Travelling the world and taking in some of the most incredible sights this planet has to offer is considered a dream to most and Malaysia comes close to topping the list. The wonder may come down to wondering how you can afford it! Appropriately planned though, it can be done on a budget. It’s time to grab your backpack and get exploring. Here is a list of places not to miss and how to act when you get there.
WEST COAST ISLANDS
Penang is understandably one of the most popular stop-offs on the visitor’s itinerary, as there is so much to do. From the jaw-dropping colonial architecture and temples to the mouthwatering local dishes, considered some of the best in the world, Georgetown never fails to impress. Pulau Pangkor is a calm and relaxed destination though if you are looking for a tropical sandy beach then you may be left wanting.
Cameron Highlands boasts tea fields, and the refreshing mountain air is a welcome relief for the humidity which can be overpowering in Southeast Asia. There are many walks in the area including organised treks to view the rafflesia, which is the largest flower in the world.
Malacca combines the interest of a historical city with a relaxed and amiable vibe. Sitting just a few hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, the old colonial town has a very engaging history which has resulted in a beautiful mix of cultures. The Portuguese colonials pursued relationships and married locals as did the Chinese, many men taking local brides resulting in Straits Chinese culture.
Borneo merely is not to be missed. One of the cleanest, friendliest and quite honestly, most exciting cities in Southeast Asia is Kuching. It is also the biggest city in Sarawak. By travelling just a few hours out of the town, you will find Bako National Park worth at least an overnight visit. Proboscis monkeys, along with a full variety of other wildlife, are prominent, though you will not be disappointed when it comes to the beaches either. Miri is also worth stopping at if only to see the Niah Caves.
A translation of ‘National Park’ in the Malay language, Taman Negara is an area of incredible biodiversity and boasts to be one of the oldest rainforests on Earth. The rainforest is thick and in fantastic condition, which is a big plus for the environment but does make spotting the local wildlife a little more difficult but it’s worth a try as Taman Negara is home to elephants, tigers and several species of monkey. From the gateway village of Kuala Tahan, you can purchase guided treks and even night walks, though you may choose to explore the park without a guide. With several trails to choose from, including a canopy walk, as well as the opportunity to spend the night in a hide (bum bum) built near water holes increasing the chance of viewing wildlife, especially at sunset.
Visit travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/holidays/malaysia/ for ways of easily comparing flight costs into Malaysia. Once there, you can get to pretty much everywhere in Southeast Asia relatively cheaply, but you can also take the train or bus from Singapore and Thailand.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation in Malaysia is slightly more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia (apart from Singapore of course) but it’s not too noticeable. You’ll find somewhere for RM40 (USD 13) or under most places, though it is likely you will need to share a bathroom for that price.Dorms in the more popular locations can be found at decent prices. Visiting rumahdijual.com/bsd/rumah-alam-sutera may give you some ideas.
An incredible array of choice awaits the foodie traveller to Malaysia. Don’t overlook the cheaper looking or smaller establishments as you may be missing the fantastic food at a fraction of the cost. Alcohol, however, is a different story altogether as alcohol is heavily taxed. If you visit Langkawi or Tiomanm which are duty-free ports the prices may be a little more palatable.
While enjoying this world we live in, it is essential to represent yourself and your country well, and it’s everyone’s responsibility from the guest to the local governments, businesses and communities. As a guest, you can make a huge difference.
- While observing social and cultural traditions and practices, which may be very different to your own, always respect diversity and keep an open mind. Not only will it enhance your experience, but you will also in turn be embraced by the locals far more easily and quickly.
- We should all step up when it comes to protecting wildlife and habitats. This doesn’t mean you have to stand waving a placard and chant about animal rights, it comes down to something as simple as not purchasing products made from endangered species, either animal or flora, and help in the preservation of natural environments. Be sure to clean up after yourself.
- Your vacation can contribute massively to the country’s economic and social development. Try to purchase local products to support fair trade. This means that when bartering, ensure you are being fair and not undervaluing the seller’s work or wage.
- Be informed about your destinations current health situation and whether there have been any risks reported through the Consulate or Embassy. Seek assurance before departure that your health and personal security will not be compromised and what to do in the event of something going wrong. Write down and keep safe any specific requirements such as allergies or diet, medications can be taken care of before you travel.
- Research each destination as much as possible to avoid any nasty surprises. Do your homework when it comes to local customs and traditions to avoid any unintentional offence with your actions, for example, dress codes considered proper in each town.
- Equally as important is to ensure you understand the laws of each country and take them seriously as the penalties may be extreme in comparison to your home country, including death. Aside from the self-evident laws on drug and arms trafficking, there are specific rules on antiques, protected species or products farmed from such animals and certain substances considered dangerous or prohibited by national regulations.
A responsible traveller is a happy traveller, leaving you to take in all of the sights and sounds of this incredible country.