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Malaysia family holidays

Family holidays in Malaysia open up a wealth of relaxed, flexible and engaging adventures for all ages - perfect for families stepping into Asia for the first time.

Soak up the energy of Kuala Lumpur’s urban hub, and let kids’ imaginations run wild in Penang’s historic streets. Take time out on Langkawi’s blissful beaches, go forest exploring in the calming Cameron Highlands, and get closer to wildlife at Taman Negara National Park.

Our tailored Malaysia family holidays are finely tuned to fit your family, so you can experience the depths of this diverse country at your own pace.

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Idyllic beaches
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Cameron Highlands

What to expect when visiting Malaysia with kids

Malaysia’s family-friendly culture shines through in every encounter. There’s always a festival brewing somewhere, you’re never too far from city convenience or beach bliss, and journeys between stopovers are often only a child-friendly 4 hours or less. You can see a lot of the country in one trip, and left-hand drive makes self-drive a great option for added family flexibility.

Cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur has hundreds of places for families to eat, play and relax, from superhero-themed cafes (Batman burger, anyone?!) to theme parks and interactive adventures. Get back to nature at FRIM ecological research gardens, and watch little eyes widen at the views from the Petronas or KL Towers, or even from a Cessna!

Penang is a refreshing counterpoint to the buzz of KL. Explore the historic architecture of George Town’s UNESCO-listed streets, ramble through Fort Cornwallis, ride the funicular railway, and experience nature’s magic at a butterfly farm. For young history buffs, heading south to Malacca is a must - fascinating temples, higgledy-piggledy houses and plenty of comforting nyonya food to fuel your expeditions.

The lush green landscapes of the Cameron Highlands are perfect for letting the kids run off steam as you hike between tea plantations, pausing for picnics and waterfall wanders. Taman Negara National Park’s ancient rainforests bring you closer to Malaysia’s wildlife. Set out on riverboat cruises and jungle treks in search of elephants, monkeys, giant squirrels and colourful hornbills, and get in amongst the treetops on the adrenaline-inducing canopy walkway. 

Malaysia’s beaches are all about unwinding without worries, with plenty of all-inclusive resorts for hassle-free family relaxation. Kick back in style on the east coast at the Tanjong Jara Resort for snorkelling, swimming, hands-on cooking classes and beach games; learn to dive around Redang Island; or enjoy some west coast winter sun on a serene Langkawi shore.

Our Malaysia Specialists’ top tips for families

Don’t worry: Malaysia is a foodie nation, with something to suit every palate. Alongside a wealth of diverse national dishes, including the famous nyonya home-cooking (a mix of Chinese and Malaysian influences), there’s food from all over the globe available at every turn. Malaysia is a hub for multi-cultural fusion food, especially in KL where you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to find anything you fancy, from Indian samosas to Italian pizza.

Malaysian, also called Malay or bahasa Malaysia, is a comparatively intuitive language for beginners, and it’s relatively straightforward for kids (and adults) to pick up and use a few key phrases. Although everyone you meet will generally respond to a friendly ‘hello’, a ‘selamat pagi’ good morning can help generate a deeper connection, and gives kids a crucial key to understanding more about Malay culture.

The weather in Malaysia is hot and humid all year round, interspersed with tropical rain showers. Beach holidays can be enjoyed all year round in Malaysia, as the east and west coasts experience their wettest months at alternate times of the year. The west coast has its sunny, dry weather between November & February, which is wet season on the east coast. Conversely, the east coast is at its best between April to October, which are the wetter months on the west coast. Kuala Lumpur and Malacca are both hot and humid throughout the year, with daily tropical showers. The North-East Monsoon strikes between November and February, which is when the smaller islands are generally best avoided as many of the beach resorts are closed.

Having an experienced, knowledgeable and welcoming local guide on hand during your trip is absolutely invaluable. They’ll meet you upon arrival, act as translator, transfer you between locations, and generally make everything go as smoothly as possible. They’ll leave you to your own devices as much or as little as you wish, but we think a good guide is essential for a successful family holiday. We pride ourselves on using only the best guides in a given region. All our guides are trained to the highest level, and fully certified and licensed. Malaysia is unusual in that you will be with the same driver guide throughout your entire trip. This gives continuity to your family during their holiday, and builds a warm relationship that makes your visit feel even more special. Find out more about our brilliant guides href=”/about/guide-connect”>here

Malaysia is a fantastic destination for family travel. Every aspect is made as stress-free as possible, from smooth transport links to plenty of family-friendly accommodation, and it’s somewhere that families tend to return to often. The feedback we get is that it’s a safe, reassuring and supportive destination, the people you meet are friendly and helpful, and the infrastructure is easy to navigate. As with many unfamiliar places, some things may differ from what you’re used to, but most places feel totally secure and safe. If you need anything, or have any queries once you’re there, our guides are always on hand to help.

When planning a trip to Asia, it’s always important to consider the possible requirements for vaccinations and immunisations. Most importantly, we stress that you should contact your doctor or medical practitioner well before you depart to get their advice on any vaccinations you may need for your trip. If you’ve travelled recently and believe that you are already up-to-date, it’s still worth checking as vaccinations have a varying life span. The NHS Fit for Travel map has declared Peninsular Malaysia low to no risk for malaria. The NHS Travel Vaccinations site has lots of up-to-date information on vaccinations and other travel health issues.

Citizens of the UK, most EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States do not require a visa to visit Malaysia or Malay Borneo for a stay of up to three months. Notable exceptions are citizens from Greece & Portugal who can stay visa-free for up to one month only. All other nationalities should check with the Malaysian Embassy in their country of residence for the most up-to-date information.

Though you can pick up quite a lot of stuff you might need in the major hubs, we’d recommend taking supplies of any essentials, such as favourite nappies, formula etc., as well as your preferred brand of sunscreen and insect repellent. Light, long sleeved shirts, a light scarf or two, and long trousers or skirts will mean that you’re prepared for any eventuality, including modest dress codes at sites of religious significance. They’ll also help provide valuable protection against strong sunlight and mosquitoes. If you’re travelling with tinies, consider taking a really good baby carrier, as push-chairs might be a pain to get around with.

Though often only visited briefly between flights, Singapore is a fast moving, cosmopolitan destination with plenty to offer families in its own right. It tends to be pricier than, for example, Kuala Lumpur, so adding a day or two in Singapore onto a Malaysia family holiday is the perfect way to get the best of both without going over budget. Wander beneath the multi-coloured supertrees at the Gardens by the Bay, watch wildlife after dark at the Night Safari zoo, or imagine yourself in pole position at the Marina Bay F1 circuit. Splash about together at a waterpark, watch the nightly spectacle of the Marina Bay light show, and take a wander through the rainbow-hued streets of Chinatown. Whilst wandering, don’t forget to try a few examples of Singapore’s famously delicious chilli crab and grab some Michelin-starred streetfood too.

There is no need to obtain Ringgit in advance of your arrival, although it is possible to do so. ATM machines are widely available throughout Malaysia (as well as at most airports). ATM machines usually offer as good, if not better, rates of exchange than any currency exchange bureau or hotel. The symbol used for Ringgit in many shops and restaurants is $. In most shops and restaurants only Ringgit cash and credit card payments are accepted.

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