Where to Go (and Where Not to Go) in Malaysia

25 April 2013

Visiting Malaysia

It seems many people tend to gloss over going to Malaysia as a holiday destination. Thailand is usually the preferred country in Southeast Asia, particularly among student backpackers and those keen to do a bit of ‘living’ before surrendering to the inevitable securities of middle age. But Malaysia has just as much to offer, so as a way of tipping the balance a little, here are some places to go and things to do if you're thinking of a Malaysia holiday. Or are packing something up for shipping to Malaysia and want to find out more about where your parcel is going. You know, so you can be sure it'll be happy when it gets there.

Firstly, we recommend Penang which is both a state in West Malaysia and a separate island on the northwest coast. Penang is home to a tropical rainforest climate all year round, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the form of George Town, cultural festivals and street food that's worth moving to Malaysia for alone (check out Gurney Drive).

Of course there’s the capital city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with its magnificent Petronas Twin Towers - two giant, imposing symbols of Malaysia’s economic development, standing at the heart of the city like robot legs missing a body. The presence of Malay, Indian and Chinese communities ensures a healthy cultural scene and some exceptional cuisine too. However, the concentrated hub of affluence in Kuala Lumpur, surrounded by impoverished communities may leave a sour taste in the mouth for some.

Malacca in the Malay Peninsula is also a World Heritage site and boasts a rich variety of cultural and colonial landmarks such as the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum and St Paul’s Church. The old town in Malacca is a beautiful and undisturbed place to visit and counter-balance the extremes of the capital.

Perhaps an area of Kuala Lumpur to avoid is Petaling Street, a Chinatown notorious for its pirated merchandise and bootleg DVDs of films that haven’t stopped shooting yet. As you bargain with a market trader over a fake designer watch or an imitation handbag, remember that you will never get the upper hand. Every piece of junk is made in sweatshops for a pittance and whatever price the trader agrees, you will always be walking away with something you’ve paid far too much for. Plus, think about the extra baggage a spending spree will create (though, naturally, we'll be happy to help you with any excess luggage you may accumulate). If you do pass through Petaling Street, stop only for the hawker food.

As with many tourist destinations, you will find people driving around claiming to be taxi drivers. Hop into one of these without checking their validity and you could find yourself being charged ten times the original fare. It’s best to hail a cab rather than approach a man leaning against his vehicle, waiting for you to emerge from a bar or restaurant. The genuine cabs never park up unless they’re at a legitimate taxi rank.

So there you go. Have fun, stay safe and remember, if you find yourself with excess baggage travelling to or from Malaysia, have a chat with us.

Oh, despite what you may see in Petaling Street, Fast and Furious 12 hasn’t come out yet.