Bisected by 500 kilometers of sea, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo offer travellers experiences as divergent as sweet and savoury. The Peninsula is frenetic cities, art enclaves, tea plantations and some of the world’s best street food. Borneo is prehistoric rainforests, endemic animals, rugged mountains and some of the world’s best scuba diving. Like magnets, these two different worlds combine, to make Malaysia one of Asia’s most attractive destinations.
Peninsular Malaysia centres around Kuala Lumpur, once viewed as a second-class city compared to Singapore or Bangkok, but now fully realising its potential, becoming the nation’s commercial hub. The iconic Petronas Twin Towers dominate the skyline, but the real action is in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Bukit Bintang is a modern enclave with trendy restaurants and vast shopping malls whereas Pasar Seni exhibits Malaysian history and culture. While KL is Malaysia’s economic engine, Penang is its heart and soul. The island centres around Georgetown, where street food and street art wow visitors. The Peninsula also offers world-class resorts and beaches on Langkawi Island, and stunning landscapes dotted with tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands.
Just the name Borneo elicits awe and wonder. Headhunters lurking amongst the impenetrable jungle flora. The ragged granite peak of Mount Kinabalu reaching so high that it creates its own weather. The Kinabatangan River snaking deep into heart the of Borneo, its shores hiding pygmy elephants. Danum Valley’s lush jungle a setting for an Attenborough documentary.
Get a taste of Malaysia’s diverse cuisines and cultures on this evening foodie tour of Kuala Lumpur’s best eateries. From bustling food courts to roadside restos and cool cafés, indulge in a variety of flavourful dishes, including the famous celong, traditional Chinese pastries and a mouthwatering bowl of claypot chicken.
We’ve found a local family bakery to take Discova’s travellers to, well-known for their trademark wedding cakes and traditional pastries.
Head to the meeting point of two blue seas to spend three days experiencing the best of Borneo. Hike through rainforests full of life; swim, dive, or snorkel in the ocean; and spend evenings stargazing and dining in seaside restaurants.
Instead of heading to the beautiful yet touristy islands near Kota Kinabalu, such as Gaya Island, we take visitors to the quieter and equally stunning beaches on the tip of Borneo.
Experience the inimitable beauty of henna tattooing in this unique and personal session. Meet with local henna master, Ms Ann, a single mother who works hard to support her four children. Choose from a selection of colours and designs and have beautifully detailed works of art created directly onto hands and feet. The intricate designs use natural, plant-based products which can last for days.
As part of Discova’s Women in Travel range, this unique product has been designed for women travellers to help support a local, female entrepreneur.
Capital City: Kuala Lumpur
Population: 32.7 million
Language: Malay – officially, Bahasa Malaysia – is the national language, and Malay and English are both recognised as official languages. English is taught in all schools and widely spoken in large cities. Because the country is so culturally diverse, a range of secondary languages are also spoken, like Tamil, Chinese or Arabic. Many locals also speak a kind of creole called “Manglish”, a quirky blend of all of the above.
Currency: The Malaysian ringgit (RM) is the official currency. Money can be changed at moneychangers in most urban areas and tourist centres, but many of these only take crisp bills in good condition. ATMs are widely available, though not all of them are able to read cards with chips. Many hotels and malls will accept credit and debit cards in main cities but be sure to have ringgit on hand for more rural adventures.
Visitors from most countries are permitted to enter Malaysia for a period of 14, 30, or 90 days without a visa. Foreign nationals who do need a visa to enter Malaysia may need to obtain a visa or transit pass in order to travel through a Malaysian airport. A handful of countries are eligible to apply for an eVisa; otherwise, a Malaysian visa can be obtained at any overseas Malaysian embassy.
Malaysia’s weather is consistently hot and humid with little temperature variation throughout the year. Most of the country hovers between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, though the highlands tend towards cooler temperatures. The northeast experiences a rainy season between November and March, while it rains in the southwest between May and September.
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