Malaysia is in the continent of Asia. It has many islands on its east and west coast. Malaysia shares the northern half of Borneo with Indonesia. Close to the equator, Malaysia is always hot and humid. Many of the islands remain uninhabited and untouched, free from Instagram posers and Facebook wannabes. Malaysia is blessed with magnificent beaches, coral reefs and rain forests. Thirteen kingdom states make up Malaysia with a largely ceremonial King as head of state. Malaysian government is largely based on the British Westminster system. Multicultural with just over half the population Malay, ethnic Chinese and Indians are a large minority. All religions are constitutionality protected with Islam being the dominant faith.
Best time to visit Malaysia
With its wide range of attractions and variable climate from east to west coast, you can visit Malaysia year round. Kuala Lumpur is always hot and humid and rains most days. The driest months are June to August. The dining, shopping, museums and indoor activities will ensure you have plenty to do if it is raining. The rain usually clears up within 20 minutes.
The east coast of Malaysia has some truly spectacular islands. Redang and the Perhentian islands are our favourite beach destinations. They offer beautiful sun soaked beaches covered in white sand. There are plenty of diving and snorkelling opportunities too. Both islands are very quiet without many tourists. Magnificent east Borneo, where you can see the orangutans in the wild is a must. All these islands are best visited between March and October.
On the west coast, the island of Langkawi is best visited between December and April. This is the same time of the year when it’s generally monsoon on the east coast. So, you could literally stay on the beach year round, swapping between east and west coast islands!
What to see
If you’re after culture, Kuala Lumpur has cultural districts reflecting major settlers including the Chinese and Indian quarters. Its main museum is pretty impressive, covering Malaysian history from the indigenous settlers to its colonial and modern history. Don’t miss the spectacular bird, butterfly and hibiscus parks! Melaka, (sometimes spelled Malacca) is a day trip from KL and is steeped in Dutch colonial architecture.
Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will love east coast islands such as, Redang, Perhentian, Sippidan and Pulau Tioman. Malaysia is a diving paradise! Sun seekers will love it too, as the beaches are powdery white sand and the water is warm. The west coast also has some nice islands. Langkawi and Penang are more developed though, so we prefer the east coast.
If you’re after jungle hiking and seeing orangutans in the wild then Borneo should be on your list. It’s hot and humid and not for the faint hearted, but it’s very wild and rewarding. You can also soak in hot mineral waters after a long day trekking.
Many international and low cost airlines fly to KL and between the most populous islands of Langkawi and Penang. For the smaller east coast islands like Redang and Perhentians, Air Asia or Malaysian airlines will fly you to the nearest main town. From there, you will be getting a taxi to a ferry terminal and then a boat to the islands.
Getting around KL by taxi, Uber or Grab is very cheap, with the latter two being the better options for fixed fares. The overhead sky trains are a cheap and often faster way to get around town than by car due to traffic. The traffic isn’t as bad as say Bangkok or Jakarta, but in peak hour it hardly moves. KL is famous for its four minute traffic lights, you’ll definitely be seeing red if you get stuck at these!
The buses and trains are a good option for going to Singapore or major towns if you are on a budget. Likewise the trains are cheap and offer good connections all over Malaysia.