9 Reasons Why I Loved Backpacking Malaysia – and why you should visit too
Thailand and South East Asia are some of the most popular places to backpack in the world but the nearby and underrated country of Malaysia is often overlooked, skipped or rushed through which is such a shame because backpacking Malaysia is an amazing adventure. Malaysia is a fascinating country which offers everything a backpacker or traveller could want and deserves much more than just a quick stop over while backpacking through the rest of South East Asia.
In fact, Malaysia is actually more like 2 countries – peninsula Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia and backpacking Malaysia is arguably more adventurous and offers more diverse experiences than backpacking neighbouring and super popular Thailand.
I’ve been to Malaysia 5 times now and still haven’t seen it all. I just love Malaysia, the fusion of religions, landscapes, cultures and cuisines and the friendly people. The best part is that backpacking Malaysia is easy, affordable, safe and easily accessible. The roads are smooth and the transport is modern yet still cheap. You can book bus and train tickets online easily with Bookaway.
So if your are backpacking around South East Asia make sure you don’t rush through Malaysia, or if you want an adventurous, exotic yet easy and affordable holiday then Malaysia is more than enough for one amazing trip.
Here’s why you shouldn’t miss backpacking Malaysia.
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #1 – Malay people are so friendly
Malay people are welcoming and more genuinely open and friendly (unlike in other nearby countries were people are just after a sale). A good level of English is spoken in Malaysia and added to the people’s friendliness it is easy to strike up a conversation with genuine people.
I talked to a family on train, a woman helped me make my purchases in a market, I spoke to some students in a restaurant, a businessman on a bus and even made friends in an elevator who then took me for drinks on a heli pad with amazing views over KL and drove me back to my hotel afterwards!
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #2 – Cultural and religious diversity
One of my favourite things to do while backpacking Malaysia is exploring, experiencing and learning about all the different cultures and religions. Malaysia is so multicultural and has fascinating history and a melting pot mix of cultures, religions and people with interesting Chinese, Malay and Indian influences. Exploring, in Penang especially, it is easy to go temple hopping and visit Muslim mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples and Christian churches all on one street and also celebrates festivals and holidays of all religions as one Malaysia. One of my favourite temples was Kek Lok Si in Penang.
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #3 – Delicious and varied cuisine
The food is equally as diverse as the culture and Malaysia is known for having one of the most diverse cuisines in the world. I mostly ate on the street, in food courts and inexpensive restaurants and often ordered something that I had no idea what it was but found the food was always great – tasty, cheap, varied and safe. From the spicy sour curry laksa to nasi lemak to Indian currys, Chinese noodles, dim sum breakfasts, BBQ fresh fish in spicy sambal, kebabs, roti, sweet deserts, icy cendol and western favourites I was always delighted. You won’t go hungry while backpacking Malaysia!
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #4 – Stunning geographical diversity
Malaysia offers stunning geographical diversity. From the modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur which has grown exponentially from a tin mining outpost of the British Empire only 150 years ago which offers many things to do. Malaysia also has charming, historic cities, colonial architecture and temples, steamy jungles home to orangutans, tribal long houses, cool highlands, mountains and paradise islands and world class diving.
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #5 – It’s great value for money
Although Malaysia is not as cheap as Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia it still represents great value for money. It’s developed enough to make travel easy and comfortable but it’s not expensive and you can easily get by on £25 or $40 a day. But instead of being cramped into rusty buses on bumpy roads you can relax and be whisked along a flat road on a spacious modern bus with massaging seats. See more backpacking Malaysia budget tips here.
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #6 – Great year round climate
As it is so close to the equator the weather varies very little and Malaysia has a great year round climate with average temperatures of between 23 and 33 degrees centigrade and 12 hours of sunlight daily year round its always a good time to visit.
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #7 – Travel is Easy and Hassle Free
I found traveling alone hassle free and safe in Malaysia. Travel is easy as it is one of the most stable countries in the region. Malaysia doesn’t feel overrun with tourists as some destinations can, the locals are genuinely friendly and happy to help and while backpacking Malaysia I never felt unsafe and didn’t get hassled to buy things unlike other countries in the region.
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #8 – KL is a Major Flight Hub
Kuala Lumpur is home of top budget airline Air Asia and is a major flight hub meaning that flying pretty much anywhere from KL is inexpensive and it’s cheaper to spend a few days in Malaysia than the alternative flight hub of expensive Singapore
Why I love backpacking Malaysia #9 – Free Visa on Arrival
Theres also no need to worry about visas as a free 90 day visa is issued on arrival for most countries. Even Indian citizens can now get an visa for Malaysia (find out how to here)