Visiting Malaysia

Guide to Visiting Malaysia

If you are visiting Malaysia anytime soon, you will be in for an interesting Southeast Asian journey as Malaysia is one of the unique destinations that you will enjoy.

As Malaysia is a multi-racial and modern country, you will find a lot of traditional, cultural and ethnic tourism worldwide, both the peninsular and east Malaysia at the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

Visiting Malaysia

Most of you would already know Malaysia from the worldwide media as we have been featured many times in the last couple of years for the wrong reasons.

But then again, let me assure you that Malaysia is, in fact, one of the desired destinations to visit in Southeast Asia due to several interesting factors.

English is our second language here, so getting around is not a problem at all. At the same time, in recent years, our currency, the Ringgit Malaysia or RM, has dropped tremendously versus many other currencies, resulting in fantastic exchange rates for foreigners coming here.

Types of Tourism in Malaysia

Overall, there are many types of tourism catering to all kinds of travellers in Malaysia, and the best part is actually picking and choosing which you want.

The tourism types in Malaysia include;

  • Ecotourism
  • Food and Shopping
  • Culture and Heritage
  • Adventure
  • Sports
  • Education
  • Islands and Beaches
  • Highlands and Mountains
  • Snorkelling and Diving
  • Medical and Healthcare

Overall, all these have been promoted throughout the years, and every year, the tourism ministry is looking at something new and interesting to highlight.

As for niche tourism, Malaysia also caters to;

  • Birdwatching
  • Yachting
  • Golfing
  • Edutourism
  • Wildlife Tourism
  • Dive Tourism
  • Food Tourism

But in this article, I will focus mainly on the more common niche tourism for the general visitors, compared to the usual common tourism that everyone reads about.

Coming from a travellers point of view, this list was created to showcase the lesser promoted side of Malaysia to the world.

Malaysia Eco Tourism 2016
One of the nature resorts found around Malaysia. This is the Tabin Wildlife Resort in Sabah, Borneo
Eco-Tourism in Malaysia

Malaysia is located in the tropical climate, and therefore, it is warm, sunny and sometimes rainy, so this is perfect for all walks of life.

Malaysia is also 65% covered in the rainforest, which equals a lot of Eco-Tourism for those seeking this kind of adventure.

As we have over 34 national parks, you will be spoiled for choices and let me just point out that one week in Malaysia is definitely not enough to see it all.

Ecotourism in Malaysia comes in many forms, and you have the luxury of choosing which type suits you.

In terms of types available, there are budget type Ecotourism for those travelling on a budget. At the same time, there are moderate general types and also luxury Ecotourism catered for the well-heeled.

Some of the most popular Eco-Tourism in Malaysia are the river and mangrove cruises found in Langkawi, Sabah or Sarawak.

Others include trekking, hiking, climbing, or simply living in the middle of nature. Multiple states around Malaysia offer these activities, which offer some of the best amazing rainforest resorts.

Dive Tourism in Malaysia 2016
A diver observes a shark at Sipadan Island, Sabah
Diving Tourism in Malaysia

If you did not already know, Malaysia is surrounded by thousands of miles of coastline and this means there are plenty of beautiful beaches and islands available.

Our tropical waters also provide ideal scuba diving conditions where temperatures range around 28-30 degrees Celsius, and you can even dive with your shorts and t-shirts.

Also, a bonus for temperate waters is the abundance of marine life found mainly in the South China Sea and all-around Borneo Malaysia.

Among the best islands to visit for diving are Perhentian Islands and Redang Island off Terengganu (March-October only), Sibuti Reef off Miri in Sarawak and Sipadan or Mabul Island on the east coast of Sabah Borneo.

These places offer some of the best underwater marine life and visibility for any kind of diver, beginner or advanced. Some of the dive centres even offer specialized diving like tri-mix, nitrox, rebreathers or even technical diving.

My recommendation for diving in Malaysia is to explore Sibuti Reef off Miri as this place has been untouched for a long time and recently opened up for dive tourism.

Birdwatching in Malaysia 2016
Birders in action at the Kinabalu Park in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo
Bird Watching in Malaysia

While many think of Malaysia as a modern city with towering skyscrapers, wehave manynal parks that are rich in natural wildlife.

The national parks are well spread in almost every state in Malaysia and over in Sabah and Sarawak; you can find the highest national parks there.

There are even some UNESCO world heritage sites and bird watching in Malaysia is currently one of the growing niche markets for tourism.

Some of these national parks offer amazing opportunities to observe birds in their natural behaviour, namely in the state of Selangor, Pahang, Sarawak, Sabah, and Langkawi Island.

Visitors are advised to book ahead and seek reputable tour companies and licensed bird guides for a full experience.

As for my recommendations, I would say Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah is one of the best and convenient places to do some serious bird watching while taking a nice nature break.

Alternatively, a more higher-end experience would be at Danum Valley in Sabah, especially when they have one of the best canopy walks in Malaysia.

Malaysia Wildlife Tours 2016
Wildlife watching along the Klias River, Sabah
Wildlife Watching in Malaysia

Just as above in bird watching, the many national parks also offer a unique experience not to be missed for any nature or wildlife lover.

There are about 34 national parks,, and 29 of them are located in Sabah and Sarawak. This clearly goes to say that the best chances of wildlife watching are done over in Malaysia Borneo.

Also,, to add on, there are another 12 state parks and reserves in the many states. In total, Malaysia is offering 46 parks and reserves throughout the country for any wildlife lover.

Malaysia wildlife tour packages
Capturing moments of tourism in Sabah Borneo
My recommendation for wildlife watching in Malaysia would be to explore Bako National Park in SarawakKinabatangan River in Sabah and once again, Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah.

These places provide fascinating experiences for any visitors here. It is highly recommended that you look up the services of professional and well-experienced wildlife guides for your wildlife experience here in Malaysia.

Pavilion Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur
Pavilion Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping Tourism in Malaysia

Our major cities are very modern and updated therefore you can expect Five Star facilities in hotels and resorts, shopping,, and entertainment.

However, with the growing tourism arrivals in Malaysia, many corporations have started to build integrated shopping malls where you can stay, shop and be entertained all in one place.

In Kuala Lumpur city itself, you can find over 20 shopping malls,, while on the outskirts, there are even more.

Each major city around the country also boasts of their own shopping malls;; therefore,, apart from tourists, it has become a lifestyle culture for the locals.

High-end luxury shopping is also available at selected shopping malls in the core of Kuala Lumpur, namely Starhill Gallery, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, and The Gardens Mall, where you can find top international designers and brands at these places.

Price-wise, some say that our weak Ringgit is a great bonus to shop here, especially when there is an abundance of shoes, fashion, watches, perfumes, cameras, computers, and gadgets.

For those seeking something different in their shopping, there are also notable flea markets, street markets and bazaars all over the country too.

Some of these places offer antiques and curios, collectables, crafts, and even second-hand goods.

My recommendation for a fantastic and interesting flea market is to check out the Amcorp Mall Flea Market in Petaling Jaya on the weekend.

The mall is located along the main Kelana Jaya LRT train line from KL city and is the best in Malaysia.

Malaysia food tourism
The amazing food selections found all over Malaysia
Food Tourism in Malaysia

It is no doubt that food found all over Malaysia is an experience in its own category, mainly credited to the multicultural societies that reside all over here.

Off hand, you can easily find three different foods from the Chinese, Indians, and Malaysia, which make up the majority population of the country.

The beauty of our Malaysian food is that you can find popular hawker dishes being sold from street vendors, cafes, restaurants and even five-star hotels.

Lun Bawang Food
Lun Bawang food from Bakelalan, Sarawak
For the first-timer to Malaysia, I humbly invite you to explore the unique dishes wherever you may be as each state in Malaysia offers its own speciality.

And if you are Muslim, fear not as Halal food is available all over the country. While we are very proud of our local foods here, modernization has brought in various food selections worldwide, making Malaysia a massive melting pot for foodies.

This means you have the luxury of choosing what you feel like eating when you are here. However, you must try the local famous dishes as a start,, and KL Food Trails are a great place.

Exploring deeper or further out of the main cities will lead you to more exquisite and even acquired foods from the many sub-ethnic people of Malaysia.

We have over 10 main ethnic groups and over 40 sub-ethnic groups,, and this is where the food starts to get really interesting for any foodie out there. To achieve the best of this, you need to hire a very local guide who knows his or her food.

My recommendation is to try the Kelabit Food, an ethnic group found in the highlands of Sarawak, namely at Bario and Ba'Kelalan. Getting here is another experience altogether, so it would be very worth it.

Borneo Medical Centre in Kuching, Sarawak
Borneo Medical Centre in Kuching, Sarawak - Image from Borneo Medical Centre
Healthcare and Medical Tourism in Malaysia

For the healthcare tourist, Malaysia is now one of the top Medical Tourism destinations in Asia; again with our weak currency against the US Dollar and other major currencies, medical tourist will be in for a huge bargain with five-star service and facilities.

Apart from that, we are a multi-lingual country, meaning we speak English, Bahasa and Chinese, therefore communication is very easy here.

For the families, some medical facilities are in the vicinity of major shopping malls and even theme parks in Malaysia, so this provides a one-stop place for everyone,, including the patient,, which makes medical tourism in Malaysia very desirable.

In most developed cities around Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Penang, Melaka, Johor Baharu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, medical tourism is available.

The facilities are now very modern, advanced and highly accredited with the United States' prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) certification.

You can simply ask your tour agent or visit the relevant websites of the medical facility. One of the up and coming states in Malaysia for medical tourism is Sarawak, attracting their neighbourss from Kalimantan, Brunei, Indonesia,, and Singapore.

About the writer

The above places to visit in Malaysia for 2016 are compiled by David Hogan Jr of Malaysia Asia and based purely on real-life experiences versus those who have not been to these places but still canbout it.

David Hogan Jr Malaysia Asia
David Hogan Jr, author of Malaysia Asia
My work takes me around Malaysia throughout the year, where I visit and perform product updates;; therefore, you can consider these first-hand experiences shared with everyone.

For those who are active on social media, you can also follow me on my Instagram, Facebookand Twitter for live updates when I travel.


If you are planning on visiting Malaysia, I do hope that some of the information here will provide you with a much more clearer picture.

And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comment form below for this article on visiting Malaysia. Hope to see you here!

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.

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