Malaysia is one of the planet’s most ecologically and culturally diverse countries: rich in adventure, and packed with breathtaking natural beauty. 

Your tailor-made tour of Malaysia will include an enticing variety of experiences and locations. Whether you’re looking for a straightforward city and beach break, or a more complex multi-stop tour, our specialists will delight in using Malaysia’s many attractions to put together the perfect itinerary. 

Read on for our guide to the most beautiful places across both Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo.

Riverfront at dusk, Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca

Malacca is situated roughly equidistant between KL and Singapore – a characterful and convenient stopping point between the two. This historic port has a broad mix of British, Chinese, Portuguese, and Dutch influences, featuring an intriguing mix of architecture, religion, and food. 

Along the cobbled streets you’ll find impressive temples and Christ Church, Malaysia’s oldest functioning Protestant church which dates back to 1753, and the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum, a collection of three gorgeous, restored homes arranged to look like a typical 19th-century Baba-Nyonya residence. At the summit of St. Paul’s Hill are the ruins of St. Paul’s Church – built on top of the palace ruins of the last Sultan of Malacca.

Beach and skyline of Penang, Malaysia

Penang

The ‘Pearl of the Orient’, Penang is a tropical city that offers it all: home to gastronomic delights, a mix of historic and modern architecture, soft white sandy beaches, and numerous excellent hotels. It has a diverse mix of cultures, with modern developments juxtaposed with mosques, temples, and historic buildings, while the coast is lined with sleepy fishing villages and luxury resorts. 

The colonial city of George Town is its multicultural capital with historic British buildings, magnificent mosques, and crumbling shophouses in its oldest section. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also one of the top spots in all of Southeast Asia for mouth-watering street food. Expert-led street food tours through its many budget restaurants and open-air food courts are an absolute must. 

Where to go in Malaysia
Perhentian Kecil beach

The Perhentian Islands

The eastern coast of Malaysia is quieter, more traditional, and somewhat cut-off from the busier west coast by the mountains and jungles of the Peninsula interior. Handily, the east coast climate is the exact inverse of the west coast, meaning that whenever you travel to Malaysia there is a tropical paradise in season. 

Located off the northeast coast, accessed by traditional city Kota Bharu, the Perhentian Islands take a little bit of getting to but are absolutely gorgeous island escapes, with several excellent accommodation options on offer. Perhentian Besar is the larger and quieter island; smaller Perhentian Kecil has a busy but laidback atmosphere and offers fantastic snorkeling right off the beach.

Tea hills in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Cameron Highlands

Malaysia’s most popular highland retreat, the Cameron Highlands sit at nearly 6562 feet at their highest point, enjoying a climate that’s cooler than the rest of the country, boasting a stunning landscape blanketed in emerald green. 

Travelers come to walk through charming villages and forests, visit waterfalls, sprawling emerald tea plantations, strawberry, butterfly, and honeybee farms, while escaping the sweltering heat of the lowlands. Both wildflowers and vegetables thrive here, with vendors selling organic onions, carrots, and cauliflower grown by local farmers along the main road in the eight loosely connected villages.

Where to stay in Malaysia
Twilight scene on Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia

Pangkor Island

Set in the Malacca Straits off Malaysia’s West Coast, around a 3-hour transfer from capital KL, is the private island resort of Pangkor Laut. The pristine 300-acre island is carpeted in ancient rainforest and fringed with white sandy beaches, home to a variety of tropical wildlife, including macaques, hornbills, sea eagles, and monitor lizards.

Luxurious Pangkor Laut Resort is your base here, offering impeccable private villa accommodation and a full range of facilities, services, and activities. The resort has been previously declared the best in the world by Conde Nast and was a perennial favorite of famed Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Colourful coast, Tioman, Malaysia

Tioman

Sitting off Malaysia’s lower east coast, around 5 hours’ transfer from Singapore and 6 from Kuala Lumpur, Tioman is a small volcanic island with barely any tourism (or other) development…and all the better for it. 

The challenging transfers mean you’ll need to make a little extra effort to get here but it is absolutely worth it, with the island offering pristine and near-deserted white sand beaches and a mountainous interior which begs for exploration. The luxurious Japamala Resort is our pick here – one of the very best boutique beach retreats in all Southeast Asia.

What to do in Malaysia

Taman Negara

Taman Negara is Peninsular Malaysia’s premier rainforest reserve. Housing patches of the world’s old primary rainforest – outdating the dinosaurs – the park has simple accommodation but a range of enticing jungle activities. The journey into and out of the park is by longtail boat cruise; during your transfer, you might sight tapirs, stump-tailed, and long-tailed macaques.

The most popular attraction here is the canopy walkway, the longest in the world, which spans a distance of 1,738 feet while hovering 147 feet above the forest floor. The canopy walk provides the park’s best observation point: monkeys are often seen bouncing through the trees, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a tiger, leopard, or elephant.

Skywalk, Langkawi

Langkawi

The ‘Jewel of Kedah’, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, approximately 30 miles off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. Just two are inhabited, Pulau Tuba and Pulau Langkawi, the largest and most populated, synonymous with pristine sandy beaches, wildlife-filled jungles, and fantastic shopping, dining, and entertainment. 

Langkawi’s striking beauty can be found in forest parks, hot springs, and magnificent waterfalls. The island is not overly developed – although there are plenty of beach bars, seafood restaurants, and spas, it’s also home to villages that have managed to preserve local traditions.

When to visit Malaysia
Orangutan in Danum Valley, Borneo

Danum Valley

Deep in the steamy jungles of eastern Sabah is the magical Danum Valley Conservation Area: a 438 sq km tract of millennia-old primary rainforest, home to a remarkable array of tropical flora and fauna which includes orang-utan, sun bears, clouded leopard, gibbons, proboscis monkey, and over 250 rare bird species. 

Better yet it is also home to one of the world’s greatest wildlife lodges – the Borneo Rainforest Lodge – where you can enjoy this extraordinary setting in supreme luxury. The highlight of your stay will be a tour of the incredible canopy walk: 1000ft of rope bridges, held up by 130 million-year-old ironwood trees, which takes you dancing through the forest roof offering unparalleled views of the teeming jungle below.

Peak of Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

Kota Kinabalu National Park

The provincial capital of Sabah, on the northeastern tip of Borneo, ‘KK’ is a historic and highly multicultural port city. Stay here in the city to enjoy its eclectic shopping and dining scene, or across on the luxurious island resorts of Gaya Island, just a 20-minute speedboat transfer away. 

From KK travelers can take trips into the lush Mount Kinabalu National Park, which houses soaring Mount Kinabalu – the highest peak in Southeast Asia – and a wide carpet of rainforests, hot springs, tropical gardens, and rapids that fall around it. The park can be explored as a day trip from the city, or the more adventurous can attempt the challenging two-day climb to the summit.

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