Malaysia in a Nut Shell:
- EAT! – Roti Canai: The Malaysian alternative for a midnight kebab on the way home from a great night out, this flat bread comes with a variety of mouth watering dips and is designed for eating by hand. Pick yourself up one from a roadside stall for as little as RM0.90!
- DRINK! – Teh Tarik: This hot sweet tea is named after the ‘pulling’ motion used to pour it. Often served with a dose of condensed milk for good measure, it’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
- WEAR! – Cover up: As one of the only Muslim countries in Southeast Asia, it’s important (not to mention respectful) to cover up here.
- BEWARE! – The Price of Alcohol: As an Islamic country, beer is sold only at licensed stores for the country’s visitors. As a result, a beer here will set you back a whopping RM7.50, or even more from a 7/11!
Introduction to Malaysia:
Split into two parts, peninsular Malaysia and the rest situated on the northern part of Borneo, this country is rich not only in economic terms but in cultural diversity and dramatic, varied landscape. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is based on peninsular Malaysia, just a short hop from southern Thailand.
Often the first thing to be noticed by backpackers and travellers are the inflated prices here, but these should be overlooked as the country makes a great stop-off on your way to Singapore, Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippines and more… It is also a great place to replenish your diminishing, holey wardrobe! Eastern Malaysia, in the northern third of Borneo, is the tourist mecca of the country, with miles of almost impenetrable jungle providing great trekking possibilities.
Aim to be in this multicultural society for Chinese New Year (read more about the Festival here) and you’re in for a real treat, with extensive celebrations and colourful parades.
Found between Thailand and Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia (often known as West Malaysia) is home to the majority of the country’s multicultural population. Home to the capital and largest city, Kuala Lumpur, it is more developed than Malaysian Borneo at just 1/3rd of the size. Peninsular Malaysia is cut in half by the Titiswanga, a mountain range running right down the middle.
Often overlooked in favour of its most famous celebrity neighbour, Thailand, upon closer inspection Peninsular Malaysia has a lot going for it in terms of diversity, friendly locals and a fantastic transport network to get around. There’s ancient rainforest, charming colonial towns, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stunning islands and beaches, even tea plantations! Read more about Peninsular Malaysia…
800 km east of Peninsular Malaysia lies 61% of the country on the northern part of Borneo. Covered in thick jungle, this is where travellers and tourists alike flock to all year round in search of wildlife, national parks and indigenous tribes. Less populated and therefore less developed, East Malaysia is home to the five of the country’s highest mountains in including Mount Kinabalu which claims the title of 10th highest peak in Southeast Asia! Transport is made tricky by dense jungle, so expect to travel by boat in many parts… Read more about Borneo Malaysia…
5 Random Facts about Malaysia
1. Sarawak Chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak is the largest cave in the entire World. It’s big enough to be a parking space for a Boeing 747-200!
2. Described by David Bellamy (a famous environmentalist) as “one of the world’s greatest natural theme parks.”, Sabah in Malaysian Borneo is home to the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world.
3. Influenced by Malaysia’s multi-cultural society, supposedly the World’s best Nasi Kandar (a tasty Indian dish) can be found on the Island of Penang.
4. Standing at 452 metres high, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur were officially the World’s tallest building, until the Burj Dubai doubled their height!
5. Famous for being the home of the World’s largest tea plantation, The Cameron Highlands stand 1,500 metres above sea level and have their own cooler micro-climate. They were named after Sir William Cameron, who discovered them in 1885.