Essentially you have two parts to Malaysia. On the peninsula, running from the southern border of Thailand down to Singapore, you have the lively capital city of Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands and Taman Negara National Forest and just off the west coast the famous resort islands of Langkawi, Penang and Pangkor Laut. On the much more sedate and tranquil east coast of the peninsula you have the resort town of Kuantan with the island of Tioman just off shore and further up the coast the even more rural and escapist appeal of Tanjung Jara, close to Kuala Terengganu in the north east corner.
The two sides of the peninsula have differing weather patterns with the west coast usually at its best December to May. Then in the summer months you have increased rainfall, albeit hard sharp showers. The east coast is the reverse, so at its best in our spring and summer months, with heavy rains in the winter period.
Then on the separate island of Borneo, on the north coast you have the two Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, with Brunei sandwiched in between. Borneo is a lush, totally tropical island, wonderfully eco focused with some incredible adventures and wildlife. Rain can be experienced year round, but the most popular months tend to be April through to October when the days are usually bright and sunny.
There are frequent flights daily from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Langkawi, Kuching (Sarawak) and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) as well as to the major cities and resorts in the neighbouring countries. As such multi touring combinations are easy to arrange. We detail below just a few suggestions, but all can be easily modified to suit your personal requirements.
Start with 3 nights in Kuala Lumpur or KL as it is just as commonly known. Then drive to the scenic Cameron Highlands – this can either be on self drive basis or with driver/guide – for 2 nights. Then continue the drive to Butterworth and criss the causeway bridge to Penang, where you can stay or maybe just visit for a few days before taking the flight on to Langkawi . Although the two islands are quite close geographically, they are very different in style with Penang being much more developed, more historic and multi cultural. Lankgawi is quieter, much more rural with still just a handful of hotels.
As an alternative to the Cameron Highlands, you might also consider staying at the Banjaran Hot Springs Spa and Health resort. Located just outside Ipoh, half way between KL and Penang, this is a high quality resort with a fantastic limestone backdrop.
Kl and Borneo
So many options, but our choice would be to start in KL for 3 nights, before taking the 90 minute flight to Kuching in Sarawak . Stay in the little state capital for 2 nights, with a tour to the Orang Utan reserve just a short drive outside the city. In the evening take a night safari on a mangrove swamp. For those with more time spend a night in the jungle at a wonderfully longhouse resort. Then take the one hour flight from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah where you have equally impressive eco opportunities, plus a higher standard of resort facilities, with some particularly attractive off shore retreats.
With good connections from KL to most of the cities and resorts in the areas, combination holidays are very easy. KL is probably the main gateway for travel to Bali and is a popular twin centre. Something new might be the combination with Vietnam (see separate feature). We particularly like the idea of 2 nights in KL, then to Saigon in the south of Vietnam and one of the most attractive and vibrant cities in the region. Then continue to one of the resorts, either in the Phan Thiet area or by flight to Danang.
The national airline of Malaysia, and a frequent award winner. They now offer two flights daily from London to KL, and operate the new A380 aircraft, probably the best long distance aircraft today with excellent in flight comfort, service and quietness – and a rather impressive entertainment selection. KL is one of the most attractive regional hubs in the region and there are numerous connecting flights to Singapore, Phuket, Samui , Bangkok, Siem Reap, Saigon, Hanoi and Hong Kong.