Where the Past and Present Collide: Travelling Malaysia

If you are looking to explore the far East, Malaysia is arguably the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is Asia. It is distinctly made up of two parts. On the east is Borneo with forests and volcanoes, but on the west, you’ve got Kuala Lumpur and a wide variety of culture in towns like Penang. If you are looking to travel around Malaysia you need to know the best places. So let’s explore.

Kuala Lumpur

For travellers who need a bit of a cityscape thrown into their experiences, Kuala Lumpur has a wide variety of sights, sounds, and culture. The Petronas towers provide a centre point and everything around is buzzing with energy. If you’re looking to rent house Malaysia has a wide variety of places but Kuala Lumpur is where you should go to experience the city-wide culture. If you’re after foods, you can head down to Bukit Bintang and take in your desired dose of entertainment while eating Chinese chow mein. But Kuala Lumpur isn’t just a cityscape; you can go to a wide variety of cultural institutions and even a place like the Batu caves offers a significant dose of adventure.


It’s usually considered as southeast Asia in a small dose, and with the wide variety of rickshaws, old mansions from centuries ago, and touchstones that hint upon its British history, it is a fantastic place to explore. Penang is part of the UNESCO world heritage, which will be easy to see why when you go there yourself. But even if you aren’t too fussed on the history and are looking for contemporary culture or somewhere to go and relax there’s a wide variety of beaches at Batu Ferringhi, complete with coconut trees. There’s also plenty of traditional foods. It’s not just about the beef rendang, there’s a wide variety of curries that you just need to try if you like your spices.


One of the most powerful sights in Malaysia to behold are the churches around the outside of this beautiful city. This is a place where past and present come together; you can see where the decades of colonial rule by Nations like the Portuguese and Dutch, and finally the British, made their marks. But now, it is a hive of activity. A place to truly appreciate the past of Malaysia, there’s a wide variety of maritime museums. And if you are looking for a dose of heady Asian cuisines and experiences, the night market in Jonker Walk is one of the best places for you.


A place where you can go and relax with so many iconic beaches. Whether you’re looking for seclusion on Pantai Kok or you need to get your water sports on in Pantai Cenang, there’s plenty for the water lover to enjoy. Located in the north of the country, Langkawi is one of the most laid-back parts of Malaysia. If you don’t like venturing around a cityscape, head to this place that borders Thailand. While there’s plenty of 5-star resorts in Datai Bay, you can head there to relax, or if you want to get a view of the jungles or go trekking, Seven Wells or the SkyBridge gives you plenty to choose from.

Gunung Mulu National Park

Another UNESCO site in Malaysia, this National Park feels like a preserved piece of Malaysia from hundreds of years ago. It’s not for the faint-hearted- there’s a plane ride down to Mulu Airport that is pretty shaky, or if you would rather stay closer to land you’ve got to endure a 12-hour riverboat ride, all the while going between jungles full of snakes. But when you get there, there is so much beauty to witness; from the caves, canopy bridges, and miles of mossy rainforests to make you appreciate the land before time got its hands on it.

Cameron Highlands

Straddling the main range between Penang and Kuala Lumpur, it soars over 1000m above the lower parts of the Malay peninsula. This is a simple and effective site that houses a wide variety of plants and animals. If you want to get away from any sense of modernity, you have to go here. With a wide variety of hiking routes, you will encounter the local Orang Asli aborigines and there are plenty of tea villages to quench your cultural thirst.

Taman Negara National Park

Comprising of primaeval rainforests and rivers that wind so much that you may even spot elephants, this site is part of the Malay Peninsula. 4,300 square km of swinging rope, bridges trails covered with trees, and more Malayan tigers than you can shake a stick at, there is plenty for the eyes and ears as well as your feet to endure. In fact, the trails can be pretty tricky, so keep your wits about you.

Perhentian Islands

The beach to end all beaches. If you want to relax in a picturesque location, the Perhentian Islands doesn’t just provide miles of beautiful beaches. There are jungle hiking opportunities where you could encounter lizards and snakes, scuba diving sites like Sugar Wreck offer you a close view of sea life, and there is some fantastic food. It is somewhere to go and leave your troubles behind.

Bako National Park

If you haven’t got your fill of jungles, Bako National Park is definitely worth your while. The landscapes comprise of chiselled rock, dramatic cliffs, and dense green forests complete with moss undergrowth. This means that there’s so much for the budding traveller to do. If you want to witness proboscis monkeys and lizards, there are plenty of them to see. But there are also numerous walking trails that cover the entire park taking you through the coastal coves and the woods.

Malaysia is a place that is made of two parts. If you want the jungle and rainforests there are numerous opportunities here, but also if you want to have a taste of the city life in places like Kuala Lumpur, there are so many options for you as well. It is a place where the past and the present collide. And it’s definitely worth your while.

Adriana a Matěj - Czech the World - travel blog

Adriana & Matěj

Travelers, sport enthusiasts and photographers behind this blog. Creating high-quality and informative guides for your travels. Read more about us here.

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We are regularly updating all of our posts, however all the places are changing quickly and sometimes it's hard to see all the changes. Theferove we would be glad if you could tell us about any change you have found.

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