Tourist Destinations

Petronas Twin Towers

The tallest twin towers in the world, the Petronas reach an impressive 452 meters high up into the clouds. The towers are 88 floors tall and have an impressive total of 76 elevators.

Built using reinforced concrete, steel, and glass, the two towers are connected to each other by a double skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floors. Visitors can make their way up here for stunning views of KL and the 6.9-hectare KLCC Park below—the views are particularly impressive at night.

While most of the floors on the towers are rented to companies—IBM, Microsoft, and Huawei Technologies all have offices here—the bottom floors of the towers are reserved for Suria KLCC, one of the largest shopping centers in Malaysia. With over 300 stores, an art gallery, and even space for a Philharmonic Hall, this retail and entertainment space will keep visitors occupied for hours.

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Batu Caves, Selangor

Located less than an hour outside Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves complex consists of three main caves plus a series of smaller ones, most of them containing statues and 100-year-old shrines dedicated to Hindu gods.

The main cave, known as Cathedral Cave, is at the top of a massive colorful staircase—make it all the way up the 272 steps, and you’ll find a space decorated with statues, altars, and lights. At the bottom of the stairs, a 43-meter-tall gold statue of Lord Murugan welcomes visitors.

Visitors are allowed to explore the caves on their own or can join a guided tour to learn more about the caves. During the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in January, thousands of people flock to the cave for the celebrations.

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Mount Kinabalu, Sabah

At just over 4,000 meters high, Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia. The mountain is part of Kinabalu Park, one of the oldest national parks in Malaysia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its unique ecosystem mixing alpine meadows, grasslands, and shrublands, Kinabalu is home to an impressive range of both plant and animal species, including the threatened orangutans.

Mount Kinabalu is a major destination for climbers—but summiting here can be tricky. Only 185 climb permits are issued daily by the park, and visitors must make accommodation reservations and hire a mountain guide in advance in order to be allowed to hit the trails. Although people under 16 are allowed to join climbing groups, there are restrictions in place.

Climbers should plan a stay at the Kinabalu National Park before attempting the climb—since the park itself is already at an altitude of over 1,800 meters, this will allow for acclimatization before attempting to reach the peak.

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Perhentian Islands

Once a stopping point used by traders traveling around Southeast Asia, this group of small islands is part of a marine park and has become a major tourist destination in northeastern Malaysia. Most of the islands can be accessed by either ferry or small motorized boats, although only the two larger islands offer accommodations, shops, and amenities—of these two, Pulau Perhentian Besar has more of a backpacking scene, while Pulau Perhentian Kecil is a little more upscale and family-oriented.

While you can hop on a water taxi to move from one beach to the next here, it’s also possible to follow the island’s walking trails instead—a much-recommended option as you get to trek through jungle paths and get open stunning views of the water along the way.

Scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking are popular activities here, but visitors can also volunteer in turtle conservation programs and get unique access to the areas where turtles come to lay eggs.

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Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island and its surrounding ocean waters are part of the world’s richest marine habitat, home to endangered hawksbill turtles, whale sharks, monitor lizards, and hundreds of coral species. The island is also considered one of the best diving destinations in the world and is fiercely protected—visiting requires a permit in advance and only 120 permits are given out per day.

Reaching the island requires an hour-long ride on a speed boat. Once here, the island can be easily explored on foot, with different beaches and reef sites within minutes of each other.

Since it’s no longer possible to stay on the island because of environmental protection laws (the nearby Mabul Island offers accommodations), visitors usually come here early in the morning as part of snorkeling and diving tours. All visitors must leave the island by 3pm.