INTRODUCTION

Endowed with a diversity of cultures, Malaysia offers a 'truly Asian experience'. Discover a delightful fusion of three of Asia's oldest civilizations - Malay, Chinese and Indian. A potpourri enriched with the indigenous traditions of the Kadazan Dusuns, Ibans and other ethnic communities of Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia, in the region of Southeast Asia, is located just south of Thailand and north of Singapore. It's not a really big country, but promises plenty of pleasant surprises. You can also experience the country's alluring wonder - colorful festivals, breathtaking skyscrapers charming heritage buildings, enchanting islands and beaches as well as a million-year-old rainforest with fascinating flora and fauna.

WEATHER & CLIMATE

The country is generally warm throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 21° to 32° Celsius in the lowlands. This can however be as low as 16° Celsius in the highlands. Annual rainfall is heavy at 2,500mm (100 inches). Weather here is mostly sunny… but it can be chilly, rainy or cool, depending on the time of the year and location. On a rainy day, thunder and lightning often accompany the heavy downpour which normally lasts for about an hour or two.

WHEN TO GO?

Malaysia is hot and humid all year, however it is best to avoid November to January which is considered the rainy season, particularly for those who wish to enjoy the beaches of Penang and Langkawi. For those who wish to view the turtles on the East Coast its best to visit this area between May and September.

CULTURE

Malaysian culture or Malaya culture is a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and various indigenous tribes dating back to more than fifteen hundred years ago from a Kedah kingdom in Lembah Bujang with traders from China and India. Heavily influenced by Chinese and Islamic forms of music, Malaysian music is based largely around the gendang (drum), but also includes percussion instruments, flutes, trumpets and gongs. A strong tradition of dance and dance dramas is prevalent, some of which are of Thai, Indian and Portuguese. Flowers form an integral part of the cultural heritage of Malaysian Indians for religious occasions, weddings, moving house, or welcoming an important guest.

PLACES TO VISIT

KELANTAN

Kelantan-literally meaning "Land of Lightning"-is an agrarian state with lush paddy fields, rustic fishing villages and casuarina-lined beaches. Located in the northeast corner of the peninsula, the charms of Kelantan are found in the vitality of its culture and its remote, unsullied beauty. Kelantan offers plenty of opportunities for tourists such as river cruises, river rafting, bird watching and jungle trekking.

Little India

Little India is a riot of colours, from the saris hanging from shops to the snacks and sweetmeats on sale from roadside stalls. Find fresh milk, various Indian breads and delicious mouth-watering fare from the numerous eateries. What better opportunity to sample Indian cuisine at really affordable prices. KL's Little India is to be found in the older section of the city on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. Jalan Masjid India is the main street of Little India and the whole place is delightfully reminiscent of a Middle Eastern bazaar with the arrangement of its shops and items on sale.

NATIONAL MOSQUE

This uniquely designed mosque embodies a contemporary expression of traditional Islamic art, calligraphy and ornamentation. Its most striking feature is the multi-fold umbrella-like roof which symbolizes the aspirations of an independent nation. Standing prominently against the skyline is the sleek and stylish 73m high minaret. The national mosque serves serves as the principal mosque for the city dwellers.

Kuala Lumpur Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur)

Located on the Bukit Nanas hill in the vicinity of KL's hotel district, the Kuala Lumpur Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur) is the tallest concrete tower in the world; and the fourth tallest telecommunications tower after the CN Tower of Canada, the Ostankino Tower of Russia and the Shanghai Tower of China. Soaring 421 m above ground level, the top four floors of the Towerhead are reserved for transmission station for telecommunications, radio and television technology.

ORCHID GARDEN

Walk under pergolas, delighting in the exotic blooms of orchids or stroll through orchid-lined walkways! Buy a plant specimen as a memento of your visit to KL! Over 800 varieties of orchids, including the exotic species, thrive abundantly on this 1 hectare floral paradise. Cut flowers and plants are sold on weekend. Orchid growers at the garden provide practical tips and advice on the art of orchid growing.

SUN WAY LAGOON

Closer to KL, Selangor's premier theme park, the Sunway Lagoon, offers world-class recreational facilities for hours of family fun and excitement. The impressive Mines Resort City, once the locations of the world’s largest open-cast tin mine is another major attraction providing a comprehensive range of facilities for recreation, entertainment, shopping and business.

Malacca

Malacca, also known as Melaka, is known as Malaysia's historical state. Despite being the second smallest state after Perlis, Malacca has much to offer visitors in terms of cultural enrichment and historical sights. The capital is Bandar Melaka, translated as Malacca Town. Malacca still retains the flavour of its historic past in the streets, buildings and ambiance of the town. Attractions include the Maritime Museum with a life-size replica of an old Portuguese galleon, St John's Fort, Jonker Street - a haven for antique hunters and the Baba & Nonya centre - a blend of Malay and Chinese culture. Easily accessible from KL by train, Malacca is worth at least an overnight.

BUTTERFLY PARK

More than 15,000 plants have been used to create this tropical rainforest setting of this park. It houses over 6,000 butterflies. There is a nursery and breeding area for butterflies.

GOLDEN TRIANGLE

Golden Triangle is the part of the Kuala Lumpur lying between Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Pudu, Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Ampang. It is the most happening part of the city. Most of the Kuala Lumpur's shopping malls, five-star hotels and trendiest nightspots are located here. A small city in itself, Golden Triangle dominated by the tallest building in the world, the Petronas Tower. Golden Triangle is a perfect location for both the business and leisure travel.

CUISINE

Malaysian food is not one particular distinction of food but a culinary diversity originating from it's multi-ethnic population of Malay, Indian, Eurasian, Chinese, Nyonya and the Indigenous peoples of Borneo. Malay food is best characterized by its extensive use of chilli and/or coconut milk and frying method. Rice tends to be a staple food in Malaysia as in most countries in the region. Noodles are another popular food.

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT

Malaysia is a shopper's paradise. Since it is situated at the crossroads of Asia, it presents visitors the best that the region has to offer. It has rare treasures of the Orient, branded designer goods, and even intricate local handicrafts. The exemption of duty on certain items has also resulted in more competitive pricing and made shopping in Malaysia a much more attractive option. The Shopping Carnival, an annual sale held in March/April in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities in Malaysia is an opportunity time to pick up great bargains. Kuala Lumpur, the national capital, has a number of shopping districts. At dusk, a new facet of Malaysia reveals itself. Hotel lounges and clubs, frequently found within the larger hotels, are active at night. Nightclubs, karaoke (sing-along) lounges, discotheques, pubs, and cineplexes are available. Pasar Malam,another entertainment source, are night markets which offer an insight into the range of local food, fruits, vegetables, food tidbits, trinkets, cassettes, fabrics and even bedding and furniture.

TRANSPORT

Making your way around Malaysia is extremely easy, whether it is from Kuala Lumpur to an island or to Singapore or just on local services within each city.

By Air

The country's main gateway is Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) near the capital. Other major international airports are Langkawi, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

By Rail

The rail system is one of the best, stretching from north to south and from east to west.

By BUS

Bus is the most popular local form of travel. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned options ply within the towns and cities charging fares according to distance traveled.

By Trishaws

Trishaws, whilst mainly used for leisurely sightseeing for tourist are still popular but you must negotiate the fares before your trip.