When I think about an exotic holiday, there are a few things that spring to mind. The bright and long-lasting sun, sparkling blue water crystal clear as day and the unusual, mouth-watering food to name a few. Booking a flight to a far and unknown land is an adventurous prospect, and the world truly is your oyster when it comes to choice. My top choice? Malaysia.
South East Asia remains extremely popular amongst travellers in search of an equatorial break, with the buzzing boldness of Thailand and the increasingly inquisitive Vietnam coming up trumps in regards to tourist numbers each year. However, Malaysia is often overseen amongst other South East Asian jewels. According to Thrillist, Thailand is ranked second and Vietnam fifth in their article ‘The Best Countries to Visit in South East Asia, Ranked’, with Malaysia only coming in ninth.
It surprises me that Malaysia does not score higher. You could call me biased, as my parents live in Kuala Lumpur (the capital city) and I consider the country my second home, but finding endless love for the people, culture and ambience that surrounds you is not a hard task in Malaysia.
Planning a tropical holiday is an important pursuit and for anyone seeking out that all important getaway, Malaysia will meet you with the blue water you see on postcards, a melting pot of cultures, the lush green and blue hues of island life and it’s even home to the food capital of the world. What more could you want from an exotic holiday?
Whatever you’re seeking out of your next tropical break, Malaysia has just what you want. Here’s your ultimate guide to the wonders of Malaysia…
Live That Island Life
In search of palm trees, beaches and ultimate relaxation? Malaysia is home to a collection of island paradises — Langkawi, Tioman Island and The Perhentian Islands are amongst the most well-known. Each and every one will lure you in with their azure waters and pearly white sand, allowing you to feel as far away from reality as possible.
Langkawi Island is located in the North West and will suit you perfectly if you’re looking for an easy yet serene break. With plenty of hotels to choose from and an airport on the island, you can fly direct from Kuala Lumpur. The island has been developed greatly in recent years, however there is no doubt that you can still appreciate the island’s beauty and tranquility — making the most of the relaxed vibe is not a hard task on Langkawi.
Travelling over to the Eastern Malaysian peninsula, you’ll find one of the country’s biggest islands — Tioman Island. This island embodies true Malaysian culture, with authentic villages and is practically unspoiled. There are endless water activities to enjoy on the island, including a variety of water sports and diving, but if this isn’t your scene, feel free to just enjoy the beautiful sea. Believe me, the first thing you’ll want to do is jump into the shimmering, turquoise water as soon as you arrive.
Lying within the glimmering South China Sea in the North East of Malaysia sit The Perhentian Islands. Less well-known than the above islands and on a much smaller scale, there are two islands that make up The Perhentians: Kecil and Besar; simply meaning ‘small’ and ‘large’. The first is more popular with young crowds, mainly backpackers, and the latter is more upmarket. You’ll find some nightlife, but nowhere near on the same scale as Thailand’s famous beach parties. Both of the Perhentian Islands are tropical and tranquil — the epitome of relaxation.
Food, Glorious Food
South East Asia is known for its culinary excellence. Kuala Lumpur, in particular, is famous for being the food capital of the world. Why? Mainly due to the melting pot of different cultures apparent in the city. KL has grown into a hub of Indian, Chinese and, of course, Malaysian culture.
This allows for an array of different flavours to come alive within the city, and all over the country. The aroma of different spices, vegetables, meat and fruit follows you around and wherever you go, you’ll find a new dish to try.
One of my favourite dishes in Kuala Lumpur is an Indian banana leaf curry — a must-taste in the city. These curry houses are dotted all over — there are plenty of them in a suburb near KL Central called Bangsar, which also has plenty of bars, clubs and other types of restaurants available. Banana leaf curry houses are on most street corners in Bangsar and as the name suggests, you’ll have your curry served up on a banana leaf. There is usually a choice of meat, vegetable or fish curry. My advice? Try them all, if you can.
Another famous foodie haven in the capital is Jalan Alor — a road lined with street food stalls, mainly selling Chinese delicacies. You’ll find everything from frog porridge to insects and stingray. There are no fancy restaurants on Jalan Alor — the road is filled with plastic tables and chairs but it’s absolutely buzzing. Wherever your eyes take you, you’ll truly be amazed at the choice in food and the interesting options available…
Splash The Cash
As with most exotic destinations, luxury is at your fingertips in Malaysia. If this is your thing and you want to treat yourself, I know just the place.
On the East Coast of Malaysia in an area called Terengganu, lies the beautiful, grand and impeccable resort, Tanjong Jara. The resort sits on private sands that go on for miles. An infinity pool overlooks the crescent shaped beach where you can view and embrace the turquoise waters of the South China Sea all day long. The resort likes to maintain the area’s traditions, with signs of Malay culture in the spa treatments and the food menu.
The accommodation is hard to beat — traditional Malaysian villas surround the grounds and look out onto the eastern sea with fittings and fixtures of the best possible quality. There are a variety of activities to get stuck into at the resort — turtle watching, diving, cycling tours and visits to an elephant sanctuary are some that you can choose from.
We are talking luxury here so prices are high, and start at £170 for a room (one room sleeps three) in mid-July for one night. My stay at Tanjong Jara was truly special and one I’ll never forget. The luxury and exclusivity will leave a shining and everlasting impression on you. It’s difficult to forget it in a hurry and it is everything a luxury break should be, and more.
Do Something Different In Malaysia
If you’re the adventurous type and like to try something new when you go exploring, Malaysia has the answer. Located in Sabah on the island of Borneo is Mount Kinabalu — the highest mountain in the region, in between the Himalayas and New Guinea.
Sitting at 4,095 metres, you can probably gather that the climb is not easy. However, as long as you are physically fit, you can conquer the mountain. You won’t be left to climb the mountain by yourself, and will have a guide with you the whole time. The climb takes a couple of days, so submerge yourself into adventure mode and sleep in a hostel half way up before you tackle the summit the next day.
It’s a particularly popular destination amongst tourists and if you’re up for the challenge, it is certainly something to tick off the bucket list.