Malaysia is a diverse country with an abundance of cultural and natural beauty. From vibrant cities to stunning beaches, there’s something for every kind of traveler. In this blog, we have compiled a list of the 15 best cities in Malaysia that you absolutely must visit. From exploring the vibrant Kuala Lumpur to indulging in the flavors of Johor Bahru, we’ve got you covered.
Discovering 15 Best Cities in Malaysia: Top Picks
Malaysia has become one of Southeast Asia’s most popular vacation spots due to its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Discovering Malaysia’s best cities is an incredible way to explore this amazing country. Kuala Lumpur is home to the iconic Petronas Towers and boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.
Penang’s street art, shopping malls, and delicious food make it a tourist favorite. Malacca’s colonial buildings tell the story of Portuguese, Dutch, and British influence on Malaysian culture. These are just some examples of why Malaysia has become such a great place to travel to!
Kuala Lumpur – The Capital City
You’ll love exploring Kuala Lumpur – the bustling heart of Malaysia, with towering skyscrapers, delicious street food, and vibrant cultural experiences.
As the capital city, Kuala Lumpur has everything a traveler could want. From world-class shopping at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers to the historic Batu Caves, home to stunning Hindu temples and limestone formations.
In Kuala Lumpur, the food is a highlight. Street vendors offer a variety of delicious dishes such as nasi lemak, satay, and roti canai. Don’t miss out on the night markets, where you can sample even more local favorites while enjoying the lively atmosphere.
With its modern and traditional mix, Kuala Lumpur will captivate any visitor.
Penang – The Foodie Haven
Penang is renowned for its diverse culinary offerings, making it a haven for food enthusiasts. From street food to high-end restaurants, Penang has it all.
One of the must-try dishes is the famous Penang Laksa, a spicy and sour noodle soup made with fish broth and topped with fresh herbs. Another popular dish is the Char Kway Teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish with prawns, bean sprouts, and Chinese sausage. You can also find a variety of Chinese, Indian, and Malay dishes, such as Nasi Kandar, Roti Canai, and Satay.
Aside from its food scene, Penang also boasts a rich cultural heritage. The capital city, George Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with well-preserved colonial architecture and street art.
You can visit the iconic Kek Lok Si Temple, Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple, or stroll along the Clan Jetties, a collection of wooden houses built on stilts over the water.
Penang is a must-visit destination in Malaysia with its culture and cuisine mix.
Malacca – The Historical Gem
Malacca, also known as Melaka, is a historical gem that offers visitors a glimpse into Malaysia’s rich past. As you explore this charming city, you’ll discover the remnants of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial eras and a thriving Chinese community that dates back centuries.
One of Malacca’s most popular attractions is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the historic city center. Here, you can stroll through the narrow streets and admire the beautiful architecture of the old buildings, many of which have been converted into museums, cafes, and boutique shops.
Don’t miss the iconic red Dutch Stadthuys, the oldest Dutch building in Asia, dating back to the 17th century. Its colorful facade and impressive clock tower make it a must-see for history buff or architecture enthusiast.
Johor Bahru – The Gateway to Singapore
If you’re looking for a bustling city with plenty of opportunities for shopping and entertainment, Johor Bahru is the place to be. Located across the border from Singapore, Johor Bahru is often called the Gateway to Singapore.
This means the city is a popular destination for tourists who want to explore Malaysia and Singapore. Johor Bahru has a lot to offer in terms of shopping and entertainment.
The city is home to several large shopping malls, including the popular Johor Bahru City Square. In addition to shopping, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars where you can relax and unwind.
Whether you’re looking for a night out on the town or a quiet dinner with friends, Johor Bahru has something for everyone.
Kota Kinabalu – The Nature Lover’s Paradise
You’ll be blown away by the breathtaking natural beauty of Kota Kinabalu, making it a paradise for nature lovers. This coastal city in Sabah, Malaysia is surrounded by lush rainforests, wildlife reserves, and the South China Sea. Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia, is also located near the city.
Aside from the stunning landscapes, Kota Kinabalu offers a vibrant cultural experience. The city is home to various ethnic groups, such as the Kadazan-Dusun and the Bajau, each with unique traditions and practices.
You can immerse yourself in the local culture by attending cultural festivals, visiting museums, and exploring traditional markets. With its natural wonders and cultural richness, Kota Kinabalu is a must-visit destination in Malaysia.
Kuching – The Cat City
If you’re looking for a change of pace from Kota Kinabalu’s natural attractions, Kuching might be your next destination. Known as the ‘Cat City,’ Kuching is a charming city that’s perfect for those who love feline-themed everything.
From cat statues to cat-themed cafes, the city takes its love for cats to a whole new level. But Kuching isn’t just about cats. The city has a rich history and culture that’s worth exploring.
You can visit the Sarawak Museum to learn about the local indigenous tribes or stroll along the Kuching Waterfront to see the city’s colonial architecture. And if you’re a foodie, Kuching won’t disappoint. The city is known for its mouth-watering laksa, a spicy noodle soup that must-try.
So, whether you’re a cat lover or not, Kuching is definitely a city worth visiting.
Ipoh – The City of Heritage
Ipoh, also known as the City of Heritage, offers visitors a glimpse into Malaysia’s rich history and culture. The city boasts several historical landmarks and old-world charm, making it a popular tourist destination.
Ipoh’s colonial-era architecture is one of the city’s main draws, and visitors can explore the many museums, galleries, and heritage sites that showcase the city’s cultural heritage. One of the highlights of Ipoh is the Kellie’s Castle, a unique landmark that was never completed due to the untimely death of its owner.
Another popular attraction is the Ipoh Railway Station, one of Malaysia’s most beautiful train stations. The city is also known for its delicious street food, which attracts foodies worldwide.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or food, Ipoh is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Malaysia’s best cities.
Langkawi – The Island Getaway
When you’re craving a relaxing island getaway, Langkawi should be at the top of your list. This beautiful tropical paradise is located in the Andaman Sea and offers visitors stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforests to explore.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, try out some water sports, or enjoy some delicious local cuisine, Langkawi has something for everyone. One of the main attractions in Langkawi is the cable car ride up to the top of Mount Mat Cincang. You can take in breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the surrounding sea from the top.
Another must-visit destination is the Langkawi Sky Bridge, a curved bridge suspended high above the rainforest. For those looking for a more relaxed experience, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to enjoy, such as Pantai Cenang and Tanjung Rhu.
So, pack your bags and head to Langkawi for a truly unforgettable island vacation.
George Town – The UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you’re a fan of heritage sites, you’re in for a treat with George Town. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning you’ll be able to explore its rich history and culture.
It’s located on the island of Penang, known for its delicious cuisine and stunning beaches. But George Town is the city that will steal your heart with its charming streets, colorful buildings, and intricate temples.
Once you arrive in George Town, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The city is a fusion of different cultures, from the British colonial era to the Chinese and Indian influences.
You can spend hours wandering the streets, admiring the street art and architecture. Don’t forget to visit the famous Clan Jetties, where you can see traditional wooden houses built on stilts over the water.
And of course, you can’t leave without trying some of the local delicacies, like Char Kway Teow or Assam Laksa. George Town is a must-visit city for anyone who loves history, culture, and good food.
Shah Alam – The Garden City
You’ll love exploring Shah Alam, known as the Garden City, with its beautiful parks and green spaces. The city is home to Taman Tasik Shah Alam, a park that covers 25 hectares and features a stunning lake, jogging tracks, and a playground.
You can also visit the Shah Alam Botanical Garden, which houses over 700 species of plants and trees, including rare and exotic varieties. The garden is popular for picnics, nature walks, and photography sessions.
Aside from the parks, Shah Alam is also known for its modern architecture. One of the most famous landmarks in the city is the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and boasts a stunning blue dome and minarets.
You can also visit the Shah Alam Gallery, a contemporary art space that showcases local and international works. With its natural beauty and modern design, Shah Alam is worth a visit.
Putrajaya – The Futuristic Capital
Explore the futuristic capital of Putrajaya, where you can marvel at its stunning architecture and witness the beauty of its man-made lake. The city was built to be Malaysia’s administrative capital, and it’s truly a sight to behold.
From the iconic Putra Mosque with its pink dome to the impressive Putrajaya International Convention Centre, you’ll be surrounded by cutting-edge designs and modern structures.
But Putrajaya isn’t just a city of concrete and steel. Its centerpiece is the Putrajaya Lake, a 650-hectare man-made lake that offers a stunning backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a picnic with loved ones. You can even rent a boat to explore the lake and see the city from a different perspective.
Don’t forget to visit the beautiful botanical garden, where you’ll find a variety of plants and flowers from all over the world. Whether you’re a nature lover or an architecture enthusiast, Putrajaya is definitely worth a visit.
Alor Setar – The Royal City
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of the future with Putrajaya, let’s take a trip back in time to the royal city of Alor Setar. Located in the northern state of Kedah, this city is steeped in history and culture, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler.
One of the main attractions of Alor Setar is the Istana Anak Bukit, which is the official residence of the Sultan of Kedah. Visitors can take a tour of the palace and learn about the rich history of the Kedah Sultanate.
Another notable landmark is the Alor Setar Tower, which stands at 165 meters tall and offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
And for those looking to get a taste of the local cuisine, Alor Setar is famous for its delicious laksa and nasi lemak, among other dishes.
So why not take a trip to the royal city of Alor Setar and experience the charm and beauty of this historic destination for yourself?
Seremban – The Hidden Gem
As you walk through the lush greenery and winding roads of Negeri Sembilan, you’ll stumble upon the hidden gem of Seremban. This city might not be on everyone’s radar, but it’s worth a visit.
Seremban is known for its delicious food, rich culture, and laid-back atmosphere. If you’re a foodie, Seremban is the place to be. You can find some of the best local delicacies here, such as the famous Seremban Siew Pau (baked meat pastry) and beef noodles. The city also has a vibrant night market scene, where you can indulge in a variety of street food.
In addition to the food, Seremban is home to several cultural attractions, including the State Museum and Cultural Park, which showcases the history and traditions of Negeri Sembilan. So, if you’re looking for a unique and authentic experience, Seremban is worth a stop on your Malaysian adventure.
Kuantan – The Coastal Retreat
Kuantan is the perfect coastal retreat if you’re craving a relaxing beach getaway. Located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Kuantan boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
One of the must-visit beaches is Teluk Chempedak, a crescent-shaped beach that is surrounded by lush greenery and clear blue waters. Here, you can soak up the sun, take a dip in the ocean, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach.
Aside from its beaches, Kuantan also has plenty of other attractions to offer. For a taste of local culture, head to the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum, which showcases the history and heritage of Pahang. You can also visit the Kuantan River Cruise, where you can enjoy a scenic boat ride down the Kuantan River while taking in the sights and sounds of the city.
With its laid-back vibe and stunning scenery, Kuantan is a city worth adding to your travel itinerary.
Miri – The Oil Town Turned Tourist Destination
Once known as an oil town, Miri has become a popular tourist destination. Located in the northern region of Sarawak, Miri is surrounded by lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife. Its strategic location makes it an ideal gateway to explore the beautiful attractions of Borneo Island.
One of the must-visit places in Miri is the Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to some of the world’s largest cave systems, including the Deer Cave and Clearwater Cave. You can also walk on a canopy and witness the stunning rainforest views.
Other notable attractions in Miri include the Tusan Beach, Lambir Hills National Park, and Canada Hill. You can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the South China Sea at Canada Hill.
With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that Miri has become a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Bintulu – The Industrial Hub with Natural Wonders
Located in the central region of Sarawak, Bintulu offers a unique blend of industrial development and natural wonders. As an industrial hub, Bintulu is home to major corporations such as Petronas and has a thriving economy. However, despite its industrial roots, Bintulu has not lost its connection to nature.
The city is surrounded by lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and stunning waterfalls that will leave you in awe. One of the must-visit attractions in Bintulu is Similajau National Park. This park boasts a beautiful coastline, unique rock formations, and diverse wildlife.
You can take a relaxing walk along the beach, hike through the jungle, or even go birdwatching. Another popular spot in Bintulu is Taman Tumbina, a nature reserve that is home to a wide range of animals, including monkeys, deer, and crocodiles.
In addition to its natural attractions, Bintulu has a vibrant food scene. You can find delicious local dishes such as Sarawak laksa and kolo mee at the city’s bustling night markets.
Sandakan – The Wildlife Capital
When you visit Sandakan, you’ll be immersed in the wildlife capital of Sabah. The city is home to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. These centres allow you to witness these magnificent creatures up close. The orangutan rehabilitation centre is a must-visit destination. It provides a safe haven for endangered primates and allows visitors to observe them in their natural habitat.
Sandakan also boasts stunning natural scenery. The Kinabatangan River is one such example. You can ride a boat and spot wildlife such as proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, and crocodiles.
The city is also a gateway to the Turtle Islands National Park. Here, you can witness turtles’ nesting and participate in conservation efforts. Sandakan truly is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise!
Tawau – The Gateway to Sabah’s East Coast Islands
If you’re looking for a tropical island getaway in Sabah, Tawau should be on your radar as it is the perfect gateway to the east coast islands.
In the southeast corner of Sabah, Tawau has an airport and a seaport connecting you to the beautiful islands of Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, and Pom Pom.
These islands are blessed with crystal clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life, making them a haven for snorkelers and divers.
Apart from its proximity to the islands, Tawau has a few attractions worth exploring.
You can visit the Tawau Hills Park, which boasts a rich collection of flora and fauna, including the famous Rafflesia flower.
You can also check out the Teck Guan Cocoa Museum, where you can learn about the history of cocoa farming in the region and sample some delicious chocolates.
Head to the Tawau Waterfront in the evening for a picturesque sunset view and local seafood dishes.
Overall, Tawau is a great destination for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and a taste of Sabah’s culture.
Congratulations! You’ve just gone on a virtual tour of the best cities in Malaysia. Malaysia offers a diverse range of experiences for every type of traveler.
From the bustling capital city of Kuala Lumpur to the tranquil wildlife capital of Sandakan, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie looking to indulge in Penang’s famous hawker stalls or a nature lover seeking adventure in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia has it all.
So why not start planning your next trip to this beautiful country? With its warm and welcoming people, stunning landscapes, and rich history, Malaysia is a destination you won’t miss.
Pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through some of the best cities in Southeast Asia. Happy travels!