Top Things to do in Malaysia
While Malaysia still feels largely undiscovered that is likely to change. The government’s push to increase tourist numbers will soon draw crowds to the country’s unspoiled beaches, distinct culture of Indian, Chinese and Malay ethnicities, great shopping and inexpensive prices.
Eat Like a Queen
If you like street food, head to the Island of Penang. At hawker stalls in Georgetown try char kuay teow, rice noodles stir-fried with chilies and chives, Nasi Kandar (rice with rich, thick curry) and Beef Rendang, smothered in a spicy, caramelized sauce. If all the eating gets too taxing, treat yourself to a Chi balancing therapy at the magnificent Chi-Spa in the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort. With your ying and yang aligned you’ll be ready for another helping in no time.
The mega-malls of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle district have all the big international luxury brands, along with some home-grown Malaysian varieties like Bernard Chandran and Jimmy Choo. But what makes the city a spender’s paradise is the coveted trifecta – good quality, great designs, and excellent value. Towards summer’s end, look out for the “Mega-Sale Carnival” when shops across the entire country offer deep discounts.
The 99 Islands
Don’t miss the breathtaking Four Seasons Langkawi, amid 99 lush islands, surrounded by turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. The resort’s 91 beachfront villas and pavilions are the ultimate base to explore the area. Small journeys, like the one between the spa and candlelit Ikan-Ikan restaurant are done by chauffeured golf cart, but the hotel will also arrange further journeys. Zip through the mangrove-framed tributaries keeping your eyes peeled for monkeys. The Langkawi Sky Bridge, hung by cables strung 700 meters above sea level between two gorgeous peaks, is a must-do.
Explore the Ocean Blue
It may be a challenge to get to, (a hair-raising 90 minute boat ride from the Northeastern mainland) but once you arrive on its coral fringed beaches you’ll wonder why more visitors aren’t there with you. The Perhentian Islands boast some of the best diving – or snorkeling, if that’s more your speed – spots in the world. Numerous charter companies offer day tours to the ultimate coral reefs, and the advantage of the island’s remoteness means if you leave early in day you’ll have them all to yourself.
Kelantan state is the most conservative region, with strict Islamic practices. Venues such as swimming pools are sparse, so this isn’t the place to lounge in your bikini, but it is the best for experiencing authentic Malay culture. A good home base are the private chalets of Pasir Balanda, run by an expat couple who’ve partnered with local neighbors to offer cultural workshops such as batik and kite-making operated in nearby huts. Hop on a loaner bike to explore the jungle-like roadways , where every motorbike you pass comes with a friendly “Hello!” Many of the nearby houses are dishing out incredible Malay food, so do go beyond what the homestay is offering.
Watch the sunrise at 4000 m
It’s a trek just getting to the trail’s base, but hiking Southeast Asia’s highest peak, Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo is worth the journey if only for the spectacular sunrise at 4095 metres above sea-level. It takes two days and one night round trip, and you have to be reasonably fit and okay with waking hours before the sun, but otherwise it’s an ideal trek.
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