This Malaysia travel blog section is getting huge and with so many posts on Malaysia travel, we need to pull them all together in one page. We’re visited Malaysia seven times now between 2012 and 2019, visiting diverse areas and to be honest, it’s not our favourite part of South East Asia, but there are still plenty of cool things to see and do and the Malaysian people tend to be some of the nicest on the planet. So we’re able to share with you some Malaysia travel hints, tips, ideas and suggestions, mostly positive but some negative. We’ve had a few bad experiences in Malaysia over the years including theft, terrible hotels, an environmental disaster and a ferry breaking down. We joke about our ” Malaysia curse” and really, you couldn’t make it up. Everything that can go wrong for us in Malaysia, does.
We are not sponsored by Malaysia tourism so can share honest reviews and opinions. On this page you can access the information you need to plan your holiday or vacation in Malaysia.
We’ll start by listing our individual posts on destinations in Malaysia, further down the page you’ll find general Malaysia travel information. We include links and tips from a few other blogs and bloggers too, some of them were sponsored by Malaysia tourism and tourism Langkawi. Thanks for visiting!
Malaysia Travel Blog and Guide by Destination
If you’d like a general overview of what Malaysia offers, we have a post here called, Highlights of Malaysia for Families.
Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant modern city where you can visit ancient temples in the morning, be in China Town for lunch, while away the afternoon in an up-market mall and watch a spectacular fountain display as the sun goes down. There is much to keep all of the family busy.
Kuala Lumpur was our first stop when we left Australia back in 2013 and we enjoyed it, it was good to be in a modern city for a while and we loved being able to access authentic Indian food.
I was a very new blogger back then and my posts are somewhat jumbled. I’m working on straightening them all out right now! We visited Kuala Lumpur again in 2017 and stayed at one of our favourite places in the world, Back Home Kuala Lumpur, it’s a solid base in the city with all kinds of accommodation from dorms to family rooms, great food nearby and always a warm welcome. Take a look at Back Home here.
Malacca, an easy bus journey to the south of KL has some beautiful and well preserved buildings in the old town. It has it all, Chinese, Indian and Dutch colonial, a remnant of this town’s massive importance in the sea trade routes.
The old town has something of a museum or theme park feel to it and becomes packed with tourists, mostly local, browsing the shops and large night market. At night tacky cycle rickshaws blaring modern pop are popular with local tourists.
Outside the old town is another modern city with modern conveniences.
Penang comprises Penang Island, with it’s beach side resorts as well as a section of the main land. A bridge connects the two.
Here you will find historic George Town and any number of tourist attractions. The resort area of Batu Ferringhi is one of our least favourite places in Malaysia, as with Langkawi, this island is packed with man-made tourist attractions and has limited genuine charm.
We were robbed twice on Penang. That said, in 2017 we had a very pleasant stay in Little India, Georgetown and enjoyed Indian food and the famous Snake Temple. We can recommend Heritage 16 ( click to see it here) modern, family friendly hostel with large family rooms. One of the most famous Chinese restaurants in Penang is right next door.
Things to Do on Penang for Families There is loads to keep you busy on Penang. The snake temple, Kek Lok Si, butterfly and bug parks, historic sites of Georgetown, modern shopping malls and a National Park. There are beaches and more and more tourist attractions open all the time. A modern bus system will get you around the island or we found that Uber was good here. We were robbed on a bus, so beware pick pockets.
Where to Eat Out in Batu Ferringhi Penang ( for backpackers) There is Mc Donalds, the famous food courts and plenty of up market restaurants. Our favourite was an Indian restaurant / food court.
Penang Kek Lok Si Temple This is a lovely Chinese style temple, well worth a visit and the kids had a ball.
Penang Huge Spiders, Photo of the Week We took the kids along to Penang’s butterfly and bug park. The boys loved holding a giant millipede. This will be great for you if you’re new to the tropics.
Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang With Kids An interesting historic fort in Penang. Worth a look and great for the kids to have a run around.
Legoland Malaysia ( Near Johor Bahru)
Legoland Malaysia is our favourite global Legoland park by far, we highly recommend a visit and genuinely loved it. It’s far to the south, almost on the Singapore border, we travelled by comfortable bus to Johor Baru then less-comfortable bus to the Legoland location where we stayed for 3 nights.
It doesn’t make sense to stay in Johor Baru, it’s too far away. We have posts on
Malay Borneo – Don’t Miss Sarawak!
Borneo and Sarawak are where Malaysia totally won us round. We were blown away by how lovely the city of Kuching is and had wonderful experiences trekking in the jungle, staying in an Iban village longhouse and seeing orangutangs and proboscis monkeys, along with the super-sized blooming Rafflisia flower. You can do all of these things from Kuching. I’m writing up Kuching right now, expect our Borneo content soon. If the people on Peninsular Malaysia are nice, the good folk of Kuching blow niceness out of the water. I’m not kidding! Kuching is also where we learned to enjoy Malaysian food, why? We finally found good vegetarian and vegan Malay dishes, now they are good!
How to Book Hotels and Find the Best Accommodation Deals in Malaysia
Agoda are the leading online booking engine for Asia, they are Asia-based and as such have the biggest selection of hotels, resorts, guest houses and hostels, they can also often source the best deals. We recommend you always check Agoda for Asia.
To save you time also check Hotels Combined. This is an online booking comparison site, they check many big name booking sites ( NOT Agoda) to find the best deal for your hotel on your dates. They are also one you should check. Because this site finds best possible prices their deals will often be non-refundable.
If you’re looking for a refundable reservation try Booking.com.
Be warned that you get little for your money in Malaysia, standards in hotels are low and prices high relative to destinations such as Thailand and Vietnam, the new tourist tax makes Malaysia more expensive again. A 10% AND 6% tax is payable to the hotel on arrival. The 10% seems to cover tips. You should probably read up on this before you go.
Best Time of Year to Visit Malaysia
Malaysia is as tropical as you can possibly get. Actually, we should call this climate Equatorial, for that is what it is. Temperatures and humidity remain high all year round. Expect to see daytime heat in excess of 30º C at any time of year. All expect short, heavy, tropical downpours in the afternoons.
The duration of these downpours increases in the wettest months, September-October on the West Coast, including Langkawi and towards Sabah and November to February ( the North East Monsoon) on the East Coast. The East Coast has more of a cooling breeze than the West.
April-October is the wet season for Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and the Cameron Highlands, but really, this makes little difference.
The best time to visit is generally considered to be between March and October.
Be aware of seasonal air pollution intensification. Burning off crops causes copious smoke to drift over from Indonesia, the effects can be extremely severe.
What to Wear in Malaysia
Interestingly, there is not much pressure to cover up in Malaysia. I was surprised to find young girls with bare shoulders and short shorts.
I prefer to cover up, I think it shows respect, but you will see a lot of exposed skin, far more than I expected, due to the mix of cultures here.
To visit mosques or other religious or sacred sites, you will of course need to be properly dressed. We were given correct clothing when visiting the mosques of Kuala Lumpur.
Travel Costs in Malaysia
We feel that Malaysia works out more expensive than other countries in South East Asia ( excluding Singapore) and that you get less for your dollar. Sarawak, Malay Borneo, seems to us significantly cheaper than the mainland.
In 2017 we we’re seeing lower accommodation costs in Asia generally, it was noticeably cheaper than 2 years previously.
Buses in Malaysia are good value and often nice, modern buses. It depends which bus company you pick though, we’ve had a couple of bad ones too. You can catch a bus into Singapore from Kuala Lumpur or from the south.
Some food in Malaysia is ultra cheap, street food, low cost Indian restaurants and so on will cost you cents, elsewhere you’ll pay a lot.
Beer is very expensive but available in many shops. We’re not the sort to keep detailed records of our spending, but these guys do.
Travel Costs in Malaysia by Or Big Fat Travel Adventure.(couple)
Other Travel Blogs and Bloggers With Great Malaysia Content
Obviously, we haven’t been everywhere in Malaysia yet, we’re not Lonely Planet, so if you’re looking for other destinations in Malaysia, see where the other travel bloggers have been.
General Tips for Backpacking Malaysia or Regular Vacations
We have backpacked Malaysia as a family with kids but if you’re looking for information on Backpacking in Malaysia geared towards young singles or couples, try Backpacking Malaysia by Gamin Traveler
White Sandy Beaches Kota Kinabalu by Inspired by Maps
We have been to Langkawi twice and both times found it a bit underwhelming.
It is undoubtedly a very beautiful island, in places, but otherwise it lacks appeal.
We had bad experiences with even “top end” hotels being of a very low standard and hugely expensive for what they offer.
I’ll warn you that our kids had bad experiences with tiny jellyfish here, in Australia we call them sea lice and kids feel them far more than adults. Stinger season is dependent on time of year in Australia, I guess it may be here too.
Try the Ultimate Guide to Langkawi by Wagoner’s Abroad, they talk about family-friendly attractions in Langkawi as sponsored by Tourism Langkawi. There is little to do on Langkawi other than visit man made tourist attractions or water sports.
Scuba Diving in Malaysia
Yes Malaysia is a destination for scuba divers, we are divers, but with kids it’s hard to find time, check out Scuba Diving in Malaysia : Tioman, by Phenomenal Globe.
Food in Malaysia
You will find excellent Indian food, particularly southern Indian.
Nyonya cuisine is worth checking out and they say the Chinese is good but in our experience ( admittedly limited) all the Chinese we’ve ordered has been not great. We finally started to love Malay food once we found vegetarian and vegan versions of popular dishes such as nasi lamak and roti canai, the usual chicken and dried fish ingredients didn’t float our boat.
The coffee situation is particularly bad in Malaysia with premix containing powdered milk and sugar being a regular feature. These days you can easily find a Starbucks or any number of other coffee chains. This is one country where I would certainly take emergency back up coffee or even something like an Aeropress. ( see travel coffee makers here)
Don’t Forget Your Malaysia Guide Book
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[easyazon_link identifier=”1743210299″ locale=”US” tag=”travelschoo0d-20″] Click here to check prices.Planet Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei (Travel Guide)[/easyazon_link]
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Our Malaysia travel blog and guide is constantly evolving and growing. We’re arriving in Langkawi and travelling further in Malaysian Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia in 2018 and 2019, so a lot more Malaysia content to come. I don’t want to come across as negative about Malaysia, if we hated it we wouldn’t keep going back to explore more areas. Malaysia does have charm and I always enjoy visiting Kuala Lumpur. We have had a LOT of bad luck in Malaysia, but is it luck? We’ve never been robbed anywhere else in 5 years. We’ve never been on a ferry that’s broken down anywhere else and we never normally struggle to find good food. The people of Malaysia, the women particularly, have been super kind and friendly so I feel bad leaving less than glowing reviews, but as always, I’m honest. Maybe too honest.