This country really blew my mind. To be honest, I had low expectations before arriving to Kuala Lumpur. A few travellers that I met told me that it was “nothing special”. Luckily for me, they were wrong.
Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia. It has one of the biggest economies in this part of the world and it is rich in ethnic and cultural diversity. Locals are known as Malay although there are plenty of different ethnicities such as Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians and indigenous people. The state’s religion is Islam but there is freedom to practice any other religion for non-Muslims. There is a wide variety of food thanks to its diversity. You can eat traditional dishes from India, China, Bangladesh besides the Malay food.
I spent 25 days traveling around the continental Malaysia, which is basically the mainland. I flew from Myanmar into Kuala Lumpur. When I arrived at the airport, I took a comfortable bus with AC towards Chinatown, where my hostel was located. Once I was came down of the bus, a heat wave hit me straight to the face. El Niño, a climate phenomena took over the weather in Malaysia, while I was there. The temperature and humidity that I experienced was crazy during that time. Nonetheless, that did not prevent me from exploring the beauty of this country and its people.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and probably the most famous city in this country. If you are or have been traveling around Southeast Asia for a while, there is a big chance that you have had at least one layover in KL International Airport. I recommend that you stay for a while and explore the place.
The main tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur is the famous Petronas Twin Towers. These skyscrappers used to be the tallest buildings in the world until 2004. You can see them from almost every point in Kuala Lumpur and their design is impressive. It is worth seeing them during daylight and during the evening, especially for the light show.
Kuala Lumpur also hosts the famous Batu Caves. These caves are an important image of Hindu religion in Malaysia. Inside of them, you can find shrines and monuments dedicated to different Hindu Gods. The caves are situated inside a limestone hill that has 272 steps and are guarded by a big group of monkeys that will entertain you as you go upstairs. It is very easy to get to the caves, just take the line of the train that says “Batu Caves” and you will be dropped at the entrance. There is no entrance fee and it makes a nice half day trip.
Besides the main tourist attractions, I recommend walking through Chinatown during the day and the evening to try the street food and your bargaining skills. I bought a few things over there that have been very handy for my trip.
I stayed in a dorm room at Le Village Hostel, located at the heart of Chinatown. Its a very cozy and laidback hostel. The staff is very friendly and helpful, specially a guy named Locky.
Cameron Highlands is located a few hours north of Kuala Lumpur. Its a different world over there. Malaysia is usually very warm and humid but in Cameron Highlands its different; usually the weather is fresh and “chilly”. The highlands have many alpine looking towns where you can base yourself. The main reason why I came here was to explore the famous tea plantations and go on day hikes. I stayed at Tanah Rata, a town located at the centre of Cameron Highlands and perfectly close to the tea plantations.
The best tea plantations to visit are Bharat and Boh Tea Plantations. Hitching rides from Tanah Rata to the plantations is very easy and common. There are many day hikes in the Highlands but one that is beautiful and worth doing is the one through the Mossy Forest. There are many maps and brochures in town that you can use (no tour guides needed).
I stayed at Daniels Lodge in a shared room with 6 bedrooms (not bunk beds). The place is very well organized, has a nice common area and a bar on the back. The staff is good and friendly.
Pulau Perhentian (Pulau Kecil)
After a week in the Cameron Highlands, I hitchhiked to Kuala Besut. From there I took a small boat towards my next destination: Pulau Kecil in the Perhentian Islands. Located on the east of Malaysia, this small island is famous for good budget diving. I went diving for four days and it was a great experience. The color of the water is beautiful and the beach is very nice but if you are not diving then there is not much more to do.
I stayed at Oh La La. Its a great place ran by a French-Argentinean couple. They offer really good accommodation deals for those who are diving. The atmosphere is nice and there is a bar with a restaurant next to the hostel.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most visited places in Malaysia. This island is located on the west coast of Malaysia and its capital is called Georgetown. The architecture in Penang has a diverse influence. You can find on the same street British colonial houses, Chinese style shops and Muslim mosques.
Penang is famous for its top quality street food and street art. It has been one of the best places where I’ve had street food in Asia. The street art in Penang is unique and has international recognition.
Besides the above, there are other places to visit whilst you stay in the food capital of Malaysia:
- The famous Penang Hill makes a nice day hike/trip. On the top you have the view of the entire town and the atmosphere is very calm and peaceful. I took a bus to the Botanical Garden and then hiked through a and then hitchhiked for the rest of it.
- I also went to the Penang National Park. This place makes a nice day hike through the forest until you reach a very peaceful beach. Make sure that you take enough water for the walk.
I stayed at House of Journey in Georgetown. The facilities of the hostel are in great condition and the staff is friendly. They have a big folder with a variety of plans to do in Penang.
Daily Budget: I stayed 25 days in Malaysia, spending an average of USD 15 per day. This includes only meals and accommodation. Transportation is not included because I hitchhiked all the time. Diving is not included because every diving package varies depending on the one you choose.
Visa: I got a 30 day visa in Yangon Myanmar. The visa application has to be done through an outsourcing company called OSC in Yangon and it takes 1-2 days to obtain it.
Hitchhiking: By far one of the best countries where I have hitchhiked. Distances are short, most locals speak English and are very kind and helpful. I did not use public transportation at all, just hitchhiked all the way. Loved it!
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