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Travel in Malaysia is basically divided into six regions: the Northern Region, Central Region, Southern Region, East Coast, Sarawak and Sabah.
A place to be for a cool sea breeze.
"Is this for real, or is it a screen-saver?"
The Northern Region is made up of the two northern most states of Kedah and Perlis, Penang and Perak. Despite development, these agricultural states still retain their rural characteristic. The northern region has a rich history and culture and the visitor will find interesting places to visit.
Places of interest include idyllic islands, beaches, plantations, rainforests and ancient historical sites which surround the towns and cities.
The state of Perak with its rocky limestone outcrops was once the richest tin-mining region in the world. It also gave birth to Malaysia's rubber industry. Today its economy is partly agricultural and partly industrial. Agriculture is concentrated on fishing, vegetable farming, plantations and fruit growing. Industrial development has largely focused on small and medium based manufacturing.
As we enter the states of Kedah and Perlis to the north of Perak, the landscape changes into gentle rolling plains broken by occasional limestone hills. These two states makeup the largest padi growing region in the country, dubbed the 'Rice Bowl of Malaysia'.
Penang or Pulau Pinang, the first British outpost in Southeast Asia, is a favourite holiday destination for international travellers. Known as the 'Pearl of the Orient', this charming, picturesque state combines the best of the east and west, while retaining its old-world flavour.
The Central Region comprises the two states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. Selangor, with Shah Alam as its state capital, surrounds the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Selangor's main development centre is in the Klang Valley, which stretches from the city of Kuala Lumpur to Port Klang, the country's busiest port on the west coast overlooking the Straits of Melaka.
Selangor, literally the heartland of the peninsula, is the most developed of the Malaysian states. With its Multimedia Super Corridor, state-of-the-art Kuala Lumpur International Airport, smart buildings and industrial zones, Selangor is set to become a sophisticated state in the next millennium.
The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, which in a little over a century has progressed remarkably from its attap hut beginnings to a bustling, cosmopolitan city. However, this rapid transformation has not eroded Kuala Lumpur's intrinsic charm, and despite having the world's tallest building and other stunning architectural edifices, the city retains much of its heritage. The synergy of the old and the new is most fascinating.
Negeri Sembilan, which literally means nine states has a rural landscape with patches of urban development. The state is noted for its Minangkabau traditions which influence is particularly noticeable in its kampung houses and official buildings. Once an agricultural state, the economy now reflects a balance between agriculture and industry. Sipping at progress in a more leisurely fashion, this small state offers a surprising contrast to Selangor's rapid development. There are industrial parks on its fringes and its capital Seremban is slowly undergoing a change of façade. But the rest of the state remains a plantation oasis, reluctantly surrendering its greens and old towns to concrete and tarmac.
The Southern Region of the peninsula comprises the states of Melaka and Johor. Here, a sense of history becomes more evident.
Malaysia has some of the best holiday destinations in the world.
Patient turtle-watchers hold their breath as a great leatherback clambers on the beachsand.
Melaka is known for its historical prominence and its cultural appeal. This was once a rich and important trading post which have attracted many traders and European conquerors.The ruins of fortresses and derelicts tell of her glorious past.
Melaka promises an eyeful for the visitors. It is the place where those who are hunting for treasures of the past will be rewarded if they look deep into its quaint shops for curios and antiques.
Johor, meanwhile has a lot to offer. The state not only has fruits and oil plantations but also huge stretches of wilderness, beaches and coral islands which are popular with adventure tourists. This is the place to enjoy the warm tropics, unspoilt coral islands and colourful water flora and fauna. It also has a unique regal and heritage dating back to the 17th century.
Both Melaka and Johor have their own distinctive local cuisine, handicraft and cultural attractions and still retain charming heritage buildings of colonial and Anglo-Malay architecture of the last century which are well preserved and deserve a look.
The East Coast region comprises the states of Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, the latter two are very different from the other states in the Peninsula. Both have a strong old-world character. Kelantan is often referred to as the cradle of Malay culture and has strong Thai elements in its culture.
The main economic activities are fishing, agriculture and cottage industries Kelantan is famous for its crafts, cloth weaving and silverware, while Terengganu is noted for its fishing villages and its long, sandy beaches and unspoilt coral islands. Traditional recreational pursuits like kite-flying and top spinning are still very much living pastimes in both states.
In Pahang, one encounter a vast expanse of tropical rainforests, idyllic islands and the highest mountain on the peninsula, Gunung Tahan. In the rugged interior there are some fascinating flora and fauna in the nature reserves. Pahang offers a great adventure and eco-tourism destination.
Sarawak and Sabah
The East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, occupy the north-western part of Borneo, the largest inhabited island in the world. Both states have large hinterlands of rainforests, rivers, caves, islands and atolls waiting to be discovered.
The variety of flora and fauna and marine life is incredibly diverse. These two states are home to the world's largest primate, the orang-utan and largest flower, the Rafflesia. Trek up mountainous terrain to discover unique varieties of insect-gobbling pitcher plants, wild orchids and ferns, set to enthrall the outside world.
There are plenty of natural attractions to satisfy the most discerning eco-tourists and adventure seekers. Mountaineers will thrill to the challenges of Mountain Kinabalu in Sabah. Visitors to the great Niah Caves, sections of which are still being documented become pioneers in a piece of history in the making as the secrets of the caves are being unfolded.
The marine parks in the two states are virtually unspoilt havens for those who want a colourful variety of marine flora and fauna and clear waters to dive in. All this accompanied by good diving facilities and international class accommodations, waterways and rivers ensure white-water enthusiasts will get their thrills.
Those who enjoy boating cruises will enjoy exploring the banks of rivers to view their share of wild life in the wetlands.
Apart from these, visitors seeking a simple holiday can also enjoy colourful sights of native culture and handicraft. They will experience a taste of the unique rain forest way of life while staying in the precincts of parks or longhouses.
The sights, sounds and experience in longhouses deep in the interior is an unforgettable experience, that is uniquely Malaysian.
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