A Solo Traveller’s Guide to Malaysia

Batu Caves, Malaysia
Batu Caves, Malaysia | © cofiem / Flickr
Lu Yin Wai

Malaysia is a ‘must-visit’ destination for many travellers. Besides the famous sights in Kuala Lumpur, such as Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower, locals also recommend exploring other areas to discover and experience the country’s fascinating culture and nature. Here is our guide on making your solo travel an amazing experience.

Ensure that your safety is a priority

While Malaysia is not an unsafe travel destination, you have to be careful just as you would when visiting any other place. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings so that thieves and pickpockets (some are even on motorcycles) don’t snatch your things. Here are some ways to ensure that you have an enjoyable trip without worries. First, look through your maps and jot down where you want to go and how to get there before heading out to explore. Second, travel with confidence – how you walk along the streets and take the public transport – in order to reach to your location with ease. Keep your important items in the main compartment of your bag and a small amount of money in your pocket. Have your travel bag on your body at all times.

Keep your belongings with you at all times while travelling

Choose the right accommodations

Having comfortable and conveniently located lodging is vital so that you can travel to your destinations in Malaysia well rested. Set up your own itinerary on how you are going to travel throughout the country, and then select an accommodation that is in a central location, one that is near several of the places you want to visit. It’s also a good idea to book your accommodation near public transportation so that you can travel around easily. Look in the centre of cities such as Kuala Lumpur, George Town (Penang), and Melaka; they are closer to iconic sights. If you’re looking for a beach holiday, then book your hotels closer to the coast.

Rooftop pool in Ascott Kuala Lumpur

Be ready for the changing weather

Malaysia’s tropical weather is hot, humid, and sometimes complicated. While it might be too hot during the middle of the day, the late afternoons might see heavy showers – or vice versa. Here are a few ways to ensure that the weather will not affect your trip. First, check the hourly and daily weather before heading out. Second, plan out your outdoor and indoor activities beforehand. Third, take your water bottle, portable umbrella, sunglasses, and sunscreen with you. If you keep all of these things in mind, there is a good chance you won’t become soaking wet, dehydrated or get a sunburn.

Heavy rain in Kuala Lumpur

Savour local delicacies

You will taste some of the most scrumptious food when travelling in Malaysia – have a seat and enjoy the delicious meals at the local restaurants. Malaysian food represents the country’s culture and daily lifestyle, with Malay, Chinese, and Indian delicacies across the land. If you are in a particular city or town, try their speciality dishes. For example, try Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine, cendol, and kuih-muih in Melaka; savour Kelantan and Terengganu nasi kerabu; slurp Sarawak laksa and kolo mee while you are in Sarawak; have your char kuey teow and laksa in Penang. Also, don’t forget to try the popular Malaysian dish nasi lemak and banana leaf rice.

Nasi Kerabu

Join in the fun at arts and culture festivals

Being part of the crowd at arts and culture festivals is one of the best ways to experience Malaysia’s culture and lifestyle. There are plenty of events happening across the country, especially during the weekends, public holidays, and festive seasons. Learn about Thaipusam, a Hindu festival celebrating the Tamil month of Thai, at the Batu Caves, where you will see locals carrying offerings and having their body pierced with hooks and spears. Attend live art and music festivals (such as Urbanscapes, Publika Jazz, and Rainforest World Music Festival) that showcase local artists’ talents, and experience George Town’s art, culture, heritage, and community at George Town Festival in Penang.

Thaipusam Festival at Batu Caves, Malaysia

Hike along the nature trails

Malaysia’s incredible rainforests, jungles, and caves are homes to tropical flora and fauna. Grab your hiking shoes, escape into the national parks and jungle trails and take in the scenic views along your journey. Explore these natural wonders on your own or have a local guide with you. Once reaching your destination, relax and relish in the mesmerising panoramic views of Malaysia’s lush, verdant mountains and clear waters. Cool yourself down by swimming by the waterfalls.

Broga Hill at Semenyih, Malaysia

Enjoy the sun and sea at the beaches

When solo travelling in Malaysia, having a relaxing and peaceful experience at secluded beaches is a must-do. Redang Island and Tioman Island are two of the most popular beaches to visit; there are plenty of water sports and recreational activities that will make your beach holiday amazing. Discover the aquatic life through snorkelling and scuba diving in turquoise waters, or visit the turtle conservations to learn how experts take care of the reptiles and release them out to sea. Walk along the beach while watching the breathtaking sunsets, and recline in a beach chair or hammock and read a good book all while indulging in tropical drinks.

Beautiful beach at Perhentian Islands

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