Malaysia is one of my dream destinations, but I’m afraid of being lost when it comes to culture and language. In the few times I have left the United States, I didn’t run into any significant linguistic or cultural barriers. I spoke Spanish in Spain, and Canada’s culture feels like a slightly different version of America’s. However, I never want to let intimidation rule my choice of travel destinations, and after doing a little research, I found little reason to be skittish about crossing the Pacific.
Malaysia, located in southeast Asia, is split into two parts, separated by a stretch of ocean. The western part shares a border with Thailand, while the eastern part sits on the island of Borneo, which it shares with Indonesia and Brunei. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is located in the western part. There is so much in Malaysia to explore, from east to west, city to jungle. Until I can go, I can only dream about the reasons I want to.
- It’s not as intimidating as I thought.
There are plenty of resources for the would-be tourist to help navigate Malaysia – both the country itself and the culture. The Internet exists for a reason, and it’s easier than ever to research possible travel destinations. Plus, the Malaysian tourism industry does its best to inform foreigners about the cultural and religious differences they might encounter while visiting.
Malay is Malaysia’s official language, and the majority of Malaysians are Muslim. Taking this into account, the agency in charge of tourism in Malaysia wrote a guide for non-Muslims about how Malaysians observe Ramadan, with recommendations on how to get something to eat during the month of fasting. While Malaysia would be unlike any other country I have visited, there are many resources out there for the first-time visitor.
- It can be budget friendly.
When traveling, I never like to pay full price. Although a trip to Asia is certainly not cheap, there are plenty of discounts available online that are easy to bag through websites like my.paylesser.com. While daydreaming about this trip, I looked for current offers. It was fun to check out OYO rooms coupons and offers and a few really cheap last-minute hotel and flight deals.
- You can enjoy the city…
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, is full of food markets, museums, and other attractions. I love admiring pictures of the Petronas Twin Towers, which dominate Kuala Lumpur’s skyline and offer visitors a chance to see the city from above. Its architecture, while gorgeous, holds a deeper meaning. According to the Petronas Towers’ website, the buildings function as a reflection of Malaysia’s culture and religion and as a symbol of its international future. If the towers are that gorgeous in pictures, I can’t imagine how amazing they are in person.
Plus, the city likes to bring Malaysia’s rich wildlife into an urban setting. The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park claims to be the largest walk-in aviary in the world, featuring over 3,000 birds from around 200 species. Capital cities are the face of a country, and they always try to represent the best the country has to offer. Kuala Lumpur seems to do this well.
- And wildlife.
If an urban bird park isn’t wild enough, the wild is waiting outside Kuala Lumpur. In the state of Sabah, located in the northeast part of the island of Borneo, there are plenty of opportunities to admire the wealth of plants and animals that populate it. Visitors can climb the steep, rocky slopes of Mount Kinabalu, and their work is rewarded with amazing views.
In Sandakan, a city in Sabah, travelers can visit sanctuaries that protect orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and the Bornean sun bear. Malaysia is home to a wealth of species that, in my American mind, are enticingly exotic, and a huge draw for this dream destination. Of course, there are also beaches with the clearest water I have ever seen photographed, if the previous bits weren’t exciting enough.
As I watch my peers leave to travel to Europe and study abroad in Australia, I envy them, but I also crave something a little different. A trip to Malaysia would stretch my travel comfort zone, while still feeling like an accessible place for someone who has never stepped foot in Asia. Someday, I’d like to find myself at the top of the Petronas Twin Towers, or meeting the animals in one of Sandakan’s nature reserves. Until then, it’s just a dream destination.
Looking for which popular destination could be next to Malaysia? – Try visiting its neighbor – Indonesia, into the exotic island of Bali. Here is our guide!