ITS NATURAL WONDERS
The forests of Malaysia, in particular on Borneo, are home to many endemic species. Sabah and Sarawak are some of the only places where you can still see orang-utans in the wild, including on a short trip from Kuching. There are also great opportunities for viewing turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs in Sabah, plus coral reefs perfect for diving and snorkelling off many islands in both the west and east of the country.
The beaches in Langkawi are beautifully white and clean, and thankfully devoid of hawkers constantly bugging you while you are relaxing on the sand. There’s also many other beautiful beaches in Sabah, Penang and the eastern side of peninsular Malaysia.
ENGLISH IS WIDELY SPOKEN
While I learnt a few Malaysian phrases (and mainly forgot to use them), it was easy to speak to nearly everyone in English. Malaysian is the official language, but English is commonly used, a relic of the days of English rule. Most signage and menus are bi-lingual, although a knowledge of the key dishes on the menu helps when ordering
THEY DRIVE ON THE LEFT
This is one for those of us from the few other countries that drive on the left, like the UK, Australia and New Zealand! In Malaysia, they also drive on the left, meaning that it’s easy to hire a car and drive around yourself, if you’re okay with the sometime chaotic traffic in cities.
Malaysians love their shopping and one of the best reasons to visit KL is purely to go shopping in the large, air-conditioned malls (while also escaping from the heat and humidity). Even just outside of the discount airline airport in KL is a shopping mall. In Langkawi there’s plenty of cheap roadside stalls also selling the usual t-shirts, dresses and thongs, plus artier souvenirs on sale in George Town.
ITS MANMADE WONDERS
Head to KL to experience the modern, global side to Malaysia. With its tall skyscrapers, including Petronas Twin Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world), air-conditioned shopping malls and sky bridges, it’s a completely different but side-by-side the more historic parts of the country.