The best things to do in Malaysia | Bucket list ideas | i Travel Blog

 

 

 


The best things to do in Malaysia

 

Before we headed to Malaysia across the border from Singapore, I did not really know much about the country. We decided to spend 10 days travelling up the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. The east of this area is home to the Perhentian Islands and Kuala Terangannu which I have heard lovely things about – white sand beaches, plenty of resorts and a great place to relax. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit but maybe next time! 

 

Malacca

 

We started off by visiting a town called Malacca for 2 nights. This UNESCO world heritage centre in Malaysia is a small town full of character and I found it very “quirky”. There is plenty of cultural and colonial buildings to see and the ‘Jonker Walking Street’ is not to be missed! A long street lined with cafes and bars that comes alive every weekend at night with a street market from 6pm ‘til late. The stalls sell amazing street food, treats, souvenirs, trinkets. There is a big stage in one end with seats and many locals get up and perform karaoke here in the evening. It is really entertaining if your ears can handle it.

You can hire bikes for next to nothing for 24 hours and explore the surrounding areas. We explored by foot the churches and temples and markets. It was a nice little town I am glad we stopped off there.

 

Kuala Lumpur

 

Next up was the capital of Malaysia where we spent 3 nights. I really liked Kuala Lumpur, it is a fantastic cosmopolitan city with a nice balance of the old and new. There are an endless amount of huge gorgeous pristine shopping malls where you could spend hours wandering around. We stayed in the Bukit Bintang area which is the main entertainment and shopping district. Everything was easily accessible here. 

The KL GO buses (FREE city link buses in Malaysia for locals and tourists) pass by here as well as the rail and metro networks. There is also a hop on hop off tour bus for the city for which you can purchase 24 or 48 hour tickets but with the KL GO buses covering most of the main attractions, we chose to use that service instead.

On the first day we visited the KL tower that offers impressive 360-degree views of this city. We paid €10 to get to the top viewing platform. It was definitely worth a visit. 

Next stop was the famous Petronus Twin Towers - an easy 15 minute's walk from the KL tower. 

 

 

A big shopping mall (no surprise there!) beneath connected the towers and a lovely green area - KLCC park - lay out in front of them. Many people were sitting and relaxing on the sunny evening and there was a really nice atmosphere here. 

On the second morning we visited the Batu Caves, about a 45 minute train journey to the outskirts of Malaysia’s capital. Be sure to check the timetables as the train only departs once every hour and we got caught waiting after just missing one... This is a very popular attraction of KL and is a series of caves with Hindu temples and shrines within it. It is only a couple of euro entry and there are about 270 steps to climb to the caves! 

 

 

At the bottom there was some construction going on and the builders were putting buckets of cement into the tourists hands and telling them to bring them to the top! I refused to take one and it was exhausting without a bucket, the poor people who were lugging the buckets were stopping every few steps. Be aware of this as I had read that they also try to get people to take supplies like multiple bottles of water and boxed products to the shops at the top of the steps! There is absolutely no obligation to do this so just politely refuse. There are plenty of monkeys at the top and on the steps on the way up and they are not afraid of people! 

 

 

After this trip we returned to Kuala Lumpur and visited the old part of the city. We went to the Central Market, Merdaka Square, National Monument and the KL city gallery. Chinatown is in this area too with many temples and markets to see and it is an easy walk between these places. I highly recommend a visit Malaysia’s capital, it was one of my favourites.

 

Langkawi Island

Our next stop was Langkawi Island off the Malaysia’s west coast close to the Thailand border. After spending so much time in cities, I was excited to get to an island and beach destination. 

 

 

We absolutely fell in love with this island and archipelago. It is clear that intense development of high quality resorts has already begun here and it will probably be a very different place in 10 years time. It is such a beautiful island and it is hard to believe the amount of the things you can do here to fill your time on such a small island. We spent four nights here but could easily have spent 7- 10 days with a mix of day trips and lazy beach days. 

The most developed part of this Malaysia’s island is Pantai Cenang in the east coast. A long strip along a lovely beach with restaurants, cafes and shops and accommodation on either side. We decided to stay in Pantai Tengah which is further along outside of the previous resort but more spread out and quieter. There are still restaurants and a small bit of nightlife along the main road and the beach is beautiful too. Parasailing and jet skiing can be done along any if the beaches. 

The only downside to Langkawi is the current lack of public transport so you do have to hire a car / moped or use taxis to get everywhere. They are incredibly cheap anyway, so it is not that much of a hassle.

On our first day we visited the most popular attraction on the island, the cable car and sky bridge.

Easily one of the most breath-taking views I have ever seen in my life. The cable car is the steepest in the world and really isn’t for the faint of heart. You get off near the top for the view point and then you get back on and continue across to the skybridge. 

This bridge is a curved bridge at the top of Mount Mat Cinang raised 2500 ft above sea level. The views gave me goosebumps... Or it could have been the fact that the bridge is supported by only one large support beam. Incredible! After this we hiked a few kilometres to Seven Wells Waterfalls and had a swim under the waterfall to cool down. After we ascended, there were taxis waiting to take us back to the resort. There are waterfalls and jungle hikes all over the island that are worth exploring.

I am not much of a beach person, but we had heard of a beach in the North of this Malaysia’s island called Tanjang Rhu which was not to be missed. 

 

 

The next day, we hopped in a taxi which cost us €5 for a 40 minutes journey. When we got to the beach there was only a handful of people there and it was truly beautiful. The prettiest beach I had ever seen with crystal blue water which was so warm! It is a nice size stretch of beach and people were exploring the nearby island by boats. Part of the beach is privately owned by Four Seasons Resort with umbrellas and some jet skis for rent. We were not allowed on this part of the beach. 

There is not much development at all along this beach by any means, there are some snack huts near the entrance but that was it. After a few hours here, we called a taxi to come for us and returned to the resort. It would have been much nicer to have hired a car for the day and explore more of this part of the island rather than being stranded and relying on taxis to go anywhere. Just a tip! 

The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, The Mangroves, The Island of the Pregnant Maiden are all amazing day trips you can take and can easily arrange through your accommodation. I didn’t have time to do everything but will give me an excuse to come back sometime to Malaysia.

 

Penang

 

Before leaving Malaysia, we made our way on a very rough boat trip to Penang where we spent one night in Georgetown. Pretty town with lots of street art that you walk around a specific trail to find and photograph. At night we wandered around but did not get a very nice feeling from some of the streets and felt a bit unsafe so we kept close to our accommodation on Love Lane where there was a bit of a buzz with live music and people eating and drinking on roadside tables. 

 

On your bucket List?

 

Malaysia really was a surprise to me. The people were friendly and the scenery and destinations were fantastic. I didn’t have any expectations before I arrived but I left wanting to explore more so I will definitely go back someday and would definitely recommend giving it a thought for your next long haul holiday or just to add to your bucket list.



 

Ellen

Travel Consultant at J Barter Travel

Currently travelling around Asia, with stops in SingaporeMalaysia, Thailand, Laos, VietnamCambodiaPhilippinesIndonesia and Hong Kong, and also Australia and New Zealand.




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