Malaysia: Main Sights
Asia's Rising Star
Attractions in Malaysia stretch across the horizon and dazzle the scores of international visitors arriving daily throughout its cities. Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur is the second tallest building in the country and stand as a beautifully designed testament to modern Malaysia. Both the National Mosque and Kuala Lumpur Railway Station are other great examples of the city's unique architectural culture. However things to do in Malaysia aren't restricted to the city limits; Malaysia's bountiful array of natural attractions are even more beckoning. Mt Kinabalu towers over the Malay landscape which includes the Sepilok Forest Reserve and the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and Sipadan Island. Other great island attractions are Tioman, Langkawi, and Perhentian islands all of which are nearly deserted by visitors over monsoons season November to January. One of the world's largest limestone caves is visitable at Niah National Park.
The Batu Caves were discovered over 100 years ago and are now one of Kuala Lumpur’s most visited sites. Located in an area of outstanding beauty, the caves contain stalactites and stalagmites, and impressive fauna and flora. There are three main caves and numerous smaller ones. The most famous is the Temple Cave and is only accessible by a 272-step climb. Below it is the Dark Cave, a vast network of caverns inhabited by several indigenous species of animals. Discovered by the American explorer William Hornaby in 1878, the Batu Caves are also an important Hindu shrine, attracting as many as 80,000 devotees during the holy festival of Thaipusam which takes place in January or February every year.
Cameron Highlands is the largest and most famous hill resort of Malaysia. Discovered by a British surveyor, William Cameron in 1885, this highland paradise still retains much of the charm of an English village. Cameron Highlands is famous for its breathtaking scenery with cool-lush mountains peaks, waterfalls, tea plantations, and terraces of vegetable, fruit and flower gardens. The hill station has an altitude of 1500 m. Cameron Highlands is the smallest district in the state of Pahang. Although it is in Pahang, its two main exits go to Tapah and Ipoh in the state of Perak. It is made up of 3 main townships at different altitudes. The lowest is Ringlet, 1,200 metres above sea level situated near Bertam Valley where the soil is rich thus making this area the main agricultural centre of the highlands. Further up is Tanah Rata, which is the principal township where the banks and government offices are located. Next is Brinchang, which is about 15 minutes drive from Tanah Rata. Most of the hotels and petrol pumps are located here. Cameron offers plenty of opportunities to tourists such as mountain hiking, jungle trekking, and golf.
Endau Rompin National Park
Endau Rompin is one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests. The park covers 80,000 hectares of virgin jungle, which straddles the states of Pahang and Johor. Endau Rompin has remained virtually unchanged through the millennia. It boasts some of the most exotic species ever found. Here, its flora and fauna have evolved into a unique eco-system of exotic species found nowhere else on earth. This nature reserve offers a whole spectrum of activities for the adventurous, including camping, jungle trekking, bird watching, boating and fishing.
Genting Highlands is a hill top resort near Kuala Lumpur, famous for its casino, and golf course. At 2,000m above sea level, it offers a cool respite from Malaysia's capital city combined with all of the excitement, luxury, and entertainment of an international resort destination. It is the most developed hill resort of Malaysia. Genting Highlands is also known as the Las Vegas of Malaysia as it is the only land-based casino permitted by Malaysian law. It is part of the Genting Group. Besides the casino, this resort also features many hotels owned by Genting subsidiaries. One of them, First World Hotel has 6,300 rooms, making it the largest hotel in the world. Other facilities in this resort include a theme park, golf course, sky diving simulator and many other diversions.
Over the last decade the Malaysian island resort of Langkawi has emerged as a popular Asian holiday destination. Over 100 islands make up an archipelago where the largest island of Langkawi boasts an ever-increasing array of hotels, restaurants and nightlife options. What brought the first holidaymakers here (the starched white beaches, swaying palms and balmy waters) are still the impressive main attractions. Beyond the beach, there is still plenty to do, whether it is exploring the main town of Kuah with its shopping malls and busy tourist industry, or heading out to explore the more undeveloped parts of the islands where the local Malay culture is still alive and thriving. A number of activities and watersports can also be arranged by the resort hotels. Day trips ferry tourists out to some of the other islands in the Langkawi chain. Tours leave regularly from Kuah and Pantai Cenang, taking in a few different islands in one day, with the opportunity to get ashore and the chance to snorkel too. Private charters are also available for groups. Sailings can be curtailed outside the dry season.
Mount Kinabalu rises from the Kinabalu National Park at an impressive 4,101m, the highest mountain between the white peaks of the Himalayas and those of New Guinea. Despite its formidable height, it is a comparatively easy climb that has been enjoyed by tourists of varying ages and fitness levels and takes two to three days.
Niah National Park and Niah Caves
The Great Cave of Niah is one of the largest limestone caves in the world, and an archaeological treasure house. It was here that archaeologists discovered the evidence of man’s existence dating back 40,000 years. A display of tools, rock paintings and human skulls tell the story of ancient civilisations. The rest of the park is dominated by limestone vegetation and the magnificent Gunung Sabis peak at 388m.
Penang is one of Southeast Asia's most popular island resorts and with good reason. This Malaysian island paradise has been a trading hotspot for centuries, but these days it is tourists who come to soak up the sun and the history while they explore a varied tropical island. Penang is an oasis of Buddhist temples, warm seas, sandy beaches and excellent cuisine. The capital of Georgetown is the hub of island life, but it is to the hotels and resorts of Batu Ferringhi, Penang's most famous resort town, that most holidaymakers head. Penang is popular with Western Europeans, who come to the resort island to enjoy the year round warmth. Penang suits everyone from 18-35 year-old travellers looking for a relaxed party atmosphere, through to more mature visitors in search of culture and history, right through to families seeking a beach holiday. See our OK Alpha holiday guide for Penang!
Petronas Twin Towers
Standing 452m tall, the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur was the tallest building in the world until Taipei's 101 was built measuring 508m. Other projects for even taller buildings are currently underway and are likely to push Petronas further down the list in coming years. Nevertheless, the development also includes a 50 acre park designed by the late Brazilian landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx, a retail complex and an entertainment centre. Completed in 1997 and designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates, the building consists of two similarly shaped towers joined by a 58m Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors. Entrance is free but visitors do a need a ticket of which a limite number are issued each day.
Taman Negara National Park
Taman Negara National Park is one of the world's oldest tropical rain forests with a diversity of flora and fauna life, which has evolved over a period of over 130 million years. The park shares a protected area of 4,343 sq km amongst Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. One can see over 10,000 species of plants, 250 kinds of birds and mammals such as mouse deers, barking deers, wild oxen, and numerous monkey species along with evading species such as tapirs, elephants, leopards and tigers. Gunung Tahan, the highest mountain of Malaysia, is situated in Taman Negara. It is one of the most favourable destinations for trekking. The other activities that you can enjoy in Taman Negara include fishing in the Tahan or Kenyam rivers and white water rafting in the rapids of Sungai Tembeling.
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Five pristine islands comprise this 12,100 acre park. The islands are: Gaya, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Sulug. Each is an idyllic composition of white beaches and offshore coral reefs hugging inland forests teeming with animal life. Visitors are welcome to camp, trek, swim and snorkel around each of these.