Top-10 Tourist Destinations in Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the hottest travel destinations in Southeast Asia with beaches, mountains, extreme sports and endless shopping opportunities. Budget and luxury travellers can visit lots of famous places in Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi and Sabah and will find something to suit their budget. Just be aware as of 2017, all foreigners need to pay RM10 ($2.40) tourist tax per person each night. So, let’s take a look at a list of tourist places in Malaysia for all kinds of activities and budgets.

Melaka by Phalinn Ooi

1. The best spot for a honeymoon: Tioman Island

A trip to Tioman Island is perfect for honeymoon tourists. Expect beaches, exclusive resorts, cocktails and opportunities to go snorkelling and get your diving licence. You’ll find unparalleled luxury on this island. Just imagine watching the sunset on the beach with your special someone or treating yourselves at the spas.

The Island's best resorts: Japamala Resort Tioman and Berjaya Tioman Resort are the best places to stay for honeymoons. You can arrange a pickup service from Mersing to take you to the island resorts. There are lots of rooms and chalets to choose from with the ones having sea views being the best value for money. Seafood is also famous here, and you can get an abundance of dishes from freshly caught fish in most restaurants.

If you plan to stay on Tioman Island for more than five days and like water sports, consider taking your diving licence. Becoming a fully-licensed diver costs just RM1000 ($246), which is very low compared to the rest of Malaysia and other countries. Witnessing baby turtles hatch at the Juara Turtle Hatchery may be a magical and unforgettable experience too.

Technically Tioman Island is part of Pahang, but in reality, it's closer and more accessible from Mersing in Johor. First, you need to reach Johor and take the high-speed ferry from Mersing Jetty. Tickets cost RM35 ($8.60) per person one way. The journey takes up to two hours. Some tour operators have online booking services. If you’re in Kuala Lumpur, expect at least four and a half hours to reach Johor by car or using the bus. It may be faster to fly to Johor directly.

2. The best holiday destination for a honeymoon: Langkawi Island

If you want to find the most relaxing places in Malaysia for a honeymoon, look no further than Langkawi. Langkawi is a dutyfree island in Kedah to the north of West Malaysia. Kuah is the main town and capital while Pantai Cenang has the best beaches.

There are lots of high-end resorts for honeymooners such as Pantai Cenang’s Casa Del Mar or more secluded spots like The Andaman or Datai Langkawi, which are in quieter parts of the island. Regardless of where you stay, it’s easy to get around Langkawi. Either rent a car or a scooter to drive along the empty coastal roads and highways. Multiple flights depart between Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi on a daily basis and most cost less than $50.

3. The best places for families: Lost World of Tambun Theme Park, Perak

If you’re looking for places to visit in Malaysia with a family, check out Perak’s Lost World of Tambun Theme Park. Inside, you can enjoy the amusement park, water park and the petting zoo. There’s also live entertainment including traditional tribal dances and fire shows in the evenings. But, it’s not just for kids. The hot springs are perfect for parents to unwind and relax while the kids play.

If you're at the water park, you can experience a pool party with live music from a DJ. Just be aware the theme park has strict pool dress codes. Different tickets and passes are available online depending on which parts you want to visit. Malaysia’s duel pricing system means foreigners pay RM81 ($20) while admission for Malaysians is RM59 ($14.50). Ipoh, capital of Perak is approximately two and a half hours from Kuala Lumpur.

4. Fun for the family: Sunway Lagoon Water Theme Park, Selangor

One of the top places in Malaysia for families having a holiday in Kuala Lumpur is to spend the day at Selangor’s Sunway Lagoon. Sunway Lagoon combines a water, amusement and extreme park with another section dedicated to wildlife. You can sign up for paintballing, Go Karting and riding an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) around the trails here too.

Families find Sunway Lagoon one of the best places to visit in Malaysia because of its easy access to and from Kuala Lumpur. You can reach the theme park within 30 minutes from the city centre in either a taxi or using the KTM. Most visitors often stay the night at the adjoining resort. Foreigners need to pay RM10 ($2.40) per night as tourist tax.

Admission fees vary depending on the types of activities you want to do with Malaysians paying at least RM120 ($29.50) and foreigners RM153 ($38) for the same tickets. Regular discounts and promotions are found on their website, and it may be a good idea to monitor prices and book tickets in advance. Fees cover all parts of the park excluding the pay-per-ride activities like G-force, bungee jumping and the Go-karts.

5. Traveling with a group of friends? Visit Pangkor Island, Perak

If you’re looking for the ideal travel destinations in Malaysia to visit with a group of friends, check out Perak’s Pangkor Island. Mountainous terrain, quiet beaches and plenty of snorkelling opportunities make this island a favourite. You can also visit two Chinese temples (Fu Li Kong and Lin Je Kong) and a Dutch Fort. Coral Bay Beach and Giam Island are other exciting places to visit on Pangkor Island.

Getting around is straightforward. An 18 kilometre (11 miles) circular road twists around Pangkor and through the mountains. Most people will rent a scooter or a bicycle for a few dollars each day. Taxis and local minibuses are readily available to take you from one place to the next. You’ll find a variety of hotels ranging from budget up to luxury depending on the type of holiday you’re looking for.

Pangkor Island is approximately four hours from Kuala Lumpur by car. First, head to Perak’s Lumut Town, which is a three-hour drive and then take one of the regular ferries to the island.

6. The best places for group of friends: Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu

Pulau Perhentian is where to go in Malaysia for a short trip when you’re travelling with friends. The Island is 45 minutes by speedboat from Terengganu and is famous for crystal clear waters and white sand beaches creating the perfect tropical paradise. Visitor’s rate Perhentian Island as one of West Malaysia’s best snorkelling and scuba diving spots.

Two islands make up Pulau Perhentian: Pulau Besar, or Big Island, and Pulau Kecil, Small Island. Small Island has a reputation for partying and all night drinking sessions with lots of affordable alcohol. Check out Long Beach on the south coast for several beach bars opening until 4:00 am and later. Drugs are rampant. Theft and drink spiking isn't uncommon. Solo travellers need to be careful. Big Island is more geared towards families. Bars and clubs close at midnight and alcohol isn’t as affordable and easy to find. If you want to party, head to Small Island whereas those looking to relax should go to Big Island instead.

7. The best city breaks: Shopping

There are lots of famous places in Malaysia for shopping. Kuala Lumpur is the hub with several malls selling everything from designer to budget clothes along with electronics, accessories and perfumes. If you want retail therapy, Kuala Lumpur is the best place for a city break.

For high-end shopping head to The Gardens Mall or KLCC (in the same place at Petronas Towers). If you’re looking for bargains, go to Midvalley Megamall or Berjaya Times Square and Sungei Wang Plaza in Bukit Bukit Bintang. Petaling Street is a favourite spot too. If you’re visiting the markets, expect to haggle. Vendors often set the prices almost double the local rate for foreigners. Be aware that some get upset if you start to bargain and don’t buy.

Shoppers in Kuala Lumpur will find it easy to get around from one mall to the next using public transport. The train (KTM), LRT (Light Rapid Transit), MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and Monorail from KL Sentral takes you to most of the shopping malls. Write down the shopping districts you want to visit, check the map and plan an efficient route to travel around them all.

8. City breaks: The historical city of Malacca

Malacca makes a great holiday destination in Malaysia if you’re a fan of history and you get there within two hours of Kuala Lumpur. The city was a Portuguese colony from 1511 to 1641 with a number of historical areas remaining. Visit Stadthuys, Christ Church and the Ruins of St Paul’s Church. The A-Famosa Fortress is a famous landmark in Malacca too. There are lots of things to do in Malacca apart from the history including panoramic views from the Taming Sari Tower, Baba Nyonya Museum and taking a river cruise. If you want to buy souvenirs, head down to Jonker Street.

9. City and beach breaks for everyone: Batu Feringghi, Penang Island

Most tourists who visit Penang head to Georgetown. But there’s more to Penang than visiting the heritage sites and street art in the capital. Batu Feringghi, 20 minutes from Georgetown in the northern part of the island, is the perfect place to enjoy the beach. Night markets, butterfly gardens and a national park with a spice garden are highlights too. Local families often head to Moonlight Bay’s Wet World Wild water park. If you want to check out any of these attractions, search online first to find out the admission fees. Like other parts of Malaysia, foreigners pay more. There are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from in Batu Feringghi to suit your budget.

10. Nature lovers: Borneo’s Sabah and Sarawak

Sabah and Sarawak are the most famous places in Malaysia for nature and ecotourism. In Sabah, you can visit Malaysia’s tallest mountain: Gunung Kinabalu at 4095 metres (13,435 feet), an Orangutan Sanctuary in Sandakan and five small islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. Prices tend to change frequently, and non-Malaysians often have to pay at least three times more than locals. Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu is also a must for nature lovers where you’ll get to spend your time inside a tropical rainforest.

Sarawak is famous for caves, rock climbing and having some of Malaysia’s best cultural villages. The International Rainforest Music Festival takes place in June attracting musicians and fans from around the globe. Cultural shows are a regular occurrence in Sarawak’s capital Kuching combining a buffet-style lunch or dinner with traditional entertainment.

Conclusion

There are lots of famous places in Malaysia to visit depending on your interests and budget. Whether you’re here on a luxurious honeymoon, with your friends or as an eco-tourist, you’ll find Malaysia to be a rewarding destination.

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