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Malaysia does not have the grand, ancient ruins of neighbouring Thailand, but its rich cultural heritage is apparent, both in its traditional kampung (village) areas and in its commitment to religious plurality. The dominant cultural force has undoubtedly been Islam, but the country's diverse population of indigenous Malays, Chinese and Indians has spawned a fabulous juxtaposition of mosques, temples and churches, a panoply of festivals and a wonderful mixture of cuisines. In addition, Malaysia boasts fine beaches, as well as some of the world's oldest tropical rainforest and most spectacular cave systems.

Your first impressions of Malaysia's hi-tech, fast-growing west-coast capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL), are likely to be of a vibrant and colourful, if crowded, place. Traditionally, people have stayed just long enough to think about their next destination, but there are good reasons to stay a little longer: accommodation is plentiful and cheap, the food is excellent and its streets safe and friendly. Less than three hours' journey south lies the birthplace of Malay civilization, Melaka , a must on anybody's itinerary, while north up the coast is the first British settlement, the island of Penang , and its very appealing capital, Georgetown. For a taste of Old England and lots of walks, head for the hill station of the Cameron Highlands .

North of Penang, the premier tourist destination is Pulau Langkawi , a popular duty-free island. Routes down the Peninsula's east coast are more relaxing, with stops at the sleepy mainland kampung like Cherating and the stunning islands of Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Tioman. The state capitals of Kota Bharu , near the northeastern Thai border, and Kuala Terengganu , further south, are showcases for the best of Malay crafts and performing arts, while the unsullied tropical rainforests of Taman Negara National Park offer trails, animal hides, a high canopy walkway and waterfalls.

Across the sea from the Peninsula are the Bornean states of Sarawak and Sabah . For most travellers, their first taste of Sarawak is Kuching, the old colonial capital, and then the Iban longhouses of the Batang Ai and Batang Lupar river systems, or the Bidayuh communities closer to the Kalimantan border. The best time to visit is in late May-early June when the Iban and the Bidayuh celebrate their harvest festivals with ribald parties to which everyone is invited. Sibu, much further to the north, is another starting point for more visits to other Iban longhouses and the idyllic Pelagus Rapids region. In the north of the state, Gunung Mulu National Park is the principal destination, its extraordinary razor-sharp limestone needles providing demanding climbing and its deep, cathedral-shaped caves awe-inspiring.

The main reason for a trip to Sabah is to conquer the 4101-metre granite peak of Mount Kinabalu , though the lively modern capital Kota Kinabalu and its offshore islands have their moments, too. Beyond this, Sabah is worth a visit for its wildlife, including turtles, orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and hornbills, while oceanic Pulau Sipadan has a host of sharks, fish and turtles, as well as one of the world's top coral reef dives.

Temperatures in Malaysia constantly hover around 30C (22C in highland areas), and humidity is high all year round. The major distinction in the seasons is marked by the arrival of the monsoon, which brings heavy and prolonged downpours to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the northeastern part of Sabah, and the western end of Sarawak from November to February; boats to most of the islands do not run during the height of the monsoon. The Peninsula's west coast experiences fewer major thunderstorms during the months of April and May. The ideal time to visit is between April and October, avoiding the worst of the rains.


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Malaysia TOP CITIES :

Kuala Lumpur
Penang
Langkawi
Melaka
Petaling Jaya
Johor
Johor Bahru
Kota Kinabalu
Kuching
Pulau Langkawi
Seremban
Subang Jaya
Bandar Baru Bangi
Cameron Highlands
Cyberjaya
Georgetown Penang
Ipoh
Jalan Cta Klia Sepang
Kedah
Kedah Darul Ama
Kota Bharu
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Kuala Lumpar
Kuala Terenggan
Kuantan Pahang
Langkawai
Malacca
Pahang
Pahang Darul Ma
Paka Terengganu
Pangkor Laut Island
Putrajaya
Selangor Darul
Sepang
Seri Kembangan
Tanah Rata Cameron Hlds Pahang


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