Travel dreams: Top things to do in Malaysia

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Natasha von Geldern is a travel writer, editor and blogger who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real by travelling the world. Her big dream, apart from travel blogging world domination, is to launch her own e-magazine. She is a contributor to Travel Wire Asia, Wild Junket Magazine, Yahoo! Total Travel and Travelbite. You can find her on World Wandering Kiwi. Natasha’s post day is Saturday.
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Pulau Sapi, Sabah, Malaysia-001
Welcome to travel Saturday. Today I am turning my mind back to Malaysia, which I revisited a few months ago. I have written a lot in various publications about how highly I rate Malaysia as a travel experience and my visit in May only confirmed that. So, having added some exploration of the Borneo state of Sabah to my Malaysia experience, I have re-assessed my list of the top things to do in Malaysia.

Ten years ago when I was backpacking around south-east Asia, Malaysia was an unexpected highlight. Thailand was a slightly disappointing tourist Disneyland, Vietnam was not far behind and worked hard to control the experience of visitors.

Maybe it was because Malaysia has a relatively strong economy and natural resources so that it doesn’t need to desperately chase the tourist dollar. I felt less like a walking ATM.

It was definitely because the landscapes, wildlife, history and culture of Malaysia are spectacular and endlessly fascinating. Here are my Malaysia travel highlights:

My favourite city in Malaysia was Georgetown on Penang Island, although Kuala Lumpur has its charms. This bustling Asian metropolis has a wealth of culture and history. It is also famous for its street food.

Khong Si Clan House, Penang Malaysia

Climbing Mt Kinabalu and looking out over the cloud forests of Borneo from 4,000 metres is now definitely on my list. The wild fecundity of the jungles of Sabah is overwhelming and the fact they are endangered makes it all the more important to appreciate them.

View from Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia

I loved the cool air of Malaysia’s hill country: the Cameron Highlands is a former colonial hill station and here stunning hillsides covered with tea plantations give way to tangled jungle.

Tea village in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

To the south of peninsular Malaysia the cultural melting pot of Melaka remains on my list of places to visit in Malaysia. Exploring Melaka’s heritage is an enriching experience and this charming town makes it a real pleasure.

Colourful lanterns in Melaka, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands remain top of my list if you are looking for a tropical paradise. The islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu are beautiful and very easily accessible but also very busy, whereas the Perhentians are remotely gorgeous.

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Happy travel dreams!






  • That water makes me want to splash in and enjoy!

  • kellyswanson1

    What stunning pictures! So thankful to see life through your eyes! Since September 5th I have been in Pennsylvania, San Francisco, San Diego, Wisconsin, Montana, and Georgia – and have yet to take one picture. I know, pathetic.

    • Kelly – I would love a series of iPhone photos of “views from my hotel room”! I’m sure we could get a few stories out of that :)

    • Natasha von Geldern

      I have only been to Pennsylvania on that list but I have about 500 photos from three days there! But that’s just snap happy me, I can’t help myself :)