10 Interesting Places to Visit in Malaysia for 2018

Best Place to Visit Malaysia 2018
For the curious traveler, I have come out with a new list of 10 Interesting Places to Visit in Malaysia for 2018 as there are quite a number of unique adventures waiting to be discovered all over Malaysia.

Usually, you will find the same old Top 10 places to visit in Malaysia, done by content writers who sit at desks and have never even been to any of the destinations in Malaysia.

But for me,  I personally travel around Malaysia often and always introduced to new tourism products and places with a mission is to share these with my readers. You will find beaches, rainforest, highlands, old towns, food spots and more in this updated list.

Langkawi Island 2018
One of the secluded beaches at Langkawi Island
Interesting Places to Visit in Malaysia for 2018

What are the Top Ten Interesting Places to Visit in Malaysia for 2018? They are listed below in no order and located all around the country.
  1. Siniawan Old Town, Sarawak
  2. Ipoh Old Town, Perak
  3. Perhentian Island, Terengganu
  4. Sibu, Sarawak
  5. Sandakan, Sabah
  6. Langkawi Island, Kedah
  7. Genting Highlands, Pahang
  8. Bako National Park, Sarawak
  9. Bario, Sarawak
  10. Tawau, Sabah
Malaysia is now facing a really low currency exchange rate versus other major currencies and this is one of the best factors to visit Malaysia in 2018 as you would be getting an amazing bargain for almost everything, from shopping, accommodation, food and even your airfare.

For first timers, you should be pleased to know that 80% of the population speaks general or good English while our infrastructure is on par with many developed countries, so moving around via land, sea or air is not a problem here.

Best Places to Visit in Malaysia for 2018

Siniawan Old Town
Siniawan Food Street, a hidden gem of Kuching Sarawak
1. Siniawan Old Town, Kuching Sarawak

Not over exposed to tourism, the forgotten town of Siniawan is one of the biggest hidden gems of Sarawak. Known as a weekend food street, Siniawan is located about one hour from Kuching, on the way to Bau or the Fairy Caves.

A pleasant surprise for firs timers, Siniawan is well known among the locals only, but in recent years, the food street has god some digital publicity. This unique food street was incorporated in 2010 by the Siniawan people, and has been seeing a steady flow of visitors on weekends.

Siniawan Sarawak
The thrill of street dining in a 100 year old town - Siniawan
I recommend you go on a Friday or Saturday and be here by about 5.30 PM or 6.00 PM. There are over 50 street stalls selling all sorts of local food, and customers order what they want and dine on the main street under red lanterns. Does not get any better. 

To go to Siniawan Old Town - Book a tour from any of the tour desks in Kuching city in Sarawak or any travel and tour agent here. Total time spent is around one to two hours and tour prices are around RM80 to RM100 (US$20-$25) per person, including transfers only. Dinner is on your own at the food street. Many will rent a car or book Uber or Grab to get here.

Visit Ipoh 2018
Some of the street art around Ipoh City, Perak
2. Ipoh Old Town, Perak

Usually overlooked, Ipoh was once the thriving city in Malaysia back in the tin mining days but nowadays, branded as a retirement city. However during my last visit here in 2016, Ipoh had changed quite a bit to cater to mass tourism.

Food is still one of the main attractions of Ipoh but there are quite a few interesting places to explore if you love street tourism and the old colonial charm. Moreover, Ipoh was listed as one of the top cities to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet. 

Concubine Lane in the old town area is a must visit as this once quiet narrow lane has transformed into a busy alley. Shops and carts occupy both sides of the alley where you will find souvenirs, food and local snacks being sold here.

A couple of modern day cafes are also prominent here and on weekends, it gets really crowded with locals. And if you love street art, world renown Ernest Zachariah has left his mark in certain spots around Ipoh Old Town area.

Ipoh Old Town Kong Heng Square
Kong Heng Square's market in Ipoh Old Town
Another must-visit place in Ipoh is Kong Heng Square, a block of old pre-war colonial buildings which have been beautifully refurbished and renovated to maintain the old world charm.

Here, you will find an assortment of cafes, restaurants, antique shops and even a boutique hotel. On weekends, a bazaar is held in the vicinity. The best time to explore Ipoh Old Town is on the weekends too.

For family fun, there is the Lost World of Tambun, a family theme and water park, 20 minutes from town and for accommodation, there is The Banjaran, a hot spring luxury resort and also The Haven, an exclusive award-winning hotel, both located about 20 minutes from Ipoh main town. 

To go to Ipoh Old Town - I highly recommend taking the Electric Train Service or ETS from Kuala Lumpur as it only takes two hours one way. You can spend a full day here or overnight and leave the next day. Alternatively, you can rent a car from Kuala Lumpur and drive up two hours.

More information - Visit Destination Perak (http://destinationperak.travel/), the tourism board of the state or you can also read my other article on Places to Visit in Ipoh Perak.

Visit Terengganu 2018
Long Beach at Perhentian Island
3. Perhentian Island, Terengganu

One of the earliest tourism destinations in Malaysia since the 60's when backpackers first landed at is the Perhentian Islands. Nowadays, luxury resorts, family resorts, dive resorts and guest houses are found on both islands, Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil.

You should also know that Perhentian observes the monsoon season, meaning that from October till February, many of these resorts are closed due to the heavy rains and strong waves. One of them, The Barat Perhentian, is open during the monsoon and they are highly recommended.

Perhentian Island is truly the gem of Terengganu state as to get there, it takes only about 40 minutes by boat, and suddenly you are in paradise. There are generally two types of visitors that come here, the family traveler and the young travelers.

Visit Perhentian Island
One of the secluded resorts on Perhentian Kecil Island
Perhentian Kecil (Small) is where the younger, hipster or lifestyle travelers would head too and Perhentian Besar (Big) is where the matured or family traveler will head too as it is less active and noisy. However, there are boat taxis that run all over the two islands.

To go to Perhentian Island - The fastest way is to take a flight to Kota Baharu and then take a taxi (60 minutes) down to Kuala Besut Jetty. There are regular 45 minute boat services to the island which cost around RM 70.00 per person and operate from 8.00 AM till 5.00 PM.

For those traveling on a budget, there are also buses from Kuala Lumpur which take around 6-7 hours to Kuala Besut or Kuala Terengganu.

More Information - Visit Terengganu (http://www.terengganutourism.com/)

Sibu Wet Market
Probably the largest wet market in Malaysia here in Sibu, Sarawak
4. Sibu - Sarawak

One of the least visited places in Sabah by the general tourist is Sibu, located in the center of Sarawak, Malaysia Borneo. Sibu is a strong Chinese and Melanau tribe community and serves as one of the important trading cities of central Sarawak.

While the city is non commercial, there is the very interesting Sibu Cultural Centre where you can learn about the culture and heritage of Sibu.

If you are a food traveler, Sibu is one of the must-visit places to experience the unique local food here. Just our of Sibu, you can also find an authentic Melanau village where you can stay at the Lamin Dana Lodge, a traditional Melanau homestay.

Melanau Village Sibu
Life along a traditional Melanau river village at Lamin Dana, Sibu-Mukah
The entire village is build around a river and you move around on boats to experience this old village. You can also go all the way to Mukah from this village via boat too.

For a more detailed guide to Sarawak, I have also written an article on where to go in Sarawak for 2017 and that should give you more information.

To go to Sibu - There are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur and from Kuching, you can travel overland for about six hours. Alternatively, taking the river ferry from Kuching is only about four or five hours but the scenic journey is amazing.

More Information - Visit Sibu Website (http://www.travelsibu.com/)

Sandakan 2018
View of Sandakan City, Sabah
5. Sandakan - Sabah

There is no doubt that Sandakan is one of the gateways of East Coast Sabah to massive amounts of Eco tourism. The world famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is located here along with the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) is also located here. For those wanting to see the proboscis monkeys, head to Labuk Bay and for the nature lover, the Kinabatangan River is your best destination to see natural wildlife at its best.

Sandakan is also well famed for it's local food and some of the must eat food in Sandakan was reviewed by me in December 2016. One of the beautiful islands of Sabah is also Lankayan Island which is about two hours from Sandakan.

This place is awesome if you want to experience seeing turtles that come ashore, the best place is at Turtle Island or Selingan Island, about an hour from Sandakan too.

To go to Sandakan - Many local airlines fly directly into Sandakan therefore connectivity is great here. From Kota Kinabalu, there are buses that take around 6-7 hours. From Kuala Lumpur, you need to fly in.

More Information - Sabah Tourism Website.

Visit Langkawi 2018
Pantai Cenang in Langkawi
6. Langkawi Island - Kedah

Once the pride of Malaysia in terms of must-visit places, Langkawi has come a long way since the 80's and in the last couple of years, a number of new hotels and resorts have opened, catering to the high end luxury tourism.

Langkawi Island has always had that certain charm for visitors, not only for their duty-free status, but also for their laid back island lifestyle.

Langkawi Island is the kind of place where you need at least 3-4 days to fully experience the island. Moving around the island is required therefore, most visitors to Langkawi will rent a scooter or car to explore this place.

There are many tourist attractions that cater to different genres. Eco tourism is also one of the strong points of Langkawi while the most popular place on the island is Pantai Cenang Beach.

To go to Langkawi - Many direct flights from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The cheaper alternative is to take a bus from KL, around five hours, then a ferry to Langkawi, one hour. From Penang Island, there are flights and also the ferry service.

More Information - Langkawi Tourism Website (http://naturallylangkawi.my/)

Factory Outlet Genting Highlands
The much talked about Genting Premium Outlet - Photo by www.business.simon.com
7. Genting Premium Outlet - Awana, Genting Pahang

One of the most anticipated places to visit in Malaysia is no other than Genting as the news of the 20th Century Fox World Theme Park was supposed to open in late 2016.

However, there has been a delay in the opening where it has been postponed to late 2017 or even early 2018.

But nevertheless, the Genting Premium Outlet in Awana or GPO, is set to open somewhere in 2017 so this premium factory outlet will be the second official factory outlet in Malaysia after the Johor Premium Outlets or JPO.

Malaysia GPO
At one of the retail outlets at GPO (Genting Premium Outlets)
The GPO will be the talk of Genting as this format follows the international standards of factory outlets, offering premium brands on sale. Please discard the Factory Outlet Store (FOS) concept as the Genting Premium Outlet is the real deal here.

With connectivity of a brand new Genting Cable Car system, the GPO will have direct access to the resort and 20th Century Fox World Theme Park on top of the hill.

This means you can easily move up and down as your leisure or kids having fun and parents doing some shopping. Just for your added information, this is also the Visit Pahang Year 2017.

To go to Genting Premium Outlet (GPO) - There are regular taxis and buses from Kuala Lumpur which will take you around 40 minutes and stop at Awana. You can also rent a car and drive up and back down, which would be easier too.

For flights, you can fly into Kuala Lumpur or Subang SkyPark Terminal and then take a bus, taxi, Uber or Grab up to GPO.

More Information - https://www.premiumoutlets.com.my/genting-highlands-premium-outlets/

Bako National Park
The unique Sea Stack at the Bako National Park
8. Bako National Park, Sarawak

When the word national park comes up, most people will find it boring, but here in Sarawak, the Bako National Park is one of the best national parks to visit as it is only about 60 minutes drive from the city.

The experience lets you travel overland, then by boat to the national park where you can either do a day trip or stay overnight, and one of the must-see things at Bako is the Sea Stacks.

Bako National Park is rich with flora and fauna where visitors will have the opportunity to see proboscis monkeys, reptiles, birds and even the unique bearded pig. Various trails are available for beginners to advance trekkers while a night walk is a must do here.

The park facilities are very good as they have a park canteen, dorms and chalets. Additional information is available from one of my articles on where to go in Sarawak for 2017.

To go to Bako National Park - You can book a tour from any of the travel agents in Kuching city. It is also recommended for a full day trip or an overnight trip for those who want the full experience.

More Information - Sarawak Forestry Website.

Visit Bario
View of Bario 
9. Bario, Sarawak

Known for their unique culture and isolation from the modern day world, the Bario Highlands is my recommendation for those wanting to see a different side of Malaysia, namely the highland people of Sarawak Borneo. If you love an undeveloped place rich with culture and heritage, this is one of the places in Sarawak to visit.

Called Land of a Hundred Handshakes, this simply means that the people of Bario are so friendly that everywhere you go, you will encounter friendly locals. Bario is also located 1000 meters (3,500 feet) above sea level, making this place extremely cooling and beautiful in its own natural way.

Bario Trekking
Trekking from Bario to Pa Lungan
There is modernization here as everything is as it was from decades ago. On what to do here, generally trekking, sampling local cuisine, bird watching and simply enjoying a laid back get away. You can also read about the many things to do in Bario which was written by me in 2017.

To go to Bario - The best possible way is a flight on one of those turbo prop planes that seat up to 15 passengers and takes about 40-50 minutes. Flights depart from Miri City and can only be booked via MAS Wings Airlines. Alternatively if you have time to kill, take an 11 hour overland off road adventure.

More Information - Sarawak Tourism Website

Visit Tawau
Tawau is well known for the local and fresh seafood
10. Tawau, Sabah

One of the least visited places in Sabah Borneo which is filled with originality is Tawau. Located in the east coast of Sabah, Tawau is also the third largest city which is connected by road and air.

Most people would know of this city, due to the Tawau Airport being the main gateway to places like Mabul Island, Sipadan Island and also Maliau Basin.

However, if you truly are an explorer, Tawau would be one of the new places to discover, in terms of food and eco tourism. Being a classic old type of city, Tawau is well known for their cross food culture with Indonesia and Malaysia, hence you can find some interesting food that has been localized.

Visit Tawau 2018
Tawau's famous 'Pisang Cheese and Pisang Chocolate' from Indo Cafe
Apart from food, nature lovers will find the Tawau Hills National Park an interesting place to explore. Tawau is also home to the only Cocoa museum in Asia which is the Teck Guan Cocoa Museum.

So, the next time you visit this part of Sabah, do make it a point to explore Tawau and I have also written an article on things to do in Tawau for those interested.

To go to Tawau - Direct flights from Kuala Lumpur with the local airlines. From Kota Kinabalu, there are direct flights or you can take the express bus which is around 5-6 hours.

Taxis are found in the popular parts of the city therefore it is recommended to rent a car to move around as it would be cheaper and easier.

More Information - Sabah Tourism Website.

Bario Sarawak 2018
A trek up to Prayer Hill lets you see the magnificent view of Bario
Don't forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more photo updates and if you have any comments, please do leave them in the comment form below. 

You can also visit the Tourism Malaysia website for more information about Malaysia, however, they may not have some of the interesting places to visit in Malaysia for 2018 in their list, and hopefully these will give you additional information on Malaysia for you.

Any questions, please do post them here and I will respond as soon as possible, other than that, I hope you enjoyed this article and if you are a first timer to Malaysia, Selamat Datang which means welcome and I hope you have an amazing experience here in Malaysia.

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