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Langkawi is a serene archipelago of 140 islands – only a few of which are inhabited. The largest of these is the eponymous Langkawi Island, which has UNESCO World Geopark status because of its richly populated (by wildlife, that is) conservation areas. The best way to experience these ecological wonders is from high above, on the Langkawi Sky Bridge that stretches above the rainforest. Cheekily-named Pregnant Maiden freshwater lake is a great place to take a dip or play keep-away with the kleptomaniac monkeys.
The cultural hub of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is visually defined by the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which, at 88 stories high, are the tallest twin buildings in the world and a vision of modern architecture. On the flip side, the Sri Mahamariamman is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia, its façade a colorful totem pole of iconography. Shopping at the Central Market is a joyful experience that involves haggling, handicrafts, and happiness.
Tropical Sandakan is a paradise for animal lovers. Watch turtles lay eggs at Turtle Islands Park, keep a giggly distance at a crocodile farm or share an impish smile with some of the residents at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The houses on stilts in the fishing village of Buli Sim Sim are perfect for sightseeing and photographing.
Nibble, slurp, and chow your way through Petaling Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur that offers up endless options for tourists hungry for a taste of local culture. The Wat Chetawan Thai Buddhist temple will offer you spiritual sustenance, while the thumping beats of hip nightlife spots will take you to a higher place.
Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo is the bustling gateway to acclaimed Kinabalu National Park. The park's high point is 13,400-foot Mount Kinabula, Malaysia's tallest peak, a mecca for climbers. Ninety miles away, thrilling jungle trekking and camping await in the Crocker Range National Park.
Kuching is a fine choice for an enriching vacation that's as packed with learning as it is leisure. Its many museums and impressive planetarium will enthrall even the tiniest travelers, and a quick climb to the top of the Kuching Civic Center will reward you with jaw-dropping 360-degree views. Grab a snack from a stall on the bustling waterfront, and don't miss the absolutely massive Sunday market, which is an electric experience for shoppers, vendors, and observers.
Johor Behru is the second-largest city in Malaysia and, with the opening of two major amusement parks in 2012, it is poised to become a major tourist destination. TripAdvisor travelers also recommend visiting the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple, a unique Hindu temple decorated with brilliant glass mosaics.