Malaysia is home to an enchanting fusion of cultures, whosecuisines, languages and religions have made it the toast ofSoutheast Asia. Visitors relish the country's lush landscape andvariety of festivals, which celebrate its Malay, Chinese and Indianheritage, as well as the mark of its indigenous tribes.
The destination is divided into two distinct parts. PeninsulaMalaysia comprises the long fringe of land that extends down fromAsia, and borders Thailand and Singapore. The South China Seaseparates the mainland from the less-populated East Malaysianprovinces of Sabah and Sarawak. Their dense jungles support anabundance of exotic plant and wildlife.
Tourists generally head to the peninsula, largely because of itsdifferent peoples, climates and activities. The highland regionsoffer cool relief from the mainland's clinging humidity, whileLangkawi is popular among surfers. Culture lovers enjoy exploringtraditional Malay life on the east coast, particularly in thenorthern Kelantan Province. The city of Kota Bharu and itssurrounds may well be the most fascinating part of the peninsula.Travellers who appreciate rich culture and remote beauty shouldhead there.
The capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is on the west coast, and is anicon of Asian prosperity. It's also a wonderful mix of traditionand technology.
Malaysia offers holidaymakers a textured adventure, in whichgleaming skyscrapers stand alongside colonial buildings, andverdant rainforests stretch all the way down to pristine beaches.Visitors come to play, to unwind, to connect with nature, and toride the energy of a titan among Southeast Asian cities: KualaLumpur.
On the cultural side, tourists are exposed to some of theregion's most well-known peoples and some of its rarer groups.Every one of them has imprinted on the place, adding new notes toits character. Jungle walks, ancient caves, stunning mosques,isolated villages and the world's most diverse marine ecosystem arepart of the experience.
All in all, the destination's attractions celebrate Asia'shistory, and some of its best features.
At 328 feet (100m), the flagpole rising from Merdeka Square isone of the tallest in the world. More importantly, it marks theplace where Malaysia achieved independence at midnight on the 31thof August 1957. The square remains the heart of Malaysiannationalism, and one of the few places in Kuala Lumpur wherecolonial buildings still stand. Indeed, the city's colonial past isvery much alive in the architecture and large field - which stillhosts the occasional cricket match. The Tudor-style Royal SelangorClub rests on one corner of the square, and looks onto a largevideo screen displaying adverts and religious messages. Once asocial centre for Kuala Lumpur's British residents, its doors arenow open to anyone who can afford the membership fees. As die-hardcustom dictates, women are not allowed to enter the bar, save byinvitation. Other buildings of interest around the square includeSt. Mary's Church, which is supposedly the first church built inthe city, and the Abdul Sambad building, which was built for one ofthe sultans. Travellers will also find some shops and restaurantsin the area.
Chinatown is an intoxicating jumble crowds, colours andauthentic food. The central section of Petaling Street is closed atnight, when the area is transformed into an exciting, brightly litshopping experience. Vendors spread their wares onto the pavement,displaying anything from toys to t-shirts and jewellery. Shopperswill need to be careful, though, as many items are fake. Also,bargaining for the best price is expected and part of the fun. Manystalls operate during the day, but Chinatown is more special atnight. Shoppers should be mindful of pick-pockets, regardless ofwhat time of day they visit. Culture lovers should note that thearea is also home to some tremendous Chinese temples.
The Petronas Towers were designed to capture Malaysia'semergence as Southeast Asia's cultural and commercial centre.Celebrated as the world's tallest twin towers, they dominate thecity skyline. Architects followed the traditional geometricprinciples of Islamic architecture when designing the buildings,using modern technology to stunning effect. Joined by a skybridgeon the 41st floor, the towers are used as office complexes thatform part of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre Development Park. They'reparticularly beautiful when lit up at night. Tours include crossingthe famous bridge and going up to an observation deck on the 86ndfloor, which offers phenomenal, 360-degree views of the city.Visitors can also enjoy an exhibition detailing the development ofthe towers, and purchase souvenirs at a gift shop.
British colonial architect Arthur Benison Hubback was inspiredby Moorish, Mughal and Islamic design when he conceived thismagnificent railway station. Easily mistaken for a sultan's palace,its arches, spires, towers and minarets dazzle against a backdropof skyscrapers. Inside, visitors will find a small railway museumon the evolution of railway technology in Malaysia. It may be wortha visit for railway enthusiasts. The Kuala Lumpur Railway Stationis more of a landmark than an attraction, though, and should onlyrequire a quick walk by and photo shoot.
Masjid Jamek (the Friday Mosque) lies where the Klang Rivermeets the Gombak River. Palm trees and curved steps lead to thewater's edge, deepening the mosque's air of tranquillity. The siteis very much a haven within the buzz and rush of Kuala Lumpur.Visitors will find dazzling photo opportunities amid thecombination of ancient Moorish, Islam and Mughal architecturalstyles, and leafy surroundings. Custom demands that they dressconservatively and remove their shoes on entering. Mosque staffwill supply men and women with the appropriate attire if necessary.Masjid Negara (the National Mosque) offers a modern contrast to theFriday Mosque and is also worth visiting. Opened in 1965, it's oneof the largest in Southeast Asia.
The beautiful gardens were established in 1888 and are KualaLumpur's green belt. To many people, their backdrop of skyscrapersis reminiscent of New York's Central Park. Lush vegetationsurrounds a vast lake, where visitors will find a number ofromantic bridges and plenty of space to read, jog or socialise.Leisurely boat cruises are also on offer. Regarding attractions,Bird Park, Butterfly House, the National Monument, the Orchid andHibiscus gardens and Malaysia's Parliament House all call the areahome. Children can enjoy some wonderful playgrounds. All thingsconsidered, the gardens are a wonderful way to escape the city'scrowds and humidity.
Designed to reflect the region's Minangkabau architecturalstyle, the National Museum houses many of Malaysia's culturaltreasures and historical artefacts. Its ethnographic andarchaeological exhibits include life-size dioramas of traditionalMalaysian life. Puppet-shadow-play (wayang kulit) displays show thecountry's ancient artistry, while exhibits of traditional weaponssuch as daggers (kris) and machetes (parangs) reveal Malaysia'spride in functional aesthetic forms. Travellers should note thatthe museum covers a lot of time and subject matter, and suffersfrom an occasional lack of linkage between periods. For thisreason, visitors should join one of the free guided tours.Photography is permitted, though only with a hand-held camera andfor private use. Visitors will find a shop and cafeteria, andfeatures for disabled guests.
Five pristine islands make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park,with each idyllic setting comprising white beaches, offshore coralreefs and inland forests teeming with animal life. Thesedestinations are all perfect for camping, trekking, swimming andsnorkelling. Gaya Island is the largest of the five. Its status asa forest reserve since 1923 has helped preserve its dense tropicalforest. Manukan Island is the second largest and the most popularwith Malaysian locals. Mamutik Island is the smallest, though itstill has its share of loveliness. Travellers seeking tranquillitywill love this beautiful retreat. Sapi Island is very popular withforeign tourists and can get quite crowded during the day. Lastly,Sulug Island is the most pristine and untouched of the chain, andthe farthest from the mainland. It is the ideal destination forthose seeking peace and quiet.
This mushroom-shaped island is known among divers around theworld for its unique seascape and exceptional beauty. Somethinglike 3,000 varieties of fish, hundreds of coral species, andnumerous rays, sharks and turtles populate its translucent waters.Sipadan Island certainly tops the Malaysian itinerary for seriousscuba divers, given that it's located in the world's mostbio-diverse marine habitat. The famous underwater explorer JacquesCousteau once described it as 'an untouched piece of art'. Indeed,the Malaysian government has taken measures to preserve the fragileecosystem. That is, it's ordered dive resorts off the island,limited the daily number of divers allowed in the water, and bannednight dives.
Mount Kinabalu rises from the Kinabalu National Park. At animpressive 13,500-foot (4,101m), it's one of the highest peaks inSoutheast Asia. It's a relatively easy climb, though, with touristsof varying ages and fitness levels enjoying the two-to-three-dayascent. Most people spend a night at Laban Rata before mounting thesummit. Along with being the name of a resthouse that caters forhikers, Laban Rata is the name most people use for the area. Thesummit is a three-to-four-hour hike away from the hostel. Hikersshould leave between 2am and 3am if they want to catch one of thearea's magical sunrises. Visitors will encounter some weird andwonderful vegetation as the scale the jungle route, and can expectsome astounding views from the top. Hikers should note that whilethe climb doesn't require any special equipment or technicalskills, some people may experience the dizziness and shortness ofbreath associated with altitude sickness. All in all, climbingMount Kinabalu is an extremely rewarding adventure and one of thetop activities in Malaysia.
The Great Cave of Niah is one of the largest limestone caves inthe world. More importantly, it's where archaeologists discoveredevidence of man's existence dating back 40,000 years. A display oftools, rock paintings and human skulls tell the story of ancientcivilisations. Limestone and lush tropical vegetation dominate therest of the park, which nestles beneath the magnificent MountSubis. Visitors reach the caves via a motor-boat trip across asmall crocodile-infested river and a one-hour-long trek throughjungle. The walk is rewarding and may include some wildlifeviewing. As for the cave, travellers should expect slipperyconditions, and should pack a flashlight. The area's ancient rockpaintings are a must-see.
Sabah District's vast, enchanting equatorial rainforest is hometo the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, where orphaned orangutans findtemporary shelter and rehabilitation before their re-release intothe forest. The centre was set up in 1964 and gives tourists andresearchers the priceless opportunity to observe and engage withthe animals in their natural habitat. Visitors are restricted tothe walkways but orangutans often come over to interact.Photography is permitted, though tourists will pay an extra chargefor bringing in a camera. The Sandakan Rainforest Discovery Centre(RDC) is also within the Sepilok Forest Reserve. The remarkableplace allows guests to explore the jungle canopy on a series ofraised platforms and walkways. Nature lovers in general, and birdwatchers in particular will enjoy the experience.
Formerly known as Maxwell Hill, the holiday retreat of BukitLarut is Malaysia's oldest hill station. Situated in the wettestpart of the country, the peaceful site's history stretches back to1884, and the area is blessedly cool compared to the lowlands.Limited accommodation and a lack of development give thedestination an old-world colonial charm, which the more popularhill stations no longer have. Eight charming bungalows nestle onthe hillside, providing the area's only holiday lodging. The routeto the top of the hill station is an exhilarating climb throughvirgin tropical jungle. Travellers will need a four-wheel drive toundertake the journey. Private vehicles are not permitted, though agovernment-owned Land Rover makes regular trips up between 7am and6pm. Visitors can enjoy magnificent panoramic views of theMalaysian peninsula's west coast from the summit. The vista runsfrom Penang to Pangkor.
Located at the northwestern edge of Pahang state, the CameronHighlands hill station is the largest of its kind in Malaysia. Thefertile region is home to a scattering of villages, and terracedplantations. Visitors will enjoy the scenic drive along the area'smain route, during which they can stop at the stunning LataIskandar Waterfalls and Kuala Woh Forest Recreation Park. They canalso stroll through Brinchang's market square, potter aroundhandicraft stores, or sample the peace at Buddhist Temples. Ringletand Tanah Rata are also worth exploring for lovers of quaint towns.Trips to tea plantations and strawberry farms are popular too.
Louis James Fraser was a controversial, solitary figure, who setup camp on one of the seven hills' cool, lush summits. The areabecame known as Fraser's Hill. The Scottish pioneer and opium-denoperator disappeared under mysterious circumstances before thearea's potential as a hill station was recognised. Others followedhim and investigated the site, ultimately finding it perfect for ahighland retreat. The area lies in the state of Pahang and is northof the Genting Highlands. Situated around 5,000 feet (1,524m) abovesea level, it is the only hill station within two hours' drive ofKuala Lumpur. Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts will enjoy thecool, serene region. Jungle trails, waterfalls and colourfulnurseries nestle peacefully in the landscape, complementing golfcourses and horse-riding routes. Visitors will also find extensivehiking trails. Regarding accommodation, travellers can choose froma range of chalets, hotels, and colonial bungalows.
The Genting Highlands holiday resort has none of the old-world,colonial atmosphere of Malaysia's other hill stations. Instead, itsmain purpose is to entertain Kuala Lumpur's more affluent citizens.To this end, it's home to the country's only legal, land-basedcasino, a number of hotels, and a handful of theme parks. Visitorswill also find a horse ranch, a golf course and an artificial lake.The hill resort lies less than one hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur,though holidaymakers can reach via a cable car called the GentingSkyway. At 6,562 feet (2,000m) above sea level, the hill station'stemperate conditions offer a welcome respite from Malaysia'shumidity. That said, its vibrant nightlife can account for thetemperature rising in other ways.
Langkawi is the collective name for a group of 99 tropicalislands located 20 miles (30km) off the northwestern tip of thepeninsula. Pulau Langkawi is the largest and most developed ofthem. Much of the island's prolific development has been focused inthe town of Kuah, which is the embarkation point for visitorstravelling by ferry. Pulau's appeal flows from its hot springs,waterfalls, pristine beaches, limestone outcrops and stunningmountainous interiors. Visitors will also find plenty of shops andmodern amenities. Langkawi is easily accessible by air or boat,though ferry crossings may cease during the monsoon season.
Two islands make up the popular holiday destination, which forall intents and purposes is a backpacker's paradise. Fishermandouble as tour guides, and simple beach bars spill out onto thepristine shore. Travellers have the option of securing morehigh-end accommodation if they want, though the islands are aniconic stop on the budget traveller's itinerary. Regardingactivities, the largely undeveloped region is located within theTerengganu Marine Park, where divers and snorkelers can enjoy cleanwater and gorgeous coral reefs. Visitors can reach the islands viataxi boats from the town of Kuala Besut. They should also note thatthe east-coast monsoon often makes the islands inaccessible betweenNovember and January.
This picturesque, ecologically rich island is home to densejungles, which flourish around mountains. Clear waters lap itspristine beaches, revealing luminous coral reefs and a stunningmarine population. Visitors will find a handful of villages alongthe coast, and virgin forest farther inland. Divers and snorkelerscan hire equipment. June to August is high-season, while the islandis almost deserted over the monsoon period, which runs fromNovember to January. The journey there takes about two hours byboat from the coastal town of Mersing. Alternatively, travellerscould choose the high-speed catamaran service that operates betweenSingapore and Tioman. It takes more or less four and a halfhours.
Pangkor Island was once a hideout for pirates, and where theDutch choose to construct a fort to assert their trade dominance inthe region. The Dutch weren't in charge for long though, as localleaders allied with the British to force them out. Today, themountainous island welcomes a healthy stream of visitors to itsbeautiful beaches. Eco-tourism is another drawcard, given thedestination's gorgeous scenery and impressive variety of wildlife.The tourist infrastructure is good too, meaning holidaymakers willfind various accommodation options, and lots to keep thementertained. Anyone looking to dive into some island history canenjoy attractions such as the ancient Fu Ling Kong Temple, theDutch Fort and a granite boulder called, Tiger Rock, which bearsetchings of a tiger on its surface. Travellers can also visit tombsand trek up Tortoise Hill.
Malaysia's tropical climate is hot and humid all year round,though conditions are cooler in the highland areas. Temperatures inMalaysia average at 86°F (30°C) year-round. The country doesn'thave four distinct seasons, but it does have two monsoonseasons.
The monsoons bring heavy downpours on the east coast ofPeninsula Malaysia, the north-eastern part of Sabah and the westernend of Sarawak from November to February. The rainy season betweenApril and October is characterised by thunderstorms and is oftenless disruptive to travel. Boat trips to the islands do not runduring the height of the monsoon.
Malaysia's climate varies hugely from region to region, so thebest time to visit the country depends on the traveller'sitinerary. That is, a visitor's interest in specific regions andactivities will be deciding factors. For dry weather seekers, Juneand July are the best time to visit on the east coast, January andFebruary on the west coast, April in Sabah, and June to July inSarawak.
Some people prefer to travel in the rainy season for variousreasons, but it is never advisable to travel at the height ofmonsoon season, as the heavy rains can disrupt travel arrangementsand getting around is difficult.
This upscale Malay eatery offers guests home-style Malay dishes,all of them based on recipes that have been in owner, SherenaRazaly's, family for generations. Diners can expect traditionalflavours and modern presentation. Signature dishes include sambaltumis udang (fried chilli prawns) and ayam goreng lengkuas (friedchicken with blue ginger).
Specialising in North Indian cuisine, Bombay Palace is one ofKuala Lumpur's most popular restaurants and welcomes hundreds oflocals and tourists every week. With majestic décor fit for a king,Bombay Palace delivers. Diners should try the Lamb Vindaloo if theycan handle the heat, and Dil Bahar or Pista Barfi for dessert. Therestaurant opens daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations arerecommended.
The restaurant specialises in the fine Cantonese cuisine forwhich Kuala Lumpur is known. All dishes come with a modern twist;popular specialities include Peking Duck, Braised Imperial Beancurdwith Spinach, Cod Fish with Pomelo Sauce in Whole Orange, CharcoalGrilled Iberico Ribs, and Roast Suckling Pig.
The official currency is the Malaysian Ringit (MYR), alsoreferred to as the Malaysian Dollar, which is divided into 100 sen.Money changers are generally quicker to deal with than banks and donot charge commission; their rates however are variable. BritishPounds or US Dollars are the easiest to exchange. All major creditcards are accepted at upmarket hotels, shops and restaurants. ATMsare widely available.
Bahasa Melayu is the national language, but English iswidely spoken and is the language of business. Cantonese, Hokkienand Hakka are spoken by the Malaysian Chinese population and Tamil,Malayalam and Hindi among the Indian population.
Electrical current is 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-stylethree-pin plugs are used.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least sixmonths beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastsix months beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. No visa isrequired for holders of British passports, irrespective of theendorsement regarding their national status contained therein, forstays of up to 90 days.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast six months beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast six months beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days. Note that visaexemptions apply to holders of an APEC business travel card,provided that the back of the card states that it is valid fortravel to Malaysia.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast six months beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastsix months beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least sixmonths beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast six months beyond the date of their arrival in Malaysia. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days. Note that visaexemptions apply to holders of an APEC business travel card,provided that the back of the card states that it is valid fortravel to Malaysia.
Foreign passengers to Malaysia are required to hold sufficientfunds (at least USD 100 per day) to cover their expenses while inthe country, return/onward tickets, and the necessary traveldocumentation for their next destination. If passengers are not inpossession of a return/onward ticket, they will be requested topurchase one. Passports must have at least one unused page uponarrival. Note that admission will be refused to foreign ladies inan advanced stage of pregnancy (six months or more), except if theyare in transit, for a maximum period of 72 hours (no extensionsallowed). A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required toenter Malaysia, if arriving within six days of leaving ortransiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommendedthat a visitor's passport has at least six months' validityremaining after their intended date of departure from their traveldestination. Immigration officials often apply different rules tothose stated by travel agents and official sources.
Some tropical illnesses are prevalent in Malaysia and travellersshould seek medical advice regarding any recommended vaccinationsbefore travelling. Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are common, as isdengue fever, which has no vaccination or immunisation. There hasbeen an increase in cases of dengue fever in recent years. Malariarisks are isolated to the inland regions; the exception is Sabah,where there is a year-round risk. Travellers older than one yearcoming from infected areas require a yellow fever vaccinationcertificate. Visitors may also be advised to get vaccinations forrabies, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis, depending on theirtravel itineraries in Malaysia. Visitors should stick to bottledwater and avoid uncooked meat, fish and vegetables, unpeeled fruit,ice and salads. A further health hazard in Malaysia is smoke hazeand air pollution, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, which has some ofthe poorest air quality in Asia. The very high Benzene pollutionlevels could aggravate cardiac or respiratory problems.
Hospitals in Kuala Lumpur and other major Malaysian cities areof a high standard but medical facilities may be lacking in ruralareas. Comprehensive medical insurance is recommended.
Although tipping is not customary in Malaysia, the moreexpensive hotels and restaurants add a 10 percent service charge totheir bills and further gratuity is unnecessary. All hotel roomsare subject to a six percent government tax, though many cheaperhotels quote a price inclusive of this tax.
Malaysia is a generally safe travel destination, where visitorsshould nevertheless practice normal precautions against crime. Thatis, they should stay alert and avoid displaying conspicuous wealth.They should also be wary of petty crimes such as bag-snatching andpick-pocketing. Tourists should use hotel safes and duplicatetravel documents. Remote parts of eastern and northern Sabah carrysome threat of kidnappings by militant Filipino groups.
Malaysia is largely Muslim and therefore Islamic customs shouldbe respected, especially during the month of Ramadan when eating,drinking and smoking in public should be avoided, as it isforbidden by Islamic law. Dress, particularly for women, should beconservative, and arms and legs should be covered when visitingplaces of worship. It is customary to remove shoes before enteringhomes and places of worship. When eating or exchanging money, theright hand is used. Homosexuality is illegal.
Those looking to do business in Malaysia are strongly urged toresearch some of the cultural complexities of the country, which ishome to different ethnic groups. Although the Malaysian businessworld has largely succeeded in establishing a unified ethos foritself, it is important to understand that visitors might deal withpeople from different ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese and Indianbeing the most common), and that their expectations and conductmight need to adjust accordingly. The defining characteristic ofbusiness culture in Malaysia is respect for, and deference toauthority. Authority figures are identified more by skills, wisdomand temperament, than by powerful positions and stricthierarchy.
The Malaysian style of management, it follows, is lessgoal-driven, and more holistic, than in some Western cultures, withmanagers taking a personal interest in the well-being of theiremployees. Business etiquette in Malaysia is marked by sensitivityand diplomacy. The golden rule is never to cause another to 'loseface' in professional company; the wilful, or even careless,humiliation of even a subordinate, is considered anathema in theMalaysian business world. Business meetings in Malaysia usuallyconvene punctually, but can be subject to a lot of 'small talk' andpersonal digressions. Attendees shouldn't get impatient, as this isseen as an important function of meetings in Malaysia, where theagenda is not always as important as the relationships betweenpeople that meetings serve to develop.
Business cards are usually exchanged upon meeting newassociates. People give and receive cards with their right hand,supported by the left, and never fold or put away a card withoutlooking at it first. Details are printed in Chinese on the reverseside of cards. The dress code for business is typically Western,with smart, formal clothes being worn. Men generally wear whiteshirts and ties (jackets to be worn to meetings); while women -since Malaysia is home to a large Muslim population - should dressmore conservatively than they might be used to doing at home.English is widely spoken in Malaysia, and commonly used in mostbusinesses. Business hours are generally Monday to Friday, from 9amto 5pm.
The international access code for Malaysia is +60. InternationalDirect Dial is available throughout the country, but the servicecan be erratic. Hotels can add a hefty surcharge to their telephonebills; it is best to check before making international calls.Cafes, hotels and restaurants offer free wifi in most touristareas. Buying a local SIM card is a cheaper alternative to usinginternational roaming.
Travellers to Malaysia do not have to pay customs duty on 200cigarettes, 50 cigars or 225g tobacco; 1 litre wine, spirits ormalt liquor; cosmetic products to the value of RM 200; up to threenew items of clothing and one pair of footwear; one portableelectrical or battery-operated appliance for personal hygiene; foodpreparations to the value of RM 75; other goods to the value of RM400 (with the exception of goods from Langkawi and Labuan, to thevalue of RM 500). Prohibited items include goods from Haiti,counterfeit money and illegal drugs.
Malaysian Tourist Website: www.tourism.gov.my
Malaysian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 5729700.
Malaysian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7235 8033.
Malaysian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 241 5182.
Malaysian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 3425990.
Malaysian High commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 61 200300.
Malaysian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 667 7280.
Malaysian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 3852439.
United States Embassy, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 2168 5000.
British High Commission, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 2170 2200.
Canadian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 2718 3333.
South African High Commission, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 21702400.
Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 2146 5555.
Irish Embassy, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 2167 8200.
New Zealand High Commission, Kuala Lumpur: +60 3 2078 2533.
Stalagmites and stalactites festoon the interior of theseimpressive limestone caves, together with shrines to Hindu deities.American naturalist, William Hornaday, is credited with discoveringthem in 1878, though they were already known Chinese settlers andlocal indigenous peoples. The caves have since become a Hindu holysite. They're especially relevant to the celebration of a three-dayreligious festival called Thaipusam. Thousands of devotees visitduring the festival, paying penance and performing rites ofself-flagellation. Visitors can reach the largest cave, TempleCave, by climbing 272 steps. The path will lead them to MuseumCave, which houses a dazzling display of ornamental religious art.Travellers will enjoy the clear view from the top to the SriSubramaniam Temple. Onsite companies offer rock climbingopportunities as well. Travellers who're interested should packwater, as the routes are challenging. Visitors should also watchout for monkeys, as they tend to steal things.
Spanning a vast area in Pahang State, Taman Negara National Parkcontains some of the world's oldest rainforest. Its richly diverseplant and wildlife have evolved over a staggering 130 millionyears, and its jungle trails lead past a small, seldom-seenpopulation of the nomadic Orang Asli people. Their makeshiftshelters appear in clearings, and several operators offer guidedtours to their villages. Hiking the main path across the park takesabout three days, and visitors can stay in wooden lodges betweentreks. Night-time jungle sounds are incredible, if a littleunnerving for the uninitiated. Park visitors can also enjoyfishing, birdwatching, river-rafting and climbing the Peninsula'shighest mountain, Gunung Tahan.
Melaka (Malacca) preserves the historic meeting of Chinese andEuropean cultures. Initially, its strategic position on the Straitsof Melaka encouraged a tide of trade with China, India, Siam andIndonesia. Later, colonial powers wrestled for control of thefascinating seaside city, and much of the 16th century Portugueseinfluence is cemented in its architecture. Visitors can expect anauthentic cultural experience in this predominantly Chinese region,where open-air markets and traditional merchants are commonplace.Melaka is also home to a unique ethnic group called theBaba-Nyonya. Born of Chinese and Malay ancestors, their remarkablelifestyle is recorded in the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum.Travellers should stop on Jonker Street too. The attractivethoroughfare is almost always strung with traditional Chineselanterns, and hosts night bazaars and festivities on weekends.Otherwise, trips on the Malacca River are popular and feature manyhistoric buildings, such as the Stadthuys. Once the Dutchadministration's seat, it now houses a history museum. Travellerswill also find some interesting ruins on St. Paul's Hill.