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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Malaysia (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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View of George Town, Penang, Malaysia


Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Malaysia (Plus, Itineraries)

By Betsy Burlingame

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: If you're considering moving to Malaysia and don't have a favorite city or town picked out, going on a look-see or exploratory trip to visit a number of popular expat destinations is really informative. Here are some recommendations for where to visit when exploring Malaysia.

Embarking on a Look-See Trip to Malaysia is an invaluable step for anyone considering relocation. This exploratory journey offers a firsthand experience of the country's diverse culture, lifestyle, and living conditions. It allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to assess the suitability of various cities and towns, ensuring their move aligns with personal and professional aspirations. By visiting different areas, one can gauge the local infrastructure, community, and amenities, making an informed decision about their future home.

Recommended Itineraries

For a comprehensive Look-See Trip in Malaysia, it's essential to tailor your itinerary based on the length of your stay. A 10-day trip could focus on the central and southern regions, starting with Kuala Lumpur, then exploring Melaka, and Johor Bahru. For a 20-day trip, extend your journey to include Penang, the Cameron Highlands, and Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia. These itineraries encompass a mix of urban and rural settings, providing a balanced view of life in Malaysia for expats, retirees, and digital nomads.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's bustling capital, is a melting pot of cultures and a prime location for expats and digital nomads. With a population of over 7 million in the greater KL area, it offers a vibrant city life with a relatively low cost of living compared to Western standards. The city is known for its modern amenities, extensive public transport system, and a wide array of international schools. Expats enjoy the mix of traditional Malaysian culture with the comforts of contemporary living.

Travel Tip: Don't miss the chance to visit the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and enjoy a meal at the atmospheric Jalan Alor Night Food Court, where you can savor a variety of local dishes.

Melaka

Melaka (Malacca) is a historical city that offers a slower pace of life compared to Kuala Lumpur. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site with a rich colonial history, evident in its architecture and cultural heritage. The cost of living here is even more affordable, and the city's small size makes it easy to navigate. Expats and retirees are drawn to its charming atmosphere, historical sites, and the friendly local community.

Travel Tip: Explore the historical beauty of A Famosa fort and indulge in the Peranakan cuisine at Nancy's Kitchen for an authentic taste of Melaka's culinary heritage.

Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru, the southern gateway to Malaysia, is an emerging city with a growing expat community. It's strategically located next to Singapore, offering the advantage of proximity to another major Southeast Asian hub. The city is developing rapidly, with new residential areas and international schools. The cost of living is reasonable, and there's a growing number of leisure and entertainment options.

Travel Tip: Visit the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque for its stunning architecture and take a stroll through the Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum to learn about the local Chinese community's history.

Penang

Penang is a favorite among expats for its cultural diversity, historical charm, and famous street food. The island's capital, George Town, is another UNESCO World Heritage site with a lively arts scene and a well-preserved colonial core. The cost of living is moderate, and the healthcare facilities are excellent. Penang's beaches and hills offer a scenic escape from city life, making it a well-rounded choice for those seeking a balance between urban and natural environments.

Travel Tip: Enjoy the panoramic views from Penang Hill and treat yourself to a culinary adventure with the street food at Gurney Drive.

Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands is a serene hill station known for its cool climate, tea plantations, and agricultural farms. It's a peaceful retreat from the tropical heat, ideal for retirees and those looking for a quiet life amidst nature. The cost of living is low, and the small-town feel provides a close-knit community atmosphere. Expats who prefer a more temperate climate and outdoor activities like hiking will find it appealing.

Travel Tip: Visit the BOH Tea Plantation to learn about tea production and enjoy a fresh cup amidst the rolling green hills.

Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia is known for its proximity to beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and the majestic Mount Kinabalu. The city itself is modern with a laid-back vibe, suitable for expats and digital nomads looking for a balance between work and leisure. The cost of living is affordable, and the city offers a range of amenities, including international schools and healthcare facilities. The diverse population and rich indigenous culture add to its charm.

Travel Tip: Embark on an island-hopping tour from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal and visit the vibrant Gaya Street Sunday Market for local handicrafts and snacks.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Universal Tax Professionals

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View of George Town, Penang, Malaysia

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SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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