If you’re wondering about the best places to visit in Malaysia, our list of top spots will give you plenty of inspiration. With everything from white-sand beaches to ancient rainforests to bustling cities, there’s something for every traveler, with some of the best food in Southeast Asia, some of the world’s best diving and more than a few amazing native animal species.
To find out the best places to visit in Malaysia for you, take a look below.
The bustling capital is undoubtedly one of Malaysia’s best places. There’s everything the modern traveler could want: luxury shopping, market bargains, a harmonious blend of cultures, amazing food, inspiring architecture and some big-ticket landmarks, such as the incredible Petronas Towers.
George Town, Penang
The UNESCO-listed George Town on the charming little island of Penang is just as exciting. Wander historic streets with restored Perenakan shophouses, colorful street art and a bountiful array of delicious hawker food. See old Chinese and Buddhist temples and visit Fort Cornwallis for some colonial history.
This upcoming leisure development on Peninsula Malaysia’s southeastern shores has plenty for travelers to enjoy. There’s world-class golfing, a huge waterpark, a firefly park, a fruit farm and cultural activities, as well as wide golden beaches with enough wind for kite- and windsurfing.
The capital city of Sarawak, ‘Cat City’ has a distinctly different vibe to any city on the peninsula. This colorful capital has a waterfront promenade, cultural villages, mosques, temples, bazaars and a quirky cat museum. Be sure to stock up on kek lapis (layer cake), a local delicacy.
This hill station is one of the best places in Malaysia for a family getaway. Go horse riding, visit its many theme parks, enjoy international dining, try your luck at the casinos, ride the cable cars and even do some mountain hiking.
Located just outside Kuala Lumpur and easily accessible by commuter train, this sacred Hindu site features dramatic temple caves. To see them, pass the world’s tallest statue of the deity Murugan then scale 272 steps – it’s an easy side-trip on any Malaysia tour.
This beautiful Andaman island is one of the top spots in Malaysia for a beach holiday. White-sand beaches, lush limestone mountains and dense interior forest. Take your pick of the most luxurious beach resorts in Malaysia and enjoy some pampered couple’s time in a tropical paradise.
The capital of Sabah, this coastal city marries rainforest beauty with cultural diversity. The city offers walking tours, shopping, dining and nightlife, while nature calls just beyond with Mount Kinabalu treks, river safaris, urban beaches and hot springs.
Gaya Island immerses guests in a pristine and spectacular island setting. One of the best islands in Malaysia for nature lovers, it’s got its own marine and wildlife conservation centres and jungle trails you can explore with the resident naturalist and spot hornbills, proboscis monkeys and more.
A popular weekend spot for family travel in Malaysia, ‘PD’ offers a selection of wide, inviting beaches and urban diversions like a 3D art gallery and an army museum. Explore its fishing village roots, eat ocean-fresh seafood and generally enjoy the conviviality of its laidback coastal vibe.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best places in Malaysia if you love to go caving. It’s famous for its spectacular cave systems, which are some of the largest in the world. It’s also home to striking limestone formations and large resident bat populations.
A river safari is a must when in Borneo. Go on a dawn cruise and spot proboscis monkeys, hornbills and crocodiles or, if you’re really lucky, Borneo elephants and gibbons. Enjoy spectacular jungle trekking and safari-ing from a comfortable base, such as Sukau Rainforest Lodge.
Explore a vibrant mix of Dutch, Portuguese, British and Chinese cultural influences in this storied city. Admire old colonial buildings, intricate temples, historic forts and the city’s charming Peranakan shophouses. Try the most authentic nyonya food in Malaysia, visit Jonker night market and cruise up the Malacca River.
Lush, tea-covered hills, strawberry farms, roses, honey, lavender – the Cameron Highlands is one of the best places in Malaysia to enjoy cooler climes. Aside from visiting different farms and plantations, you can go nature trekking, play golf and visit Agrotechnology Park with its pretty flower nursery and walking trails.
As recommended by The New York Times, Ipoh is experiencing a surge in popularity among young travelers with cool cafes and hotels, street food, flea markets and boutique shopping. It’s also got temple caves, theme parks and a mysterious Scottish castle to satisfy your inner explorer.
This multifaceted city sits just across the border from Singapore, with arguably the best shopping in Malaysia. Top traveler things to do here are scouring the outlets for bargains and visiting theme parks, with Legoland, Angry Birds and Hello Kitty Town to name a few.
Danum Valley Conservation Center
Wake up to the sounds of the jungle in this beautiful natural sanctuary in Sabah. Explore the dipterocarp tree canopy via elevated walkways, spot native wildlife such as gibbons, deer and tarsier, and enjoy full immersion in pure Borneo wilderness.
This royal town might be off the international tourist trail, but there’s plenty for culture buffs to enjoy here. The main landmark is the majestic Ubudiah Mosque, then there’s the Royal Museum, the royal palace and local pottery artisans where you can pick up some handmade pieces.
Taman Negara National Park
If you want to escape to a lush rainforest, but can’t make it to Borneo, Taman Negara National Park offers some of the best places in Malaysia for jungle trekking, with its 130-million-year-old forests. You can also enjoy rapids-shooting, caving, fishing, canopy walks, indigenous village visits and wildlife spotting.
Admire the incredible architecture of the Crystal Mosque or the Floating Mosque. For something completely different, pick mussels or go squid jigging. Relax with the locals on a wide city beach. Eat delicious Chinese street food in a hawker center and explore rich local Perenakan culture.
While you’re in Borneo you no doubt want to see wild orangutans and the best place in Malaysia to do that is in Sepilok, Sabah. Head to a rehabilitation sanctuary and see them up close in their native habitat, alongside other rescued animals such as elephants, gibbons and sun bears.
This tropical marine reserve is among the world’s finest. Home to some of the best diving in Malaysia, this pristine island gives you quintessential white-sand beaches and crystal-blue seas. It’s also a popular breeding ground for sea turtles.
This densely forested island boasts a protected marine area rich with corals and tropical sea life, with warm waters and excellent visibility that make it irresistible for divers. One of the best island getaways in Malaysia for nature-lovers, it’s one of the country’s ‘hidden’ gems.
Two islands off the northeast Malaysian coast, the Perhentians offer up exceptional diving – perfect for ocean-lovers who plan to spend much of their time in or near the water. Enjoy pristine beaches and an off-the-beaten-track feel.
The surreal ‘Sky Mirror’ – a sand flat at Kuala Selangor Beach – draws comparisons to the salt plains of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. On a still day, the sea creates a perfect reflection of the sky, creating dramatic images people travel hours to capture.
For more information on the best places to visit in Malaysia, contact us, or to add your own suggestions or questions, leave a comment below.