by The Expatriate Lifestyle Editorial Team 3 Jun 2013


Malaysia has good entertainment facilities and activities for the family be they water parks, animal parks or good old fashioned fun zones. Visitors will find that they’re modern, safe and simply great fun.

Art Galleries

For those who are interested in the world of unique and sophisticated art, there are literally hundreds of art galleries in Malaysia. The vibrant scenes and abundant vivid images deserve full exploration by the public.


Malaysian museums are hidden treasures. It may take a little research (which is what this page is for) but once you find them, the displays and exhibitions really get under the skin of what it means to be Malaysian.

Check out the Islamic Arts Museum for high quality shows and exhibits and Muzium Negara—the collection of the nation—is one of the most professional and extensive collections, staging better and better shows each year.


There are some solid alternative attractions in Malaysia, places where you can learn about the country or an aspect of it or try your hand at some new skills. Learn a tribal dance at the Sarawak Culture Village, conduct some experiments at Petrosains or view the stars at the National Planetarium, it’s all yours for the taking.

Zoos and Aquariums

Befitting a bio-diverse rich country, Malaysia has a number of adequate zoos and aquariums, ones that raise public awareness about wildlife protection as well as serve as research and scientific needs.

For instance, Zoo Negara (the national zoo) is actively involved with Sun Bear research and Tiger conservation. Aquariums, also involved in such activities, play their part, especially for a marine geography like Malaysia.


Priding itself on its eco diversity and incredibly rich geography, Malaysia has a number of well constructed national parks that do an excellent job of acquainting the visitor to the natural realm.

Particular treats are both Taman Negara and Kinabalu National Park, the former being the national pride and joy with the world’s oldest rain forest and a number of well laid out jungle treks that bring the intimidating green wall of flora and fauna into accessible focus.

Bako National Park (Sarawak Tourism Centre)

The Bako National Park covers 2,742 hectares of rugged sand stone peninsular to the east of the Bako River near Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. Millions of years of erosion have created a coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of white, sandy bays.

Crocker Range Park

Located south of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. Although there are no tourist facilities at this park, Crocker Range is densely populated with wildlife and is a trekker’s paradise.

Miri, Sarawak

Within the boundaries of Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak is one of the most extensive and spectacular limestone cave systems on earth, as well as the second highest mountain peak in the state.

Gunung also enjoys unusually high rainfall. As a result, it bursts with life, and many new plant and animal species have been discovered here. Officially constituted in 1974 and opened to the public in 1985, Gunung Mulu National Park encompasses only 544 sqkm in North Sarawak, Borneo.

Kenong Rimba Park Kuala Lipis, Pahang

Located in the valley of the Sungai Kenong, the Kenong Rimba Park offers cave explorations, rock climbing, jungle trekking, and fishing. This is also the home of an aboriginal race called the Batak.

Kinabalu National Park, Kota Kinabalu

138km from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, rises the majestic Mount Kinabalu. With its peak at 4,101 meters (and growing), Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia.

This distinction has earned it considerable attention in myth and legend as well as in geography, and the mountain has for most of history been revered as a sacred spot.

Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary

A prime nesting site, the Kuala Gula Sanctuary in Perak has over a hundred species of birds, some of them protected. It is situated in the mangrove swamps south of Bagan Serai. The peak months for bird watching are between August and December.

Niah National Park

The Niah National Park, Sarawak is the site of the Niah Caves, one of the largest limestone caves in the world. The Park covers 3,102 hectares (7,756 acres) of forest and limestone. The peak of Gunung Subis, which is 394 metres high (1,294 ft), dominates the landscape.

Rantau Abang Turtle Hatchery

To halt the decline of the number of the Giant Leatherback turtles, an endangered species, hatchery work is being carried out at Rantau Abang. Approximately 60km south of Kuala Terengganu, visitors lay in wait quietly from midnight to dawn to watch the memorable sight of these Giant Leatherbacks laying their eggs.

Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary

A twenty minute drive from Sandakan, Sabah will take you to Sepilok Forest Reserve, an enormous area of virgin equatorial rainforest. A most interesting feature of the reserve is the Orang Utan Sanctuary. Here Orang Utans which have strayed into logging camps or have been rescued from captivity are cared for and sent back to the forest.

Taman Negara

Taman Negara (National Park) straddles the borders of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia. A totally protected area of 4,343 sq km, Taman Negara is one of the world’s oldest tropical rainforests. The diversity of its fauna and flora is a result of undisturbed evolution over 130 million years.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

Situated just off the west shore of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, the five emerald isles that comprise this park are fringed with white sandy beaches, surrounded by the sparkling aqua waters of the South China Sea. The islands’ offshore reefs are filled with exotic corals and sponges and abound in tropical marine life.


When working your way through jungle reserve, make sure you have lots of mosquito repellent and water with you. The mosquitoes can be vicious, and so can the heat.

Hop around KL

One sure-fire way to get a good overview of KL (and an economical one at that) is to use the Hop On-Hop Off service that Tourism Malaysia offers. There are altogether 22 stops around KL at which you can simply hop on or hop off the bus; a great way to see the city in rolling fashion, all told taking 45 minutes. One ticket lasts 24 hours and allows unlimited use in that period.


Surprisingly for a Muslim country, Malaysia is second only to Hong Kong and now Macau by way of earnings. And that’s all due to the early founding fathers’ enlightened approach, love of betting themselves (The Tunku was an avid horse player), cumulating in the licensing of Malaysia’s one and only massive gambling establishment, Genting Highlands Resort. This mini Las Vegas, set in the hills an hour out from KL, was started in the 1960s by Lim Goh Tong.

He took a major gamble, paying for the road himself, an investment that was unprecedented yet, paid off in spades. Chinese residents and visitors love Genting and, while Muslims are forbidden from entering the casino, the whole City of Entertainment, as it calls itself, is a good weekend out with attractions and shopping to be had.


Film going culture in Malaysia is strong with a number of excellent cinemas catering to their respective audiences. There are big screens showing big blockbusters usually, be that Hollywood, Hong Kong Canto cinema or Bollywood.

The lag time from when they’re launched in the West to when they appear here is fairly minimal, the latest releases all come to Malaysia and the quality is excellent (a trait not shared by all SEA countries).

There is, however, a lack of art houses here so those looking for more indie, documentaries and foreign films will be slightly disappointed. Having said that, keep your eyes on the various film weeks—The Latin Film Week, the Brazilian Film Week and the European Film week to name a few—that offer more interesting fare.


Comedy is on the up in Malaysia, as a generation of young and irreverent comedians get more and more of the public’s attention. While comedy still isn’t as significant a part of the entertainment industry here as in the West, there’s been a definite rise in the number of comedians and dedicated comedy nights.

This marks a general relaxing of the nation’s formality, and many more things are now up for ridicule and satire than as recent as ten years ago.

If you do dip a toe into the local comedy scene, don’t be shocked by blatant references to and ridicule of racial stereotypes—this kind of politically incorrect humour thrives in this culture, and is rarely taken offensively.

Live Music

Live music in Malaysia is robust and active with all genres appropriately represented. Like rock? Then most of the hotel bars and others will offer you good bands (mostly Indonesian and Filipino acts) that will get your axe grinding.

Like it acoustic? Then head to Laundry or Acoustic Jaya at Jaya One. Jazz? No Black Tie, Groove Junction and Alexis Bistro are the main venues but others offer jazz one offs. Dance music? Malaysia—especially KL—has an abundance of dance venues and clubbing locales.

And if you get the chance, definitely go to an MPO (Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra) show—world class and reasonably priced.


Theatre in Malaysia is a relatively new prospect, but is definitely going places. Quality international productions are staged here regularly (giants such as Mamma Mia! sold out within days) but the ones to look out for are the locally produced and casted shows.

There’s a solid base of performing arts infrastructure in KL especially, and while it’s still in its adolescence, the quality of the productions put forth is usually exceptional.

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