MALAYSIA

About Malaysia
To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia - a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Our multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It's no wonder that we love celebrating and socialising. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly. 
 
Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan. 
 
One of Malaysia's key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.
 
Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves. 
 
For the perfect holiday full of surprises, the time is now, the place is Malaysia.
Jamek Mosque
Built in 1909, Jamek Mosque - better known as Masjid Jamek among the locals - is the oldest mosque in the city. The mosque sits at the meeting point of the Klang and Gombak rivers, which is also the birthplace of Kuala Lumpur.
Its architecture is inspired by Mogul influences of northern India. In 1965, it was officially declared as the National Mosque.
Today, there is a new National Mosque not far away, but Jamek Mosque remains important due to its strategic location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

National Museum
Muzium Negara used to be the site of the Selangor Museum, established in 1898. After the country's independence in 1957, the new federal government built a newer, larger museum on the same spot.
Once completed, the reigning King at the time, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong III, Tuanku Syed Putra Al-Haj Ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail officially opened the museum on 31 August 1963.
Today, the museum houses various exhibits depicting the historical background of the country. The exhibits are on a rotational basis, so it is best to call the museum ahead to check out what their exhibits are at the time.
A walk through the museum grounds will also unveil various national treasures including the istana (palace) of Sultan Zainal Abidin III, Sultan of Terengganu in 1884. The palace, Istana Satu, is built entirely of hardwood, and built in the museum compounds in 1974.
Other attractions include the bust of Sir Francis Light, the founder of Penang, as well as the first cable car from Bukit Bendera, Penang.

Here is our top picks of what to see, do and experience in malaysia

World’s tallest twin towers – Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

It takes all of 41 seconds to shoot up to the midpoint of Petronas Twin Towers. Tickets to the skybridge run out fast, but it isn’t every day that you get to feel on top of the world

Entertainment that never stops – Genting Highlands, Pahang

Visible from Kuala Lumpur as a bright light atop a faraway hill, Genting Highlands beckons visitors with its cool climate, theme parks, casino, and nightly live performances.

Afternoon tea and scones – Cameron Highlands, Pahang

The British came and left, but not before passing on their penchant for a cuppa tea. Sip on hot Cameronian tea while nibbling freshly baked scones at this cool hill station.

Play time for all – LEGOLAND and Hello Kitty Town, Johor

If you need an excuse to be a kid again, this is it. The first of its kind in Asia, LEGOLAND offers thrilling rides and uncountable blocks of ingenuity, while Hello Kitty Town appeals to fans of Sanrio’s famous feline.

Mystery, myth, legend – Langkawi, Kedah

Located just off the coast of Kedah, Langkawi is as much shrouded in age-old myths and legends as it is filled with natural beauty.

Scale new heights – Kinabalu Park, Sabah

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kinabalu Park is home to Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest peak. Adventure seekers may also take on the world’s highest via ferrata, located at 3,800 metres.

Drop off to an underwater universe – Sipadan Island, Sabah

Jacques Cousteau declared Sipadan to be an “untouched piece of art”. This is the most beautiful diving spot in the world, and for good reason.

River safari – Kinabatangan River, Sabah

How many proboscis monkeys, hornbills, Asian elephants and other wildlife can you count from point A to point B? A river safari along the longest river in Sabah makes for an exciting way to find out.

World’s largest cave chamber – Mulu National Park, Sarawak

Nature seems to have made a disproportionately generous deposit in Mulu. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park is filled with an astounding collection of natural wonders, including the world’s largest cave chamber.

Witness the procession of a million people – Batu Caves, Selangor

Every year, more than a million people throng Batu Caves during Thaipusam. Devotees carry kavadis hooked into their skin, cheeks and tongue; the atmosphere, intense.

Luxurious underwater living – Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah

Imagine shallow waters, teeming with colourful corals and aquatic life. If you’re a novice diver or snorkeler, this cluster of five islands will probably prove an ideal starting point.

Wreck diving – Redang Island, Terengganu

Beneath the clear waters of Redang Island, lie a mesmerising bed of live corals, amazing sea creatures, and 31 spectacular dive sites, including two World War II historic shipwreck sites and a black coral garden.

 

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Situated between 1° and 6°N, the whole of Malaysia has a classic equatorial climate with high temperatures and wet months throughout the year. Temperatures at sea level range from 21ºC to 32ºC, whilst at higher elevations it is much cooler with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C. Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm.

A beach holiday can be enjoyed all year round in Malaysia as the east and west coasts experience their wettest months at alternate times of the year.

The wet season on the west of the peninsula (Apr-Oct) brings thunderstorms in the afternoons, but these are usually brief, and the odd downpour is a welcome way to reduce the humidity. The east coast however tends to have a heavier wet season and is best avoided during the rainy period (Nov-Feb). During these months, many of the beach resorts close, re-opening in March.

Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and Cameron Highlands

Kuala Lumpur and Malacca are both hot and humid throughout the year, temperatures range from 22ºC to 32ºC year round and with a tropical climate, showers occur almost daily. Downpours during the rainy season (Apr–Oct) are not much heavier than the rest of the year and these can bring welcome relief to the sometimes stifling humidity.

Malacca benefits from a sea breeze which brings the temperatures down by 1 or 2 degrees and on a humid day this can make all the difference!

Located at an altitude of 1,500m above sea level, the highlands have a distinctly different climate to the rest of Malaysia. Temperatures average a very pleasant 22 ºC in the daytime and a relatively cool 15 ºC at night – an excellent climate for growing tea, flowers and fruit, and for visitors it offers a pleasant contrast to the hotter lowland areas. A typical day consists of blue skies in the morning, showery afternoons and chilly nights, with rainfall at it’s heaviest between September and early December.

Langkawi, Penang, Pangkor

The west coast mainaland and islands off the Malay Peninsular are typically tropical; hot, sunny and humid with showers all year round. During September and October the showers are heavier, however even during the rainy season it is still possible to enjoy a week or two's holiday experiencing little more than the occasional short tropical downpour.

With heavier seas at this time of year, diving is poor during September and October due to bad visibility.

Kuantan, Tioman Island, Perhentian Islands, Terengganu, Redang and Kota Bharu

The east coast is hot and sunny for much of the year with the warm waters of the South China Sea generating a breeze that moderates the humidity somewhat. The North-East Monsoon strikes between November and February and so the islands are generally best avoided during this period. The rains are a lot heavier on this side of the peninsula and they can disrupt boat crossings, and some of the resorts close during these months, re-opening in March.

Outside of the North-East Monsoon months, the east coast is usually drier than the rest of Malaysia and therefore offers the perfect destinations for hitting the beach.

One of the significant characteristics of Malaysian culture is its celebration of various festivals and events. The year is filled with colourful, exhilarating and exciting activities. Some are religious and solemn but others are vibrant, joyous events. One interesting feature of the main festivals here is the ‘open house’ custom. This is when Malaysians celebrating the festival invite friends to come by their homes for some traditional delicacies and fellowship.

Festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri are celebrated mostly in the villages or home towns of the urbanites. Every year, just before the festival, Muslims nationwide balik kampung or return to their home towns to meet their family and friends. These family reunions are also celebrated during other main festivals in the country. With people decked out in their traditional finery, these festivals are an integral feature of Malaysian society. Here are some of the festivals in Malaysia (dates may vary from year to year as some are based upon the lunar calendar).

 

  • Thaipusam – January
    The sights and sounds of thousands of devotees carrying kavadis, or ornate frames as penance makes this an extraordinary festival to witness at the Batu Caves in Selangor, or in Penang.

 

  • Chinese New Year – February
    The Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Chinese throughout the world and here in Malaysia it’s just as joyful with an abundance of food and family gatherings.

 

  • Malaysia Water Festival - April to May
    All over Malaysia, visitors can enjoy an entire month of water-based activities and have a splashing good time participating in a host of aquatic sports.

 

  • Tadau Ka’amatan - 30-31 May
    Thanksgiving is offered to the spirit of the padi, Bambaazon, by the KadazanDusun in Sabah. Abundant rice wine or tuak, delicious food, dancing and other festivities take place as part of the celebrations.

 

  • Vesak – May
    Religious offerings and rituals such as the ‘bathing of the Buddha’, chanting of sutras, lighting of joss sticks and ordination of monks take place in Buddhist temples around the country.

 

  • Colours of Malaysia - May to June
    This event kicks off with a colourful parade displaying the diversity of Malaysian culture through music and dance.

 

  • Gawai - 1 – 2 June
    The Ibans, Orang Ulu and Bidayuh in Sarawak celebrate this harvest festival where traditional ceremonies and dances are held in various ‘long houses’ or communal homes around the state.

 

  • Food and Fruits Fiesta – July
    This is your chance to sample the best of Malaysia’s tempting local delicacies such as satay and nasi lemak, tropical fruits and delectable desserts during this month-long fiesta.

 

  • National Day - 31 August
    Malaysians everywhere celebrate Merdeka Day or the nation’s independence on this day.

 

  • Lantern & Mooncake Festival (Mid-Autumn) – September
    This festival has come to symbolise a quiet celebration of peace and shared prosperity. Take delight in the colourful lanterns displayed during this time while enjoying the variety of mooncakes available.

 

  • Deepavali – November
    Hindus celebrate this festival of lights by adorning their homes with oil lamps, taking a ritual morning bath and offering ceremonial prayers in temples.

 

  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri – November
    The holy month of Ramadan culminates in the celebration of Han Raya Aidilfitni for Muslims around the world. Special morning prayers are held in mosques and visits are made to homes of friends and relatives.

 

  • Christmas - 25 December
    Like their brethren around the world, Malaysian Christians attend church services, hold family dinners and exchange gifts on this festive day.