A trip around Southeast Asia would not be complete without including the multicultural hub and food haven, Malaysia.
To fully experience the diverse culture and norms of Malaysia, there is a fine line between being a tourist and experiencing the country as the locals do. Here are some tips to embrace both the popular travel spots, as well as highlights some local favourites. This is a Local’s Guide to Malaysia.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Samantha Sito (@SamanthaS.Style)
Besides the rows of shopping malls, there are many nature gems that surround the city, if you care to look for it.
Why not spend the day chasing waterfalls? The closest waterfall to the city is Kanching Falls which sits between Selayang and Rawang. It is a fairly easy hike for newbies and great for families. Though, beware of the monkeys!
For those who want more of a challenge, Chilling Falls is a moderate hike and is one of the most beautiful and stunning waterfalls in the country.
If you want to venture out a little further, head to the state of Pahang to the Taman Negara National Forest. There is a demanding hike to Gunung Tahan (Tahan Mountain), which is Peninsular Malaysia’s highest peak. It stands 2,187 metres and is one of the steepest hikes in Asia. Hikers typically camp overnight as it takes two to three days to complete.
Want something that meshes culture and exercise? Climb 247 steps at Batu Caves. At the top, you’ll find monkeys and three main caves (and several smaller ones) that are home to religious Hindu statues.
If you decide to head out to East Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are known collectively as Borneo. There you will find the tallest mountain in Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu, which is one of the most popular hikes for travellers and locals alike. Not only can you expect one of the most breath taking views, but you’ll be surrounded by the rainforest and an overall sense of accomplishment.
The Language of Food
Villa Samadhi Resort, MalaysiaThe language of food is the language of love, at least in Malaysia. If a local asks you if you’ve eaten, take it as a note of care. Malaysia is known to be skilled at using a variety of spices to create the most amazing fusion dishes, birthed from the cultural and ethnic diversity. Venture into the street shops, otherwise known as Mamaks or dine in luxury; either way you’d be spoiled for choice. Here are some must-try dishes during your trip:
A staple Malaysian dish of coconut rice, colourful sides such as vegetables, curry chicken, fried anchovies, cucumbers, eggs and a spicy, flavorful red chili paste known as sambal.
A burst of flavour, this dish is a spicy-sour broth with prawn paste, lime, fish, spices and thick rice noodles.
This dish is just as exciting as how it’s made. A piece of dough is spun around several times, and flipped in the air to add to the fluffiness! The end result is a thin, piece of roti that is garnished with a variety of different Indian curries.
An acquired taste, the King of Fruits might not sit well with those who have never seen or smelled it. Durian has a thorny exterior, opening up to yellow creamy textured fruits inside, and a very strong, pungent smell. But if you’re up for trying new things, it can be an eye opening and delicious experience.
Mix and Mingle with the Locals in Kuala Lumpur
Samantha Sito (@SamanthaS.Style)Shopping is the biggest economic pull for Malaysia, with thousands of tourists all over the world gathering to shop. Malaysia has some of the most extensive shopping malls in Asia and in the city alone, you’ll find rows of shopping malls that are walking distance from one other.
If you are looking to polish your bargaining skills, head to Petaling Street where you can find a variety of stalls selling unique souvenirs and knock-off brands. If you’re into mid-to-luxury shopping, check out Pavilion Shopping Centre, Petronas Twin Towers (KLCC) and Times Square.
While shopping in the Petronas Twin Towers, head to the Sky Bridge to see the city skyline from one of the tallest buildings in the world. The Sky Bridge provides a birds-eye view and the tour offers some historical background into their construction. Fun fact: the Sky Bridge is actually not connected to the two towers it sits between. So prepare for some shaking on windy days ;)
Cap off the night with Kuala Lumpur’s buzzing nightlife! Changkat Bukit Bintang is a popular hot spot where you can find a variety of bars and clubs that don’t close until the wee hours of the morning!
Experience Malaysia’s Architectural History
Samantha Sito (@SamanthaS.Style)The city of Malacca is the most historically preserved places in Malaysia. Dating back to the early 1500s, Portuguese influence played a role in the architectural landscape of the city. To this day, these buildings are still preserved and have been transformed into a variety of shops and restaurants. Explore A'Famosa, the ruins of the Portuguese fort built by Alfonso Alburqueque. Colourful, decorated trishaws are a hit with both travellers and locals, and you can hop on for a quick ride around the city.
Samantha Sito (@SamanthaS.Style)
Take a walk along the very busy Jonker Street to indulge your senses. A popular dish that is a Malacca must-taste is know simply as chicken rice balls.
Relax at the Most Stunning Beaches
Villa Samadhi Resort, KLA ferry ride away from the city, Redang Island, Pangkor Island and Perhentian Island are popular beach getaway for friends, honeymoons and solo travellers. Framed by white sand beaches and clear waters, there are various activities to do while there. They include eating (yes, again), snorkelling, scuba diving and during certain seasons, you will be able to witness female turtles coming to shore to lay eggs.
Can't get out of the city? Experience the beach-like resort vibes right in the city centre at Villa Samadhi.
If you are planning a trip to Malaysia
and have any questions or would like some advice,
tweet me: @otisamantha
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