Things to do in Malaysia

A guide to the major cities

Things to do in Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the world’s top holiday destinations, but it’s not just about the beaches: it’s also about the cultural background, the food and the amazing cities.

Cities in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

Besides the fact that you will most likely arrive in Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur, it is a must-see as there are hundreds of fun things to see and do. Of course, nothing screams Kuala Lumpur more than the iconic Petronas Towers.  

At 452m tall, this structure is the tallest twin towers in the world, and the world’s fifth tallest skyscraper. If you want to venture up the towers, there is an observation deck on the 86th floor, and a skybridge linking the two towers 170m up for an amazing view of Kuala Lumpur.

You can also admire the skyline from the top of the Menera KL tower, which is a little scarier as you will be strapped in so you don’t fall off!

Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of co-existing cultures from around Asia and the rest of the World. It is also home to many historical landmarks and skyscrapers, and a genuine foodie paradise. While you’re there, don’t miss out on Little India, Jalan TAR and Petaling Street  - the centre of the city’s original Chinatown - and its amazing market. You should also check out Jamek Mosque, which is the oldest mosque in the city and whose architecture is spectacular.

Just 13km north of the city, you can visit the Batu Caves, which are one of the most sacred Hindu religious sites outside of India.


Located on the other side of the Malaysian peninsular, on the South China Sea, Kuantan is one of the biggest cities in Malaysia and the country’s second biggest port. Quickly becoming a major commercial centre, Kuantan is mostly visited for its beautiful beaches but also has a lot more to offer, such as some great parks, waterfalls and interesting buildings. There are also several large shopping malls in the city, for the more fashion-inclined travellers among you.

Teluk Chempedak Beach is probably the most famous beach for swimmers or surfers and can get very busy on the weekends. Balok Beach is also very popular for windsurfing. If you want something more private, you can find several peaceful beaches up and down the coast.

At the heart of the city, you will find the state mosque with its fabulous blue domes. This monument is relatively new but still an impressive piece of architecture.

George Town

Located on Penang island, George Town (sometimes spelt Georgetown), is the capital of the state of Penang. The city, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a perfect destination for history buffs, especially if you like architecture and Buddhist temples.

Pre-war and colonial buildings and monuments are found everywhere, and there are several museums. There may be a lot of tourists there too, but you will find a great variety of Malaysian cuisine all around the city. If you’re mostly looking for a shopping experience, there is a range of shops that sell everything from souvenirs, Malay products, and high street brands.

There are various options to get to Penang Island and George Town: you can land at Penang International Airport, drive there across the Penang Bridge (over 13km long) or use the Penang Ferry Service. Ferries run from 6am to 1am and leave every 20 minutes.

Rapid Penang, the main bus service of the island, makes of George Town a very well connected city.


Also a major foodie destination, Kuching is the capital of the state of Sarawak and has become one of the top industrial and commercial areas of Malaysia. You can access Kuching via the Sarawak River - in fact, most of the things to see in Kuching can be reached by foot or river boat. Interesting buildings from the colonial era remain in the area and you will be able to see architectural landmarks if you walk around the city. The government has prohibited any high structures to be built in Kuching, which hopefully will help keep a local and less-touristy feel to the city.

Kuching citizens are also very fond of cats, and you can see cat statues and other references all around the city! Typical Malaysian houses can be seen everywhere, and views from the river at sunset are amazing.

The Kubah National Park is 21km from Kuching and offers some beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls and a small wildlife centre. It’s a popular destination for families, there is a small entry fee, and picnic and BBQ facilities set up. The Fairy Caves are around 50 minutes by car from Kuching, a vast cave system you can explore. The name really does reflect the magical nature of the caves. If you are more of an adventure seeker you can go trekking, kayaking and scuba diving in this region too.

If you’re going to Malaysia for a relaxing holiday, there are also dozens of paradise-style beaches and islands around the coastline, some of which are still unexplored!

Further reading

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