Malaysia is one of the most pleasant, hassle-free countries to visit in Southeast Asia. Aside from its gleaming 21st century glass towers, it boasts some of the most superb beaches, mountains and national parks in the region. Malaysia is also launching its biggest-ever tourism campaign in effort to lure 20 million visitors here this year.
Any tourist itinerary would have to begin in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, where you will find the Petronas Twin Towers, which once comprised the world tallest buildings and now hold the title of second-tallest. Both the 88-story towers soar 1,480 feet high and are connected by a sky-bridge on the 41st floor. The limestone temple Batu Caves, located 9 miles north of the city, have a 328-foot-high ceiling and feature ornate Hindu shrines, including a 141-foot-tall gold-painted statue of a Hindu deity. To reach the caves, visitors have to climb a steep flight of 272 steps. In Sabah state on Borneo island not to be confused with Indonesias Borneo you’ll find the small mushroom-shaped Sipadan island, off the coast of Sabah, rated as one of the top five diving sites in the world. Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising from a 2,300-foot abyss in the Celebes Sea. You can also climb Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in Southeast Asia, visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, go white-water rafting and catch a glimpse of the bizarre Proboscis monkey, a primate found only in Borneo with a huge pendulous nose, a characteristic pot belly and strange honking sounds.
While you’re in Malaysia, consider a trip to Malacca. In its heyday, this southern state was a powerful Malay sultanate and a booming trading port in the region. Facing the Straits of Malacca, this historical state is now a place of intriguing Chinese streets, antique shops, old temples and reminders of European colonial powers. Another interesting destination is Penang, known as the Pearl of the Orient. This island off the northwest coast of Malaysia boasts of a rich Chinese cultural heritage, good food and beautiful beaches.