A land of diversities; the existence of several different cultures and religions is a key attribute to Malaysia’s wonderfully diverse society. Living in harmony, Malaysia is populated by a blend of Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous groups. The result is rich cultural heritage shown through its traditional architecture, a wide variety of religious festivities and its cuisine, which is arguably one of the best in Asia.
Not only is Malaysia’s cultural diversity a draw, so is the country’s astonishing natural beauty, including breathtaking countryside, lush jungle and one of the world’s ancient rainforests. Combine all of this, and you’ll find that Malaysia is a destination to be added to the itinerary in pen, not pencil.
Stretching from Indonesia to the Philippines with a land border to Thailand and Singapore, Malaysia has historically been an important trade route between India and China hence the amalgamation of early settlers. It later became an important port city for the British, Dutch and Portuguese empires, of which the architecture, traditions and heritage can be found in Malaysia today. Malaysia became the independent country we know today in 1965.
The dominating religion is Islam, adopted in the 14th century by the Malays. However, the large communities of Christians and Hindus have resulted in the cultural harmony and juxtaposed temples, churches and mosques you find in Malaysia. The indigenous cultural traditions in Borneo, the vibrant Indian festivals and colourful Chinese temples only contribute further to this ethnic diversity.
Malaysia’s potpourri of cultures is just as colourful and intriguing as its nature is. Outside of the human-made structures, you’ll find one of the oldest ecosystems in the world, fiercely protected by conservation projects and national parks, yet marvellously accessible on a ranger-led trek. The mind-boggling diversity continues in its flora and fauna with humid lowlands, high-altitude forests and jungle canopies lending itself to a plethora of animal encounters. Colourful birdlife, foraging tapirs, silvered leaf monkeys and orangutans occupy lands, whilst turtles, sharks, dolphins and bountiful vibrant coral occupy the waters.
Switch over to urban life, and Malaysia’s dazzling cityscapes do not disappoint. Kuala Lumpur, a thriving business, travel and culture hub of Asia, is a vision of skyscrapers and trendy rooftop bars juxtaposed with colonial shophouses, street food stalls and pockets of greenery. From wet markets to mega malls, Kuala Lumpur will keep you on your toes. Out of the capital, the UNESCO cities of Melaka and George Town offer up a healthy slice of history, colonial architecture and a food scene to make your mouth water.
Trekking, sun-worshipping, tea tasting, diving and more; Malaysia is a hubbub of activity. You can partake in as little or as many as you like, but one thing’s for sure, you should not miss any of these breathtaking places to visit in Malaysia in 7 days;
- Highlights for 7 Days in Malaysia
- Tours for 7 Days in Malaysia
- Best Time to Go to Malaysia
- Want to Create Your Own 7-Day Malaysia Tour?
Highlights for 7 Days in Malaysia
From the buzzing metropolis of Kuala Lumpur and the tasty eats of George Town in the west, through the tea plantations and vibrant green hills of central Malaysia, to the incredible diversity of the Borneo jungle and the pristine beaches of the Perhentian Islands. This is a selection of the highlights not to miss in 7 days in Malaysia;
Places to Visit In West Malaysia
Unlike most major Asian cities that tend to be travel hubs that you fly into and leave almost immediately in search of more cultural experiences, Kuala Lumpur is a worthwhile destination in its own right. The key is not to let the shopping malls and skyscrapers fool you. Beside them, tucked down little streets, and in juxtapositions, you’ll find traditional shophouses, colonial architecture, street food stands that have been held for generations and exciting markets.
Malaysia’s mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influence is exemplified here. The culinary exploits in this city are ten-fold compared to beyond the city and the cultural diversity that you can witness in one day here is a big part of Kuala Lumpur’s draw. From Chinatown to Jalan Alor and the Petronas Towers to the Perdana Botanical Gardens, there’s no shortage of exciting neighbourhoods and landmarks to explore here.
George Town, Penang
UNESCO-listed colonial architecture, interactive street art and murals, and a dazzling food scene; these characteristics of George Town make it one of the top places to visit in Malaysia. An open museum, you’ll spend your time in George Town strolling its colonial district, home to British buildings, churches, the famous Fort Cornwallis and traditional shophouses. For a little bit of excitement and some great photo opportunities, you can grab a mural map and head off into the city to find the murals.
All that exploring can make your belly grumble, and you’ll find yourself in one of the best food spots in Malaysia in this city. Forget tablecloths and cutlery, draw up a plastic chair and enjoy the countless vendors and their delicious dishes on offer from their street food carts, stalls and shophouse windows. With recipes refined over generations and a heavy influence from historical settlers, any street in George Town will be home to a number of delicious delights.
Known as the more commonly Anglicised name of Malacca until the Malaysian government ruled otherwise in 2018, Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage City. Having experienced periods under Portuguese and Dutch colonial rule, Melaka is scattered with architectural gems including St Paul’s Church, A Famosa Fort and Stadthuys.
The city oozes culture and history, and every Friday and Saturday night, it is the place to be for fun. The Jonker Walk Night Market flanks the river and is filled with stalls selling everything from trinkets and souvenirs to tasty street food and sugarcane juice. A cafe or stall at the side of the market is the perfect place to people-watch.
Perched in the northwest corner of Malaysia, Pulau Langkawi is an island frequented by locals in favour of its duty-free status which affords generous shopping, drinking and dining opportunities. One of the more commercialised islands in Malaysia, Langkawi is great for those that want to soak up the island life and visit some beautiful beaches but not be too far from their modern comforts.
Beyond the buzz of the busy bars and family-filled beaches, Langkawi offers pristine white-sand beaches, acclaimed diving sites and lush jungles which all contribute to its title of the ‘Jewel of Kedah’.
Places to Visit in Central Malaysia
The country’s green heart, the Cameron Highlands has long been one of the best places to visit in Malaysia. ‘Discovered’ by British surveyor, William Cameron, in 1885, the region then grew into a hotspot for hiking, nature trekking and agricultural activities. With cool weather year-round due to its altitude of 1100 to 1800 metres, the Cameron Highlands became British Malaysia’s largest hill station.
Today, the highlands are still a great place to escape the sweltering summer heat of Malaysia’s cities. Tea plantations fill the skyline punctuated by strawberry and vegetable farms, Tudor architecture sits in the villages, and the misty mountains set the perfect scene for an active adventure.
To visit Taman Negara is like accepting an invitation to step back in time and experience Malaysia before the first settlers arrived. Impenetrable jungle, ancient trees and beautifully rare flowers call these lands home. Within those, elephants, tigers, leopards and even flying squirrels, monkeys, reptiles and deer can be found lurking.
As Malaysia’s oldest national park, Taman Negara is considered one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. The best way to experience the park is on the canopy walkway to see the tree life that isn’t visible from the ground. When you want to get more active, swimming in waterfalls, rafting and night safaris await.
Places to Visit In East Malaysia
One geared towards backpackers and the other leaning towards honeymooners and couples with high-end resorts and hotels, whichever one you visit you’ll find it laid back and peaceful. With no motorised vehicles on either island and barely a touch of internet connection, these islands are truly a place to disconnect.
Named Besar and Kecil, big and small, the islands are characterised by crystal clear shallow waters, pristine white-sand beaches and sparsely populated hubs of ramshackle guesthouses.
Add to that superb diving and snorkelling sites, a vibrant variety of marine life and coral beds close to shore, and you have a tropical dream.
One half of Malaysian Borneo, Sabah takes the northern stage but is no less stunning than its counterpart, Sarawak. In Sabah, you can expect vibrant rainforests, abundant wildlife and some of the best diving in the world. Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, has the face of every other city on the surface but it is home to spectacular sunset spots, beautiful sanded bays and great day trips to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
If you have time, the Danum Valley in Sabah is one of the best places to visit in Malaysia in 7 days. For ecotourism and untouched jungle, Danum Valley excels. Located within the 130 million-year-old lowland forest, the valley boasts incredible biodiversity as you can imagine. Through its lack of human settlements, it is one of the purest spots in Malaysia.
Another highlight of many Sabah trips is a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to see these adorable ginger apes. If you’re up for a challenge, the climb to the top of Mount Kinabalu is pure exhilaration.
Sipadan Island, Sabah
One of Malaysia’s most celebrated diving paradises, and one of the best dive sites in the world, according to CNN travel, Sipadan Island is an open water aquarium. The colourful collection and the abundance of marine life that gather on the seawall of Sipadan Island concur that it is the ultimate underwater adventure.
Limiting daily divers and requiring a permit to dive ensures that Sipadan Island remains as untouched and beautiful as possible. If you want to dive here, it’s best to book at least a month in advance to ensure your marine adventure!
The southern state of Malaysian Borneo is known as Sarawak, with the capital, Kuching. A sophisticated, stylish city, Kuching combines a picturesque old town, waterfront and interesting museums with fine cuisine and chic bars. The biggest draw to the city, however, is the ease that you can explore some of Sarawak’s most coveted natural sites.
Head off with a jungle ranger in search of semi-wild orangutans, spot proboscis monkeys and watch out for wild crocodiles on a sunset cruise. To gain an insight into the indigenous tribal culture of Sarawak, there is no better way than visiting a longhouse. On an overnight or several-day trek, you’ll have the opportunity to stay in one of these interesting dwellings that can often host a whole village!
Tours for 7 Days in Malaysia
Now you’ve read the highlights, it’s time to see how you can put the best places to visit in Malaysia in 7 days into a tour!
Get inspired by our fully-customisable, locally-designing tours;
Spend 7 Days in Malaysia on a Kuala Lumpur to Penang Tour
Taking you back in time on a colonial adventure, this 7-day Kuala Lumpur to Penang tour enables you to see the influence that 17th to 19th-century colonists had on Malaysia. Travelling from the capital, through the cool Cameron Highlands, you’ll complete your trip in Penang, an island awash with stunning street art and colonial architecture.
Your 7-Day Best of Borneo Wildlife Tour
Beginning in the heart of Sepilok, Sabah, you’ll visit a number of Borneo’s famous conservation centres, learning about orangutans and the Bornean Sun Bear. A lodge on the Kinabatangan River will be your home for the next few days, among the resident elephant and hornbills. The last two stops on this 7-day Borneo wildlife tour will be in the stunning Danum Valley and the buzzing city of Kota Kinabalu.
The Ultimate 7-Day Penang Tour
The sun, sea and street art await you on this 7-day Penang tour package. Over a week, you’ll learn why this Malaysian island is often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ with its quaint countryside, sandy beaches, mouthwatering street food and intricate history woven into every crevice and visible on every street.
The Malaysia Tour Package with a Twist
Accompanied by a local guide, over one week, you’ll experience the best of Malaysia’s culture, scenery and cuisine on a round trip from Kuala Lumpur. You’ll make stops in five incredible destinations including the Cameron Highlands, Kota Bharu and Kuantan. You’ll swim in jungle waterfalls, tour tea plantations and visit the Islamic Civilisation Park on this 7-day Malaysia Tour Package.
Best Time to Go to Malaysia
Being close to the equator, Malaysia experiences warm weather year-round. Very much a tropical heat, you should expect hot, humid days with frequent rainfall. For the west coast, you should avoid the monsoon season between May and November. In the dry season (December to April), whilst it is still warm, the humidity is lessened, and there is a lot less rainfall. For the east coast and Borneo, these seasons are reversed.
With this in mind, the best time to go to Malaysia largely depends on where you plan to go. Ultimately, the best months to visit Malaysia are between February and April when the west coast is at its driest. You can never be sure that a downpour won’t come out of nowhere so carry a raincoat at all times, just in case.
Want to Create Your Own 7-Day Malaysia Tour?
With incomprehensible natural beauty, incredibly diverse culture and a history to match, Malaysia is not one to be missed off the itinerary.
If the abundance of places to see in Malaysia in 7 days are mind-blogging to you, then connect with one of our Local Designers on the ground who can customise any trip in our gallery or design your own Malaysia trip from scratch! Specify what you’re looking for, as little or as much as you can, then let our Local Designers in Malaysia do the rest!
Make Malaysia your next travel destination!