Backpacking to Malaysia can indeed be a unique experience. This country wins the hearts of its tourists in various ways. With each visit, a visitor feels there is something new worth discovering. Beauty resides here in different avenues – from the skyline of Kuala Lumpur to the golden beaches of the Perhentian Islands.
Here, one has the option of spending a day wandering through the beautiful tea plantations or trekking through the enormous parks of Gunung Mulu and Taman Negara. Indeed, the options at your disposal are enormous. This backpacking travel guide to Malaysia tells you all that this country has to offer along with the ways of making your travel extremely efficient.
How to reach
If you happen to be arriving from outside Asia, the best option is to land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Some of the best prices are offered by Malaysia Airlines and Emirates (which flies via Dubai). You may choose other airlines but they will cost you more and will stop at Kuala Lumpur anyway. You can also try this Singapore Malaysia itinerary.
Traveling around Malaysia
One of the best ways of exploring this country is through a bus. The buses are air-conditioned and provide panoramic views. However, if you are bound by time, you may use the domestic flights which are relatively cheap. Driving around the country is another great option because the infrastructure is excellent and a car ride offers beautiful views.
Visa requirements for Malaysia
As of now, tourists entering Malaysia do not require a visa if they are coming for business or tourism for a period of 90 days or less. However, if you happen to be staying for a period of more than 90 days, it’s preferable to visit the Malaysian Diplomatic Mission in your respective country to procure the required visa.
What to wear in Malaysia
When planning a holiday in Malaysia, or a backpacking trip, it’s best to dress conservatively because Malaysia is a predominantly Islamic country. Try to avoid exposing too much skin. Jeans and t-shirts are fine, however, shorts or skirts should be worn just below the knees. This will save you the agony of unwanted stares and undesired attention.
Conducting transactions in Malaysia
Malaysia accepts any kind of international cards, as long as they are Visa or MasterCard. While travelling to rural areas, it’s always best to carry cash with you. Some places may accept US dollars as payment. Traveler’s checks should be avoided because they are harder to exchange and come with a huge fee.
Where to go backpacking
- Kedah- As you enter Malaysia, you will pass through the wonderful country of Kedah. This is one of the places which you must see in Malaysia. From the first European colonial streets to the mesmeric beauty of Mount Jerai, also known as Gunung Jerai, there are a lot of places worth exploring here.
- Langwaki – The serene island of Langwaki is seated on an ancient limestone shelf and is regarded as having one of South East Asia’s largest eagle populations. This is the ultimate place to pursue adventurous activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. Cenang Beach is another place worth heading to, due to the excellent opportunities it offers in jet skiing and other watersports.
- Penang – Penang was one of the first areas in Malaysia occupied by the Europeans and has kept its colonial legacy successfully intact. Strolling the streets of Old Penang is one of the best things to do in Malaysia. Scattered with UNESCO sites, it’s just like stepping back in time. You could also choose to explore the famed street art of Georgetown on rental bike. Of course, you must visit the Kek Lok Si Temple, or, “Temple of Ultimate Happiness” which consists of 10,000 carved symbols.
- Cameron Highlands – Cameron Highlands is another backpacking destination worth visiting. Here, the spectacular natural landscape, wonderful tea plantations and cloud forests wins the hearts of travelers. You could also learn about the tea making process. In the cloud forest, check out a flower by the name of Rafflesia (one of the largest flowers in the world).
- Melaka – Melaka is a three-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. The city itself resembles a small town in Europe and is an ideal place for hanging out. This place is dotted with old colonial building which are still in an impressive condition surprisingly. Indeed, your travel to Malaysia is incomplete without visiting Jonker’s Street, which lies in Melaka and is a great place to visit museums, indulge in market shopping and taste delicious food.
Things to do in Malaysia
- Street food: Any backpacking trip to Malaysia is incomplete without trying the street food. Different communities which arrived in Malaysia over the years have brought with them distinct styles of cooking, flavor and taste, which has led to the rise of a unique Malay cuisine. The best part about these restaurants is that they are quite easy on the pocket, and provide your money’s worth.
- Hire a bike: This is the best way of exploring all those hidden nooks and corners that lie on the winding streets. Moreover, the drivers in Malaysia adhere strictly to traffic regulations, so you can actually enjoy your ride.
- Learn the art of haggling: Haggling is a common and accepted practice in this part of the world, and also a lot of fun! Haggling in the right way will ensures that you receive an impressive discount on many goods and products.
Best time to visit Malaysia
The seasons in Malaysia can be classified as comfortable, humid, wet and humid. The West Coast and the East Coast experience a contrasting weather. However, it all comes down to which part of the country you want to visit. The West Coast experiences the best weather during October to March, while the East Coast gets the best weather during the months of March to October. However, the best time to visit Malaysia is during the months of December to January, as it receives perfect weather this time around.