Malaysia, a South East Asian country located on the equator, is known to be a travel destination of many. Prior to the pandemic, Malaysia received approximately 25 million tourists worldwide. Malaysia hones a multi-cultural and multi-religious nation, that leaves tourist curious of the fusion between the different cultures, apart from her amazing landscapes and natural attraction. Malaysia was ranked first in the Global Muslim Travel Index in 2019, according to the latest global survey carried out by Crescent Rating. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) placed Malaysia at 15th position in terms of tourist arrivals and 21st for tourism receipt last year. Malaysia is known of its many dense tropical rainforests and beautiful beaches.
That being said, here are 5 places to visit in Malaysia with your family, with various activities/sightseeing that can be done.
- Taman Negara National Park
Taman Negara is the biggest national park in Malaysia, has a total area of 4,343 km2 and it is one of the world’s oldest deciduous rainforests, estimated to be more than 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Here are some things you can do in this rainforest for the whole family.
Tip: Be sure to check that you do not visit Taman Negara during the monsoon season, or else you won’t get to enjoy all that the Taman Negara National Park has to offer.
1.1 Visit to Orang Asli Village
The Orang Asli village is the settlement of the indigenous people of Malaysia. In the Malay language, they are known as the Orang Asli (original people). There are 2 Orang Asli tribes that have settled in Taman Negara, mainly the Batek and Semokberi.
While on a visit to their village, you can learn about how they survive in the wild using ancient methods of cooking, hunting and so on.
1.2 Boat cruise/ Fish feeding
You can opt for a relaxing boat cruise which will take you up to Lata Berkoh. This cruise takes place on the calm Sungai Tahan river, which boasts a rich flora and fauna presence. You can even make a stop for fish feeding further up the river, where you can fish the infamous ‘Kelah’ fish.
1.3 Fishing (Sungai Tembeling, Sungai Keniam River)
If your family is into fishing, Taman Negara is a great spot for fishing. It is home to a variety of famous local fishes. There are fishing spots from beginner, intermediate to advanced anglers. You can fish while enjoying an amazing view.
1.5 Canopy Walkway
The main attraction of Taman Negara, and the longest suspension bridge in Malaysia, spanning over 530 meters.
1.6 Hiking at Lubuk Simpon
A simple hike for the family, which will take approximately less than 1 hour, depending on your hiking speed. It is a beginner trail, and it gives you an amazing overview of the Taman Negara National Park.
Penang, a very historical state in Malaysia, is a perfect place to bring your family for a holiday. Iit gives you a mixed experience of a beach and city lifestyle. It is infamous for its food, due to the mixed heritages and culture in the city. The traditional center of Penang is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as there are many historical sites in Penang.
To travel to Penang from Kuala Lumpur, one can take a 1-hour flight, or take a 4-5 drive on the scenic North-South express highway, depending on the traffic.
2.1 Fort Cornwalis
An infamous heritage site in Penang, which dates to the 18th century. Built by the British under the direction of Sir Francis Light, the founder of Penang to protect the island in case of an attack.
2.2 Penang Peranakan Museum
Learn more about the history and culture of the Peranakan people of Penang and how their unique culture blended with the Malay customs of Malaysia. There are many galleries, photographs and antiques to view from.
2.3 Suffolk House visit
Former residence of Sir Francis Light made up of official British colonial architecture. There are guided tours and a famous restaurant here selling traditional English food.
2.4 Explore Georgetown for the food!
Penang is a food haven! You can find a fusion of flavours at Georgetown, such as the infamous ‘Line Clear Nasi Kandar’ , Penang Char Kuey Toew and so on.
2.5 Visit the Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque
This mosque was built on stilts over the water. When the tide is low you can walk directly underneath the mosque and check out this amazing feat of engineering which was also the first of its kind in Malaysia.
2.6 Penang Hill
One of the biggest attractions in Penang, it gives you an amazing view of Penang Island. Once can take the tram up, or hike (if you are adventurous). Bear in mind that the weather at Penang Hill can be extremely hot, bring along shades and sunscreen.
3. Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands are located in the state of Terengganu and offers amazing beaches with clear waters. There are 2 separate isles in the Perhentian Islands, ‘Perhentian Besar’ and ‘Perhentian Kecil’. The larger island is less crowded and attracts more family tourists, while the smaller island attracts backpackers. To get to the Perhentian Islands, it is approximately a 7-8 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to the Kuala Besut jetty, where a boat/ferry will take you to the Perhentian Islands. Alternatively, you can fly to Kota Bahru airport, and take a van/ride hailing to the Kuala Besut jetty, where a boat/ferry will take you to the Perhentian Islands.
3.1 Scuba Diving
The main attraction of the island. Divers from all over the world come to the Perhentian Islands to dive.
It is relatively cheap to dive in the Perhentian Islands.
You can even bring your family snorkeling in Perhentian Isands. There are spectacular snorkeling spots on both Perhentian isles that are safe.
You can rent the snorkeling equipment from the vendors.
3.3 Jungle Trekking
There are amazing trails in the Perhentian Islands that are not that difficult. They boast lush greenery and amazing rivers. The local guides will aid you in the routes to take.
3.4 Turtle watching
Perhentian Islands is home to a large turtle population who come ashore to lay their eggs before heading back to the ocean.
These normally happens on a beach called Turtle Beach, and it is aa very touching experience to watch the baby turtles waddle on the beach to start their new life again at sea.
One can check with the locals when is the turtle hatching season.
4. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the state of Sabah, and it is definitely a destination for the family, and a destination where you can do almost anything, regardless of what your interests are.
To get to Kota Kinabalu, you would have to take a 2 hour 30 minute flight from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) .
4.1 Signal Hill Observatory Platform
The most scenic spots of the city. Some say that the observatory is the highest location in Kota Kinabalu.
4.2 Sabah State Museum
Sabah is a historic state, and the Sabah State Museum houses three floors of memorabilia for you to learn about the history of Sabah. There is even a Sabah Art Gallery and a Science and Technology Museum located here.
4.3 Tanjung Aru Beach
One of the most beautiful and popular beaches in Kota Kinabalu.
There is a long stretch of sand here, ideal for a picnic or to watch the sunset.
The water is extremely clean as well.
4.4 Wetland River Cruise
The Klias River is about a 90 minute drive outside Kota Kinabalu (KK) and it joins the Klias Wetland Mangrove Forest Reserve.
You will get the chance to observe wildlife.
4.5 Climbing Mount Kinabalu, Kundasang
The main attraction in Sabah is Mount Kinabalu, and this is why majority of the tourists visit Sabah. The mountain is located in the Kinabalu National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is not an easy hike and a certain amount of training is required to climb the mountain.
5. Miri, Sarawak
Miri is a coastal city in Sarawak and shares its borders with Brunei.
Miri hosts 4 surrounding national parks, beautiful beaches and a rich history.
To get to Miri from Kuala Lumpur, you would need to take a flight from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) that would span for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
5.1 The Grand Old Lady/Canada Hill
Malaysia’s first oil well, where Shell corporation first drilled for oil in 1910.
Tourists normally hike Canada Hill behind the monument to catch a panoramic view of the sunrise or sunset.
5.2 Petroleum Museum
Located in Canada Hill, it tells the story of how Miri transformed over a few decades, while giving some information on oil extraction method.
5.3 Miri City Fan
From an ariel view, the Miri City Fan resembles the shape of a handheld fan.
It spans over 26 acres and includes multiple parks and decorations.
It’s a big hit for tourists in Miri.
5.4 Jungle Trekking at Lambir National Park
A simple trek for the whole family to explore flora and fauna.
Local guides will lead you to 2 waterfalls, and points which joint to the rainforest.
Tip: Bring leech repellents, sunscreen and a lot of water.
5.5 Witness the Blue Tears at Tusan Beach, Sarawak
In Tusan beach, tiny organsisms, light blue in color, as above, spread at the tip of the waves. This does not happen often, locals will know when it usually happens, and it is a spectacular experience.