Things to Do in Malaysia

A baby orangutan in Malaysia Borneo

Malaysia is blessed with a heady mixture of wonderfully diverse wildlife, picture-perfect beaches and history-filled towns. So where to start? Here’s our pick of the top attractions.

Visit the top of the Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004, and are a much-recognised symbol of Kuala Lumpur. Ride the lift up these twin skyscrapers and see the city stretching into the distance, a sight that’s particularly impressive when lit up at night. For the best views, choose from the Skybridge on the 41st floor, which forms a bridge between the two towers, or  the Observation Deck on the 86th floor – although you can always do both of course.

How to do it: The Petronas Towers are open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9am to 9pm. Tickets to reach the top cost RM85 (£15 approx) and can be purchased in advance online.

Climb Mount Kinabalu

The 4,095m peak of Mount Kinabalu towers majestically above the rainforest canopy of Mount Kinabalu National Park. The forest is filled with animal and plant life, including over 800 orchid species and the insect-munching pitcher plant. You can choose to simply explore the park and admire Kinabalu’s peak from afar, or grab your hiking boots and climb to the summit, a two-day trek requiring a reasonable level of fitness, but no prior experience.

How to do it: Our Sensational Malaysia holiday includes 3 nights in Kota Kinabalu, which also includes a private Kinabalu Park & Poring Hot Springs tour.

See Orangutans in the jungle

To see Malaysian Borneo’s most famous resident, the ‘old man of the forest’, known as the orangutan, is a real treat. Despite these magnificent creatures being endangered, it’s not too difficult to spot one: head to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah for your best chance, and observe the orangutans as they are taught the skills needed to be introduced back into the wild. Orangutans are also sometimes sighted along the Kinabatangan River (see below) and amid the treetops of the Danum Valley Conservation Area. It’s a magical experience to see these sociable apes interacting, so don’t forget your camera.

How to do it: A visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is included in our Classic Borneo holiday itinerary.

Explore Batu Caves

Just outside Kuala Lumpur, and easy to visit on a day trip, the Batu Caves were discovered in 1878 and today are used as temples by Hindu priests. To go inside the vast caverns you’ll need to ascend a muscle-aching 272 steps, past an enormous gold statue of Lord Murugan who stands guard at the entrance. The impressive interior is filled with shrines, monuments and a troop of cheeky monkeys who are out to steal your lunch.

How to do it: The best way to visit and explore the Batu Caves is via a day tour. A day tour of the caves and suburbs of Kuala Lumpur is included in our Marvels of Malaysia holiday.

Go island hopping, snorkelling and diving

The seas around Malaysia are wonderfully warm and clear, perfect for snorkelling or diving, and with nearly 3,000 miles of coastline, there are plenty of pretty beaches and islands to choose from. Langkawi is perhaps the most famous of the islands, dotted with upmarket hotels and blessed with clear seas. Or, if you’ve just climbed Mount Kinabalu, perhaps try Manukan Island, within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park, where you’ll find many multi-coloured fish just 20 minutes by boat from Kota Kinabalu. Alternatively, try the remote Gaya Island, accessible only by boat and surrounded by coral reefs and mangroves.

Sample the local cuisine

Malaysia’s population is made up of Malays, Chinese and Indians, creating a wonderfully diverse fusion cuisine unlike anything else in Southeast Asia. Start your tasting menu with a plate of murtabak (pictured), a delicious unleavened bread (known as roti canai) stuffed with spiced curry. Another favourite of mine is mee goreng, a fried noodle dish with garlic, onions and prawns or chicken. And do try a dosa – a huge very thin pancake that you dip in curry sauce or gravy.

How to do it: Taste the best Malaysia has to offer with a local market and home cooking experience, as included in our Marvels of Malaysia holiday.

For more inspiration browse our Malaysia Holidays