Beginners guide to Malaysia

I didn’t know much about Malaysia before I visited and having no preconceptions about what I would see there meant I thoroughly enjoyed my time. Sometimes this country gets overlooked, in my opinion, by others in South East Asia, and so I would strongly recommend you consider for your next trip!

A week in this country was all the time I had and I really did pack a lot in, read on for my top places to see!

Georgetown, Penang

There is so much to see and do in this town. I decided to take a tour, as I had limited time, to see the highlights.

First stop was Fort Cornwallis, we didn’t have a chance to go inside but very interesting to see. It was built by the British East India Trade company in the late 18th Century and actually never engaged in any combat. I think a tour guide would be recommended if you did want to look around, as there was little information on it.

After this we headed to the Chew Jetty. I was fascinated by this place. The Chinese built this community on stilts over the shores of the sea to avoid having to pay taxes. It even includes a temple at the end. Now a little touristy, but still very quaint and definitely worth a visit.

Little India is located around Queen Street, Chulia Street and Market Street and had stalls  serving lots of delicious Indian food – definitely worth heading for a cheap bite to eat at lunch.  As well as shops selling traditional Indian dress and the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. I found it amazing seeing all the different fusions of cultures in Malaysia already.

Image of Little India in Penang, Malaysia

I also visited the Kek Lok Si temple, which is known for having the largest female buddha statue in SE Asia. The views would have been incredibly I am told, but there had been a forest fire in Indonesia which had blown a lot of smoke across.

image of Kek Lok Si temple in Malaysia

Beautiful temples, such amazing colours and I put my wish on the tree.

image of wishing tree in Kek Lok Si temple in Malayisa

Kek Lok Si temple in Malaysia

Other places I visited also included the Penang Batik Factory, where I learnt about the process of making the materials. It was also a short walk from there to the Botanical Gardens where I saw a lot of monkeys!

EatHead to Red Garden Food Paradise. Little plastic chairs and tables and cheap beer, but all kinds of food you can imagine served from lots of Hawker stalls.

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

What an absolutely stunning place and one of the highlights of my time in Malaysia. I could write a whole blog post on how special this place is, but I will try and condense for now. The magic started when we reached the hills on the drive up – thick trees everywhere, steep hills and places where the scenery seemed to be cut into steps. The climate was cooler and it was a welcome break after some rather sweaty days!

image of the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia

First thing to see in the Cameron Highlands are the tea plantations, rolling hills covered in short tea plants. Each tree lasts for 100 years before it has to be replaced. There are only two plantations in the Highlands and the one we visited was owned by a Scottish family who established it when the land was discovered 150 years ago.

After visiting the plantation head to the Boh Tea Plantation where you can have a tour of the factory and learn how tea is made, as well as visiting the cafe for an excellent cup of tea!

Image of Boh Tea plantation in Malaysia

Following this head to the Mossy forest for a semi-relaxing hike. Starts with cut out steps and then ends up clambering over muddy roots. The forest had an almost prehistoric feel, with such unusual trees. There is a view point with a watch tower at the highest part of the forest at 666ft, which you can climb. Simply stunning. It is also accessible by road if you want to miss the hike.

Image of Mossy Forest in Malaysia

Visiting the worlds largest flower, the Rafflesia arnoldii, otherwise known as the Corpse Lily was a highlight of the Cameron Highlands.  To visit this phenomenon it involved a 3 hour hike through the forest. The flower I saw was 4 days old and would only last another 1 day, so I feel very lucky to have seen it. They are parasites and live in a vine for 4 years, are buds for 10 months and then flower for 5 days.

Image of Rafflesia arnoldii in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpar, capital of Malaysia 

I loved this city, the capital of Malaysia. Often I find when visiting a countries I don’t love the bigger cities and capitals. Kuala Lumpur for me was an exception. There were quite a few highlights!

Of course the first place to head is the iconic Petronas  Towers. I decided not to go up them, but if you would like to I would recommend to book in advance as tickets sell out quickly. Instead I booked tickets to go up the KL tower. It afforded amazing views over the city, including the Petronas Towers! You can even see as far as the Batu Caves.

Image of Petronas Towers in Malaysia

The Batu Caves are located just North of Kuala Lumpar and are an impressive site.  A Hindu temple set within the caves, with the famous statue standing outside. Beware of the monkeys – they can be vicious and try and steal any food you might have!

Image of Batu caves in Malaysia

Head to the National Mosque for some really impressive architecture and beautiful fountains. Plus the chance to wear some purple robes!

Image of National Mosque in Malaysia

Stop by the I love KL sign for the ultimate Kuala Lumpar picture.

One of the best things in Kuala Lumpar was the nightlife! I had a fantastic, if not slightly blurry evening, in the sky bar. It was ladies night, which meant all the women got free cocktails until 9pm. After indulging in these for a few hours, we headed to pub street – Bukit Bintang. Again it was still ladies night so the bar gave us a free bottle of vodka.

Thank you Kuala Lumpar. I love KL.

Melaka

The first thing I did upon arriving in this cute little town was to take a rick saw tour. Unlike any rickshaw tour before. Pimped out rickshaws, which you cruise along with all sorts of funky music playing.

Image of Melaka Rickshaw in Malaysia

It is a good way to get to know the town – we saw the old town entrance, China Town and the river.

Image of Melaka in Malaysia

For an incredibly picturesque part of the town with lots of lovely  cafes and places to eat, head to the riverside. There is also the option of taking a tour down the river.

Image of Melaka riverside in Malaysia

Melaka has a lovely vibe in the evening. I really enjoyed my last day in Malaysia wandering around the markets and getting a henna tattoo.

Image of Malayisa Flag

Overlooked far too much as there is so much to see and do in this country. So varied, vibrant and colourful – a fantastic place to visit. Even though I was exhausted with how much I fitted in, this country was a fantastic experience!

 

Interested in South East Asia? Check out my guide to the top sights in Singapore.

Have you been to Malaysia? I’d love to hear about it – wherecharliewanders@gmail.com

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3 Comments

  1. March 7, 2018 / 8:48 pm

    The Petronas Towers are stunning! Great pics and commentary, thanks for sharing.

  2. September 20, 2018 / 6:55 pm

    Malaysia now has a special place in my heart after spending a month there earlier this year! You’ve really captured the essence of the place – great post 🙂 The only other place I’d recommend that people visit are the Perhentian islands!

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      September 20, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      Wow! A month, you’re so lucky. And thanks for the tip. I will definitely look it up if I am lucky enough to visit again.

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