Things to Do in Malaysia: Urban Cities, Alpine Mountains & Abundant Flora and Fauna
Located in the Peninsula and stretches to parts of Borneo, Malaysia shares a border with Indonesia, and with that in mind, tourists shouldn’t be confused by the terminologies Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia) and East Malaysia, which comprises Sarawak and Sabah (Malaysian Borneo).
Boasting a total landmass of more than 300,000 square kilometres, Malaysia is known for its capital city—Kuala Lumpur, a financial and business hub in all of SouthEast Asia, as well as its pristine beaches, secluded islands and elevated hills, not to mention its UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There’s also a melting pot of cultures here. On top of Malays and indigenous groups, there’s also a significant Chinese and Indian population in Malaysia which can be seen in the architecture and cultural relics in the country. Tourists can choose from a wide range of activities from hiking, to diving, to shopping, or relish in local cuisine. Urban cities to peaceful countrysides, here’s a low down of the best things to do in Malaysia you should include in your itinerary.
Table of Contents
1. Relax, Refresh and Recharge in Paradise 101 Langkawi
Treat yourself and your family to an unparalleled beach getaway in Langkawi, or some may call it the “Jewel of Kedah”, to experience a first-rate tropical island adventure at Paradise 101. Located at the Andaman Sea, this private island offers a myriad of exciting activities that’ll make your visit to Langkawi worthwhile. Some of the recreations you can immerse yourself in include kayaking, jet skiing, riding on a banana boat, zip lining, just to name a few. Or challenge your travel buddies to traverse their inflatable obstacle course monikered Aqua Park. When night falls, party under the gleaming stars at the OMG Bar with a handcrafted mocktail in hand. If you’re looking for couple things to do in Malaysia, this destination is a hotspot for love birds thanks to their bespoke honeymoon packages.
You can reach Paradise 101 easily via a boat shuttle that’ll only take minutes. Home to countless tropical experiences, bespoke holiday packages and sublime customer services, Paradise 101 is the ultimate destination in Langkawi where you’ll be spoilt with choice.
2. Visit Petronas Twin Towers Kuala Lumpur
Amongst the most iconic sights there is in Kuala Lumpur, the PETRONAS Twin Towers is the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers as of 2023 that features a postmodern architecture style and Islamic motifs to represent the nation’s muslim majority. The main attraction is the skywalk over the sky bridge that conjoins just so the visitors can admire the views that stretch across Kuala Lumpur and KLCC Park at the very base of the towers.
3. Enjoy the Culture at Malacca
Malacca or locally known as Melaka is “The Historic State” that is said to carry some of the most interesting architecture in all of Malaysia as it was formerly colonised by the Portuguese hence featuring a sizeable number of red lacquer buildings from the period such as the Christ Church. Expect to also see a high concentration of museums, galleries, and historical sites in which you can explore.
4. Tour around Penang
Off the west coast of Malaysia lies Penang island. With Georgetown as its capital—named after the British King, King George—Penang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site emphasising conservation and preservation whereby tourists can experience such in one of Penang’s famous hotels E&O. Penang is also renowned for its Tropical Spice Garden that showcases the finest of the region’s local flora and fauna such as the Torch Ginger, a plant used in many local Malay dishes.
5. Go Jungle Trekking in Taman Negara National Park
Looking for unique things to do in Malaysia that bring you closer to nature? Taman Negara National Park is your best bet!
Located in the state of Pahang, Taman Negara National Park boasts several claims to fame that garner a steady stream of tourists. Two of these claims are: this is the largest national park in all of peninsular Malaysia, and that the park features the longest rope walkway in the world. You can find some serious treks here that are as long as 100km round trip, along with beginner-friendly hikes. If you’re a nature enthusiast, there is a plethora of wildlife and plant life in the park for you to traverse, and not to mention that this park is home to an indigenous tribe named the Orang Asli or Original People, who are said to be the first inhabitants of Malaysia.
6. Explore the Cradle of Culture About Kota Bharu
On the wet coast of Malaysia in the state of Kelantan lies Kota Bharu. Due to its reputation as a more conservative region than much of the rest of the country, many tourists have failed to visit this city. Though standards of dress and comportment are relatively stricter in Kota Bharu, there are plenty of mosques and other religious sites to visit, one of which is the old royal palace which is still the home of the current Sultan of Kelantan.
7. Escape to Genting Highlands
Nestled within the Titiwangsa Mountains and sits at an altitude of over 5,000 feet, you have Genting Highlands. Also dubbed Resorts World Genting, the resort consists of an indoor and outdoor theme park, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as a cable car known as the Genting Skyway which formerly held the title of the World’s fastest and South East Asia’s longest gondola lift. Thanks to its location, they are also home to several fruit and vegetable farms whereby tourists can explore and pick fresh produce.
8. Befriend the Orang Utans in Sepilok
Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, East Malaysia, is located at the outskirts of Sandakan. When it opened in the 1960s, it became the first ever orang utan rehabilitation centre of its kind in the world. The purpose of this centre is to rescue orphaned orang utans who have been left to stand on their own feet due to illegal poaching and logging, or who have been found being illegally kept as pets; and administer healthcare and training to the mammals to ensure that they’re able to reintegrate and survive in the wild. Once they’re able to do so, they’re released. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Malaysia, this place is your best bet. Visitors can observe the orang utans in the centres or participate in tours where they’re given the opportunity to feed them.
9. Dive in at the Unspoiled Perhentian Islands
One of the best places to visit in Malaysia, the Perhentians are actually a group of islands in the state of Terengganu, lying close to the coast of Thailand. Tourists can reach the islands at their leisure either by ferry or water taxis. Some of the key attractions in Perhentians are the pearl white sand beaches and water, and scuba diving is considered a favourite activity amongst tourists. When night falls, sit back and dine on freshly sourced fish cooked over coconut husks on the beach.
10. Climb the Astounding Mount Kinabalu
Take note if you’re looking for things to do in Malaysia, because we present to you the highest mountain in all of Malaysia—Mount Kinabalu. Sits in the Crocker mountain range and lies within Kinabalu Park, Mount Kinabalu is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This mountain carries a host of biodiversity including a variety of flora, fauna and fungi. The trek to the top of Mount Kinabalu is fairly strenuous hence not recommended to inexperienced hikers due to the risk of altitude sickness that comes with the advanced elevation. All hikers must be accompanied by a licensed guide and there are two different routes to opt for despite these intersecting towards the summit. Though some experienced climbers undertook the hike in one day, you may choose to stay overnight at the available accommodation.
11. Enjoy the Hustle and Bustle of the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is an area of Kuala Lumpur known for its abundant nightlife, bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels and malls. The area extends over several streets but the central hub is said to be Jalan P. Ramlee where tourists can choose from a wide selection of places to drink and party. With a sizable number of large shopping malls nearby, this area is most ideal for those looking for a retail therapy before a night on the town.
12. Marvel at the Spectacular National Mosque
Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s National Mosque is one destination not to be missed. The mosque can accommodate 15,000 worshippers at any given time. Built in 1965, the mosque follows principles of Islamic architecture and features a roof in the shape of a sixteen point star. You’ll notice a strong emphasis on water features such as fountains and reflective pools throughout the mosque complex, and touring around is permissible provided you’re dressed appropriately.
13. Traverse the Colourful Stairs of Batu Caves
Home to a giant statue and hundreds and thousands of doves, Batu Caves is where you can marvel at limestone cliffs that are studded with caves and carved cave temples. These caves and temples are Hindu shrines, making it a site of pilgrimage for many Tamil residents of Malaysia. Worshipping aside, tourists can also experience the local flora and fauna including wild monkeys that inhabit the area together with bats that dwell in the caves. If you’re more of an adventurous person, challenge yourself to climb over 160 climbing routes in the area.
14. Stop By Johor Bahru’s Oldest Chinese Temple
Located in the town of Johor Bahru, on the border between Malaysia and Singapore, the Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple is set in an area of rapid development and can be found nestled between several immaculate skyscrapers. The temple is said to have been existing around 130 years despite no clear records exist, and highlights several important historical relics such as plaques and a large bronze bell. The temple is also famous for hosting five major Chinese deities and visitors can explore the area whilst learning about these Chinese figures.