A dynamic country in Southeast Asia with a population of some 34 million people, Maylasia is an increasingly tourist-popular country - tourism is now its third largest source of income - offering a mix of fascinating cultural, historical, and ecological attractions (not to mention some fine beaches). A quarter larger than Great Britain and a bit larger than the U.S. state of New Mexico, it consists of two separate sections: larger peninsular Malaysia occupies the southern half of the Malay Peninsula (and shares it with parts of Thailand as well as Singapore), while smaller East Malaysia, less than two hours away by air over the South China Sea, shares the island of Borneo with Brunei and part of Indonesia. and the best time to visit is during the February-to-May dry season.
Though Malaysia is nearly 65 percent Muslim, its other religions include Hinduism, practised by around six percent of the population. And this cave/temple complex in the lush, green limestone hills of Selangor state on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia dates back to the 1890s, and is today one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites outside of India, especially popular with Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils. It's dedicated to Lord Murugan (aka Kartikeya), the Hindu god of war as well as the premier deity of the Tamil people. One of its main features is a 43-metre-high (140-foot) statue of Murugan, unveiled in 2006.
Inland in peninsular Malaysia's Pahang state, this compact, rolling, largely forested tableland at an altitude of 1,448m (4,750 ft.) was developed beginning in the 1930s under British rule as an area for growing tea and vegetables, along with serving as a summertime hill station (a getaway from the heat of the lowlands). It's an area of rain forests, waterfalls, and picturesque valleys; besides its nature and hiking, there are also several tea plantations (like the one above) which are open to visitors. There are eight settlements up here - with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese, by the way - as well as a number of resorts and other forms of lodging for holidaymakers.
Also in Pahang state but over on on the east coast a five-hour drive from the Cameron Highlands, this town has been a popular holiday destination since the 1960s, particularly for families, and is home to plenty of resorts - in fact, Asia's very first Club Med is located here. Besides tranquil swimming and water sports (including a spot of surfing from October through March when the surf is more active), things to do/see include visiting the sea-turtle sanctuary (and from June through October you can help release newly hatched baby turtles into the sea); cruising the Cherating River; check out the traditional handicrafts and take a batik painting class at the town's "cultural village"; and a little farther afield, explore Gua Charah, an eight-cave complex including one cave with a reclining Buddha 8m (27 ft.) long.
Located in northern Borneo's Sabah state, this 438-square-kilometre (169-sq.-mile) tract of protected tropical rainforest which will thrill ecotourism enthusiasts. There's a research field centre also open to visitors, and the jungle is crisscrossed with hiking trails offering reliable sightings of iconic wildlife such as civets, exotic tropical birds, and primates including orangutans, gibbons, and various species of monkeys. There's overnight accommodation, too - basic at the field centre and more luxurious at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge), which is a good thing because from Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu the valley is 6½ hours by road and 2½ by plane.
Back on the peninsula, in Penang state on its northwest corner, this city of 708,000 was founded by the British East India Company in 1786 and its compact historic core is the only place in Malaysia which preserves some colonial architecture - some 1,700 buildings' worth - and as such has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The district is also known for its traditional handicrafts, and the city in general for its tasty street food, the product of the city's various ethnicities, including Malays, Indians, indigenous Borneans, and the majority Chinese. There are also some good beaches in George Town's northwestern suburbs; the Penang Botanic Garden is the country's oldest (est. 1884); and the city is also home to Penang National Park, the world's smallest at just over 25km² (10 sq. mi.).
Malaysia's capital city (pop. 8.6 million), near the souther presents a skyline marked by modern skyscrapers (most famously the Petronas Towers, pictured above) but also sprinkled mosque minarets and Mogul-style domes. KL has a huge amount to offer, including historical monuments; lush parks; ethnic experiences like Chinatown and Little India; and of course a varied, dynamic shopping, dining, and nightlife scene.Landmarks not to miss besides the Petronas Towers and their observation decks and Sky Bridge include the origami-lke National Mosque; the 36-year-old Chinese Thean Hou Temple (one of the largest in Southeast Asia), which includes elements of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism; the National Museum; the National Art Gallery; the Islamic Art Museum; traditional Malaysian performances by groups like PUSAKA, and the Central Market, whose 300 stalls offer among other things a great array of traditional and modern art, crafts, and accessories.
Off the northernmost coast near the Thai border - a flight of just under two hours north from KL - "the Jewel of Kedah State" is both the name of a 99-island archipelago and of its largest island, a resort hub packed with beaches, resorts, restaurants, nightlife, duty-free shopping, and all the trappings of mass tourism (including a fair bit on the budget side of the spectrum). In addition it Langkawi's famous beaches - from buzzing to castaway - there's local culture and history to explore, as well as a panoply of adventure and ecotourism options on various islands, designated a World Geopark by UNESCO, with main conservation areas including Machincang Cambiarn, Kilim Karst, and Dayang Bunting Marble geoforest parks.Another landmark is the impressive Langkawi Sky Bridge, reachable by cable car.
This state in the south of the Malay Peninsula, its main draw is its capital Malacca City (pop. 579,000), two hours south of Kuala Lumpur. This is essentially the country's cultural and historical capital, tracing its origins to the Malacca Sultanate around the end of the 14th century, which though it lasted just a century made the city a center of Islamic learning as well as the establishment of the Malay cultural identity which continues to hold sway in most of the country today. Its older precincts are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with notable landmarks including the Stadthuys in Red Square aka Dutch Square, built in 1650 under Dutch rule (1641-1825); the Kota A´Famosa fort, built in 1511 by the Portuguese who preceded the Dutch; the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum, a reconstruction housing a museum of the period as well as of Malay culture; Jonker Walk, Malacca´s Chinatown, filled with historic houses, shops, and restaurants, and hosting a colorufl weekend night market; and the traditional Malay village of Kampung Morten. A Malacca River cruise is also highly recommended.
Gunung Mulu National Park, set in a mountainous rainforest in northwest Borneo´s Sarawak state, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site characterized by dramatic limestone karst formations and home to a network of even more stunning caves, also limestone, at least a half dozen of which can be easily visited. One of them, Sarawak Cave, boasts the world´s largest cave chamber yet discovered, and another, Deer Cave, has the longest/largest tunnel - over two kilometres (1¾ miles) long and 174 metres (571 feet) high - along with a huge colony of bats that are amazing to watch as they enter and exit.The park also offers a number of other magnificent eco experiences, and overnight stays are possible.
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Located in Terengganu state, on the northeast coast of the Malay Peninsula, this handful of scenic, laid back tropical isles feature gorgeous white-sand beaches and shallow, crystal-clear water perfect for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sea kayaking.Visitors also get to witness nesting of green and hawksbill marine turtles - under careful supervision, of course. The two main islands, Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil (whose Long Beach is pictured above) offer a full range of lodging, from bare bones to upscale - and the eateries, shops, entertainment, and other amenities that go with them - and excursions are available to several of the smaller islands, as well.
This fecund rainforest - one of the world´s oldest, estimated at 130 million years, is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site sprawling over 4,342km² (1,676 sq. mi.) of Kelantan, Pahang (the largest section), and Terengganu states in the Malay Peninsula´s northeast. It´s home to a huge variety of living creatures, among them some 10,000 species of plants (including the world´s highest diversity of trees), 380 birds, 270 reptiles, 250 fish, and 200 mammals, including monkeys, tapirs, wild boars and oxen, giant squirrels, Sumatran rhinos, Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, and bisonlike Malayan gaurs. In addition to wildlife watching on guided and self-guided hikes and from canopy walkways (including the world´s longest), visitors can go caving, fishing, camping, visiting an aboriginal village, boat cruising, whitewater rafting, and climbing Gunung Tahan, the peninsula´s highest mountain (2,187m/7,175 ft.)
Sound appealing? Book a great holiday package with Amazing Malaysia, including discounts and offers on accommodation and flight tickets. And by the way, another amazing must-visit in Southeast Asia is of course Thailand - so click here for some mesmerizing tour packages.