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The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real Malaysia

Malaysia offers an eclectic mix of foods, festivals, scenery and much more. In addition to urban adventures in dynamic cities like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia boasts breathtaking beaches, ancient rainforests, and some of the world’s most astonishing wildlife.

There are endless things to see and do in this extraordinary country. Read on for a roundup of five ways to take it all in on your visit to Malaysia.

1. Soak in Some Sun

Tourists aren’t the only ones who flock to the soft sands and crystal clear waters of Malaysia’s stunning beaches. Lounging on the beach is a way of life for many locals.

If you’re looking for some recreation alongside your relaxation, Malaysia is also home to world-class snorkeling and other water sports. Sipadan Island, Langkawi Island, and Perhentian Island are just a few examples of the country’s phenomenal snorkeling spots.

2. Indulge in the Local Cuisine

Given its melting pot of influences, it’s not surprising that Malaysia lays claim to a vast array of truly delicious dishes.

Malaysians are passionate about their food, and we can’t think of a better way to discover everything the country has to offer than by sampling cuisine like nasi lemak, nasi kerabu, beef rendang, assam laksa, curry laksa, bak kut teh, roti canai, and many others.

Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining or street food, be sure to bring your appetite.

3. Prepare to Party

Kuala Lumpur more than earns its reputation as a city that doesn’t sleep. While many people assume that KL’s majority Muslim population means it has inferior nightlife, this couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll find everything from glittering nightclubs to swanky speakeasies in Changkat Bukit Bintang, AKA the “Times Square of Kuala Lumpur.”

A few of our favorite places to experience Malaysia’s capital city by night? Heli Lounge Bar, The Locker & Loft, and the Roof Stratosphere.

If partying isn’t your style, the city also comes alive at bustling night markets like Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the Taman Connaught Market, OUG Pasar Malam, and the Klang Lama Night Market.

4. Experience Alor Setar

While  Langkawi may get top billing with tourists, we recommend adding Alor Setar to your itinerary. Not only will you find a cosmopolitan city showcasing traditional shophouses, stunning Islamic architecture, and cultural landmarks like Zahir Mosque, the Royal Hall, the Yellow Palace, and Big Clock Tower, you’ll also enjoy it without the crowds of Langkawi.

A slight way up the coast from Alor Setar is the bustling fishing port of Kuala Kedah, home to northern Malaysia’s oldest fort ruins and a seafood lover’s paradise.

5. Unwind in KLCC Park

Hailed as the “Central Park of Kuala Lumpur,” this 50-acre green area—a destination for locals and tourists alike—features more than 1,900 indigenous trees.

Located in the center of the city in the shadow of the Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC Park offers epic skyline views, a manmade lake featuring an entrancing lake symphony, and a playground and children’s swimming area. Did we mention everything at KLCC Park is free?