist areas and on busy public transportation. Don’t leave anything valuable unattended at the beach either.

Solo female travelers should feel comfortable here, though walking alone a night should be avoided just to be safe.

There are some common scams here, especially in Kuala Lumpur, such as taxi drivers trying to rip off passengers. Make sure the meter is on or negotiate your fare before getting in a taxi (or take a Grab to avoid this altogether).

If you’re worried about getting ripped off, read about common travel scams to avoid here .

If you are eating out, keep your backpack on your lap or place your foot or a chair leg through your strap. That will prevent would-be thieves from snatching your bag quickly while you’re busy eating.

When out in nature, don’t feed the monkeys! They get aggressive and are not afraid of people. Do not approach monkeys quickly or give them treats, as they grab anything within reach.

If you experience an emergency, dial 999 for assistance.

Additionally, avoid tap water unless you have a water bottle with a filter. Travelers should also note that Malaysia is a modest country, so revealing outfits attract more attention. To be safe and blend in, dress conservatively.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Malaysia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.

Malaysia Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Asia travel and continue planning your trip:

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10th country of destination by international tourist arrivals in 2012 25.0 million visitors per year (+0.3)

TOP TRAVEL DESTINATION : Federation of Malaysia

Characteristics about Malaysia

Malaysia is becoming a very attractive tourist spot with the tag line of “ Malaysia truly Asia” being propagated in many parts of the world and also sends the message of being the top travel destination . Malaysia is consists of a number of tourist spots. Kuala Lumpur , the capital city itself has plenty to offer in terms of shopping, entertainment and sightseeing. The other popular tourist destinations in the country are Penang , Johor , Selangor, Langkawi among many others. Each state in Malaysia is different in terms of the people, their culture and lifestyle. Visiting each state is a completely new experience as it varies from place to place.

The Climate

Malaysia is an equatorial country and as a result has a uniform temperature throughout the year. The closeness to the equator results a warm weather. Temperatures generally

Skyline of Kuala Lumpur

The Peninsular area is often affected by cold waves from Siberia during the north-east monsoon. However the annual variation in temperature is less than 3°C here.

The north-east monsoon deluges Borneo and the east coast in rain (October to February) and often causes flooding. While the west coast remains away from it.

The milder south-west monsoon happens in a reverse style to that of the north-east from April to October.

Clouds Gunung Brinchang Cameron highlands Malaysia

The Highlands are cooler as compared to the other parts of Malaysia . With the likes of Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands and Fraser's Hill having temperatures ranging from about 17°C at night to about 25°C in the day. Mount Kinabalu is known to have temperatures falling below 10°C.

The Culture and Religion

The vast culture of Malaysia makes it a top travel destination in the world . Malaysia is one of the important countries of South East Asia known for its diverse culture and is fast becoming one of the attractive tourist destinations in the region. Culture of Malaysia is very liberal as the country is consisting of a heterogeneous society. Apart from the originated people of Malaysia , the country also includes the citizens from Indian and Chinese origin. Thus the culture of the country was considerably influenced by the Indian and Chinese culture.

Many years ago, Malaysia was a place of Hinduism but after the invasion by Arabs the mass conversion happened and now it is an Islamic state. The major religions of Malaysia include Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Confucianism. Yes, the religion is another factor for making Malaysia a top travel destination .

Places to tour in Malaysia


Malaysia offers a wide range of tourist attractions hence it is a top travel destination . Malaysia has the potential of catering to tourist of different origin and it truly lives up to its tag line of Malaysia Truly Asia.

Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Lumpur is the cover of Malaysia . Kuala Lumpur has been blessed with colors of modernism along with rich heritage.

Penang – Penang is famous for its natural beauty. Also known as the 'Pearl of Orient'.

Kelantan – Kelantan is found in the vitality of its culture and its remote, unsullied beauty. Kelantan offers plenty of opportunities for tourists such as river cruises, river rafting, bird watching and jungle trekking.

Malacca – Malacca is a unique portray of its cultural heritage. Its colonial past is evident in its Portuguese architecture, whereas on the streets, Chinese influence is most visible.

Perlis – Perlis is famous for its serene unblemished beauty, rustic rural scenes and verdant paddy fields.

Sabah – Sabah attracts visitors with its scenic beauty, rugged landscape and cultural diversity.

Beaches of Malaysia

Perak – Perak is famous for several tourist destinations of moderate interest. The main tourist destination would probably be Pangkor Island, about 85km from Ipoh , and Ipoh itself because of its great food.

Terengganu – Terengganu is the repository of Malaysia 's cultural heritage. It is a serene state, with numerous small villages, quiet roads, and secluded islands and beaches.

As Malaysia 's equatorial climate means that whenever you visit this country you're guaranteed warm weather and at least a sprinkling of rain. The temperature here rarely strays far from an annual average of 28°C except in the hill resorts, which offer a cool escape from the heat and humidity during the months of March and April.

The dry, sunny weather that predominates from March to October is interrupted between November and February when the monsoon brings rain to the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia and parts of Saban and Sarawak . The West Coast of the Peninsula has its wettest months in September and October.

Travelling in Malaysia

Trains in Malaysia

By plane – Malaysia is crisscrossed by a web of affordable flights with advertised "promotional" prices. Flying is the only practical option for traveling between peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, as well as reaching some of the more remote outposts of Borneo.

By train – Long-distance trains in Malaysia can rarely match road transport in terms of speed.

By car – Malaysia has an excellent highway network and one can hire a car for traveling to the places.

By bus – The cheapest way to travel in Malaysia is by bus. All towns of any size have a bus terminal offering connections to other parts of the country.

Organized tours – Organized tours are a great way to see the sites and soak up the local culture – especially if you’re travelling alone or are a first-time traveller.  Check out some of the options for tours in Malaysia .

Major Airports in Malaysia

– Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Sultan Abdul Halim Airport – Kota Kinabalu ( Sabah ) – Kuching (Sarawak) – Penang – Langkawi

So, what are you waiting for, just get ready for the tour to Malaysia , the top travel destination in the world .

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The 10 Best Group Travel Tour Companies for 2024

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Caroline Morse Teel

Caroline Morse Teel is the Executive Editor for SmarterTravel Media. Caroline has a passion for adventure travel and has hiked to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the bottom of the Grand Canyon in pursuit of a good story. Follow her around the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline .

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For those truly epic, once-in-a-lifetime destinations, you want to leave your itinerary to the experts. Whether your dream is to see the Big Five on an African Safari, trek tall mountains, explore European cities, or something even wilder, a group tour is the easiest way to do it.

However, picking the wrong group tour company is the quickest way to ruin your trip. Make sure you choose a tour company that aligns with your goals and travel styles. Do you want an intimate group tour or do you prefer to make lots of new friends in a big group? Does the price line up with what you like (luxury vs. budget)? Is the itinerary going to all the places you want to see? 

We’ve done the research and found the very best group travel tour companies for 2024 for every type of traveler.

Best Overall Group Travel: Exodus Adventure Travels

Images of nature around the mountains and lakes of Slovenia as seen on the Exodus Travels' Lakes and Mountains of Slovenia walking tour

With trips on every continent, Exodus Adventure Travels covers anywhere on this planet that you could possibly want to go, from popular destinations like the Amalfi Coast to well off-the-beaten-path adventures like Tajikistan. This award-winning group travel company boasts thousands of repeat customers who sign up for trips year after year (97% of past participants would recommend Exodus Adventure Travels to a friend). 

These small group tours operate with only around 8-16 people and always feature experienced local leaders who can give you a unique insight into your destination. Exodus Adventure Travels caters to any type of travel style, including trips broken down by type of activity (think walking, cycling, multi-adventure, winter, or cultural) as well as type of traveler (family, age group, etc.). There are curated collections (coastal, “away from it all”, European wilderness, and trips of a lifetime) to inspire you, as well as self-guided options for when you want all the benefits of a group tour planner without the actual group. Looking for that special safari? Exodus Aventure Travels just partners with the African Wildlife Foundation to create carefully curated luxury adventures that go above and beyond the standard safari. 

Exodus Adventure Travels tours work for almost any budget, with options that range from affordable to premium. 

Top Trip: Explore under-the-radar Europe by foot on Exodus Adventure Travels’ Lakes & Mountains of Slovenia walking tour .

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Best Adventure Group Travel: World Expeditions

Groups of hikers walking and camping around the mountains of Kilimanjaro with World Expeditions

World Expeditions has been taking adventurous travelers to remote locations all over the world ever since its first group trek through Nepal in 1975. Today, World Expeditions offers active itineraries on every continent. Intrepid travelers can opt for trips themed around mountaineering, rafting, cycling, hiking, and more. 

World Expeditions aims to leave communities and places where they operate tours better than they found them. Trips are created using the company’s Thoughtful Travel Charter as a guideline, which emphasizes respect for the environment, sustainability, having a positive impact on local communities, protecting wildlife, and more. 

World Expeditions’ trips are capped at just 16 people to provide a good experience for participants, and there are no single supplements for solo travelers willing to share a room with someone of the same gender. 

Top Trip: Summit Africa’s tallest mountain on a fully-supported trek up Kilimanjaro on World Expeditions’ eight day trip up the beautiful Lemosho Route . 

Best Budget Group Travel: G Adventures 

People visiting famous sites around China with the G Adventures' China Express group travel tour

For travelers on a budget, G Adventures offers cheap group tours that make dream destinations accessible to nearly anyone. (Think: sailing the Galapagos for just $1,014 , criss-crossing India’s Golden Triangle for $799 , or spending 8 days in Bali for less than $749.)

G Adventures is one of the best tour companies for solo travelers as well, as most trips don’t have a single-supplement. You can choose to share a room with another G Adventures solo traveler, or pay extra to have your own space.

G Adventures keeps costs down by opting for cheaper hotels and local meals, and making certain activities optional (for an additional cost). Pick your travel style—options range from “basic” to more luxe tours run in partnership with National Geographic. Family tours, local living tours (featuring homestays), and wellness-focused tours are also available. 

Top Trip: G Adventures’ China Express trip is a great way to see the highlights of China if you’re short on both time and budget. 

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Best Educational Group Tours: EF Go Ahead Tours

top travel destinations malaysia

When you really want to learn about a destination, consider a group trip with EF Go Ahead Tours . EF is the world’s largest private education company, and the Go Ahead Tours arm capitalizes on the company’s relationships with local educators, historians, and tour guides to create group trips that take you deep into a destination. 

These small group tours generally cap at 38 travelers, and feature unique educational experiences. For a bucket list trip, EF Go Ahead Tour’s special event tours are particularly enticing, as they offer behind-the-scenes access to tough-to-plan trips like Oktoberfest in Munich or Cherry Blossom season in Japan. 

Intimidated by solo travel? EF Go Ahead Tours is a great option for solo travelers, since it offers designated trips for solo travelers , where everyone is traveling alone, making it less intimidating.  

Top Trip: Bring the tastes of Italy home with you on EF Go Ahead Tours’ Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany tour (operated in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen), where you’ll learn how to make local dishes. 

Best Responsible Group Travel: Intrepid Travel

Shots from around Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and accommodations provided by Intrepid Travel's Premium Uganda & Rwanda trip

Looking for a responsible group travel operator that focuses on bettering the communities and destinations they visit? Intrepid Travel is the world’s largest travel B Corporation, a certification for companies doing good. 

Intrepid Travel’s tours focus on sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and sustaining communities. The company has its own charity, The Intrepid Foundation , which has donated over 10 million dollars to over 160 community organizations. 

Intrepid Travel’s small group tours attract a wide range of travelers, but they are especially great for younger travelers, as they have a large number of trips designed for people aged 18-35 . (Other trips, including family-focused trips, are geared toward any age.)

Top Trip: Experience foodie trip of a lifetime Intrepid Travel’s South Korea Real Food Adventure , which includes time in three cities and an overnight temple stay.

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Best Private Group Travel: Kensington Tours

Aerial shots of various islands and coastlines around the Croatia and Dalmation Islands and shot of sailboat belonging to Kensington Tours

Whether your group consists of just two people or involves taking the entire extended family, Kensington Tours will take all the hassle of planning out of the equation. This private group operator creates personalized trips and itineraries tailored to your preferences, while their experts handle all the logistics and bookings. 

Plans are entirely flexible, and can even be changed while on the trip on a whim. Need some inspiration? Browse Kensington Tours’ travel ideas , to get some ideas for your next adventure. 

Top Trip: Sail around the stunning shores of Croatia and the Dalmation Islands on a private luxury catamaran on Kensington Tours’ fully customizable tour . 

Best Polar Group Travel: Chimu Adventures

Shots of the interior and exterior of the Ocean Adventurer ship and shots of nature around Antarctica as seen on the Chimu Adventures' Antarctica Fly Cruise

Whether you’re headed north to the Artic or south to Antarctica, Chimu Adventures has the perfect polar group trip for you. Chimu Adventures has some of the most variety for polar trips, with options to fly, cruise, or a combination of both to get to your destination. For an ultra-unique Antarctica trip, Chimu Adventures offers cruises departing from Australia or New Zealand (most Antarctica trips depart from Argentina).

Chimu Adventures is one of the cheapest group trips to Antarctica, with rates starting under $6,000.

Top Trip: If you’re pressed for time (or simply don’t have the stomach for the Drake Passage), Chimu Adventures’ Antarctica Fly Cruise will get you to the ends of the earth quickly and smoothly.

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Best Group Tours for Solo Travelers: For the Love of Travel

Collage of images from the For the Love of Travel Lapland Tour

Group tours can be a great way to meet new people, but they can sometimes skew on the older age range. If you’re between 25-39 and a solo traveler looking to meet new people, you’ll love For the Love of Travel . All participants on the trips are between 25-39, and according to the company, 80 percent are solo travelers—so you’ll make friends fast. Hoping to meet someone who will be more than just a friend on your next trip? Trips include a balanced number of “gal and guy spots” to ensure an even balance of genders within groups (and of course, non-binary genders are always welcome). 

For the Love of Travel offers weeklong (or longer) international trips as well as shorter weekender trips to closer destinations like Mexico or Costa Rica—perfect for people without a lot of vacation time.

Top Trip: Sleep in a glass igloo under the Northern Lights, go sledding with huskies, and warm up in traditional saunas on For the Love of Travel’s Lapland tour , already booking dates for 2024.

Best Biking Tours Group Travel: DuVine Cycling

Collage of shots from DuVine's Holland Bike Tour

Biking through the rolling hills of Italy or across the mountain roads of Chile sounds like a dream, but the logistics seem daunting (especially if you don’t want to haul all your own stuff from point-to-point). Enter: DuVine Cycling , a luxury small group tour company that specializes in bike trips. 

With trips across Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the United States, DuVine Cycling is a cyclist’s dream. Choose from all-biking trips or mix things up with a cycle and sail bike tour or a multi-sport adventure —no matter what, everything is included, from luxury boutique accommodations to top-quality name brand bikes. 

Top Trip: DuVine’s Holland Bike Tour promises “tulips, windmills, beer, and cheese”—what more could you need?

Best Luxury Group Travel: Abercrombie & Kent

Collage of images from the different cities involved in the Abercrombie & Kent Wildlife Safari: Around the World by Private Jet trip

Abercrombie & Kent has been delighting discerning travelers since 1962. Today, they take travelers on unforgettable adventures across over 100 different countries and all seven continents. Although Abercrombie & Kent’s trips are pricey, they encompass once-in-a-lifetime experiences like private jet tours around the world or luxury chartered cruises .

There are trips designed for solo travelers and families , and the small group journeys max out at around 14-18 guests.

Top Trip: Swim with whale sharks in the Philippines, feed proboscis monkeys in Malaysia, and photograph wild tigers in India on Abercrombie & Kent’s Wildlife & Nature: Around the World by Private Jet trip , already booking dates into 2024.

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These Are Going to Be the Most Popular Travel Destinations in 2024

A lready thinking about where you want to travel in 2024 ? If you’re hoping to hit the hottest travel destinations of the year, Expedia Group is here to help. The one-stop travel site—alongside Hotels.com and VRBO—just released Unpack '24 , a travel trends analysis for the coming year. In addition to detailing the projected top 10 most popular international destinations of 2024, the site also revealed 10 “dupes” for travelers looking to perhaps spend a bit less, as well as those hoping to be surrounded by fewer fellow tourists. Additionally, they revealed 10 affordable cities where the world’s biggest musical acts are set to perform, as well as where to travel if you live a sober lifestyle.

“At Expedia Group, we have extensive first-party travel data that we use to enhance and curate experiences for our travelers across Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo,” Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands, says in the report. “These insights shape our travel forecasts, revealed in Unpack '24, enabling our travelers to be the first to discover and book the most desired trips before they become well-beaten paths.”

Ready to ignite your travel bug? Ahead, discover the most popular travel destinations of 2024.

The Top 10 Travel Destinations of 2024

Expedia Group predicts that travelers are most likely to jet set to destinations popularized in fan-favorite TV shows and movies. According to the report, “More than half of travelers say they’ve researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it on a TV show or in a movie. In fact, travelers say TV shows influence their travel decisions more than Instagram, TikTok, and podcasts.” With that in mind, they reveal that the top 10 travel destinations of 2024 are as follows:

  • Thailand - Featured in White Lotus , Season 3—which has sadly been pushed to premiere in 2025
  • Romania - Featured in Wednesday , Season 2—which has not yet set a release date
  • Malta - As seen in Gladiator 2 , which is set to premiere on November 22, 2024
  • Paris - As seen in Emily in Paris
  • Scottish Highlands - Featured in Outlander
  • London, Bath, and Windsor, U.K. - As seen in Bridgerton and The Crown
  • South Korea - Featured in Squid Game —the Season 2 release date has yet to be announced
  • Florida Keys - As seen in the series Bad Monkey
  • Australia - Featured in Baz Luhrmann’s Faraway Downs series, as well as the film Furiosa , which is set to premiere on May 24, 2024
  • Greece - as seen in the films Argylle (set to release in 2024) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3

The Top 10 Travel Destination Dupes

Dupes have long been lauded in the beauty and fashion categories, and now the concept is making its way to travel. “1 in 3 of those polled say they’ve booked a dupe,” the report reveals. “But what do these less obvious alternatives offer besides potential savings? They’re often less crowded, tend to be a little unexpected, and can be every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations.”

Intrigued by the idea of booking a stellar vacation for a fraction of the price? Check out Expedia Group’s Top 10 Travel Destination Dupes, below, which are listed as the original destination of inspiration and the dupe that mirrors it.

  • Seoul —> Taipei
  • Bangkok —> Pattaya
  • Santorini —> Paros
  • Saint Martin —> Curaçao
  • Sydney —> Perth
  • London —> Liverpool
  • Lisbon —> Palermo
  • Geneva —> Québec City
  • Zermatt —> Sapporo
  • Nashville —> Memphis

The Top 10 Tour-Inspired Travel Destinations

Music lovers, this one’s for you! As you well know, traveling to see your favorite artists live is expensive, to say the least. With this in mind, Expedia set out to find the most affordable destinations where the world’s most famous pop and rock stars are set to take the stage in 2024.

Through their research, in which they analyzed the average daily rates of tour locations, they found the top 10 most affordable cities (less than $150/night on average) where travelers can witness the likes of Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Coldplay, Metallica, Madonna, and more. They are as follows:

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - $91
  • Edmonton, Canada - $108
  • Mexico City, Mexico - $119
  • Warsaw, Poland - $119
  • Birmingham, U.K. - $127
  • Houston, Texas - $130
  • Antwerp, Belgium - $140
  • Tokyo, Japan - $147
  • Perth, Australia - $148
  • Detroit, Michigan - $149

For more research-backed travel trends, be sure to check out Expedia’s full Unpack ‘24 Trend Report .

Discover destinations all over the world inspired by TV and movie sets, music tours, lifestyle trends, and more.

Batu Caves, Malaysia - Nov 04, 2019: Access area and entrance to the stairs to the Batu Caves, guarded by the huge Sri Muruga statue, Gombak District, Selangor, Malaysia


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Indonesia and Malaysia the Top Destinations for Muslim Travelers 2024

Akhyari Hananto

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Indonesia and Malaysia the Top Destinations for Muslim Travelers 2024

Southeast Asia has once again emerged as the top destination for Muslim travelers in the latest edition of the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), with Indonesia and Malaysia sharing the top spot among 145 destinations in the 2024 survey. Singapore continues to lead among destinations outside the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), showcasing its commitment to catering to Muslim travelers with Halal food, prayer facilities, and Muslim-friendly amenities.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Seasia Stats (@seasia.stats)

The Muslim travel market is expected to see significant growth this year, with global arrivals potentially surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 5 percent. This growth is fueled by demographic shifts, economic expansion, cultural and Halal tourism development, and technological advancements that enhance personalized travel experiences for Muslim travelers.

top travel destinations malaysia

Indonesia and Malaysia maintain their position as leading OIC destinations for Muslim travelers, excelling in entry ease and tourism infrastructure. Thailand remains in the top five non-OIC destinations by promoting Halal tourism initiatives. The Philippines has significantly improved its appeal to Muslim tourists through strategic Halal tourism development efforts.

The GMTI report, now in its ninth year, evaluates destinations based on Access, Communication, Environment, and Services (ACES) criteria. This year, new metrics focusing on facilities for travelers with disabilities were introduced. Stakeholders in the travel sector are encouraged to leverage insights from the GMTI 2024 report to capitalize on the growing Muslim travel market.

top travel destinations malaysia

Mastercard and CrescentRating's collaboration underscores the importance of understanding and serving Muslim travelers, with a focus on enhancing travel experiences and facilitating secure cross-border payments using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence.

Akhyari Hananto

Akhyari Hananto

Related posts, here is why muslim travellers on the rise in japan, you might be interested in.

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10 Most Affordable Beach Destinations to Live in Around the World

These beautiful coastal destinations offer top-notch beach living on a budget.

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Many dream of waking up to the soothing sound of crashing waves, but with inflation and real estate prices driving up the cost of living , few can afford to move to a beach town. However, this doesn't mean you have to abandon your fantasy, as plenty of oceanfront communities across the globe offer affordable housing and good-value living.

And while the cost of living also largely depends on your spending habits, the beach towns we've highlighted below guarantee your dollar will stretch much further without sacrificing the little pleasures like eating out, enjoying cultural activities and events, and taking advantage of everything the destination has to offer.

So, whether you're planning your retirement or want to try the digital nomad lifestyle , we've found 10 budget-friendly places around the world — both small and large — where surf, sand, and sun are pretty much a given 365 days of the year.

To compile this list, we consulted experts from International Living, specializing in life overseas, as well as multiple reports on the cost of living in cities worldwide. And, of course, be sure to check the visa requirements for your beach destination of choice before packing up.

George Town, Malaysia

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The capital of Penang, an island off Malaysia's west coast, is a vibrant city famous for its historic attractions and colonial architecture, which were recognized by UNESCO and included in the organization's list of World Heritage Sites in 2008. The city is also known for its street art, vibrant nightlife, and diverse population, reflected in its eclectic dining scene that blends Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences.

According to data by International Living, a couple can live on a monthly budget of $1,760, whereas $2,500 will get you a place in a luxury high-rise with an ocean view and resort-like amenities.

Valencia, Spain

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Known as the birthplace of paella, Valencia offers a fantastic food scene, striking architecture, and affordable living, regularly placing it among the best beach destinations to live in Europe .

The city has several golden-sand beaches and is a short flight from the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, and Menorca (or a five to seven-hour ferry ride ).

A couple renting a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Valencia can live comfortably on a monthly budget of $2,635, according to International Living .

Mazatlán, Mexico

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Last year, this underrated beach destination ranked among the most affordable communities in Mexico for expats . GoBankingRates calculated a single person would need less than $1,300 per month to live comfortably here, and that number includes rent. The company also noted the average one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs about $620 per month.

The city, which already has a sizable expat community, is home to a beautiful historic area, more than 10 miles of beaches (including several on the three islands off its coast), and many music events throughout the year.

Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

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Bali's picture-perfect beaches and laid-back lifestyle have attracted many expats, but if you're looking for one of the most affordable destinations on the island, consider Canggu. This increasingly popular village on Bali's south coast is close to some of the island's most important temples, plus it's surrounded by scenic rice paddies and banana plantations.

You can expect to spend under $1,500 per month here, of which $800 goes toward renting a two-bedroom villa , according to International Living.

Hua Hin, Thailand

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A former fishing village, Hua Hin is now the preferred seaside getaway for both locals and visitors, thanks to its picture-perfect beaches, golf courses, seafood restaurants, lively night market, and temples. And while the destination has many urban conveniences, if you miss the vibrancy of a big city, Bangkok is about a three-hour drive away and easy to visit for a weekend.

International Living points out couples in Hua Hin can live comfortably on a monthly budget of $2,000, which covers eating out a few times a week, groceries, entertainment, and renting a one- or two-bedroom apartment.

Varna, Bulgaria

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Located on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, north of Greece and Turkey, Varna is a midsized city offering access to scenic beaches, museums, an aquarium, a lively garden, many resorts, and an international airport. The region is an up-and-coming luxury destination on the Balkan peninsula, with a presence from global hospitality brands like Meliá. Nobu recently announced plans to open a property in the area as well. And golf enthusiasts can practice their swing at one of the most scenic courses in the region at Thracian Cliffs, which overlooks the Black Sea.

According to local data, a furnished two-bedroom apartment in Varna costs around $655 monthly and about the same for other expenses . Bulgaria, overall, was named one of the best places to invest in real estate by Sothebys in 2023 .

Lagos, Portugal

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The Algarve region of Portugal is a magnet for expats, thanks to its sun-drenched beaches , delicious cuisine, and many charming villages and small towns. Lagos, in particular, is a popular choice as it offers urban amenities with the laid-back lifestyle of a resort town, including a vibrant nightlife scene, excellent shopping, and a marina.

International Living experts estimate a couple will need a monthly budget of about $2,080, inclusive of rent.

Toulon, France

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This city along the Mediterranean may not be as well known as Marseille or Nice, which is precisely what makes it appealing as a home base. As the gateway to Provence, Toulon is an ideal destination for sampling the region's delicious food and admiring its stunning scenery. Residents enjoy plenty of sunshine throughout the year, beautiful historic architecture, plenty of cafes and restaurants, and a thriving arts scene. With several beaches in and around the city, you're never too far from a stretch of sand.

Capital.fr reports the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toulon is $16 per square meter (or about $600 per month), plus approximately $150 for electricity and heating .

Azores, Portugal

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Island living in the middle of the Atlantic? Sign us up. The Azores is a much calmer, less crowded, and more affordable alternative to Portugal's mainland. The nine islands comprising the archipelago boast dramatic landscapes with volcanoes, lagoons, thermal springs, and small towns where life moves at a slower pace.

Although certain goods may cost more because they're imported, living in the Azores is generally less expensive than on the mainland, at around $1,500 per month. In the capital, Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel, monthly costs are about $1,200 if you're single and $2,850 for a family of four, according to Expatistan.com .

Puerto Morelos, Mexico

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The Riviera Maya is a bustling vacation and second-home destination where housing isn't exactly cheap these days, but if you're searching for an affordable alternative in the area, the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos, located between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, is your best bet.

In contrast to its more famous neighbors, this Caribbean community is more laid-back and relaxed, offering plenty of opportunities to stay active. At the same time, thanks to its proximity to Cancun (the city is about a one-hour drive away), residents have access to quality health care and other urban amenities.

International Living notes a couple can live here on $1,700 a month, of which rent accounts for $500 to $700, depending on the apartment.

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Best places to visit in january 2024.

January is an ideal time to travel for those needing to escape winter's chill. While travel deals may be limited during this time, you will skirt humidity and the rainy season in popular warm weather destinations. And if you're one for embracing the season's snowy offerings, this is the perfect time to take advantage of the powder in mountainous regions north of the equator. U.S. News weighed these factors and more across an array of different destinations – from the rugged to the refined – to come up with the best places to visit in January. Vote for your favorite destinations below to have a say in next year's list. 

Argentine Patagonia

Railay beach, st. kitts & nevis, british virgin islands, hawai'i volcanoes national park, serengeti national park.

top travel destinations malaysia

As January brings some of the warmest temperatures and the most daylight hours of the year to Argentine Patagonia, it's no surprise that this is one of the most popular months to visit. Conditions will be ideal for kayaking or rafting on the glacier-fed lakes of the Lake District, located in the northern part of Patagonia, or taking a boat cruise to Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. Plus, the weather will be warm enough (though still brisk) for a trip to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world and an excellent base for hiking in Tierra del Fuego.

top travel destinations malaysia

If sun, sand and a little adventure are requirements for your post-holiday escape, Railay Beach is a great place to spend your next vacation. January is one of the driest months of the year on this Thai peninsula, so you're likely to encounter sun-soaked days of beaching and kayaking while taking in views of the iconic limestone cliffs. If you're up for more action, this area is known for its rock climbing, and you'll also find several caves and lagoons to explore. Just be sure to book early as accommodations can fill up quickly during the dry season.

top travel destinations malaysia

Venture to this Swiss ski town during the winter months for a scenic getaway. One of Zermatt's most impressive sights is its world-renowned Matterhorn. For breathtaking views, take a cable car to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Europe’s highest mountain station. Here, travelers can explore the attraction’s Glacier Palace, an enchanting attraction with ice tunnels and ever-changing ice sculptures. Adrenaline junkies can also gaze at this jaw-dropping natural wonder during a helicopter tour, or they can try hiking or skiing one of the area's 37 other mountains. Zermatt itself is car-free, but visitors can get around on foot or bike, or by using the town's electric vehicles.

top travel destinations malaysia

Come January, nothing sounds better than tropical weather and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean . But once you arrive, you'll find that these islands have even more to offer. This two-island nation boasts prime sailing conditions, blue waters perfect for snorkeling and lush forests and volcanoes for those who prefer to explore on land. Plus, if you're ringing in the new year here, you'll catch the closing events for the islands' biggest festival – the St. Kitts and Nevis National Carnival. Deemed Sugar Mas by the locals, this cultural celebration makes this one of the sweetest times of year to visit.

top travel destinations malaysia

Those looking to get away from chilly winter weather should consider a relaxing getaway to the British Virgin Islands. Average temperatures hover between the high 70s and low 80s this time of year, making it easy to enjoy the many outdoor activities that the four main islands have to offer. With ferries regularly traveling to and from the various islands, visitors can sunbathe on the sandy shores of Cane Garden Bay on the capital island of Tortola one day and explore The Baths on Virgin Gorda the next.

top travel destinations malaysia

Home to two of the world's most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park appeals to adventurous travelers. Hike or drive along Crater Rim Drive to see stunning views of the Kilauea caldera, or attend an educational ranger program to learn more about the park's history. January is Volcano Awareness Month on the Big Island, and the park holds several events during this time to promote the understanding and respect of volcanoes. Keep in mind, certain areas of the park may be closed due to seismic activity, so check the park website prior to arrival.

top travel destinations malaysia

An African safari may not be the first destination you think of when planning a winter getaway, but a trip to Tanzania's Serengeti National Park should be on your radar. January is one of the best times to travel here, as it is when numerous wildebeest breed during their Great Migration throughout the park. To catch a glimpse of this can't-miss natural phenomenon, which is one of the largest herd movements in the world, base yourself in Southern Serengeti or the northern part of the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

top travel destinations malaysia

If your heart is set on a winter wonderland, Whistler is the spot for you. This Canadian ski destination averages around 80 inches of snowfall in January, so you're bound to have some fresh powder when you hit the slopes, snowmobile or snowshoe. You'll also have plenty of opportunity to embrace the elements while you ice skate at the Village at Whistler Olympic Plaza or ice fish on serene lakes. When you're ready to warm up, enjoy Whistler's après-ski scene with craft beer at a pub, or cozy up by the fire at one of the area's iconic chalets.

top travel destinations malaysia

Take a trip Down Under for an unforgettable outdoor adventure. In January, this Australian island offers its warmest weather of the year – average highs sit in the low 70s – thanks to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. Much of Tasmania is protected in national parks and wildlife reserves, offering nature lovers plenty of opportunities to hike, camp and spot wildlife. Travelers can also head to the capital city of Hobart to explore its food and wine offerings or visit the Mona, a unique underground art museum with its own brewery, winery and restaurant.

top travel destinations malaysia

Boasting the world's tallest building (Burj Khalifa), the world's largest shopping center (the Dubai Mall) and the world's longest urban zip line (the XLine Dubai), this United Arab Emirates city has plenty to offer travelers come January. Average temperatures this time of year hover around the mid-70s, which is ideal for lounging on popular La Mer beach, strolling through the whimsical Dubai Miracle Garden or floating down Dubai Creek on a water taxi (called an abra). If you need to get out of the sun, consider touring the ornate Jumeirah Mosque or observing marine life at the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo.

top travel destinations malaysia

Located in the Andalusian region of southern Spain, Seville boasts a number of can't-miss attractions (think: the Real Alcázar and Plaza de España). You'll also want to save time for a leisurely stroll down the winding streets of Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville's former Jewish quarter. Although weather this time of year is chilly for Spain (temperatures typically hover in the 50s and 60s), this is still much warmer than many other European destinations. Plus, travelers who visit in early January will be able to experience Three Kings Day, a celebration commemorating the day that the three wise men visited baby Jesus.

top travel destinations malaysia

January is one of the driest times of the year in this tropical Central American country. That means it's much easier to enjoy Costa Rica's vast array of outdoor offerings and wildlife-viewing opportunities, such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. What's more, a number of culturally significant festivals take place in January, including the Palmares Fiestas, which features everything from bullfights to outdoor concerts. Looking to catch some waves? This is also a great time of year to go surfing in Costa Rica, especially for beginners.

top travel destinations malaysia

If you're seeking a cheap tropical vacation that's closer to home, Cancún is just south enough to offer an easily accessible warm weather getaway. Though January is one of the coolest months in this Mexican city, average temperatures typically remain in the high 70s and low 80s, and there is minimal humidity, which makes this a perfect time to visit. Just be prepared for others to have the same idea and book your trip early. When you're not defrosting on the beach, you can fill your days with a number of day trips and tours to must-visit ruins, nature reserves and nearby islands.

top travel destinations malaysia

Tulum, Mexico, is an excellent destination for travelers who want to unwind after the busy holiday season. Visitors can relax post-Christmas by visiting one of the city's many yoga and wellness centers. More adventurous vacationers will enjoy exploring Tulum's ancient Mayan ruins, which are some of the best-preserved ruins in Mexico. Those who'd rather swim and soak up some sun can venture to one of the city's cenotes (sinkholes that are filled with water) or a beautiful white sand beach like Playa Paraíso.

top travel destinations malaysia

Affectionately nicknamed "The Pink City" thanks to its blush-colored sandstone buildings – which were painted pink in 1876 as a welcome to Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales – Jaipur is ideal for a January vacation. In contrast to this Indian city's sweltering summer temperatures, which frequently reach the triple digits, January enjoys comfortable weather in the mid-70s. Take advantage of the mild conditions by joining a guided walking or biking tour, where you'll get an in-depth look into the city's rich history and culture. Other can't-miss activities include exploring Jaipur's magnificent palaces, from the iconic Hawa Mahal to the sprawling Amber Palace.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

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San Miguel de Allende

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Death Valley National Park

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