Malaysia is a beautiful country with a rich cultural history dating back to the Srivijaya civilization during the 6th century and onwards. In the modern age, one of the best ways to understand Malaysia’s historical past is to visit its major cities. Not only can you visit museums, but you can admire the nation’s modernization by exploring loads of attractions that have come up over the years. In this article, we’ll help you find places to go when visiting some of Malaysia’s largest cities so that you can both dip your feet in the past, and enjoy modern sightseeing spots that entice tourists to flock to the country year after year.
Penang is not only famous within Malaysia but throughout the world. Representing Malaysia’s gastronomical hub and featuring walking streets lined with traditional architecture that has lived on to this day, Penang is the ultimate destination for students who want to visit a city that’s internationally renowned. The capital city of Georgetown was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light of the British East India Company. Since then, this island has become a tourist hotspot, as much of the island features relics of its colonial past, intermingling with Chinese and Indian cultural infusions throughout the decades. The food in Penang revered by all Malaysians as being some of the best fare in the country. ‘Nasi Kandar’ restaurants, Hokkien Mee and Char Kuay Teow stalls, and some of the freshest seafood around make Penang a foodie’s dream.
How to get there from Kuala Lumpur: 4.5hr 🚌, 40min ✈️
Places to go: Fort Cornwallis, Kek Lok Si Temple, Batu Ferringhi Beach, Trishaw ride, Penang Peranakan Museum, Little India, Penang Hill, Chulia Street Night Market
Melaka is one of the earliest port cities in Malaysia, tracing its history to the 15th century when the last Raja of Singapore, Parameswara, fled to the area after an attack on his home village. Melaka is the center of Peranakan culture, a historical mix of Chinese and Javanese intermarriage which has led to a fusion culture and cuisine that is celebrated to this very day. The city was also invaded by the Portugese and Dutch, and these influences can be seen in the architecture of historical sites such as Christ Church and A Famosa. In terms of food, Melaka is famous for it’s nasi impit “square rice”, Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine, and Portugese inspired fusion dishes.
How to get there from Kuala Lumpur: 2hr 🚌, 1.5hr 🚗
Places to go: Jonker Walk Night Market, Stadthuys and Christ Church, A Famosa and St. Paul’s Church, Trishaw ride, Melaka River Cruise, Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum, Melaka Zoo, Portugese Settlement, Prison Museum
Ipoh was the 2nd largest city in Malaysia in the late 1800’s due to the abundant amount of tin in nearby mines causing it to become a large industrial city. Fast forward several decades and the tin is no longer there, but the city remains a bustling town with great food and sites to see. Ipoh is a great weekend destination due to its location. As the capital of the state of Perak, it is short 2 hour drive from either Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown so visitors have easy access no matter where in Malaysia they live. While you’re there, try out their famous chicken rice, dim sum, or torpedo soup (a soup made of bull’s penis) if you dare!
How to get there from Kuala Lumpur: 2hr 🚌, 1.5hr 🚗, 30min ✈️
Places to go: Kok Lok Tong Cave Temple, Lost World of Tambun, Memory Lane, D.R.Sennivasagam Park, Kellie’s Castle, Kwan Yin Tong Temple, Ipoh Heritage Trail, Gua Tempurung
4. Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru used to be a fishing village in historical times, but gradually became the 2nd largest city in Malaysia in present times. It is the capital of the state of Johor, and a stone’s throw away from Singapore. The state government has invested millions into turning Johor Bahru into a tourist destination by upgrading infrastructure and developing housing and commercial centers to attract investors. For many Singaporeans, a weekend in Johor Bahru is their favourite destination to unwind for the weekend.
How to get there from Kuala Lumpur: 5hr 🚌, 4hrs 🚗, 50min ✈️
Places to go: Legoland Theme Park, Firefly River Cruise, Ponderosa Country Club, Johor Zoo, Johor Old Chinese Temple, Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple
5. Kuala Terengganu
How to get there from Kuala Lumpur: 6hr 15min 🚌, 4hr 30min 🚗, 1hr ✈️
Places to go: Batu Buruk Beach, Chinatown, Bukit Puteri, Ho Ann Kiong Buddhist Temple, Crystal Masjid