A lot of backpackers didn’t have great things to say about Malaysia before I came here. So, I didn’t have very high expectations, but honestly, I loved it! The food, the culture, the accommodations = 10/10. Plus, I had the interesting experience of being there on Chinese New Year AND it was the first Muslim country I’ve ever been in.
Back in the US, the Trump administration banned immigration from 7 predominately muslim countries. While I was there, I felt 100% safe and all the people I’ve met approached me (as an American) with more curiosity than hate. Of course, Malaysia was not one of the countries banned.
In a week, I was able to do Langkawi, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur. Here’s what I recommend.
1.) Watch the sunset from Cenang Beach in Langkawi.
2) Eat all the street food, preferably at places far far far away from the touristy areas. It’ll be cheaper and more authentic. Order anything that begins with Roti, meaning Bread in english, and don’t be afraid to ditch the knife and fork and just dig in there with your hands.
3) Buy all the fine chocolate. It is so cheap there.
4) Go see the street art in Penang. It’s easy to spend 1/2 a day just walking around, eating and looking at all the art.
5) Visit Kek Lo Si temple in Penang. If you’re lucky enough to be there on Chinease New Year in Jan/Feb, then DEFINITELY go. The whole place is lit up. It looks like christmas, only you’re in Asia, it’s 80 degrees and there’s giant Buddha’s everywhere.
6) Check out the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, especially at night. For around $30/night, I was able to book a room with a pool at the top floor overlooking the entire skyline.
7) Interact with the wildlife in Langkawi. I didn’t have enough time to book a wildlife tour in the UNESCO protected park, but met some locals who had sugar gliders as pets and were just hanging out with them on the beach. It’s also pretty easy to spot monkeys, birds and the like just from walking around.