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Things to Do in Malaysia

Malaysia is a country of contrasts, sliced in half by the South China Sea. On one side, colonial treasure troves, tropical islands, and modern cityscapes captivate; while in Borneo, rain forests and wild animals dominate the landscape. Malaysia is crowned by its sleek capital, Kuala Lumpur, where the Petronas Twin Towers, the Batu Caves, and enticing street food reign supreme. In historical Malacca, UNESCO World Heritage sites jostle for attention; Kota Kinabalu magnetizes travelers with fiery sunsets and a vibrant art scene; in Penang, the colonial gems of Georgetown complement the country’s best food; and on the white-sand beaches of Langkawi, revelers and relaxers soak up the island atmosphere. Opportunities for outdoor adventures abound: Hike through the emerald tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands, trek to the fiery summit of Mount Kinabalu volcano, or explore the fauna-rich rain forest of Taman Negara National Park. Nature lovers can visit rescued elephants at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, observe orangutans in Borneo’s dense jungle, or watch a dazzling display of fireflies at Kuala Selangor lagoon. Plus, Malaysia’s proximity to Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia not only make it an ideal launchpad for traveling Southeast Asia, but also creates an engrossing cultural tapestry guaranteed to excite and enchant.
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Dayang Bunting Island (Pulau Dayang Bunting)
10 Tours and Activities
The second-largest island in Langkawi archipelago, Dayang Bunting Island (Pulau Dayang Bunting) and its surrounding lake are enshrouded in folklore. Visit the lake where legend says a celestial princess placed her baby after his death (the waters are thought to aid in conceiving). Try snorkeling, bird-watching, and cave exploring too.
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George Town (Penang Georgetown)
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George Town (Penang Georgetown) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts a unique mix of cultures. The beating heart of Penang, George Town offers visitors a heady combination of world-class street food, colorful colonial architecture, and street art. This historic enclave, which can be explored entirely on foot, is also famous for its novelty museums.
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Petronas Twin Towers (Petronas Towers)
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A highlight of a trip to Kuala Lumpur is the views from the skybridge at Petronas Twin Towers . Each morning 1,700 passes are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis to visitors who want to visit the skybridge. It’s best to start queuing at 7am as most tickets are gone by 9am.

The views from the ground are equally incredible as you gaze up at the 88 story gleaming towers that reach 1,483 ft (452m) into the air.

The floor plan is based on the Islamic eight-pointed star and the five sections of the skyscraper reflect the five-pillars of Islam.

Beneath the Petronas Towers is KLCC Park, a large urban park with jogging tracks, a playground and wading pools. There is also the huge Suria KLCC shopping mall which has a number of good restaurants.

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Cherating River (Sungai Cherating)
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While Cherating is best known for its beaches, the ocean isn’t the only body of water worth exploring. The Cherating River meanders through mangrove forests of the region, and cruising the river has become one of the area’s most popular activities.

By day, river cruisers might spot monkeys, monitor lizards, snakes, otters, terrapins and a variety of tropical birds. By night the river looks completely different. On a nighttime river cruise, thousands of fireflies glow in the mangrove trees — a magical experience. It’s also possible to experience the river by kayak or canoe, or by learning to crab fish in its clear waters.

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Batu Caves
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The Batu Caves are dedicated to Lord Murugan and an imposing 47 meter high golden statue in his honour stands at the foot of the 272 stairs, which you must climb to view the Temple Cave. The Temple Cave’s ceiling is 100 meters high with holes in the rock illuminating the massive cave below. Beneath the Temple Cave is Dark Cave which is not open to the public without permission from the Malaysian Nature Society who organise daily spelunking tours to see wildlife native only to the caves. The Art Gallery and Museum caves are at the bottom of the staircase and are filled with paintings depicting scenes from Hindu tradition and statues of Hindu deities.
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Melawati Hill (Bukit Melawati)
102 Tours and Activities

Bukit Melawati (Melawati Hill) served as a stronghold for the Selangor Sultanate during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Remnants of the fort still dot the landscaped park now occupying the hill, including sections of wall, grave sites, a few cannons and a flat stone that was once used for beheadings. Today the park attracts not only history buffs, but nature lovers and other visitors who come to take in the panoramic views of the Selangor coastline from the top of the hill. On a clear day the Straits of Malacca are visible in the distance. A lighthouse, built in 1910 by the British, sits at the summit, through it’s not open to visitors. Silver-leafed monkeys and long-tailed macaques often hang around the park, hoping for a meal of peanuts or stolen snacks from unwary visitors.

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Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
5 Tours and Activities

In the heart of the mangrove forests of Semawang in Sandakan, the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is a privately owned reserve where visitors can observe these rare and distinctive creatives that are indigenous to Borneo.

It’s estimated that approximately 300 wild monkeys live within this six square­-kilometer sanctuary. There’s also plenty of other wildlife here besides the proboscis, with silverleaf monkeys and some fascinating birdlife, including hornbills, calling the reserve home. Many visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary on a day trip, although overnight stays are also possible, with night tours giving visitors a chance to see fireflies, wild boars, flying squirrels, and crocodiles. Booked in advance, it’s possible to combine the monkey’s feeding time with other activities, such as jungle treks or even a boat trip to a nearby fishing village.

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More Things to Do in Malaysia

Langkawi Sky Bridge

Langkawi Sky Bridge

15 Tours and Activities
A unique structure with spectacular views of Malaysia’s Langkawi archipelago, the Langkawi Sky Bridge is a curved suspension bridge on Mt. Machinchang. The 410-foot-long (125-meter-long) span hangs from a single pylon, 328 feet (100 meters) above the ground, offering excellent views of the jungle-covered mountains below and the Andaman Sea beyond.
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Sam Poh Tong

Sam Poh Tong

18 Tours and Activities
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Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka)

Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka)

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Impeccable Merdaka Square - or Dataran Merdeka - was a cricket ground in colonial times. The cricket ground was overlooked by the Royal Selangor Club which housed a club for the colonial rulers. When independence for Malaysia was declared, it was here that the Union Jack flag was lowered and the Malay flag was first raised. The flag still flies on a massive flagpole on the edge of the square.

The square is surrounded by historic buildings, the most majestic of which is the Sultan Abdul Samad building which housed the British administration and now houses the Ministry for Heritage, Culture and the Arts. The Moorish style building is dominated by a tall clock tower nicknamed "Big Ben." The square is now the focus of many of the city’s celebrations and the Independence Day festival is held here on August 31st.

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Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple

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Translated from Hokkien the Kek Lok Si Temple, or 'Temple of Serene Bliss', sits majestically on a hill, a focal point of the local Chinese community, generous donations mean this temple continues to grow.

The 7-story white & gold pagoda is the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia, its design - Chinese Octagonal base, Thai middle tier and Burmese crown - reflects its respects to Mahayana and Theravana Buddhism.

On the hillside above is an impressive 100ft (30m) bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.

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Kinabalu National Park

Kinabalu National Park

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Kinabalu National Park hugs the base of Mount Kinabalu like a lush, thick blanket. Sharing the same incredible biodiversity and UNESCO World Heritage status as the mountain that towers above it, Kinabalu National Park is recognised as one of the most important biological sites in the world.

For those who can’t conceive climbing Mount Kinabalu’s challenging slopes. Kinabalu National Parks presents an excellent alternative. Home to an estimated 5,500 plant species, including several hundred varieties of orchids and pitcher plants, 326 bird species and over 100 mammals, a walk in the park has never been this diverse.

There are 11km (7mi) of marked and graded trails across the Park, many of which cut across the mountain forest vegetation, which ranges from from rich dipterocarp and coniferous forests to montain oak and alpine meadow plants.

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LEGOLAND® Malaysia

LEGOLAND® Malaysia

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With more than 70 rides, tons of interactive shows, a handful of wild water slides and seven LEGO-themed exhibits, LEGOLAND Malaysia has become a top destination for families traveling to Kuala Lumpur.

While the massive park offers little visitors plenty to do and see, one of the favorite stops among visitors is MINILAND, where some 30 million LEGOs have been used to recreate iconic Asian landmarks on a much smaller scale. Kids can bring the models to life with the touch of a button and watch trains, planes and cars travel through the tiny land.

Even the water park, which includes 20 slides, pools and rivers, is LEGO themed, with 70 models build by LEGO experts. Kids can even construct their own rafts from soft LEGO bricks and float down one of the park’s lazy rivers.

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Eagle Square (Dataran Lang)

Eagle Square (Dataran Lang)

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Dataran Lang, or Eagle Square in English, is a square on Langkawi near the port where ferries sail in and out. It is the first sight visitors to this Malaysian island will see when they arrive by boat. In the square is a giant statue of an eagle poised to take flight. The eagle is almost 40 feet tall. The reddish-brown eagle was built as a symbol of the island since, according to folklore, Langkawi’s name came from two Malay words, Helang which means “eagle” and Kawi which means “reddish brown.” It is one of Langkawi's most recognizable sights.
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King's Palace (Istana Negara)

King's Palace (Istana Negara)

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In Malaysian, “Istana Negara” translates to “National Palace,” and Kuala Lumpur’s Royal King’s Palace (Istana Negara) serves as the official residence of the supreme King of Malaysia. The king relocated to a newly built Istana Negara in 2011, and while you can’t enter, it’s possible to see the beautiful architecture of the palace from afar and watch the hourly changing of the guards.

Before 2011, the Royal King’s Palace occupied another mansion. The structure was originally built in 1928 by a wealthy Chinese immigrant on a plot overlooking the Klang River. During the Japanese Occupation during World War II, the mansion became the home of the Japanese Governor before becoming a British military office after the Japanese surrendered in 1945. In 1950, the Sultan of Selangor moved into the residence and lived there until Malaysian independence in 1957.

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Matang Wildlife Centre

Matang Wildlife Centre

4 Tours and Activities
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Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)

Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (Poring Hot Springs)

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Tucked within the jungles of Malaysian Borneo and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinabalu Park, Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve (better known as Poring Hot springs) is a collection of built attractions highlighting some of the region’s wild features. The star is a series of tiled pools and public baths built by the Japanese during their occupation in WWI. Containing naturally hot sulfurous water pumped to the surface, the baths are popular with tired Mt. Kinabalu trekkers as well as area residents, especially on weekends.
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Royal Selangor Visitor Centre

Royal Selangor Visitor Centre

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Royal Selangor is one of the world’s largest pewter manufacturers, founded in 1885 by a young Chinese immigrant named Yong Koon. While it might not sound like a typical attraction, the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory and Visitor Centre offers fascinating insight into Malaysia’s cultural heritage through the lens of one of its most prominent crafts.

Guided tours through the facility educate visitors on tin mining, the properties of pewter and methods for transforming the resource into tools and gifts. An onsite pewter museum showcases Yong Koon’s original smithing tools and personal items, as well as some of his original pieces. The 18,000-square-foot (1,672-square-meter) retail space has thousands of Royal Selangor products for sale to take home as gifts or souvenirs. Visitors who want to better understand the process of manufacturing pewter can head to the visitor center, which offers two hands-on workshops, the 30-minute School of Hard Knocks.

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Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram)

Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram)

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Characterized by glittering stupas and fearsome green dragons, the Thai Buddhist Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram) is one of the most ornate in Penang. The temple’s extravagant exterior alludes to the giant reclining Buddha statue inside, whose position signifies peace and freedom from the material world. Opposite the Thai temple sits a Burmese temple of similar grandeur.
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Mahsuri's Tomb (Makam Mahsuri)

Mahsuri's Tomb (Makam Mahsuri)

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Mahsuri’s Tomb - or Makam Mahsuri - is a shrine to one of the most beautiful women to have ever lived on Langkawi.

There are at least 14 versions of the legend of Mahsuri although we do know that she was the daughter of Thai immigrants and married the warrior Wan Darus. The legends revolve around an accusation of adultery and her death by stabbing.

The stories say that white blood flowed from her proving her innocence and that with her final breath she cursed Langkawi for seven generations. The last of those seven generations passed just as tourism came to Langkawi and it began to prosper again.

Aside from a small museum about the Mahsuri legend there is also a traditional Langkawi house to explore and a handicrafts shop at the memorial compound.

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Langkawi Cable Car (Langkawi SkyCab)

Langkawi Cable Car (Langkawi SkyCab)

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The Langkawi Cable Car will take you high above the Langkawi rainforest on Mount Mat Chinchang for the most spectacular views of the surrounding islands and sea. It’s an absolute must-do when you visit Langkawi and a great way to orientate yourself when you first arrive.

The cable car was built without constructing any roads through the forest and has the longest suspension between two stations in the world. The view changes throughout the day with some spectacular sights at sunset. From the pinnacle of Mount Mat Chinchang you will see 360-degree panoramic views of the Langkawi islands, mainland Malaysia and Southern Thailand.

There is plenty to explore on the mountain and it is possible to take jungle treks and birdwatching tours.

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