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Malaysia is one of my favourite countries. My very first solo travels were to Malaysia in 2010 and that’s where the travel addiction started.
Since then, I’ve been back countless times and have fallen in love with a different part of the country each time. Whilst it’s neighbours, Thailand and Indonesia, often get all the plaudits and tourism dollars, I think Malaysia is massively underrated. There are so many reasons to visit this unique county with a fascinating history.
I think their tourism slogan of “Malaysia Truly Asia” sums up this south east Asian country. It has a little bit of everything you think of when you think of Asia. The mix of local cultures from Chinese, Indian and Malay along with a modern western influence, gives Malaysia so many opportunities on the world stage as it is starting to grow into a regional economic powerhouse.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why you should visit Malaysia, I’ve got thirteen reasons below that will give you that little push to book that trip.
The 13 Reasons To Visit Malaysia
Malaysia has everything
I won’t go into it too much here because otherwise there is no point in the rest of the post, but it really does have it all. From cities to jungle, street food to fine dining, traditional way of life and an ultra modern outlook. It’s one of those places that has a bit of everything for every taste.
Some of the beaches in Malaysia are to die for. The picture perfect white sand in places like Langkawi are a holiday makers dream. Go to quieter destinations like Perhentian or Tioman for beaches without the crowds. And the white sand surrounded by coral reefs on Pilau Sipadan make it seem like you’re in dreamland.
Even when it may seem like you’re in a built up city in Penang, a golden sand beach isn’t that far away.
Malaysia is affordable
For those coming from western countries, Malaysia is an incredibly affordable destination for travel. Day tours start at £30, budget hotel rooms at £20 and a bowl of noodles from a street vender can be less than £1.
To get around is also cheap, flights on Malaysian Airlines to popular destinations such as Penang, can be less than £20 in a sale, or choose one of the ever increasing budget airlines for even more discount fares. Intercity buses have fares that cost RM15-20 for extremely comfortable seats for journeys of 2-3 hours.
For those that like luxury, its easy to find 5 star chain hotels for £90 per night.
Malaysia has the best food in the world.
There, I said it.
The mix of cultures, of Indian and Chinese, gives rise to an incredible mix of foods and flavours that an unlike anything else. Penang is known for its incredible street food such as char kuey teow and mee goreng (both noodles dishes) due to the heavy Chinese influence.
Curry noodles, beef rendang, laksa (a spicy and sour noodle soup), nasi lemak, amazing seafood. I could go on and on about the variety and quality of foods in Malaysia.
I have found time and time again that Malaysians are genuinely friendly. I have struck up random conversations with people in the street who are just curious about you and want to get to know you.
I have found in other countries in the region that the people are friendly, but you are still a tourist to them and they will still want something in return. In Malaysia, you’re just another person who they want to get along with.
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A mix of cultures
Malaysia is made up of a variety of cultures that all live and mix togther.
The traditional Malays are muslim and have been living on the Malay peninsula for generations. Chinese settlers came as traders from southern China over the last few hundred years and brought their own culture and food. Indians arrived first as traders, then as workers on farms msotly from southern India bring Tamil culture and language with them.
As these cultures mixed, European cultures were also added creating Nyonya and Perankanan cultures which is best describes as a fusion between them all.
And that hasn’t even touched on the variety of ethic groups and tribes in Sabah and Sarawak where Christian missionaries coverted a lot of the Dayak, Iban and countless more of the more than 30 ethnic groups from Borneo.
I feel like you could film and entire David Attenborough documentary in Malaysia.
The rainforests of Borneo, known as one of the most remote and inaccessible places on the planet, offers one of the last places on earth to see orang utans in the wild. Add to this probiscus monkeys in Bako National Park, the variety of sea snakes that can be found on some smaller islands, lush tropical rainforest in Taman Negara…. I could go on and on…
Many UNESCO sites
Malaysia has numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Georgetown in Penang and Mulu National Park in Sarawak. Mount Kinabalu and Malacca are also included as is the Lenggong Valley, home to one of the earliest records of human kind outside of Africa.
Each of these sites has been added to the list for different reasons; wild rainforest, soaring mountains, European colonial architecture and Chinese culture. I think those reasons sum up the difference in Malaysia.
Malaysia is know for having some of the best scuba diving in the world. Around Mabul and Sipadan, crystal clear waters, healthy coral and schools or fish are in abundance. The diving there is literally world class and if often on lists of the best dive sites in the world. Pulau Tiga, Pulau Tioman, Perhentian and Langkawi also offer diving of various qualities throughout the year.
Can climb mountains
If getting deep isn’t your kind of thing, what about getting high?
Climb the highest mountain in South East Asia, Mount Kinabalu and watch sunrise from 4095m above sea level. The highest point between the Himalayas in India and the Southern Alps in New Zealand, it’s a relatively straightforward climb that can be done with a good level of fitness and no mountain climbing experience.
Go with a guide and make the trip in 2 days return.
It’s modernising rapidly
Malaysia is a rapidly modernising country with the capital Kuala Lumpur, epitomising it. With the Petronas Towers being built in the late 90’s creating an iconic skyscraper and world monument standing tall in the middle of the city, it is now surrounded by similar size buildings.
The brand new Mereka 118 will be the second tallest building in the world when it fully opens in 2024. Smartphones are QR codes are everywhere with even the smallest hawker stall having the possibility to pay with their phone.
Easy visa entry for many
For many nationalities, it’s possible to enter with just your passport and receive a 90 day visa on arrival for social visits. Although nearly 3 months isn’t enough to see everything in Malaysia, it’s possible to leave and re-enter shortly after.
Flying into Kuala Lumpur airport is the major gateway of entry, but with cheap flights to Singapore and Bangkok, a short connection makes it easy to visit via a variety of routes.
A growing digital nomad destination
With the growing hordes of digital nomads heading to neighbouring hotspots of Chang Mai and Bali in Thailand and Indonesia respectively, Malaysia is often overlooked. However, with a new digital nomad visa, excellent internet speeds and an affordable cost of living, I don’t think it will be long until Malaysia is a preeminent digital nomad destination in its own right.
Currently, Penang and Kuala Lumpur are hotspots for digital nomads, although Langkawi isn’t far behind.
Why you should visit Malaysia
Ever since my first trip to the country in 2010, Malaysia has been one of my favourite destinations. Each time I return, I find another reason to rank Malaysia as highly as I do.
What most people look for in a great destination (good food, good people, good weather, good nature), Malaysia has in abundance. The thing that appeals most to me is the variety that is on offer. Whether you want to travel slow and be awed by nature or relax on a beach in a resort, Malaysia has just the option for you.
All these and many more reasons to visit Malaysia should make it top of your list when looking for your next destination.
Check out my other posts for travelling around Malaysia:
- Visiting Bako National Park From Kuching: A Detailed Guide
- How To See Orangutans at Semenggoh Nature Reserve
- Visiting Mulu National Park: The Essential Guide
- How To Get From KL International Airport To The City Centre
- What To Do In Kuala Lumpur: Top 10 Things
- Which Lounge Should You Choose at KLIA
- Petronas Twin Towers vs KL Tower: Which Is Best To Visit?
- Visiting Pantai Pasir Panjang, Penang from Georgetown
- The Best Coffee Shops in Georgetown, Penang
- What You Must Eat in Penang: Top 10 Foods To Try
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.