Malaysia comprises of thirteen states and three federal territories all in Southeast Asia. Its unique geography, consisting of more than 800 islands, is as diverse as its population: Malay, Chinese, and Indian communities and the ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak.
The many layers of Malaysia’s attractions include tropical islands, lush rainforests, and historic and religious sites. In the capital Kuala Lumpur, a different scene of modern infrastructure and world-class facilities is competing with the rest of the world. With a range of various attractions to boast, Malaysia never stops to evoke amazement to its millions of visitors.
WHEN TO VISIT
Warm climate wraps the islands of Malaysia for most of the year. It ranges from 21C to 32C. However, the conditions vary in the different territories. On the west side (Penang and Langkawi), an ideal holiday is between December and February. In the east (Perhentian and Tioman Islands), the climate is friendlier between June and August. Kuala Lumpur receives plenty of sunshine, but rains do come and go even in the driest months of June to August. Penang, the largest island, has its wettest season from September to October. Scorching heat hits its streets during January and February.
Six international airports serve the east and west areas of Malaysia. The largest is the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Kota Kinabalu Airport (KKIA) is the primary gateway into the eastern side of Sabah and Borneo. Across the archipelago, sixteen domestic airports provide access to strategic points.
Tourists arriving in the capital can take the non-stop KLIA Express train to the city centre. Meanwhile, the Light Rail System (LRT) or RapidKL Bus are cheaper alternatives to get around. And while taxis offer convenience, one should hail with caution. Some drivers tend to ignore the metre and negotiate fare rates instead.
Malay specialties, Chinese dishes, and Indian recipes are abundant in food tables around Malaysia. The cultural diversity is widespread, but the flavours have kept their identities. ‘Nasi lemak,’ a local favourite, is arguably the national dish. In its basic form, nasi lemak is rice (cooked in coconut milk) topped with sambal chili and egg.
Another food item worth tasting is ‘ikan bakar’ or fried fish. ‘Char kway teow’ and ‘hokkien mee’ are popular Chinese noodles. As for the Indian cooking, ‘roti canai’ and curry laksa always top the list.
With Islam as its official religion, Malaysia observes Ramadan every year. This period calls for observance from locals and understanding for tourists. Some restaurants and establishments may close in respect to the tradition. In Kuching, capital of Sarawak, excitement fills the island for the Rainforest World Music Festival.
Hari Merdeka, Malaysia’s Independence Day, happens in August while Malaysia Day is on the following month. During these celebrations, traffic in most streets is on a gridlock. Aside from these holidays of obligation, Chinese and Hindu communities celebrate the Chinese New Year and Deepavali, respectively.