Malaysia covers such a spread-out area that it would be impossible to see everything, but each of the following routes makes a great way to spend two or three weeks in the region. While the Peninsula Circuit is the most varied, head east to Borneo if you prefer an outdoor-focused option.
Recommended Malaysia itineraries
If you are planning your travel to Malaysia yourself, use these itineraries created by our travel writers as a starting point for inspiration.
For a straightforward taster of everything the region has to offer, try this three-week circuit.
1. Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia's capital offers shiny malls, showcase architecture and a mix of Muslim, Chinese and Hindu districts, with some of the best street food in the country.
2. Cameron Highlands
This former retreat for colonial administrators is now a rural idyll of tea plantations and forest walks.
3. Pulau Pangkor
Kick back at this low-key resort island that's a favourite with Malaysian families.
Packed with historic guildhalls and streets, eccentric temples and surprisingly wild gardens and national parks.
5. Kota Bharu
One of the last places in this Muslim country that allows shadow-puppet performances of the Hindu epics.
6. Perhentian islands
Superb tropical hangouts with gorgeous beaches and splendid snorkelling and scuba diving.
7. Jungle railway
This slow-moving commuter train chugs past languid towns, tiny kampungs and market gardens along the way.
8. Taman Negara
One of the world's oldest rainforests features superlative wildlife-spotting and jungle treks lasting up to a week or more.
Allow at least three weeks for this adventurous trip into Malaysia's least-developed corners.
Find your bearings at Sarawak's small, likeable capital: don't miss the Semenggoh orang-utan sanctuary, a rewarding day-trip.
Sarawak's oldest national park, this small patch of well-preserved coastal forest is home to waterfalls, proboscis monkeys and bizarre pitcher plants.
3. Batang Ai
Take a boat through spectacular riverine forest in this often overlooked national park, and visit traditional longhouse communities such as Nanga Sumpa.
4. Gunung Mulu National Park
Spectacular jungle scenery, particularly the three-day trek out to a "forest" of limestone towers, and a network of rugged caverns.
A stepping stone to the remoter corners of Sarawak. Don't miss the caves at Niah National Park, inhabited by humans over 40,000 years ago.
Set out on some demanding multi-day trekking via remote Kelabit longhouses or up Mount Murud.
7. Kota Kinabalu
Sabah's capital has lively markets, a district of traditional houses built over the water on piles, and an interesting indigenous museum.
8. Kinabulu National Park
This small reserve surrounds wind-seared Mount Kinabulu, one of the toughest hikes in Malaysia.