Why go to Malaysia ?


You will find here the results of our backpackers' survey as well as comments on some aspects of Malaysia.

We asked backpackers who had traveled in Malaysia for more than two weeks already to answer the followings.

Do you like Malaysia ?  94% of the backpackers surveyed (47) say yes !

If it was not for the few girls I met who were sexually harassed on the east coast or the disappointed fun-seekers, Malaysia would probably make unanimity ! Indeed, where else can you find so many different cultural traditions and so many natural escapes on such a small area ?


Would you happily come back ? 83% of the backpackers surveyed (47) say yes ! (up)

Malaysia is not such a big country so a few backpackers would rather visit somewhere else (maybe Borneo ?)  than coming back. But the majority really would not mind ! I certainly would not !


Would you recommend Malaysia ?  98% of the backpackers surveyed (47) say yes ! (same)

An excellent recommendation rate but, of course, a targeted one : Malaysia is indeed not recommendable to everybody and it is much better that way...

We also asked them to rate the followings :

The tourists attractions        Backpackers : 13.96 /20 (up)
Malaysia is not a country with world's famous attractions like Angkor or the Great Wall. However, the country is spotted with colonial architectures, splendid Mosque, Buddhist caves, sandy beaches,... as well as world's or Asian's records.  And considering the size of the peninsula, you will be surprised by the number of such sights...

The city scenery       Backpackers : 12.51 /20 (up)
Cities in Malaysia are, from my point of view, among the nicest and most interesting in Asia. This is due, I believe, to the mix of British colonial architecture with Chinese and Muslim touch of life. Kuala Lumpur is arguably  the nicest capital of Asia, with the highest towers in the world and a couple of other modern records next to old Mosque and colonial buildings. It did not however avoid the plague of traffic jams and urban pollution, which may explain the medium rate.

The natural scenery         Backpackers : 15.64 /20 (up)
A good rate as Malaysia boost some of the nicest islands in the region (Perhentian, Tioman) as well as pristine primary rainforest turned into national parks (Taman Negara) , splendid panorama of tea plantations in altitude (Cameron Highlands) or relaxed lake gardens by the side of its cities (Taiping, KL). And this without reference to the jungle of Sarawak yet...  

The cultural opportunities        Backpackers : 14.21 /20 (up)
Being rather developed, Malaysia can afford to preserve and exhibit its cultural heritage and Malay traditions : its numerous museums are among the nicest and most interesting in Asia. With Its multi-ethnic and multi-religious characteristics,  Malaysia is also a window to the whole of Asia.  And most local people speaking English, cultural exchanges are just an "hello" away...

The food         Backpackers : 16.68 /20 (up)
Being such a melting pot of cultures, Malaysia's diversity can of course be found in the kitchen as well.  Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian or even American cuisine (would be a pity though) are available at very low prices. A great place to gain back the weight lost on the roads...

The infrastructures         Backpackers : 15.49 /20 (up)
Malaysia is on the motorway of development and its infrastructures are among the best in Asia. Of course, it does not compete yet with its Singapore neighbor, some of its buses are ready for retirement and its jungle train remains a slow jungle train but, as a whole, traveling the country is as easy as it can be, that is from a backpacking point of view. And what about all those records which put Malaysia on the world's map of infrastructures achievements ?

The cost of living and traveling        Backpackers : 14.47 /20 (down)
Considering its relative modernity, Malaysia remains pleasantly cheap. Of course, it is not as cheap as Thailand but it's cost ratio is about on the same level as Laos or Cambodia, which is quite a performance ! Not however on all aspects : the food at night markets is very cheap, but the beer, when available, is among the most expensive in the area (remember that Malaysia is Muslim). And not everywhere : costs on the islands, whether for transport, food or guesthouses, can easily be multiplied by two...

The safety        Backpackers : 16.26 /20 (up)
There are, as a whole, no safety issues in Malaysia from a global backpacking point of view. Looking a bit closer, things however do happen : sexual harassment toward western girls is common (in particular on the east coast) and robberies do take place on some islands. Violence or physical aggressions are fortunately very rare.  As for the kidnapping of tourists by philippino Muslims, it happened so far away from Peninsular Malaysia that people who have been scared off would rather consult a map of the area...

The cleanliness        Backpackers : 12.61 /20 (up)
Malaysia is from that point of view very unfortunate to stand next to Singapore : it looks real dirty ! Of course, not more than the other developing countries and much less than India. But, considering its level of development, it is starting to be a real shame ! What is the point of having the tallest buildings if some villages look like a rubbish dump ?

The pollution        Backpackers : 11.74 /20 (down)
Malaysia is somehow falling victim of its development  : traffic, industries, logging and tourism infrastructures are all starting to affect the jungle and the fresh air of the cities. But is it not what all the developed countries have done ? And from a backpacking point of view, the bus stations are the only places were your health may be at risk...

The Shopkeepers' attitude        Backpackers : 14.21 /20 (up)
Fairly friendly and fairly honest, Malaysian shopkeepers aren't too pushy as well.  It is actually sometimes quite the opposite : ask for a special care (not to put fingerprints on your film for example) and you may be asked to look for another shop !  

The Minorities' attitude        na
Malaysia is a multi cultural society. The Malay are dominant and in charge of the Mosque and the politics.  The Chinese, 30% of the population, controls 75% or so of the business so you are likely to deal with them for money issues. The Indian (9%) prepares the tastier & cheapest food and have the most colorful temples. Small groups of Orang Asli ("original people") are also scattered around the peninsular. Finally, more than 200 Dayak tribes are reported on Borneo. How would it be possible to rate such a diversity ?

The Local people's attitude        Backpackers : 15.83 /20 (up)
If it was not for the sexual harassment encountered by western females with some Malay, the people from Malaysia (meaning all the different ethnic groups) would probably be reckoned as one of the friendliest in Asia. The lack of language barrier certainly help to appreciate each other...

Entertainment        Backpackers : 11.08 /20 (up)
Malaysia is dominantly Muslim so the beer is expensive and Mosque more numerous than bars or disco. No full moon parties, drug or open prostitution here ! Singapore people may come to Malaysia to have fun (and indeed it is possible to have some) but Malaysia caters certainly more to quiet backpackers in search of cultural or natural experiences than to people in search of artificial paradises... 

Shopping        Backpackers : 13.91 /20 (up)
From the daily life point of view, shops are well furnished and you will usually find everything you are looking for and more. From a souvenir point of view, Malaysia boost some great arts and crafts but unfortunately at an high (sometimes ridiculous) price. After Thailand or Indonesia, it is therefore a disappointment.  As for electronic goods, Malaysia is not a bargain (as expensive or more expensive than in the West) : head toward Singapore !

Generally, the country        Backpackers : 15.15 /20 (up)
A good rate but nevertheless one the lowest in Asia. Is it not surprising considering the  richness of the country (from a natural or cultural point of view) on such a small area and the ease to travel around ? The explanation may be double : First, a few girls were  really pissed of by the treatment they had received on the east coast. Second, Malaysia is clearly not for everybody : fun and beer lovers may not find it to their taste. Not being an attractive girl nor an active drinker, Malaysia is one of my favorite countries...

Value for money        Backpackers : 15.57 /20 (up)
If it was not for the expensive islands or the beer, Malaysia would probably rate even higher. If you are scared of the sea (what a pity !) and follow Muslim's rules, you are likely to find that Malaysia is one of the best bargain in Asia !

Give your opinion !  If you have traveled in Malaysia for more than 2 weeks, please participate to our surveys !

Compare Malaysia with other countries in the Asia Section


Travel Experiences Banner Exchange