Malaysia is a diverse country with enough to offer visitors, regardless of their budget or preferred mode of entertainment. Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital, is a cosmopolitan metropolis with fantastic shopping and spectacular architecture–both the ultramodern Petronas Towers and a variety of historical palaces and structures can be found within blocks of each other.
There’s lots to see and do only a short drive from the city, from islands, mountains, and world-record-breaking caverns to innumerable temples and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore Borneo’s fauna-rich rainforest.
Malaysia is also a famous snorkelling and scuba diving destination, with spectacular coral reefs and soft sandy beaches that consistently rank among the best in the world.
1. Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur
The Petronas Twin Skyscrapers are the world’s tallest twin towers, rising 452 metres into the sky. There are 76 elevators in all, and the buildings are 88 floors tall.
2. Batu Caves, Selangor
The Batu Caves complex, located less than an hour west of Kuala Lumpur, includes of three large tunnels and a number of smaller caves, the majority of which feature sculptures and 100-year-old temples devoted to Hindu gods.
The main cave, known as Cathedral Cave, is located at the top of a giant multicoloured staircase–if you make it all the way up the 272 steps, you’ll be rewarded with a chamber filled with sculptures, altars, and lights. A 43-meter-tall gold monument of Lord Murugan greets tourists at the bottom of the stairs.
Visitors have the option of exploring the caverns on their own or joining a guided tour to learn more about them. Thousands of people go to the cave to celebrate the Hindu holiday of Thaipusam in January.
3. Mount Kinabalu, Sabah
Climbers come to Mount Kinabalu, but reaching the peak may be difficult. The park issues just 185 climb permits per day, and tourists must make lodging arrangements and hire a mountain guide in advance to be able to hit the trails. Climbing clubs are open to anyone under the age of 16, however there are certain limits.
Climbers should stay in Kinabalu National Park before trying the climb, as the park is already at a height of approximately 1,800 metres, allowing for acclimatisation before tackling the summit.
4. Perhentian Islands
This group of tiny islands, once a halting spot for traders going throughout Southeast Asia, is now part of a marine park and a popular tourist attraction in northeastern Malaysia. The majority of the islands are accessible by ferry or small motorised boats, but only the two bigger islands have hotels, stores, and amenities–of the two, Pulau Perhentian Besar caters mainly to backpackers, while Pulau Perhentian Kecil caters to families.
While you may take a water taxi from one beach to the next here, you can also walk the island’s trails, which are highly recommended since they take you through forest areas and provide wonderful views of the ocean.
5. Sipadan Island
The world’s richest marine environment is found on Sipadan Island and its surrounding ocean waters, which are home to endangered hawksbill turtles, whale sharks, monitor lizards, and hundreds of coral species. The island is also known as one of the top diving sites in the world, and it is well-protected; visitors must get a permission in advance, and only 120 permits are issued every day.
6. Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak
Deer Cave is particularly stunning, with 122-meter-high ceilings, waterfalls falling down the rocks, and an entrance over a one-kilometer-wide depression. Visitors to the park may also go up to the Sarawak Chamber and Paku Waterfall, or tackle a three-day journey up The Pinnacles Summit Trip, which includes ropes, ladders, and a difficult trek through the rainforest.
7. Penang Hill
The Penang Hill Railway, an air-conditioned funicular that takes five to ten minutes to ascend the 2,007 metres to the summit of Penang Hill, may take you there. Although there are mid-stations between the base station and the highest point, they are only made on demand and are mostly utilised by individuals who live near those stops.
8. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Sandakan
In 1964, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center was established to assist orphaned orangutan newborns rescued from the pet trade or unlawful killing. The major purpose of the facility is to teach young orangutans how to live in the wild (instead of learning from their mothers), so that they may be released into the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, which is covered in virgin forest and spans over 4,300 hectares around the rescue centre. The reserve now has around 80 orangutans roaming freely.
9. Kek Lok Si Temple, George Town
The biggest Buddhist temple in Malaysia is located on a slope near the bottom of Air Itam mountain. Kek Lok Si is a relatively modern Asian temple, having been built in 1890, yet the towering seven-story Pagoda encircled by 10,000 Buddha sculptures makes it a spectacular location not to be missed.
The pagoda is also home to a 36-meter-tall figure of Kwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, which is surrounded by gardens, fish ponds, prayer rooms, and a multitude of kiosks selling both religious and secular items.
Many tourists travel to the temple from all around Southeast Asia, not just to “create merits,” but also to witness one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the region. The temple’s Chinese New Year festivities are particularly lovely.
10. Langkawi SkyCab, Kedah
The Langkawi cable car travels 2.2 kilometres between the Base Station and the summit of Gunung Machinchang mountain, where there are several attractions, including a pedestrian skybridge. A intermediate station is also available, where passengers can disembark to visit an observation platform.
The glass-bottom gondola ride to the summit takes around 15 minutes and provides panoramic views of the bay, the Telaga Tujuh waterfall, and the turquoise waters that encircle Langkawi Island.
Aside from the skybridge, the top station has a multitude of facilities, two more viewing platforms, and a trail that descends through the evergreen jungle all the way to the middle station.