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Malaysia With Kids

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Malaysia is a fantastic destination for families boasting beaches, culture, wildlife, great food, and plenty of child-friendly attractions. It’s not the cheapest place in the world, but being in South East Asia, prices for family travel and vacations are moderate. In this post we tell you where to go in Malaysia with kids, where to avoid, highlight the best kid-friendly attractions and hotels and give you basic info on how to travel in Malaysia, safety, food tips, and so on. We also share photos of many places in Malaysia that are great with kids.

Kids visiting Malaysia
My kids visiting a temple in Malaysia. The children were always welcomed by local people and we find Malaysians to be very warm people, on the whole. This is Kek Lok Si Temple on the island of Penang

There are 2 parts to Malaysia, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo) and the two parts offer different types of trips. We cover both in this post and we really recommend Sarawak on the island of Borneo, if you have time. You can fly there easily from Kuala Lumpur (KL) on AirAsia.

Malaysian food for kids food court hawker centre
In Malaysia you will find food courts or hawker centres. These are a collection of street food stalls housed together. You’ll find western food, Indian, Malay, you could find anything! This makes dining as a family quite easy as everyone can choose different types of food!

Malaysia is one of the most multi-ethnic and multicultural countries on the planet, making a visit to Malaysia with kids a fascinating and educational experience for adults and children.

Highlights of Malaysia for Families
Who can fail to be impressed by the magnificent Petronas Towers? But Malaysia offers many more family highlights.

Malaysia with Kids

Arrival in Malaysia with Kids
You will probably arrive in Malaysia at one of Kuala Lumpur’s two airports. You can get a bus or taxi transfer from the airport into KL. This is “The Colonial District” of KL, very close to Chinatown and the Masjid Jamek Mosque (which you can visit). This is a good area to base yourselves and there are free busses into the centre of KL, where you will find The Petronas Towers, huge modern malls, the aquarium, and great kids playgronds.

On arrival in Malaysia, you will need to arrange transport from your international airport of arrival. There are two major terminals serving KL, and it can be a little confusing!

KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is in Selangor, some 45 Km south of the city. KLIA2 is used by AirAsia, KLIA1 serves most full-service carriers. KLIA2 and KLIA1 terminals are almost 10 km apart.

Reserve a transfer from the airports to your Kuala Lumpur hotel here on Get Your Guide, alternatively book here on Viator, both are good reliable companies and you can book just about any tour or activity in Malaysia (or anywhere) with them at a guaranteed price.

12GoAsia also allows you to book airport transfers via shuttle, taxi, train or bus, you can easily compare times and prices here. 12 Go can also be used to book any buses and trains in Malaysia.(here)

There are options for small and larger families. You can also take the bus or train into Kuala Lumpur, but with kids and bags this can be a time-consuming hassle -I’ve done it many times!

Self drive hire car in Malaysia with kids
Absolutely yes, you can hire a car and self-drive around Malaysia. The roads are pretty good and driving was easy for us. For a family this is always a good option as it gives you independence. Use the link below to get a quote.

To hire a car for your holiday in Malaysia, use Discover Cars (here) to find the best deal.

Driving in Malaysia is a good option, we’ve rented a car on Langkawi and mainland Malaysia and everything went very well. Malaysian roads are generally very good and for a family, it’s almost always easier to get around by car.

Beaches in Malaysia With Kids

Beaches Malaysia
Malaysia has beaches! This is one on the holiday island of Langkawi. You’ll need to catch a ferry to get here. We have a post about this.

Malaysia’s best beaches lie on both sides of the country and can rival the better-known Thai destinations further north. Being less known they are less busy and touristy, perfect for a quiet holiday.

Avoid the east coast between the monsoon season of November to March. Perhentian Islands on the east coast are my pick for their beauty and scuba diving.

A more budget destination, it is popular with people getting their dive certification.

Langkawi beaches for families
Beach life, Langkawi. There are many more beaches like this to enjoy in Malaysia with kids.

Redang is the most famous of the eastern islands and is known for its turtle sightings. Few locals live here so it is quiet and peaceful yet only a quick 45-minute flight from KL.

Langkawi is the most famous of Malaysia’s beach destinations and as such, quite developed. That said, it has plenty to do with a range of both food and accommodation for families and children.

Langkawi kids animal park
There is a small bird and animal park on Langkawi that is poular with families and kids

A popular option for families visiting Langkawi, villas and apartment rentals can be affordable or luxury. A good place to find these is here, on Stayz/VRBO. (The link opens in a new tab so you won’t lose your place)

Langkawi has a good selection of kid-friendly resort hotels, check out the Berjaya Langkawi Resort on Booking.com or see it here on Agoda, for a family stay, it’s one of the most family-friendly hotels in Malaysia, with family chalets, a kids’ club and lovely pool and setting. For a more budget-friendly stay. If you’re looking for your own private villa on Langkawi, take a look at the family villas at Limasan Villa Langkawi. For a budget stay, Jasmine Villa (booking.com), or on Agoda here, could be what you’re looking for.

We have stayed in a hotel on Langkawi and it didn’t suit our needs, so, unfortunately, we can’t recommend that one, it’s not one of the three hotels above. We found it hard to find family rooms on Langkawi, with most hotels only having doubles and twins, the three above do have family facilities.

Pangkor island is only a short drive from KL so perfect for a weekend away. The island isn’t rated as highly as others further north but being close to KL is an advantage if you’re time short.

Pangkor has some very affordable hotel options for a family vacation, check out Sea and Wave Coral Bay Apartment on Booking.com or for a family stay on the beach, with a lovely pool.

Alternatively the Pagkor Laut Resort (on Agoda) is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of The World and has over-water villas with multiple bedrooms to suit even a large family.

Malaysian Borneo is another area altogether, also with beautiful beaches. Turtle Beach and Golden Beach are the two top picks, turtles are regular visitors, as the name suggests.

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive beac resort in Sabah (Kota Belud, near Kota Kinabalu) check out the Big Fin Beach Resort (Agoda) it has rooms for 4 and is very affordable, the location is amazing! It’s Scuba diver-friendly.

Sipidan (an island off Borneo) is the top-rated dive spot in Malaysia with a massive variety of sea life to spot. This hotel is best for scuba divers wanting to visit this remote spot. Borneo is better suited to diving than either snorkelling or sunbathing so if it isn’t your thing then the other islands would be better.

Malacca With Kids

Melacca Malaysia Red Doors
You’d be hard placed to find anywhere as pretty, culturally diverse and fascinating as Malacca’s restored Old Town.

You can’t visit Malacca (Melaka) without visiting the famous Jonker Street. This whole area of old Malacca is a great place to stay and explore over a few days. This is another good spot to linger a few days with your family, to do that, book a home or apartment rental.

If you don’t have time in your family vacation schedule to stay in Malacca, you can book a one day tour to Malacca from KL, here.

Kids food Jonker Street food markets
Sweet treats for the kids at the Jonker Street Markets

The night markets Malacca are a wonderful mix of food and handicrafts to buy and eat and the roads are closed to traffic making them safer for children and strollers. There is a birds’ nest soup house that houses the birds and processes the nests on-site, it’s a great little attraction for kids.

Chinatown is another area near Jonker street that is full of history. Worth having a wander around and sampling some of the delicious food.

Indian food Malacca Malaysia
Kids sampling Indian “banana leaf” meals for the first time in Malacca’s Little India

Red square at the end of Jonker street is steeped in history and is where the Dutch, Portuguese, and British all came over the course of hundreds of years.

The Shore Oceanarium is great for the kids. You can handle rays here and it makes a change from busy Jonker street. Being indoors, it’s a great way to beat the heat during the day.

If you want a view of the surrounding area then a walk up to the top to see St Paul’s hill and the church isn’t to be missed. Going inside the now derelict ruins and walking amongst the gravestones you get a sense of how Malacca was when the colonial powers first came.

Getting buggies up here isn’t easy and best avoided but if kids are happy walking up they will love it.

There was a kids’ playground and public swimming pool at the base of this hill on our last visit. We also found an indoor play facility at the mall in Malacca.

Malacca Malaysia kids attractions
Kids amusements in Malacca Malaysia

Don’t miss the museum of The Spice Trade inside a huge replica ship.

As with most cities in Malaysia, Malacca has a “Little India” head here for your Indian food fix, maybe a family “banana leaf” lunch!

Family-friendly hotels in Malacca include The Atlantis by The Bliss apartments, with room for even large families. It’s conveniently close to Jonker Street and is stylishly furnished.

Penang with Kids

Penang bugs for families
Kids will adore the chance to meet local wildlife at the bug and butterfly park on Penang island.

Penang is an island and part of mainland Peninsular Malaysia to the north of Kuala Lumpur. The two portions are joined by a road bridge.

Penang has long been a popular family holiday destination with historic Georgetown and the beach resorts of Batu Ferringhi being popular places to stay. The best hotel for families in Batu Ferringhi is likely this beach resort (Agoda).

Another great way to explore Penang is to reserve a home or apartment. Do that here.

Snake temple Penang Malaysia kids
The Snake Temple in Penang was a big hit with my kids. There are live snakes on the alters and a small reptile attraction next door. We have a full post about The Snake Temple.

The island also has a host of tourist attractions along with cultural and historic sites. My kids particularly loved the bug and butterfly park and the snake temple (read about those pit vipers!).

Kek Lok Si is another wonderful temple complex on Penang that my kids loved exploring.

Malaysia kids turtle feeding
Feeding the turtles at Kek Lok Si Temple on the island of Penang, Malaysia

Georgetown is historic, has Little India, trishaws and famous street art, Batu Ferringhi is a modern resort area of the island. Look for a place to stay in Georgetown here. Or opt for the family-friendly Hard Rock Hotel, right on the beach and with a water park for the kids. There is an indoor play place nearby and plenty of restaurants and food courts.

Hard Rock pools Malaysia with Kids
A day enjoying the water slides and pools at the Hard Rock Hotel, Batu Ferringi Penang

Kuala Lumpur with Kids

Playground Kuala Lumpur for families
This sensational playground is at the base of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Perfect for families, there is a water play area nearby along with the Kualur Lumpur Aquarium and the towers, mall and Petrosains Science Museum.

If your flight offers you the chance of a Kuala Lumpur stopover, grab it, there is plenty here to see for families.

Explore slick modern malls and marvel at the magnificent Petronas Towers. You can take in the panoramic views from the observation deck high in the towers (there is a high-speed lift) by reserving a place here. Take the kids along to the nightly light and water show at their base and while away a few hours at the huge playground and kids water park, free for all and just steps away.

Malaysia with Kids Petronas Towers
The Petrosains Science Museum andd KL Aquarium are in and around the Petronas Towers, infront of the towers there is a water play area, fountains, and kids’ playground

Right here you will also find the Petrosains Museum (an interactive science museum, great for kids) and the fantastic Kuala Lumpur Aquarium.

Malaysia kids water park KL
Kuala Lumpur also has a water park! Sunway Lagoon is a great family day out from KL.

The number 1 hottest ticket in KL is the Kuala Lumpur Tower Observation Deck, 276m above the city, the glassed in, glass-bottomed platform isn’t for those with a fear of heights (that rules me out!) but it’s a great spot for family photos or to enjoy the 6D movie theatre. Places are limited, so book your place here.

Kids climbing in Malaysia
You can take your kids climbing in KL Malaysia at Camp 5. Full details on all of these activities are in our Kuala Lumpur with kids post

KL also has ancient architecture and diverse cultures to explore. You can visit a huge modern mosque, a Hindu Temple, and a Chinese Shrine in one afternoon.

Go indoor climbing, visit a museum, or maybe the bird and butterfly parks. The Kuala Lumpur Botanic gardens is one not to miss too. There is even a zoo.

KL is super-easy to get around with trains, subways, monorails, even some free buses and shuttles. The two airports serve KL well and AirAsia makes arrival easy enough.

Malaysia family vacation KL Batu Caves
No family vacation to Malaysia would be complete without seeing the incredible Batu Caves. Small kids or the elderly may struggle with the steps. I first took my son at 6 years old and he loved seeing the monkeys here and exploring these amazing cave temples. This is THE place to come to see monkeys., and kids love monkeys! Book a half day tour below.

If you want to visit Batu Caves, just outside KL and would prefer to be picked up from your hotel rather than take the bus/train combo, you can book a very affordable half-day tour of this gem of Malaysia right here.

Alternatively, combine Batu Caves with Genting Highlands (and the longest cable car ride in Asia) to make a full day tour from KL. Book here.

In the heart of the city, you can find a lush tropical reserve filled with towering vegetation, monkeys, and raised walkways. If your kids have never seen a jungle, this is a great place to start. There’s a small hands-on museum that’s great for kids here too.

Don’t forget to sample local food offerings, authentic Indian in Little Indian, and good Chinese in China Town. For more on Kuala Lumpur check out our full post on Kuala Lumpur with kids as well as the posts below.

For a fun, and very affordable quick stay in KL, we can recommend this space-themed capsule hotel in a great location (Chinatown), your kids will love the space slide between floors. We took a family room with 4 capsules, however, I wouldn’t want to sleep in a capsule for more than 2 nights!

Take a look at the Space Hotel (capsule hotel in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown) here.

If your budget is larger and you’d like a more comfortable child-friendly hotel in Kuala Lumpur, take a look at this resort hotel. It’s situated at Sunway Lagoon KL, a huge water and fun park, and has family fun suites. You can take an Uber into KL central from here

Try the Sunway Pyramid hotel in KL here.

If your visit to KL coincides with the Thaipusam festival, you’d better read up on what happens then, there will be crowds and much to see.

If you want to see orangutans from Kuala Lumpur, you’ll need to book a trip to Taman Negara National Park. This is a full-day trip. If you have the chance to go to Sarawak, it’s easier to see orangutans and proboscis monkeys there, but if you’re only visiting KL, book this wildlife trip.

If you don’t have time on your family vacation to get down to stunning Malacca and spend a few days there, you can even see this historic beauty on a one day tour from Kuala Lumpur. You kids will love the colourful shop houses, waterways and cheerful trishaw rides. Reserve your one day tour to Malacca from KL, here. Malacca is one of our very favourite places in Malaysia, so this trip is well worth doing.

Malaysian Food and Cooking With Kids

Food in Malaysia Indian Dosa
Take the chance to try a new cuisine, the best dosa outside India in Kuala Lumpur.

Be sure to sample Indian, Chinese, and Nonya cuisines while in Kuala Lumpur. Food tours are popular and available in most towns and cities.

Malaysian food generally isn’t too heavy on the chilies so you should be able to feed your family with relative ease. That said, if you or the kids have never had anything other than western food, you may struggle with spices and fishy flavours in Malaysian cuisine.

Look out for delicious street foods and stalls selling tropical fruits and smoothies. Malaysia also has some yummy sweet baked goods, such as the pineapple pies above. Make sure you try famous Malaysian specialities such as:

  • Nasi Lemak
  • Mee Goreng
  • Roti Canai
  • Laksa

If you’re travelling Malaysia with kids they’ll love sweet treats, look out for the green pandanus, coconut and palm sugar pancakes, my kids’ favourite! 

Malay Borneo With Kids

Malaysia with kids Sarawak Borneo attraction
Sarawak! This cultural museum is a great family day out near the city of Kuching in Sarawak Borneo. The site is vast, with dozens of traditional houses in different styles, to explore. You can experience dance, music, blow pipe skills and observe traditional crafts and food preparation. We can’t recommend this family attraction highly enough, my older kids loved it on our last holiday in Malaysia. But, it’s in Borneo. Can you add Borneo to your Malaysia vacation? Flights from KL to Kuching are very affordable with AirAsia. Orangutans and proboscis monkeys can be seen nearby too!

Malay Borneo is a wildlife lover’s paradise. Here you can visit with orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and giant Rafflesia flowers.

We have a full post on Sarawak, Malaysia here, including a jungle trek and longhouse stay. We did it with older kids, but yes, certainly, if you like an adventure, you could do this with younger kids.

Kuching is a lovely city in Sarawak and there are plenty of things to do in Kuching that would suit families with kids, teens, and tweens.

Don’t miss the cultural museum just outside Kuching, pictured above, this is a fantastic family day out and your kids will love clambering around the traditional village houses and exploring foods, costumes, dart pipes, and dance.

The cat museum is a fun place with kids too. Kuching means cat and the city is filled with cat statues alongside traditional shop houses, temples, and wonderful street art.

We’ve also visited Sabah, Borneo, sadly this trip was a disaster and we didn’t enjoy Sabah at all. Maybe it was bad luck, but I’d never go again.

Malaysia with Kids – Family Fun and Theme Parks

Melacca Malaysia Red Doors
The ultimate in family fun, the Legoland theme parks in the south of Malaysia are a must-visit.

Malaysia has several huge theme parks and water parks and most have their own resort hotel on-site. These places make for an unforgettable family holiday with child-friendliness built in.

One of the world’s best theme parks for children is to be found in Malaysia. Legoland Malaysia is in the south of Peninsular Malaysia, near the Singapore border and Johor Baru. The associated water park is right next door. See our posts on:

The Lost World of Tambun, just outside Ipoh Malaysia, is another must-visit Malaysian attraction with kids. KL also has its own waterpark and entertainment complex, Sunway Lagoon.

Check out the Sunway Lagoons Resort Hotel in KL here. (links open in a new tab for your convenience).

We’ve visited all three water parks and I’d say Legoland was best for younger kids.

Take a look at the Legoland Hotel in Malaysia here.

Family Friendly Hotels and Accommodation in Malaysia

Finding family accommodation in Malaysia is fairly easy and prices are moderate. You will find good hotels, beach resorts, simple guesthouses, and hostels, and all are suitable for families visiting Malaysia with kids.

For family backpackers, Malaysia is a country that we would recommend you book hotels in advance. There isn’t the strong backpacker set-up of other parts of Southeast Asia.

We prefer Agoda for Asian destinations as they are local specialists but Booking dot com works too. Search for Kuala Lumpur hotels here.

Airbnb is also an option in Malaysia, working best for apartments, longer stays, and unusual housing options, but we have also used it for hotels and guest houses in Malaysia. It’s good for apartment rentals in Kuala Lumpur but the cleaning fees can be steep and the booking process inconvenient.

Generally we prefer to book a hotel, hostel, or guest house via one of the big online booking sites in Malaysia.

More Information on Holidays in Malaysia With Kids

We cover loads of destinations in Malaysia for travel or vacations on our site, if you go to our Malaysia archives you should find what you need, or simply use the search function at the top of the page. The Malaysia archives are here (opens in new tab).

Don’t Forget Your Guide Book

Lonely Planet guide books are, as ever, indispensable in helping you plan your tour of the highlights of Malaysia with your family.

They aid you in understanding the history and culture of the region, give you ideas on what and where to eat and help you out with useful phrases and maps. We highly recommend them. See Lonely Planet Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei (Travel Guide) here.

Choose an image to bookmark to Pinterest! We have several to choose from. Use the red button below or the blue Grow widget, bottom right.

Malaysia with kids Pinterest image

I hope you found our Malaysia with kids post and introduction to the highlights of Malaysia for families useful. To read more detailed Malaysia content and to start planning your trip go to our Malaysia Travel Home page for lots more Malaysia information

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If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

Nicki

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

Hi! Thanks for the great info on Malaysia. My family is traveling there next month for 7 weeks! Did you and the kids get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination? I know it's recommended by the CDC, but sometimes health precautions tend to go overboard, and that vaccine is incredibly pricey. Was JE a big concern for you while over there? Thanks again for the info!

Alyson Long

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

We haven't had that one. Of course, if you're living on a pig farm in a village, you could be at risk, but we've never, in the 7 years we've been travelling, had that one. If you find our travel health section tin the drop down categories menu, you'll see a few posts on vaccinations, we actually got a few jabs in Kuala Lumpur at a very nice Health Centre. They were much cheaper there. Enjoy your time in Malaysia!

Rahman

Monday 28th of January 2019

Great ideas for travellers. I think you missed Desaru Beach, situated in the east coast of Johor. Now they have Desaru Coast Water Park. It is even bigger than Legoland Waterpark. Be sure to visit Desaru when you are here again.

Alyson Long

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Will do! Actually my husband has a full post on water parks in Malaysia over on World Travel Chef dot com.

Natasha

Monday 19th of June 2017

Some great ideas for us to incorporate into our trip to Malaysia next year. Good to know theres a play park at the bottom of the Petronas Towers, its always good to let my son have a little break and parks are his favourite

Alyson J Long

Thursday 20th of October 2022

@Natasha, Take your kids' swimwear and towels. We didn't. I had two very damp boys coming home on the train from KLCC.

Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate

Thursday 30th of March 2017

I've only ever been to Penang and Malaysian Borneo, but I'd love to see more of this country!

Alyson Long World Travel Family Blog

Friday 31st of March 2017

We're heading back next month, so much to explore in Malaysia ;)

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