Malaysia: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Malaysia is a fast growing country in the Southeast Asia. It has a total area of 329,847 square kilometers that is separated by the South China Sea into two regions; the Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysia. The Peninsular Malaysia lies in the Malay Peninsula sharing a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and maritime borders with Philippines and Vietnam. Malaysia has 13 states and 3 federal territories with Kuala Lumpur as its capital city. The country has one of the best economics in Asia with its natural resources as its main economic drive. These resources are now continuously developing and stretching to the tourism industry and commerce. Malaysia has a newly industrialized market economy with the tourism industry as the third largest source of foreign exchange.
Regions of Malaysia
Malaysia is mainly divided into six regions; the Northern Region, the Central Region, the Southern Region, and the East Coast in the Peninsular Malaysia, and Sabah and Sarawak in the East Malaysia. Each region shows different lifestyle in the country's diverse culture.
The Northern Region consists of Perlis and Kedah, Penang, and Perak. Perlis and Kedah are two northernmost states that are named the "Rice Bowl of Malaysia" because of their paddy rice fields. Langkawi is the jewel of Kedah. It is an archipelago of 99 islands and a UNESCO Global Geopark with beaches, rainforests, mountains, and unique natural attractions. Penang, the "Pearl of the Orient", is the first British outpost in the Southeast Asia. The island has a good number of attractive beaches and a mix of old and new and east and west ambiance making it a very popular tourist destination. It's capital and historic heart is George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has attractive World War II houses, temples, mosques, and colonial buildings. Another state in the North is Perak, one of the world's former richest mining areas and the birth place of Malaysia's rubber industry. Ipoh is the capital city of Perak. It is one of the last remaining urban centers that retained its colonial architectures attracting most of the tourists because of its cultural and historical heritage.
The Central Region has only two states. These are the Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. Selangor is the most developed state in Malaysia. Its areas surround the Federal State of Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital city. It is the home of the famous Petronas Twin Towers and the Batu Caves Temple. It is also the home of Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia. Next to Selangor is the state of Negeri Sembilan. This is a small state with a rural setting and some areas of modern living. Its agricultural and industrial economies are balanced. The most developed areas can be found in Seremban, the state's capital. Although some areas are developed, it still remains as nature-friendly as it could be with less pollution.
The Southern Region is the home of the states of Melaka and Johor. Melaka is Malaysia's Historical City containing remnants of ruined buildings and fortresses. It is filled with historical aspects that reflects it as one of the most famous trading post. The southernmost part of the Peninsular Malaysia is Johor. It is the state that links Malaysia to Singapore where the residents are allowed to find jobs in Singapore. However, it has a high-cost living compared to the other states of the country. In addition, Johor is still a home to some natural attractions like beaches and beautiful coral islands.
Located in the East Coast are the states of Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu. Pahang is a perfect destination for nature lovers. It is the home of tropical rainforests, the highest mountain in the Peninsular Malaysia, and Malaysia's National Forest Reserve. Kuantan, an economic center and trade hub of the East Coast, is its capital city. Kuantan is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations featuring its beautiful beaches and cultural attractions. Other popular destinations in Pehang are the Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands, and Fraser's Hill.
Kelantan and Terengganu are considered very different from the other states of Malaysia that features a strong Malay culture with a mix of the Thai culture. Kelantan is known for its fishing activities, agriculture, cottage industries, and its kite flying and giant top spinning festivals. On the other hand, Terengganu has some of the most beautiful coral islands, beaches, and fishing villages in the country.
Sabah & Sarawak
Sabah and Sarawak are the regions in the East Malaysia or the Malaysian Borneo. These regions have the least developed areas in the country offering rainforests, rivers, caves, islands, and other natural wonders. With this kind of setting, these regions have the world's largest primate, the Orang Utan; the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia; and a variety of flora and fauna.
Sabah's capital is Kota Kinabalu that is known to be the "Land Below the Wind". It is a cultural melting pot and major tourist gateway to explore the northern region of Borneo Island. It is named after Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.
Sarawak is known for its Sarawak Chamber. It is the largest known underground chamber in the world. This is located in the vicinity of the Gunung Mulu National Park; a famous national park for tourists seeking for adventure. Aside from forest reserves, there are also marine parks in both regions.
Malaysia is a tourist hub of Southeast Asia making the transportation in the country reliable and efficient. If travelling by air, Malaysia is full of affordable flights catered by AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines. The main hubs for domestic flights are Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, which are also the main gateway for international flights.
The Keratapi Tanah Melayu Berhad is the main train service in the Peninsular Malaysia. It provides an inexpensive and reliable service. The main line runs from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and connects Butterworth near Penang, Ipoh, and Johor Bahru. The eastern line runs from Gua Musang to Tumpat in Kelantan. There is also a train service in East Malaysia that runs from Kota Kinabalu to the town of Papar.
The cheapest way to travel Malaysia is by bus. Every town has a bus terminal that offers connection to the other areas in the country. The main bus services are the Transnasional and the NICE/Plusliner. There are other forms of transport in Malaysia like taxi services that are mostly metered and provide the most comfortable way of getting around, however, it is also more expensive compared to the other forms of transport services. Another option is by coastal ferries that are scheduled linking the port in the Peninsular Malaysia with the port in the East Malaysia.