Although many Americans have never considered Malaysia a must-visit destination, its popularity is growing, at least amongst travel editors (with recent recommendations from both USAToday.com and Johnny Jet). In fact, this is the year to visit Malaysia (it's celebrating 50 years of independence), and spring is an especially good time to go. Malaysia's shoulder-season lands between March and May, after monsoon season but before the summer high season, so visitors can take advantage of dry weather and deeply discounted airfare.
Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is a modern, Western-style city and is home to the country's international airport. The 88-story Petronas Twin Towers were the world's tallest buildings for six years, and are the most famous attraction in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia also boasts spectacular natural attractions including the Batu Caves, Lake Gardens, and Taman Negara (a national park). The Malaysian island of Borneo is home to Kinabalu Park, the country's first UNESCO World Heritage site, and Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in southeast Asia. Sipadan Island, part of the Sabah state on Borneo Island, is an up-and-coming adventure travel destination.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence from Britain, the Malaysian tourism board has launched a new campaign, Visit Malaysia 2007. Visitors will find a wide variety of events all over the country throughout the year. Highlights include the month-long Colours of Malaysia festival in May, which celebrates performing and visual arts, crafts, and entertainment. Major events take place in Kuala Lumpur, though other cities will have smaller events. Penang, an island off the coast of Malaysia, hosts three big events in May and June: the Penang Dragon Boat Festival, the International Floral Festival, and the French Art Festival.
Malaysia is a great bargain destination. In Kuala Lumpur, rooms at five-star hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott are available for about $100 per night. While airfare to Asia is pricey, visitors can save by traveling in spring. I compared peak and off-peak airfares and found savings of up to $2,010 for spring travel.
|Route||Off-peak fare||Peak fare|
|Chicago (O'Hare) to Kuala Lumpur||$1,118||$2,014|
|Dallas (Ft. Worth) to Kuala Lumpur||$1,118||$3,128|
|Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur||$1,008||$1,263|
|New York (JFK) to Kuala Lumpur||$1,338||$1,492|
Off-peak fares are based on travel from April 3 to 10, and peak fares are based on travel from July 17 to 24. Prices were found on Travelocity and include taxes and fees.
For more information about visiting Malaysia, visit the Tourism Malaysia's website.