Malaysia Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
Malaysia is a popular destination where you can see beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, exotic wildlife and fascinating cities. View our comprehensive Malaysia travel and backpacking guide with tips, ideas for the best things to see and do and information about itineraries, costs, how to save money, and more!
Activities & Things to Do in Malaysia
Travel to Malaysia
Malaysia offers so much and you will be sure to find something to match your interests.
Our destination guide aims to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this amazing country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice for amazing things to do and how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get recommendations for budget travel tips, where to stay and advice how to stay safe.
Get inspired to visit Malaysia today!
- Capital: Kuala Lumpur (Population: 1.700,000 approx)
- Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) $1 = 3MYR / £1 = 4.8MYR
- Population: 28,000,000 (approx)
- Language: Malay + English + local languages
- Area: 330,000 sq km (approx)
- International Calling Code +60
- Transport: There is a public and private bus service connecting the country, Air Asia provide cheap flights
- Tourist Visa: Most nationalities can gain a tourist visa on arrival
How to Get to Malaysia
Most flights arrive into Kuala Lumpur (KL) which is connected to worldwide airports. There are cheap internal flights which can also connect most destinations in the country.
Travelling & Backpacking in Malaysia
Malaysia is a small country but there really is a wealth of travel opportunities from trekking jungles, to seeing high mountain peaks to relaxing on some of the best beaches in Asia. There are so many spectacular places to add to your Malaysia itinerary like the Perinthian Islands, Cameron Highlands and the Taman Negara jungle - expect spectacular beaches and lots of wildlife including organutans. There is lots to see in Kuala Lumpur, you could climb the huge Petronas Towers or visit the Batu Caves just to name two. Some other highlights include visiting the Taman Negara National Park, sampling the local tea in the Cameron Highlands and visiting Penang and the World Heritage site of Georgetown.
Gap Year in Malaysia
Malaysia is a beautiful place to spend a gap year. This country is a lot less touristy and cheaper than a gap year in Thailand and there is tasty local food and spectacular places to visit. Also expect beaches and lots of adventure activities for backpackers and budget travellers. Malaysia is a nice mix of old and new, millions of tourists visit every year and head to luxury resorts but with our website you can do something a whole lot more constructive.
If you don't want an experience of just sitting on a beach our gap years will appeal to you. You could learn to dive in this popular Asia gap year destination, you'll also get to meet new people and get up close and personal to exotic fish and sharks! Another popular option is to volunteer in Borneo. Search ideas on our directory today.
Top Things to See & Do in Malaysia
- Visit the spectacular Perinthian Islands, there no cars and you can chill out, go snorkelling or learn to scuba dive
- Go to the Cameron Highlands and see where a lot of the worlds tea is made, the hills are spectacular
- Travel to the Kinabalu National Park and climb Mount Kinabalu
- The Taman Negara National Park is easily accessible and here you can join guided tours of the jungle and rivers
- Most flights arrive into the facsinating city of Kualar Lumpur - be sure to climb the Petronas Towers
- Langkawi is a great area to visit, there are lots of islands and beauty spots to explore
Top Cities to Visit
KL as it is affectionately know is one of the best cities in Asia, you can walk around quite easily, be sure to go up the Petronas Towers and visit China Town
The spectacular capital of Penang and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The capital of Sabbah with around half a million people living here. A great gateway to see more of Borneo and orangutans.
Malacca has beautiful buildings from the colonial era. Photo opportunities are around every corner.
A great stop off on the way to the Cameron Highlands, located on the west coast of Malaysia.
Food & Drink
You can eat relatively cheaply if you stick to local food although western cuisine is also fairly reasonable at prices. Food is very tasty and in most places western options are available too. Most local dishes are rice, with vegtables and meat/fish.
- Typical costs: Lunch: £0.60-£2:00 Dinner: £0.60-£2.00
- Bottle of Beer: Small: £0.90 Large: £1.70
Health & Safety
Malaysia is a very safe destination if you stick to the touist trail, there are some ethnic tension on the northern border with Thailand which you might want to avoid. Malaysia is a multicultural destination with Malay, Chinese and Indian people making up most of the population. Always be respectful of the local culture, laws and religions. Avoid drinking excessively and stay away from illegal drugs. Before arriving be sure to find suitable insurance/medical cover. Prices vary dependant on your needs although most have reasonable prices.
Malaysia Travel Tips
"You will find the Perinthian Islands probably the best island to visit, this is so beautiful whilst Tamanegara is great for jungle trekking. The Cameron highlands is a top rated destination high in the mountains. "In KL go to Chinatown and the shopping malls, some are so big they even have theme parks inside. Don't be afraid of the different culture, people are really friendly and you will feel almost at home"
"I went backpacking in South-East Asia and often gets asked what the best country I visited was. This is very easy to answer... Malaysia. There are so many reasons not least it has some of the best food in Asia. If you are planning an adventure to Asia then Malaysia is a country where you should definitely consider visiting because of the people, the food, the places, the shops and the cheap cost of travelling here. With six Malaysia Ringgit to the GBP and local food costing 1-10 ringgit, backpackers are always onto a winner."
"Check the foreign office before you plan your trip to anywhere. We intended to go to Langkawi on a cruise from Phi Phi but luckily we were advised to check on the foreign office website due to recent unrest; sure enough there were westerners being targeted by kidnappers at the land borders."
"If you are booking a bus to Singapore - do it in advance - they fill up quick!!! Especially at the weekend, we found out the hard way and luckily got a bus after a 4 hour wait - we had the last two tickets!! We hadn't pre-booked - much to the shock of the staff at our hostel who were convinced that we would not be going to Singapore that evening. They were nearly right; we got the last two seats on a bus to Singapore - it was a Sunday but its worth avoiding the hassle - as we did have to wait for four hours as well."
"The cheapest way to explore Malaysia is independently by public transport but sometimes this can be difficult especially if you want to visit different places or if you are either traveling solo or don't know the language. A pre-arranged tour is a good idea."