Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Look no further than Malaysia, a Southeast Asian gem that offers a unique blend of culture, nature, and modernity. From the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur to the UNESCO world heritage sites in Penang and Melaka, this country has something for everyone. If you’re planning a trip to Malaysia, two weeks is the perfect amount of time to explore the best it has to offer.
I was lucky enough to have a friend who is a local in Malaysia and was able to show me around during my two-week trip. This was an incredible opportunity to truly immerse myself in the culture and discover hidden gems that I might not have found on my own. With my friend as my local guide, I was able to experience Malaysia in a way that most tourists never get to. If you have the chance to travel with a local guide, I highly recommend it – it truly adds a whole new level of depth and authenticity to your trip!
Start your trip by flying into Kuala Lumpur, and either stay the night or muster the energy to head up to Ipoh. Upon arrival, take some time to explore the city’s charming Old Town, which is home to a number of historical landmarks, like Concubine Lane which was built in 1908! The street got its name from folklore because rich businessmen would keep their mistresses there. This is a complete myth though, and there’s even a sign in front of Concubine Lane saying that.
Ipoh is a lesser-known spot in Malaysia, but its food culture is arguably one of the best. Better than the famous Penang, in my opinion. Head to one of Ipoh’s many food stalls or restaurants to try some of the city’s famous dishes, such as chicken rice, wonton mee, and kai see hor fun.
Be sure to visit one of the many Buddhist temples, like Sam Poh Tong to find an abandoned red pagoda in the middle of a limestone cave. The temple is colloquially named “the turtle temple” because of all the tortoises in Turtle Pond Courtyard. You can buy food like tomatoes to feed the tortoises, but it was a bit depressing to see them living in a bare and filthy space. Supposedly, they are revered and well-fed. There are also a lot of wild monkeys running around onsite.
After a couple of days exploring Ipoh, take a day trip up to the Cameron Highlands, a mountain resort area located in the state of Pahang that is known for its cool climate, strawberry and lavender farms, and tea plantations. Spend the day exploring the many attractions, such as the Boh Tea Plantation, the Butterfly Farm, and the Rose Center. In the evening, return to Ipoh for dinner and a good night’s rest.
For a longer mini trip, head out to the island of Penang, which is known for its delicious food, vibrant street art scene, and Peranakan mansions. Peranakans are a sub-culture in Malaysia where Malay and Chinese would interracially marry.
Spend the day exploring George Town, the capital city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk through the city’s colorful streets and visit landmarks such as the Penang Street Art, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (aka The Blue Mansion), and Khoo Kongsi, a Chinese temple.
Something to check out that is unique to the area is taking a tour at the Batik Craft Factory. Established in the 1970s, they manufacture traditional Batik’s, which is textile art.
Try some of the island’s famous street food, such as laksa and char kway teow!
Take a bus or train to Melaka, Malaysia’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the west coast which is known for its rich history and cultural diversity. Out of all the locations I visited on this trip, Melaka was my favorite. There are a lot of similarities between Melaka and Penang, but Penang is more touristy.
Melaka is a super walkable city and is home to a number of landmarks such as the famous Red Square and Red Church, officially known as Christ Church Melaka, Jonker Street Night Market, Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum, and Melaka Straits Mosque.
Be sure to eat some of Melaka’s famous dishes, such as chicken rice balls, anything with gula melaka, and cendol!
From Melaka, make your way to Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Spend your first day in Kuala Lumpur exploring the city’s many landmarks and attractions, such as the second tallest building in the world, Merdeka 118, and the former tallest, the Petronas Twin Towers. Go shopping in the Central Market and walk through the Salmona Link pedestrian bridge. In the evening, visit one of the city’s many rooftop bars or restaurants for a breathtaking view of the city skyline and enjoy a light show at the Symphony Lake Fountain in KLCC Park.
The next day, wake up early and take a Grab (their version of Uber) to the Batu Caves, a series of limestone caves located just outside of the city that is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Murugan.
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