Malaysia is one of the most popular countries in Asia for visitors seeking a diverse travel experience. From city tours and fabulous shopping sprees, to a wide variety of food and many natural wonders, Malaysia is truly a one-stop destination country for most visitors.
Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur (KL), is a lively and cosmopolitan city of 1.4 million people that offers a variety of attractive and affordable destinations that students may partake in. Venturing outside, towards the states of Sarawak and Terengganu, students can also enjoy an array of activities depending on personal interests.
For those who enjoy architecture, the spectacular Twin Towers, one of the tallest buildings in the world, dominates the skyline. Surrounding the Twin Towers is Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). Here you can find beautiful parks and fountains next to KLCC’s high quality Suria shopping mall, with its many restaurants and cafes. Visiting its sky bridge is a great experience and a must stop over. It is open to visitors between 8.30am – 5.00pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Beside the Petronas Twin Towers lies the awesome sight of KL Tower, the tallest tower in Southeast Asia. Standing majestically, it’s perhaps one of the most enduring images a visitor to KL will encounter. It’s the 4th tallest of its kind in the world, and doubles as an exciting destination with much to offer visitors in terms of cultural activities, shopping bargains, and even the ambience of a forest reserve.
- Shopping Extravaganza
For those who want to shop, you can visit one of the more lively streets in KL, known as ‘The Bintang Walk’ that is famed for its nightlife, and cafes. Another attraction for shopaholics is ‘Central Market’; a fine example of Kuala Lumpur’s architectural heritage also doubles as an air-conditioned arts and crafts market. The annex building also contains eateries and a performing arts studio. Nearby, one can delve into KL’s Chinatown, ‘Petaling Street’ where much of its traditional atmosphere, particularly at night when vendors fan out their merchandise along the street.
- Tourist Attractions
About half an hour’s drive from the city center is the Batu Caves, a magnificient grouping of several caves formed out of limestone 400 million years ago. The caves were discovered about 100 years ago and the largest was made into a Hindu temple. This temple plays a very important role in Hindu religious ceremonies in Malaysia, especially during the annual festival known as, ‘Thaipusam.’Kuala Lumpur also has the largest free flight aviary in the world-a massive site spanning 20 acres right in the middle of the city that takes hours to walk through. It houses an impressive collection of tropical and temperate-region birds. Especially interesting are the different varieties of hornbills and other indigenous bird species. The Butterfly Park located near the Bird Park and is as beautifully landscaped with lush, jungle-like vegetation, fountains and fish ponds. The park also has an impressive display of forest bugs.
- Nature & Wildlife lovers
Kuala Lumpur may be a bustling metropolis, but you don’t have to go far to commune with nature. If you want to experience the rainforest, the Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) is less than an hour’s drive away. The highlight of a visit to FRIM is the forest canopy walk, a 20 minute walk on a sturdy rope bridge skirting over the tops of the trees. It’s a steep uphill trek to get to the canopy walk but well worth it.In Sarawak, Gunung Mulu National Park has a number of spectacular caves including the 31.5 mile long Clearwater Cave, one of the longest in the world. Adventure-caving expeditions can be arranged. The park also has good trekking, especially the four-day hike to the summit of Gunung Mulu, nearly 7780 feet high. Sarawak offers the chance to visit longhouse-dwelling Dayak tribes. The area around the capital city, Kuching, comprises of remote coastal villages such as Pandan and Sematan. In Bako National Park, un-spoilt tropical rainforest, secluded beaches and walking trails await.The Matang Wildlife Centre located in Kuching, Sarawak is another haven for nature lovers. This large enclosed area of rainforest is home to endangered wildlife. There is a training programme here that teaches Orang Utans, who have been orphaned or rescued from captivity, how to survive in the wild. Visitors will be able to see lots of Orang Utans here, especially during feeding time. Besides these adorable primates, there are also Sun Bears, Sambar Deer, Civet cats as well as three large aviaries that house Sea Eagles, Hornbills and other birds in Sarawak.
- Cultural Experience
The Sarawak Cultural Village also known as the ‘ Living Museum’, was set up to preserve and showcase Sarawak’s cultural heritage. It is located at Pantai Damai, Santubong, just 32km from the state capital, Kuching. It is the perfect place to get introduced to local culture and lifestyle. Guests are often invited to attend nightly ceremonies and drink a potent rice wine, tuak, which the Iban makes. Comfortable guesthouses are also available for visitors.
- Historical sights
At ‘Merdeka Square,’ in the heart of old colonial Kuala Lumpur, the country’s first prime minster declared independence from Britain in 1957, Here, surrounded by elegant Moorish-inspired buildings that used to house colonial administrative offices, you can get a good feel of life under British rule. Thelargest, the Sultan Abdul Samad (SAS) building, is now the Malaysian High Court. Across the road from the SAS building is the Tudor-style Royal Selangor Club, which was set up in the late 1800s for the recreational activities for British civil servants.
- Island Hopping
Pulau Perhentian, meaning ‘stopover island’, is situated 21 km off the coast of Terengganu, it consists of the islands of Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Covered by virgin jungle, windswept palms, powdery white beaches and surrounded by sapphire blue waters, Pulau Perhentian is a sanctuary for travelers who are seeking for utmost relaxation. This is also a popular island for back packers.
- Food Galore
Eating out in Kuala Lumpur is a real gastronomic adventure. There is such a diverse and rich variety of food that will excite one’s taste buds insatiably- spicy Malay food, endless variety of Chinese delicacies, exotic cuisine from North and South India as well as Nyonya, Thai, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese food, and irresitible seafood. Western cuisine is easily available apart from international chain fast foods. You have a choice of dining at hotels, cozy restaurants, the hundreds of roadside stalls and food bazaars catering for different budget and preference or a quick bite at any of the fast food outlets.Popular Malaysian gourmet specialties include satay (marinated and barbecued meat, normally chicken, beef or mutton), nasi lemak (savoury rice steamed in coconut milk), roti canai (fried flattened bread), chicken rice and fried noodles. Meal prices range from 3 RM per person at a hawker stall to more than 50 RM per person in a nice restaurant. There is a 5% service tax and 10% service charge added to the bill.
- Night-life scene
Kuala Lumpur nightlife and in particular KL Nightlife bars in Malaysia has something to satisfy every taste as well as entertain with live music and show performances. There is downtown Kuala Lumpur, called the ‘Golden Triangle’ including ‘Bukit Bintang’, then there is KL Chinatown, which includes Bangsar.
- Creative Arts and Entertainment
There are other forms of entertainment in Malaysia. Amongst some of the popular activities are karaoke, catching movies at the cinema and enjoying live band performances at local pubs. If you’re one for karaoke, you could try the ‘Red Box’ or ‘Green Box’ karaoke joints for the best deals. Cinemasor cineplexes are also abundant in all the cities. The more prominent Cineplex would be Golden Screen Cinemas, Tanjong Golden Village and Cathay Cineleisure. Most of the latest movies will be played at the local screens for about 2 weeks. For those with the motto “Music Is My Life”, Kuala Lumpur might not be the place for you. There are a couple of jazz bars that deserve mention such as ‘Alexis’ or ‘Cotton Club’ or more laid back cafes like ‘Hardrock Cafe.’Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) was Kuala Lumpur’s answer to promoting the arts scene in Malaysia. The venue was designed as the prime location for big international shows. Another perfect venue would be Istana Budaya. There are shows being showcased at these venues throughout the year and you could visit their website for the full schedule.The Actors Studio is also a performing art center in Malaysia that encourages people to express their inner thoughts by performing out on stage. It was set up in April of 1989 by husband and wife team, Joe Hasham and Dato’ Faridah Merican.The centre provides training in acting, music, dance, creative movement, creative writing, singing and production. Other than that, they’re here to help develop the Malaysian Performing Art scene by providing space and stage so that performances could be held on a regular basis.