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Diverse destinations for a multicentre holiday in Malaysia

From sun-dappled tropical beaches and wildlife-haunted jungles to colonial heritage towns and culture-rich modern cities, make the most of the diversity that Malaysia has to offer on a multicentre holiday.

Experience Malaysia's incredible diversity

A glorious jumble of steaming rainforests with rare wildlife, cute colonial towns and misty hill stations, glittering cities, ancient jungle tribes and idyllic isles, Malaysia offers a myriad of magical travel experiences. With so much to see and do, it pays to take a multicentre holiday in Malaysia visiting a range of destinations to get a real feel for this incredibly diverse country.

The modern capital Kuala Lumpur is the country's main transport hub, home to its busiest international airport and a popular stopover for travellers en route to Malaysia's wilderness areas, heritage towns and beaches. The options are seemingly-endless – you can head to the atmospheric Peninsula enclaves of Malacca to the south or Penang to the north; you could travel to the rich rainforests and clement hill stations of central Malaysia; or you can opt to hop to the paradise islands of the west and east. And that's not all. Over in Malaysian Borneo, a world of wild once-in-the-lifetime experiences awaits.

Malaysia is one of those rare and exotic gems where you can team a beach escape with a wild jungle adventure, or a cosmopolitan city break with a unique cultural hotspot. A stay in the country also makes the ideal partner to an extended stopover in the model metropolis state of Singapore, located just to the south of the peninsula.

City and culture combos

Malaysia is an utterly beguiling destination for cultural explorers. Its architectural marvels range from tribal longhouse villages and Hindu cave temples to heritage streets and eye-popping skyscrapers that tell a fascinating story. With careful planning, you can experience it all in one trip – flying first to discover Kuala Lumpur's patchwork of old and new neighbourhoods, the impressive Petronas twin towers and sparkling shopping malls, the colonial quarter and vibrant China Town. Kuala Lumpur is also a good base for a trip out of town to the Batu Cave temples, with its dramatic entrance flanked by huge golden Hindu statues half-way up a cliff-side.

Travellers who relish exploring old world streets can choose to head north from Kuala Lumpur to the enchanting former colonial island of Penang, once dubbed the pearl of the orient. Capital Georgetown is a mix of Indian, Chinese and British influences with vibrant night markets and renowned local cuisine. To the south of Kuala Lumpur on Peninsula Malaysia's south-western seaboard, the city of Malacca is equally eclectic, being the Peninsula's oldest settlement and once the wealthiest sea port in the whole of south-east Asia.

In the centre of the Peninsula, the cool climes of the Cameron Highlands are another popular cultural stop with peculiarly British hill stations, manor house hotels, vast verdant tea plantations, strawberry farms and butterfly gardens. You can combine a stay here with a guided tour into the cloud forests to visit indigenous villages little-changed for centuries.

It's well worth taking a domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Malaysian Borneo city of Kuching where fine riverside hotels make a comfortable base for a foray into the Sarawak jungles. To experience ancient island cultures you can take guided tours from Kuching to visit the traditional Bidayuh longhouses of Annah Rais or to the Iban villages of Batang Ai National Park, reached by road and river boat through the forest.

For fans of chic modern cities, Singapore's proximity to Peninsula Malaysia makes it the ideal partner in a multicentre holiday to the region. The city state of skyscrapers and parks is renowned for its high standards of service and luxury hotels, and boasts the best restaurants in south-east Asia. Traces of its British colonial past include many heritage buildings and the famous Singapore Sling cocktail at the Raffles hotel, and there are plenty of great markets and malls for travellers who like to shop.

From Singapore you can board the luxurious Eastern Oriental Express for a multi-stop rail journey all the way up the Malaysian Peninsula, stopping in Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands and Penang. You can even continue your journey by train all the way to the Thai capital of Bangkok.

Relax and explore

After sampling Malaysian culture and heritage in Kuala Lumpur, many travellers want to experience some of the country's stunningly beautiful tropical islands. To the west, the island of Pangkor is relatively close to Kuala Lumpur, making it ideal as part of a city and beach break combo.

To the north, the paradisiacal Langkawi archipelago is the most popular option for a relaxing beach holiday. Though there are a number of hotels and resorts, its picturesque forested peaks and pearlescent beaches have remained unspoilt, and travellers can enjoy a range of activities from scaling its loftiest peaks by cable car to hiking in lush national parks.

East of Peninsula Malaysia yet more idyllic islands tempt travellers with tropical paradise. Ringed with protected rainbow reefs and topped with verdant peaks, Tioman Island is a natural haven which never-the-less has plenty of affordable places to stay. Accessed from the southern mainland by plane or ferry, the island was used as a backdrop in the classic movie South Pacific and is rimmed with spectacular dive sites, ideal for underwater explorers.

Equally beguiling, Redang is one of the biggest east coast islands known for its diaphanous waters and creamy sand beaches. Like Tioman it is part of a marine reserve and is a sea turtle conservation area. There are a smattering of luxury resorts where you can simply relax on the beach or explore the coral gardens just offshore.

Natural immersion

Visiting Malaysian Borneo adds an unforgettable dimension to your trip. It's the perfect place to get immersed in nature and is a short hop from Kuala Lumpur via internal flights. The city of Kuching in Sarawak province is a comfortable base from which to make forays into the rainforest and visit nearby orangutan sanctuaries such as Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

In northern Borneo, the Malaysian province of Sabah is a world biodiversity hotspot. National Parks protect pristine wilderness areas and orangutan habitats around towering Mount Kinabalu and Sepilok. From the coastal city of Kota Kinabalu you can explore the national park crisscrossed with hiking trails, underground streams and waterfalls. Canopy bridges allow visitors a glimpse into the treetops teeming with monkeys and birds, and natural hot springs offer a fantastic place to relax at the edge of the park.

Less accessible but well worth the effort, head deep into wild territory with a journey through Sepilok to orangutan and sunbear reserves on the edge of the jungle, before plunging deep into the Danum Valley, said to have the highest concentration of orang-utans in the world.

You'll find endless reasons to make your trip to Malaysia a multicentre holiday. And whether you want to explore Kuala Lumpur, Borneo and Penang for a taste of the best sights, culture and wildlife Malaysia has to offer or even take a full Peninsula tour from Singapore to Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands, Penang and Langkawi, our Malaysia experts can put together a seamless itinerary for your dream holiday.

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