A beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage that blends Asian and European influence, Malaysia offers countless attractions to the discerning traveler. We explore some of the best cultural and natural sights, venues and places in Malaysia, from Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market to Malacca’s A Famosa fortress.
Central Market in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market is a bustling, colourful market packed with stalls and eateries. The market is housed in a unique, art deco-styled building that first opened in 1888. Because the wet market selling fresh food which was originally hosted in the building became progressively bigger over time, in the 1980s the market was moved to a different location; and the venue remained a centre for Malaysian culture, heritage, art and craft. The stalls are grouped in lorongs based on the main ethnic races in Malaysia, and sell a myriad of handmade crafts, from clothes to wooden carvings, from jewellery to batik fabrics, from any kind of souvenirs to street food. Also comprised in the market is the so-called Annexe, a space reserved for art galleries showcasing the work of local artists, and the Katsuri Walk, an outdoor, covered walkway filled with kiosks ready to satisfy the visitor’s appetite.
George Town is the capital city of Penang, an island state with the biggest Chinese population in Malaysia. But Penang was an important trade centre for the British, and the city of George Town in particular – named after Britain’s King George III – is a fascinating testament to the mix of Asian and European influences that the island experienced over the course of its history. George Town’s multicultural past is especially enshrined in the city’s rich and eclectic architecture, filled with enchanting, historical buildings, mostly situated in the oldest part of the town; elsewhere, skyscrapers rise high above the city. Another evident sign of George Town’s multi-faceted cultural heritage lies in its religious venues; here, Anglican churches and Muslim mosques rub shoulders with Chinese and Indian temples. Among the top cultural attractions in Malaysia, this is an unmissable destination for culturally inclined travellers.
Langkawi is the main of 99 islands which form the archipelago with the same name. Often overlooked – especially by Western tourists – in favour of the better-known Thai islands and Singapore, Langkawi offers breathtaking scenery with its beautiful beaches, incredibly fine sand, crystal-clear water and coastal mangrove swamps. The inland areas are no less striking: the tropical jungles are thick with luxuriant vegetation and extremely rich in fauna, and will impress nature lovers looking for a pristine, largely untouched rainforest. One of the most intriguing of Langkawi’s attractions is the tomb of Mashuri: a legend deeply resonating with locals has it that Mashuri, a girl unjustly accused of adultery and consequently executed, cursed the island for seven generations.