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Exploring Malaysia

Beaches & Islands

Malaysia’s east coast has long been known to divers for the rich waters around Tioman and the Perhentian islands but the secret is bound to get out: the beaches are gorgeous, too. The east coast is subject to strong monsoons from the end of October through February and sometimes into March. During these months, boat crossings can be rough, many resorts and restaurants close, and we don’t recommend heading to one of the islands. For those willing to risk a spot of rain without leaving the mainland, the beaches of Cherating and Terengganu ofter quiet alternatives.

On the west coast, Pangkor and Langkawi offer year-round sun. Being in the tropics, that also means year-round rain although November through February are often the driest months. These islands are covered with ancient rainforest and ringed with white sandy beaches. Each one has something different to offer. The trees of Langkawi provide shelter to dusky langurs and long-tailed macaques while the mangroves provide a unique habitat of their own. Pangkor and its little sister, Pangkor Laut, are less developed and provide a glimpse into Malaysia as it has been through the ages.

We’ve chosen our favourite resorts and hotels along the coasts and islands. As always, we love small properties but we can’t deny that in a few places, the bigger resorts have cornered the market. Where the location is really special and the service outstanding, we’ve included these below.

Kuala Lumpur
Bustling, vibrant Kuala Lumpur is home to an incredible array of old and new. Colonial architecture and modern skyscrapers, gourmet restaurants and simple street food stalls, luxurious hotels and shops, beautiful parks, mosques, and temples fill the city. The city is truly a feast for all five senses. More
Melaka
The port town of Melaka (formerly spelled Malacca) has been influenced by Portuguese, Dutch, British, Chinese, Indian, and Malay settlers and rulers. The resulting mix of culture, food, and architecture makes Melaka an ideal spot to see, taste, and experience the diversity that makes Malaysia such a unique part of Asia. Although you can visit in a day from Kuala Lumpur, we think it's worth an overnight visit. More
George Town
On the island of Penang sits the UNESCO-designated cultural highlight of George Town. It's home to some of the best food in the country, street art fun for all ages to find and enjoy, Chinese and Indian temples, British colonial buildings, pleasant beaches, a hill with stunning views of the area, and delightful boutique hotels. George Town truly offers a wealth of options for every visitor. More
Langkawi
Formally known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah, the island boasts beaches, rainforest, monkeys, mangroves, and views to Thailand from an incredible hanging bridge atop Mount Mat. More
Cameron Highlands
Once the favoured hill station of British expatriates in Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands is a cool respite from the tropical heat. Tea plantations, giant rafflesia blooms, and a mossy forest that feels straight out of a story book can all be found here. More
Tioman Island
Well known to divers, Tioman is home to incredibly rich waters teeming with life, making for great snorkelling and diving. With beautiful beaches and pleasant walking trails through the jungle, it's a beautiful place to relax. Best visited March through mid-October as we don't recommend trying to reach the island during monsoon season. More
Perhentian Islands
The clear aquamarine South China Sea meets white sand beaches on the Perhentian and Redang islands. There are no roads on these islands, only foot paths and water taxis. We only recommend visiting between April and mid-October to avoid rough crossings and restaurants and resorts closed for monsoon season. More

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