It's all about what you want from your holiday. You'll find more city-slick destinations than rural, jungle-covered Malaysia; more temperate ones, too, than this equatorial nation. But if what you're after is beauty and biodiversity, miles upon miles of ancient rainforest where orangutans and rhinoceros hornbills share the canopy, and coral-clad islands thrusting up from the very depths of the ocean through bales of turtles and tornadoes of barracuda, then Malaysia is the land of your dreams. One of the world's few "mega-diverse" countries, Malaysia boasts 28 national parks, home to a whopping 20% of all the world's animal species, while its life-brimming oceans lie within the Coral Triangle, the "Amazon of the Seas". For wildlife lovers, beach enthusiasts and anyone fascinated by the complex Malaysian weave of religions and cultures, it's hard to imagine a perfect destination.
Explore the fertile, shopaholic craziness of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's youthful capital, then head out of town to watch Hindu ceremonies at the Batu Caves or political deliberations in Putrajaya. Retrace the making of the nation on visits to the centuries-old trading hub Malacca City or English-influenced George Town, or head into the Cameron Highlands to enjoy the cool weather and cream teas. Then it's time to hit the beach and the rainforest and luxuriate in the riches of Malaysia's natural heritage. Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands are a blaze of shimmering beaches and glorious snorkeling, while the oceanic island of Sipadan is up there among the best diving spots in the whole world. And back on land, amid the jungles of the Taman Negara, Sabah and Sarawak, you'll walk in the pawprints of Malaysian tigers, rub shoulders with wild elephants, and maybe get a rare chance to see critically endangered species like the Sumatran rhino and orangutan, still holding out in the wilds of Malaysian Borneo.