Tropical rainforests and gorgeous beaches, vibrant cities and outstanding food
Populated by a blend of Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous groups, Malaysia boasts a rich cultural heritage, from a huge variety of annual festivals and wonderful cuisines, to traditional architecture and rural crafts. There’s astonishing natural beauty to take in too, including gorgeous beaches and some of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, much of which is surprisingly accessible. Malaysia’s national parks are superb for trekking and wildlife-watching, and sometimes for cave exploration and river rafting.
As part of the Malay archipelago, which stretches from Indonesia to the Philippines, Malaysia became an important port of call on the trade route between India and China, the two great markets of the early world, and later became important entrepôts for the Portuguese, Dutch and British empires. Malaysia has only existed in its present form since 1963, when the federation of the eleven Peninsula states was joined by Singapore and the two Bornean territories of Sarawak and Sabah. Singapore left the union to become an independent country in 1965.
Today, the dominant cultural force in the country is undoubtedly Islam, adopted by the Malays in the fourteenth century. But it’s the religious plurality – there are also sizeable Christian and Hindu minorities – that is so attractive, often providing surprising juxtapositions of mosques, temples and churches. Add the colour and verve of Chinese temples and street fairs, Indian festival days and everyday life in Malay kampungs (villages), and the indigenous traditions of Borneo, and it’s easy to see why visitors are drawn into this celebration of ethnic diversity; indeed, despite some issues, Malaysia has something to teach the rest of the world when it comes to building successful multicultural societies.
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The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei
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The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.
Living the good life in Borneo
Life in the beautiful region of Sapulot is relaxed and uncomplicated, and the communities who live here want to keep it that way. They are inviting visitors to …02 Jun 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
7 reasons why Langkawi is Malaysia's ultimate island escape
Looking to unwind on a tropical island somewhere in Southeast Asia? Then head to the island of Langkawi, Malaysia’s ultimate escape from the country’s frene…09 Feb 2016 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?
National parks are some of the world's most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one…02 Jul 2015 • Rebecca Hallett help Quiz
After Malaysia, where next?
Check out Philippines