A Malaysia travel guide

Orangutang, Sarawak, Male

Time

Kuala Lumpur
UTC/GMT +8 hours

Money

Malasian currency is Ringgit. One Ringgit is broken up into 100 sen

Population

34,308,525

Are you in search of a Malaysia travel guide rooted in genuine experiences, one that truly adds value to your reading time? Look no further.

Having spent over a year traversing Malaysia, I can confidently assert that this entire nation is vastly underrated. While it certainly attracts tourists, it falls far short of the recognition it genuinely deserves, especially when compared to its neighbouring countries.

I firmly believe this is a lamentable oversight, and I hope this post can illuminate just a few of the incredible secrets that Malaysia holds. But before I delve into the details...

Are Sabah, Sarawak, and Malaysia the same country? This question may initially seem perplexing, and it’s worth providing some context, as it’s an important aspect of any Malaysia travel guide. The short answer is yes!

However, if you visit all three places, you’ll quickly notice that they are remarkably distinct from one another. So, how can they be considered part of the same country?

After Malaysia gained independence from the British in 1948, a prominent figure named Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was leading the new alliance party, proposed a merger that would include Singapore, Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak, and Malaysia.

In 1955, this proposal was passed into law, but a mere 11 hours later, Brunei decided to withdraw from the merger. Shortly afterward, Singapore was expelled from the arrangement, leaving Sabah, Sarawak, and Malaysia together as they remain to this day.

Table of Contents

Best places to visit in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur  

For many travellers, their journey to Malaysia typically commences or concludes in Kuala Lumpur. This is a fortunate starting point because the city is vibrant and offers something for everyone.

 

Despite being only a couple of hundred years old, Kuala Lumpur is steeped in history. With its rich blend of cultures, delectable cuisine, and abundant green spaces, the city frequently finds its place on the itineraries of travellers from around the world.

Bako National Park

Bako National Park, is located near Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, boasts an impressive variety of wildlife that is remarkably accessible. This makes it an ideal destination for travellers with limited time but a strong desire to witness wildlife in its natural habitat.

George Town - Penang

Just the mention of Penang often evokes thoughts of exoticism, and the reality surpasses these expectations. George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed gem, has the power to captivate you for days on end as you delve into its ancient clan houses and unravel the rich history of this incredible locale. To top it off, you can savour some of the finest cuisine Southeast Asia has to offer at the end of each day.

Pulau Tioman

Rises dramatically from the South China Sea, leaving you in awe of its natural beauty. Cloaked in lush rainforests and framed by sandy beaches, it epitomizes tropical paradise. There’s a compelling reason why nearly every reputable Malaysian travel guide showcases this island.

 

Climb Mount Kotakinabalu

 

Is an essential component of any comprehensive Malaysian travel guide. It ranks high on the bucket lists of many tourists, and rightfully so. At a towering 4,095 meters, it stands as the tallest mountain in Asia outside of the Himalayas. The ascent and descent take just two days, rewarding climbers with breathtaking views of the South China Sea.

Sungai Kinabatangan

Offers a truly immersive jungle experience. The floodplains and oxbow lakes stretch out like a captivating gallery. In most rainforests, much of the wildlife activity occurs high in the canopy, often around the 80-meter mark, beyond the reach of our sight. However, here, the canopy is comparatively low, providing exceptional opportunities for animal sightings.

Visit historic Ipoh

CNN Travel has recently recognized Ipoh as the most underrated town in Asia, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the limited number of tourists in Ipoh. It’s conveniently close to Kuala Lumpur and offers a laid-back atmosphere that’s truly inviting.

 

While I don’t often recommend specific hotels, I must make an exception for The Happy 8. If you decide to explore this town, staying there will undoubtedly enhance your experience. It’s like residing in a massive piece of art. I encourage you to check out their website to see what I mean.

Niah Caves National Park

Gunung Mulu is undeniably stunning, but it can be quite expensive to visit. It requires a flight to reach, and accommodations near Gunung Mulu National Park can dent your wallet due to its immense popularity.

 

On the other hand, Niah Caves offers an exceptionally grand experience. It’s conveniently located on the main road, accessible even by bus, and there’s always room for visitors. Plus, Niah Caves boasts an intriguing history that appeals to a wide range of interests.

Enjoy Malaysian street food at its best in the local markets

Malaysia boasts substantial Thai, Chinese, and Indian communities, resulting in a diverse array of dishes available to travellers. There’s no
better way to savour Malaysian cuisine than in the local markets.

Malaysian street food not only offers some of the finest culinary experiences during your travels but is also incredibly budget-friendly.

If you’re keen to try your hand at preparing some of the dishes you’ve been relishing, consider enrolling in a LaZat cooking course in
Kuala Lumpur. Even as an experienced chef with over two decades of work in top
London restaurants, I learned a thing or two from these talented instructors.

If you’re uncertain about what to sample, I recommend checking out these helpful Malaysia travel guides to food. After all, exploring
the flavors of a destination is one of the most delightful aspects of your journey.

Bangserbabe.com

Nomadparadise.com

traveltriangle.com

travel styles

Intrepidtravels.com

Chefspencil.com

Tatlerasia.com

How much does a trip to Malaysia cost?

How Much Does a Trip to Malaysia Cost?: As your trusted Malaysia travel guide, I’m here to provide you with candid insights. Malaysia is not necessarily a budget-friendly country. Many products and services are priced similarly to those in my home country.

I’ve come across blogs that cite very precise figures like $12 per day or 387 ringgits. I often wonder where they got those numbers because, quite frankly, they seem impossible. The cost of your trip will depend on your desired level of comfort and how much saving money matters to you. To offer some perspective, I personally spend between £40 and £50 pounds per day, enjoying a moderate level of comfort.

5 top tips to save money in Malaysia

Here’s where my Malaysia travel guide adds substantial value, as some of these tips may not be readily available elsewhere. After extensive travels in Malaysia, I believe I can offer practical advice on how to cut costs, tips you can apply repeatedly. Here they are:

1) Stay away from alcohol1 

While it might not be what you want to hear, Malaysia is a Muslim country, and the special taxes on alcohol make it relatively expensive.

Avoid eating in tourist areas

Opt for Local Cuisine: Tourist-oriented food in Malaysia is often pricier than local fare and may not be as tasty. It’s wise to indulge in the delicious and more affordable options available at local markets.

Avoid Tourist Areas for Local Food: Even local food in touristy areas can be notably more expensive and may cater to perceived tourist preferences, potentially lacking the authentic flavours you seek. Venture to less touristy spots for a genuine culinary experience.

 

These tips can help you make the most of your budget while enjoying the flavours of Malaysia.

Taxi apps in Malaysia for short journeys are better

Download the Grab App for Shorter Journeys: When navigating urban areas in Malaysia, consider downloading the Grab app. Malaysians highly favour this app for shorter journeys. It’s known for its reliability and eliminates the need for price negotiations.

Many taxi drivers now insist on using the meter rather than haggling, which may seem like a positive change. However, it can open the door to potential scams, especially for tourists who might not be familiar with the routes. The Grab app mitigates this risk, providing a more transparent and secure transportation option.

 

Keep in mind that in rural areas or when visiting National Parks, you may not have access to this service. In such cases, you’ll need to rely on more traditional transportation methods, but by then, you should have a good understanding of local pricing.

Save money on coffee 

While we all appreciate a morning cup of coffee, it’s worth noting that even a latte from Starbucks in Malaysia can cost as much as it does in England. Even a basic coffee from a local shop often exceeds £1.50. If you’re willing to forgo luxury and opt for 3-in-1 coffee mixes available in supermarkets, you can save a significant amount of money. You can purchase 20 sticks for 8 ringgits, and hot water is readily available from water dispensers in most hotels.

Save money on bottled water 

 Many hotels provide safe-to-drink water dispensers, so it’s a good idea to bring a reusable bottle with you. Not only will this save you money, but it’s also an environmentally friendly choice that reduces plastic waste. If you’re hesitant about tap water, you can consider using a bottle with a filter. Brands like Brita are trusted, and having a filtered bottle might come in handy in more remote areas of Borneo.

 

When are the best months to visit Malaysia?

It’s essential to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of the best time to visit Malaysia. The country’s vast size and diverse geography result in a wide range of climates and conditions. Distances are significant, and the location itself makes Malaysia as diverse in climate as it is in culinary offerings.

 

In this Malaysia travel guide, I will provide a month-by-month breakdown of the best times to visit, but this topic could easily warrant a separate post. For a more detailed analysis of when it’s ideal to visit specific destinations within Malaysia, please check out my breakdown for the best results.

Malaysia travel restrictions

Currently, all you need to enter Malaysia is a passport with a minimum of 6 months validity and at least one blank page for your visa stamp. Of course, it goes without saying that carrying prohibited substances such as drugs is strictly forbidden, but the Malaysian government generally maintains a reasonable and straightforward entry policy.

Malaysia travel requirements

Currently, all you need is at least 6 months left on your passport and at least one blank page for your visa. That and don’t turn up with a briefcase full of drugs. The Malaysian government is very reasonable indeed.

 

Safety in Malaysia

Malaysia, on the whole, is a safe country for visitors. While there have been reports of petty theft and occasional robberies, your overall safety is not a significant concern if you exercise common sense.

One of the most crucial pieces of advice in any Malaysia travel guide is to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law while in Malaysia. Penalties for even minor violations of local laws can have severe consequences. It’s worth emphasizing that drug-related offenses, even involving small amounts, can lead to the death penalty. So, it’s vital to be aware and cautious.

How to reach Malaysia

  • By air: The national airline is Malaysia Airlines. They are cheap and comfortable, However, if you’re pinching pennies and you don’t care about being uncomfortable Malaysia’s other airline Air Asia will be your jam. Malaysia is extremely well-serviced by both international and domestic airlines.
  • By bus or train: Peninsular Malaysia is connected very well by train and Kuala Lumpur has a fantastic subway system. Clean and fully air-conned it is by far the most comfortable way to travel. KTM handles all bookings and enquiries. All three landmasses are serviced by frequent buses and they are easy to arrange.
  • Take a Malaysia travel Package: For those of you on a tight schedule or perhaps are feeling a little nervous. These tours are useful as they can cover a lot of ground quickly. I recommend the mindfulness of companies such as Exodus Travel, Intrepid Travels or G Adventures.

How to get around Malaysia

  • By air: The national airline is Malaysia Airlines. They are cheap and comfortable, However, if you’re pinching pennies and you don’t care about being uncomfortable Malaysia’s other airline Air Asia will be your jam. If you pay well in advance you enjoy enormous savings. Malaysia is extremely well-serviced by both international and domestic airlines.
  • By bus or train: Peninsular Malaysia is connected very well by train and Kuala Lumpur has a fantastic subway system. Clean and fully air-conned it is by far the most comfortable way to travel. KTM handles all bookings and enquiries. All three landmasses are serviced by frequent buses and they are easy to arrange.
  • Take a Malaysia travel Package: For those of you on a tight schedule or perhaps are feeling a little nervous you could always pay for an organised tour. These are useful as they can cover a lot of ground quickly. I recommend the mindfulness of companies such as Exodus Travel, Intrepid Travels or G Adventures.

other Bloggers


No Malaysia travel guide would be complete or fair without suggesting other writer’s blogs as mine is simply one opinion. Here are a few more Malaysia travel guides I genuinely believe have value for the reader.

Forest, aerial, rainfall

In summary of my Malaysia Travel Guide

The tourism slogan Malaysia truly Asia is very accurate as this encapsulates the very essence of the southeast.  I know this country is often overlooked by many tourists and that is a crying shame. Travelling to a place like this will have a lasting effect on you.

I wanted my Malaysia travel guide to be authentic and heartfelt so I didn’t just want to run through the cheesy tourist destinations like some kind of greatest hits list because I didn’t find all of them good. In fact, I found Langkawi, The Camron Highlands and Taman Negara to be very underwhelming indeed so I did not cover them but that’s just my opinion. 

Travel is important for personal growth and to find out why I think that feel free to check out my in-depth blog on the subject. Travel here will probably be a highlight of coming to Southeast Asia and you will get a lot out of it on a personal level.

This has been a pleasure to write and I have covered as much as I can think of in this Malaysia travel guide but if you have any further questions, please let me know. Oh and don’t forget to get one of these. The lonely planet Malaysia travel guide is indispensable. 

 

malaysia travel guide Lonely Planet