Geographically divided into two, Malaysia has a peninsula stretching from Thailand to Singapore, where most of the country’s 13 states and Federal Territory can be found. Sabah and Sarawak occupy 60 percent of land mass in the northern part of Borneo south-east of the peninsula.
Rich in history and diverse in culture, Malaysia is blessed with enchanting islands, beautiful mountains, tropical flora and fauna, as well as modern, thriving metropolises, adding much to Malaysia’s tourism appeal.
A quick glance at Malaysia’s map shows you six major regions with Kuala Lumpur (KL) as the capital city. Peninsular Malaysia’s central region is made up of the states of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca, while the north is occupied by Penang, Perlis, Perak and Kedah. Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang make up the east coast, and in the south is the state of Johor. The states of Sabah and Sarawak are on the northern third of the island of Borneo.
Each region has unique qualities in terms of features, local culture, food and historical sites.
Introduction to Malaysia
Flights to Malaysia are served by most major airlines and land at eight international airports all over Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Malaysia’s main international airport, is located in Sepang (about 45 km away from KL’s city centre) and is also Asia’s fastest growing airport.
Entering peninsula Malaysia by land via Singapore and Thailand is easily done via public and tour buses.
The people of Malaysia comprise of a fascinating mix of ethnicities, ranging from the Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous Orang Asli (Original People) of Peninsular Malaysia to the diverse tribal communities of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia.
Although the national language is Bahasa Melayu (Malay), English is widely spoken amongst the population of around 29 million.
Non-Malays are usually fluent in both Bahasa Melayu as well as their mother tongue. Apart from Mandarin, Malaysian Chinese commonly communicate in dialects such as Cantonese (especially in capital of Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas) and Hokkien, while the Indian community speaks primarily Tamil as a second language.
Shopping in KL is one of the major attractions in Malaysia with a variety of fashionable products and handicrafts available from shopping complexes like The Curve and Berjaya Times Square, to department stores and smaller boutiques and markets, all at great value.
Malaysian food is nothing short of fantastic. There is a choice of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Western – it’s all here.
Nyonya cuisine is probably the most famous of these fusions and is a blend of Chinese ingredients and Malay spices. Malay-style food comprises of seafood, meats and vegetables cooked with sweet, savoury and spicy sauces, and served with rich coconut milk infused rice or nasi.