Malaysia is one of the most complete travel destinations in Southeast Asia. From touristic point of view it is much less crowded than its neighbor Thailand for instance, but at the same time this country offers a lot to all travelers who love culture, nature and gastronomy. It’s a country full of surprises and we can only talk you about Peninsular Malaysia, since we haven’t had the chance to visit Malaysian Borneo, yet. There are so many things to see and do in Malaysia: a super modern capital, beautiful colonial towns, tropical rainforests to trekking in, tea plantations that look like a postcard and of course relaxing on paradise islands. Nevertheless, what made Malaysia really special to us is the fantastic cultural mixture you can appreciate in the country. Malaysia is a country that constantly seems to be a festival of colors and cultures. In many places you will find mosques, Christian churches, Hindu and Chinese buddhist temples in a relatively small area, while in the food courts Chinese, Malayan and Indian cooks will prepare you their typical dishes.
Malaysia is a country that you don’t only have to see, but you have to live it, feel it, smell it and taste it. In order to help you to get to know the most essential things to see in Malaysia, we prepared you a 3-week travel itinerary. It’s a circular route that starts from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital that will most probable be your point of entry to the country. Certainly, if you don’t have three whole weeks to visit this country, you can tail the itinerary to your needs.
Things to see and do in Malaysia in 3 weeks
Day 1-3. Kuala Lumpur, one of the most modern capitals in Asia
Day 4-6. George Town, enjoying fabulos gastronomy in Penang Island
Day 7-9. Langkawi Island, a tropical island with beautiful landscapes
Day 10-11. Cameron Highlands, a bit of cool weather in the tropics
Day 12-14. Taman Negara, the most antique tropical rainforest on our planet
Day 15-18. Perhentian, an island that will not let you leave
Day 19-21. Malacca (Melaka), another colonial town with awesome cuisine
Day 1-3. Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, for friends simply KL, the capital of Malaysia is a fantastic city in which modernity mixes well with the authentic Asian feeling. The city most of all is famous for the Petronas Towers, the highest twin towers (452 m) in the world. It’s worth hanging around in the park near the towers both during the day and at night. We were especially amazed by them at night, when the towers were illuminated. Nevertheless, Kuala Lumpur is much more than its famous towers, in this city you will find a bustling and very authentic Chinatown, colonial architecture on Merdaka Square, Little India with its smells, which will transport you to the India itself, and so much more. In the surroundings of Kuala Lumpur you can’t miss out on a religious monument, which is definitely one of the things to see in Malaysia, the Batu Caves. This holy place is the most important Hindu sanctuary outside India, and is the destination for many pilgrims around the world.
Day 4-6. George Town, Penang
The city of George Town is located on Penang Island, in the Northwest of Malaysia. It’s one of the most important colonial towns in the country. Full of beautiful Chinese houses, Christian churches, Hindu temples and mosques, George Town is one of the symbols of the ethnical and cultural diversity in Malaysia. The city is also known as the gastronomic capital of the country, and if you love Asian cuisine, one thing you must do in Malaysia without doubt is to pick up a brochure from the tourist office in George Town, in which all the different local specialities are shown. The brochure includes a map that indicates where you can try then each of these delicacies. It’s a real delight! Another tag has been added to the city since the renovation projects were finished, the street has become to be known also for the spectacular street art that you can find there. In all the city you will found creative paintings and sculptures, which will make your visit even more pleasant. Very close to George Town, you will find another must see place in Malaysia, the Kek Lok Si temple (you can get there in a public bus), the largest Buddhist temple in the country. It’s a very colorful temple complex, for us one of the most beautiful temples we have ever seen.
Day 7-9. Langkawi Island
Langkawi Island is found in the Andaman Sea, and if you go North from the island, you will already be in Thailand. Langkawi is a nice island, although the beaches there are not as amazing as those you can find on the nearby Thai islands. If you travel like we did, and come to Langkawi from the close island of Koh Lipe in Thailand, the beaches on Langkawi might not impress you. Moreover, some of the nicest beaches on the island, like the Datai Beaches, are closed to the public, since they are private property of the hotel built on them. Nevertheless, the island has beautiful things to offer, especially landscape-wise. There are lush green tropical rainforests, waterfalls and monkeys everywhere on the road amongst other things. We really recommend you to rent a motorbike to explore the island. We also would like to warn you that if you choose to take a bath, in certain months of the year, there are quite a lot of jellyfish there, so be aware of that!
Day 10-11. Cameron Highlands
Malaysia is a country where you will sweat most of the time because of the heat and the humidity, and you often would like to be in a place with cooler temperatures. Actually, there’s a part of the country where you will find this so much desired cool weather, the Cameron Highlands. This region with its moderate temperatures is the most important agricultural area in the country. Exploring these highlands, you will see huge farms where they cultivate strawberry and other kinds of fruits. Nevertheless, the most spectacular sights are the beautiful tea plantations that look like if someone had painted them. There are tours available to visit the most important sights in the area, but we recommend you to use the public transport and explore the highlands on your own. In addition, there are several nice trails in the forests of the Cameron Highlands.
Day 12-14. Taman Negara
The immense jungle of Taman Negara is known to be the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet with more than 130 million years. From the small riverside village of Kuala Tanah, you can explore the dense jungle full of wildlife. Although during the day it’s difficult to spot anything but birds, insects and small mammals, but there are several hiding places in the rainforest where you can spend the night, and with some luck you can spot some larger animals like tapires. There are many trails to explore the forest, and there’s also a canopy walk with suspension bridges, and walking there let you look at the jungle from above.
Day 15-18. Perhentian Islands
The East coast of Malaysia is full of beautiful islands like Pulau Redang, Pulau Kapas, Pulau Tioman, just to mention some of them. For us, however, the island you must see in Malaysia is without doubt the smaller Perhentian Island, Kecil. The Perhentian Islands consist of two islands, Kecil has an international backpacker atmosphere, whereas Besar has a more family vibe and local people really love it. We went to Perhentian to spend there a few days, and ended up spending 2 weeks there. Beware of not getting trapped by the beauty of the island, like it happened to us, in the end you will finally have to change the date of your return ticket:)
Perhentian has a really relaxed ambience, fantastic beaches, top spots for doing snorkeling and diving with turtles and sharks. In addition, every evening the restaurants on the beach offer barbecue dinner with fresh fish for very little money. It’s an island that for us was simply perfect.
Day 19-21. Malacca (Melaka)
The last stop on your trip will be Malacca, another precious colonial city to see in Malaysia. The city was founded by the last emperor of Singapore, but while you walk around, you will contemplate examples of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial architecture. Melaka is another fabulous city as far as gastronomy is concerned, and there are many very pleasant places to sit down for a meal on the banks of River Melaka. In Melaka you can also see nice street art, especially on the walls of the buildings on the riverside, which are decorated with beautiful graffitis. It’s worth spending some time in the night market they have every Friday and Saturday on Jonker Street and its surroundings. In the market you can try many local delicacies and even buy yourself some authentic souvenirs before going home.
We really hope that this itinerary with the most important things to see and do in Malaysia will be useful for you, when you plan your trip.
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