Malaysia has been famously known for its coastal tourism. In fact, I vividly remember that back when I was about 8 years old, the government of Malaysia had an advertisement that played on all of our television sets, “Malaysia truly Asia”. My close friend, Rimjhim and I then had a pact at the ages of 8 and 6 that we would one day go there. While I’m yet to make the visit, I can certainly pen some interesting facts for you!
1. The currency Malaysian Ringgit derives its name from the Malay word “ringgit” which means “jagged”. The name is believed to have come from the period between the 16th and 17th centuries wherein Spanish silver coins were used for trade in the country. The coins had such ragged edges.
2. The monarchy in Malaysia is quite unique. They have a “rotating system” wherein state rulers from the 9 Malay ethnicities take turns in being the king for a period of 5 years.
3. Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers are the world’s tallest standing twin towers at a whooping height of 1,483 feet.
4. Inside Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia is home to the world’s largest cave chamber, Sarawak Cave Chamber.
5. In Malaysia’s Strait of Malacca, the Portuguese ship Flora De La Mar (Flower of the Sea) sunk in December 1511. Today it is believed to be the largest unrecovered treasure trove.
6. Singapore was once a part of Malaysia but parted ways in the year 1965 after two years of fraught tensions, disagreements and riots. The “si” in Malaysia is believed to come from Singapore.
7. Today, Malaysia can be described as a country of two halves, with Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo being its two landmasses separated by the South China Sea.
8. Ethnic Malays only account for about half of the country’s population. The other half is made up of Chinese, Indians and other indigenous people.
9. The country accounts for approximately 20% of the world’s animal species, making it rank amongst the 17 megadiverse countries across the globe. It thus comes as no surprise that the country is home to 28 national parks.
10. Although the Bornean Orangutan can be found in numbers running into 55,000 on Borneo but studies from Harvard have indicated that the ape is endangered and may be extinct in the next two decades roughly.
1. For indulging in the beach life head to Penang island which is sun-kissed and enjoys beaches made from the region’s vast coastline.
2. Langkawi however remains Malaysia’s gem and claim to fame. Not to be mistaken for one single island, Langkawi is actually an archipelago comprising of hundreds of islands. While most remain uninhabited, many have been settled upon with hotels, water sports and activities and options to make a perfect holiday retreat.
3. Not to forget the Pulau Payar Marine National Park, a must visit if you make it to Langkawi! The park has beautifully preserved corals and plush gazebos to enjoy your day there.
4. In East Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is also a treat for the water babies! It comprises of 5 islands each bluer than the next.
5. Taman Negara National Park is your pick for trekking and exploring the plant and animal life amidst the green. It also has the world’s longest rope walkway!
6. If exploring the cultural or historical aspects of a country interests you, then head to Malacca or Melaka where the Portuguese era’s buildings and ruins can be witnessed along with museums and galleries that share the information and stories which the land has seen. Today a UNESCO Heritage City, it waits for you to get lost in its old world meets modern day charm.
7. Mount Kinabalu at 13,436 ft is Southeast Asia’s highest peak. Kinabalu National Park is a treat for nature lovers to visit because you can take adventurous hikes, see some of the richest forests in the country and observe the flora and fauna.
8. Enjoy the authentic tea, the pleasantness of the tea plantations and the laidback cosy lifestyle at Cameron Highlands.
How to Reach:
Direct flights to Kuala Lumpur are available from many cities including Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and even Bhubaneshwar.