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Top 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia

Top 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia

You name it, Malaysia’s probably got it – beaches to lounge on, rain forests to trek and sweat through, exotic wildlife to seek out, unbeatable cuisine, deep-seated traditions, and rich cultural history. It’s also a rapidly changing nation, capitalising on the natural resources the land has provided with little consideration for the consequences. Environmentalists often point to Malaysia as a much-denounced example of deforestation and the impacts that come with it. Governmental steps have been taken to diversify the country’s economy, but most coach journeys of any significant distance will reveal acre upon acre of oil palm plantations which are there to meet a huge global demand for palm oil. It’s a country that can bedazzle and ask you to confront awkward truths about globalization at the same time, and in that respect, Malaysia really is truly Asia. Enough of the negative vibes though, below here’s my choice for some of the most beautiful and fascinating places to visit in Malaysia….

Langkawi – a stunning archipelago which is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia

Langkawi Malaysia

This duty-free haven is Malaysia’s northernmost archipelago 30km off the mainland and easily accessible by ferry and air from Thailand or Malaysia. Honeymooners and backpackers alike are all catered for as swathes of magazine-perfect beaches invite lazy cocktail-sipping afternoons. For the more adventurous, you can test your vertigo at one of Langkawi’s main attractions – the 1,700 metre cable car, or SkyCab – which ascends Machinchang Mountain.

You have the option to go to the first station and back again or continue up to the loftier second station. From there you can take a stroll across the SkyBridge, head up to elevated viewing platforms or simply watch the clouds roll in and over the slopes at amazing speed. The SkyBridge was closed at the time of visiting (November 2013) so it’s best to check access beforehand. If you’re feeling peckish, ask the locals to find out the next location of the roaming night market.

Pulau Pinang

Penang - best places to visit in Malaysia

Considered the food capital of Malaysia by many, this charming and well-developed island is part of the wider state of Penang and has become a multiracial melting pot of diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities, thanks largely to it’s prominent position within historic trading routes. The main neighbourhood of Georgetown is a delightful UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts numerous murals which make up a fascinating street art scene fronted by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic.

It won’t be long before you’re drifting lost amongst the narrow pastel streets, having your nostrils tugged and tempted by fried Nasi Kandar and your eyes popped at the colourful sight of Ais Kacang. The culinary theme continues at the Tropical Spice Garden on the island’s northern edge, a lush and refreshing retreat where you can dine in the treetops alongside Silver Leaf monkeys swinging amongst the branches. A short bus ride further down the road is the highly enjoyable Butterfly Farm with a series of masterful must-see short animated educational films.

The Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers Malaysia

Amongst the hustle and bustle of Malaysia’s chaotic capital, beauty presents itself in an unexpected form. If you hang around the base of the Petronas Towers between sunset and moonrise, the world’s tallest twin buildings undergo a magical transformation as day turns to night and the office lights, lift shafts, and aircraft warning lights illuminate the 88 stories in a halogen-fuelled twilight haze.

Malacca

For hundreds of years Malacca was one of the most strategically significant towns on the Malay Peninsular, switching hands between the Portuguese, Dutch and British amongst others during that time as they fought for control of this key trading post. Fast forward to modern-day Malacca and you get the impression the place hasn’t changed much.

Many of the streets are one way, winding and cramped, while the rickety buildings are poky and ooze historical character. Like Penang, Malacca is one of Malaysia’s smallest states and proudly possesses UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Cameron Highlands

Most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia

This is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia. Visitors are attracted to this enchanting region of Pehang to experience the novelty, and the respite, of a cooler tropical highland climate where temperatures are often in the low 20s. The rolling hills are populated by tea plantations and flower nurseries, making the area the leading producer of tea and flowers in Malaysia.

It’s wise to check the weather in the monsoon season (November – February) and call ahead or ask your transport operator before travelling as the heavy rainfall can lead to landslides which have an inconvenient tendency of blocking many of the roads.

Pulau Pangkor – this stunning island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia

Pulau Pangkor - beautiful places in Malaysia

A tiny island just off the Malay Peninsular with wide, sweeping beaches that match Langkawi is only accessible by ferry from the connecting town of Lumut. Lumut is approximately three hours north of Kuala Lumpur by road and for those wishing to stick to the tracks then Ipoh (85km away) will sate your train station needs.

Pulau Redang – a truly idyllic cluster of islands in beautiful Malaysia

Pulau Pinang Malaysia

A truly idyllic cluster of islands protruding from the South China Sea on Malaysia’s east coast. The fact that Redang sits within protected waters, known as the Terengganu Marine Park, preserves the crystal clear waters and the reef systems, ergo creating a flourishing scuba-tourism industry.

As with some central locations such as Cameron Highlands and much of the east coast, the monsoons dictate when to go, and when not to go. Between November and February the waters are often too rough for boats to transport eager sun-seekers to the island and many resorts take a holiday for themselves, so it’s always best to phone ahead for availability or plan your travels away from the low season.

The Jungle Railway

Jungle Railway

The Jungle Railway runs for more than 500km between Gemas on the Butterworth – Singapore line and Tumpat in the northeastern part of Peninsular Malaysia which provides a gateway through to Thailand. The line passes through the three states of Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Kelantan and majestic mountainous rainforest in the process. It’s worth scheduling your journey during the day so you get to take in the captivating scenery and give yourself a chance of spotting a monkey or two.

Sabah, Borneo

Sabah - stunning places to visit in Malaysia

Malaysia seems to be a never-ending source of reverential snorkel and scuba sites, and Sabah doesn’t buck any trends. If you’re interested in latitudes, Sabah ranks as Malaysia’s northernmost state and while people do flock to Sabah to enjoy the seas, you’d do well to remember that Sabah is home to a myriad of exotic on and offshore species, including civet cats, snakes, clouded leopards and pygmy elephants which are among the 222 mammals (44 endemics), 420 birds (37 endemics), 100 amphibians and 394 fish (19 endemics) found, according to the WWF.

Gunung Mulu, Borneo

Pinnacles at Mulu

What looks like a stone’s throw away from Brunei on the map, Gunung Mulu represents yet another of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  It’s a well-documented, visited, and filmed world, as done by the BBC’s Planet Earth team,  but with eye-catching, otherworldly features such as the Pinnacles at Mount Api it’s easy to see why. Gunung Mulu National Park is the largest of Sarawak’s parks and writing all this is making me want to go back to Malaysia, tomorrow!

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Michael Anderson

Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always been a sucker for an adventure. As a kid he was lucky enough to live for many years in some exotic far-flung locations and since then he’s developed a taste for new cultures. So much in fact he now travels the world as a trading digital nomad, exploring the sizzling street markets of Bangkok to yoga retreat dotted Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for exotic cuisine and fine wine and definitely knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Tanzania, Amsterdam, Laos and Cambodia as his favourite destinations.

25 Comments

  • Avatar

    Jungle

    15 December, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    As an alternative to the cable car I would recommend going to Mount Raya instead. There is a better view of the island since it’s not a tourist pit and it’s pretty easy to hitch a ride from locals if you just start walking down the road. Langkawi as a whole is a beautiful island. I did a lot of hitchhiking and camping there and was able to camp on a lot of the beaches. I really enjoyed the beach near the Westin Resort, but Black Sand Beach was also very peaceful. Cenang was very beautiful, but there were too many tourists. Find the locals and ask them for the secluded spots. Langkawi can be a cheap and beautiful experience.

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Rashid

    15 November, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Hi,
    This is Rashid from Bangladesh.
    I would like to visit Malaysia on next January-15. So you are kindly be requested to provide me the road plan of “Pulau Redang” “Pulau Pinang” and “Pulau Pangkor”.

    How can I visit above places from Kuala Lumpur???

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Heather

    24 September, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    YOU MISSED out…Pulau Perhentian Kecil! This breathtaking island off the coast of Kuala Besut is entirely understated, even when calling it a paradise. It is a fair distance from Kuala Lumpur but good things come to those who wait, great things come to those who grab the bull by the horns and travel the distance.

    Heather

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Bryan@GreenGlobalTravel

    5 June, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Malaysia has so many wonderful places! I hope to travel there one day in the near future. Each of those photographs looked like stunning places to travel to.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Alia

      6 December, 2015 at 2:57 am

      thanks…i was proud to be Malaysian…i hope you can come and enjoy the scenery of Malaysia! But of course yr country is great too..you also can learn to speak in malay…Apa khabar?terima kasih..n other

      Reply
  • Avatar

    Emma Pryke

    2 June, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Brilliant article about Malaysia- I recently visited Sabah and was amazed at the beauty of both the rainforests and beaches 🙂

    Reply

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