Best Diving Sites in Malaysia

Best Diving Sites in Malaysia

Looking for the best diving destinations? Malaysia has been named one of the most popular countries and there is a variety of diving sites suitable for divers of any level. Here are some recommendations.

Pulau Tioman

Tioman is a well-known diving site due to its crystal-clear water and rich abundance of coral reefs. Located on the East coast of Malaysia, Tioman is easily accessible from Johor Bahru. The marine areas around Tioman have been also been conserved hence making it a rich natural site that is untouched by excessive human activities. Some interesting dive sites in Tioman are Labas Island, Tiger Reef, Sawadee Wrecks, Salang Renggis Island and Chebeh Island.

The best time for diving in Tioman is between March to October. The periods between end of October to the beginning of March are monsoon season when waves are too strong for diving.

Pulau Perhentian

Perhentian is well-known for its calm waves and easy dive condition, it makes an ideal site for beginners who are new to diving. There is also plenty of marine life such as green turtles, manta rays, parrotfish that will make your dive trip comes to live. The clear waters will also help you navigate through your first dive trip with ease.

It is also important to note that there are two parts to the marine park: Perhentian which has more budget accommodation and more popular with backpackers, and Perhentian Besar which appeals more to family and couples on vacation.

The best time for diving in Perhentian is during the dry season between March to November. There are little activities going on during the other months due to the rainy season.

Pulau Redang

Redang is one of the most popular dive sites in Malaysia. Located on the East coast of Malaysia, it has been attracting international divers from near and far. It is surrounded by a large bed of coral reefs, cuttlefish, sand rays, baby sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles and many amazing marine creatures that make this place a haven for divers. Whether you are a beginner to diving or a seasoned diver with years of experience, Redang offers different sites that are suitable for divers of any level.

The best time for diving in Redang is between March to October. The periods between the end of October to the beginning of March are monsoon season when waves and wind too strong for diving.

Pulau Sipadan

Sipadan, once voted the Top 5 diving destination in the world, is located off the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia's eastern most state. With a prehistoric volcano rising 600m from the ocean floor, this dive spot is reputed to be a diver's paradise, offering the spectacular experience to witness the rarer form of marine life ranging from barracuda, dogtooth tuna, devil rays, grey tipped sharks and hammerheads.

One important thing to note while planning a trip to Sipadan is the daily limit placed on the number of divers permitted in the area. The restriction was put into place for the protection of the fragile marine ecosystem in the area. Divers are always advised to plan their trips in advance to avoid disappointment.

Much like the other dive spots in Malaysia, the best time for diving in Sipadang is during the dry season between March to October.

Top things to do in Penang

Top things to do in Penang

Boasting varied cuisine, a diversity of cultures and mesmerising beaches, Penang has the best Malaysia has to offer. Situated about 8km from mainland Malaysia, Penang is a multifaceted turtle shaped island where historic buildings, temples and mosques stand alongside modern developments in the city. Meanwhile, the coast is home to both luxury resorts and sleepy fishing villages.

One of the three British Straits Settlements - along with Singapore and Malacca - Penang has an interesting heritage and is the only area in Malaysia where ethnic Chinese are the majority. Penang is also home to some of the most important monuments in the region.


The capital of Penang is a network of chaotic streets and an important tourist territory. Although Georgetown is a modern city with glitzy skyscrapers and shopping malls, the capital of Penang is also home to colonial buildings, churches and mosques, and many of its sites predate the Second World War. Due to its historical and cultural significance, the core of Georgetown was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

As Penang was a very important trading port once, today Georgetown is a melting pot of cultures - such as Chinese, Malay and Indian - and religions from right across Southeast Asia. Georgetown is also considered the starting point of the Baba-Nyonya culture of Malacca and Penang.

The Blue Mansion is the most photographed building in George Town. Built in the 1880s, this 38-room, 220-window mansion boasts a distinctive blue-hued exterior that once reflected Georgetown's identity and is the result of an indigo-based limewash.

Commissioned by the Cheong Fatt Tze - known as the ‘Rockefeller of the East' - for his seventh wife, the Blue Mansion mixes Eastern and Western designs with louvred windows, art nouveau stained glass and aesthetic floor tiles. This building stands as a testament to the eclectic architectural style preferred by wealthy Straits Chinese.

After visiting this fantastic China House complex, head to Kopi C for excellent Western-style coffee and some of the best cakes and ice creams in Southeast Asia.

Tropical Spice Garden

As you meander through this landscaped oasis, you'll have a chance to see more than 500 species of tropical flora spread across 500 acres. With the help of an audio guide you'll have the chance to learn about local spices and medicinal plants while you wander among lily ponds and terraced gardens.

Batu Ferringhi

This is Penang's main beach resort, where tourists and locals alike flock to enjoy the white sandy beaches and relaxed dining scene.

Cheah Kongsi

Dating back to 1810, this temple was built by an ancestral clan, the oldest Straits Chinese clan association in Penang. Set in the block beside Khoo Kongsi, Cheah Kongsi resembles the grand temples and palaces usually seen in China. Apart from being registered as headquarters of several clans, this building has also served as a temple and assembly hall.

China House

China House, a block-wide amalgamation of shophouses, is a must-see when you visit22 Georgetown. With a variety of dining, drinking and shopping options, in China House you won't get bored.

Khoo Kongsi

One of the five clan houses that still stand today in Georgetown, the Khoo Kongsi clan house takes after a mini clan village. One of the most impressive of Georgetown, the Khoo Kongsi features tall thin columns that support a gently sloping, red tiled roof, topped with carvings of dragons, phoenixes, mythical animals and scenes from popular Chinese legends. The roof ridges are decorated with ceramic sculptures of immortals, carp, dragons, and carp becoming dragons. The interior is an ostentatious display of impressive murals that depict birthdays, weddings and the 36 celestial guardians.

Penang National Park

Nature lovers are also in for a treat in Penang with 2300 hectares of national park. There you can engage in a variety of activities, such as jungle walks, fishing and sunbathing on golden sandy beaches.

Take a 15-minute stroll west to Sungai tukun where you can swim the pools. If you follow the trail along the coast for about 10 minutes, you come across a supply jetty as well as Tanjung Aling, a pleasant beach where you can unwind and stop to rest. If you keep walking for another 45 minutes, you'll come across Tekul Duyung, also known as Monkey Beach.

Another half an hour will take before you reach Muka Head, the isolated rocky promontory at the extreme northwester corner of the island. On the peak of the head lies an off-limits lighthouse that has been standing ever since it was built in 1883. From here, you'll get mesmerising views of the surrounding islands.

A guide to Malaysian cuisine

A guide to Malaysian cuisine

Malaysian cuisine is a mix of all the cooking traditions and practices in the country, reflecting the multiethnic makeup of its population. Although Malaysian cuisine mostly reflects the traditions of the country's three major ethnic groups - Malays, Chinese, and Indians - it has also been influenced by the remainder groups, such as the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia, the Peranakan and Eurasian creole communities, as well as foreign workers and expats.

Due to historical migrations, colonisation by foreign powers, and its geographical position, Malaysia's culinary style today is a melting pot of cuisines, such as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean citizens, and has even been influenced by Thai, Portuguese, Dutch and British cuisines, among others. Thanks to convergence of cuisines, the flavours of Malaysian cuisine are highly complex and diverse.

As a result of its common history with Singapore, Malaysia shares some dishes with this Island state, which include laksa and chicken rice. Similarly, given its proximity to Indonesia, historic migrations and close ethnic and cultural kinship, Malaysia shares culinary ties with this country, which has been reflected in dishes like satay, rendang and sambal.

Banana Leaf

One of the great south Indian cuisines you'll find in Malaysia is Chettinad cuisine, which is from the region of Tamil Nady state of South India. One of its best dishes is the Banana Leaf Rice, an absolute treat to rice lovers.

This dish consists of serving white rice on a banana leaf with an assortment of vegetables, curried meat or fish, pickles and papadum (which resembles big, round flat crisps).

Banana leaf rice was conceived to be a vegetarian dish, so it is mostly served with the gravy of the curry. However, for those interested in getting some protein intake, you can also have it with mutton redang and dry chicken curry. This dish is traditionally eaten with your hands.

Nasi Dagang

This traditional dish consists of rice steamed in coconut milk, fish curry and other ingredients such as fried shaved coconut, solok lada, hard-boiled eggs and vegetable pickles. The most famous Nasi dagang of Terengganu is from a place called Kampung Ladang.

Bakuteh (BKT)

Bakuteh, literally meat bone tea, is a traditional dish that consists of fatty pork ribs simmered in a broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dong guai, fennel seeds and garlic). It might include offal, varieties of mushroom, choy sum (vegetables), and pieces tofu puffs.

Mee goreng mamak

This Indian Muslim dish consists of yellow noodles with a choice of beef, chicken or shrimp, and then it's served with sauce, veggies and eggs, and topped with a bit of chilli.

Hokkien mee

This another yellow noodles dish, but this time it fried in the Chinese style. Thick noodles are braised in thick dark soy sauce with pork, squid, fish-cake and cabbage. The dish is garnished with cubes of crispy fried pork lard.

Apam balik

If you have a sweet tooth, this is the dish for you. Apam balik is a pancake-style snack folded as an omelet. It's stuffed with sugar or peanuts and sprinkled with corn. There are many versions of this dish and you can choose the ingredients.

Nasi Kerabu

This Kelantanese dish is famous for its extravagant taste and its distinctive blue rice. Nasi kerabu gets its colouring from telang flowers, which are crushed and mixed into flour. This northern Malaysian dish is topped with bean sprouts and fried coconut, then drenched in spicy budu (a fermented fish sauce).

Sang Har Kwey Teow

These dish consists of flat noodles served with prawns cooked Cantonese style in a thick eggy broth. What makes the taste so special is that the orange roe of the prawn infuses into the eggy liquid sauce of the noodles.


Rendang is a cauldron of coconut milk and spices. Although this dish resembles a curry dish, it is prepared a different way. First, the meat is slowly simmered in spices until the rosy liquid fully evaporates. This is a popular dish all over Malaysia and it's a favourite, particularly in festive seasons.


After sampling all these amazing Malaysian dishes, it's time for dessert or Kuih, which are Malay-style pastries. It is very sweet and bite-sized, so you can get your sugar all in one bite and on the go from colourful stalls. Koih is a fairly broad term and it could be anything from cakes to dumplings, cookings, pudding, and pastries.

Top Malaysian beaches

Top Malaysian beaches

Thanks to its endless coastline, Malaysia boasts world-class beaches, many of which are popular for secluded bays, unforgettable sunsets and - thanks to the crystal clear waters and colourful coral reefs - scuba diving. Colonial villages, beautiful temples and lavish resorts complete the picture of wonders that make Malaysian beaches some of the most sought after in the world. Here are some of the top picks:

Perhentian Kecil Island Beach (in photo)

The beaches of Palau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhential Kecil are situated just off the edge of the Pulau Redang Marine Park, this is the place to snorkel and scuba dive thanks to the coral-fringed waters. These beaches are also suitable for windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and deep-sea fishing.

Mantanani Island Beach, Sabah

Located in Kota Belud, Sabah, the Mantanami Islands are home to a beautiful secluded beach that frame deep blue waters. Under the surface, you'll find a thriving sea life and colourful corals with changing hues. This beach is rightfully famous for underwater photography, canoeing, rafting and snorkelling.

Mataking Island Beach

Whether you are looking for a retreat or an undersea exploration, Mataking caters to every whim. Located to the southeast of Sabah, Mataking Island comprises two islands: Mataking Besar (which is the big one), and the smaller Mataking Kecil. It only takes about an hour to walk around the whole island, and you can even walk from the big island to the small one during low tide, which makes it perfect for those interesting in island hopping.

The island is also perfect for deep sea diving and snorkelling as it is surrounded by house reeks and there are over 30 dive sites in the area. The most popular dive sites are Frog Fish Farm, Sweet Lips rock, Stingray City, Shipwreck Post, Turtle Playground, Eye Candy and many more.

Dive conditions are mostly great, with good visibility and almost no currents during the dives. If you find yourself a bit lost, there's a dive school that offers great dives at numerous beautiful sites in the area.

The best time to dive is from April to June, with visibility over 30m and up to 50m. From May to August, you might spot green turtles and hawksbill turtles laying their eggs on the beaches.

Rawa Island Beach

Located 16km off the east coast peninsula of Malaysia, Rawa Island is one of the most popular beach destinations in Malaysia despite being a small island with only two resorts. Rawa Island is perfect for a secluded getaway and it's famous for its white sand, turquoise waters and the stunning resort owned by Johor Sultanate. This secluded destination is perfect for snorkelling, kayaking, scuba-diving, hobbycat sailing and island hopping.

Layang Layang Island Beach

Known as the ‘jewel of the Borneo Banks', Layang Layang Island is home to one of Malaysia's most precious beaches. Thanks to its splendid diving conditions, Layang Layang is a must for scuba divers. It is also great for parasailing and gliding. Despite being a popular destination, you can also visit Layang Layang Island Resort from March until August, as it is closed during the rest of the months due to monsoon.

Teluk Duyung, Penang

Located in Penang National Park in the north-west corner of Penang Island, Teluk Duyung is the bay at the base of Muka Head. Popularly known as the Monkey beach, Teluk Duyung is one of the most secluded beaches in Malaysia, with a long stretch of white sandy beach that is good for swimming. This beach can be accessed through the jungle trek, from the Penang national park or by boat. If you choose the latter, you can book one from Teluk Bahang. Visitors need a permit to enter Teluk Duyung, which they can get by registering at Teluk Bahang. This beach is famous for wildlife safari and vivid marine life in the park.

Sibu Island

Also known as Battleship island because of its shape, Sibu Island is a small island in Mersing District, Johor, and it consists of several islands (Sibu Besar, Sibu Tengah Island, Sibu Kukus Island and Sibu Hujung Island).

The most popular activities include snorkelling, diving and turtle spotting, while the main beaches are located on the eastern side of Sibu. Scuba diving and snorkelling is particularly good from Pulau Sibu as the whole area was turned into a Marine Park in 1993.