There’s many reasons to love this bejewelled country, shimmering between two palm-feathered coastlines that glisten with powdery sand, emerald seas and tropical islands.
Malaysia’s interior reveals an exciting clash of cultures seen in the modernity of Kuala Lumpur against the old-world colonial charm of UNESCO protected cities. Everywhere you look there’s a diverse mix of heritage displayed through its architecture, food and people.
Our in-house travel designer Steph recently travelled to Malaysia and came back with these gems.
Summer on the East Side
Malaysia is a year-round destination, because its two coastlines follow different weather patterns. What this means is that a trip to Malaysia this summer could be a great time to visit the east coast.
Families looking for an exotic getaway for their summer holiday will find stunning islands, tropical beaches and marine reserves. Even better, you and your family could together embark on a discovery of education. At luxury resort Tanjong Jara, conservation takes centre stage in July and August when guests can help their turtle program with nest inspections and turtle-hatch duty. This is accompanied by talks and the opportunity to adopt a nest, thereby safeguarding from poachers.
When you head out snorkelling in the cobalt-blue waters of the marine reserve, seeing a turtle drift by will take on new meaning.
Where Modernity meets Ancestry
No where more than in Malaysia’s towns and cities do we see the layers upon layers of diversity that make up this multi-faceted country.
In Kuala Lumpur be wowed by glinting skyscrapers that sit side-by-side with colonial mansions and colourful shophouses amid pockets of leafy greenery. Take in the view from the iconic Petronas towers then survey the scene from ground level: spice markets, sizzling street food vendors and traditional neighbourhoods.
We recommend a short hop to one-time trading capital Malacca, just two hours south from KL and an easy day trip or overnight stay. Here there’s a plethora of architectural styles including Dutch and Portuguese colonial buildings next to Chinese chophouses and temples. Spend some time in vibrant Jonker Walk known for its quirky craft stalls, antique shops and authentic food stalls.
Luxury Island Living
If you enjoy paradise with an extremely high level of accommodation, then a holiday on one of Malaysia’s palm-fringed islands may well be just right for you.
Malaysia’s islands are sigh-inducingly gorgeous: cerulean skies and seas, whispers of pale sand threaded with ribbons of jungly greens. Pangkor Laut Resort has the advantage of being on a private island; its interior is tangled with ancient rainforest where elegant villas with al fresco tubs discreetly hide. The island of Langkawi has two hotel powerhouses, newly refurbished The Datai is looking better than ever, and set beside the beach regularly voted within the top 10 by Nat Geo indicates its sheer loveliness.
Reliably-brilliant Four Seasons is located within an UNESCO Geopark where you can kayak through million -year old karsts and spot intriguing wildlife including eagle, otter, even walking fish. If the choice between these two Langkawi luxury hotels is too hard, may we recommend staying in both?
Foodie Adventures in Penang
One of the best ways to get under the skin of a country is to learn through their food.
On the island of Penang, the old cultural hub of George Town is thrumming with different places to eat and drink, a true reflection of the diversity that makes up Malaysia. Here you wander seamlessly from China Town to Little India, with temples, spice markets and colonial mansions in between, marking out the different influences of Malaysia’s past.
A foodie walking tour is the best way to appreciate this, with a guide who will take you off the tourist routes to authentic chai shacks for a hot, sweet drink, then to examine an elaborate Chinese Clan House before sampling chilli crab, observe life at the mosque after a lunch of southern Indian curry served on a banana leaf. It’s a melting pot of experience, and the sights, smells and tastes will stay with you long after you leave.
If you’re planning a visit to this part of the world, chat to Steph and start planning your Malaysian adventure.