Highlights of Malaysia, one of my favourites in south-east Asia

Malaysia was unexpectedly one of the highlights of my backpacking tour of south-east Asia.

Perhaps because it was so unheralded in comparison to the region’s big drawcards because, lets face it, most tourists head straight for Thailand and Vietnam.

Maybe because it is a nation with a strong economy and natural resources that doesn’t desperately chase the tourist dollar like its neighbours so I didn’t feel like a walking ATM in the way I did in other south-east Asian countries.

Definitely because the landscapes, wildlife, history and culture of Malaysia are spectacular and endlessly fascinating. It was definitely a highlight of Asia for me.

I started by exploring the capital of Kuala Lumpur, a city of immense contrasts.

Chinatown street, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Georgetown on Penang Island is another bustling Malaysian metropolis with a wealth of culture and history. It is also famous for its street food. Many tourists often don’t realise Penang is a popular beach holiday destination.

KhongSi Penang, Malaysia

Just a few hours away from Penang I loved the cool air of Malaysia’s hill country, the Cameron Highlands. Stunning tea plantations, jungle trekking and roses!

Tea planters village, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

I then headed south to the cultural melting pot of Melaka and found exploring Melaka’s heritage an enriching experience.

Melaka shophouse, Malaysia

I gained my PADI open water diving qualification and discovered the paradise islands of Malaysia diving in the Perhentian Islands. Beach holidays in the Perhentian Islands are also great. The jumping off point for the Perhentians is Khota Bharu and it’s here I started exploring Malaysia’s best regional markets with the city’s famous night market.

Fishing boats, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

To cross from peninsula Malaysia to Borneo is like entering a new world. An incredible way to do this is by boat and the coast of Borneo is one of the top sailing locations in Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu is a good base to explore the marine park offshore. Many visitors to Borneo’s Sabah province come especially to enjoy the views from the top of the world climbing Mt Kinabalu. Don’t miss meeting the endangered Orangutans of Borneo’s forests.

By Natasha von Geldern

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