The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is an enticing urban melting pot with influences from China, India, and native Malaysia.
But if you are looking for a relaxed, tropical retreat then it is the islands of Malaysia, from the cosmopolitan elegance of Penang to the hippie getaway from the Perhentians, that will give you a wonderful variety of choices.
We present 8 of Malaysia’s best islands in no particular order:
- Perhentians: Hippie hideaway
It may not be easy, but on the backpacker trail, the Perhentian islands off the Northeastern Coast of Malaysia have become iconic. The water is so clean, so you can snorkel right off the beach and see a full range of water life. Fishermen turned tour guides will lead you on a day trip to swim with sharks and turtles in their small boat as well.
At night, beach bars build covers on the sand as walking fire craftsmen do their thing.
- Tioman: An island for flashpackers
In reality, Tioman is reached from the town of Johor in Mersing, although part of the Malaysian State of Pahang. A direct ferry from Singapore is also open.
This iconic holiday island of Malaysia has two famous claims that media and advertisers are still hyping.
First of all is the dramatic topography of this island, which was (supposedly) used as the background to the movie “South Pacific” in 1958. South China is the island. It was then named one of the most lovely islands of the world in the 1970s by Time Magazine.
While it is now a firm feature on the tourist trail and lost a bit of its exotic mysticism, it retains its first-class natural environment and wildlife.
- Langkawi: Best for luxury
Located on the Thailand border, Langkawi is not immediately adjacent to Perlis but part of the Malaysian state of Kedah.
It has been popular to say that in 1819 when a woman named Mahsuri was killed for alleged adultery, Malaysia island was cursed. She said, “There will be no peace and prosperity for seven centuries on this island,” before she died.
Langkawi came down to the invasive Thais two years later, with most of their population died of hunger subsequently. In reality, the island was then long barren until the colossal Malay political Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who constructed Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers and Sepang F1 – decided to convert it into an island resort in 1986. In 1986, it was a settlement area.
- Penang: Food and heritage
The Pearl of the East has an illustrious and long history. The prince of Wales (as once known) was for a long time one of the jewels of the British Empire, “discovered” by Captain Francis Light in 1786.
It is a series of open-posts that controlled the sea trade between India and the rest of Asia and was recognized alongside Melaka and Singapore as one of the Straits Settlements.
But its meaning steadily diminished over the centuries until it was rediscovered and reinvented as an IT center as a Malaysia holiday destination.
- Labuan: An isle of bankers
Labuan is one of three Federal Territories, situated on the shores of Borneo, sandwiched between the states of Sarawak and Sabah (the others are Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya).
Its special status as an international offshore financial hub and free trade region has made it capable of attracting foreign financial investments.
In the long run, the Malaysian government sees the Island as one of the world’s largest offshore business centers, close to Dubai’s or Bahrain’s Middle East hubs.
- Layang-Layang: Isolation guaranteed
Just about 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu, the minuscule island Layang-Layang is nothing more than just a coral reef with a runway.
The South China Meer Islands party, which also claimed whole or part of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, was established by the Malaysian Navy, which reclaimed land from the sea to state the national sovereignty over Spratly people.
Layang-Layang is also ranked as one of the world’s top 10 locations for diving, because of its impressive variety of marine life, surrounded by pristine water that drops into 2 000 meters.
- Sipadan: For hard-core divers
In late 2002, the International Court of Justice held that Sipadan island had Malaysia after a lengthy conflict with Indonesia.
It was a justification to alleviate the nation and the state of Sabah, to which it belongs. Sipadan is considered one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems of the world and is located at the heart of the earth.
In 2004, the government ordered all dive resorts off the island, prohibited night dives, and fixed a cap of 120 divers per day to conserve the fragile environment of that vacation resorts in Malaysia.
- Redang: For a ‘Summer Holiday’
In reality, nine islands are in the Redang archipelago. They form a marine park, which is located 45 km (28 miles) from the east of Terengganu, Malaysia.
In comparison to its close cousins, the Perhentian islands full of backpackers in the north, Redang is a very popular destination with accommodation, mostly available for resorts.
Therefore, Berjaya Air has also owned an airport on the island and since 2004, it has been flying every day to Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur (the official name is Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport) and Changi in Singapore.