If ever there was a place to trigger a bout of severe wanderlust, it’s Malaysia. Prepare to be wowed as our friend and talented photographer Christian Escobar takes us on a visual journey through Malaysia’s jungles, islands and sci-fi cityscapes. We warned you!
The Culture in Kuala Lumpur
Begin your exotic journey in Asia’s “green capital”, Kuala Lumpur. This city is an extraordinary clash of skyscrapers, colonial architecture and leafy Banyan trees. You’re only officially in Malaysia once you’ve visited the Petronas towers. These iconic landmarks helped establish Kuala Lumpur as one of the biggest modern cities in Southeast Asia, and you can find them right outside KLCC Station.
Make sure you catch a glimpse of these beauties at night — their 88-stories make them the tallest twin towers in the world, and they look extra glamorous when lit up. Expect plenty of restaurants, sky bars, and shopping districts surrounding them, so you can make a night of it.
Another iconic landmark in Kuala Lumpur is the 400 million-year-old Batu Caves. The luminous statue at the entrance marks the start of the climb up 272 steps. The labyrinth of spooky caves at the top are definitely worth the workout!
The blueness of the Perhentian Islands
Indulge in some R&R at the Perhentian Islands, one of the most beautiful spots in Malaysia. It’s also a cheap option in Southeast Asia to score your PADI scuba diving course, so you can swim with the many rays, cuttlefish and parrotfish for a discount. And have you ever seen water this clear in your life?!
To reach this mythical paradise, one must take an overnight bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut, and then a boat to the island. Accommodation gets full fast so make sure you book your hostel in advance. Rainforest Camping offers sky roof showers and a private beach with turtles and glowing plankton. Imagine a pinch yourself moment, every moment!
Olde worlde vibes and street art in Penang
Penang is known as the “pearl of the orient” and has long served as an important link between Asia’s kingdoms and the rest of the world. It’s a fascinating world of old and new, with heritage buildings, a diverse mix of locals and a thriving street art scene. Georgetown is known for its arts and unique street graffiti in particular.
We all know that when backpacking the world, getting a decent haircut is a little hard to come by! However, if you’re in Penang and want to sport a new clean style, Son & Dad Barbers in Georgetown is the place to go. If you happen to pay a visit say hi to the owner Elyas from us, and tell him we sent you there 😉
As well as incredible food, hiking spots and rich culture, Penang is also known for its stunning beaches. We recommend Langkawi island. You’ll get a feel for the local lifestyle with village huts built from palm trees, and the chance to explore natural hot springs and caves and Langkawi’s famous underground water tunnel that runs through a giant aquarium. It’s also generally cheaper than some of the other surrounding islands and the hostels are bangin’!
Otherworldly National Parks in Borneo
When in Malaysia, one must go to Borneo. The only way to get to Borneo’s National Parks is to fly straight in, and as soon as you step off the plane you’ll feel like you’re on the set of Jurassic Park! Borneo offers the most incredible nature, with raw hiking trails through tropical forests and jungles – minus the dinosaurs (soz). This is what wild, untouched nature looks like Bako National Park…
Now, this is why Borneo should be no. 1 on your bucket list! Orang-utans are humankind’s closest relative and Borneo’s most iconic animal and as you can see, it’s incredibly difficult not to fall in love with these fellas! We recommend heading to Semmengoh Natural Reserve or Sepilok to see them in their natural habitat. Tip – arrive at the reserve early before feeding time, you never know when they might show up!
Mulu National Park is home to the largest and most famous caves in the world. Tip: take a headlamp with you, you might find it hard to navigate with no light at night!
Temples and local lyfe in Kuching
Kuching is Borneo’s most sophisticated city with a mix of colonial architecture, serene Chinese temples, and bustling streets. To get there you can take a planned tour or if you fancy taking a bus with locals, you can do all of these trips at quarter of the price. Don’t worry; Borneo is pretty safe 😉
Kuching is renowned for its food and the night market in Kota Kinabalu is catered to the locals of the area. You’ll find rows of small food halls selling rich, traditional Malaysian delights – you’ll be spoilt for choice! Make sure you taste the king of all fruits, the almighty Durian. It’s known for its strong smell, and the taste? Well, it’s kinda subjective so we will let you decide!
Unlike the street art capital of Penang, art in Kuching is much more rare, which makes it super satisfying when you stumble across one! This mural was created by the famous street artist Ernest Zacharovic, to bring more of a creative touch to the city of Kuching.
Make sure you take a short 10-20 minute boat to the near by islands to enjoy the beautiful sunny beaches that surround the area. We recommend Tanjung Aru Beach, which is the perfect spot to kick back, sink your feet into the sand and admire the beautiful sunset before heading back to Kota Kinabalu.
Does anyone else now have the urge to travel IMMEDIATELY?! Book your hostels here #noregrets
Christian is a filmmaker from London with a huge passion for travel, fashion and all things creative. With a background in design, he studied and graduated with a Graphic Design degree and is currently freelancing in the art of Videography and Motion Graphics in between travelling the world! Check out his website and can follow him on Instagram here.