Malaysia is a tropical paradise of immense charm – a veritable treasure trove of diverse cultures and hospitable people, exotic cuisine, fascinating festivals, quaint villages and the dazzling city of Kuala Lumpur. It’s one of the easiest and most family-friendly countries in Southeast Asia to travel in, offering a blend of colourful Asian culture, pristine beaches and wilderness areas. Malaysia is made up of two separate regions. Peninsular Malaysia is located off mainland Southeast Asia, bordering with Thailand. Peninsular Malaysia is separated by 650 kilometres of the South China Sea from East Malaysia on the island of Borneo.
Kuala Lumpur City Center
Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) is the heart of Kuala Lumpur, full of family-friendly attractions. There is a huge, free playground that is definitely worth a visit, plus restaurants, arts and culture, sightseeing, hotels and multiple shopping malls as well as the aquarium Aquaria KLCC.
KL Bird Park is located in the famously serene and scenic Lake Gardens. Known as “World’s Largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary”, the park offers 8.4 hectares of lush gardens to be explored.
Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world and a great spot for the kids to take in the city’s landscape. Be sure to visit the Sky Bridge that connects the two towers’ and the observation deck on the 86th floor.
Parks and Play Centres
Indoor Play Centres are in many of the malls in Kuala Lumpur. Some cool ones to check out are Kid’s E World at The Gardens, Megakidz at the Mid Valley Megamall and Malaysia’s largest indoor theme park, Berjaya Times Square Theme Park.
Petronas Discovery Centre is a hands-on science museum. Kids of all ages will be entertained with the many interactive displays.
Sunway Lagoon is an award-winning theme park 20 minutes from Kuala Lumpur. It has over 80 rides divided into six sub-parks.
Best time to go to Malaysia
Temperature in Malaysia does not vary a great deal, so a visit to Malaysia can be planned for any time. The average temperature ranges between 21–32 degrees Celsius and the humidity is high.
The rainy season occurs between November and February on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and on the west coast, the rainy season is from April to May and from October to November.
You need to have a valid passport valid for at least six months, or an internationally recognised travel document. Australians do not need to apply for a visa if they are only going for a social visit (three months only).
Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang is one of the major airports in Southeast Asia. It’s well stocked with public phones, ATMs, banks, transport hire and tourist information. A good choice of food and beverages can be found throughout with Western fast food outlets, 24-hour restaurants, cafés and bars. Duty-free items like cosmetics, perfume, chocolates, liquor and wine can be picked up in shops both in the arrival and departure areas.
Malaysia is located in the South China Sea, near Indonesia. Malaysian Airlines flies from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. Royal Brunei Airlines flies from Melbourne to Kota Kinbalu and Kuala Lumpur.
When taking a local taxi in Malaysia, make sure that the driver has the meter switched on. If he refuses and asks for a flat rate (which is usually considerably inflated) don’t hesitate to refuse the offer and get another cab if needed.
The main bus companies in Kuala Lumpur are My Rapid and Cityliner. Buses to other states in Peninsular Malaysia are Transnational, NICE coaches and Plusliner.
Food and drinks that kids will love
There is plenty of food to try in Malaysia, and not just Malay, Chinese or Indian food. Many restaurants serve Fusion cuisine, which has emerged from the world’s cultures over the past years. Why not try some nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk) or mee goreng (fried noodles with bean sprouts, eggs and prawns), nibble on some idli (steamed rice cake served with chutney or dhall) and feast on cendol (Indian-Muslim-style sweet cold dessert with ice, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup).
Malaysia is largely made up of Muslims so they do not eat pork and its products, nor do they touch alcohol. Food in restaurants is displayed as “halal” (prepared according to Islamic tradition) or “non-halal”.
Beware if you try food from hawkers’ stalls. Avoid stalls near busy traffic or unclean places and avoid precooked food. If the operator and his stall looks clean, chances are your food will be handled in a hygienic manner.
Shopping hours are from 10am to 10pm daily so there is plenty of time to hit the shops and get the latest bargains. There are plenty of Malaysian batik, handicrafts, antiques, jewellery, woodcarvings, pottery, songket and designer goods available and you can have fun bargaining with the shop attendant at bazaars and markets.
Tipping is discouraged in Malaysia, though most restaurants have a formalised service charge of 10% clearly marked on the bill.
What to wear
Light, cool, and casual clothing is recommended all year round, although Malaysian customs dictate that you still dress modestly. For more formal occasions, men should wear jackets, ties, or long-sleeved batik shirts, while women should wear dresses.
Dress neatly when entering places of worship. Ladies are advised to cover their shoulders and wear loose pants or long skirts when entering mosques and temples. No short dresses, shorts or singlets.
Remove shoes before entering homes, mosques and Hindu temples.
Greetings are acceptable with a smile and a nod. Hotel staff may greet you by placing their hand over their left breast, which means “I greet you from my heart”. Shaking hands is acceptable but kissing the hand or the cheek should be avoided. Many Muslim women prefer not to shake hands with the opposite sex.
Public behaviour is especially important in Malaysian culture. Most Malaysians refrain from displaying affection (embracing or kissing) in public; it would be appropriate for visitors to do the same.
Electricity mainly operates on 220/240 volts using European twin plugs with round prongs or English square plugs.
It is best to see your GP before you travel to Malaysia and get the necessary vaccinations. Visitors from yellow fever-infected areas must have a yellow fever vaccination before you enter Malaysia. Be sure to buy travel insurance before you go.
The tap water in Malaysia is not safe to drink. Drink only bottled water from bottles with unbroken seals, and make sure ice is made from bottled water.
The official language spoken in Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu with English as the second language. Various Chinese and Indian dialects are also spoken, along with indigenous languages in the East Malays.
Hello – Helo
Goodbye – Salamat tinggal
Good morning – Salamat pagi
Yes – Ya
No – Tidak
Thank you – Terima kasih
Please – Tolong
I don’t understand – Saya tidak faham
My name is – Nama saya
How much? – Berapa?
Redang Island is famous for its crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches. With great snorkelling – and plenty of tropical fish to spot – it is a water babies paradise and the perfect place to fill up your Instagram feed with swaying palm trees.
Langkawi Sky Bridge
This man-made structure stretches 125 metres long over the rainforest below, providing a brilliant view of the surrounding area. You need to take a cable car ride up to the top before you can access the bridge – but the journey is just as fun as the destination!
Various caves and temples frequently visited by Hindu devotees, the golden statue of Lord Murugan welcomes you before you climb the 272 concrete steps to the top and is the real crowning glory. The Kuala Lumpur skyline can actually be seen from afar on the ascent.
There is plenty to see and do in the beautiful Cameron Highlands, but nothing quite as awe-inspiring as the tea plantations. Imagine rolling hills of lush green stretching as far as the eye can see – certainly a great backdrop for your next selfie!