Dining and Entertainment
one of the many reasons to visit Malaysia is for
its variety of delicious foods. Almost anywhere
you go you'll be reminded of food (as opposed
to pure sustenance)in its many splendours and
variation of enticements. Although the whole country
is like one huge centre of dining, there are still
places that stand out as representing the better
version of each culinary delight.
The unique and authentic cooking styles and flavours
of Malay, Chinese, Indian and the other ethnic
communities is a very fulfilling experience. Dining
out is relatively inexpensive. You can dine in
five-star hotels, food courts, hawker centres,
'kopitiam' (Chinese coffee shops), restaurants,
local and international fast food outlets or even
al fresco at warungs or roadside stalls. Through
the decades the interesting potpourri of local
cuisine has gone through many transformations,
resulting in what has been termed as fusion food
or 'improved' versions of favourite dishes.
Entertainment & Nightlife
A wide variety of entertainment can be found in
the cities. There is a huge selection of nightclubs,
karaoke lounges, discos, pubs and cineplexes where
you can relieve those tired nerves or just numb
them temporarily with excitement.
Malaysia's multifarious moods of entertainment
come to life after dark. Nightspots cater for
almost every type of preference and themes - from
R &B, blues, jazz, country, canto pop (Chinese),
the popular Malay dangdut, Bollywood, to alternative.
If you preference is other than popular entertainment,
you could opt for cultural shows and theatre.
Perhaps, you may not have to seek out spots that
offer cultural shows if your coming to Malaysia
is designed within a package, as this is usually
Traditional performances of wayang kulit (shadow
theatre), menora and ronggeng are mainly found
on the east coast of the peninsula. To catch any
of these performances, you may want to check out
the calendar of events listed by the Malaysian
Tourism Promotion Board.
If you'd rather be cooped up in your hotel room,
you could tune-in to the good variety of local
and international programmes on radio and television.
If you are a cinema buff, there are good cineplexes
with state-of-the-art facilities. These cinemas
screen the latest Hollywood, Bollywood and other
international films. Just take your pick.
Shopping in Kuala Lumpur promises variety, value
and convenience. There is a bewildering range
of shopping establishments catering to every taste
and budget, these include modern air-conditioned
shopping malls, department stores, handicraft
centres, duty-free shops, bazaars and nightmarkets.
Among the items high on the shopping list of tourists
are pewter, batik, duty free items, electrical
products, pret-a-porter attire, sportswear and
A novel experience for overseas visitors is the
night markets or 'pasar malam' which begin their
trading activities in the late afternoon.
These open-air markets feature hawker stalls that
sell a variety of local produce, foodstuff, clothing
and cakes. Haggling is a common practice. Street
artists and traditional medicine vendors are an
entertaining sight here.
The Shopping Carnival, an annual sale held in
March/April in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities
in Malaysia is an opportune time to pick up great
bargains. There are several principal shopping
precincts in the city. The most popular is the
area bounded by Jalan Cheng Lock, Jalan Ampang,
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman , Petaling Street, Jalan
H.S.Lee and Bangsar.
Things to do and See
Just visiting Malaysia - seeing a few sights,
meeting its people, and eating good food - is
more than enough to make for an unforgettable
trip. Your best memory might be a quiet day you
spend wandering the colonial streets of Malacca,
or breathing in the earthy air of a kampung. Usually,
it will be the Malaysians themselves you remember
most, their smiles and generosity. That said,
Malaysia also offers some very special activities,
and if you make room for one or two of them, they
will enhance your trip immeasurably. Here are
Visit the rainforest:
This is usually high on the list for anyone
planning a trip to Malaysia, and it should be:
the Malaysian rain forest is unique in the world,
the oldest on the planet. A trip to one of the
national parks, where you can take guided jungle
treks both day and night, can be a profound experience.
Nature has been infinitely inventive with life
here, producing the world's largest flower, fantastically
adapted insects and mammals, and trees that will
make you gawk at their size. How thoroughly you
experience it is up to you: most parks have resort-like
headquarters where you can stay in comfort, or
you can opt for a hard-core, guided trek deep
into the jungle interior (which will of course
require you to be in shape!).
The tropical waters off both Peninsular Malaysia
and Borneo offer some of the world's best scuba
diving. This is a place endowed with some of the
sport's best possibilities: you can dive with
whale sharks, hover around immense coral gardens
and walls, or dive on ominous and hulking WWII
shipwrecks. In many places, you can get 100 +
feet of visibility. Also, the country has become
increasingly aware of the biological and economic
importance of its marine heritage, and each year
brings better access to and protection for the
unique marine life. Because of the hundreds of
islands, there are many dive options. Visit the
dive pages to learn more about Malaysia's diving
to activities like spelunking and jungle trekking,
"shopping" may sound a bit tame, but
make no mistake: exploring Malaysia's outdoor
markets is pure adventure (and of course you can
take home whatever you hunt - or bargain - down).
The variety of bargain items you can find in the
major markets is endless, ranging from quality
electronics to blowguns to traditional arts and
crafts. Currently, the dollar goes a long way
in Malaysia, so if you're serious about shopping
you might consider bringing an extra bag along
Visit a longhouse:
Along the rivers of Sarawak and Sabah are some
very unique native communities where people live
in structures called longhouses, which are really
entire villages housed under a single long roof.
They live off small crops and the bounty of the
rain forest, and their communality and generosity
might best be summed up by one simple fact: anyone
is welcome to stay for free for as long as they
like (though it is recommended that you bring
some small gifts, such as a candy for the kids).
Most visitors come with a native guide who can
also take you on a jungle walk and translate for
you. Some longhouses have special "guest
longhouses" adjacent for visitors, others
host guests inside the main longhouse itself.
Nature has been almost as generous to Malaysia
regarding its caves as it has with the rain forest.
Both the world's largest single cave chamber,
and the longest cave passage in Southeast Asia
can be found in Sarawak's extraordinary Gunung
Mulu National Park. In fact, almost every national
park in Malaysia has a significant limestone cave
system, and many of them offer guided tours, with
varying levels of penetration.
Because of its myriad cultural influences, Malaysia
is a country renown for its creative, complex,
and lovingly prepared original cuisine. Food is
taken very seriously here, from the five-star
restaurants right down to the hawker's booths.
Sauces tend to be highly developed, often incorporating
local fruits and spices, and the seafood dishes
are what you'd expect from a country almost entirely
surrounded by ocean. To get a good overview of
what's out there, check out the cuisine section.