From the ethereal cosmopolitan charm of Penang to the hippie getaway of the Perhentians, a diverse array of fabulous islands offers a huge variety of Malaysia holiday options to all travelers alike. Here, in no particular order, we present our own top 5. Disagree? Share your own top favorite Malaysian island in the comments box below.
PERHENTIAN ISLAND: HIPPIE HIDEAWAY
These islands might not be that easy to get to, but the Perhentian islands off the northeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia have achieved an iconic status on the backpacker trail. And for good reason — the waters are so clean that you can snorkel right off the beach and still see a diverse array of aquatic life.
You can get there through planes from Kuala Lumpur, taken from KLIA to Kota Bharu airport or by train from KL Sentral to Tanah Merah station and finally you can also head there by bus and car.
TIOMAN ISLAND: AN ISLAND FOR FLASHPACKERS
This popular Malaysia holiday island has two claims to fame which continue to be hyped by media and marketers. One, the dramatic topography of this teardrop-shaped isle in the South China Sea was used as a backdrop for 1958 movie “South Pacific,” while Time magazine named it one of the world’s most beautiful islands in 1970s. Though now a firm fixture on the tourist trail and has lost a little of its original exotic mystique, it retains something where many of its Southeast Asian contemporaries have lost theirs –- the natural environment and wildlife that had first made it famous.
In order to get to Pulau Tioman, take either bus or car from Kuala Lumpur to Tanjung Gemuk or Mersing jetty and switch to ferry that will lead you to the island.
LANGKAWI ISLAND: BEST FOR LUXURY
Famously, the Malaysia Island was believed to be cursed in 1819, when a woman named Mahsuri, was alleged for adultery and put to death. Before she died, she cursed, “There shall be no peace and prosperity on this island for a period of seven generations.” Langkawi’s growth has been nothing short of spectacular, with high-profile resorts emerging around its sandy shores to make it a Malaysia holiday star. Although the best way to take it all in is through the 2,200-meter-long cable car, which rises some 710 meters above sea level.
With so many convenient modes of transport such as cars and buses available today, visiting Langkawi has never been easier. An overwhelming number of visitors swarm the Kuah Jetty after boarding ferries from the mainland. On the other hand, the International Airport is located just 20 km (12.4 miles) away in Padang Matsirat, for locals and tourists with a little more budget to spare.
PENANG ISLAND: FOOD AND HERITAGE
Alongside a bundle of improvements designed in order to attract even more visitors, including investment in public transport, a tree planting program, pedestrianization schemes and a schedule of new cultural festivals and fairs, this magnificent island –- only slightly smaller than Singapore –- is once again making its mark on the world stage with its magnificent food haven and historical landmarks.
If you are heading there with your car, just use the North-South Highway and it takes about 4 hours to reach there. You can also travel by train and buses there or much faster if you choose to take flight where it will land at Bayan Lepas airport.
LAYANG-LAYANG ISLAND: ISOLATION GUARANTEED
Surrounded by virgin waters that drop to 2,000 meters, Layang-Layang is ranked often as one of the top 10 diving sites in the world due to its extraordinary range of aquatic life. Due to the Navy’s presence, the coral reef has the fair share of the explosive damage caused by dynamite fishing and other destructive practices, which lead to underwater visibility of more than 40 meters. Particularly you can spot are the schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks, which can sometimes grow in the hundreds, though you can also expect to see rare manta rays, dolphins, barracuda and turtles.
The nearest city to Layang Layang Island is Kota Kinabalu which located at the West Coast so it is easier to take a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu International Airport before you change flight heading to the island.