Malaysia Vacations

Land of the Hornbills!

Venture into a tropical world! Enchanting Travels offers private Malaysia vacations, which matches your interests and wishes.

Whether you wish to venture into the bustle of great cities such as Kuala Lumpur, delve into colonial buildings where you can experience old world charm with antiques and Chinese stores at the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town, or delightful architectural treasures – from a 17th century Chinese temples to an 18th century Javanese mosque in Malacca, there is plenty of culture.

Perhaps you are seeking more wild experiences? Then head to the island of Borneo, where two states, Sabah and Sarawak, are rich in diverse landscapes, from long rivers and white sandy beaches with underground worlds of coral reefs and colorful fish, to rainforests and national parks teeming with wildlife. Among the trees is plenty of birdlife, including the icon of Malaysia tours: the tropical hornbill. Nature prevails across the many regions, with delightful island beaches ideal for water sports and relaxation, freshwater and mangrove swamp forests to delightful tranquil landscapes of tea plantations and rice paddies.

Malaysia vacations are rarely complete without some authentic experiences with the country’s population of delightful primates, from the sienna-tinged orangutans to the proboscis monkeys. Enchanting Travels offers unique encounters that support the conservation of Malaysia’s wonderful wildlife, often in more remote destinations.

Unforgettable memories await you in Malaysia! Start planning your tour with one of our travel experts today.

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Best Time for Travel to Malaysia

Malaysia Vacations | Malaysia Travel Packages with Enchanting Travels

The best time to visit Malaysia varies depending on the region, as the country is split into two main areas: Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.

Malaysia is hot and humid for most of the year, and interspersed with tropical rain showers. The monsoon season on the East Coast is between November and February, which is at the same time when the west coast experiences sunny and dry weather. Conversely, the wettest months on the west coast are April to October, which are the driest months on the east coast.

The best travel time for Malaysia:

  • Peninsular Malaysia (East Coast) i.e. Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Penang, Langkawi, Taman Negara: June to September is ideal, but March to May and October are also moderately good months to go.
  • Borneo: May to September; February to April, and October to November are also moderately good months to go.

What to Pack

We highly recommend you pack the following: sun block lotion, insect repellent, hat, and walking shoes. Bringing comfortable cotton t-shirts with long or short trousers, is also recommended. In Sandakan (Sakau/Abai) or Danum Valley we highly recommend swim wear, binoculars, towels, personal toiletries, torchlight, leech socks and a raincoat!

We will be happy to advise you on your tailormade trip to Malaysia. Contact us for an obligation-free and complimentary quote.

Top 5 Attractions, Activities and Highlights of Malaysia

1. If you are a wildlife enthusiast then you will have plenty of opportunities to experience close encounters with orangutans, gibbons, rhinos, and even leopards during thrilling jungle treks. We highly recommend you visit Bako National Park in Sarawak, Borneo, which plays host to rainforests, waterfalls, beaches and the funny-nosed but hard to find rare proboscis monkey!

2. Let’s talk more monkey business! More off-the-beaten path, the second longest river in Malaysia, Kinabatangan River is just one of two spots in the world where you can witness ten species of wild primates! It is also home to Asian elephants and crocodiles, freshwater and mangrove swamps, and wildlife-rich forests.

3. Malaysia’s most iconic site is Petronas Twin Towers; located in the bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur, these were the world’s tallest buildings until 2004. Made with concrete, steel and glass, this architectural delight successfully incorporates Islamic art motifs. While in Kuala Lumpur, if you like shopping and fine Malay cuisine, then head to the entertainment quarter of Bukit Bintang!

4. Mulu is brimming with Borneo’s mysterious and magical side, with its mammoth, unique World Heritage site: the sprawling limestone cave system of Gunung Mulu National Park, which begins under the ocean. They are a special archaeological treat as they are believed to date back over 40 million years!

5. Venture off the beaten path for truly enchanting experiences! Explore Danum Valley, home to a pristine rainforest that has stood unchanged and untouched for over one million years and is home to an array of wildlife. Head to Semongoh or Sepilok National Park where many orangutans have been often orphaned at logging sites and due to illegal hunting. At carefully selected rehabilitation centers you can visit the rescued orangutans who are being trained to survive in the wild, and are released as soon as they are ready.

Want to receive authentic encounters in Asia? Our travel specialists will plan the ideal travel route for your private Malaysia vacation.

Malaysia's History

Imagine a fascinating confluence of ancient Chinese, Indian and South Asian Muslim cultures, liberally sprinkled with colonial influence! Our destination experts have traveled high and low in search of unique experiences to bring a slice of the Malaysia’s authentic history and incredible heritage to your Enchanting Travels tour.

Strategically located in the heart of the ancient spice route, it is no wonder that the archipelago has played host to thousands of sailors, adventurers, conquerors and immigrants over the centuries, and you could be next!

The story of Malaysia began nearly a million years ago when hunter gatherers roamed the rainforests of Borneo and settled near elaborate cave systems. Visit the heart of this tropical jungle where the famous skull of the ‘adolescent girl’ – the oldest, modern human skull, was discovered.

Bronze and Iron age people who settled near the coast are considered the forefathers of Malaysian Malays. In the following centuries, trade flourished and the Srivijaya empire controlled most of the coast. Hinduism and Buddhism greatly influenced the daily life and culture. An Enchanting Travels tour of Kedah and Langkawi offers unique insights into the traditional way of life, through visits to historical monument, museums and religious shrines.

Malaysia Vacations | Malaysia Travel Packages with Enchanting Travels

In the 14th century, the Sultanate of Malacca became the most prominent Islamic empire. Since then, Islam has had a profound effect on the country. Some years later, the Portuguese annexed wealthy Malacca which was later lost to the Dutch. Our Heritage Malacca tours include visits to medieval monuments, Baroque architectural wonders, bustling night markets and the colorful Chinatown, offering incredible insights into this UNESCO World Heritage site.

In 1824 Malaysia was officially declared British colonial territory, bringing in thousands of Indians and Chinese driven by the demands of the ever-increasing Empire.

Embark on a private heritage tour of Penang, to see the UNESCO Heritage site of George Town, where Cornwallis – the largest standing fort built by the British East India Company, tells tales of British colonialism and military influence. Or set out to discover a hegemony of cultural influences with a Heritage Walk in Kuching, another British trading port where White Rajah era buildings vie for attention alongside with gold-domed mosques and Chinese temples. Visit rubber plantations in Malaysia, which were introduced during the colonial era and today, produce nearly 46% of the rubber in the world!

After World War II and the popular nationalist movement, the Federation of Malaysia was established in 1948. Today, Kuala Lumpur, is an ideal example of harmonious existence between the past and the present. On your Kuala Lumpur city tour, our local experts will take you past busy streets where various ethnic communities rub friendly shoulders, and colonial buildings exist alongside ancient mosques and gigantic skyscrapers.

Your Malaysia vacation with us is completely customized to offer you fascinating insights into the pulsating heart of a rising nation, rich in history, culture and natural wonders.

Culture of Malaysia

Malaysia Vacations | Malaysia Travel Packages with Enchanting Travels

Malaysian culture is most inviting and best explored during your private, tailor-made vacation with Enchanting Travels! With such an interesting history and so much influence from neighboring Asian countries and colonial rulers, you can expect much diversity – from the architecture to the religion to the ethnicity of the country’s people. With your expert local guides on hand, we can tailor your trip specifically to the cultural interests you have!

People & Language of Malaysia

The people of Malaysia are a mosaic of Chinese, Indian and native Malay influence. The Malays make up the largest ethnic group, and tend to practice both Islamic and Malay traditions, and speak in the native Malay language. The Malaysian Chinese make up about 25% of the population, with three main dialects of Chinese languages being spoken: Hokkien, Cantonese and Mandarin speakers. The Malaysian Indians – who make up 10%, tend to be descendants of Tamil-speaking South India, who were brought in under British colonial rule.

The traditional Malay people speak Bahasa Malaysia, which has its roots in an Austronesian language. The indigenous people of Malay, known as the Orang Asli or original people, are found in Peninsular Malaysia and have several different groups with their own language and cultural traditions. The largest ethnic groups tend to live in Sabah, including the Kadazan Dusuns, who are typically farmers in hilly regions; Bajaus, a sea-faring community; and the Murut, who also make their living from hunting, fishing and cultivation.

In Sarawak, you can find major ethnic groups known as Dayaks, the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. Meanwhile, the Penang people are traditional nomadic people who move around the rainforest.

Religion & Festivals

Most world religions are prevalent in Malaysia, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam is the largest and official religion of Malaysia. The Penang people used to practice animism although many have converted to Islam or Christianity.

All major festivals from Eid, Chinese New Year, Diwali, and Christmas are celebrated, as are several Malay festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfitr, and Awal Muharram, as well as state specific festivals such as Sabah Kaamatan Festival and Sarawak Gawai Festival.

Architecture

Much of Malaysia’s architecture was influenced by colonial rulers (British, Dutch and Portuguese). Head to George Town and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur to witness excellent examples of British architecture; and Melaka Town for 17th century Dutch and 16th century Portuguese influences. Chinese architecture can be found in many Chinese temples and heritage homes that date back to the 17th century, especially in Melaka and Penang.

Many modern buildings have Moorish design elements due to Islamic influence and beautiful mosques can be explored throughout Malaysia. The indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak boast wonderful examples of traditional Malay architecture that is constructed on stilts, to ensure houses are cooled and floods are avoided. Some traditional houses can still be seen that were built out of wood without any nails, such as the Old Palace of Seri Menanti in Negeri Sembilan.

Some communities continue to live in traditional longhouses that can house from 20 to 100 families, and water villages built along riverbanks and linked by walkways, with sampan or canoe being the local mode of transport.

Crafts

Malaysia’s booming handicrafts industry is influenced by Islam, and much of the designs are influenced by nature. It is easy to purchase pottery, wooden crafts, bronze and brass work in most regions, and you can find everything from traditional silver jewelry to tribal head dresses! The native Orang Ulu are particularly noted for their artistic ability, with woodcarvings, murals, and intricate beadwork, as well as spirit sculptures. Handwoven crafts made from local plant fibers, and traditional textiles such as batiks (dyed materials) and songket (woven with gold thread) are offered for everything from designer clothing to simple and colorful homewares.

Music & Dance

Our private Malaysia vacations offer a host of opportunities to enjoy the diverse music and dance of the country. We highly recommend you discover gamelan and the nobat, the two traditional orchestras of Malaysia, as well as the rebana uni drums, the kompang (similar to a tambourine), and the sape, a traditional flute, for enjoying the native music of Malaysia.

Popular music and dance of Malaysia:

  • Datun Julud: Hornbill dance performed by Sarawak’s Kenyah women.
  • Joget: traditional lively dance with quick tempos.
  • Kuda Kepang: traditional dance from Indonesia.
  • Lion dance / dragon dances: energetic dance performed to celebrate Chinese New Year.
  • Bharata Natyam / Bhangra: traditional Indian classical and folk dances respectively.
  • Mak Yong: Thai-influenced dance to entertain the royal ladies, with much dance and drama.
  • Silat: Malay martial arts.
  • Sumazau: Traditional dance of Sabah’s Kadazan people.
  • Tarian Lilin: Delicate dance performed by women balancing candles.
  • Zapin: Islamic devotional chanting.

Top Malaysia Travel Tips – Culture:

  • Greetings: Malay women do not shake hands with men, only women, while the Malay Chinese shake hands lightly and for a prolonged period. In terms of who to greet first, it is usually considered polite to greet the older people of a family first.
  • Gift giving: Bring chocolate or pastries when invited home, and do not give toy dogs or pigs to children, alcohol or flowers and avoid leather products. Only offer gifts with the right hand or both hands, and don’t expect the gift to be opened in front of you. A gift may be refused before it is accepted by Malay Chinese.
  • Communication: Non-verbal communication is a major part of Malaysian culture, and so you should always look for these non-verbal clues that can at times be subtle. Silence is considered important, so always pause before responding to any questions you are asked. If your host is laughing at an inappropriate time, this may be because they are uneasy. Always remain calm and polite and avoid direct confrontation, which is considered hostile.
  • Dress code: Western clothing is popular and acceptable in Malaysian culture, and there are no rules to be followed but do be respectful and we recommend you avoid clothes that are overly revealing when leaving urban cities and venturing into more rural and traditional regions.
  • Tipping: Tipping in Malaysia is not a common or mandatory practice, however, if you would like to reward individuals for good service, you are most welcome do so. Most restaurants, cafés and bars already add a 10% service charge onto your bill, but for excellent service, you are welcome to tip extra.

Malaysia's Cuisine

Malaysia is ideal for foodie lovers. From eating seafood in all the coastal regions, including Kota Kinabalu, Penang and Langkawi, to a paradise of street food in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching, you will be surprised by the diversity that the country has to offer, and Enchanting Travels can create private, custom trips especially for those seeking culinary adventures!

Malaysia Vacations | Malaysia Travel Packages with Enchanting Travels

Due to the multi-ethnicity of Malaysia, you can expect a huge array of culinary influences on the food – from the native ethnic groups of Indonesia and Malaysia to the colonial rulers of Portugal, the Netherlands and the UK. Malaysia shares a similar history with Singapore so you can expect similar dishes in these destinations.

The staple ingredients of most Malay meals include shrimp paste (known as balacan), which incorporates garlic, and ginger. The spice of chili peppers, including the pungent bird’s eye chili, gives the food a kick, while coconut is used in all its forms – from coconut oil to cooling coconut milk. You can also expect a lot of soy sauce, lemongrass, tamarind, turmeric and pandan leaf (Asia’s answer to vanilla). Fish stock and dried seafood are used to add extra flavor, while candle nuts (similar to Macadamia nuts) add crunch.

Most of Malaysia’s meat is made to Halal standards due to the dominant and official religion of Islam. You will also find tofu in many dishes. Rice is at the center of any meal and can be found in an assortment of dishes, but there is a vast array of vegetables that are grown throughout the country, and especially used in stir fries.

Malaysia Vacations | Malaysia Travel Packages with Enchanting Travels

Fruits are also popular, especially as a dessert. Feast on fresh strawberries that grow in the Cameron Highlands and other parts of Sabah, or the notable durian fruit, which boasts several different species of varying colors. Pickled fruits are also widely available and are often encountered during your private street food tour in Kuala Lumpur or Penang with Enchanting Travels.

While predominantly a Muslim country, traditional liquor made from rice is also popular in East Malaysia.

Why not try a few typical and popular dishes in Malaysia?

  • Air bandung: cold and pink milk drink, flavored with rose syrup and very refreshing!
  • Ambuyat / linut: sago starch popular along the ethnic communities in East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), which is dipped into soup, sampal or other sauces.
  • Ayam goreng: deep fried and deliciously marinated chicken.
  • Bao/ pau: Chinese-influenced staple wheat based steamed bun, served with either a sweet or savoury filling such a lotus seed paste, or custard, or chicken and pork. Found at night markets.
  • Congee / bubur: rich porridge favored by Malaysia’s indigenous communities, and even on the menu at McDonald’s restaurants in the country!
  • Edible seaweed: popular in all dishes in East Malaysia.
  • Fish head curry: South Indian influenced thick and spicy curry featuring a braised fish head and vegetables.
  • Gulai: typical Malay curried meat and vegetable stew.
  • Ikan bakr: translating as burnt fish, this is usually barbecue or chargrilled fish marinated in a chilli sauce and accompanied with a becalan dip, and a great sharing platter.
  • Ketupat: delicious Malaysian dumplings, made by weaving a palm leaves around rice that can be dipped in your curry, often rendang, or served to accompany satay. Popular during festivals.
  • Kuih: Chinese-influenced bite-sized foods often relation to pastries, sweetmeats and confectionery, and popular for afternoon tea and festive occasions.
  • Laksa Laksam / Lasang: thick flat rice noodle rolls prepared in a rich and sweet white minced fish, coconut milk and aromatic sauce. Asam Laksa is the signature dish of Penang.
  • Mee rebus: A Chinese and Javanese influenced egg noodle dish, flavored with a spicy and aromatic sauce of lemongrass and ginger, and often served with prawns, mutton or dried anchovies, as well as sprouts and boiled eggs.
  • Nasi Lemak: rice steamed with coconut milk and pandan leaves, and the national dish of Malaysia, it is often served with sambal, a type of chill sauce, as a breakfast dish.
  • Rendang: spicy meat (often buffalo, beef, or chicken) stew made with coconut milk and influenced by Indonesia.
  • Rojak: fruit and vegetable salad made with belacan and toasted peanuts, and popular in Penang.
  • Roti canai / roti kosong: Indian influenced flaky and thin unleavened bread, served with accompaniments such as egg (telur), onions (bawang) or banana (pisang).
  • Satay / sate: marinated meat (chicken or beef) skewered onto wooden sticks and cooked on a charcoal grill, served with spiced peanut dipping sauce.
Malaysia Vacations | Malaysia Travel Packages with Enchanting Travels

Top Malaysia Travel Tips – Cuisine:

  • Most appetizers and main courses are served at the same time during meal time, and fixed price dining experiences (help yourself buffets) are also a popular way of eating in Malaysia, known as nasi campur or “mixed rice” and nasi ambang (shared platters) locally, especially at a mamak stall (an eatery opened 24 hours a day).
  • If you are feeling adventurous, try wild edible ferns, such as pucuk paku pakis that the indigenous peoples of Sarawak have been foraging and using for centuries to supplement their meals in East Malaysia!
  • Head to a kopitiam, a traditional coffee shop, or try teh tarki (pulled tea), a frothy tea sweetened by condensed milk, for unique and local Malay beverage experiences.

Enchanting Travels is happy to help you plan one of our tailor-made Malaysia vacations!

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