Malaysia sits between Singapore and Thailand, literally and on the scale of how easy it is to travel.

The country is divided into two main regions, Peninsular Malaysia on the west, composed of Kuala Lumpur & nearby states.

And, East Malaysia, composed of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo Island.

You can enjoy many of Southeast Asia’s best heritage cities, natural spots, food havens and urban experiences in Peninsular Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur offers direct connections from major cities in Asia & beyond. It’s the primary hub of AirAsia, so finding cheap flights shouldn’t be hard to come by. There’s also the option to a bus or train and cross the border from/to Singapore easily within a day. Once you’ve arrived, getting to main tourist spots is convenient by land or air.

Venture to East Malaysia for the best beaches, diving & trekking. It is home to Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in archipelagic Southeast Asia (outside of Papua) as well as many beautiful off-shore islands.

Is Malaysia on your bucketlist? Inspire your trip with these must-visit places and top things to do for first-time travelers.

1. Kuala Lumpur

Location: Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Peninsular). Save on Google Maps.

Kuala Lumpur is definitely worth exploring if ever you’re visiting Malaysia. The capital city’s urban landscape, dominated by iconic KL Tower and Petronas Towers, is dotted with grand heritage buildings, worthwhile museums, well-maintained parks, revered temples, and mosques.

How to go:

Arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), the main flight gateway to Malaysia. It’s one of the busiest and most well-connected airports in the world with direct flights to tourist hubs in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia, South Asia and major cities in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Major airlines include Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Lion Air, Malindo Air & Firefly. The airport is 30 minutes to 1 hour south of the city center by land. You can take the train, bus or private car.

From the Philippines, go on a flight to Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Malaysia Airlines. Travel time takes nearly 4 hours. Flights to KL are also available from Clark, Cebu & Kalibo.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Essentials

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Malaysia Travel Essentials:

Where to stay in Malaysia (click below to see rates and book online)
Cheapest Rates | Best Reviews

Malaysia Fares & Transport

Malaysia Tours & Discounts

See also: Places to Visit in Malaysia | Kuala Lumpur Itinerary | Singapore Travel Guide.

To help with your trip planning, I’ve added links to the locations on Google Maps. Feel free to click/tap on the links posted. Then, use the “save” feature on the Google Maps app for easy reference.

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2. Penang & Georgetown

Location: Penang, Malaysia (Peninsular). Save on Google Maps.

Food in Georgetown, Penang is widely known as the best throughout the country and is reason enough to visit. It’s definitely my favorite place to visit in Malaysia. There is no place in Southeast Asia that can match its satisfying mix of old-world cosmopolitan heritage, relaxed feel, exotic allure, and lush natural landscapes.

How to go:

Georgetown & Penang Island is one hour north of Kuala Lumpur by flight. Penang International Airport (PEN) serves frequent direct flights KL, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Taipei & many domestic destinations in Malaysia including Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi, and Kota Bharu. Popular airlines include AirAsia, Malindo Air, Malaysia Airlines, Tigerair, Jetstar & Cathay Dragon. You can also reach Georgetown by bus/train/car, after a 4 to 6-hour land trip from Kuala Lumpur.

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3. Melaka

Location: Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Melaka (Malacca) is a former Portuguese-colonial trading port conveniently located between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. If you’re traveling to both cities by land, this heritage and food destination is worth a stopover.

How to go:

Melaka is easy to reach by land from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The bus ride from Kuala Lumpur usually takes 2 to 3 hours. If you’re coming from Singapore, travel may take between 3.5 to 5 hours, depending on the queue at the Singapore-Malaysia immigration checkpoints.

Melaka Travel Essentials

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4. Langkawi

Location: Kedah, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

If you’ve been to the best beaches in the Philippines and Thailand, Langkawi’s natural scenery is probably not going to blow you away. That said, it still is a stunning place to visit with worthwhile things to keep you busy for a day or two. What I like about Langkawi the most is that is easy to travel yet remains approachable and largely underdeveloped. It’s also one of the few tax-free islands in Malaysia where you can enjoy duty-free shopping.

How to go:

Langkawi is one hour north of Kuala Lumpur by flight. Langkawi International Airport (LGK) serves flights from KL, Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Penang, Guangzhou & Shenzhen, operated by AirAsia, Tigerair, SilkAir, Malindo Air & Malaysia Airlines. If you want to go by land & ferry, ride a bus or train from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis (6 to 8 hours travel time). Then, ride a ferry to Kuah in Langkawi Island. The sea journey takes around 1 to 2 hours. You can also arrive in Langkawi on a direct ferry from Penang or Satun in Thailand.

Langkawi Travel Essentials

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5. Putrajaya

Location: Putrajaya, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Putrajaya is home to many of Malaysia’s most impressive monuments. Here, you’ll find grand mosques, government buildings, and iconic bridges surrounded by manicured parks and a 600-hectare lake. It can be reached on an easy day trip from Kuala Lumpur or on a drive-by to the airport.

How to go:

Putrajaya is easy to visit from Kuala Lumpur. It is located between KL city centre and Kuala Lumpur International Airport. You can go by train on the KLIA Transit or by bus. Travel time may take as quick as 30 minutes or up to 1 hour depending on the traffic.

Putrajaya Travel Essentials

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6. Legoland & Johor Bahru

Location: 7, Jalan Legoland, 79100 Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Legoland Malaysia is one reason to visit Johor Bahru, located just across the causeway from Singapore. It is the first Legoland theme park in Asia and features many cool attractions including a Lego-themed water park, Lego-themed hotel, and impressive miniature recreations of many of Asia’s best-known landmarks.

How to go:

Most travelers visit Legoland & Johor Bahru on a day trip from Singapore. Travel time usually takes 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending on the queue at the Singapore-Malaysia immigration checkpoint. If you’re traveling from abroad, Johor Bahru-Senai International Airport (JHB) serves direct flights from Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Surabaya & Shenzen. Fly with AirAsia, Firefly, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, Sichuan Airlines or Spring Airlines. You can also reach Johor Bahru by bus or train from Kuala Lumpur. The travel time is 4 to 6 hours.

Johor Bahru Travel Essentials

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7. Kota Kinabalu

Location: Sabah, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Kota Kinabalu is a bustling yet laid-back city in Sabah, East Malaysia known as a gateway to Borneo’s amazing natural sites including Mount Kinabalu, Mulu Caves National Park, diving spots, and pristine jungles.

From the Philippines, you can fly direct to Kota Kinabalu from Manila on Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. Flight duration is 2 hours.

How to go:

Kota Kinabalu is 2 hours and 30 minutes easy of Kuala Lumpur by plane. Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) serves flights from KL, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tokyo and many domestic destinations in Malaysia. Major airlines include AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines & Malindo Air.

Kota Kinabalu Travel Essentials

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On My Bucketlist

8. Mount Kinabalu

Location: Ranau near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

9. Cameron Highlands

Location: 39000, Pahang, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

10. Perhentian Islands

Location: Terengganu, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

11. Redang Island

Location: Pulau Redang, 21090 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

12. Sipadan Island

Location: Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

13. Tioman Island

Location: Pahang, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

14. Genting Highlands

Location: Pahang, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

15. Mulu Caves

Location: Sarawak, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

16. Ipoh

Location: Perak, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Ipoh Travel Essentials

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17. Kuching & Sarawak

Location: Sarawak, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

18. Sandakan

Location: Sabah, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

19. Pahang Taman Negara

Location: 27000 Kuala Tahan, Pahang, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Pahang Travel Essentials

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20. Bukit Tinggi

Location: 28750 Bentong, Pahang, Malaysia. Save on Google Maps.

Beyond Malaysia

Singapore

Location: Southeast Asia (mainland). Save on Google Maps.

Singapore Travel Essentials

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Thailand

Location: Indochina, Southeast Asia (mainland). Save on Google Maps.

Thailand Travel Essentials

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What places have you added to your bucketlist? Have you been to beautiful places in Malaysia that should be on this list? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Places to visit in Malaysia

Malaysia tourist spots, things to do in Malaysia, where to go in Malaysia & more.

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.

Book your way to Malaysia

How much does it cost to travel to Malaysia? Click below to compare flight, ferry & buses fares posted on these booking sites:

BookAway12go.asia

Where to Stay in Malaysia

Click below & search recommended Malaysia hotels/hostels/home rentals within your budget. Remember to set your min/max price, travel dates, and sort by review ratings. I often book online with these trusted booking sites below for rock-bottom prices & convenient bookings.

AgodaBooking.com

Book sooner rather than later if you already have your dates set. Cheaper-priced rooms and hotels with high reviews tend to get fully booked faster, especially during busy days like weekends, holidays & peak tourist seasons.

Malaysia Essentials & Top Discounts

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Travel with ease & confidence throughout your trip. Get a data SIM card or pocket WIFI device! Access Google Maps and all your favorite travel apps. Share your travel stories instantly with all your friends. Click below and choose your pick-up location:

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