Best Places to Visit in Malaysia

Malaysia Best Places to Visit
Anyone visiting Malaysia would want to know where are the best places to visit in Malaysia, and this article will provide you with my personal first hand experiences at the many places recommended in this list.

The places are all located all over the country but I will make it easy for the traveler, as you need to plan your trip properly, in order to visit at least some of the recommended places to visit in Malaysia.

Best Places to Visit in Malaysia

Before you visit some of the best places in Malaysia, you must know that when you arrive in Malaysia, you will land at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) or KLIA2 which is the budget terminal where AirAsia operates from.

Then you will either connect on another flight to your next destination or head to Kuala Lumpur city to connect via bus, train or van to other places.

Your virtual Malaysian journey begins now, and here is the list of the best places to visit in Malaysia in no order;

1. Perak
Ipoh Concubine Lane
Ipoh's Concubine Lane on a weekend is one of the must visit places
Perak is one of the lesser visited states but over the last few years, Perak has grown to be one of the up and coming places in Malaysia to visit for just about anyone.

Even Lonely Planet has named Perak as one of the Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2017, and this would be bringing more tourist to this state which is a couple of hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city and on the way up north to Penang.

Perak has been the epicenter of early Malaya during the colonial rule where tin mining was one of the biggest industries besides plantations.

Nowadays, the old colonial towns like Ipoh and Taiping have opened their doors to tourism, and a number of theme parks are already available in the vicinity of Ipoh.

One of them is The Lost World of Tambun, a massive family water park and the all new MAPS Perak or Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh which opened in December 2016.

However, Lonely Planet focuses mainly on the core of Ipoh city which is the surroundings of Kong Heng Square which has transformed from an old rundown square to a beautiful fusion of modern day businesses in classic heritage buildings, giving a juxtapose of characters for the visitor.

And no, it does not look like a Hong Kong or Singapore replica, but a truly Chinese Malaysian style and mood for the architecture and its surroundings.

Taiping Perak
Taiping is one of the best places to visit in Perak, for a relaxed getaway
What to do in Perak

Explore Ipoh City, as this is highly recommended for first timers to Perak. I have also done an article on places to visit in Ipoh which narrows down the main areas to explore.

Some of the current places to explore in Ipoh is no other than Kong Heng Square and Concubine Lane in the Ipoh Old Town area.

For those into nature and adventure, there are numerous places in Perak to explore, like Gopeng and Slim River for the white water rafting and caving and for trekking, wildlife, bird watching and other nature experiences, Royal Belum State Park and Kinta Nature Park are the two main places to check out.

Taiping is home to some of the firsts of Malaysia, like the first lake gardens, first museum, first railway and so on, therefore the city is rich with culture and information about early Malaya.

For island lovers, Pangkor Island is a quaint and pretty laid back island with a very local village and accommodations ranging from backpackers hostels to luxury resorts.

Ipoh Kong Heng Square
Kong Heng Square, the top place to visit in Ipoh


Places of Interest in Perak
  • Kong Heng Square
  • Concubine Lane
  • Ipoh Old Town
  • Ipoh Railway Station
  • Taiping
  • Pangkor Island
  • Kinta Valley Nature Park
  • Royal Belum State Park
  • Bukit Merah Laketown
  • Kellie's Castle 
Chee Cheong Fun Ipoh
Ipoh Chee Cheong Fun Noodles, a must try
What to Eat in Perak

Hands down the food in Ipoh is a must-try for any traveler here. Most of the well known dishes are found around the Ipoh Old Town area but there are some notable places in Ipoh New Town area too.

Some dishes not to be missed are the Hakka Noodles, Ipoh Chicken Rice, Lum Mee Noodles, Ipoh Hor Fun Noodles and the Ipoh Chee Cheong Fun flat noodles.

Coffee lovers, you should know that Ipoh serves some of the best coffee in Malaysia and you can sample it at Ipoh Old Town area.

What to Buy in Perak

Generally, in terms of souvenirs, there is nothing much except food souvenirs which are highly popular among the locals.

Many swear by the local Chicken Biscuit (Kai Chai Pang), Ipoh Salt Baked Chicken (Yim Kok Kai), Pomelo fruits and the regional famous Ipoh White Coffee.

In terms of handicraft, there is not much or not that I know of, however, if you know of some, please do share it here with me.

Old Town Coffee in Ipoh
Ipoh Old Town Coffee at Sin Yoon Loong

What to Expect in Perak

Perak is one of the hottest states in Malaysia, especially in Ipoh so it is best to be prepared for the weather changes as when it rains, it pours there.

As for places, you can expect lots of local tourist moving around and in terms of English, it is widely spoken in the larger towns in Perak. The places to visit in Perak are mostly far apart therefore, factor in the time for travel.

Best Time to Visit Perak

Anytime is a great time to visit Perak in 2017 where the rainy season is around March, April, October to December and September to December being the cooler time of the year.

The year end school holidays (Nov and Dec) are probably going to be really crowded with local tourist, so you should book early for some of the popular places.

Where is Perak? 

Perak is the next state up north from Selangor or Kuala Lumpur. You can get there by train, car or bus. From Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, it is only a two hour train ride or drive while from KL to Taiping, it is a three hour drive.

Moving around Perak requires to self drive or hire a tour guide. You can rent a car from KL and drive up north to Perak to move around there. 

2. Melaka 
River Cruise Melaka
Melaka River Cruise
The nearest tourism city near Kuala Lumpur (KL) is not other than historical Melaka or Malacca, which is only a 90 minute drive from KL.

Melaka is also one of two UNESCO World Heritage cities in Malaysia, where the other is Penang and you can expect a lot of old buildings dating to hundreds of years old.

Melaka has been one of the most important ports of call from the years during 1400 to 1600 and has been heavily influenced by many different countries from around the world.

They include the Dutch, Portuguese, Javanese, Chinese, Arabs and Indians, where a cultural mix of ethnicity has evolved throughout the centuries here and thus making this place a beautiful and amazing place to visit.

Melaka Stadthuys
Studhuys in Melaka
What to do and see in Melaka?

You will be treated with lots of historical and cultural charm here but apart from this, there are a lot more being offered in Melaka, as in interactive attractions, rides and shopping spots.

The multicultural mix here provides a lot of places of worship like temples, mosques and churches. Some of them dating back to the 1700's too.

We recommend taking the Melaka River Cruise to have a glimpse of the old Melaka. 

Below are some of the things to do in Melaka;
• Melaka River Cruise (Day and Night)
• Joget@Melaka (Special Cultural Show on weekends) 
• Melaka Alive Theater Show
• The Shore Oceanarium (Newly Opened Aquarium)
• Tamin Sari Tower Ride (Melaka Sky Tower)
• Multiple Parks, Zoos and Museums
• Visit an Old Submarine and Old Wooden Galleon

Cendol Melaka
Melaka Cendol and Rojak
Where to Eat in Melaka?

Melaka is one of the melting pots for food in Malaysia but the crème de la crème is no other than the Peranakan or Nyonya cuisines found all over Melaka.

Some are found in simple cafes, while others in restaurants or even in hotels, these unique Melaka cuisines are a must-try for any foodie. 

What to Buy in Melaka?

Apart from the traditional Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan items found easily here in terms of clothing and jewelry, there are also a lot of antique dealers around the Jonker Walk area.

Most of the souvenirs sold around the main street include your general everyday types of souvenirs too. For those wanting something a little more, you can check out some of the food souvenirs to buy in Melaka

Best Time to go to Melaka?

Honestly, I would recommend going from Tuesday till Fridays as it gets really overly crowded on Saturday and Sunday.

But the weekend market takes place during these days along Jonker Walk, so if you are fine with crowds, then go on the weekends. Otherwise, I would recommend a weekday to have a peaceful walk and experience here. 

What to Expect in Melaka?

Melaka city is not that huge and most of the attractions are within walking distances. You should note that there will be a lot of walking around at most of these places so best to come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, poncho, umbrella and lots of water.

People are generally nice here and most people speak English. Exploring out of Melaka requires transport and the best is to get a taxi to some of these places.

Where is Melaka?

Melaka is the state south of Kuala Lumpur or Selangor. It takes around one and a half hours to drive there or about two hours by bus.

Usually day trips to Melaka are done but to fully see Melaka, you need to spend a night or two there. Tour companies organise tour or you can rent a car and self drive there. 

3. Sarawak
Sarawak Bakelalan
The amazingly beautiful Bakelalan Highlands
The home of the Hornbills and Rainforest on Borneo Island, Sarawak is Malaysia's largest state literally covered with rich dense rainforest, mountains and abundance of culture and heritage.

Not your typical touristy city, Sarawak is an entirely different style of Malaysia offering a very unique experience when visited by just about anyone.

Most foreigners will also know this place by the name of Borneo, and oh, and there is no more head hunting being done here too. Really, it was stopped in the last century or so.

Kuching Chinese Temple
A Chinese Temple in Kuching City, Sarawak
What to do in Sarawak?

Generally, Sarawak is so huge that you need about two weeks to see most of the places here. However, each traveler needs to break down what they want to do and Kuching would be a great place to start.

Most of the popular attractions are within one to two hours drive from Kuching. As for Kuching city, it is an easy walk about here to visit the old streets, temples, mosques and museums.

For exploring out of Kuching, there is Sibu, Miri, Mulu, Bakelalan and Bario which are best connected via flights. If you plan to travel overland via bus, be prepared to spend more than 8 hours.

Miri is a resort city neighboring Brunei and Sabah and is also branded as a resort city. Read about Things to do in Miri which I reviewed based on the places I have visited there.

However, Miri also caters as a gateway to unique destinations like Mulu, Bario and Bakelalan in the Kelabit Highlands.

One needs to take a small plane flight to these mountainous villages at 1000 meters above sea level. Mulu is renown as a UNESCO world heritage site offering nature lovers one of the best experiences you can have in a rainforest.

Sibu, a river city is up and coming with food and culture tourism being the strongest here. For those into the food and culture scene, Sibu would be recommended to visit.

Pulau Talang Talang
The beautiful Talang Island in Sarawak, many do not know that Sarawak has amazing islands
Places of interest around Kuching Sarawak;
• Sarawak Cultural Village
• Sarawak River Cruise
• Anna Rais Longhouse
• Semenggoh Orangutan Nature Reserve
• Bako National Park
• Talang Satang National Park
• Kuching Cat Museum
• Kuching Waterfront

Sarawak Kelabit Food
Kelabit Food from Miri, Sarawak
What to eat in Sarawak?

The local ethnic food which can be found all over. In Kuching city, seafood is very popular at Top Spot Food Court, the foodie should venture around the city to try some of the very local ethnic foods from the Iban or Kayan people here.

For eating local food in Kuching, there are a lot of local coffee shops, cafes and restaurants found all over the city where you can experience a daily breakfast or lunch.

Umai is a very local delicacy which is recommended to try apart from the very famous Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee. For a full on ethnic food experience, visit a restaurant in Kuching called Lepau.

What to buy in Sarawak?

There are quite a few interesting things to buy from Sarawak, but most Asians heading here will opt for the local Sarawak Batik, local handicraft and lot of food souvenirs like Ikan Terubuk and Sarawak Kek Lapis or layered cakes.

For the antique collector or curious traveler, there are quite a number of antique shops found along the Kuching Main Bazaar at the Kuching Waterfront. Best time to visit is morning till late afternoons.

From my personal views, I think that the Sarawakian ethnic crafts are the best deals in terms of what kind of souvenirs to buy in Sarawak.

Sarawak Gawai Festival
Gawai Festival in Sarawak
What to expect in Sarawak?

For the short stay traveler, you can expect a lot of walking in the city of Kuching while for the adventurous traveler, expect high humidity when traveling from place to place.

Culture is the strongest selling point of Sarawak so you have the opportunity to see many different ethnic races and tribes, depending on where you visit in Sarawak.

A highly recommended place to see and experience this is at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, which can be done in half a day. This is also about an hours drive from Kuching.

Rainforest are abundance which provide excellent nature, flora and fauna and national parks are the best place to do this. There are many national parks found all over Sarawak too. 

Cultural Village Sarawak
The Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong
Best time to go to Sarawak?

Anytime is a good time as Sarawak lies close to the equator and from my experience, some of the best times are during the harvest festival or Gawai in June, where you can witness or even participate in the celebrations held all over the state.

Alternatively, a good time to visit Sarawak is also during the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 which takes place from 7-9 August at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching.

And another great time is to visit Miri for the Borneo Jazz Festival, which is quite an experience for any jazz music lover.

Where is Sarawak?

Sarawak is located on the island of Borneo, on East Malaysia therefore you need to take a flight from KL or other cities to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak or Miri.

In Kuching city, you can move around on foot, but to travel to other parts of Sarawak, you need to fly or self drive which is quite time consuming.

From Kuching to Miri, it is about 12 hours drive or a one hour flight, and most prefer to fly there to save time.

4. Terengganu
Perhentian Island
Long Beach on Pulau Perhentian, one of the best places to visit in Terengganu
Located on the east coast of Malaysia, Terengganu is truly a paradise for anyone looking towards a island or beach holiday.

Most of the popular islands are located off Terengganu which include Perhentian Island, Redang Island, Tenggol Island and Lang Tengah Island where all are about 30 to 45 minutes boat rides from the coast. 

One of the beautiful and unique properties on the mainland and by the sea is no other than Malaysia's popular Tanjong Jara Resort.

This is a luxurious private 'kampung' style villa resort located deep in a local village and away from any other property. Here, you are assured of the finest resort hospitality and experiences minus the crowds. 

What to do in Terengganu?

You should know that Terengganu is huge, and most of the tourism activities take place off the mainland, so visiting the islands are one of the top activities here.

As for the state itself, there are many ecotourism spots to explore like the Lake Kenyir Resort which was featured in CNN as one of the 12 Malaysia Rainforest Resorts to Visit.

Other places include the Taman Negara National Park where there is an entrance via the state of Terengganu.

The capitol - Kuala Terengganu, you will have the opportunity to see an old city style of Malaysia and Terengganu Chinatown is also a highly recommended place to explore.

There are only a handful of traditional boat makers left and you can find them at Pulau Duyong, an island in between a river mouth in the city area. Currently, there are three boat makers located here for those wanting to see how they are made.

Places of interest around Terengganu;
• Pasar Payang Market
• Noor Arfa Craft Complex
• Terengganu Chinatown
• Islamic Civilization Park
• Terengganu State Museum
• Kenyir Elephant Village
• Lake Kenyir Visit
• Turtle Watching at Rantau Abang

Terengganu's beautiful resorts, Tanjong Jara Resort
What to eat in Terengganu?

Lots of Seafood, Keropok Lekor and the very unique local Malay food dishes are a must-try for anyone visiting Terengganu.

For the serious foodies, there are some very traditional dishes available too, but one needs to ask locals about them.

At the resorts or islands, you can find all kinds of local and international cuisines too. For those safe eaters, there are international fast food chains around Kuala Terengganu and Dungun town. 

What to buy in Terengganu?

Batik fabrics are well known in Terengganu and you can visit some of the Batik factories to see how they are hand drawn and made.

Other popular unique items here include the traditional brass ware, Songket fabrics and handicrafts, and a great place to see or buy them is at Pasar Payang Market.

Terengganu Chinatown
What to expect in Terengganu?

Lots of old world charms, smiles and friendly faces. However, to move around here, you need at least two to three days to see most of the attractions.

But if you are planning to do both islands and mainland, then it would be recommended to spend about five to seven days here.

The city is a daytime city, so everything happens before dusk. During the fasting month, almost all restaurants are closed in the day and only open in the evenings.

Getting to the islands in Terengganu

The main islands are all about 30 to 45 minutes boat rides from the main land. However, you should double check as to which jetty you will depart from as different islands operate from different jetties in Terengganu.

Flying in, you will land in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and then take a one hour taxi or van drive down to the jetties before you take your boat to the islands. 

Best time to go to Terengganu?

After the monsoon season (October till March) is the best time to go, however you should take note of the fasting month in Malaysia.

During the fasting month, many vendors, stalls and shops close to observe the 'Puasa' hence you will only find them open around 6.00 pm in the cities and towns.

The island resorts are not affected by this, so if you are staying at any of the islands, you should not be worried about the fasting month.

For more travel and general information, you can also visit the Tourism Terengganu website - http://tourism.terengganu.gov.my/

Where is Terengganu?

Terengganu is located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and to get here, you can either take a bus (6-7 hours), self drive (5-6 hours) or fly from Kuala Lumpur which is only 45 minutes.

Once in Terengganu, you can take the local taxis around town or if you are headed to the islands, the local boat service. 

5. Langkawi Island - Kedah
Beautiful white sand beaches in Langkawi 
Known as the Jewel of Kedah, this northern state near Penang Island called Langkawi Island is one of the most visited islands in Malaysia.

This is also credit to the beautiful beaches, lush tropical rainforest and the stunning hotels and resorts which caters from budget to luxury tourist.

The island is also well known as a duty free island where you can get cheap chocolates, alcohol and many other items.

Langkawi Pantai Cenang
Pantai Cenang activities in Langkawi
What to do in Langkawi?

There is quite a lot to do around the island, depending on what you like. For beach lovers, Pantai Cenang is the most popular beach here while there are many other beaches which are less crowded.

Nature lovers can go for hikes, treks or even bird watching, for wellness lovers, there are a lot of spas found throughout the island in the form of shops to resorts and also to luxury spas.

Shopping is quite popular for the locals therefore Kuah town is one of the popular places and the other shopping places in Langkawi are located along Pantai Cenang Beach.

Popular things to do in Langkawi;
• Mangrove River Cruises at Kilim Geopark
• Cable Car Ride to Mat Cincang Mountain
• Parasailing at Tanjung Rhu
• Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls
• Sunset Dinner Cruise
• 3D Art Museum
• Visit a Night Market in Kuah Town

What to eat in Langkawi?

Local Malay food is one of the must-try cuisines, especially in the local village areas as the northern style is very different from the center and south of Malaysia.

Seafood is also a very popular dish but again, just on the surface level and not comparable to those on the east coast of Malaysia or Sabah.

Pantai Cenang is loaded with all kinds of restaurants, cafes and bars offering from local to international cuisines, so this would be a great place to start.

For an evening to remember, I would personally recommend dining on the beach at La Luna Restaurant at Casa del Mar along Pantai Cenang and best to make reservations.

Another recommended and unique eatery is located at Bon Ton Villas, which is along the same road as Casa del Mar.

Beach in Langkawi
Known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is one of the popular tropical islands to visit in Malaysia
What to buy in Langkawi?

Duty free products are some of the best things to buy in Langkawi. Among the top buys are chocolates, liquor, beer, cameras, sporting goods, cookery items and the list goes on.

Duty free shopping in Langkawi is one of the highlights when visiting the island and the main places to get these are in Kuah Town or along Jalan Pantai Cenang.

There are quite a number of duty free shops and even supermarkets in Langkawi for the serious shopper, so be prepared to do some shopping while here.

What to expect in Langkawi?

Quiet day time and busy nights. Most of the visitors to Langkawi would do the general sightseeing in the day and come nightfall, you can see popular places around the island come to life, especially Pantai Cenang Beach.

You can also expect to be moving around for activities and one of the best ways is to rent a car or motorbike in Langkawi Island. 

Best time to go to Langkawi?

I would say anytime of the year, but during the months of December till February,the island can get really crowded due to the festive holidays.

January to March is also the dry season where rain will not damper any holiday moods too, but on a general note, the best time to visit Langkawi is from October till April.

More information on Kedah - http://www.discover-kedah.my/
More information on Langkawi - http://naturallylangkawi.my/EN/Home

Where is Langkawi? 

Langkawi Island is up north of Peninsular Malaysia, located above Penang Island and bordering Southern Thailand.

the best way to get to Langkawi is to fly to the Langkawi International Airport from KL which is only about an hour. Once on Langkawi, rent a car or bike and move around as it is much easier.

Langkawi Kilim Geoforest
Kilim Geoforest in Langkawi
Basically I have just summarized the list to the above and there are in fact many other places to visit in Malaysia, just that these are currently the most popular places in Malaysia that many visitors are heading too.

I also have another article called where to go in Malaysia for those interested to know a little more about this beautiful tropical country.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Malaysia?

One of the most common questions that travelers will ask is when is the best time to visit Malaysia, and the answer is anytime.

The reason for this is that Malaysia is a tropical country and it is warm throughout the year, with scattered showers now and then. There is a rainy season, but nowadays, the weather is quite unpredictable.

Malaysia is divided into two areas, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysia Borneo. Both parts of Malaysia have different rainy seasons as noted below;

Rainy Season for Peninsular Malaysia - May to September, and November to March
Rainy Season for Malaysia Borneo - Late October to January

If you visit during the Malaysia school holidays or major festive holidays, popular tourism places can get extremely crowded.

It is always best to double check your dates to see if they clash with any major public holidays or school holidays in Malaysia.

Conclusion

This article is created by me as I have been traveling all over the country in the last few years and is not one of those top 10 lists that is created by researching facts on the internet.

There are too many people out there claiming they know it all with just one trip to Malaysia, but I would like to stress that this is written by a Malaysian who is involved with the tourism and travel industry and who has been traveling around the country for the last 10 years for my work.

If you have any comments or feedback, please leave them in the comment form below and I will respond to each and every one, based on my availability.

Finally, I hope you enjoyed this article of best places to visit in Malaysia and have a wonderful trip here if you are planning to come to Malaysia this year.
Best Places to Visit in Malaysia Best Places to Visit in Malaysia Reviewed by David Jr on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 Rating: 5

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