Adventures from Vietnam: A Guide to Malaysia
Southeast Asia, has so many interesting things to see and do and each country offers different experiences. Malaysia is no exception.
Known for its islands and beaches, Malaysia also has an exciting capital city in Kuala Lumpur, one of the most popular shopping destinations in the region, along with world-renowned cuisine.
The country is divided into two main areas, The Malaysian Peninsula and East Malaysia. Malaysia has many customs and festivals to intrigue and interest tourists. The tropical climate brings delightful weather in the main holiday season. It is such a diverse country, with a mix of vibrant cities, glorious nature and great beaches.
There are surprisingly no less than 100 flights per week between HCMC and Malaysia.
This is a fabulous city, full of life and wonderful sights and sounds. At its heart is the Golden Triangle, the name given to the central business district. This includes a lot of the city’s best shopping malls, five-star hotels and the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, rising 451.9 metres above the city. KL, as it is more often called, is one of the easiest cities to get round in all of Asia. The transport systems here are excellent, with trains, the LRT and the funkiest monorail on the planet. Not only does the monorail facilitate ease of access throughout the Golden Triangle, but also provides you with great views as you go.
Getting in from the airport, the KLIA Ekspres high speed trains carry passengers to the city centre in just 28 minutes, with trains as frequent as every 15 minutes in the busy periods. The journey takes you past the Sepang International Circuit, home of Formula 1’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
A 5 Star Shopping Destination
The local currency, the Ringgit, maintains an enviable rate against the dollar; keeping prices down and ensuring that Kuala Lumpur has the cheapest shopping in Southeast Asia. This coupled with the fact that Malaysia was declared a duty free zone in 2011 has made this vibrant city a true shopping paradise.
The shopping experience here is known particularly for cosmetics, perfume, handbags, gold and silverware, leather products, cameras, watches, footwear and souvenirs including the beautiful batik fabrics, printed using a combination of wax and dyes. CNN ranks KL as the 2nd best shopping location in the Asia Pacific Region and the 4th best on the planet. Part of the shopping experience of course is pausing for nourishment. Malaysian cuisine is exceptional and well suited to the Vietnamese palate. Its strong Chinese influence means that it is not as highly spiced as say, Thai food, but is strong in flavour. It is also one of the most varied cuisines in Southeast Asia.
“CNN ranks Kuala Lumpur as the 2nd best shopping location in the Asia Pacific Region.”
Try the street food of Penang for a truly unforgettable experience. The street food stalls, are referred to as selling “hawker food”. Penang has gained a reputation as a foodies paradise. As with the rest of the country, it offers a mix of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and Western cuisines, reflecting the multicultural balance of the city and indeed the country.
Whilst on Penang island, pay a visit to George Town and catch a look at the truly wonderful street art. Artists have painted murals on walls, brightening up dilapidated areas to great effect.
Exploring the Nature of Malaysia
Malaysia has some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, the flora and fauna is absolutely wonderful, both on land and in the seas that surround it. The crystal clear waters coupled with the abundant sea life have made Malaysia one of the world’s leading destinations for scuba diving. Muck and macro diving are huge here, the islands of Sabah, Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai providing excellent opportunities. The country provides great diving at all times of the year. Between December and May, head to the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Between March and October, the east coast is at its peak. The islands are great all year round. As a general rule the water is at its clearest between April and August.
“Malaysia has some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, the flora and fauna is absolutely wonderful.”
For those who prefer land based nature exploration, Malaysia holds no bounds. Pahang and its smaller islands have fabulous areas to explore: national parks, waterfalls, mangroves and incredible wildlife. Gunung Mulu National Park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. It is home to wonderful rock formations including The Pinnacles, razor-sharp limestone spikes, and the Sarawak Chamber, the world’s second largest cave capable of accommodating 40 Boeing 747 aircraft.
At 4,096 metres (13,438 ft) above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. The mountain, which is in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, and the surrounding area, is one of the most important biological sites on earth. There are between 5,000 and 6,000 species of plants, 326 bird species, and more than 100 species of mammal here.
“For those who prefer land based nature exploration, Malaysia holds no bounds.”
Langkawi Island is the largest of the archipelago that is officially called “Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah”. There are 99 islands here in the Andaman Sea, approximately 30km off the coast of northwestern Malaysia. More than 60% of Langkawi consists of forest-covered mountains, hills and beautiful natural vegetation. This really is an idyllic setting with no transport on the island at all, save for taxis and motorbikes.
Taman Negara is the name of the huge national park on the Malay Peninsula. It includes a massive tropical rainforest that’s thought to be 130 million years old. There is a large number of superb birds and insects here. There is much to see and do here including the Lata Berkoh cascades, Kelah Fish Sanctuary, orangutans, rapids, stunning caves, trekking, and for those with a head for heights, an exhilarating canopy walk, which takes in one of the longest rope suspension bridges in the world, measuring 530 metres.
Theme Parks Galore
For the young and the young at heart, Malaysia has an abundance of theme parks, designed for all the family.
This park in Penang is described as a fun destination with exciting rides and games hosted in a natural environment. Rope ladders and bridges, zip lines, swings, tube rides, balancing beams and mazes provide hours of fun for everyone. The park is open every day except Mondays.
The famous Danish brick people brought their franchise to Malaysia in 2012 and situated it at the end of the Malay Peninsula, conveniently between Johor’s Senai International Airport and Singapore’s Changi International Airport. All the usual Legoland fun is to be found here. The centrepiece is called “Miniland”, and features Asian landmarks that have been recreated using more than 30 million LEGO bricks.
This theme park is found in Subang Jaya, Selangor. It opened its doors in 1993. It features rides, water slides, animals and much much more. Four-wheel drive buggy jaunts through forested areas are hugely popular and this has been a hit since the day it opened.
Hello Kitty Malaysia
This was the first Hello Kitty theme park to be built outside Japan. All the favourites are included, like: Black Wonder, a hi-tech interactive themed experience and Kitty House, which is an iconic Hello Kitty house with living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. There is also the “Purrfect Stage” where live performances take place. This is an activity based park rather than a ride based one.
20th Century Fox World
The Hollywood giant is opening their first movie based theme park in Resorts World Genting, the opening date is scheduled for 2017. It is located on the border between the states of Pahang and Selangor.
No matter what type of holiday you are looking for, Malaysia caters for it with ease. It is a wonderful destination for families, young singles, elderly people and just about everyone. Combine amazing beaches, beautiful countryside, vibrant cities, delectable, cuisine, and an abundance of natural beauty and man-made entertainment, and you have the perfect holiday destination.
Want to read more from this author? Keith is a travelling writer and lover of all things Southeast Asian. Check out his other articles for more of his travelling tales