Malaysia is a nation characterised by intriguing contrasts. It is a complex combination of various cultures, diverse landscapes and architectural styles. Chinese joss houses, Hindu temples and gold-domed mosques exist alongside state-of-the-art skyscrapers and contemporary business complexes.
The land itself is divided into two parts by the South China Sea. Peninsula Malaysia (West Malaysia) boasts vast bustling cities, stately colonial architecture, misty tea plantations and tranquil islands.
Malaysian Borneo (East Malaysia) features lush jungles brimming with exotic animal and plant life, towering granite peaks and even some remote indigenous tribes.
Outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in a range of adventurous activities including hiking through some of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests, scuba diving in some of the world’s most renowned dive sites, or white water rafting in one of the nation’s numerous exquisite national parks.
Alternatively spend your days exploring the supercharged capital, Kuala Lumpur, with its pockets of rainforest interspersed between towering high rise buildings or simply relax under palm tree-lined beached.
Days 2 - 5
Kuala Lumpur is fairly new as far as Malaysian cities go. Founded in 1857 as a tin mining outpost, the capital has flourished and established itself as a slick and bustling metropolis.
Skyscrapers dominate the skyline and on the buzzing streets below you will find some of Malaysia’s tastiest street food.
Expect a vibrant mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine, with stalls dishing out some of the city’s finest food around the clock. Hit Bukit Bintang, the city’s version of Times Square, for some retail therapy or head to the iconic Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world and attempt a stroll across the suspended sky bridge.
Visit the historic monuments, stroll through the lush parks and enjoy KL's vibrant nightlife.
Strategically located adjacent to the Strait of Malacca, the aptly-dubbed ‘Historic State’ of Malacca (Melaka) has been at the heart of Malaysia’s trade and history for hundreds of years, attracting an array of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British explorers and conquerors to its shores.
Malacca’s age-old roots are still very much visible in the exquisite old architecture and gaudily decorated traditional trishaws for which its state capital, Malacca City has become famous - but today this urban hub is equally as contemporary and cosmopolitan as it is culturally rich, featuring a myriad of trendy restaurants; slick modern malls and lively bars.
Days 5 - 7
Idyllically located approximately 150km north of Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands is a retreat blessed with milder temperatures than the rest of Malaysia, making it a popular getaway for travellers seeking relief from the stifling heat and humidity often experienced in the lower lying areas of this tropical country.
With its lovely tea houses, vast unspoiled forests and impressive temples, the retreat offers visitors a sense of peaceful tranquility away from the frenetic bustle of city life.
This densely forested area boasts a wide variety of bird, animal and plant life, eight towering mountains, eight lovely rivers, as well as some magnificent hiking trails leading to some spectacularly scenic spots, majestic waterfalls and remote aboriginal villages.
A visit to this remarkably extensive hillstation reveals another side of Malaysia; a side where you can walk for hours in the cool climate and experience some of Malaysia’s natural treasures at their best.
Days 7 - 10
Penang, off the northwestern coast of Malaysia, offers a heady blend of diverse cultures, pristine tropical beaches and rich history.
Add that to its status as one of Malaysia’s foodie capitals and you have an irresistible travel destination.
A key port since it was ceded to the British East India Company in 1786, Penang’s position at the opening of the Strait of Malacca has made it an important anchorage for passing trade ships.
The island’s diverse historical influences are nowhere better encapsulated than in the capital George Town, with its array of beautiful old buildings, ranging from colonial mansions and clocktowers, to Chinese temples and Islamic mosques.
Ipoh is a key kick-off point for excursions to the Palau Pangkor and the Cameron Highlands, but this picturesque city, set amid lush rainforest, has plenty of its own charms too.
The town saw a tin mining boom in the early 1800s that drew an eclectic mix of Asian and colonial immigrants set on finding their fortunes, but later fell into decline as its resources ebbed.
In recent years, it has begun to see a second heyday: its beguiling blend of old and new world charm has begun to draw a burgeoning number of visitors.
Its ancient laneways are dotted with dignified colonial buildings, restored shopfronts and temples, standing side by side with slick modern malls and glitzy hotels.
Wander along the network of heritage trails to see the best of Ipoh’s historical architecture and modern street murals; head east of the river to sample famous local culinary specialties such as ayam tauge (chicken and beansprouts) and white coffee; or venture to the Gunung Rapat to see a selection of intriguing ancient cave temples.
Days 10 - 14
Officially known as ‘Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah’, and for good reason, the 104 islands that make up the exquisite archipelago of Langkawi hide a treasure trove of exciting holiday opportunities.
Located in the south of the Andaman Sea on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, this island paradise offers an abundance of golden sand beaches lapped by crystal clear turquoise waters teeming with an array of exotic marine life.
While the region’s world-class dive sites attract scuba divers and snorkelers keen to explore this underwater wonderland, the picturesque terraced paddy-fields, jungle-clad hills, majestic waterfalls, and gorgeous mangroves are ideal playgrounds in which to indulge in a host of adventurous outdoor activities.
The islands may have their share of luxurious holiday resorts but the real drawcard is undoubtedly the area’s spectacular untouched natural beauty. Langkawi’s simple tourism slogan seems to sum it up perfectly - ‘Naturally Langkawi’.