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Holidays on the wild side

Malaysia tailor-made holidays


Malaysia is a fascinating country of two halves. On one side of the South China Sea lies the Malay Peninsula, where most of the population lives: a mix of Malays, Indians and Chinese. Here, the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur provide a striking contrast to the tea plantations of the cool Cameron Highlands,  while on the east coast, dazzling beaches offer plenty of sun-kissed relaxation. The other half is on the northern part of the island of Borneo, where the states of Sabah and Sarawak reveal a wild, untamed side. Travelling to both guarantees a truly memorable adventure.

Malaysia's Natural world

With its mix of jungles, mountains and coast, Malaysia's natural world is as diverse as it is spectacular. At the heart of the peninsula, the ancient rainforests of Taman Negara are among the oldest on Earth, while to the east, the sandy beaches of the Perhentian Islands are home leatherback turtles, who come to lay their eggs far from the crowds. But, the real star of the show surely lies across the sea on the island of Borneo, where rivers snake between verdant jungles and orangutans and proboscis monkeys clamber through the canopy as dazzling hornbills swoop overhead. And, on the coast, pristine coral-reef islands host a dizzying variety of marine life.  

Orangutans, Borneo

History, people & culture

Malaysia's location on the sea route between India and China made it a major port of call from traders and settlers. In 1405, the Chinese established the port of Malacca as a supply base, which in turn led to European interest in the region. Indeed, the Portuguese, Dutch and British each held Malacca for a time, while the British East India Company also leased Penang, which became another strategic post. It's all seen today in the country's wealth of architectural styles as well as the large Indian and Chinese populations, which make cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang so vibrant.

Penang, Malaysia

A taste of the country

Eating out in Malaysia is a chance to try a wealth of Asian flavours. Dishes from the three main communities – Chinese, Indian and Malay – and others inspired by the tastes of neighbouring Indonesia and Thailand reveal the sheer breadth of culinary influences. Rice, satay and creamy coconut curries are Malay staples, with beef rendang being a particularly popular dish. Banana leaf curries and roti bread are typically Indian, while noodles and dim sum are among the Chinese favourites. And, be sure to try 'Nyonya' cuisine, which mixes Malay and Chinese in dishes such as laksa – a spicy noodle soup. 

Street market, Kota Bharu


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At a glance

Flying time from UK
14 hours

Time zone
GMT +8

Ringgit (RM) = 100 sen

Bahasa Malaysia

Travel advice

Special offers in Malaysia

Eastern & Oriental Express

Eastern & Oriental Express: Wild Malaysia

9-day luxury rail holiday from £5,475 pp incl. flights


Sep / Oct departure savings – Save up to £1,155pp
Book by: 31 July 2024

Starting in Singapore, travel north in luxurious style, exploring the dense jungles of Malaysia's tiger territory, before embracing the rich heritage and cultural history of Penang.

Top itineraries in Malaysia

Orangutan, Borneo

Borneo Adventure

16-day tailor-made holiday from £3,275 pp

Spot wild orangutans and proboscis monkeys on rainforest treks and cruise past pygmy elephants on a longboat, all on this comprehensive tour of Malaysian Borneo.

Orangutans in Borneo, Malaysia

Wildlife of Borneo

17-day tailor-made holiday from £4,240 pp

Explore the best of Malaysian Borneo, from an orangutan sanctuary to the wildlife-rich regions of Kinabatangan and the remote Danum Valley.

Emerald Bay, Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur & Pangkor Laut

10-day tailor-made beach holiday from £1,515 pp

This luxurious twin-centre holiday combines two nights in bustling Kuala Lumpur with a private-island stay on Pangkor Laut, an idyllic retreat on Malaysia's tropical west coast.

The Datai Langkawi

Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi

12-day tailor-made holiday from £3,065 pp incl. flights

This two-centre holiday combines Malaysia's cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur with a weeklong stay at The Datai on Langkawi - a palm-fringed island paradise on the country's beautiful northwest coast.

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Top places to stay in Malaysia

Matsu Restaurant, Lone Pine, Penang

Lone Pine, Penang

Contemporary hotel

Airy, modern rooms and great sea views are among the draws at Lone Pine, a luxury boutique hotel in Batu Ferringhi, a popular beach town on the Malaysian island of Penang. Renewed and restored, this Eastern & Oriental property has retained the colonial feel that has made it one of Penang's most cap…

Beach at Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort, Malaysian Borneo

Contemporary resort

Gaya Island Resort is located off the coast of Borneo on Pulau Gaya, near Kota Kinabalu. It's a stunning setting of coral reefs and fringing golden-sand beaches, protected mangroves, dense rainforest and rocky outcrops.

Golden Sands Penang main building and pool

Golden Sands Resort, Penang


The Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La is a top luxury resort for families, situated on the stunning beachfront of Batu Feringgion the north coast of Penang, a twenty-minute drive from the pretty colonial city of Georgetown.

Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia

Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia

Contemporary resort

A private island paradise two million years in the making, Pangkor Laut Resort is an incredible jungle island escape of secluded, pristine beaches and ancient rainforests.

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Where to go in Malaysia


Malacca is perhaps the most obvious stop-off between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore; a place squabbled over by empires, which retains a sense of its colonial past.

Kuala Lumpur

It's been a hectic hundred years for Kuala Lumpur. In this time the former tin-mining shantytown has transformed into a heaving 21st century metropolis - a medley of mosques, museums and markets, temples and towers.


Few places in the world are as wild, remote and resource-rich as its third largest island, Borneo. Surrounded by the Java, Celebes, Sulu and South China seas, this eden-like environment combines some of the world's oldest rainforests and cloud-shrouded granite peaks with a biodiversity matched by v…

Perhentian islands, Malaysia

Malaysia's East Coast

Top class diving and snorkelling are among the charms of the Malay Peninsula's east coast. The east remains a less-travelled part of the country, but has plenty to offer - not least its stunning and largely unspoilt offshore islands, lined by some of the country's best beaches.

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When to go to Malaysia

"A tree with strong roots laughs at storms."Malay proverb Aside from Perlis and the northern tip of Kelantan around Khota Bharu, which have a short dry season from January to February, Malaysia has a tropical climate with temperatures and rainfall largely unchanged throughout the year. Daily averages range from 22 to 32°C, with temperatures in the hill resorts a little cooler during the day, and a comfortable 10°C at night. The wettest seasons are March to May and October to December, with monthly average rainfall in the range of 25cm. The driest months are June and July, with about half that rainfall. On the resorts of the east coast, …

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