Malaysia is a melting pot of cultural and religious diversity. Located between Thailand to the North and Singapore to the South, the country is home to people from various backgrounds, including Malays, Chinese, Indians, and a growing community of expats. There are many reasons why Malaysia continues to attract people from around the globe.
Malaysia is rich in diversity
Diversity can be seen just by walking through the streets of Kuala Lumpur or Penang. Aside from the ethnic diversity of the country, various beliefs and religions exist throughout. Although primarily a Muslim country, Buddhism, Christianity, and traditional Chinese religions also have a strong presence. The rich diversity is celebrated throughout the country. Across the country, travelers and locals alike, partake in numerous festivals. From the Hindu festival Thaipusam to the Muslim celebration of Hari Raya Aidil Adha, to Chinese New Year, the community comes together to embrace the beliefs and traditions of its neighbors. In case you’re worried about the language barrier on your visit, don’t be. Many locals speak English.
It’s always beach weather
Malaysia enjoys a tropical climate, with average temperatures in Kuala Lumpur hovering around 80º F year round. The warm air and the crystal waters make enjoying a day at the beach a possibility any day of the year. While the weather is hot and humid year-round, travelers should always count on rain as a possibility, as afternoon showers are frequent. Monsoon season runs from Mid-October to March on the Eastern side of the peninsula. On the west coast, monsoon season runs from May to October. Travel to Malaysia is still an option during these time periods, just keep in mind that some locations may shut down operations during the rougher parts of the season.
Beauty and adventure are everywhere
Because of its beautiful weather, there is an abundance of outdoor activities available. If you are looking to check off a bucket list item, try scuba diving at Barracuda Point on Sipadan Island. Thousands of barracuda, turtles, and reef shark swim within the waters, part of why Barracuda Point ranks as the number one destination to go scuba diving. Just be warned, permits to go scuba diving here are very limited, so make sure to plan ahead.
Cameron Highlands is a favorite among both travelers and locals and for good reason. There is so much to do. Enjoy delicious tea overlooking the gorgeous scenery at Sungai Palas or BOH Tea or hike the trails and hunt for rafflesia, one of the largest flowers in the world. From beaches to rainforests, mountains and the world’s largest cave chamber, there is no shortage of beauty or adventure in Malaysia.
Monkeys walk the streets
Malaysia is home to a diverse ecosystem of abundant flora and fauna. In addition to regular sightings of monkeys outside your door, and the aforementioned barracuda, Malaysia provides residence to over 1,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Many of these species can be seen by taking a river cruise on the island of Borneo. Borneo is one of the few places in the world where you can see orangutans in the wild. While visiting, you’ll likely also spot lizards, crocodiles, and pygmy elephants roaming the banks.
History is all around
Penang’s capital city, Georgetown, features an eclectic array of beautifully preserved architecture. The city, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008, is home to many landmarks, including Kek Lok Si Temple, Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist temple. Other sites of interest include Penang Islamic Museum and Kuan Yin temple, one of the oldest temples in Malaysia. In addition to Georgetown, Malaysia has three other UNESCO World Heritage sites. These include Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu National Park, and Lenggong Valley Archaeological Sites.
One of the country’s most beautiful locations is also one of its greatest pieces of history, Taman Negara. The rainforest, located on Malaysia’s peninsula, is the oldest in the world, dating back to the Jurassic era, over 130 million years ago. There are many ways to experience the rainforest. The canopy walk is the world’s longest and will take you 40 meters above ground, among the forest’s treetops. Fishing and hiking are also popular activities, as well as river cruises and cave exploring.
The food is amazing
The food in itself is enough reason to visit Malaysia, with Penang consistently ranking as one of the best places in the world to enjoy street food. In Georgetown, this delicious food will be found at one of the city’s many Hawker Stalls. These open-air food stalls host an extensive variety of delicious and affordable food. Because Malaysia has such a rich cultural diversity, the cuisine found on the streets finds influences from Malay, Indian, and Chinese fare.
Georgetown has the highest concentration of Hawker stalls within Penang. Some of the most popular spots include Gurney Drive and New Lane Hawker Centre. Be sure to taste Laksa, a spicy noodle soup and a favorite among locals or Rendang, tender meat slowly simmered in coconut milk and spices. If you have room for dessert, Apam Balik, a pancake-like dessert, traditionally filled with peanuts, sugar, and corn.
Food, lodging, and just about everything else is very affordable
Though Malaysia ranks higher in cost than many SE Asia countries, it is still a very affordable place to visit. You can usually get lunch for less than $5 USD and a one month one-bedroom rental in Penang will cost you about $271 USD. If you like to shop, you’re in luck. Mid Valley Megamall is one of the world’s largest retail spaces. The mall, which features over 430 stores and restaurants and an 18-screen movie theater is located in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia is a country with a rich and diverse history. It’s a land of friendly people, breathtaking scenery, and mouthwatering delights. No matter what part of the country you choose to explore, Malaysia is likely to find its place on your list of the most amazing places you have ever visited.