Temple in Malaysia

Our favourite Malaysia experiences

These experiences are your passport to Malaysia’s rich and complex culture and history, getting you beneath the surface of one of Asia’s most dynamic modern nations.

Beneath Malaysia’s megamalls and modernity is one of the richest and most fascinating histories of any country in Southeast Asia. To get to the heart of it, you need a local’s perspective – and that’s what these experiences are all about.

Malaysia has an incredibly rich mix of cultures born from centuries at the heart of the world’s historic trade routes, but sometimes it takes a local’s perspective to really put you in touch with it. That’s why we’ve put so much effort into finding these tours, classes and hands-on activities.

These are the Peranakan chefs who’ll teach you how to cook Chinese-Malay fusion cuisine, and the adventure guides who’ll point out wildlife tracks in the rainforest. They’re the food enthusiasts who’ll take you to KL’s secret street-food spots, and the art buffs who’ll point out George Town’s most innovative street art. They’re your passport to Malaysian culture and history, and some of our absolute favourite people on the Peninsula.

Our top picks

You won't want to miss out on these must-dos hand-picked by our expert team

Islands & beaches of Malaysia

Active
Relaxation
Malaysia

Malaysia has some of the whitest sands, bluest seas, and greenest jungles anywhere on the planet, and the opportunities for diving and snorkelling its teeming coral reefs are magnificent.

Malaysia falls within the Coral Triangle, also known as the “Amazon of the Seas”, and its waters are home to more than 75% of the world’s shallow-water reef-building coral, and six out of seven of the world’s sea turtles. What’s more, it’s wonderful all year round: the east coast at its best from March to August, and the west coast from November to May. Ask any diver worth their salt – Malaysia is an underwater paradise that’s hard to beat.

Discover the rainforests of Taman Negara

Active
Scenery
Wildlife
Taman Negara National Park

This two-night tour barely scratches the surface of this 4,000 sq km, 130 million-year-old rainforest – but it’s an excellent place to start.

Head out into the dark jungle on a night safari to spot porcupines, mouse deer, and insects the size of your hand (and bigger). Walk 500 metres through the treetops on the world’s longest canopy walk, watching out for monkeys as you go. Then, go on a riverboat ride to an indigenous village where the locals still hunt using blowpipe darts. These are just a few of the ways to experience Taman Negara, one of Malaysia’s unsung highlights – and a last remaining habitat for tigers, sun bears, elephants and leopards.

Penang heritage trail

Architecture
History
Penang

Begin learning about George Town’s 200-year history over a breakfast of freshly baked Bengali bread, then delve into its Chinese roots with a visit to the former HQ of one of the city’s Five Great Clans.

You’ll know you’ve reached Little India when you hear Bollywood music drifting through the streets, so fill up on roti canai, buy a marigold garland, and peruse pickled fruits and preserved nutmeg at Chowrasta Bazaar. Wherever you are, keep your eyes peeled for street art – and don’t miss the workshops making joss sticks, lanterns, batik fabric and rattan. This tour is all about getting to know the many faces of George Town.

Dim sim & street art tour

Art
Food & Drink
Penang

George Town’s street-art scene was born in 2010, when 52 steel artworks appeared around the city. When “Lithuanian Banksy” Ernest Zacharevic added eight murals in 2012, it cemented its reputation as one of the trendiest street-art destinations in the world.

In between mural-hunting, this tour will have you chowing down on Cantonese dim sum and browsing the produce at Chowrasta Bazaar - the market that's been keeping Georgetonians in preserved nutmeg and pickles since the early 1800s. Combining traditional food with cutting-edge street art, this is a fantastic (and delicious) introduction to George Town’s glorious cultural mish-mash.

Peranakan cooking class

Food & Drink
Malacca

Peranakan (or Baba Nyonya) culture is a fusion of Chinese and Malay traditions, and nowhere is it more deliciously expressed than in its cuisine – of which Malaccans are rightly proud.

A combination of Cantonese cooking techniques blended with native Malay ingredients, Peranakan dishes include laksa (spicy noodle soup), otak-otak (fish wrapped in banana leaf), and make liberal use of coconut milk, galangal, tamarind, lemongrass and kaffir lime. Under the expert tutelage of local chef Nancy, learn to prepare, serve and garnish your own traditional home-cooked meal in true Baba Nyonya style.

Historical walking tour of Malacca

Architecture
History
Malacca

This walking tour will introduce you to every aspect of Malacca’s eclectic heritage, from Portuguese fortresses to Dutch clock towers and everything in between.

Starting with some of East Asia’s oldest European ruins, move on to “Harmony Street”, where mosques coexist with Chinese and Hindu temples. Next, explore Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) culture at a lavishly restored 19th century townhouse, and finally conclude at the famous Jonker Walk, known for its antiques shops and street-side cafés. Sampling Peranakan treats and Portuguese tarts as you go, this is a crash course in Malacca’s deliciously diverse cultural soup.