Lying just north of the equator, Malaysia comprises 2 distinct areas; the north and western part of the island of Borneo – Sabah and Sarawak states – and the Malayan Peninsula stretching north to south from Thailand to Singapore and east to west from the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca.
West Malaysia Outside of one or two island ‘hot-spots’ the Peninsula has been fortunately bypassed by mass tourism, yet contains some of the country’s best-preserved forest areas, plentiful wildlife, unspoilt white sand beaches and historic towns. Jungle dwelling, tribal people, still hunting with blowpipes, living a mere 2 hours from KL’s ultra-modern Petronas Towers means the cliche – ‘a country of contrasts’ – really is true in Malaysia’s case while the ethnic mix of Chinese, Indian and Malays creates a genuinely wide cultural diversity, (and probably the best food in Asia!).
Borneo Needs no introduction! An evocative name for an exotic destination: jagged mountain peaks, jungle-lined rivers, mist-shrouded rainforest and rich wildlife complement the tea plantations, bustling Chinatowns and colonial Victorian architecture of the Malay Peninsula for a memorable tour of either, or both, parts of this fascinating Southeast Asian nation.
Just a few of our favourite things to see, do and experience in Malaysia...
Food - with such a complex ethnic mix Malaysian cuisine is one of the richest and most varied anywhere in Asia
Flora and fauna - some of the oldest and most ecologically diverse rainforests on the planet
Cultural heritage - with Little India, Chinatown, ultra-modern Petronal Towers plus impressive colonial period architecture
Islands - both the Peninsula and Borneo offer fabulous tropical islands with vibrant reefs, unspoilt beaches and marine life
Orangutan sanctuary - get up close to everbody's favourite, but critically endangered, primate at the wonderful Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
Culture and Customs
Knowing what to expect from local culture and customs will help you get more out of your Malaysia/Borneo tour
West Malaysia covers the lower section of the Malay Peninsula, south of Thailand, while Sabah & Sarawak States share the island of Borneo with Brunei and Indonesia's Kalimantan
Both Peninsula Malaysia & Borneo feature coastal plains & mountainous, jungle, interiors. Both have suffered deforestation for oil palms though certain parts of both remain well-preserved
Malaysia lies close to the equator so has more even rainfall throughout the year than most of mainland Southeast Asia. The west coast's monsoon period is May-Sept, the Gulf coast's Oct-March
An eclectic mix with original Orang Asli people in the interior; large urban populations of Chinese & Indians with the ethnic Malay majority concentrated in rural and coastal areas
A correspondingly mixed religious bag with a Muslim majority but also large Hindu, Buddhist and Christian minorities to be found
Indonesian, Thai and European influences abound alongside every kind of regional Chinese and Indian cuisine. Straights Chinese fusion cooking - or Nyonya - is unique to Malaysia
Genuine local knowledge is what turns a good travel experience into an unfforgettable one. Here's our shout-out to the locals that help maket that happen.'
Jeremy, our up and coming star on the Malaysia tour scene was born and raised in Penang and now lives in KL. Jeremy says his favourite part of the job is meeting new people, (useful!), and is equally passionate about his country's culture, history, landscapes and cuisine!
Edwin, a member of Sabah's Murut tribe, (genuine former headhunters he assures us) now lives in Kota Kinabalu with his wife and 2 kids and has fortunately swapped his ancestors' habits for tour-leading which he achieves with aplomb and a commendable attention to detail.
Things To Know
Useful information and practical tips you should know before you travel to Malaysia
Helpful Country Info
c 32 million
ATMs readily available
220-240V; standard socket is British, 3 pin
WiFi widely available in urban areas
3G/4G SIM cards available
Bahasa Malaysia, (English widely spoken in urban areas)
Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and Hindu
Frequently Asked Questions
When’s the best time to go to Borneo?
For Borneo’s equatorial climate, it is suffice to say it’s hot and sticky all year round! Temperatures don’t vary widely and precipitation, apart from a pronounced drier season from January to April, remains fairly constant.
When's the best time to go to Malaysia?
With regional variations, Western Malaysia experiences a rainy season or western monsoon period from around early May through to late September. March to September are the only time the gorgeous Perhentian Islands are open, making Malaysia a great destination for a tour during school Easter and Summer holidays. Note the rainy season is more short sharp downpours than constant rain and there are far fewer other visitors around. Landscapes will be lush and green, rivers and waterfalls at their most spectacular and the fauna too is more active and plentiful; nature comes alive so to speak!
Which innoculations do I need?
For Malaysia and Borneo, there are no compulsory inoculations – however, Hep A, Polio, Typhoid and Tetanus are recommended. If you are considering anti-malarials we recommend you consult a health professional, but whatever you do or don’t do about anti-malarials, we recommend a 50% DEET based insect repellent. A useful resource for information on travel health is the Scottish National Health Service’s Fit For Travel site.
Do you recommend your tours for people travelling on their own?
Our small group tours make ideal holidays for solo travellers. Small fully escorted groups, eating together family style, no compulsory single supplements all go towards making you feel like you are travelling with a group of friends. If you don’t want to share then ask about single room supplements.
If we book flights through you, which airlines do you use?
We are happy to book your flights from the UK to Malaysia/Borneo. There are no direct flights but we can offer a wide range of options, from regional airports as well as London using most major airlines – most often Malaysian, Emirates and Qatar. Prices on the website are a guideline and we find the best prices and routes for you. Upgrades to Premium Economy or Business class are available.
What’s your policy for tipping?
Tipping is discretionary. People always appreciate a gesture for their hard work and dedication but staff are paid and don’t rely on tips. Its hard to give a guideline before a tour as it does depend on the group size. The tour leaders don’t collect money for tips but are happy to advise. ~What often works well is if the group appoint someone to collect and distribute tips on behalf of the whole group.
How do I pay for the holiday, and is there a surcharge for credit cards?
We ask you to pay a 10% deposit upon booking your holiday with the balance being due 60 days prior to departure. There is no surcharge for paying the deposit by credit card but we charge 2% if the balance is paid by credit card. There is no charge for debit cards. We accept most major credit cards including American Express.
Packing light is a virtue, it'll make getting around easier and gives you room for souvenirs and the special things you find along the way. Packing "as little as possible" doesn't mean you have to forego comfort and any items you may forget are usually available locally for a fraction of the price.