When you’re travelling South East Asia you will meet hundreds of people who do the Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand loop. Many people seem to brush over Malaysia, skipping it completely or pit-stopping in Kuala Lumpur for a few days. When reading about Penang online I actually read someone write that ‘the only reason anyone comes to Malaysia is to do a Thailand visa run’. Which is hands down the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read in my life. Malaysia encompasses the word diversity for me, and although I was always rooting for Malaysia, it turned out to be a compete hidden gem.
Malaysia is an amazing mix of Indian, Chinese and British culture, with a hint of Dutch and Portuguese thrown in for good measure. The difference in people was the initial thing that struck me about Malaysia and made me feel immediately at home. Regardless of your age, your ethnicity or gender you won’t stick out in Malaysia and sometimes it feels so nice to just blend into the background. You get to see and enjoy the country as a tourist without standing out and making yourself as easy target for people trying to sell you things.
The food in Malaysia is by far the best food I ate in the entirety of South East Asia. You can literally get your hands on whatever you fancy for very little cost. My favourite foodie spots are Penang, Melaka and Kuching. After one visit to little India in Penang you will be hooked and will not be able to bring yourself to eat anything other than curry and samosas for the foreseeable future. If hipster cafes are your jam then you’re going to love Melaka and Kuching. Iced tea, fresh ground coffee, perfect salads and plenty of pieces of cake. Is there any better way to watch the world go by?
If you’re working your way south from the likes of Cambodia and Thailand you will be shocked by the level of Infrastructure in Malaysia. Comparatively, Malaysia is a very easy country to get around. A bus that picks you up on time, and leaves on time can be such a welcome relief. Both Grab and Uber are in Malaysia, and are exceptionally cheap in comparison to the UK. Kuala Lumpur also has a decent, and very cheap Metro system.
Malaysia is a huge country and has such a vast range of things to do. From the beaches of Langkawi, to the hustle of Kuala Lumpur, the hiking in the Cameron Highlands and the relaxed city vibes of Penang. You will find something to suit everyone’s taste here and I can assure you that you won’t get bored. If you’re planning on making the venture over to Borneo then the orangutans are one thing not to be missed. Seeing the orangutans in the wild is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. You’re not guaranteed to see the animals, being a completely natural environment in the jungle, they will only come to the feeding platform if they cannot forage enough to eat for themselves. There are no gates, cages or fences involved with this viewing so there is a very strict and slightly scary safety demonstration before the event. The guide made the rules very clear to everyone there. If the animal comes near you, or looks you in the eye: run as fast as you can.
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