20 Things Malaysia Is Famous and Known For

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Malaysia is famous for its multicultural society, diverse and tasty culinary scene, as well as tropical nature landscapes.


Malaysia is a country in South East Asia. West Malaysia is found on the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, whilst east Malaysia is located on the island of Borneo. They are separated by the South China Sea. Overall, Malaysia contains 878 islands!

What Is Malaysia Famous For?

Malaysia is famous for its diverse landscapes, such as the tropical resorts in the coastal cities of Malacca and Georgetown. Additionally, there are several natural heritage sites including Gunung Mulu National Park and Kinabalu Park. Lastly, Malaysia is known for being the food capital of the world, especially in Penang where tantalizing street food is at every corner.

History, Culture, And Traditions Malaysia Is Known For

Malaysia Water Festival 

The Malaysia Water Festival is a three-day celebration that commences every year on the 13th of April.

The festival is actually related to the Thai New Year, another popular holiday that Malaysia is famous for, known as Songkran. Family and friends gather around to throw water on each other, which is believed to symbolize the washing away of bad luck.

An excuse to have a water fight is always welcomed everywhere. During this time, there are also boat races, canoeing, and other water-related competitions.

Diwali

festivals-of-lights

Diwali is a prominent festival that is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Originally, Diwali has its roots in ancient India. However, it rapidly spread to other Asian countries, and Malaysia is famous for being multicultural.

Otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil. This is done by explosive fireworks, brightly-colored lamps, and vibrant clothing. Additionally, there are lots of traditional foods, singing, and dancing over the five days.

Awal Muharram

Officially, the religion of Malaysia is Islam, with over 60% of the population actively practicing it. As a result, celebrations like the Islamic New Year are highly recognized.

Awal Muharram occurs on the first day and month of the Islamic calendar, which is usually in July. It is a sacred month in which warfare is forbidden and peace is prioritized.

Often, the day starts with visiting the local Mosque. After this, a huge feast is thrown with traditional Malaysian foods such as Asyura, a type of porridge.  On the other hand, some choose to fast.

Multiculturalism 

Malaysia is famous for the multicultural way of life people choose to live. As we mentioned, it shares borders with Indonesia, Thailand, and Brunei, from where there are many food similarities. The same spices are used in meals such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, making foods taste similar.

In addition, Malaysia is influenced heavily by India. They are connected through history as Malaysia was a part of Indianized Kingdoms. Shared elements include Hinduism, gastronomy, and mythology.

Lastly, invasion plays a huge role. Portuguese rule lasted for over a century from 1511, followed by the Dutch and then the British. What’s interesting is that you will see traces of these various influences in different parts of the country.

Forests And National Parks

malaysia-national-parks

Boasting a wide area of nature, Malaysia is famous for its expansive forests and biodiversity. There are over 60 national parks, which are amongst the best-preserved in the world.

For example, the Taman Negara Rainforest is one of the oldest deciduous rainforests worldwide. It houses rare animals like Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, and long-tailed macaques.

Not only are the natural landscapes some of the most famous landmarks in Malaysia, but they also contribute greatly to the economy. Cocoa and palm oil are harvested and used in foods such as chocolate and various cosmetics.

Thaipusam 

What is Malaysia famous for, if it isn’t celebrations? Malaysia is known for holding the mardi gras of festivals, also known as Thaipusam!

This is a joyful, vibrant carnival held on the full moon of the tenth month of the Hindu calendar. The purpose behind the ceremony is profound, as it celebrates the victory of Lord Murugan over Soorapadam, a sinful spirit. He did this using a divine spear, which people imitate and carry over a hill during Thaipusam.

Unlike many religious festivals that are spent in mourning and sacrifice, people gather on the street wearing flamboyant clothing and rejoicing.

Cities And Travel Destinations Malaysia Is Famous For

Kuala Lumpur

capital-of-malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and largest city in the country. It is an innovative metropolitan that houses many of the modern landmarks that Malaysia is famous for.

The Petronas Twin Towers are the most acclaimed attraction in Kuala Lumpur. This is because they have a romantic sky deck, panoramic observation deck, and reputable restaurants within the tower. Another skyline structure is the KL Tower, which also has an observation deck as well as a revolving restaurant.

One of the most famous avenues in Kuala Lumpur is Independence Square. This holds significant historical importance as it was the first place to raise the Malaysian flag. A fun fact about Malaysia is that they have one of the most beautiful flags in the world, and won the flag design competition in 1947!

Malacca

historical-capital-malacca

Malacca is found in the southwest region of the Malay Peninsula. The Strait of Malacca, located between the Andaman and South China Seas is the longest in the world. As a result, it was one of the first states that the colonial forces set foot on.

Malacca is the historical capital that Malaysia is famous for. Its colonial history influenced much of the architecture. St. Paul’s Church, Dutch Square, and Jonker Street are all painted brick red, symbolic of the Dutch Empire.

Penang Island

malaysia-penang-island

Penang Island is one of the largest islands in Malaysia. Primarily, it is known as the food capital and features many famous Malaysian foods.

Nasi lemak, assam laksa, and char koay teow are amongst the most popular street food dishes. They are affordable and fragrant, thanks to the fresh herbs and authentic recipes.

In addition, one of the most famous cities on Penang Island is Georgetown. Aside from cuisine, it is a popular heritage site with many of the famous cultural and religious landmarks in Malaysia. This includes the Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang War Museum, and the Botanical Gardens.

Johor

johor-in-malaysia

Johor is bordered by Malacca and Penang. As a result, its capital Johor Bahru is famous for a culmination of street food, history, and much more.

Many of Malaysia’s famous places are beaches, and Johor is no different. A short drive from the capital is Desaru Beach which is located on the south coast. It is a pristine sandy beach known for its calm waves and relaxing atmosphere.

Similarly, Puteri Harbor is the perfect waterfront destination. It is a lively family-friendly attraction, with local restaurants and a mall on the waterfront.

Ipoh

ipoh-in-malaysia

The main reason to visit Ipoh is the stunning geological formations. For example, the Gua Tempurung Cave is one of the largest on the peninsula. It is over 400 million years old and features five domes made of limestone.

Similarly, the Buddhist Temple of Sam Poh Tong is another limestone structure, at the base of Mountain Gunung Rapat.

Because of the landscape and its healing properties, there are serene hot springs in Ipoh. The resorts like The Banjaran Hot Springs have geothermal swimming pools and luxury spas.

Landmarks And Architecture Malaysia Is Known For

Petronas Towers

popular-petronas-towers

The Petronas Towers is an 88-story skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur. They are the tallest twin towers in the world, reaching almost 452 meters.

From the outside, the towers are sleek, futuristic structure that was built in 1992. Inside, there are several things to do. The most interesting is certainly the observation deck, where you can immerse yourself in the surroundings thanks to the panoramic view of the city.

Furthermore, there is a shopping center, dining areas, and a souvenir shop.

Batu Caves

famous-batu-caves-malaysia

The Batu Caves are a complex of limestone formations in Selangor. The attraction is derived from the term ‘rock’, as well as the Batu River flowing nearby.

Although discovered in 1891 whilst searching for a temple for Lord Sri Murugan, the caves are believed to be formed 400 million years ago. Nevertheless, when they were discovered, a monumental gold statue of Lord Murugan was erected at the base of the stairs.

Lastly, the Batu Caves is also a significant religious site; they are a pilgrimage spot for Tamil Hindus.

 Langkawi Sky Bridge

malaysia-sky-bridge

The Langkawi Sky Bridge is a curved 125-meter structure located on the island of Kedah. It is supported by pylons and cables which stabilize the bridge deck, which is 660 meters above sea level!

The impressive location of the bridge allows you to view the stunning Gunung Machinchang mountain, the Andaman Sea, and the surrounding rainforest. Additionally, there are many animals like monkeys and birds around the area. 

KL Tower

famous-kl-tower

The Kuala Lumpur Tower is another great example of the contemporary skyline of Kuala Lumpur that Malaysia is known for. In addition to being the tallest tower in the country, it is also the 7th tallest in the world.

The tower has a slender structure with a pod at 335 meters, however, the towering antenna is what makes it even taller. It is worth visiting the observation deck, where you can explore the nearby landmarks.

Additionally, it is ideal for children with interactive activities around the imposing structure, such as a small zoo with an aquarium.

Kek Lok Si Temple

malaysia-buddhist-temple

Malaysia is famous for being home to one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world, located in Penang.

The Kek Lok Si Temple was built in 1890. The design took inspiration from Chinese, Thai, and, Burmese architecture. The pagoda base, middle, and roof are influenced by these cultures respectively. Additionally, there are intricate pillars, as well as vividly painted walls and lanterns.

The temple complex, found in the serene hills of Air Itam, is also a pilgrimage site. It is a tranquil place to visit and offers some insight into the blend of cultures in the country.

Food Malaysia Is Famous For

Nasi Lemak

malaysia-national-dish

The national dish of Malaysia is considered to be Nasi Lemak. It consists of aromatic cooked rice which is served with various toppings.

On the other hand, nasi goreng is another rice dish that is often confused due to the similarity in the name if you are not familiar with the language. Nasi basically just means rice. The latter is a fried rice dish.

In nasi lemak, rice is infused with coconut milk and pandan. By cooking it, the rice because fluffy and soft. Subsequently, it is topped with crispy anchovies, roasted peanuts and drizzled with a hot sambal sauce.

Nasi Biryani with Frango Frito

delicious-nasi-biryani

Nasi biryani is another popular rice dish, however, is more substantial and flavorful.

Biryani rice is made with basmati rice and biryani spices, which include masala powder, star anise, and saffron. This dish has its origins in the Muslims from the Indian subcontinent, which explains the spices involved.

This can be eaten on its own as a great vegetarian alternative. Conversely, this dish can also be served with different meats such as chicken or even mutton.

Roti Canai

malaysia-roti-canai

The popular side dish that Malaysia is famous for is a fragrant, toasted flatbread that locals call roti canai.

The dough is made with flour and condensed milk, before being tossed in the air to give it the flat traditional shape. It is then fried or cooked on a charcoal grill. Whilst this flatbread is eaten in many Asian countries, there is a twist in Malaysian culture. It is paired with dhal curry, which the flatbread can be dipped in.

Assam Laksa

healthy-assam-laksa

Noodles are a versatile ingredient that Malaysia is famous for using to create a variety of recipes. Assam laksa is a popular noodle soup that has a tart taste, in comparison to curry laksa which is sweeter.

Thick rice noodles are cooked with a sour tamarind broth, which is where the ‘assam’ is derived from. Usually, they are combined with seafood such as shrimp, mackerel, and sardines. In addition, pineapple is added for an acidic zing.

You will find many different variations of Laksa in the region from Malaysia to Singapore. There’s often a debate on which laksa is the best. Try it for yourself and figure out your preference!

Ais Kacang

sweet-ais-kacang

The best dessert in Malaysia is undoubtedly ais kacang. Ais kacang, also known as bean ice, is also a staple in the neighboring country of Brunei. This is because of its refreshing sweet taste to cool you down in the sweltering summer climate.

Traditional ice kacang is a combination of red beans and shaved ice. It has been around since World War I due to its simple ingredients. Over time, a variety of toppings have been added to give the dessert a sweeter taste, such as grass jelly, peanuts, and even ice cream.

Famous People From Malaysia

Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh is one of the most famous Malaysian people. Although she is best known for being an actress, Yeoh was also an eminent model in her early career. She won the Miss Malaysia contest at the age of 20, as well as the Miss Moomba pageant.

Yeoh’s acting debut began as a commercial with Jackie Chan. Since then, she has starred in hit Hollywood movies such as Avatar and the Marvel Series. In addition, she is acclaimed for her role in the rom-com Crazy Rich Asians.

Jimmy Choo

Jimmy Choo is one of the most famous fashion designers in the world. In London in 1996, he founded Jimmy Choo PLC, a luxury brand that is now a household name. His expertise included predominantly shoes and bags.

Born in Georgetown to a shoemaker father, Choo began to admire the craft and decided to start his own business. After being noticed during London Fashion Week, his work began to take off internationally. Now, his designs are admired by many celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Priyanka Chopra, and more.

Henry Golding 

Henry Golding is a Malaysian actor who has starred in several Malaysian, British, and American television shows.

Golding was born in Betong before moving to London with his family. From there, he landed a role as a presenter on a traveling program called The Travel Show. After this put him on the radar, Golding went on to star in successful series like Star Wars: Visions and movies such as Crazy Rich Asians

Nicol David

Nicol David is considered the most successful professional squash player in the country, hence one of the most famous Malaysian people. Now retired, she had been playing since the age of five.

David’s most impressive achievement was remaining in her number-one ranking for consecutive 108 months up until 2015. She has won tournaments such as Hong Kong, Malaysian, and World Open. Because of her successful representation of her country, she has also won honorable federal awards.

Discovering More Things Malaysia Is Known For

Malaysia is a country with an incredibly diverse culture, food, and people. From the spicy Assam Laksa to the sweet Ais Kacang dessert, there are plenty of delicious dishes that you can try out for yourself.

Plus, take some time to appreciate the historical and cultural changes that the country has been through! While these things may be what Malaysia is most known for at first glance, exploring deeper into this vibrant society will no doubt unveil even more exciting treasures waiting to be discovered.

There is no shortage of things that make Malaysia unique; go explore this Asian gem and uncover more about what Malaysia is famous for.


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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

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