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Malaysia is home to so many amazing sights and scenes. It has the perfect combination of things to do, from stunning cities to exquisite beaches to rainforests teeming with wildlife – and everything in between. There are so many beautiful places in Malaysia; it can be hard to narrow down which ones to put on your bucket list.
The first time I came to Malaysia was completely random. I was headed to Asia to go backpacking for a few months and found a cheap flight from Vancouver to Kuala Lumpur. I was only planning to stay for a couple of days, but I liked it so much I extended my trip to see more. After spending a few weeks traveling around, I’ve rounded up ten of the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia to inspire your future travels.
The Most Beautiful Cities in Malaysia
You can’t journey to Malaysia without spending some time in the capital city! In fact, most journeys start here as it is the main city with the biggest airport. Most international flights stop here, so it makes sense to spend a few days looking around this majestic city. There’s a lot to enjoy, and it’s one of the best places for solo travel in Malaysia.
Unlike other big Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur has a more relaxed vibe to it. Sure, it’s busy, but you don’t get a sense of being overrun by the locals and tourists. You can find your own space in this beautiful city, and the mixture of Asian cultures makes it very unique. There are several amazing things to do and see in Kuala Lumpur, even if you only have a couple of days.
The Petronas Towers should be at the top of your list as they are an iconic part of the landscape. These twin towers used to be the tallest buildings in the world, but now they make-do with being the tallest twin towers. They look absolutely majestic, offering unbelievable views across the city.
For some of the best night scenery in Malaysia, head to the Heli Pad Lounge. It’s a bar on top of a helicopter pad in the middle of the city, so the views are unreal. It’s easily one of the most beautiful places in Kuala Lumpur but get there early in the evening as it becomes full quickly.
There are several beautiful places near Kuala Lumpur to explore as well. One of the best day trips is Batu Caves, a colorful Hindu temple just outside the city. You can actually go inside the cave, which is an amazing experience.
Further south on the west coast of Malaysia is the historic city of Malacca. This UNESCO UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most interesting cities to visit in Malaysia for history. It was colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British before gaining independence. All while being influenced by China and India. These influences have been absorbed together, making for an eclectic mix of architecture and culture contributing to its world heritage status.
There are many beautiful places in Malacca to explore, with colonial Portuguese ruins and British era buildings found throughout town. Walk around the city, and explore famous sights such as the A Famosa Fort, St. Paul’s Churchs, and Stadthuys Square.
Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of the state of Sabah. While it might not appear as one of the most beautiful places in Sabah on the surface, its proximity to some of the most amazing places in Malaysia is what warrants this city on the list.
Behind the buildings and malls are stretches of gorgeous tropical paradise islands to explore, easily reachable within ten minutes. The five islands, known as Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, make excellent day trips from the city. Once there, you can spend your day snorkeling in the water for marine life, or relaxing on the pristine beaches.
If you prefer mountains over the ocean, you can get that nearby as well. Kota Kinabalu is a great base for a trip to Mount Kinabalu, which is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Hike to the top for a spectacular sunrise, and explore Mount Kinabalu national park afterward. It’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Malaysia, internationally recognized for its outstanding biodiversity.
The Most Beautiful Islands In Malaysia
Sipidan Island is regularly ranked as one of the top places to dive in the world, and it lives up to the hype! This small island, formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano, is one of the world’s richest marine habitats.
Giant green sea turtles and hawksbills all over the place, tornadoes of barracudas, and hammerhead sharks are just some of the marine life you can expect to find while diving around Sipadan Island. It’s a paradise for divers, with one of Malaysia’s most beautiful beaches to hang out during surface intervals.
It’s a popular spot to visit. You generally need to book your dive here well in advance as the government only allows 120 permits a day. I was lucky and got a last-minute spot, but I was traveling off-season. You can’t actually stay on Sipadan Island overnight, so stay on the nearby islands of Mabul and Kapala instead, or in Semporna.
The Perhentian Islands
The Perhentian Islands are some of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. Here, you will find a host of splendid tourist attractions perfect for nature lovers. The sandy beaches and clear seas are perfect for snorkeling and diving. You can rent all the gear you need on the island and book lessons while you’re at it. These islands are also party hotspots, so expect some wild nightlife when the sun goes down.
Most of the above attractions are found on the smaller island of Perhentian Kecil. This is definitely the place to go if you’re traveling with friends or in a group. However, if you want a slightly more relaxed vibe, head to Perhentian Besar instead. This is the bigger island and is not as party-heavy as the smaller one. Still, it offers all the delights of Perhentian Kecil; amazing beaches, excellent weather, and breathtaking natural beauties.
Penang is another island you should sail to just off the west coast of Malaysia. Penang is one of the most wonderful places in Malaysia, with a unique city to take in. George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning there are so many cultural and historical hotspots for you to enjoy. Countless works of art litter the streets as murals are a big thing there. It’s home to some of the most beautiful buildings in Malaysia, but that’s not the main reason to journey there.
Aside from all of the cultural and historical brilliance, Penang is home to Asia’s best street food scene. It’s widely recommended for the food alone, with local chefs and families whipping up insane delights. Honestly, if you want to sample the best food in Malaysia, this is the place to go. It is worth the journey for this alone – your tastebuds will thank you later.
Most Beautiful Jungles in Malaysia
Visiting the Kinabatangan River was my favorite experience in Malaysia. This area is teeming with wildlife, and there are a ton of great eco-lodges to stay along the river. It’s not only one of Malaysia’s most beautiful spots, but it’s also incredibly affordable to visit here.
I got a package through Nature Lodge Sepilok for just under USD 100 that included transportation from Sepilok, three nights accommodation in the lodge, four river cruises, two guided hikes, and all the meals at the lodge.
The Kinabatangan River is home to over ten different primate species – notably the proboscis monkey and the orangutan —and more than 50 mammals, including the adorable Borneo pygmy elephant. It’s an amazing place to go for an ethical wildlife experience.
The Cameron Highlands are one of the most scenic places in Malaysia. The altitude varies from 800 to 1600m, with jungle walks, tea plantations, and rolling hills to explore for days.
One of the best things to do while visiting the Cameron Highlands is to go hiking. There are 14 hiking trails in total, all taking you through some of Malaysia’s most beautiful scenery. Afterward, stop in at one of the many tea plantations and learn about how tea is made from leaf to cup. It reminded me of the tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka!
Danum Valley is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia for ecotourism. Located on the island of Borneo, this untouched jungle located deep inside the forest boasts incredible biodiversity. It has almost all the plants and animals you can find in Borneo and is one of the best places to see orangutans in the wild. If you’re lucky, you may even spot pygmy elephants, the clouded leopard, and rhinoceros.
Spend your days here soaking in the lush tropical greenery, trekking through jungle trails, and watching wildlife in their natural habitat. What makes the Danum Valley one of Malaysia’s most beautiful places is that it’s deep in the rainforest, far away from any settlements. It’s a heavily protected biosphere, offering visitors a chance to see some of the most endangered wildlife on the island, if not the world.
There you have it; these are the most beautiful places to visit in Malaysia. Honestly, you can’t go wrong by checking all of these destinations off your bucket list. You’ll return home with so many new experiences under your belt! I find that Malaysia is one of those places where you can’t book a return ticket. It’s a country that keeps on throwing up delights the longer you are there, so try and stay as long as possible.
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