Malaysia is a popular travel destination but when many visitors think about where to visit in Malaysia, they settle for the big city of Kuala Lumpur and the beautiful beaches in Penang and on the island of Langkawi, leaving so many other best cities in Malaysia to visit.
The reality is that there are so many more Malaysia tourist attractions to see.
A diverse country, there are so many wonderful and attractive places in Malaysia. Not just in its pristine beaches and islands but nature parks too. You could spend months visiting Malaysia tourist places and not cover it all.
What’s more, Malaysia is very budget friendly, the locals are warm and welcoming and the food is inexpensive and delicious.
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Top 20 Best Places To Visit In Malaysia
A list of the best places to visit in Malaysia would be incomplete without the capital, Kuala Lumpur. It is often the first place people think of when planning where to go in Malaysia, and regularly features as one of the top cities to visit in Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur is the largest city in Malaysia, the major financial center of a melting pot of different cultures. This makes it one of the most exciting cities in Malaysia and shouldn’t be missed.
Things to do in Kuala Lumpur include a trip to the world famous Petronas Towers, taking a trip to the ancient Hindu temple at the Batu Caves, sampling some of the most amazing street food, visiting markets, mosques, theme parks, shopping and much more.
There’s no shortage of wonderful places to visit in Kuala Lumpur and you’ll likely struggle to fit in all the Kuala Lumpur tourist spots in a single visit.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur has two major airports – KLIA and KLIA2. It is also well connected to the rest of Malaysia by bus and train.
Top Attraction to visit: The Petronas Towers are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia.
Top place to stay: Berjaya Times Square Hotel – Click here for the latest prices
Read our best guides to Kuala Lumpur here.
Another popular Malaysia tourist spots is the state of Penang. This state offers many Malaysia places to visit for both first time and return visitors as it’s quite diverse.
There’s a multicultural mix of influences and plenty of beaches, interesting architecture and affordable resort style accommodation. It’s also one of the best places in Malaysia to eat, offering some of the best cheap food.
Penang is home to important and culturally significant temples like Lok Si Temple, as well as British colonial leftovers like Fort Cornwallis, dating back to the 18th century when Penang was occupied by the British, as well as the historic George Town.
There’s so much to see and do in Penang, making it one of the best places in Malaysia and somewhere you should add to your list of what to see in Malaysia!
Getting to Penang: You can get to Penang by train, bus or plane. From Kuala Lumpur, flying is the quickest way to get there.
Top Attraction to visit: George Town
Top place to stay: Shangri La Rasa Sayang – Click here for the latest prices
Read our best guides to Penang here.
Melaka (also known as Malacca)
One of the other places to see in Malaysia is Melaka. This is also one of the top historical places in Malaysia to visit.
This is a very pretty city and one of Malaysia points of interest for those interested in theology. The city is dotted with numerous churches like St Paul’s church, as well as temples and mosques, thanks to its rich cultural past.
There are also numerous other heritage sites around the city. What’s more, it’s a super easy place to explore on foot or on a trishaw.
Two of the major attractions in Melaka are the A Famosa Resort and the Dutch town of Stadthuys. Jonker Street is where you’ll find many of the main attractions. You’ll also want to visit Melaka River and the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum.
Getting to Melaka: You can get there by plane, bus, car and boat.
Top Attraction to visit: Jonker Street
Top place to stay: Swiss-Garden Hotel Melaka – Click here for the latest prices
Johor Bahru is one of the easy places to go in Malaysia from Singapore as it’s just across the border.
While not necessarily being one of the Malaysia holiday destinations, it’s still worth a visit, particularly if you are in Singapore. The city offers visitors several attractions including a mix of museums and natural landmarks like the Gunung Ledang National Park and Gunung Lambak.
For families with young kids, there’s also the famous Legoland which makes the city one of the best places to visit in Malaysia with family.
Other attractions include the traditional Kukup Fishing Village. You can also explore the shops and restaurants at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee.
As the city is also just across the border from Singapore, it’s one of the best place to visit in Malaysia for a one day trip.
Getting to Johor Bahru: Get there by plane, bus, car and boat.
Top Attraction to visit: Legoland Malaysia
Top place to stay: Hotel Jen – Click here for the latest prices
To escape the city life in Kuala Lumpur and the heat at lower altitudes, Malaysians go to The Cameron Highlands. It’s easy to see why.
The Cameron Highlands is a beautiful destination located high in the hills with rolling tea plantations, places of worship, museums and more. It’s also home to the highest point in Malaysia – Gunung Brinchang, as well as many beautiful hiking trails.
The higher altitude makes it a great place to cool down in tropical Malaysia, and with plenty of places to eat, drink and stay to suit all different budgets, it makes for a great place to see in Malaysia.
Getting to Cameron Highlands: The best way to get to the Cameron Highlands is by bus or hiring a car.
Top Attraction to visit: Boh Tea Plantation
Top place to stay: Nova Highlands Resort and Residence – Click here for the latest prices
When we visited Ipoh, we didn’t know what to expect. We ended up loving it. Ipoh is the state capital of Perak and a fantastic destination for a short getaway with plenty of interesting places in Malaysia located in this city.
There’s the unfinished Kellie’s Castle to explore, Tempurung Cave, the popular Sunway Lost World Of Tambun (great for families) and much more. The Old Town area is a fabulous place to walk around with cute alleyways and numerous street art to find and enjoy.
Plus, there’s Ipoh’s famous white coffee – a must try.
Ipoh is also a gateway to the above Cameron Highlands. If you’re wondering where to go in Malaysia for short trip, Ipoh is somewhere to consider.
Getting to Ipoh: The best way to get there is train, bus or hiring a car. You can also fly.
Top Attraction to visit: Old Town street art
Top place to stay: Regalodge – Click here for the latest prices
Kuala Kangsar is a royal capital and as such there is some amazing architecture to see and explore. When we visited, we found the city quiet yet still with a commanding presence owing to the grand buildings.
This is a town of palaces, and there are plenty to view like the Istana Iskandariah, the Istana Kenangan (constructed of wood), and the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery.
The major draw-card of this town is definitely the pretty architecture. There aren’t many attractions, but it does make a nice Malaysia tourist destination for a day trip.
Getting to Kuala Kangsar: You can get there by car, train and bus. The journey takes about an hour from Ipoh.
Top Attraction to visit: Ubudiah Mosque
Top place to stay: The Shop Hotel – Click here for the latest prices
Port Dickson is a popular destination from Kuala Lumpur for a beach getaway. There’s plenty of top quality resorts with particularity good accommodation for families. We found the Avillion Port Dickson to be the best resort in Malaysia for family visits to Port Dickson or the Grand Lexis if you want your own pool.
The resorts are generally outside of the main town, which is small but does have some nice restaurants and shops. There’s also some pretty beaches, but many of these are private.
There’s not a huge range of Malaysia attractions in Port Dickson, but there is the Tanjung Tuan lookout. Time is best spent here at one of the great resorts or the beach.
Getting to Port Dickson: You can get there by bus, taxi or rental car. It is about 60km from Kuala Lumpur.
Top Attraction to visit: Tanjung Tuan
Top place to stay: Avillion Port Dickson – Click here for the latest prices.
Read our best guides to Port Dickson here.
Langkawi is a Malaysia must see and many would argue the best island in Malaysia. Not only a beautiful destination with great beaches and attractions, there’s something to suit everyone in Langkawi on either ends of the main island.
Langkawi is actually an archipelago but the main island offers a range of different locations to visit and stay. Pantai Cenang is one of the most popular beach destinations and home to Underwater World. Other more peaceful destinations are dotted throughout the island.
Temurun Waterfall is another popular attraction in Langkawi, as well as the Langkawi Cable Car which takes you to the peak of Gunung Machinchang where you’ll find restaurants, shops and other attractions.
Getting to Langkawi: The best way to get to Langkawi is to fly. Flights leave multiple times daily from Kuala Lumpur and other cities.
Top Attraction to visit: Langkawi Cable Car
Top place to stay: Andaman Langkawi – Click here for the latest prices
Read our best guides to Langkawi here.
Less explored than Langkawi, but rated by many as the best holiday destination in Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands offer serene beaches with crystal clear water.
On these islands, there are no museums or culturally significant monuments, but rather pristine beaches, crystal clear water and beautiful coral reefs at the appropriately named Coral Bay.
This is the ultimate place to go snorkeling and scuba diving in Malaysia. You can also go jungle trekking and do activities like kayaking.
Although there’s not much else to do on the island, it’s natural environment shows the best of Malaysia.
Getting to Perhentian Islands: You will need to take a boat there. The main ferry terminal is in Kuala Besut.
Top Attraction to visit: Coral Bay
Top place to stay: Perhentian Island Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
Read our best guides to the Perhentian Islands here.
Speaking of beautiful places in Malaysia, have you considered Cherating? This laid back coastal town has some lovely beach resorts and guest houses, as well as Club Med is also located here – arguably the best beach resort in Malaysia.
While the main attraction in Cherating are the beaches and resorts, there’s other attractions to visit like the nearby Turtle Island. This island is free to enter but you need to pay for the boat there. It helps nurture endangered turtles in an environment where they can thrive.
The beaches in Cherating aren’t as pretty as other parts of Malaysia but the resorts are great and many are well priced. It’s a great place for a short trip in Malaysia.
Getting to Cherating: The best way to get there is by bus or hire car. You can take a bus from Kuala Lumpur.
Top Attraction to visit: Cherating Beach
Top place to stay: Club Med Cherating Beach
An artificial lake located in Terengganu, Kenyir lake is the largest man-made lake in South East Asia. The area has been developed as an ecotourism destination and the lake provides hydroelectric power to the region.
It’s also one of the top inland fishing destinations in Malaysia and a gateway to Taman Negara.
There’s several attractions around the like the caves of Bewah and Taat as well as Anglers Heaven, jungle walks and waterfalls. Lake Kenyir Resort is also a pleasant place to stay.
To access the actual lake you’ll need to have a boat to access the lake which you can organise with a tour operator easily.
Getting to Kenyir Lake: A 50 minute drive from Kuala Terengganu Airport. You can fly there from Kuala Lumpur.
Top Attraction to visit: The lake
Top place to stay: Lake Kenyir Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
Malaysia is well known as the home of the orangutan, and another thing visitors often include on their list of what to do in Malaysia is seeing orangutans.
One of the famous places in Malaysia where you can see orangutans is Bukit Merah.
The town is surrounded by a lake and located just outside of Taiping and it’s main attractions are the Oran Utan Island – a sustainable tourist destination and one of the top things to see in Malaysia. The town is home to another sustainable attraction, the EcoPark – an enclosure home to many native and rare animals.
This isn’t a cheap destination to visit, but this eco-tourist destination puts what they receive back into maintaining the environment, so it’s a place you can feel good about visiting. It really is the best place to see the orangutan.
Getting to Bukit Merah: The best way to get there is to drive from Taiping. There are also buses.
Top Attraction to visit: Orang Utan Island
Top place to stay: Bukit Merah Laketown Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
Kuching, also known as Cat City, is a port city located on the island of Borneo. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sarawak, Borneo. The city is interesting yet still one of the more relaxing places to visit in Malaysia.
This charming city is abound with museums like the Sarawak Museum and Cat Museum (a must visit in Cat City) and places of worship like Tua Pek Kong Temple.
It’s also located near some beautiful national parks like Bako National Park as well as Kubah National Park.
Getting to Kuching: The best way to get to Kuching is to fly. Several budget airlines fly here.
Top Attraction to visit: Cat Museum
Top place to stay: Hilton Kuching – Click here to see the latest prices
Sandakan is a small city with few attractions inside the town itself. However, it has huge historical significance from World War II. The Sandakan Memorial Park pays homage to this dark part of history.
The small museum and accompanying walk is dedicated to the prisoners of war from the Borneo Death Marches and commemorates those who lost their lives. This makes for a confronting memorial.
The city itself has plenty of cheap markets and places to eat, and is a gateway to other significant attractions like the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre where you can see rescued orangutans being rehabilitated. There’s also the Turtle Islands Park.
Getting to Sandakan: Located on Borneo, the quickest way to get there is to fly.
Top Attraction to visit: Sandakan Memorial Park
Top place to stay: Sabah Hotel – Click here to see the latest prices
Taman Negara National Park
You may have noticed a theme above – Malaysia is home to a vast array of beautiful national parks. Taman Negara National Park holds the title as Malaysia’s largest national park. This 130 million year old rainforest is home to a huge array of local plants and animals and offers plenty of short and long hikes.
Once inside the park, there are several attractions to visit including Lata Berkoh, which is a short boat ride and a place where you can swim. You can also opt to climb Bukit Teresek, a 334m high hill. The Canopy Walkway is also a must do – and the longest like it in the world.
Note that the best time to visit is during the dry season, which is between February and September each year.
Getting to Taman Negara National Park: You can get there by train, taxi or car. It is a 3.5 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Top Attraction to visit: Lata Berkoh
Top place to stay: Mutiara Taman Negara Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
A quiet destination in Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is a pretty city on our Malaysia tourist places list offering visitors several attractions and activities.
Kota Kinabalu is one of the top places to visit in Malaysia to go island hopping – but think relaxation, not partying. Gaya Island is one of the most popular, as well as Manukan which is one of the islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. These islands great for jungle trekking and diving.
In the town you can climb to Signal Hill Observatory to soak in the city sites and do some shopping at the local markets.
The access to beautiful beaches as well as nature treks make Kota Kinabalu a top destination in Malaysia Borneo.
Getting to Kota Kinabalu: The easiest way to get to Kota Kinabalu is by flying.
Top Attraction to visit: Signal Hill
Top place to stay: Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
Kota Bharu is the state capital of Kelantan, is a conservative city on the east coast of the mainland.
The city is relatively laid back with some interesting places to visit like Istana Jahar, a 19th century royal residence, Istana Balai Besar or Grand Palace, as well as other museums and mosques.
There’s also a vibrant night market and street art scene.
The city offers visitors a chance to experience a different pace of life and to see the cultural heart of Malaysia. As such, it’s one of the interesting places to visit in Malaysia.
Getting to Kota Bharu: Flying is the fastest/easiest way to get there, but you can also get there by train, bus and car.
Top Attraction to visit: Istana Jahar
Top place to stay: Hotel Perdana – Click here to see the latest prices
A list of the most beautiful places in Malaysia often includes Redang Island, and it’s easy to see why. This is most simply, the most beautiful place I have ever visited.
Redang Island is a mix of pleasant resorts and pristine, white sand beaches. It makes for the perfect relaxing getaway and best tourist place in Malaysia.
The main beach is Pasir Panjang (or Long Beach) and, located on the east side of the island, it is one of the popular holiday places in Malaysia for those visiting the east of the country.
While there’s not a whole lot to see if you aren’t a nature lover nor is there a big nightlife scene like some other islands in Malaysia, this is still a great island to visit for a calm stay and for cheap, beautiful and easy snorkeling.
Getting to Redang Island: You can get there by plane or boat. Several flights leave daily from Kuala Lumpur.
Top Attraction to visit: Pasir Panjang
Top place to stay: The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
Tioman Island was once named one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Despite being a somewhat popular place to visit, it’s easy to feel like you have escaped the world here. It’s relatively untouched and makes for a wonderful destination to visit in Malaysia.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs which make it great for scuba diving. Must see spots include Air Batang (or ABC Beach), one of the main settlements on the island, where you can find cheap beer and meals, and the Juara beach.
The Island is also great for hiking. You’ll want to visit Aash Waterfall, hike across the island from west to east, as well as visit Paya beach.
Getting to Tioman Island: You can get to Tioman Island by ferry or plane. Flights leave from both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Click here for full details.
Top Attraction to visit: Air Batang is the main village on the island.
Top place to stay: Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort – Click here to see the latest prices
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!
Read more about other destinations in Malaysia or find the best time to visit Malaysia here or the best things to do here. Looking for places to visit in Malaysia in 2 – 4 days? Read our itineraries here and find our ultimate article to planning your trip to Malaysia here.
Joshua is an Australian who has fallen in love with Malaysia! He explores Malaysia at least a few times a year and has previously lived in Penang.