by Uwe Fischer |
Malaysia is a country of contrasts and a ‘must-visit’ destination for many Asia travellers. The special appeal lies in its diversity which includes modern cities and untouched nature, endless sandy beaches and theme parks, museums, art and shopping venues. This makes the country a favourite destination for adventurers, business people, families and backpackers. MALAYSIA INSIGHTS introduces some of the country’s highlights. Part 1: Peninsular Malaysia (Part 2: Borneo)
Once, they were the highest buildings in the world. Since recently, they are not even the tallest buildings in Kuala Lumpur anymore, having been outbid by Exchange 106 in December 2017, a new skyscraper which is still under construction. Nevertheless, a visit of the skybridge, which connects the twin towers is still a must-visit for all KL tourists. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 9 am and 9 pm. Tickets can be purchased on a first come first serve basis at the Ticketing Counter, located on the Concourse Level, or online under
The Central Market (Pasar Seni) in Kuala Lumpur once was a wet market selling fruit, vegetables, and meat. Today, it is a center for arts, handicrafts and souvenirs. Different sections reflect the various influences and ethnic backgrounds present in Malaysia such as Malay, Indian, and Chinese. The area in front of the market is known for street performers and musical shows.
Chinatown (Jalan Petaling)
If you are looking for Chinatown, this is the real thing. Called Pataling Jalan (or Petaling Street), this is the place to bargain (and still pay too much) or try local food favourites such as Hokkien mee, Ikan Bakar (barbecued fish), asam laksa and curry noodles. Stalls are set up right in the centre of the street at nightfall, with barely any place to walk. Here you can Traders here are mainly Chinese but there are also Indian, Malay, and Bangladeshi.
Little India Brickfields
The district of Brickfields is Malaysia’s official Little India with Indian shops and restaurants. Here you can find everything from traditional Indian goods such as saris, flower garlands, spices and Bollywood music to local delicacies such as Vadai, Thosai (Indian pancakes made from fermented rice flour) and more. Another not so well known feature of Little India is the excellent massages offered here. They are usually performed by blind masseurs, who are said to have a special ability to feel muscle tension.
KL Tower (Menara Kuala Lumpur) offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. With its height of 421 metres, it acts as an observation tower for the sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Its visitor deck is the city’s highest point accessible to the public. Tickets can be purchased directly on-site or online at
Mosques, Temples and Churches
In Malaysia, many different cultures and religions are living side by side. Some of the most attractive mosques, temples and churches can be found in KL, with many being open to the public. The Federal Territory Mosque, also known as the Wilayah Persekutuan Mosque, is a large mosque in Kuala Lumpur built to house up to 17,000 worshipers at a time. Thean Hou Temple is situated along Jalan Klang Lama Road and is one of the oldest and largest Chinese temples in Southeast Asia as it was constructed in 1894. Another popular tourist attraction is the Hindu Temple Sri Kandaswamy Kovil in Brickfields. The colourful, ornate shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Murugawas built in 1902. Finally, the Holy Rosary Church is a beautiful and well-preserved Neo-Gothic styled structure dating back to 1904.
Most international tourist flying to Malaysia visit the state of Selangor first… many of them without even knowing it.
The reason being that Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is not located in Kuala Lumpur as the name suggests, but in the federal state of Selangor. Selangor surrounds the Malaysian capital just like Brandenburg surrounds Germany’s capital Berlin. Therefore, KL is the perfect starting point to explore the many many touristic attractions in Selangor.
History buffs might visit the old town of Klang where free guided tours are offered every Saturday morning. Kanching Rainforest Waterfall, also known as Kanching Recreational Forest, is set in a forest reserve of nearly 500 hectares in the Rawang district just north of Kuala Lumpur. Another favourite for nature lovers is Broga Hill which is 40 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur. With its 400 meters height, it is a good place to escape the heat. Selangor is also the home of many religious sites. Built in 1996, the Dong Zen Temple houses a school of Buddhism and is the cradle for the Malaysian young Buddhists. Another beautiful architecture is that of the Blue Mosque in Shah Alam. The most famous attraction, however, is certainly the world’s tallest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity, which rises in front of Batu Caves, which are one of the top tourist attractions in Malaysia. They are located only 13km from downtown Kuala Lumpur and thus easily can be explored in a half day journey. It is not even necessary to use tour operators to reach it, as there is a direct connection by comuter train from KL Sentral.
The Dutch, Portuguese and English have left their mark here. One of the many historical witnesses in Melaka is A Famosa, the remainings of a Portuguese fortress dating back to the 16th century. In the harbour, you can see is a replica of the ‘Flor de La Mar’, a flagship of the famous Portuguese conqueror, Alfonso d’Albuquerque. The original ‘Flor de La Mar’ sank in 1511 on her way from Malacca to Portugal.
Here you can experience the rustic charm of old colonial buildings which are now preserved and repurposed to fit modern lifestyle and visit outstanding museums. One of them is the beautifully restored Han Chin Pet Soo, Malaysia’s first Hakka tin mining museum. Originally it was the home of the Hakka Tin Miners Club, founded in 1893. On display are artefacts, collectables, ephemera and also photographs from the 19th and 20th century.
Driving through Cameron Highlands, you can’t really get lost, that’s for sure. Basically, there is only one road that winds its way from south to north through the hilly highlands. You can’t miss the two larger settlements Tanah Rata and Brinchang, which are good starting points for expeditions.
Situated about three and a half hours by car north of Kuala Lumpur, this scenic area offers a pleasant contrast to the hectic pace of the big city. Also if you want to escape the tropical heat of the surrounding countryside, you’ve come to the right place.
The Cameron Highlands are the green heart of the Malaysian peninsula. Agriculture plays a dominant role here, as the cooler weather means that different plants can be grown than in the plains, including strawberries, asparagus, various leafy vegetables and above all tea.
And the Highlands have yet another special feature to offer: nowhere else in the world can you see so many aged and partly also scrap-ready Land Rovers. Mockers say there are more rovers here than inhabitants. The reason for this is a tax relief for these cars on condition that they are only driven in the highlands, exclusively used for agricultural purposes.