Wednesday, Jan 06

5 Popular Cities People Love Visiting in Malaysia

By Joel Teh

Unquestionably one of the most-developed multiracial countries in Southeast Asia, Malaysia has its unique characteristics to attract fellow travellers from all over the world. Multiethnicity, multi-religious, democratic political views, an intoxicating mixture of culture, and scrumptious local delicacies are all the adjectives you could use to describe this beautiful nation.

With the cutting-edge infrastructure connection from cities to remote villages, there are many unique places of different features within the country itself that are worth our exploration. For instance, the stunning padi field and curving hills in Alor Setar, the scenic Kinabatangan River in Sandakan, the spectacular island with duty-free shopping perks in Labuan, and more. Based on my experience talking to many travellers or expatriates who have travelled around Malaysia, here are the most common cities that have won their interest at all times.

Kuala Lumpur, Selangor

Being the main capital in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a metropolitan city that consists of a multitude of natural attractions, phenomenal skyscrapers, a buzzing lifestyle, and city dwellers of diverse backgrounds. Apart from that, it’s strategically located in Selangor with other fantastic neighbouring cities nearby such as Petaling Jaya, Subang, and Shah Alam that would bring you wide-ranging travel amenities as well.

As expected when setting foot in KL, disregarding the notable Petronas Twin Tower (one of the tallest twin towers in the world) is definitely going to be a huge waste as Malaysians identified it as the iconic landmark of Kuala Lumpur, next to the KL Tower. Other than the shopping outlets in Suria KLCC, I personally enjoy exploring Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore with various book genres for bibliophiles, and Petrosains, the interactive museum for science and technology, all you can find within the building of the twin towers itself.

Georgetown, Penang

If you are interested in exploring the broad-ranging yet less hectic city life, Penang would be your next target when it comes to one of the attractive cities in Malaysia. Being known as “Pearl of The Orient”, Penang is composed into the island and mainland (or Seberang Perai) where food and tourism scenes are highly recognized by international media such as CNN Travel, Forbes, and more.

Among all places in Penang, George Town is a colourful city that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Penang. Inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this capital is filled with chaotic streets, eye-catching religious architectures, old-colonial buildings, numerous f&b outlets, street arts, and staggering sea views. If you go there at the right time, you will find yourself being lucky enough to be admitted to some exciting events too.

As Penang is famous for its hawker stalls, you shouldn’t let slip of the chances to dine in any of them for the local treats. Some good foods that only taste exceptionally delicious in Penang are Char Koay Teow (Fried Flat Rice Noodles), Hokkien Mee, Curry Mee, and cendol. Though they are accessible everywhere within Penang state, George Town is still the city that ensures the higher possibility of serving you these foods in authentic flavours.

(Photo by Sabeer Darr on Unsplash)

Ipoh, Perak

Next on the list is Ipoh, the capital of Perak state which looks a little similar to George Town but different in some scales. Typically, people crave the bean sprout or salted chickens when hitting the city, but Ipoh is also famous for other options such as Shredded Chicken Hor Fun (shredded chicken flat rice noodles) at Thean Chun, Toufufah (soya beancurd pudding) at Woong Kee Bean Curd, Hakka Mee at Paris Restaurant, Wat Tan Hor (flat rice noodles in egg gravy) at Tuck Kee, and more mouth-showering foods waiting for you to explore.

Known for its limestone hills, Ipoh is a friendly destination for those wonder explorers who would enjoy exploring the caves upon their arrival. There are several caves, not only the natural caves but also the temple caves that make Ipoh unique in its way. For instance, Perak Cave Temple in Jalan Kuala Kangsar, Guanyin Cave in Jalan Gopeng, Sam Poh Tong temple in Kampung Gunung Rapat, the 12-acres Kek Lok Tong temple in Persiaran Sepakat, and others that deserve your tour when travelling there.

(Photo by Wan San Yip on Unsplash)

Malacca (Melaka)

Another colonial cultured city with historical value on the list goes to Malacca. Situated on the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia, this city, or we called it a state, possessed hidden gems that are beneficial for your travel exploration as well. Likewise Penang and Ipoh, the place is also circulated by the heritage buildings. Nonetheless, they portray different vibes in comparison as the state was colonised by three European countries before- Portuguese, Dutch, and British.

While it offers the same perks including street arts, good food, museums, religious locations, and transportation, there’s one particular food that is famous and can hardly be found elsewhere, Chicken Rice Ball it is! According to the locals, the chicken rice balls in Malacca are generally lip-smacking, but only a few offer better taste at a reasonable price- Hoe Kee Chicken Rice, Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball (Halal), Chop Chung Wah, Old Town Chicken Rice Ball, and Famosa Chicken Rice Ball.

Kuching, Sarawak

Thinking of discovering a more laid-back travel pace for yourself? This capital city of Sarawak is unequivocally a must-go destination when you are in East Malaysia.

Kuching, or also known as the “Cat City”, is famous for the cat statues almost everywhere within the city itself. As there’s a belief among the Kuchingites that the name was derived from the Malay word, kucing, which means cat in English, the Kuching North City Hall even built the world’s first Cat Museum in Petra Jaya that displays everything associated with felines.

Sprawling over the Sarawak River, the waterfront promenade is one of the iconic scenes that would make your leisure time in Kuching more relaxing than expected. While the river contributes to the source of water and transportation systems to the Southwest Sarawakians, there’s a river cruise service that’s only available each day from 5pm to 7pm that tours you around the Sarawak River during sunset for a more touristy experience.

Besides that, Kuchingites usually vouch for their Kek Lapis (Layer Cake) and Sarawak Black Pepper with obviously different ingredients than those from other places, so make sure you drop by any shops that sell these things in Kuching to try them out.

(Photo by S.Ratanak on Unsplash)

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Although we’re still curbing ourselves from moving around places due to the pandemic, that doesn’t stop us from travelling for short getaways as long as we stay vigilant and abide by the precautionary measures wherever we go. An adventure to these destinations ensures a refreshing mind and an eye-opening experience, so stop stalling, start packing and embark on your journey now!


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