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Everything you need to know about taking a luxury holiday in Malaysia

Malaysia is considered the heart of Asia, offering a varied and immersive experience that can’t help but make an impact.

By LLM Reporters  |  January 31, 2022
kuala lumpur
Image Credit: Taiga/Bigstock.com

When it comes to cultural diversity, Malaysia is one of the most vibrant and interesting countries in the world, with enormous cities including alleys where Chinese shophouses, golden-domed mosques, and Hindu temples vie for space. For many, Malaysia is considered the heart of Asia, offering a varied and immersive experience that can’t help but make an impact, and thanks to its spectacular natural beauty, including some of the world’s oldest jungles, some breath-taking landscapes and a fair few paradisiacal islands, there’s plenty to attract adventure seekers.

Not only that, but the nation also has plenty to offer luxury lovers, and from its lavish hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants to its opulent rooftop bars, it’s certainly possible to see it all in style. Unfortunately, one thing you might have a little more trouble doing whilst in Malaysia is indulging your penchant for high-rolling at the casino. A ban on casino licenses has been issued by the Malaysian government, but thankfully, if you’re visiting the capital then you do have one choice. Genting Group’s integrated hill resort Casino de Genting is the sole legal local casino in the nation, located in Pahang – just 50 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, and a train can take you there in no time. Its 426 table games including roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, Pai Gown, Pontoon, and an impressive 3,140 slot machines will no doubt keep you entertained for hours.

As a melting pot of cultures, Malaysia is home to Muslims, Hindus, Chinese, and Indians as well as the indigenous communities of Borneo, and the nation’s indigenous people on the peninsula. As you might guess, each ethnic community has its own own language, traditions, celebrations, and food, which is just one of the things that makes this beautiful country so interesting.

The food, of course, is certainly a highlight. One of Asia’s greatest cuisines is Malay, its allure rooted in the country’s rich cultural heritage, which allows visitors to sample traditional meals from Thailand, Indonesia, and India, as well as Malaysian regional specialties that combine the best of each. Meanwhile, the British Empire left behind the cherished custom of high tea, which is a blend of tea and coffee – so if you can’t stand the thought of a few days without your favourite brew, then you certainly won’t go without here.

Aerial shot over the Kek Lok Si temple in Penang Island, Malaysia

Malaysia is divided into two different halves. A land border with Thailand separates Peninsular Malaysia from Singapore in the south. Borneo, a massive island, is east of you. The Malaysian half of the island, which is divided into the island states of Sabah and Sarawak and is situated near Brunei and Indonesian Borneo, is rich in various habitats and animals. Outside Kuala Lumpur and on the island of Borneo, most of Malaysia’s stunning natural beauty can be found – and if you’re in the country, you can’t miss out on seeing its diverse range of natural wildlife.

How to get around the country

When it comes to Malaysian travel, one thing stands out: how simple it is to get around the nation thanks to its extensive public transit network – but if public transport isn’t for you, then there are some other options, too.

Kuala Lumpur’s public transportation system includes buses, subways, and trains that connect the city’s several districts, as well as free tourist buses that serve the city’s most popular attractions. Penang’s bus system, meanwhile, connects George Town, the island’s capital, with locations all throughout the island. If you’re in a major city or town, you may utilise Grab, the Malaysian Uber alternative.

If you prefer a little more privacy while you travel, then short trips within the city or to the airport are a breeze with this taxi app’s affordable rates. In Malaysia, taxis frequently charge per passenger and don’t have metres, so it’s best to settle on a fee before you get in the cab – or, you can opt to hire a private driver with a chauffeur, take a domestic flight or, in some cases, travel by private helicopter.

Of course, travelling long distances across the country can take time out of your trip, and leave you feeling somewhat bored along the way – so be sure to bring along some means of entertainment. A playlist of your favourite music, a mobile gaming app or offshore gambling sites that provide all the excitement of a land-based casino are all good options to help pass the time.

Satay – skewered meat served with a peanut sauce – is a traditional Malaysian dish

So, can you access a live casino in Malaysia? The good news is that the answer is yes. Although it is frowned upon, utilising regulated services online from another nation is possible, so if you’re unable to make it to Penang for the real thing, then you’re covered.

Kuala Lumpur

One of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia, Malaysia’s sweltering capital Kuala Lumpur is home to mosques, minarets, temples, and other religious buildings from the country’s Malay, Indian, and Chinese populations.

As the locals call it, Kuala Lumpur (KL) is best experienced on foot. In spite of the sweltering temperatures, wandering the city streets is the ideal way to see the hawker stands dishing up the greatest cuisines of this city paired with a Chinese market, a mosque, and an iconic building. From rooftop bars and culinary lanes to the Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Batu Caves, KL has something for everyone.

Perhentian Islands

Malaysia has a number of beautiful islands, but the Perhentian Islands are a standout for their ethereal beauty and spectacular aquatic life.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced diver, Pulau Perhentian’s crystal-clear waters make it possible to feel like you’re in an open-sea aquarium at any given time. The Perhentian Islands have something to suit all traveller tastes, with one island catering to backpackers and the other to those seeking lavish hotels and resorts. Whichever island you choose, you’re unlikely to be disappointed, as the Perhentians are a bucket list destination indeed.

Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple in Georgetown on Penang island, Malaysia

Visit George Town for the food and street art

George Town has risen to the top of Southeast Asia’s most popular tourist attractions after a long wait. Located on Malaysia’s northwest island of Penang, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, and it’s easy to see why.

Historic buildings have been transformed into museums and boutique guesthouses, as well as restaurants, amid the city’s rise in popularity as cultural preservation has linked with it. Amongst George Town’s many appeals as a top tourist destination in Penang is its dedication to serving up delectable street cuisine. George Town’s culinary offerings range from delectable noodle soups to Laksa, a Singaporean classic. After you’ve stuffed yourself silly, explore the decaying white buildings of George Town, which are festooned with large-scale paintings and street art.

Mount Kinabalu

Located in Malaysian Borneo, Mount Kinabalu is the country’s highest mountain. You’ll need at least two days to climb Mount Kinabalu, which is located just outside the city of Kota Kinabalu – the Malaysian part of the island’s capital.

It’s a difficult climb, but the payoff at the summit of the mountain at dawn is well worth the effort. It’s possible to see as far as the Philippines if you’re lucky. Regardless of the weather, the mental and physical difficulty of this trek is invigorating, so don’t let that dampen your spirits.