Langkawi

Langkawi is a tropical paradise located off the coast of Malaysia. Not only is the majority of this island area a nature reserve, but the entire island is tax free, making it even cheaper than mainland Malaysia. There is one central urban area, consisting on a coast-hugging  main street with a few alleys branching off of it. Along this street you will find hostels, hotels, pubs, clubs, shops and restaurants. Despite being an increasingly popular tourist destination, the island has yet to be developed to the level of its counterparts in Thailand. Here you will find beautiful beaches, lush jungle terrain, mangrove swamps, mountain terrain and plenty of wildlife. I highly recommend taking a couple of days to spend on the island as I personally wish I had stayed longer myself and not booked a return trip ferry ticket from Georgetown.

 

 

Islands Day Cruise

This tour can either be done in a chartered boat or in a shared boat for a fraction of the cost. Its a fantastic way to spend the day both seeing the islands and relaxing. You’ll get to experience SE Asian motor-boating if you have yet to do so, which is an experience in itself, as well as seeing some beautiful scenery. You will be able to swim on tropical beaches and see some forest areas with local wildlife up close, particularly native sea eagles. Finally you will get to visit an island lagoon that you are able to swim in.

https://www.viator.com/tours/Langkawi/Island-Hopping-Tour-from-Langkawi/d338-3705LGK12

 

Cable Car

The Langkawi cable car is the longest distance free-spanning cable car in Malaysia and takes you from the base of the island to one of its highest peaks. This will give you a fantastic view of the area surround the mountain. Once at the top of the mountain, after taking in the view, you will begin your descent to the starting point. On the way down you will be able to cross over the sky bridge, a glass walkway built between two peaks overlooking jungle area. Sadly when I was there it was in the process of being repaired. The trek will take you down through the jungle back to the starting area, with a guide explaining the terrain around you on the way down.

http://www.panoramalangkawi.com/

 

River/Nature Reserve Day Tour

This day tour in my opinion lets you see more than the island hopping tour. While the scenery is not as spectacular, this tour will take you through mangrove forest areas allowing you to see plenty of monkeys and eagles up close, and to feed tropical fish by hand. The tour will also take you through a bat cave where you will see numerous sleeping bats in their natural habitat, as well as visiting a fish farm and a floating restaurant.

https://www.viator.com/tours/Langkawi/Private-Half-Day-Tanjung-Rhu-Beach-and-Mangrove-Forest-Boat-Tour-in-Langkawi-Including-Eagle-Watching/d338-29580P19

 

Sunsets

If you decide to spend no money on tours in Langkawi, then the sunsets on the island alone will make it worth the visit. The view of the sun setting over the ocean from the islands beaches is spectacular and draws a large crowd every evening.

 

Monkeys

If you have yet to see monkeys in their natural habitat, Langkawi is the place to do it. There are PLENTY of monkeys spread across these islands and you can get pretty close to them on several occasions throughout any tours taken or just walking around the island yourself.

 

Sea Eagles

The island of Langkawi itself and the surrounding islands and mangrove forests are home to vast numbers of sea eagles. Luckily the island has been declared a UNESCO protected ecosystem and as such the habitat of these animals has been protected, accounting for their vast numbers.

 

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Georgetown: Penang

Georgetown, the hub of Penang is an island city with the second largest population in the country. The island is connected to the mainland via several large highway bridges. The city was a British colony established by the East India Trading Company and later become an official British territory. Georgetown has a highly unique culture due to its history and its ethnic makeup. The majority group in the city is Straights Chinese, a unique ethnic group in itself. After that the majority is Malay peoples, followed by Indians and Europeans from primarily Great Britain and Germany. Populations of traders and migrant workers from Myanmar, Thailand and various Arab states also had notable communities on the island. Having such a unique heritage, the city has an amazing blend of architecture, culture and cuisine. This uniqiue mix granted it UNESCO world heritage status.

 

 

Clan Jetties

These jetties house entire communities all build along boardwalks stretching out into the ocean. Along these boardwalks are houses, shops, cafes, bars and other services all built in tin and wooden shacks. These jetty communities are a unique experience worth visiting. Keep an eye out for mudskippers along the side of the boardwalk in the seaside mud and sand.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is one of the remaining mansions of Cheong Fatt Tze, a rich Chinese business tycoon and political advisor in the 19th and early 20th century. He amassed a fortune from nothing and became one of the richest men in the world, building mansions in several countries including this one in Georgetown. If you would like to see some stunning historic architecture unique to Georgetown, then the mansion is a must visit.

http://www.cheongfatttzemansion.com/

Fort Cornwallis

Built by the East India Trading Company in the late 1700s, the fort was named after General Cornwallis who fought in the American War of Independence at around the same time. The fort is in remarkable condition and can be walked and explored freely or seen via guided tour to explain its history.

 

 

Chinese Temples

Being majority Chinese, the city of Georgetown is filled with Chinese Buddhist and Taoist temples. The architecture on some of these buildings is simply spectacular, with carvings of immaculate detail.

Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands are in my opinion one of the most beautiful places on earth. Located in the mountains amongst dense jungle landscapes, the Cameron Highlands is a tea growing plantation town unlike any other. You will find Dutch and German style architecture throughout this region, mixed with vast tea plantations amidst jungle terrain. This is a mix I have yet to find anywhere else to date. If you want the backpacking experience then I suggest finding a hostel in town itself. However if you want to spend a little more there is a fantastic resort located a short drive outside of town, closer to the tea plantations called Equatorial Cameron Highlands. There are plenty of jungle hikes in the area, just be careful not to get lost and probably don’t go out in a storm as jungle terrain can be far more dangerous than a normal forest. The fruit markets located near the Equatorial are definitely worth a visit, selling every type of fruit you could possibly want, in particular the freshest strawberries I have ever had.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/my/equatorial-cameron-highlands.html

 

BOH Tea Plantation

BOH is the largest and most developed of the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands. This plantation has a large and beautiful property with lush tea fields surrounded by jungle. There is winding road leaving the main road in the Cameron Highlands that will take you to the plantation, which you can either drive or walk. Personally I walked it and took in the fresh mountain air and beautiful scenery. The plantation has a fantastic café with a stunning viewing platform overlooking the rolling hills covered in tea fields. A tour of the plantation is also available, which will take you through the tea making process.

http://www.cameronhighlandsinfo.com/attraction/BOH_Tea_Plantations/

 

Jungle Hiking

There are plenty of jungle hikes located around Cameron Highlands, manyt of which start in town itself. Personally I did and loved Jungle Walk No1, which took several hours on a barely marked mud trail through thick jungle. I found out later that the trial is not recommended without hiring a guide, but luckily I managed to complete it myself without getting lost. I did however get covered in a thick layer of mud and moss and get soaking wet from rain. The jungle on the hike itself is stunning, trees are covered in thick moss and are gnarled and misshapen. If you like hiking, I highly suggest attempting the trail. Views on the climb are spectacular certain points, but cloud cover hid much of the distant rolling hills.

http://www.cameronhighlandsinfo.com/jungle_trekking/

 

Floral Greenhouses

The Cameron Highlands is home to numerous floral greenhouses, which house vast numbers of beautiful flowering plants in all shapes sizes and colours. These are located just down the street from the Equatorial, near the markets and strawberry farms.

 

Cameron Butterfly House

This facility, while being a butterfly house is actually far more impressive for its reptile, amphibian and insect collection. Here you will see numerous snake, frog, toad, spider, lizard and other species. Definitely worth a quick visit.

http://www.cameronbutterflyfarm.com.my/butterfly-house/reptiles-and-amphibians/

Ipoh

Ipoh is a fantastic place to visit if you want to escape touristy places in Malaysia. Ipoh does have a tourist industry, but its mostly geared for Malay people themselves. For instance, I spent three days in Ipoh and did not see another foreign tourist the entire time. The city is well known for its caves and temples, as well as its cave temples. If you would just like to spend a few days relaxing in beautiful gardens, exploring temples and cave systems and eating some fantastic local food, then make sure to stop in Ipoh. I recommend staying in the city center if possible as public transportation is non existent apart from using local taxis, but that can add up over time. If you are going to use taxis, pre-negotiate a price with them to take you to several places in a row as that way you will have more bartering power and can strike a better deal. During my time in Ipoh I actually made it onto a national Malaysian news networks report. I happened to be wondering around in the background while they filmed a protest over the forced resignation of a high ranking imam.

Ipoh’s Temples and Caves

Ipoh has a fantastic array of Buddhist temples and shrines throughout the city. Most of these are built in the Chinese style due to Ipoh’s majority Chinese population. The city is mostly industrial in nature and drew in a large number of Chinese immigrants looking to make money in the mining industry. You have plenty of options to choose from as far as temples are concerned, many of which are built into caves. If you want to explore and actual cave system you will need to travel a little outside of town, where you can find Gua Tempurung, a 3km long cave system. If you just wish to explore the cave you can only travel part way into the system. However, if you are there to go spelunking or caving then you can travel essentially the entire system; this does however cost more.

http://www.ipoh-city.com/attraction/Gua_Tempurung/

 

Ipoh’s Gardens and Sanctuaries

Throughout Ipoh you will find fantastic garden sanctuaries, places to go to meditate and walk. Some of which you can access by road, others of which require a short boat ride to cross lakes. If you’re in town to relax and unwind, then definitely spend some time in these gardens as they are extremely peaceful.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the central hub of Malaysia and as such has plenty for any traveler to experience and see. You will find everything from boutique shopping, to sacred Hindu caves, to the former tallest buildings in the world for roughly twenty years; from the worlds largest free flight bird park to the national Islamic art museum. You can experience a rich mix if Indian, Malay and Chinese culture throughout the city, depending on which district you happen to visit. For my stay I was in Brickfields, one of the major Indian suburbs in the city. Having stayed there I was treated to the best curries I have ever had the pleasure of eating for a minimal cost. If you would like to experience the nicer part of the city, then you need to head to the central business district, centered around the Petronas Towers, the former tallest buildings in the world. If you want to take the elevator up the towers to the viewing platform, you will however need to book a minimum of a day ahead as tickets are consistently sold out. Personally I recommend visiting Kuala Lumpur Tower instead as it is a fraction of the cost, lest busy and a better view of the city. If you need to get around the city, I highly recommend using the rail system if possible, as it is a cheap, fun and quick way to get around. Just make sure that if you are in the city at night that you be smart about where you go, as it is a large city just like any other in the world and certain areas can be dangerous if you don’t use common sense.

 

 

Kuala Lumpur Tower

Kuala Lumpur Tower in my opinion is a far better option than the Petronas Towers. While not being as famous, you get a far better view of the city at a fraction of the cost. This tower has a 360 degree viewing deck on its upper level that allows you to even look down upon the Petronas Towers. Definitely worth paying a visit to if you would like to get a good view of the city.

https://www.menarakl.com.my/

 

Batu Caves

Batu Caves is one of the must see attractions in Kuala Lumpur. The caves are a sacred Hindu site and house a temple built inside of the cave itself. Guarding the staircase to the caves is the worlds largest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity. The shrine is the worlds most popular Hindu religious site outside of India itself. Housed at the bottom of the staircase is another temple complex worth exploring as it has several smaller tunnels and caves that are filled with religious art and statues, as well as an underground reptile house. Throughout the complex area you will see and have to either avoid or interact with local monkeys that are no longer afraid of people. Personally I loved the experience and found them adorable, but several tourists around me did not.

http://www.malaysia.travel/en/us/places/states-of-malaysia/selangor/batu-caves

 

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

Kuala Lumpur free flight bird park is a fantastic experience and worth the visit. This is the largest free flight bird park in the world and houses a large variety and number of bird species. Most of the birds are freely flying around the park so you will see them landing or walking all around you during your visit. If you enjoy birds or wildlife photography, then this is the place for you.

http://www.klbirdpark.com/

 

Butterfly and Insect Park

The butterfly and insect park located near the bird park is not worth a visit on its own, but if you are in the area, its a nice stop for the beautiful gardens and butterfly species you will see flying around. Unfortunately I struggled to capture may photos of them as they were in constant motion.

http://www.klbutterflypark.com/about.html

 

Islamic Art Museum

The Islamic Art Museum is one of the best musuems or galleries I have been to anywhere in the world. The building houses a contemporary calligraphy art gallery on the lower level, with the upper housing the museum of Islamic history. This museum has artefacts from throughout the Islamic world and all through its history. I highly recommend visiting.

http://www.iamm.org.my/

Melaka/Malacca

Malacca is a very interesting city due to the large number of historical cultural influences that have shaped its past. The city has a rich Malay history prior to European arrival. After that it went to the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally ended in the hands of the British. Throughout the city you will find remnants of each stage of the city’s past. The city has an enormous historic district that falls under UNESCO protection. This includes the old city center with churches, houses, forts and shops. Also included in this protection is what is known as Yonkers Street, by day it acts as an antiques district and by night it transforms into a bustling night market. The city is filled with canals that run throughout the central area, these are used for transportation and for boating tours. Not far from the city is a botanical gardens, bee center, zoo and cultural park which are worth taking a day trip for. However, if you do decide to visit these locations be aware that dengue fever has been contracted in the forests surrounding the botanical gardens. Located throughout the city are museums and galleries, so even on rainy days with bad weather, you can find plenty to do. If you are looking for thrills and adventure then Malacca may not be the right place for you, but if you are looking for history, culture, markets and amazing street food then this is a must visit location.

 

 

 

UNESCO Heritage Site: Historical Buildings

As stated, the city has a rich historical heritage. You can literally spend an entire day just walking around the city visiting historical sites. What makes the sites in Malacca so unique is the broad variety or European colonial era buildings in the city.

http://www.malacca.ws/attractions/melaka-historic-cities.htm

 

Canals/Boat Rides

Malacca is well known for its canals and waterways, which run throughout the city and provide an important form of transportation. If you take the tour I recommend using Melaka River Cruise, I did my tour with them and had a fantastic time for a relatively cheap price. They will take you throughout the cities canal systems showing you art that can only be viewed from the water itself. Houses and other buildings lining the water, have in many cases been painted with murals or bright colours.

 

http://www.melakarivercruise.com/

Nearby Attractions

The area just outside of the city has many attractions within walking distance of each other. You will find botanical gardens, crocodile pits, a bee/honey center and a cultural park. The botanical gardens are quite nice as they are to some extent a jungle setting and house plenty of monkeys. If you have never seen a monkey in the wild before, this is a pretty easy way to do so. The cultural park is the highlight of this area. The park has replicas of traditional Malay homes from each state of the country, showing their differences and similarities. You can enter and explore each house in the park. Additionally, there is a stage show put on every few hours which features traditional Malay dancers, for which I was called up onto stage to participate in front of an audience.