If you haven’t been to Malaysia yet, you’re doing it wrong. “It” being anything from adventure activities, lounging at the beach, appreciating architecture and history, eating foreign cuisine, and/or experiencing cultural diversity. One of the most underrated travel destinations in Southeast Asia, this place has it all! Below are 6 reasons why Malaysia should be next on your traveler’s bucket list.
- English, English Everywhere – While Malay is the official language of the country, English is also widely spoken at a nearly fluent level. The only other place you’ll find that in Asia is in the Philippines! Yes, most cities in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc, that see a lot of tourist traffic make it easy for native English speakers to get by. But in Malaysia communication is notably easier everywhere you go.
- A Foodie’s Free for All – Crowned as the Food Paradise of SE Asia, Malaysia’s cuisine has something for every palette. Its traditional dishes offer never ending flavor and spice of varying levels. Equally abundant are Indian and Chinese restaurants, as those are the other two primary ethnic groups in the country. Let your taste buds run wild through the night markets and food stalls as you discover nasi lemak (Malay), curry laksa (Chinese), banana leaf rice (Indian) and more!
- The Melting Pool – America prides itself on being a melting pot of cultural diversity, but it’s nothing compared to the melting POOL that is Malaysia. There may only be 3 main ethnic groups in the country (native Malay, Chinese and Indian), but they’re all representing themselves with such pride and distinction that it makes for quite the cultural experience. To zero in on a specific community in Kuala Lumpur, venture over to Little India or China Town. Or simply wander any street to feel the whirlwind of languages, music, aromas and people rush all around you in time with the pulsating rhythm of the city.
- Jungle Fever – From white water rafting, to trekking and hiking, Malaysia is built for the outdoor adventurer. You can also enjoy a break from civilization by snorkeling or diving in one of the country’s stunning marine parks, or conquering Mt. Kinabalu, the 20th tallest peak in the world (4,095m). For the best combination of beaches, rainforest, coral reefs and mountain peaks, head to the northern-lying state of Sabah, located on the island of Borneo.
- Shop Till You Drop – If nature isn’t your thing, or you just need a good blast of air conditioning, Malaysia has no shortage of massive shopping malls. Kuala Lumpur boasts 17 mega malls alone! For a complete breakdown of its top 10, visit this site. From affordable brands like H&M to the usual high-end retail names, these commercial structures on steroids have enough stores to keep you window shopping for days.
- Travel Through Time – The ultimate mission for any traveler is to visit a different era. While it’s still not physically possible, Malaysia’s combination of world heritage sites and futuristic skyscrapers is basically the next best thing. Cruise through colonial times along the winding canals and 15th-century Dutch buildings of Malacca, or stroll the streets of George Town and its 19th-century British shophouses. Then, speed into the height of modernity towards the city center of Kuala Lumpur, where you’ll find the crowd-favorite Twin Towers and a host of other new-age structures.
- Rolling in Ringgits – The ringgit is the national currency of Malaysia. And right now, it’s going through quite the rough patch, which is bad news for locals but good news for tourists. With a conversation rate of 1 USD to just over 4 MYR, there’s never been a better (read: cheaper) time to visit than right now. Affordable meals, reasonable hotels and astonishingly cheap domestic flights abound.
So, what are you waiting for?!