Ethnically and geographically diverse, Malaysia has much to offer the ardent backpacker. From the idyllic rainforests of Malaysian Borneo to the cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, this majestic country is a hotpot of sights, sounds, smells and tastes.
Like other countries of Asia, Malaysia has a temperate climate, balmy sunny days and beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see making it a backpacker’s delight. There is a huge selection of hostels and other cheap accommodation so you’ll always find a place to rest your weary bones. This modest Asian nation has had a colourful history of conflict in the 1960s, but is now emerging as one of the fastest growing economies with a more peaceful outlook. Take a look why you should consider Malaysia to be your next far-flung adventure.
The inhabitants of Malaysia are laid back and fun. They take great pride in showing their cultural heritage to the world and welcome travellers and holidaymakers with open arms. Being culturally and religiously diverse has made Malaysian society tolerant. Lessons can be learned from Malaysia in how to live harmoniously by the more powerful nations in the world.
Like many Asian countries, there is always a hub where traders sell their wares to unassuming foreigners and Malaysia is no different. You could find yourself buying a fake Rolex for next to nothing or one of the latest ‘Abibas’ caps to grace the fashion world. It’s all good fun and well worth a meander through giving you a fresh perspective on modern Malaysian life after a few days out and about experiencing the temple life.
If you love sampling all sorts of regional and cultural delicacies, Malaysia will not disappoint. Head to the culinary Mecca of Kuala Lumpur, and you’ll find more street food vendors than you can shake a stick at selling more than your fair share of culinary delights. Try the ubiquitous beef rendang, partake in a subtly spiced nasi goreng or opt for the sweet lamban rice dumplings. A delicious feast like no other, you may find your eyes are bigger than your stomach when hot-footing it to the eateries of Malaysia.
An Ever Changing Landscape
Like Dubai in the UAE, foreign investment and internal development have led to an emergence of new buildings, skyscrapers and real estate. New swanky hotels adorn the capital’s skyline, and the country’s coastline is becoming crowded with new high rise resorts. While there is still plenty of land for sale, there is a great emphasis on maintaining a rich mix of old and new. Paying homage to their rich cultural heritage is paramount even to the most affluent Malaysian developers.
The Great Outdoors
There is much more to Malaysia than the dizzying neon lights of Kuala Lumpur. The Quartz Ridge in Klang provides some of the finest trekking opportunities in all of Asia. At Gunung Mulu, you could try your hand at some caving or try a mountain ascent. The richness of the Malaysian landscape means that you can experience rainforests, hiking trails and mountain villages all in the same trip.
Like Thailand’s Koh Samui, Malaysia also has its fair share of islands. Like little pieces of paradise, Penang and Langkawi are the number one destinations for backpackers in the area. The islands are the perfect retreat with the stereotypical white sandy beaches, coconut-laden palm trees and the odd hammock or two. With an abundant coral reef, snorkelers while away their days hunting for bright tropical fish before heading to the beach bars to chow down on curry and rice.
The Tapir, et al.
If you love nothing more than watching a nature documentary or two in your leisure time, then you’ll love the wildlife that Malaysia has to offer. You’ll be able to discover over twenty species of the cute tapir with their odd noses and stubby posture as well as monkeys, gibbons, pheasants, parrots and turtles. The unspoilt landscape of Malaysian Borneo enjoys being the habitat of over 7000 species of flower including the world’s largest, the rafflesia, which measures over one metre in diameter. Heading to Malaysia could be like setting foot into your very own personal wildlife documentary.
Mah Meri Cultural Village is a must-see for those who enjoy learning about the culture of a destination. Off the beaten track and with fewer tourists, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the history of the Senoi people who live in Selangor. You’ll be able to meander through the village, see the intricate woodcarvings made by the Senoi and take a look at the village’s museum to learn about the history and mythology that dominates the Senoi culture. It can be a bit of a trek to get to the island, but it’s well worth it.
The heritage of Malaysia means that the architecture of the country is as diverse as its population. Structures and monuments take their influence from a range of religions including Buddhist and Hindu. Colourful pagodas, golden detailing and flamboyant balustrades adorn temples and shrines across the country. Many culture vultures embark on a trip to Malaysia for the architecture alone.
You can be sure of a good time if you head to Malaysia. Although you may have to be wary of pickpockets, like you do in any town after dark, the city centres become alive after the sun goes down. Flickering neon lights originating from the bars emerge as staff attempt to beckon you in with promises of free drinks and a good time. The streets are loud and lairy, and the heat can be humid and sticky. A night out in Kuala Lumpur has to be experienced at least once in your lifetime.
If you’re embarking on a tour of Asia, looking to make stops at the more familiar Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the like, don’t neglect Malaysia from your plans. This country has a lot to offer the tourist and will welcome you into its heart with promises of good food, excellent scenery and unique experiences.
- Collaborative Post