From gravity-defying architecture, to dense jungle and white-sand beaches, Malaysia has it all. Sandwiched between Singapore and Thailand, Malaysia is the best of both worlds: Singapore is breathtakingly modern, but to some, a little too sterile; Thailand has raw beauty and quintessential Asian culture but is, sometimes, just too manic to really enjoy. In contrast to its two neighbours, Malaysia caters to tourists, but not too much – its cities and beaches busy, but not crammed, its hotels and attractions offering a more rustic, lower-key experience.
Malaysia is, literally, a country of two halves. Divided by the South China Sea, these two halves are known as Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo-Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia is packed with lush tree plantations, idyllic islands and colonial architecture, whereas the wilder Malaysian Borneo is home to wild jungles, orangutans and ancient tribes. Within these two regions are provinces that each have their own distinct character, derived from a rich cocktail of cultures, including Malay, Indian, Chinese and indigenous tribes. Whether you take a trip to Malaysia to visit the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, explore the natural parks, discover the delights of the ocean or soak up the city vibes, you will be greeted with smiling faces and some of the best food in the world.
A number of international airports operate direct flights to Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Penang International Airport and Kuching International Airport.
Malaysia is situated just north of the equator, so it enjoys a typical tropical climate, remaining warm all year with the occasional downpour. Temperatures rarely drop below themed-twenties, and can reach 40°C – it tends to be humid, particularly in the cities, where a combination of city buildings and pollution trap the warm air and humidity. Malaysian coastal locations and islands benefit from a breeze, so tend to be less warm and in the highlands, temperatures rarely go above 25°C. From October to March, Malaysia’s east coast of Peninsular Malaysia experiences monsoon season which can be devastating; in fact, some islands are closed to tourists during these months. If you are looking for cheap flights to Malaysia, and are happy to avoid the areas affected by monsoon, plan your trip in October or January, when you will find lower cost flights and can benefit from good weather and fewer tourists in Borneo and on the western side of Peninsular Malaysia.
Sandwiched between Thailand and Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia is the gateway between contemporary and traditional Asia. The peninsular is divided into three areas by mountains: the eastern states, the southern states, and the northern states. The eastern coast was relatively cut off from until the 1930s and, as a result, the three eastern states (Kelantan, Terenggani and Pahang) have remained relatively unscathed, both physically and culturally, by Malaysia’s tourist industry. It is here that you will discover the heart of Malay culture, as well as lush jungle and exquisite islands.
To the south of the peninsula, you will find the three southern states of Malaysia: Johor, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan. Linking with Singapore, the southern states have tried hard in the last decades to shed their slightly grubby image in a bid to capitalise on the tourism trade. In fact, their previous economic downturn has worked in their favour, as it meant that many of the cities maintained their original charm. With their rich history and newly polished façade, these previously forgotten states are a delicious fusion of modern and natural beauty, from the dizzy heights and lights of Kuala Lumpur to the unspoilt beauty of Melaka.
The northwest of Malaysia is the most popular destination for tourists, and with good reason. The northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak are home to beautiful colonial towns, picturesque islands and national parks. Whilst the northern states are undoubtedly busier, they are still not overcrowded, allowing you to enjoy the country’s beauty in relative peace.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world, divided into Indonesian Borneo and Malaysian Borneo. Malaysian Borneo is made up of two states: Sarawak to the south and Sabah in the north. Borneo is the ultimate playground for outdoor enthusiasts who prefer their tropical islands unspoilt, yet fully equipped. Sarawak’s main city, Kuching, is a great place to locate yourself on your trip to Malaysian Borneo, being within easy reach of the rainforest by day, and boasting fantastic waterside restaurants for a relaxed evening meal. Explore the unspoilt rainforests, where you will encounter proboscis monkeys and crocodiles. The flora is out of this world, too – Borneo is home to the largest flower in the world, the Rafflesia. If you fancy an adventure, you can take a boat trip up the Batang Rejang, known as the “Amazon of Borneo”, or explore GunungMulu National Park, with its stunning rock formations and bat caves.
Sabah may only occupy a small area of Borneo, but it makes up in variety and beauty what it lacks in size. With 55% of its area occupied by forest, included protected conservation areas, you can trek up Mount Kinabalu, explore jungles teeming with gibbons, reptiles and clouded leopards, or sunbathe on an isolated beach and enjoy a refreshing swim after your trek. There are so many opportunities to enjoy the incredible variety of entertainment that nature has to offer, that a trip to Malaysian Borneo will leave you spoilt for choice.
Due to its geographical diversity, each region of Malaysia has a distinct cookery style influenced by seasonality, former colonisation and trading partners. As a result, Malaysian cuisine is the result of a delightful fusion of cultures. Typical Malay food is similar to that of Thai, with lashings of chilli, ginger, galangal, lemongrass and garlic, plenty of fresh vegetables and, of course, rice! However, in Malaysia, you will discover fusion food, such as “Nyonya”, a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine, as well as Indian, Chinese, Malay, Dayak and Western styles. Of course, one of the best ways to get to grips with a country is through your stomach, and street food, or jalan, is a great place to start. Buy clear plastic bags of assam laksa – rice noodles in a fish soup – tied up with a hessian strip, pick up some roti cani – impossibly thin, delicate flatbreads slathered in ghee, or sample batu maung satay – marinated meat kebabs. There are some bizarre combinations, such as rojak, a fruit salad served with an apparently random assortment of additions, such as squid and fried dough, covered in a sticky-sweet sauce, and koay teow th’ng, a sweet soup laden with meat, fish balls and noodles. The sweet/savoury combination may seem downright strange, but it’s worth a try: you might just love it!
Malaysia possesses a beautiful innocence and air of warm acceptance that many other parts of Asia have lost over the past few decades. The result is a community of people that welcome others with smiles and open arms, while celebrating all religions and rites.
If you fancy making memories that will last a lifetime, Travangelo can help you to find cheap flights to Malaysia.