Malaysia – a destination like no other
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula and has a population of around 25.6 million and growing.
Saudis are fond of traveling. In fact, recent estimates suggest that over 5 million Saudi tourists will leave the Kingdom for their summer holidays and this number is expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years.
The most popular destinations among Saudis are Lebanon (subject to the political situation), Egypt, Dubai and Malaysia.
Malaysia is one of the most visited non-Arab country by Saudis as it is an Islamic country with a cooler climate between May and August, offering both beach and inland tourist attractions and very well organised family resorts and shopping centres.
A rich and diverse culture
Malaysia never fails to surprise thanks to its rich heritage and ethic diversity, which blends the best aspects of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. These influences have shaped Malaysia into a modern and forward-looking country that respects its traditions, while around every corner the old and new appear to co-exist happily.
Due to the country’s major historical role in trade between India and China, and its subsequent host to the British, Dutch and Portuguese colonies, Malaysia has always been a melting pot for language, culture and traditions, many of which survive to this day.
Experience the best of Malaysia
Anyone visiting Malaysia will be spoilt for choice due to the huge variety of activities. From the bustling heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur with its wide choice of restaurants, shopping malls, museums, temples and colourful street fairs, to ancient inland rainforests and remote villages that take you back in time, as well as lovely beaches and tropical islands, Malaysia offers everything you could want. Whether you prefer a luxury tour, an adventurous jungle trek, or a family friendly holiday, Malaysia hugely accessible thanks to its modern infrastructure and transport.
City lovers will adore Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is a great first stop for sightseeing and to become acquainted with the climate. Visitors could start with a leisurely stroll around Merdeka Square, visit Chinatown’s narrow allies and sample the local cuisine in tiny restaurants or at busy street stalls, then later head to the Petronas Twin Towers in the Golden Triangle for splendid views across the city and beyond.
The city is also home to dozens of mosques in every district, but those of particular mention include the Masjid Jamek (Friday Mosque) which is a striking building located near the Gombak river, complete with soaring minarets and arched colonnades. Additionally, the National Mosque is as impressive as any of Kuala Lumpur’s skyscrapers, with an usual main dome and space for 10,000 worshippers. To learn more about Malaysia’s turbulent past, you could also head to the Islamic Arts Museum, which details the country’s Islamic history and is always one of the most interesting tourist attractions.
For keen shoppers, Kuala Lumpur boasts fantastic air-conditioned shopping at Mid Valley and other malls around the city, and hotels to suit every taste that rival those anywhere in the world. Kuala Lumpur is certainly one of the most engaging and enjoyable capital cities to visit in South East Asia – it’s hard not to fall in love with the place and its people, and it has an appeal that even the most jaded travellers cannot deny.
Highlands and colonial heritage
Visitors to Malaysia should not miss the cooler climate of the Cameron Highlands in the country’s north west. Escaping from the city heat, it’s a fascinating journey through verdant countryside to arrive at mountains permanently cloaked in mist, tea plantations and strawberry fields. A few days in the highlands is recommended to enjoy the taste of old England – sip cream teas while enjoying the lush rolling hills and fresher temperatures before heading to the coast.
Just a few hours to west of the Cameron Highlands is the popular island of Penang with its old capital Georgetown. Famed for its beautifully restored colonial architecture, it gives you the opportunity to relax on its beaches, go shopping, or visit some surprisingly lush tropical gardens and parks. Georgetown, like Melaka further south, is recognised for its cultural diversity as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Malaysia’s incredible rainforests draw thousands of visitors, and rightly so – the Taman Negara National Park in the country’s interior is an un-missable experience that will keep the more adventurous occupied for days with aerial canopy walks, waterfalls, limestone caves and unique wildlife. It is also home to one of the country’s few indigenous people, the Orang Asli, who still roam the park in a semi-nomadic lifestyle.
To the east of the Malaysian Peninsula across the sea lie the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak, which will appeal to anyone who wants to experience the road less travelled – remote villages, tropical rainforests (such as the Gunung Mulu National Park) and tribal longhouses all offer a glimpse of life in Malaysia hundreds of years ago.
The reason many people visit Sabah is to climb the challenging peak of Mount Kinabulu, or to experience the region’s wildlife such as orang-utans, turtles and proboscis monkeys. While even further to the east, Pulau Sipadan has become a popular destination for anyone interested in marine activities such as diving.
If it’s beaches that you want, well there are plenty, located either around the main island or just off the coast.
Malaysia offers something for everybody
Malaysia is without doubt the jewel in the crown of South East Asia, and has become a deserved favourite among visitors around the world. It is a vibrant, modern country with superb transport links, which makes it easy to explore every corner of this fascinating nation.
The country’s stunning natural landscape, its history, culture and food is so diverse, that everybody will find something to see and do. Saudi tourists will find its openness and friendliness is sincere and welcoming, so much so that Malaysia is perhaps the perfect holiday destination…
Ways to get there
Flynas goes to Kuala Lumpur, from Riyadh or Jeddah, but via Abu Dhabi. Whist Saudi Airlines and Malaysian Airlines fly direct to Kuala Lumpur in just under 9 hours.
Best time to go
The whole of Malaysia has a classic equatorial climate with high temperatures and wet months throughout the year. Temperatures at sea level range from 21ºC to 32ºC, whilst at higher elevations it is much cooler with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C. A beach holiday can be enjoyed all year round in Malaysia as the east and west coasts experience their wettest months at alternate times of the year. The wet season on the west of the peninsula (Apr-Oct) brings thunderstorms in the afternoons, but these are usually brief, and the odd downpour is a welcome way to reduce the humidity. The east coast however tends to have a heavier wet season and is best avoided during the rainy period (Nov-Feb). During these months, many of the beach resorts close, re-opening in March.
Where to eat
Japanese: Xenri D’Garden Terrace has the best Kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner which involves a collection of skills and techniques to prepare such meals. Unkaizan is a great and homely restaurant, owned and operated by the chef and you can see the passion that went into the excellent and delicious dishes, you must try their sea food kamameshi dishes which is rice and fish cooked in a very special way.
Chinese: Concorde Hotel offers a great Chinese experience at the Xin Cuisine restaurant, they have the usual Cantonese dishes as well as traditional Hong Kong dim sum and seasonal specials such as Beggar’s Chicken but with a modern twist, its a large restaurant and its worth a visit. The Cheng Ho Court restaurant at the Mines Wellness Hotel is a very good example of a traditional Chinese restaurant with a very high standard of halal Chinese ingredients (we have not tried it, but its reputation proceeds it).
European: Sirrocco Italian Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Melaka is a great example of the fusion of cultures in Malaysia, found in the historic Malacca district, and has an open plan kitchen which entertains its diners, this restaurant serves very good Italian food to a good standard. Another great Italian restaurant is La Risata and during the month of November, they have their truffle season offering great Italian food with truffle specials direct from Alba.
International: Samplings on the Fourteenth at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel is a super cool place to dine in, excellent views in the evening of the city, consistent and delicious international cuisine and you must try their Wagyu beef filet and the apple tart. If you love fish, then there is only one place you should really try and that’s the Fisherman’s Cove at the Starhill Gallery’s Feast Village, situated inside a rustic Asian boathouse, the fish is amazing, cooked in either international or local styles, and the ambience is superb.
Meat Connoisseur: If you love your meat, then you have to try the Feringgi Grill located at the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, great local ingredients, excellent imported and local meat, and you can have your dish cooked at your table making for an entertaining evening. Gobo Upstairs Lounge and Grill at the Traders Hotel is a very funky restaurant and if you are tired of Wagyu beef, you have to try their Kobe beek and lamb racks. Marble 8 is a very hip and elegant restaurant, and for meat lovers it is heaven, they have an amazing meat selection of aged meats from all over the world, and specialties like bone marrow, and other irresistible dishes for anyone who doesn’t want to eat meat, and the dessert worth trying specially is the lemon tart brûlée to cleanse your palate. The Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental hotel is a very classy restaurant, and its a great place to take your partner at the end of the trip to leave a lasting impression of Malaysia before returning home.