Malaysia is often overlooked when compared to its Asian and Indonesian neighbors such as Bali or Thailand. Long-term budget explorers often shun Malaysia as being “too expensive” (mostly because liquor does cost more than in Thailand). But missing out on exploring the best places in Malaysia would be a blunder. The country has pristine beaches, rolling green tea plantations, jungles and rainforests filled with rare wildlife and hundreds of incredible temples and mosques and bustling cities with epic views. All this is on offer with fewer tourists and for cheaper than its counterparts.

Here I share the top 5 most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia, with details on why you should see them, where to stay and what to do in Malaysia.

  1. KUALA LUMPUR

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city and also the fastest growing Asian city by economy and population. People planning a holiday in Malaysia will most likely fly into KL. Therefore, I suggest spending at least 2 days to give yourself some time to explore the city as there is plenty to see and do here.

WHAT TO SEE

There are so many things to explore in Kuala Lumpur, but my top 3 things are – the iconic Petronas Towers, the Batu Caves located 20 minutes’ drive from the Centre and the Thean Hou temple, perched atop a hill.

WHERE TO STAY

There are several luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur, but finding one with an unbelievable view is the most important and the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur certainly won’t disappoint! With rooms opposite the Petronas Towers and floor to ceiling windows, you will be able to capture the perfect picture right from your suite.

2. CAMERON HIGHLANDS

Most tourists who plan a trip to Malaysia usually head straight to the coast and miss the central part of the country. But not exploring the Cameron Highlands would be a mistake. Reminiscent of the English countryside, with beautiful houses, midafternoon teas, and lush green rolling hills, this place will be the highlight of your trip to Malaysia.

WHAT TO SEE

There is so much to see here, but the most obvious one is the tea plantation which is the main reason many visitors come to the Cameron Highlands. The most famous is Best of Highlands (BOH) which has a great viewing platform and offers factory tours and tea tasting. You should also go strawberry picking or take a guided nature trail through the jungle.

WHERE TO STAY

Places to stay in Cameron Highlands are relatively basic with a few guesthouses to choose from. But the most comfortable is the Cameron Highlands Resort which offers its guests a roaring fireplace, snug leather couches, delicious afternoon tea, beautiful traditional and luxurious rooms all with a true English countryside feel.

3. PENANG

Malaysians are proud of their big island on the west coast — Penang! This colonial city of Georgetown was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has plenty to offer in the way of a seaside fort, historic homes, museums, and most importantly, a well-known street-food scene. From Kuala Lumpur, you can directly fly to Penang, or take a bus. If you are heading to Penang from the Cameron Highlands, a few buses run per day that takes around 5 hours.

WHAT TO SEE

Penang has become well-known for its street art, with some frescoes gathered in long queues to get your picture with them. Once you are done with all the street art, head up to Habitat on Penang Hill for views and then back down to see Kek Lok Si (Snake Temple).

WHERE TO STAY

Most tourists who visit Penang want to stay in Georgetown. Depending on your travel style, I would suggest staying at Cheong Fatt Tze (for history lovers) or if you prefer a more modern hotel then the G Hotel Kelawai is the perfect option for you.

4. LANGKAWI

Situated off the northwest corner of Malaysia, Pulau Langkawi is the top island destination in Malaysia for foreign tourists and Malaysians. Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands located on Malaysia’s west coast. While the ocean may be the main draw, the place also has a mixture of picturesque paddy fields, stunning lagoons and lush tropical jungles.

WHAT TO SEE

Langkawi is famous for its beautiful beaches, so it’s quite possible you will be heading to this island to relax and enjoy some time in the sun. In between, time to go up to the Sky Bridge where you get spectacular views out over Langkawi, back to the mainland and even Thailand. If you don’t like gondolas then this may not be for you as the gondola ride can be nail biting!

WHERE TO STAY

My two favorite places are the Temple Tree by Bon Ton and The Andaman. These are two very different resorts that cater to different types of travellers. Temple Tree offers rooms in antique buildings of Chinese, Eurasian, Malay and Indian origin, making for a truly unique experience.

5. PERHENTIAN ISLANDS

This small archipelago called the Perhentians features as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia. The key coral-surrounded islands consist of the aptly named Besar and Kecil. Favorite activities, apart from relaxing in this little-visited tropical paradise, include scuba diving, snorkeling and canoeing.

WHAT TO SEE

Nature is undoubtedly the main attraction on these islands. These islands are also known for their gorgeous beaches that easily rival those of Thailand. Grab a kayak and start rowing around the island in search of your own secluded bay! FYI – you will be surprised by how close you will get to the wildlife within walking distance from your room.

WHERE TO STAY

The most luxurious resort here is the Perhentian Island Resort, which faces straight onto one of the most stunning beaches on the island.

I hope this article has inspired you to choose Malaysia as your next holiday destination. So if you’re ready to be wooed by nature, the abundance of ocean life along with beautiful landscapes then book your flight for Malaysia today!

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