Although quite close geographically, Indonesia and Malaysia offer wonderfully different experiences due to their diverse culture, cuisine, people, and traditions. Both places make great vacation destinations, combining the lure of big city life and rustic country charm in the best possible way.

Do you feel inspired to start the adventure? Take a look at the most popular tours traveling to Malaysia and tours traveling to Indonesia.

Destinations and things to do

Travel destinations in Malaysia

From iconic and towering skyscrapers to rainforests teeming with exotic flora and fauna, Malaysia truly is a destination worth exploring. Let's take a closer look at some of its highlights:

Malaysia is so special because of its incredible diversity, you can drive from the frigid highlands to a tropical jungle before sailing to a tropical island with some of the richest marine life in the world before wandering through a World Heritage City filled with history. a handful of colonies and pre-war buildings. Go prepared for hot and humid weather, warm water, incredible snorkeling at Tioman, and unforgettable experiences in the Borneo rainforest. – Lauren, The Journey Manuel

Penang National Park: Stretching over 2,300 hectares of challenging jungle trails, the park's main attraction is the 250m long canopy walkway from where you can go to Pantai Kerachut or Muka Head. One of the trails leads to Monkey Beach, where you can see primates running around.

Museum of Ethnology – To explore the rich indigenous culture of Borneo, you can head to this museum in Kuching. You'll find many murals of Kayan and Kenyah, as well as exciting exhibits, such as a hairball ripped from the stomach of a man-eating crocodile.

Petronas Twin Towers: The 88-story stainless steel-clad twin towers rise resplendent to a height of 452m. Most tourists go to the observation deck on the 86th floor at 370m and are rewarded with a stunning skyline, no matter if it's day or night.

Genting Highlands: For a bit of adventure and excitement, visit the Genting Highlands, situated on top of Gunung Ulu Kali. It is a popular weekend getaway as it has a theme park, casinos and several hotels and is only an hour from Kuala Lumpur.

Underrated and unknown are two words I would use to describe the beauty that is Malaysia. Despite Southeast Asia's popularity with Western tourists, Malaysia remains sadly neglected and for no good reason. Malaysia is the epitome of Southeast Asia: stunning modern development influenced by traditional charm. Plus, with gorgeous scenery, pristine beaches, and fast-paced cities, Malaysia really is a place more tourists should strive to discover. – Sally, passport and plates

Panorama Langkawi – This tropical paradise has several attractions, including a SkyCab that takes you on a twenty-minute ride to the top of beautiful Gunung Machinchang. You can also visit the 3D art museum, 6D Cinemotion and the F1 simulator.

Kota Kinabalu – This coastal city is the capital of Sabah and is surrounded by rainforest. You will love walking through its busy markets and strolling along its picturesque beaches and its modern boardwalk. You can also access the Kinabalu National Park from here.

Malacca City – A trip to Malaysia is incomplete without a visit to Malacca, a charming and vibrant city known for its delicious food, old Portuguese churches, night street markets, antique shops and much more. Opt for a day tour to get a good look at the city.

Taman Negara – This sprawling rainforest is located on the Malay Peninsula and promises exhilarating jungle walks, river trips, canopy walks and is home to the gigantic rafflesia plant, as well as tigers, exotic birds and macaques.

Sandakan – If you're in the area, stop by the limestone Gomantong Caves to see kingfishers, bats, and swifts. You can also visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, the famous Puu Jih Shih Temple and Agnes Keith House.

Tioman Island – For a quiet getaway, you'll love the densely forested Tioman Island, surrounded by coral reefs and dotted with cozy beach resorts. It is a popular destination for divers.

Malaysia was the most welcoming place to cross during my cycling tour of Southeast Asia. I will never forget the generosity and warmth of the Malays, from being stopped by car drivers on the side of the road and offered free food to being put up in a stranger's house. Malaysian English, or Manglish, is also immensely endearing and something worth sticking around for. My favorite sentences collected during the trip were: 'I have', 'I can', 'I can too', 'I can too', 'I can't', 'See first' and 'Where do I have'. Concise! – Amelie, especially Amelie

Travel destinations in Indonesia

Land of volcanic islands, exotic jungles, sprawling cities and incredible cuisine, Indonesia offers a wealth of excitement for the wanderlust-afflicted traveler.

Indonesia is an amazing country filled to the brim with pure, unadulterated beauty and overflowing with friendly faces. What surprises me about Indonesia is how relatively unknown it is to visitors. Of course, Bali is hugely popular, but regions like the Komodo Islands and Bintan Island capture as much divine creativity as other island nations, and yet attract far fewer visitors. This will only last a while so go now! – Luke, Street Nomad

Bali – This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia and is highly regarded for its beautiful coral reefs, vast rice paddies, pristine beaches, and forested volcanic mountains. You can visit the famous Uluwatu Temple or head to one of the resort towns of Sanur, Seminyak or Nusa Dua.

Jakarta - If you are looking for a wonderful mix of Malay, European, Chinese, Javanese Indian and Arabic cultures, you will love the language, cuisine and architecture that Jakarta has to offer. While in this city of contrasts, visit Glodok, Sunda Kelapa and Kota Tua for a wonderful experience.

Bandung – To escape the heat, visit Bandung, which sits at an elevation of 768m and enjoys a tropical yet cool temperature. You can shop till you drop at Jalan Riau, Jalan Setiabudi and the Dago district. This location is also known for its art deco and colonial architecture.

Lombok: Located to the east of Bali, this adventurous location offers great opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, and has top-notch surfing and picturesque beaches. You will also want to visit the sea turtle hatchery. This location has several top-tier resorts that offer exclusive beach access and incredible sunset views of Mount Agung.

Yogyakarta – For a glimpse into royal life, head to the kraton, or royal complex of the Sultan's Palace, which was built in the 18th century. You can enjoy gamelan concerts and Javanese dance performances in the many open-air pavilions inside the kraton.

Bintan Island – Known for exciting water sports, private beaches, and championship golf courses, this commercial port offers everything from luxury resorts to rich Dutch colonial architecture. It is the largest of the 3,000 islands in the Riau archipelago.

Batam – Although it is a small island, Batam offers water skiing, windsurfing, paragliding, and several golf courses. The busy port is also a free trade zone where you can enjoy duty-free shopping, vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches.

Without a doubt, the most beautiful place we visited in Indonesia was Raja Ampat. Raja Ampat is one of those places where you see a picture and go "wow, I need to see that for myself at some point in my life." Well after traveling around Indonesia to get there we can honestly say that it is just as beautiful as the photos. With crystal clear waters and island paradises dotted on all sides, Raja Ampat is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque places in the world, and well worth visiting Indonesia for this location alone. – Brian and Macca, a Brit and a wide.

Food and drink

Food in Malaysia

Asian delicacies served with flair

If you are looking for a healthy and traditional breakfast, try the local Nasi Dagang. It comes with fish curry, rice steamed in coconut milk, pickled vegetables, eggs, solok lada, and fried shredded coconut. Bakuteh or "meat bone tea" is another popular dish of fatty spare ribs served in a broth of assorted spices and herbs.

A wonderful mix of food makes Malaysia a truly delicious destination. From some of Asia's best street food to trendy cafes with a vibrant coffee culture and contemporary haute cuisine, there's plenty to explore and keep culinary passions alive. – Monica, The Yum List

When it comes to noodles, you'll be spoiled for choice. Try flat noodles like Sang Har Kwey Teow, which consists of Cantonese-style river prawns served in a runny sauce at ers that has a delicious hint of honey, soy sauce, and five-spice powder. Another must-try dish is Nasi Lemak which comes wrapped in a banana leaf and consists of coconut-perfumed white rice and other side dishes.

One of the best things about Malaysia is the food. It is a perfect melting pot of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. This is seen best in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. But, even on resort islands like Langkawi, it's possible to find traditional cuisine like beef rendang, nasi campur, and spicy sambal. One of the best food experiences to have in Malaysia is to take a traditional Malay cooking class to better understand Malaysia's food culture. –Amber, With Husband In Tow

From savory to sweet, a journey for the senses

To appease your sweet tooth, order some Malaysian desserts like ABC (or Ais Batu Campur) which is shaved ice with sugar syrup, sarsi and red rose, sprinkled with jelly bits, coconut milk, red beans and corn kernels. You'll also love apam balik which is more of a street stall snack and has the same consistency of cake. It has an awesome filling of honey, peanuts and sweet corn. Kids will enjoy Bahulu or sponge cake as it has a lovely golden crust and comes in different shapes and sizes.

Malaysian cuisine is so unique because it's a fusion of Indian, Chinese, Malay, and European cultures. Some must-try dishes when traveling to Malaysia include Char Koay Teow (stir-fried rice cake strips) with prawns, Hokkien pork noodles, the famous Penang Asam Laksa along Kweng Kwee Street in Georgetown, chicken satay, and of course some traditional Chinese Dim sum. Make sure to refresh with an ABC dessert (Ice Kacang AKA Air Batu Campur), which is basically shaved ice topped with red beans, sweet corn, jellies, and drenched in sweet evaporated milk. It's the ultimate refresher on a hot day. My best advice to any foodie traveling to Malaysia: Don't shy away from the dining at local markets and hawker centers – this is the freshest and most authentic Malaysian food you can get! Make sure you bring your pack of wet wipes, cash, and an appetite! – David, David's Been Here

Bingka ubi or Casanova cake is a popular baked and chewy dessert made of flan flavored with pandan, tapioca, palm sugar and coconut milk. If you like spring rolls, you'll enjoy Kuih ketayap, which is a tube-shaped crepe filled with a rich, sweet coconut filling. When it comes to drinks, you must try Teh Tarik and Teh Halia (made with ginger), a strong bitter milk tea that is frothy and served hot.

Malaysians are obsessed with food and for good reason: we think we have some of the best food in the world. (In recent years, Malaysia's claim as a foodie paradise has received worldwide acclaim, with Penang's Asam Laksa ranked No. 7 on CNN's list of the World's 50 Best Foods and emerging foodie destination Ipoh ranking No. number 6 in the 10 best places to visit in Lonely Planet). Asia.) What makes Malaysian food special? As an early form of fusion cuisine, it draws its inspiration from the ingredients, cooking styles and flavors of its colorful immigrant communities from countries as far away as China and India. Malaysia is, as its tourist slogan says, Truly Asia. – Jackie, JackieM

Food in Indonesia

Spice up your vacation with exciting local cuisine.

If you're in the countryside, you can't leave before trying the tender beef rendang, which is simmered for hours and served with lime wedges and white rice. Javanese fish cakes are also very tasty and can be eaten with pickled cucumber. Soup lovers can order Soto Ayam or Chicken Noodle Soup, which is a local classic. For a hearty meal, order Gulai Kambing, or lamb curry made with authentic and traditional spices from the region.

Indonesia is all about food. For me, the archipelago is a culinary paradise for the explorer at heart. Try Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice), Gado Gado (mixed salad with peanut sauce), and my favorite dessert drink Es Cendol (coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, and green rice jelly noodles). – Jeff, Cooking with Keasberry

In Indonesia, there is always something for everyone. Nasi Goreng is considered the country's national dish and is a version of fried rice made with kecap, a thick soy-based sauce. It comes with a garnish of carrots, cucumber, gherkin and acar, as well as the meat of your choice. Assuming you're not allergic to peanuts, buy some Tahu Goreng, which is fried tofu, with peanut sauce.

It is spicy and sweet and can be an excellent accompaniment to any meal. Vegetarians will love the Chai Kue or steamed vegetable dumplings served with spicy vinegar-based sauce.

Delicious treats that will leave you wanting more

One of Manado's specialties is Smor Ikang, which is a braised fish stew that has a spicy flavor thanks to the addition of mace that gives it sweetness and depth. Satay in any form tastes very good and more so in Indonesia. These tasty meat skewers can be made with goat, rabbit, lamb or chicken. For a quick and easy treat, try some Bakso, which is a noodle soup with dumplings. It is a favorite among local students.

There are many sweet dishes that come from this part of the world and some you must try are Lapis Legit or thousand layer cake, Cantik Manis or sago cakes with vanilla and Rujak or spicy fruit salad. When it comes to western cuisine, the bigger cities have fast food chains, however in the rural areas you will find mostly traditional food.

Indonesia is a very beautiful country with many places with incredible landscapes. The people are also very warm and friendly and let's not forget the wide range of diversity in the cuisines! Indonesia is special because I can find views that are on par with any other foreign country, all we really need is to pay a little more attention to what we have here in this amazing country! –Cindy, LULABYSPOON


Malaysian culture while traveling

The country is a wonderful mosaic of different but fused cultures. For generations, Malays, Indians, Chinese, and various indigenous ethnic groups have lived together and created their own unique heritage. The official language is Malay, but most of the locals speak English, so tourists face very few communication barriers while visiting the country. Islam is the predominant religion, but other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism are also practiced.

Malaysia, a country that brings together various cultures such as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dusun and more. We are also well known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European cultural influences. Trust me, you can enjoy your time in Malaysia to the fullest, as you will find plenty of food! Go to the island of Penang where you will find a wide variety of hawker fares, Malacca will bring you the delicacies of Baba Nyonya and KL will reveal an enticing international cuisine. – Pamela, gourmet from Malaysia

Regarding clothing, avoid skimpy clothing but avoid packing very heavy materials such as denim. Loose trousers and dress pants are great and can be combined with comfortable cotton. While mid-thigh skirts and sleeveless tops aren't a problem, you shouldn't wear them in a mosque. If you spend most of your time outdoors, wear a hat and apply sunscreen before going outside.

While most of the country is fairly safe for tourists, it's best to stay away from the eastern coastal areas of Sabah due to the rare kidnapping incidents. If you are in the city, keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially when traveling on public transport. There have been cases of credit card fraud, so keep your cards and cash safe and with you at all times. Another issue to watch out for is "smash and grab," where attackers target slow-moving vehicles. Women are advised not to take an off-road taxi, especially after dark, and to request cars over the phone instead. If you're traveling between June and October, there are often "smog advisories" and authorities may limit outdoor activities.

Malaysia is a beautiful, diverse country filled with tropical treasures. We have 3 main ethnicities (Malay, Chinese, and Indian) in Malaysia, so expect to experience various cultures, celebrations, cuisine, and clothing. – Jess, Jessy The elegance of KL

Malaysia's cultural diversity continues to amaze me. Follow the trail of a simple street food and you might find that the original recipe came from India or China. Or that it got decorative touches from colonial influences as it was passed down from generation to generation and then through the various states of Malaysia. Meeting Malaysians in everyday life rather than "tourist spots" opens your eyes to the depth of their culture. Exploring the 'real' Malaysia with diligence and a sense of adventure will take you beyond popular Kuala Lumpur and Penang and reward you with a glimpse into the fabric of local life. – Vanessa, The Island Drummer

Aside from safety, health is another big concern when traveling to a new country. If you are heading to the eastern region of Malaysia, beware of the risk of malaria. It is best to avoid tap water, ice cubes, and fountain drinks. If bottled water is not available, bring portable water filters and iodine tablets.

Whether it's a quiet getaway, a weekend retreat or a business venture, traveling to Malaysia is all about taking a voyage of discovery. There is so much for travelers to see, discover, and eat in its 13 states that are steeped in history: culture, heritage, and events. –CK Lam,

Indonesian culture while traveling

The country is a living symbol of unity in diversity as it has a wonderful mix of languages, ethnicities and religions. The main religion practiced by the majority of the population is Islam; however, there are other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Confucianism that are widely practiced. Javanese make up the largest ethnic group and are said to make up 45% of the country's total population.

Indonesia is made up of many native islands, cultures and languages, although Bahasa Indonesia is our official language. Visiting Indonesia once in a lifetime is not enough, from active volcanoes to crystal clear oceans, from exotic fruits to tempting local cuisines, I promise there really is something for everyone. If there was one word to describe Indonesia, it would be diverse, because that's exactly what we are. – Agata, Dream Explore Wander

The locals are said to speak more than 725 languages, but the national language is Bahasa Indonesia. English is largely understood by people in the larger towns and cities and many of them can speak the language quite fluently. Since Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim country, it is best to dress conservatively so as not to draw undue attention. When visiting a religious site, women must cover their heads with a shawl or scarf. Instead of high heels, opt for comfortable sandals or tennis shoes. An elastic cord for the phone and a moc

What makes Indonesia so special to us is its friendly people, fascinating culture, beautiful temples, incredible wildlife and unspoiled nature with pristine beaches, jungles and active volcanoes. As a traveler to Indonesia, this country offers endless exploration and diversity. We love that you can find everything from modern developed cities and areas like Jakarta and Bali to remote wilderness areas offering some of the world's last great adventures. – Maria & Espen, Nerd Nomads

There is an on-going terrorist threat in Indonesia, so before you plan a trip, check travel advisories to the region. You can also monitor local warnings for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and other natural disasters. When traveling by ferry, check if appropriate safety precautions have been met and avoid using a boat that looks unseaworthy or overcrowded. Avoid hurting local sentiments by talking about religion and politics. The locals are very friendly and will be eager to help if you respect their culture and homeland. With regard to personal health, always drink bottled water and avoid drinking fountains and tap water at all costs.

We're all travelers. Do you know that Indonesia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world? I keep returning to Bali for its boutique shopping, deserted waterfalls, beautiful sunset, yoga retreats, swimming and relaxing in the sun with spectacular views of the ocean, romantic villas or Insta-worthy cafes. –Mullie, My Fun Food Diary

Getting Around

Getting around Malaysia while traveling

In most cities, you'll find a fairly effective taxi service that can be hired on a share basis. The price is definitely higher than traveling by bus and on the peninsula; it could cost about 50 sen for one kilometer.

Malaysia has an affordable and comfortable train network run by Keretapi Tanah Melayu. Travelers have their choice between taking local or express trains. Express trains have fewer stops and are air-conditioned. Most local trains have erratic schedules and are much slower and crowded. If you're traveling on a budget, you could try hitching a ride but there is an element of risk especially if you're traveling solo. Furthermore, hitchhiking is prohibited on expressways.

Alternatively, there are several agencies such as Avis, Orix, Mayflower and Hertz that offer rental cars and the roads are well maintained compared to other Asian countries. However, in Kuala Lumpur, expect heavy traffic and remember, not all drivers follow traffic rules. You should also anticipate many distractions and obstacles on the road, like stray animals and motorcyclists. It is recommended that you bring an International Driving Permit if you wish to drive in the country. In Malaysia, motorists drive on the left side of the road and cars are right-hand drive. Some guesthouses offer motorbike rentals but you'll need to wear a helmet and have a valid driver's license. Motorcycles are useful especially outside the city when you're navigating through country roads.

There are ferries that sail to Penang, Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman and Perhentians. Tickets can be bought at the jetty or on the boat itself. Most vessels are either a motorized fishing boat (penambang) or a speedboat. The quickest way to travel is by air through budget carries such as Firefly and AirAsia. If you're heading to Tioman and Redang you can fly from Kuala Lumpur on Berjaya Air.

Getting around Indonesia while traveling

Most tourists from Europe or North America would land either at Bali or Jakarta. From Bali, you can use one of the country's budget carries to take you to Flores or Sumatra. Alternatively, you can use a ferry to get to Java, Gili Islands or Lombok. At most of the major tourist destinations you can rent a car, but be prepared to drive alongside hundreds of motorcyclists. Motorists drive on the left side of the road and you'll need an International Driving Permit to rent a vehicle.

Buses in Indonesia are slow but affordable and should only be relied on for traveling short distances. You could also ride on bemos or communal minibuses but check the fare before you start your journey so there's no chance of getting ripped off. In the city, you'll find motorized rickshaws and becaks where the driver pedals a bicycle that is attached to the rickshaw.

Some locations such as Sumatra and Java are easily accessible by train using Kereta Api, the national railway. There are also rail lines that connect between Lampung and Padang but the network is not very good near Sumatra. You can get from island to island using either the steel ferries that carry hundreds of passengers or the simple wooden boats. From Ketapang, there are several ferries that depart to Gilimanuk and you can get a ticket at the port itself. From Bali, you can get a ferry to Surabaya, Gili Meno, Kupang, Maumere, Bima and more.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about Indonesia is that it is a hotbed of cultures, where everyone is truly welcome, or to put it better, everyone is united in diversity. This is a country where the old and the new blend gracefully; where ancient ritual dances are performed – such as the Kecak in Ulu Watu, Bali, or the Ndundu Dake in Melo Village, in Flores; and at the same time, the younger generation (and not only) are enthusiastic about social media, love to meet new people, enjoy a night out in the trendiest places in Bali and enjoy traveling the world. The peaceful coexistence of cultures in Indonesia is a wonderful example that other countries should take advantage of. –Claudia, My adventures around the world

overhead costs

Price of things in Malaysia during the trip

The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit (RM) which is divided into 100 sen. A budget traveler would spend around RM100 a day, while a luxury stay would cost around RM400 a day. You can expect to pay RM100-400 for a double room in a mid-range hotel, while a meal at a similar hotel would cost approximately RM40-60. If you are looking for a meal at a high-end restaurant, be prepared to pay upwards of RM200, but you can easily eat for as little as RM8 at a budget restaurant. A McDonalds meal would cost around RM12, imported beer is priced around RM14 and a liter and a half of bottled water would cost around RM2.34.

When it comes to transportation, a one-way ticket using local transport would cost you around 2RM or you can get a monthly pass for 100RM. If you take a taxi between midnight and 6 a.m. m., you are expected to pay a 50% surcharge on the metered fare. There is also an additional fee of 20sen for each additional passenger.

Price of things in Indonesia during the trip

The currency in Indonesia is called rupiah and is denoted by Rp. A simple lunch for two would cost around Rs 130,000, while transportation costs for one day would be around Rs 54,333. A one-way ticket using local transport would cost approximately Rs 4,000 and taxi fares start at Rs 7,500. You can budget a daily amount of around Rs 15,412 for water, tips and charity to Rs 39,525. A trip to a spa would cost more than 870,000 rupees for two people.

A normal coffee would be priced around Rs 25,408 and a can of soft drink would cost around Rs 6,807. A bottle of mid-range wine would cost around Rs 300,000 and local beer would cost around Rs 25,480. In general, if you are visiting from a European or North American location, you will find the prices to be very affordable. In most street markets, you can even haggle for a good deal, especially when shopping for souvenirs.