Reefs and rainforests, mountains and minarets, skycrapers and sampans; Malaysia more than lives up to its official slogan ‘truly Asia’. -World Travel Guide
Malaysia is like two countries in one, cleaved in half by the South China Sea. The multicultural peninsula ﬂaunts Malay, Chinese and Indian inﬂuences, while Borneo hosts a wild jungle of orang-utans, granite peaks and remote tribes. Throughout these two regions is an impressive variety of microcosms ranging from the space-age high-rises of Kuala Lumpur to the smiling longhouse villages of Sarawak.
And then there’s the food. Malaysia (particularly along the peninsular west coast) has one of the best assortments of cuisines in the world. Start with Chinese-Malay ‘Nonya’ fare, move on to Indian curries, Chinese buﬀets, Malay food stalls and even impressive Western food. Yet despite all the pockets of ethnicities, religions, landscapes and the sometimes-great distances between them, the beauty of Malaysia lies in the fusion of it all, into a country that is one of the safest, most stable and manageable in Southeast Asia.
Imagine a city, its skyline punctuated by minarets, Mogul domes and skyscrapers, its colourful, food-stall-lined streets shaded by a leafy canopy of banyan and rain trees.
KL, as Kuala Lumpur is often called, is Malaysia’s capital and an amalgamation of cultures. It is packed with historic monuments, steel-clad skyscrapers, lush parks, mega-sized shopping malls, bustling street markets and trendy nightspots. Also an essential part of the vibrant mix are incense-wreathed, colourfully adorned mosques and temples of the country’s Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. A reverence for these ancient cultures is balanced with a drive to be plugged into the contemporary world, as evidenced by an exciting contemporary art and design scene and a buzzing digital economy.
Famous for its beautiful natural surroundings and its historical past, it has a lot of places to explore and every corner you turn to is full of amazement and a joy to see.
A fascinating fusion of the East and West, Penang embraces modernity while retaining its traditions and old world charm. These are reflected in its harmonious multiracial populace and well-preserved heritage buildings which led to George Town being accorded a listing as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site recently. Long regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, Penang also entices visitors with its beautiful coasts and scrumptious cuisines.
The Jewel of Kedah
Langkawi is synonymous with ‘tropical paradise’ – and with good reason. Since 2008 the archipelago’s official title has been Langkawi Permata Kedah (Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah), no doubt inspired by the island’s clear waters, relatively pristine beaches and intact jungle. The district’s been duty free since 1986 and roping in tourists well before that. Yet despite their immense drawing power, these 99 islands, dominated by 478.5-sq-km Pulau Langkawi, have not been overdeveloped beyond recognition. Get just a little way off the main beaches and this is idyllic rural Malaysia, all kampungs (villages) and oil lamps. It’s the kind of tropical island where there’s no lack of spas, seafood restaurants and beach bars, but where the locals continue to go about their ways just as they have for generations.
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