Overview of Malaysia

Malaysia's capital and by far its largest city Kuala Lumpur is landlocked and found in the western side of Peninsular Malaysia.
Malaysia's capital and by far its largest city Kuala Lumpur is landlocked and found in the western side of Peninsular Malaysia.

From the dense jungles of Borneo to the immense mega-malls of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is one of the most diverse countries in Southeast Asia. A well-organized, naturally beautiful, and surprisingly modern nation, it remains one of the region's true gems, offering everything from gorgeous beaches to today's most modern technology.

Malaysia itself is divided into two key parts. The first, Peninsular Malaysia, is home to most of the country's population. Cities like Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru show off Malaysia's more modern side, while unique destinations like Penang and Malacca offer a great look into Malaysia's ancient and more recent history.

The 'other half' of Malaysia, known as East Malaysia or Malaysia Timur, is located on part of the island of Borneo. Shared with Indonesia and Brunei, Malaysia's section of Borneo is home to some of the world's most lush tropical jungle, some of its most stunning natural attractions, and many of Malaysia's most famous beaches and diving spots.

Malaysia's capital, and by far its largest city, is Kuala Lumpur. Landlocked and found in the western side of Peninsular Malaysia, it's a growing city that's well aware of its importance in the region. The world famous Petronas Twin Towers cap off an impressive skyline for a city of its size, while major attractions like the KL Bird Park and Pavilion Mall offer plenty for visitors to experience.

Nearby you'll find Malacca, an icon of Malaysia's colonial history and one of the few areas in this region of the country where Malaysia's previous Dutch influence is visible. A historical town that's popular amongst tourists and locals alike, Malacca is one of Malaysia's most photogenic cities.

Malaysia is also home to some of the country’s best tropical beaches with crystal clear water and beautiful white sand.
Malaysia is also home to some of the country’s best tropical beaches with crystal clear water and beautiful white sand.

To the north, the state of Penang draws in millions of tourists – both from Malaysia and abroad – every year. A tropical island known as much for its food as it is for its beaches – Penang, remains a leading cultural hotspot in Southeast Asia. Food festivals and local adoration of hawker stands are responsible for Penang's current status as one of the world's culinary capitals.

Of course, there's more to Malaysia than just its cities. Malaysian Borneo, the large island that Malaysia shares with neighboring Indonesia and Brunei, is home to many of the world's most celebrated and picturesque beaches. The states of Sarawak and Sabah offer incredible beaches islands like Sipadan and Mabul, both famed for their gorgeous reef diving.

Known around the world for its incredible food, Malaysia is regarded as one of the best countries in Southeast Asia for foodies and culinary gurus. From the world famous street food of Penang to high end fare in Kuala Lumpur's top restaurants, there's never a shortage of things to eat in Malaysia. The large Chinese and Indian influences in the country's cuisine have contributed to a unique and rarely-matched assortment of dishes, including the country's famous laksa, nasi lemak, and char kuayteow.

Although it lacks the economic strength of neighboring Singapore, Malaysia is a fairly developed country for the region, and modern services are easy to come by. Internet access is fast and readily available across the country, although some areas of Sarawak and Sabah may have limited access. 3G cell service is available throughout the country in all major cities and most towns.

Despite the modern technology and surprisingly clean atmosphere, prices in Malaysia tend to be on the low side, even when compared to its northern neighbors. Eating out in Malaysia is rarely costly, and shopping for locally produced clothes and items can be downright cheap. This value for money and modernity makes Malaysia a great place for visitors looking to maximize a small budget.

Located slightly north of the equator, Malaysia is one of the world's hottest countries in terms of daytime temperatures, and also one of its most humid. The tropical climate is split into just three seasons, two of which are fairly similar. Dubbed the hot, wet, and dry seasons, Malaysia's weather can vary from hot, dry sunshine to torrential rain, often in the same day.

Malaysia is a relatively conservative Muslim country, and while it's significantly more culturally liberal than other Islamic countries elsewhere in the world, it's still a slightly adjustment for many Western visitors. Most Malays will wear shirts and shorts on the beach and full trousers and shirts around the city, despite the incredible heat and humidity.

Despite the conservative culture, most Malaysians are warm and friendly, and will go out of their way to ensure that you have a good stay in their country. From chatty taxi drivers to friendly hotel staff, you're unlikely to experience any rudeness or unwelcoming behavior in Malaysia. Despite its gorgeous beaches and great food, it's Malaysia's population that's perhaps its best feature.

From its fantastic food to its great beaches, its incredible shopping malls and markets to its lush and impressive jungle, Malaysia is one of the most diverse, welcoming, and interesting destinations for visitors to Southeast Asia. With a modern transportation system and several regional air hubs, this accessible, interesting, and welcoming country is a great place for anyone to visit.