From a bustling capital to the silky beaches, there are a ton of things to do in Malaysia.
Malaysia is a must-visit Southeast Asian country for anyone looking to immerse themselves in a place marked by rich heritage and a colorful history. Malaysia’s renowned attractions, diverse gastronomic options, and relatively budget-friendly costs coupled with the locals’ good nature have contributed to making the country a top choice for travelers, from backpackers to luxury lovers.
We prepared this guide to help you get a grasp on the multitude of things you can do in Malaysia, starting with the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, and expanding out to other parts of the country. Over time we are going to be adding all sorts of additional information so bookmark this page for future reference!
And without further ado, let’s explore all that there is to do in Malaysia!
Table of Contents
Things to Do in Malaysia
In Kuala Lumpur alone, tourists will have their hands full trying to make time for all the iconic sights. We talk about some must-see places below, and if you want a full guide to Kuala Lumpur check out our article on things to do in Kuala Lumpur on a budget.
Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur
Hopefully, you’re not afraid of heights, as the twin skyscrapers of the Petronas Towers were recognized as the tallest buildings in the world when they were completed back in 1998. Its most anticipated feature is the Skybridge, where you can catch a breathtaking view of the city, completely free of charge. Make sure that you line up early though, as they only give out a limited number of passes daily.
If you do miss out on the queue, you can still visit Suria KLCC located at the base of the building for all your shopping needs. Tired of the busy city scene? You can also visit KLCC Park and enjoy the greenery of the 50-acre garden.
Perdana Botanical Gardens
Previously known as Lake Gardens, this place serves as a welcome respite for those wanting to get away from the bustle of city life. Tourists can enjoy the capital’s rich collection of flower gardens and animal parks while strolling, jogging, or simply relaxing at the park.
You can also bask in the beauty of Malaysia’s national flower, the hibiscus, which is showcased in the orchid gardens. Perdana Botanical Gardens is absolutely worth visiting even if it’s just to relax from the hustle and bustle of the city for a couple of hours.
Shopping on a budget? Chinatown’s the place for you. Petaling Street offers various goods at bargain prices, from bags, belts, hats, and clothes, to watches and even jewelry.
If you’re hungry, you might also want to try the local street food—some say Petaling Street serves the best deep-fried chicken feet in the country. The plaza also features dozens of China-themed stores and restaurants, in case you’re craving some dim-sum.
Batu Caves Temple
Batu Caves usually gets most of its visiting share during the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam, as thousands of worshipers and tourists come to the temple for celebration.
Composed of three main caves and a number of smaller ones, the Batu Caves Temple complex is also known for featuring several Hindu statues and paintings, most of them relating to the story of how Lord Murugan defeated the demon Soorapadman. Feel free to ask the locals to tell you more about the Hindu deity as you visit, they will gladly share the lore with you.
Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
Best Hostel in Kuala Lumpur – Mingle Hostel
Located in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, Mingle Hostel is one of the best hostels in Kuala Lumpur for travelers who appreciate modern facilities and a social atmosphere.
Mingle Hostel is located within walking distance to transport links throughout the city, and finding your way around will be a breeze. They offer mixed and female only dorms, which are spacious, modern and offer everything you might need such as charging facilities, curtains, reading lights and secure lockers.
The amazing rooftop lounge and bar at Mingle Hostel is a great place to socialize and make new friends. Try one of the delicious cocktails on offer, or enjoy your free breakfast with an amazing view here in the morning! There are plenty of hostel events and free tours, so just enquire at reception!
Best Budget Boutique Hotel in Kuala Lumpur – The Yard Boutique Hotel
- Address: 51 D, Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
- Independent Reviews: Booking.com
Located in Kuala Lumpur’s most coveted area Bukit Bintang, The Yard Boutique Hotel is a stylish and comfortable boutique hotel set in an old colonial house.
The location is ideal for exploring all that Kuala Lumpur has to offer, and its just a countless shopping malls, one of KL’s best streets for food Jalan Alor Street, as well as plenty of bars and nightlife opportunities.
Check out our guide to the best hostels and budget hotels in Kuala Lumpur to find more great accommodation options.
Things to Do in Malaysia Outside of Kuala Lumpur
Of course, after traveling to the capital, Malaysia still has a lot to offer. Interested in the country’s history? Here are some tourist attractions known for their cultural and historical importance:
The Historic City of Malacca
Full of heritage hot spots and traditional villages, Malacca is also known as the historic capital of Malaysia. Here you can visit different museums to see classic wood engravings from furniture and ship models to temples and churches.
The Jonker Walk Night Market, available only on Fridays and Saturdays, is also famous for packing interesting trinkets and an assortment of local delicacies.
Old Georgetown Streets at Penang
Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, Penang is home to many well-preserved infrastructure detailed with 18th and 19th-century architecture. Kek Lok Si Temple, Kapitan Keling Mosque, and Fort Cornwallis are just some of the well-known landmarks the city has to offer.
Old Georgetown is literally filled with old-fashioned mansions, temples, and houses illustrating the country’s colonial history, and as such offers hours, if not days, of exploration for curious visitors.
Sarawak Cultural Village
Sarawak Cultural Village allows tourists to gain one of the most unique experiences in traveling the country; it allows them to immerse themselves in the local tribes’ culture. You can visit local tribes in their genuine homes and learn their music, lifestyle, ways, and traditions through workshops.
The highlight of the visit is a dance performance where each tribal dance is represented in a 45-minute dance routine. It’s fascinating to watch, and if you have any interest at all in Malaysian culture do yourself a favor and check out one of these performances.
Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Kinabalu, is one of the country’s consistent top-crowd drawers. Mount Kinabalu boasts the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea, so if you’re planning to climb the mountain, make sure you’re physically and mentally ready—it takes two days on average for a person to climb up and down Kinabalu. If you don’t plan to climb, don’t worry: you can use instead the lower slopes of the mountain as trails for walking.
Enjoy there the park’s popular flora and fauna; experts say the park has over 5000 different species of plants and animals, differing per layer of the mountain. Its mountain forests are also home to orangutans! They’re shy and rarely seen, so keep your eyes open in case you’re lucky enough to spot one.
Eco Adventures in Malaysia
While there are many places to experience an eco-adventure in Malaysia we will focus on one island in particular. If you’re looking for a more physical brand of adventure, feel free to visit Redang Island in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu. The island is rich in plant and animal life, making it the perfect spot for environment lovers. You might want to try the following if you choose to have an eco-adventure in Malaysia here:
Visit the Marine Park
Several activities are available for visitors across the resorts in the island. Some sites keep shipwreck for exploration through snorkeling, while some parts of the island attract divers for the marine life, with Pasir Panjang offering a close-up look at baby sharks’ nesting bays while scuba-diving.
Fortunately (for marine life), fishing and water-skiing are not allowed for the protection of the marine environment. If you’re not into any water sports you can also go kayaking or merely hang out at the beaches and enjoy the sand.
Trekking in Redang
Redang is also home to some of the most beautiful rainforests in Southeast Asia. There are several trails available for exploration on the island, leading to picturesque views from the hilltops. Ideally, you should have a guide before you start touring the forests, so that you’ll be with someone familiar with the tracks.
If you’re into bird watching, don’t forget to pack your binoculars as many rare birds often make their nests in the forests here, which in turn are collected by the locals and made into a special soup.
Interested patrons can come to SEATRU (Sea Turtle Research Unit), a turtle nursery and conservation center, and assist in collecting and taking care of turtle eggs until they hatch. Additionally, there are three rare species of turtles that regularly come to Redang for nesting at varying times of the year—the Green Sea Turtle, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, so you might want to check up on their respective schedules if you plan to see them.
Relaxing in Malaysia
If you’re in need of relaxation, Malaysia also holds a number of sanctuaries for visitors to find personal peace. The following places are recommended for tourists looking to loosen up or lighten their mood:
The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat
The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat is famed for its variety of holistic treatment techniques and wellness therapies. If you’re looking to escape into some peace and quiet, this is definitely the place for you. Perfect for solo or couple getaways, the 5-star retreat provides its guests with multiple choices on how they want to relax—the facilities available range from geothermal hot springs, thermal steam caves, and heated swimming pools, to fish foot spas and meditation caves.
You can also select which environment you prefer your accommodation to have, as they offer a garden villa for those looking to be one with nature while a water villa is recommended for those who enjoy being surrounded by water. And did I mention they also serve healthy and organic food? Truly a haven for both the body and mind.
A lot of people get surprised by how spectacular the views are at Cameron Highlands. Easily one of the more underrated tourist spots in Malaysia, Cameron Highlands will satisfy anyone looking for a verdurous view. You can visit the tea plantations in the area to learn more about the industry: Boh Tea Plantation is where tourists usually go but you can also try Boh Sungai Palas Tea Centre and Bharat Cameron Valley Tea House.
There are also many strawberry farms in Cameron Highlands, where you can come and pick your own strawberries and also purchase a variety of strawberry-themed items. Honey farms are also abundant in the area. You can learn more about bees and honey while trying out the local honey flavor. There’s also a butterfly farm that is sure to pique your interest.
Beaches in Malaysia
Have a look at our full rundown of some of the best beaches in Malaysia.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Malaysia
Malaysia’s unique mix of culture and tradition has made the country a top-tier destination for tourists. It has taken great care in preserving its national identity and history, and as such allows travelers to experience the difference between the past and the present while appreciating the details in between.
Complete with tourist locations that cater to every backpacker’s interest—from street food trips to luxury shopping, mountain-climbing to trekking and swimming, visiting temples and historical hot spots to relaxing in spas and verdant areas—Malaysia is without a doubt a must-visit for anybody looking to enjoy a new kind of travel adventure.
So there you have it guys, our guide to all the different things you can do in Malaysia. And we barely even scratched the surface! As always happy travels all, and we hope to see you on the road!
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