Malaysia is a unique destination where the landscapes are as diverse as its people, food and entertainment.
Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts, while five-star hotels sit just meters away from ancient reefs and rainforest. Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teaming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
There’s endless things to see, do and discover in Malaysia so we’ve collated a handy guide to help you find the best places to eat, drink stay and play while you’re there.
Malaysia is well known for its diversity and multiculturalism. Races and religions from all over the world unite in Malaysia, which has resulted in a gastronomical paradise and a melting pot of international cuisine that’s easily accessible everywhere from charming street-food vendors to fine-dining establishments. Here are three street food dishes you have to try while in Malaysia.
Arguably Malaysia’s most famous contribution to the culinary world, you can’t visit the country without sampling some authentic and delicious satay. For the best satay, you need to visit a street food stall – they open after the sun has set and are found in most cities and towns.
Char Kway Teow
This stir-fried noodle dish is one of the most popular dishes among Malaysians of all races. A verified crowd favourite, these flat rice noodles are stir-fried with soy sauce, chili, prawns, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and eggs. Grab one of these from a street food stall and it will be served on a banana leaf!
This one is for the spice lovers. This famous noodle soup comes in many varieties but is always made with creamy coconut-based curry soup and then filled with a range of ingredients such as tofu puffs, fish, mackerel or prawns, cockles and more.
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In addition to being the culinary capital of Malaysia, Penang has seen an emergence of hidden and speakeasy-style bars popping up all over the city. We’ve tracked down three of the best to whet your whistle at in George Town.
Like something out of a Pinterest board, this is the place to visit if you want to make your Instagram followers green with envy. Enter through the most extravagant bathroom you’ll ever see (hey, it is called Golden Shower after all) with an elegant chandelier, gold toilet and claw-footed free-standing bathtub. Once you’ve made it through the bathroom you’ll be rewarded with an ultra-chic bar with millennial pink décor and gold accents.
Ok, so technically this bar isn’t ‘hidden’ but you do have to know the secret code to gain entry – so we say it counts. How do you find out the secret code? There’s a clue at the entrance (or you could just ask someone who has visited the bar before). Once inside, pay your respects to the neon sign “no beer, no life” by ordering a cold one.
You’ll find this bar in a café…sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Getting into the café is easy but finding the entrance to the bar is a different story. For those who discover the secret entrance, you’ll emerge in a tropical hideaway complete with palm fronds and colourful cocktails. On select nights the bar also hosts live music performances to really get the crowd going.
Malaysia offers a holiday for everyone – whether you want to experience the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur, a lazy beachfront hotel or an eco-island escape in Borneo.
Terengganu: Tanjong Jara Resort
Situated amid rustic nature, Tanjong Jara Resort replicates 17th century palaces and is nestled between rainforests and untouched beaches in the quiet area of Dungun. If you’re after a naturally striking, coastal escape that’ll provide the ultimate relax-and-unwind holiday, then you’re in the right place. Perched on a secluded golden sand beach with sparkling waters and fringed by tall postcard-like palms, this resort is the ultimate luxe getaway.
Seclusion is its biggest selling point, though that doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of things to do. With two gorgeous outdoor swimming pools, a rejuvenating Spa Village, three bars and restaurants, two tennis courts, water sports and a multitude of off-site cultural activities and trips—like turtle watching, eco river cruises, bicycle tours and jungle trekking—the option to do something other than laze poolside is there.
Check out our lavish Luxury Escapes offer at Tanjong Jara Resort.
Kuala Lumpur: The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
This gorgeous heritage hotel was voted one of the ‘Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Malaysia’ in the 2018 Travellers’ Choice Awards, and it’s not hard to see why. Nestled amongst 3.2 lush acres, this iconic historic hotel incorporates the original Hotel Majestic, built in 1932 and today a national heritage site. Tread in the footsteps of the glamorous socialites, government figures and international artists who walked the halls at spectacular soirees in the 1930s, during the hotel’s heyday as the grandest in Kuala Lumpur. Complete with a cigar room, tea lounge, bespoke tailor, Orchid Conservatory and a gentleman’s groomers, this Colonial-style hotel offers vintage charm married with contemporary elegance.
Experience a five-star escape in tropical Malaysian Borneo – known for being one of only two places on earth where you can see orangutans in their native rainforest habitat. Set amongst 400-acres of beachfront rainforest, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa is a dream destination for couples and families. The resort features a 64-acre nature reserve, award-winning 18-hole championship golf course with views of Mt. Kinabalu, six restaurants showcasing the finest local produce, two swimming pools with waterslide, and a nature reserve which is home to native animals.
Langkawi: The Four Seasons Langkawi
When it comes to five-star accommodation, the world-renowned Four Seasons hotel group gives luxury a whole new meaning. As arguably the world’s most glamorous hotel group, the Four Seasons Langkawi has won numerous awards including Malaysia’s Leading Resort 2017 in the World Travel Awards, TripAdvisor Travellers’ Best Choice Award 2017 and Condé Nast Traveler Gold List for Top 10 Beach Resorts 2016.
The natural paradise of Langkawi is a nature lover’s dream destination famous for its heavenly white-sand beaches, glistening waterfalls, vast rice paddy fields and lush tropical jungle filled with monkeys. Visitors to Langkawi can explore the surrounding islands on a jet-ski tour, enjoy spectacular views from the 550-million-year-old Machinchang mountains, delve into the colourful underwater reefs with scuba diving or snorkelling, and much more.
From shopping the mega-malls of Kuala Lumper to seeing orangutans living in their natural habitat, the things you can do in Malaysia are varied and endless.
Penang Street Art
Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most iconic things you can do in George Town, Penang is to search out the street art. In 2012 the Penang Municipal Council commissioned Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic to create nine murals throughout the town in a project called ‘Mirrors George Town’. You can buy a map and hunt them down or take a more laid-back approach and simply wander the streets to uncover them. It’s easy to spot them though, as there tend to be a handful of tourists lining up to get a picture with the iconic paintings. But what this project has done is inspire local artists to join in, they’ve peppered the walls with fascinating and colourful designs in their own right – which are a true treat to uncover.
Malaysia is speckled with hundreds of mesmerizing islands, referred to as ‘Pulau’ by the locals. Some are ideal for diving and snorkeling, while others are perfect relaxing on the white sand with a cocktail in hand. If there is one thing that all ‘Pulaus’ are famous for, it would be the crystal-clear azure waters, powdery sands, secluded beaches, bio-diverse rainforests and variety of delectable food – so hop aboard a day trip or design your itinerary to incorporate a few island holidays to make the most of your time in Malaysia.
There are just two places on earth where you can find orangutans living in their natural rainforest habitat, and Borneo is one of them. Visit an orangutan sanctuary or rehabilitation centre for your best chance at catching a glimpse of these magnificent endangered animals.
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