Wondering about the best places to go in Malaysia with family? Check out our list of top destinations for a short Malaysia trip with family. Beaches, theme parks, islands, cities, jungles, national parks – this list has a little bit of everything. On the practical side of things, you can easily find baby and child supplies wherever you travel in Malaysia (within reason), though if you’re loyal to one brand of item, be sure to pack it.
Whether your kids are nearly adults or still in their toddling years, find out the best places to visit in Malaysia for families below.
This charismatic and colorful little island is great for short Malaysia trips. With an international airport, it’s easy to get to — which is essential when you’ve got little ones in tow — and there’s plenty to keep you all occupied. See George Town on foot (Penang’s not the best for strollers, so bring your baby carrier) to enjoy street food and art; go to Batu Ferringhi Beach and night markets; go to the botanical park and Youth Park (which has kiddie pools); go to the bird and butterfly parks; have fun with older kids at the Interactive Museum – Penang is a popular getaway for families, you will not run out of things to do.
Perfect for a tropical island getaway, Langkawi has long been popular for family trips to Malaysia. As such, children of all ages will find something to do here. You can take your pick of resorts, from five-star to rustic resort, and let the kids enjoy clean, safe beaches while you relax (kind of) on the shore. Outside of beach time, there’s the famous glass-bottom Skycab cable car that takes you on an exhilarating ride over jungle and mountain. There’s the SkyBridge, for more grounded enjoyment of the same views. There’s a cultural village with activities for smaller children, and rice paddy and mangrove tours to give you all a sense of place.
Family holidays are more often than not dictated by children, but Malacca has something for everyone, so that parents can also enjoy themselves. Great for a short Malaysia trip, this vibrant coastal town has history, culture, food, nature and plenty of indoor fun. After seeing all the cultural sights, reward kids with a few hours at Kidzoona or Jumpers Land indoor playgrounds. Take them swinging through the treetops at Skytrax. Visit Mamee Jonker House where they can make their own instant noodles. Or splash out at Melaka Wonderland waterpark. There’s also the Shore Toy Museum, which some comic-loving parents can even enjoy.
This lush hill station is just made for a relaxing short Malaysia trip. Offering a little respite from the tropical heat, kid-friendly activities here are centered on the outdoors. Strawberry farms (tea and scones, anyone?), butterfly farms and honey bee farms are all easy ways of getting kids more engaged with the natural world. A visit to a tea plantation introduces them to local culture, as do temple tours and hill-village visits. Then, for some more adrenaline-spiking fun, there’s Holiday Park, which has carnival rides to really wear them out.
Taman Negara National Park
For children who are intrigued by nature (most of them), what could be more exciting than visiting the world’s oldest rainforest? One of the better national parks for family trips to Malaysia, this breathtaking spot is just 3.5 hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. Guided safaris through the park reveal animals such as tapir, monkeys, different species of birds, including the hornbill, and wild pigs. The park has facilities for family travel with canopy walks, boat trips, 4WD safaris and an elephant sanctuary to keep school-aged enthralled.
Kota Kinabalu and Mount Kinabalu
Orangutan sanctuaries, white-water rafting, zip-lining, jungle trekking, river safaris, wildlife parks — Kota Kinabalu offers a bewildering array of one-of-a-kind activities for a Malaysia family trip. While older children will enjoy the thrill of explorations into nature, families with smaller kids can enjoy the more urbane attractions of the city. There are tons of luxury hotels and resorts to choose from, where little children can enjoy time in the pool. Families can talk walking tour through Chinatown or admire city architecture or visit the Sunday Gaya Street Markets. Then there’s the waterfront, with all its restaurants and live music. For those with active, older children even a Mount Kinabalu climb is possible (though do your research first).
Sepilok and Kinabatangan
This wild and captivating area of Sabah is famous for its orangutan parks and river safaris. For a nature-based family trip to Malaysia, it ticks all the boxes. It’s easiest to take a private tour of Sabah, because that way you can hit all the highlights with minimal fuss: orangutans, sun bears, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and more. If you’re worried about accommodation in the middle of the jungle, don’t be — there are luxury options available aplenty.
‘Cat City’ is full of history and colorful culture, for a more out-of-the-box family trip to Malaysia. On the island of Borneo in Sarawak State, this coastal city offers a more relaxed urban experience than Kota Kinabalu, it’s a great walking city and yet there are taxis when you need them. The riverfront promenade is a main attraction, full of shops and restaurants with a view. Then there’s hiking and rainforest trekking for a dose of nature. Cultural villages if your children are school-aged. And of course the Cat Museum, which is a must when you’re in town.
Mulu National Park
This park is UNESCO listed for its limestone karsts (the Pinnacles), its biodiversity and its cave systems, which are some of the largest in the world. There are three main adventure treks throughout the park, plus wooden walkways and a canopy skywalk to see everything from above. A five-star resort a few minutes from the park means that families with smaller children can access this wonder of the world easily, doing day-trips to see the main sites. Teens with a sense of adventure might enjoy the Headhunter’s Trail or a multi-day camping trek through the park.
This long-standing family getaway is a great option for short Malaysia trip if you want beach time without going remote. ‘PD’ offers wide, inviting beaches and family-centric attractions such as a 3D art gallery and an ostrich farm with a petting zoo, plus an army museum. With beachfront and even overwater resorts and an abundance of fresh seafood, it’s perfect for a laidback holiday where you don’t feel the need to fill every moment with activity.
If you’re a beach-loving brood with a taste for adventure, these idyllic islands are a great place for a family trip in Malaysia. A little off the beaten track, this type of trip is better for families with older children who can swim unaided. Most experiences center around the water, with snorkeling and boat tours to coral reefs. You could enjoy a village stay or an eco-tour to help kids understand the importance of sustainable travel, and depending on which island you choose, enjoy jungle treks that really immerse you in nature.
This blissful destination is suitable for a short Malaysia trip with kids from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, but it’s better if you have at least a week, since the main ferry terminal is a 5-hour drive from KL. Situated within a marine park, it’s worth the travel, with pristine waters, corals, beautiful beaches and lush jungles — ideal for a relaxed, nature-based getaway. Children old enough to snorkel will love seeing all the fish and corals, though most of your time will probably be spent just relaxing at your resort or on the beach.
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a trip to Legoland. Located in Johor Bahru, which is an hour’s flight from KL, it’s one of many theme parks in the area. The park is home to smaller attractions within — a waterpark, Sea Life aquarium, Ninjago World, rides, MiniLand, with a tiny Angkor Wat, amongst other structures, a Duplo playground and more. With everything geared towards all-ages fun, it’s a great way to finish a longer Malaysia family trip.
This flashy leisure development on Malaysia’s south easterly shores has plenty for families to enjoy. The perfect easy getaway from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, it’s great for a short Malaysia trip when you need a break from city life. Wide beaches and water sports give active kids a way to burn energy, while a waterpark is always a fun family option. Cultural trips and farm trips provide a nice way for kids to learn about different ways of life, while a firefly tour will captivate the whole family.
The capital is a fantastic place for a short family trip to Malaysia if you’re practically anywhere in Southeast Asia. Clean, efficient and with multiple forms of reliable transport all around the city, even visiting Kuala Lumpur with an infant is not too hard. See the bird park; show the kids the view from Petronas Towers; enjoy the slides of Sunway Lagoon; enjoy the AC at Kidzania role-playing city; set younger children loose at Berjaya Times Square indoor theme park/playground; or treat them to an ‘underwater’ adventure at the immense Aquaria KLCC, where see-through tunnels let you see sharks and rays up close.