The travel guide is back and this time we are heading to Malaysia where you can find incredible culture, islands and history waiting for you.
One of the most multicultural nations in the world, Malaysia, which is bordered by Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei is oftentimes called a miniature Asia.
A good part of the population comprises Malays, Chinese and Indians and the people are mostly multilingual.
This beautiful country attracts tourists from all across the world for it’s seas, beaches, history, mountain climbing, scuba diving, rain forests, temples and Orangutans. This is one of the must- see countries.
A Brief Background to Malaysia
Having endured the longest colonisation compared with any other nation after it was ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, the country finally gained independence in 1963. Until this time the country was called Malaya.
Even though two-fifths of the population follows other religions, Islam is Malaysia’s official religion which is followed by the majority.
By law all Malaysians are Muslim. So it’s not surprising to see long dresses and headscarves being worn by many women side by side with those wearing mini skirts. Islam appears to be different in Malaysia compared with many of the muslim nations.
To quote Brookings Institution, which is a non profit organisation, “Islam might have still been exceptional, but the political system was more interested in accommodating this reality than in suppressing it.”
Given that the country does not pressurise you into wearing modest clothing, bikinis for women and the usual beachwear for men is perfectly fine.
The country has close to 900 islands, many of which are inhabited and accessible, whilst others are lonely and remote.
Tourists usually head for the more popular ones with tropical beaches, luxurious resorts and turquoise water which is incredibly clear.
Most of such beaches are surrounded by leafy jungles and coral reefs creating an atmosphere found in few nations. Combine this with colonial architecture and you’ve found yourself a wondrous place.
Facts about Malaysia
The country follows a rotating monarchy system. Here nine Malaysian rulers take turns for five years at a time. The Petronas Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world.
The country has four UNESCO heritage sites and they have the largest cave system in the world. Large enough to accommodate 40 commercial airliners.
Lights in cinema halls are not switched off to prevent couples from doing more than just holding hands. Away from the big screen, one of the main money earners is natural rubber.
The ancestor of grapefruit, the Pomelo, is grown here and reaches a weight of three kilograms. Tea sellers throw tea to a height of more than a metre repeatedly from one cup to another to cool it. A sight to watch.
It may be the ninth most visited country in the world, but even Malaysians need to carry their passports to visit some parts of the country.
The Chinese living in this country take offerings to their dead in the dead of the night to offer prayers and ask for good luck.
The sound of number four is similar to the sound of death in their language and many buildings do not have the fourth floor. Instead it’s 3A before you reach the fifth floor. Similarly, many of the dwellings and offices do not have the number four.
The richest treasure of a sunken ship is here. A Portuguese ship. You’ll find many present day pirates in the area too.
Things to do and not to do in Malaysia
- Under no circumstances carry any kind of drugs with you Not even small quantities of marijuana. It attracts a heavy prison sentence or even the death penalty.
- Visit the Batu limestone caves. These are ancient holy shrines.
- Visit Mount Kinabalu. It takes a trek of about two and a half days to reach the top. On the way you’ll see some of the best animal and plant species including Orangutans.
- If you’re wary of climbing, go to one of the many national parks to see Orangutans and interact with them. These gentle apes share more than 94 percent of their DNA with us and are known as the friendliest apes apart from being intelligent. They even make their own tools which they put to good use.
- Spend time at the marine parks, beaches and islands.
- Trek through jungle paths. Always with a tourist guide.
- Visit the sites having turtle conservation programs where turtles come to lay eggs.
- Visit one of the scuba diving destinations. The best being Sipadan Island. You’ll need to apply for a permit in advance.
- Visit the Gunung Mulu National Park for its caves and waterfalls . This is one of the UNESCO heritage sites.
- Ride with the locals on the Penang Hill funicular.
- In George Town, visit the Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the country.
- Mix with the locals and enjoy their cuisine. Aside from western food, you will have a choice of Chinese, Indian and traditional Malay food.
Missed our last travel guide? Don’t worry, we’ve got it for you here.
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