The 20 best places to visit in Malaysia

 

Built in 1999, directly south from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is the large pink domed Putra Mosque, beautifully constructed with rose tinted granite. With a minaret height of 116 metres (381 ft) and able to accommodate 15,000 people at any one time, it is one of the largest mosques in the country.

20. Putra Mosque

 

Completed as recently as 2008, on the north eastern coast on the island of Wan Man is the Crystal Mosque, a grand structure made of steel, glass and crystal. Located within the Islamic Heritage Park, this superb modern mosque makes for one of the finest looking structures in the country.

19. Crystal Mosque

 

On the island of Penang, to the west of the city of George Town is Penang Hill, a resort comprising a group of forested peaks that rise from the lowlands. Accessible via the Penang Hill Railway, it takes visitors to the top of the most developed peak of Bukit Bendera, otherwise known as Flagstaff Hill, 833 metres (2,733 ft) above sea level. From here it offers fantastic views over the island and across the Malacca Strait.

18. Penang Hill

 

At the far north western end of Borneo Island is the 41 square kilometre (16 square mile) Gunung Gading National Park, a forested landscape that is home to the Raflesian Arnoldii, commonly called the corpse lily, famous for producing the largest individual flower on Earth. When in bloom the flower gives off a nasty odour said to be reminiscent of rotting flesh. Due to the rafflesia's rarity and brief flowering period, timing is everything. Visitors who wish to witness this rarity of nature are required to contact the national park office directly to find out if any plants are ready to bloom, with November, December and January regarded peak flowering season.

 

Two noteworthy hikes in the park include the Waterfall Trail, a short 1 hour walk through the forest that takes in a number of waterfalls. The tougher hike is the Gunung Gading Summit Trail, taking 3 to 4 hours one way it involves some strenuous hill climbing, taking visitors to a fantastic viewpoint high above the forest.

17. Gunung Gading National Park

 

At the far north eastern end of Borneo Island, covering some 438 square kilometres (169 square miles) is the Danum Valley Conservation Area, protecting a relatively undisturbed lowland forest. A wonderful trekking location offering the experience of tropical rain forest tours, visitors have the opportunity to spot the large Asian water monitor, a lizard that can grow up to 1.5 metres in length, as well as the Bornean pygmy elephant, the Bornean gibbon and the incredible Bornean orangutan.

16. Danum Valley

 

To the north east of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, within the natural forests of the Genting Highlands is the French Themed village and hotel known as the Berjaya Hills Resort, or Colmar Tropicale. Inspired by the original town of Colmar in Alsace, France, with elements taken from other beautiful French towns such as Riquewihr, Turckheim and Kaysersbeg, it is a very strange sight for central Malaysia.

15. Berjaya Hills

 

Completed in 2005, on the eastern side of the island of Palau Langkawi, the main island of the Langkawi archipelago, is the Langkawi Sky Bridge. Measuring 125 metres (410 ft) long, the bridge deck is located 660 metres (2,170 ft) above sea level at the peak of Gunung Mat. Since its construction it has become one of the most iconic landmarks in Malaysia.

14. Lankawi Bridge

 

Completed in 1994, to the north east of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is the Chin Swee Caves Temple, said to be the most scenic site in the Genting Highlands. Featuring traditional Chinese style architecture, a large pagoda and ornate balconies offering fantastic views over the highlands, the most striking landmark is that of the large and detailed Buddha statue standing behind the main building.

13. Chin Swee Caves Temple

 

Built between 1890 and 1930, on the island of Penang to the west of the city of George Town is Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists all over the region. Meaning Heavenly Temple, Pure Land Temple and Temple Of Paradise, the site consists of several large prayer halls and pavilions around statues, carvings and building of Asian style construction. The most stand out landmarks of the complex are the striking seven storey Pagoda of Rama VI, otherwise known as the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, and a large bronze statue of Guanyin, measuring 36 metres (118 ft) tall. From its vantage point it offers fantastic views over the forested hills and the city of George Town.

12. Kek Lok Si Temple

 

Discovered  in 1950, in the northern centre of Borneo Island just west from the border with Brunei is the impressive natural wonder of the Niah Cave, protected as part of the Niah National Park. With an entrance that measures 150 metres (492 ft) wide and 75 metres (246 ft) high it is one of the largest known caves in the world.

11. Niah National Park

 

At the far north western end of Borneo Island is the small 27 square kilometre (10.5 square mile) Bako National Park, one of the oldest protected areas in Borneo. Located at the tip of the Muara Tebas Peninsula, the park protects a forest and coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and white sandy bays where the sea has carved many fantastically shaped sea arches and sea stacks. Visitors to the park also have an excellent chance of spotting proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaque, Bornean bearded pig and monitor lizards among many other endemic wildlife species.

10. Bako National Park

 

At the narrowest point along the Straits of Malacca, south from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is the historical city if Malacca, once a strategic landmark on the maritime Silk Road. Conquered by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British Empire, Malacca today is a major tourist location thanks to its historical riches forged through a melting pot of cultural influences. With its long standing European heritage, Malacca City has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

9. Malacca

 

North from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is the most popular and famous highland retreat area in Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands. During the colonial era, the British grew tea on the mountain slopes, something that remains to this day. A perfect getaway from the heat and humidity of the rest of the country, the Cameron Highlands is a perfect spot to witness the rolling green hills of tea plantations, and to relax in the cooler conditions.

8. Cameron Highlands

 

At the northern edge of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is one of the countries most famous and most visited attractions, the Batu Caves, the site of one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside of India. The complex consists of three main caves within huge limestone hills, with the largest known as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, accessible by a steep flight of 272 coloured steps. At the foot of the stairs is a 42 metre (138 ft) Lord Murugan statue, unveiled in 2006 it is the tallest statue in Malaysia, and the worlds tallest statue of the Hindu deity, Murugan. Its proximity to the capital has made the Batu Caves one of the most visited locations in Malaysia.

7. Batu Caves

 

At the far northwestern end of Borneo Island is the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, one of the best locations to witness semi-wild orangutans in their natural habitat. The reserve trains young orangutans who have been orphaned or rescued in captivity how to survive in the wild. Spending most of their time roaming the forest, they frequently return to the reserve for a free meal, allowing visitors to witness one of the worlds most incredible species just swinging about and doing their thing.

6. Semenggoh Nature Reserve

 

In the centre of the country, covering a vast area of some 4,343 square kilometres (1,677 square miles) is Taman Negara, translated it simply means National Park. One of the first protected areas in Malaysia, the park protects one of the oldest tropical rain forests on the planet, estimated to be more than 130 million years old. Visitors to the rain forest can enjoy jungle trekking, canopy walking and bird watching, with the chance of spotting among other thongs the Asian elephant, Malayan peacock pheasant and the extremely rare Malayan Tiger.

5. Taman Negara National Park

 

Approximately 19 kilometres (12 miles) off the countries north eastern coast, close to the border with Thailand, are a small group of coral fringed and almost untouched islands, the Perhentian Islands. The two main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar, meaning Big Perhentian Island, and Pulau Perhentian Kecil, meaning Small Perhentian Island. Though extremely similar and surrounded by calm and shallow clear waters, the small island is favoured by backpackers where as the larger caters more to families and those with a little more money to spend. Home to small forests of monkeys and large monitor lizards that stroll around the beaches, these islands are as close to paradise as its possible to get.

4. Perhentians

 

In the south west of the country is the capital and largest city in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, one of the powerhouse cities of South East Asia. In the top ten most visited cities on the planet, its abundance of restaurants, shopping outlets and markets combined with the weakness of the Malaysian currency brings people from across the globe. Of the cities major attractions, the most well known are the Petronas Twin Towers.Completed in 1996 and measuring 451 metres (1,483 ft) high they were the tallest structures in the world up until 2004, though remain the tallest twin structures to this day. Best viewed from the viewing deck on the Kuala Lumpur tower, the twin towers have become the most iconic symbol of the city, the country, and two of the most well known buildings on the planet.

3. Kuala Lumpur

 

In the centre of Borneo Island, south of the border with Brunei is the 529 square kilometre (204 square mile) Gunung Mulu National Park, encompassing a landscape of karst formations and mountainous equatorial rain forest. Home to 20,000 species of invertebrates and 81 species of mammal, the parks most famous residents are its three enormous mountains; Mount Mulu, Mount Api and Mount Benarat. The highlight for most visitors is hiking to the pinnacles, a series of enormous sharp limestone spikes that tower above the vegetation on the slope of Mount Api. The hike can be done in 3 days and is considered one of the most spectacular in South East Asia. The wonderful natural terrain of Gunung Mulu National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured are the Pinnacles.

2. Gunung Mulu National Park

 

At the far north eastern end of Borneo Island is the 754 square kilometre (291 square mile) Kinabalu National Park, a large protected area centred around Mount Kinabalu, at 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) above sea level it is the tallest peak in Malaysia and the 20th most prominent mountain in the world. One of the highlights of the park is to hike to the peak of Mount Kinabalu. Taking around two days to reach the summit, visitors who wish to do this are required to apply for a permit beforehand, book accommodation along the trail and be accompanied by a guide at all times. The protected landscape of the national park, home to 4,500 species of flora and fauna including 100 mammal species is one of the most important biological sites in the world, as such it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site of outstanding universal value.

1. Mount Kinabaluh

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