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Introducing Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur at night © judhi

Malaysia Travel Guide

Malaysia is foreigner-friendly, culturally interesting and blessed with Southeast Asia's exotic beauty. Visitors can expect white-sand beaches, fine snorkelling and diving opportunities, top-class shopping and dining, and unmissable attractions.

The west coast is home to Kuala Lumpur, which is Malaysia's glittering, cosmopolitan capital. The city abounds with excellent sights and activities, from the lofty Petronas Towers, to the nearby Batu Caves. Kuala Lumpur is also a world-famous shopping destination and a gastronomic delight for the adventurous palate.

East-coast visitors will find several easy-to-reach tropical islands. For its part, northern Peninsula Malaysia has many hill resorts, which provide a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of the coasts.

Nature-lovers will not want to miss east Malaysia. The tropical island is rich by way of outdoor and water-sport opportunities, all found in the twin states of Sabah and Sarawak. Tourists should certainly visit Kinabalu National Park. Its renowned biodiversity has led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sipadan Island has what are widely considered the best diving and snorkelling sites in the world.

Best time to visit Malaysia

Malaysia has a humid tropical climate, characterised by high temperatures all year round. The monsoon season (November to February) brings heavy rain to the peninsular region. The best time to visit is between April and October. Travellers should bear in mind that if they're suffering in the heat at the coast, the highland region in northern Malaysia is significantly cooler. Read more on Malaysia's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Malaysia

- The Petronas Towers, the world's tallest twin skyscrapers, are an inspiring sight, and the view of Kuala Lumpur from the Skybridge is not to be missed.

- The Batu Caves are decorated with Hindu shrines and wall paintings, and remain an important pilgrimage site to this day.

- Taman Negara National Park is home to one of the world's oldest natural rainforests.

- The duty-free resort island of Langkawi offers splendid beaches and an array of excellent entertainment options.

What to do in Malaysia

- Practice your haggling skills at Petaling Street, Malaysia's vibrant Chinatown area.

- Head to world-famous Pulau Sipadan, a gorgeous island that offers unbeatable snorkelling and diving opportunities.

- Hike up Mount Kinabalu, and be astounded by the rich diversity of the surrounding National Park.

- Sample Malaysia's diverse and delicious national cuisine in Penang, a gourmand's dream holiday destination.

Getting to Malaysia

Cheap flights to Malaysia are easy to find from the UK and US. Direct flights to Kuala Lumpur are available from London, while those flying from the United States will have to book a connecting flight. Penang is also accessible by air, usually from Kuala Lumpur or other Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok or Hong Kong. Get more information on Airports in Malaysia.

Read

Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan, Inspector Singh Investigates by Shamini Flint, and The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw.

Watch

Entrapment (1999), Lust, Caution (2007), and After This, Our Exile (2006).

Eat

Sate (slivers of chicken or beef dipped in a spicy peanut sauce), nasi goreng (fried rice), and nasi lemak (coconut rice served with fried anchovies, peanuts and a curry dish).

Drink

Kopi (coffee) or teh tarik (pulled tea), the latter of which is usually served with a shot of condensed milk.

What to buy

Traditional fabric known as batik and carved wooden figurines.

What to pack

Tourists should pack lightweight clothing, insect repellent and sunscreen. They should also have a small backpack to carry on day excursions, containing a rain-slicker and plenty of water.

What's on in Malaysia

The annual KL Tower Jump (September/October) sees BASE jumpers making repeated leaps off the 1,381-foot (421m) building, indulging in free-fall before opening their parachutes and delighting the crowds below. Visitors should head to Kuala Lumpur for Chinese New Year (January/February) and enjoy the spectacle of light and colour in Petaling Street. The Malaysian Grand Prix (March), held at the ultra-modern Sepang track, is one of the first meetings of the F1 season and has a reputation for providing thrilling results.

Did you know?

- The Malaysian state of Sabah is home to the Rafflesia, the heaviest single flower in the world.

- The word ringgit (Malaysia's currency) means 'jagged' in Malay, and originally referred to the separated edges of Spanish silver dollars that were widely used in the region.

- Malaysia produces only about 15 feature films, but between 300 and 400 television dramas and serials every year.

A final word

From ancient rainforests in well-managed nature reserves to pristine beaches, and from the glamour of Kuala Lumpur to the gastronomic delights of Pengang, a holiday in Malaysia is sure to be spectacular.

Become our Malaysia Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Malaysia travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Malaysia or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.