With the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand to the east, and the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits to the west, Malaysia makes an eminently coastal destination. If you’re looking at cruises around southeast Asia, many lines include stops somewhere in Malaysia, with the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, among the most frequent ports of call. Balance out the big-city sights with stops at the many pristine beaches in the region. Cruise trips that visit Malaysia run the gamut, from intimate vessels hopping around the nearby islands to enormous ships en route to India or Australia.
Plenty of cruise lines pass through Malaysia on circuits around southeast Asia. For a longer trip on a bigger ship, choose among major international lines, such as Royal Caribbean (royalcaribbean.com) or Princess (princess.com). If you’d prefer a smaller, mega-yacht experience, companies such as Orion (orionexpeditions.com) or Voyages of Discovery (voyagesofdiscovery.com) specialize in luxurious, intimate journeys.
If you’re looking to stick to Malaysia and neighboring countries, opt for a shorter trip on a smaller vessel, such as the five-night Spice of Southeast Asia Cruise by Royal Caribbean. You depart from Singapore and visit Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, Malaysia, before continuing on to Phuket, Thailand, and returning to Singapore. At the other end of the spectrum, Voyages of Discovery offers a 35-night trip that takes you from Luxor, Egypt all the way to Bangkok, stopping off in India, Malaysia and Thailand along the way.
In most cases, if your cruise makes just one stop in Malaysia, it will be at Port Klang, to take land transportation into the center of Kuala Lumpur. However, if you’re interested in getting to know the country a little bit better, opt for a cruise that makes multiple stops in various worthy ports. Langkawi Island is most likely the second most popular port of call, with mangrove-lined beaches and scenic waterfalls. Malacca was once a Dutch trading post and has notable architecture and a continuing tradition of local crafts. Redang Island is an ideal stop for swimming, snorkeling, diving and beach time. At Penang, you get a combination of colonial architecture and natural sights.
If you’re more interested in the interior of Malaysia, with its islands’ remote villages and dense jungle, take a jungle river cruise. Pandaw River Cruises (pandaw.com) operate expeditions along the rivers of Borneo. The Malaysian Tourism Bureau (tourism.gov.my) even capitalizes on the appeal of a river cruise, offering cruises along the Melaka river.
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