The islands of Southeast Asia are always renowned for their extraordinary beauty, and include some of the most sought after vacation destinations in the world. The tropical islands of Malaysia, however, have never get nearly the fair amount of attention they deserve in the crowded market, as they’re often being overshadowed by the immensely popular islands of Thailand. But though Thailand is one of a great destination, Malaysia simply manages to offer a different and special experience that’s altogether less unruly and absolutely more serene. Most of the islands we’ll going to talk about are off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which is where most Malaysians live, but we’ll also do mention quite a few that are near Malaysian Borneo.

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LANGKAWI

Langkawi is always one of the very best known island destinations of Malaysian. Besides being on the marine border with our neighboring Thailand, the island is rich in its natural beauty with limestone cliffs formation and dense mangroves which inhabited by birds and marine life. The island is best to be explored by the travelers through rent cars and circling the coast, while stopping in at the many white-sand beaches, hot springs and many other attractions along the way. Don’t miss the exceptional Langkawi Cable Car that climbs 2,300 feet above sea level and offers extensive panoramic views of the island and its varied tropical surrounds.

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PENANG

Penang isn’t exactly an ideal tropical island as it is more connected to the mainland by a bridge and has over 1 million inhabitants. Instead Penang is more of a vast cultural destination that just happens to be an island as well. Georgetown is where most travelers will stay even though it is the island’s main city. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its stately colonial era architecture, which often contrasting with the mosques and Buddhist temples found elsewhere in the city, which is an interesting part of the story. The best part on visiting Georgetown however is its delicious street hawker food! Hawker centers across the city serve renowned dishes like roti canai, laksa at a very low price in outdoor sitting.

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PANGKOR

Pangkor is basically known for its cozy small island with some serious fondness to natural beauty, as its white-sand beaches are often lined with the dense rainforests growth in picture perfect tropical scenery. Relatively unknown to foreign travelers, Pangkor is very much acted as a refuge of vacationing locals who want to escape from the busy Kuala Lumpur capital. Foreigners who try to venture to the island however will discover cheap pricing, excellent eatery and some pretty superb beaches that will continue to catch your eyes.

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THE PERHENTIAN ISLANDS

The Perhentian Islands are among the popular spot on the Southeast Asia backpacking circuit with budget travelers, but their utter reserve still places them firmly off the beaten path. Consist of two islands, Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil, off the northeastern coast of Malaysia; the Perhentians are famous for their stunning beaches and plentiful marine life. There are varied numbers of scuba diving certification schools available on the islands and there aren’t as many places in the world with a better beauty/value combination. Travelers that are not interested in diving can instead go for a snorkeling near the clear waters right from the beach or even try their hand at sea kayaking.

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TIOMAN

While in the 1970s Tioman has been named by TIME magazine as “one of the world’s most beautiful islands,” and still after 40 years later all those words still speak the truth. Even though the island do receives its fair share of tourists and has seen a few developments, its perfect location inside a marine park has preserved the island’s exceptional and special ecosystem. Literally surrounded by coral reef, the island possessed a lot of exquisite marine life, but its coolest animal residents are the huge monitor lizards that currently live in the island’s jungles.

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REDANG

Considerably more superior to its Perhentian neighbors, Redang and its much more luxury resorts signal to luxury travelers with no empty promises of white-sand beaches and epic scuba diving possibilities. The island is known for its so heavily forested landscape that most of the action is further on the coast, so most travelers will spend their days lazing on the beach or exploring the inhabits islands nearby , which, along with Redang, also comprise the marine park. If money isn’t an issue for you – and it’s probably not when the destination you are heading is the lux Redang – the easiest way to reach the island is on one of the daily flights from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore

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LABUAN

Labuan is the small island located off the coast of Borneo, roughly in the middle between Brunei and Kota Kinabalu, with big aspirations as Malaysian government intention on turning Labuan in to the next Dubai. There are currently over 6500 companies based out of the island, which is a major off-shore financial center and investment is expected to increase. When visitors aren’t making business deals or opening bank accounts, however they can also engage in some wreck diving just few meters off the coast with some local diving operators.

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SIPADAN

Sipadan, an island which is located right at the center of the world’s most diversified marine habitat, is arguably one the world’s renowned dive site. Thousands of remarkable fish species can be found in its clear waters, and other exquisite animal inhabitants include sea turtles and reef sharks. In the process of preserving its precious ecosystem travelers are currently no longer allowed to stay on Sipadan itself and divers must instead make the journey starting from the port town of Semporna in Sabah. Only 120 divers are allowed to visit Sipadan each day, which means that divers are most likely won’t be able to make the trip to the island on each day of their stay. The permits are divided out amongst the resorts, and most have rules in place that can guarantee divers a permit if they want to stay at least a few nights at the resort. But what’s a little waiting can harm you anyway when the payoff is the world’s best scuba diving experience?

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