Our picks for the best things to do in Malaysia
Malaysia boasts friendly people, amazing food, spectacular national parks, island jewels and a dazzling array of activities for both the adventurous and chilled-out visitor.
Real people enjoying real adventures: this is what international travel is all about. Budget Direct has tips to help you plan your next epic journey and some quick videos from our adventure travel bloggers to show you what’s out there – and how much fun you can have!
All the destinations and exciting activities featured in our videos can be insured by Budget Direct Travel Insurance – so don’t leave home without it!
#1. Go Diving!
Welcome to Malaysia’s Incredible Underwater World
Sipadan is renowned as one of the finest dive sites in Malaysia, but there are many others. Some can’t be visited during the monsoon season (October to March) but others are suitable year-round. Check with dive operators and hotels online for advice on the best times of year to visit. Here are a few more awesome dive locations:
Best dive sites in Malaysia
1. Perhentian Islands
If you’d like to complete a diving course in Malaysia, this is a perfect spot for it. The waters are calm, the marine life is abundant and it’s ideal for snorkellers too. Prices for diving courses are excellent value and there are plenty of reefs, turtles and fish to keep you thrilled as a new diver.
2. Redang Island
Redang sits off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the Terengganu Marine Park, accessible from the city of Kuala Terengganu. Excellent sea conditions are almost guaranteed between April and September and the island features a number of attractive dive sites. If you’re a newbie, you can take a very affordable four-day PADI (Professional Association Of Diving Instructors) dive course here.
Layang-Layang is remote and unspoiled, which makes it superb for those who want to see large marine species like sharks, manta rays and huge schools of pelagic fish. The quality of the coral is very impressive here. Layang-Layang is quite small: there’s only one resort, a marine base and a landing strip.
4. Tioman and surrounding islands
While some Malaysian dive locations aren’t really geared up for activities other than diving, densely-forested Tioman Island gives you more choices: you can dive, snorkel, paddle a kayak, explore the island and more. It’s a tropical paradise both above and below the water.
Diving tips for Malaysia
Whatever your level of diving experience or personal underwater interests, Malaysia has plenty to offer. The waters are clear and warm (27-31°C on average), the islands are beautiful and the marine biodiversity is world-class.
For wreck diving, head out to the Katori Maru, a sunken Japanese troop carrier from World War II. Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park is a good spot for easy diving in shallower waters, while Sarawak’s Turtle Rock offers spectacular reef diving.
The best time of year for diving in Malaysia depends on which part of the country you are talking about. The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is best visited from March to October, while optimum conditions on the west coast are between December and May. Sipadan and many of the other east Malaysian Islands are fairly well protected and many can be enjoyed at any time of year – but you’ll probably find the visibility a bit better between April and August.
A 1.5-3mm wet suit is all you’ll need in Malaysia – this equatorial country is warm in the water and out of it. Typical Malaysian weather offers temperatures in the 22-32°C range with plenty of humidity. Most dive centres will be able to hire out the dive gear you need – but the busier places do appreciate some advance warning.
The coral reefs in Malaysia are special, so look after them. Don’t touch, collect or stand on the coral and enjoy your marine wildlife encounters from a respectful distance.
#2. Mulu Caves, Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak
There is nothing like this place anywhere else on earth. The Mulu Caves are situated in the midst of tropical, mountainous jungle that’s interspersed with extraordinary limestone formations.
This is where you’ll find the largest known cave chamber in the world. Expect to see some bats too! The vastness of these caves is something you must experience for yourself.
#3. Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre
Sepilok has been in operation for just over half a century and continues to be one of Malaysia’s premier tourist drawcards. Around 70 orang-utans live freely within the reserve, and many started life here as babies rescued from palm plantations, illegal hunting and logging sites.
The orphaned apes are trained to survive in the forest and eventually released. These intelligent animals are an endangered species found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
#4. Langkawi Island
Langkawi is the Malaysia you see in glossy travel brochures: gleaming white beaches, hilly islands draped in rainforest and warm blue seas. This 99-island archipelago is sprinkled across the Andaman Sea near Thailand and offers snorkelling in crystal clear waters, hikes to dramatic waterfalls, night shopping and all the local cuisine you can handle. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but the few that are designated for tourism have more than enough activities to keep you happy.
Ready to travel to Malaysia?
Pack your sarong, sunscreen, favourite book and sense of adventure – the sun-drenched tropics are waiting. And if you’re looking for quality, affordable travel insurance for Malaysia, always remember – at Budget Direct, we understand adventurous travellers and we’ve got you covered.
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