1. Do explore KL
Like most cities KL is unique in many ways. I usually tend to avoid busy cities but was surprised to find that our days walking and riding around KL was extremely interesting. The best way to experience the city is on a bike tour with Mike’s Bikes. It was a little bit scary at first, riding a bicycle on the busy streets of an asian city but the guide makes sure you are well looked after and you start to enjoy it more and more as you get used to the roads. On our tour we stopped at one of the most beautiful and intriguing views in Malaysia - A village called Kampung Baru. As the new city started to get built this village stayed exactly the same, high rises ended up surrounded the community in every direction and here you can see the stark contrast between the modern and traditional worlds.
Just look at this picturesque Traditional blue house and the massive skyscrapers in the background!
2. Do try all the local food
This is one of the best parts about being in a new country and Malaysia is no exception. I know a few people that are either fond of their usual Western food diets or are scared to get sick trying new and different foods - but don’t be! Malaysia is super hygienic when it comes to preparing and serving food and the meals are out of this world delicious. If you love spicy food you are also in for a treat as a lot of local dishes have that added spice and flavour.
Its also worth noting that Malaysia is made up of many different cultures throughout the country, you can find traditional Malay cuisine, Indian, Thai, Chinese - all absolutely authentic and amazing.
3. Do Visit Langkawi!
I was a bit hesitant at first as I heard it was a big tourist attraction of Malaysia but this Archipelago of islands exceeded all my expectations. We arrived to Langkawi and had a total of 2 days here, if you are looking for a relaxing or adventurous holiday then you could easily spend up to 5-7 days here alone. This ended up being the highlight of my time here in Malaysia, we hired Jet Skis and spent the whole day exploring some of the 99 surrounding islands. Some we stopped at and explored, others we parked our jet skis on and lay on the sand for hours, there’s something for everyone and I will definitely be back to island hop around Langkawi.
4. Do Get to Batu Caves Early
This is not a drill. Batu Caves is worth visiting, its a spectacular Hindu Temple up a flight of 272 beautifully coloured steps.
We were lucky enough to arrive at 8:30am (on the cusp of the hoards of tourists arriving!) If I was you I would aim to arrive at 7:30am - just to be sure you can have enough time to experience this incredible spot with the least amount of people or no-one at all.
Below are two photos taken within 30mins of each other, its crazy how the early hours deter a lot of tourists so definitely make the effort to get out of bed for those more popular spots.
5. Do Your Research
There are many places in Malaysia I wish we could have squeezed in to our itinerary or experienced instead of something else. Its a large country and there is a lot to see - culturally, cityscape and landscape wise. Figure out what aspect or aspects you would most enjoy and plan your trip around those. If we had more time we would have loved to; - Climb Mount Kinabalu - Visit the bountiful amount of secret waterfalls - Visit more secluded islands around Langkawi and KK - See an Orangutang in its natural habitat
And if I did a bit more research online I am sure I will find a dozen more things that I want to see on my return to Malaysia!
1. Don’t Ignore Malaysia’s culture and beliefs
With any country you visit you should always take on their customs and research appropriate behaviour and clothing. There's nothing worse than being a tourist that has no regard for others and their beliefs or religions. As the majority of Malaysia is a practicing Muslim country, girls, make sure you are appropriately dressed especially when in local, public locations.
2. Don’t Avoid the Cities
I am guilty of this, but when you are in a new country this is all part of the fun! The cities have a lot to offer in the way of food and culture. If you want to head somewhere that has amazing Malay food then make sure you head to Penang. The food scene is incredible here!
3. Don’t just follow the crowds
If its popular it doesn't always mean its for you! Everyone gets something different out of their travels and everyone has completely different interests of what they are looking for or what they want to see/do. One thing I noticed about a few spots we visited in Malaysia is that if its popular, its popular. Most of the more natural landscapes were secluded but the man made attractions were hustling and bustling with lines of people waiting to enter. We luckily had express line extra tickets to a lot of these places, but there were a few that I was honestly shocked as to why they were busy! Just because there is a line doesn't mean its worth seeing...
4. Don’t Jump Straight In
to the open ocean... This was definitely unlucky on my part but make sure you ask the locals if the water is safe for swimming, if there have been any Jelly sightings and check for yourself before just jumping in. You would think after years of travelling Australia and swimming in Tropical North Queensland waters I would have come into contact with spiders, snakes, sharks or even Jellyfish. But in truth I have never had a bad encounter with any!
The first time I jumped off a boat in Malaysia I got stung massively on my upper thigh and had to go to an after hours medical centre. They gave me an injection in the bum and some strong pain killers and for 3-4 days I had severe nerve pain. Just my luck hey? My reaction was common but the sting not so much, but that doesn't mean you should be very careful of your risks before entering the ocean.
5. Don’t be so Close Minded!
You’re overseas, you are in a different country - immerse yourself in its culture, talk the the locals, eat local food and go with an open heart and no expectations. Malaysia is a beautiful country and you will fall in love.