One of the most fascinating countries in the region with a rich diversity of cultures, scenery and resort variety. Peninsula Malaysia stretches down from the border with Thailand in the north through to Singapore in the south. On the separate island of Borneo you have the states of Sarawak and Sabah. Flying time from UK is approx. 12 hours to Kuala Lumpur (known as KL). Onward travel to Penang or Langkawi is one hour, two hours to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Kuching, Sarawak.
For the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia (Penang and Langkawi), the most settled months tend to be December through to April. May to November can see higher humidity and rainfall, usually in short sharp bursts, with some beach erosion and higher sea swells. The east coast has the reverse season, with particularly high rainfall and sea swells November to March, and most settled weather in our summer months. Sabah and Sarawak, being lush and mountainous, has rainfall year round but the summer months generally are the most settled.
KL and the southern part of the peninsula can be affected by mid summer smog coming up from the Indonesian islands further south .
Why KL (Kuala Lumpur)? is the capital city and has a fascinating mix of high rise glittering towers and lively street markets. Penang is a highly developed resort island with villas and condominiums as much in evidence as hotels, good restaurant options and an interesting and historic island capital, Georgetown (easy to explore on foot).
The island of Langkawi is more rural and considerably quieter, much less commercial, with super beaches at their most popular in our winter and early spring months . Just a handful of hotels and limited restaurant choice / nightlife outside of the resorts.
The peninsula east coast has an even more traditional Malay style, reserved with the main attraction being in the glorious beaches and the totally authentic small villages. This is also the location of Tioman, positioned just off the south east coast, a small island that has a real escapist appeal. This side of the peninsula is at its best April though to October, November to March can see heavy Monsoon rain and high sea swells.
Note – In common with most tropical areas, the beaches in Malaysia are to used by tourist and local alike, private beaches are not permitted.
For those in search of rolling hills and planter colonial influenced hotels, try the Cameron Highlands , located roughly half way between KL and Penang and easy to incorporate into a touring itinerary. Another option would be eco extreme tropical jungle experience of Taman Negara, located just a couple of hours drive north of KL.
Sabah & Sarawak
All about eco adventure, dense forests, great beaches, nature and of course the Orang Utans. Sarawak in particular is totally unspoilt and the luxury comes in the unique experience rather than the quality of the hotels which tend to be modest and pleasant rather than luxurious . Sabah, whilst being eco focused, is more developed – with the state capital Kota Kinabalu offering a number of mega shopping malls as well as authentic street markets, and has a much higher quality range of resorts.
If we were to be critical…
Penang is highly developed, especially around the main beach area of Batu Ferringhi. The sea channel just off the island is one of the busiest in the world – this can be evident in the water quality at times! If nightlife and shopping are a priority, head for KL and Penang, although keep in mind Malaysia is more openly and proudly conservative than some of its neighbours. As with of this area, regional arrivals, and in particular those from mainland China, now tend to dominate and this will be both noticeable and audible. Also in KL and in particular the mid summer months, the city takes on a more Arabic tone.
Malaysia – A Chic Location
- Malaysia – Some Touring Options
- Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort, Sabah
- # Kuala Lumpur
- Bunga Raya Island Resort
- Four Seasons Resort & Spa
- Gayana Eco Lodge
- Istana Kuala Lumpur
- Japa Mala Eco Resort
- Pangkor Laut Hotel
- Sarawak Experience
- Shangri-la’s Golden Sands
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, Sabah, Borneo
- Shangri-la’s Rasa Sayang Resort
- Tanjong Jara
- Tanjung Rhu Resort
- The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat
- The Danna
- The Datai Langkawi, West Coast
- Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur