Bordering Thailand and Indonesia – with a causeway to Singapore – Malaysia is a magnificent melting pot of cultures, activities and cuisine.
Kuala Lumpur (KL) is host to numerous shopping malls packed full of designer goods, electronics, and eclectic boutiques. While the main central area of Bukit Bintang will keep you occupied for hours, you can take the Skytrain to The Curve in Bangsar which is the newest hot-spot for the ‘trendy young things’ to hang out.
Petaling Jaya in Chinatown is a great place for a bargain, and KL is not short of its own family attractions such as the Taman Negara National Park, the Petronas Towers and of course the Sepang Grand Prix Circuit. Genting Highlands – Malaysia’s entertainment resort with its casino and cabaret – is also just a short coach (and cable car) ride away.
For beach lovers, Penang (Pulau Pinang), and Langkawi are the places to be. You can jet ski, have a massage on the beach, go diving, or just relax and watch the world go by on the glorious golden sands. Penang is also known to Malays as ‘the Gastronomic Pearl of the Orient’ with many families choosing to spend their weekends there – just to enjoy the cuisine.
Georgetown, Penang’s capital, is also a UNESCO world heritage site where British colonial buildings sit side by side with traditional Malay and Chinese houses. Langkawi Island is just a ferry ride away from Penang and is great for diving. It also hosts some of Malaysia’s most beautiful spa resorts.
From there, visit the neighbouring towns. Ipoh, which is about two hours drive from Penang, boasts Chinese temples built into its limestone hills; and from there it’s easy to travel to Cameron Highlands – the choice for the colonialists who favoured the cooler weather.
In Cameron Highlands you can visit the tea factory, as well as the rose gardens and strawberry farm, and then enjoy a cream tea in one of the many Tudor-style hotels, or in its famed Golf Resort and Spa.
For history, Malacca (Melaka), another UNESCO world heritage site, is the place to go, located two hour’s drive from KL. You’ll be fascinated by the red-brick buildings and the windmills dating back to the time of the Dutch and Portuguese settlers in this little fishing village.
Then, if you want to enjoy Malaysia’s wildlife and spot monkeys a-plenty, then jungle trekking through East Malaysia or Sarawak and Sabah is the where to go (although Telok Batik, near the secluded and stunningly beautiful, Pangkor Laut Resort has a little monkey trail too – and that’s just an hour from Ipoh!).
Whether you are looking for a dream honeymoon, activity break, historical city tour or jungle trail, you’ll find it in Malaysia. For more information on Malaysia, please visit the website of the Malaysian Tourist Board.
By Audrey Tang
Malaysia Essential Information
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Major cities: Pulau Pinang, Pulau Langkawi, Melaka
Major resorts: Pangkor Laut, Langkawi
Places of interest: Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Sepang Formula 1 Circuit (Kuala Lumpur), Shar Alam (Selangor), Air Hitam (Penang), Taman Negara National Park (Kuala Lumpur)
Time Zone: GMT +8
Flight Time: approx 13 hours
Languages: Malay (primary), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu, Malayam
Malaysia currency: ringgit. For up-to-date exchange rates visit www.xe.com/ucc
International dialling code: 011 + 60 + City Area Code
British Embassy: visit the website for more information