Top 15 Attractions & Sites in Malaysia
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Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country occupying key areas of the Malaysian island and the peninsular of Borneo. The country´s tourist attractions are varied and abundant. Specifically, it is famed for its pristine beaches, rich rain forest, and amazing mountain ranges. Coupled with abundant coral reefs, mangroves, islands, and national parks. In addition, visitor can wonder the wildlife spots, bird parks, and marine life sanctuaries.
Moreover, there are numerous natural wonders, historic cities, markets, and monasteries. Some places of interest are extremely affordable, hence, offering amazing deals for group travelers and tourists. Moreover, some of Malaysia’s famous landmarks are not accessible by road. Thus, making these destinations ideal for an overnight stay. Except from its tropical rain forest and serene beaches, Malaysia is also renowned for its harmonious mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic influences. The country´s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to busy commercial areas. This includes high-rise buildings, colonial buildings, and skyscrapers like the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
The Petronas Towers, or the Petronas Twin Towers; in Malay, Menara Petronas, or Menara Berkembar Petronas. undoubtedly, make the pride of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. They got their name after the Malaysian oil and gas company with the same name Petronas. They attain 452 m high, spread over 88-floors, and count not less than 76 elevators. A sky bridge connects the twin towers on the 41st and 42nd floors. The upper floors host offices for several renowned international companies. While the lower floors accommodate over 300 department and retail stores. In addition, recreation and entertainment spaces, prayer service premises, cafes, restaurants, food stalls, and a concert hall.
Outside the buildings, is the KLCC Park, which includes jogging trails and a playground. The twin skyscrapers used to be the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004, before being surpassed by Taipei 101. The Petronas Towers remain however the tallest “twin towers” in the world and the tallest buildings in Malaysia until the construction of Merdeka PNB 118 will be completed (expected in 2021). Until then and maybe beyond, Petronas Twin Towers are one of the major landmarks of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower, and are visible from many places across the city.
Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
Batu caves is a Hindu holy site located on the remote outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, at about 13 kilometers north of Gombak, Selangor. Its name originates from the Malay word “Batu”, meaning rock. The site was first known as “Kapal Tanggang” which took its name from the local legend of Si Tanggang.
It consists of several caves formed by limestone rock and corridors connecting them. Their age is estimated at 400 million years. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of the Tamil festival Thaipusam in Malaysia. In front of the main cave also known as the Cathedral cave or Temple Cave stands a reinforced concrete made, gold painted about 43 meters high sculpture dedicated to Murugan. Behind the sculpture, a staircase with 272 steps leads to the temple. Nowadays, the site is one of the most popular attractions in Kuala Lumpur. The area is also known for macaques, which steal everything from tourists in the hope of food.
Malacca City, Melaka/Malacca
Malacca, Malay: Melaka; is the “Historic State”. It spreads in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula. While Negeri Sembilan surrounds Malacca from the north and west, Johor borders it to the south. Its capital is Malacca City, which is around 148 kilometers southeast of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur. UNESCO listed the city´s historical center as a World Heritage Site in 2008. The head of state is the Governor rather than the Sultan which was in use until the conquest of the city by the Portuguese in 1511.
Pangkor Island, Perak, Malaysia
Pangkor Island (Malay: Pulau Pangkor) is a relatively small island in Manjung District, Perak. In the 17th century, it served mainly as a retreat for local fishermen, merchants, and pirates. Then, the Dutch, intending to control the tin trade in Perak, built a fortress. Hence, locals still nowadays know it as the Dutch Fort. In fact, Pangkor Island consists of five smaller islands, besides the main island Pangkor.
Here, the weather is mild all year around. Specifically, the west coast of Pangkor became famous for its beautiful beaches, resorts, and hotels. While the east coast is where the locals live and work. They usually serve in the local foods, fisheries activities, and boat workshops. Though small, Pangkor is a real paradise on earth. With its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and rich fauna and flora, Pangkor has much to offer to its visitors.
Penang Hill or Bukit Bendera, Penang, Malaysia
Penang Hill is the highest point in the state of Penang and comprises a group of peaks on Penang Island. It is at around 9 km west of the center of George Town, the capital city of Penang. It is also known by its Malay name Bukit Bendera (literally “Flag Hill”) and refers to its original name Flagstaff Hill.
At 833 m above sea level, the western Hill is the highest point and offers an impressive panoramic view over the surrounding lowlands, green forests, and the city. Previously, the area used to be a retreat during the British colonial period. Nowadays, it is a major tourist destination in Penang. Also, To access the top of the hill, you may use the Penang Hill Railway starting from the Hill Railway Station Road which makes the climb up in just 10 to 20 min, including a few mid-stops upon passengers´ request.
The Habitat, Penang
The Habitat Penang Hill is a marvelous must-experience nature escapade that one cannot miss when visiting Penang. Hence, It offers probably the most complete Malaysian rain forest experience. The 1.6 km Nature Trail dates to the British East India Company which initiated the first work in the early 1800s. Let yourself be submerged by thousand and one sights and sounds of the rain forest, along 40 m off the forest floor from Langur Way Canopy Walk.
Once up, enjoy the open panoramic 360-degree views of Penang Island from Curtis Crest Treetop Walk allowed by the skyway and experience the rain forest from the air with the Flight of the Colugo zip line course. Let yourself immerse in the stunning natural beauty of the rain forest, with its amazingly marveling flora and fauna, inhabiting rare and ancient species that cannot be seen elsewhere. This wildlife´s natural sanctuary is a unique and unmissable destination in Penang.
George Town, Penang
With a population of around 720 000, George Town is the third most populous city in Malaysia. Since 2008, the city´s historical center is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site along with Malacca City´s old center. George Town is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang.
As the first British Settlement in Southeast Asia, George Town served, following its creation in 1786 by Francis Light, as an entrepôt for the East India Company, along with Singapore and Malacca. After Japan conquered the city during World War II, George Town was recaptured back by the British at the end of the war and declared a city by Queen Elisabeth II.
Like Malacca, George Town is a cosmopolitan city, much due to the prominent intermixing of ethnicities, religions, and cultures that anchored in the city over the last centuries. The city´s cosmopolitanism is especially visible in the different architectural styles, both colonial and Asiatic. George Town is home to unique cultural heritage sites and has over the years acquired the distinction as Malaysia’s gastronomic capital, mainly for its typical, unique and inescapable street food.
Mount Kinabalu and Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Malaysia
Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4 095 m of elevation. Moreover, it is part of a park with the same name, which figures on the UNESCO list as a World Heritage Site. This unique park gained the title of “outstanding universal values” because of its role as one of the most important biological sites in the world. Malaysia created the park in 1964 as one of the first national parks in the country.
Because of its unique ecosystem and rich fauna and flora, the mountain and its surroundings are among the top biological sites around the globe. Furthermore, the park hosts more than 6,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, and 100 mammalian species identified. Kinabalu Park is a major tourist destination in Sabah and the whole of Malaysia. To protect the site, only a maximum of 185 climbers are allowed daily to conquer the unique peak. The number includes tourists, Malaysians, and Sabahans. Also, all visitors are required to reserve, in advance, accommodation on the site and a local mountain guide.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Formerly, known as Jesselton, it is nowadays the capital city of the state of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu spreads along the northwest coast of Borneo, facing the South China Sea. To its west unfolds the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park while Mount Kinabalu expands to its east. According to the population growth forecast, Kota Kinabalu´s population would surpass the threshold of 560 000 by the year 2021.
First, under Bruneian Empire´s influence in the 15th century, Kota Kinabalu fell into the hands of the British Empire in the 19th century. Then, the Brits installed their first settlement in the area. They gave it the name of the British North Borneo Company (BNBC) and deployed it nearby Gaya Island. The Japanese occupied the city during World War II, however, the town returned under British colonization after WWII. Then, it got the title of capital of North Borneo. Finally, by the formation of current Malaysia, North Borneo became Sabah, and Jesselton became Kota Kinabalu. The name refers to Mount Kinabalu, Kota meaning in Malay fort. Kota Kinabalu got its status as a city in 2000.
Often known as KK, also internationally, Kota Kinabalu is the inevitable gateway to visit Sabah and Borneo. Kinabalu Park, which is one of the major tourist attractions in Sabah, is in the vicinity of KK. For that reason alone, Kota Kinabalu is a major tourist destination.
Sipadan Island, Sabah
Nature richly blessed Sabah with diversity, unique cultures and beautiful beaches. Moreover, visitors can enjoy fun adventures, amazing diving, and snorkeling sites as well as fantastic cuisines. This land has it all. From the world’s largest flower – the Rafflesia – to one of the highest mountains in South-East Asia, the Mount Kinabalu. And, not to forget one of the world’s top dive sites – Sipadan Island.
With the surrounding ocean and a chain of five off-coast islands – Gaya, Manukan, Mamutik, Sapi, and Sulug – this unique environment is part of the world´s richest marine habitat. Likewise, diving enthusiasts got in Sabah one of the best diving destinations worldwide. Furthermore, Sabah is home to great and unique natural treasures. These include the world-renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area and one of the largest wildlife reserves, the Tabin. Not only will you be amazed by the places to see and things to do here, but you will also be treated with unique Sabahan hospitality.
Eagle Square or Dataran Lang, Langkawi, Kedah
Locals call itthe Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Permata Kedah). It consists of an archipelago of 99+ islands in the Malacca Strait, about 30 km off the coast of northwest Malaysia. The islands are part of the state of Kedah, which shares borders with Thailand. With a population of around 65 000, Langkawi is by far the largest of the islands. It is also Langkawi is the administrative district, with Kuah as its largest city. Pantai Cenang is Langkawi’s most popular beach and, thus attract tens of thousands of visitors and tourists annually.
According to the old Malay folkloric legend, Langkawi got its name from the Malay words “helang”, shortened into “Lang” for eagle and “Kawi”, meaning red-backed or reddish brown. That explains at least partly why the icon and symbol of Langkawi is a giant eagle on a large blue star-shaped concrete platform. The Eagle Square, for locals, Dataran Lang, and its giant eagle are among the main attractions of the city. The 12-meter-tall giant eagle statue looks over the Kuah Jetty and Langkawi´s bay altogether welcome visitors and watches over the whole island. Moreover, the square is permanently open to the public and is a popular place to snap photos.
Kilim Geoforest Park, Langkawi, Kedah
Also referred to as Kilim Geopark, this unique forest is adjacent to the Andaman Sea and consists of three all interconnected river estuaries. It stretches over 10 km, from Kisap village to Tanjung Rhu. With its unique vertical eroded hills, the park is rich in wildlife fauna and flora. Many rare species populate the area.
Among them are sea otters, brown-winged kingfishers, and white-bellied fish eagles. Also, kite eagles, monitor lizards, and swimming macaque monkeys inhabit the Kilim Geopark. Moreover, in the mangroves, there are several unique limestone caves and a bat cave. Likewise, the park is home to one of the natural beauty spots of Langkawi, the Pirate Lagoon. Visitors can access the inner-park area by riverboat cruise along the Kilim River, but also privately by rental kayaks and jet-ski boats.
Cable car and Sky Bridge, Langkawi, Kedah
The cable car operates between the base station at the Oriental Village up to the top of the Gunung Matchinchang mountain. The 15-minute ride from the base station to the peak is around 2.2 kilometers. But, it offers a breathtaking view over the blue turquoise waters, the bay, and the waterfall of Telaga Tujuh. A midway station enables visitors to land and access a view platform to admire the opening impregnable views. Further, at the top of the mountain, the main attraction is the spectacular pedestrian Sky Bridge. Hence, visitors can along the bridge enjoy the sweeping panoramic views of the below rain forest and surroundings.
Mount Api (Malay, Gunung Api) is a limestone mountain in Gunung Mulu National Park, in Sarawak, Malaysia. The Same formation also includes Mount Benarat and the adjacent Mt. Buda. Gunung Api, as locals call it, is famous for its impressive limestone eroded compositions, commonly known as “peaks”. The whole park is home to many unique caves. Furthermore, a corridor network connects the vast clear water cave system. Mt. Api is notable for the diversity of bait plants, which include at least eight rare species. Just to mention a few, these encompass species such as Nepenthes Campanulata, Faizaliana, and Hurrelliana. UNESCO classed Gunung Api as World Heritage Site.
Matang Wildlife Centre, Sarawak
Matang Wildlife Centre is a rehabilitation center for endangered animal species. The 180-hectare natural reserve is part of Kubah National Park. However, Matang is not a zoo. It is rather dedicated to the recovery of vulnerable species such as orangutans. This intelligent animal lives only in Borneo, Sumatra, and Sarawak. The center rescues orphaned orangutans from captivity and rehabilitates them. Then, releases them back into the forest. Visitors to the center have a rare opportunity to get close to these rare animals. Besides orangutans, the center hosts other species such as sambar deer, sun bear, hornbills, storks, and other Sarawak local birds.