Sightseeing in Malaysia

Overview by

Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism

Melaka and Georgetown are historic cities of the Strait of Malacca.
Traditional dances: the menora danced by men hidden behind monster masks and its feminine equivalent the mak yong; the joget, danced by couples, the silat, a martial art whose refinement and elegance liken it to a dance. Music: mostly based on the gendang (drum) but also including percussion instruments, flutes, trumpets, gongs and gamelan. The wayang kulit (shadow theater) narrating the Ramayana, the great Hindu epic.


Batik, kain songket, a hand-woven material embroidered with threads of gold and silver, wickerwork, crafting silver, copper and tin, are all part of a flourishing craft industry.

Malaysia has many national parks: Taman Negara, Endau-Rompin, Kinabalu, Gunung Mulu, Niah, Bako; high altitude resorts: Fraser's Hill wild mountain resort, where you can find jungle paths, waterfalls, tree nurseries and mushroom farms; Cameron Highlands where there are fruit and vegetable farms and tea plantations; and Genting Highlands and its artificial lake.
At Cameron Highlands the Buddhist Temple Chin Swee, in Kuala Lumpur the Mesjid Negara, one of the biggest mosques in South East Asia, the Hindu temple Sri Mahamariamman, the Brickfields district with its hundred-year-old Buddhist, Chinese and Hindu temples.
Malaysia is a favorite destination for health tourism, and has many spas using traditional Javanese, Chinese and Indian practices. A list is available here.
Penang, in the north of the island, about 14 km from Georgetown, Langkawi island, relatively isolated and preserved, good for getting away from it all, Pangkor island, well known for its anchovies and its squid.
Winter Sports
Outdoor Activities
Golf, football, sailing, windsurfing, diving, and in Eastern Malaysia trekking in the jungle, climbing and rafting.
Do not miss the Carnival sales in Kuala Lumpur, the Central Market (crafts, cheap souvenirs), Starhill Mall (luxury department store), Petaling Street (where Chinese, Nepalese and Burmese vendors sell jewelry, medicinal plants, food, bags and clothes), Little India (saris, gold, medicinal herbs), the shopping centers Suria Shopping Complex, Sungei Wang Plaza, Starhill (luxury), Factory Outlet Store (FOS) and GME Factory Outlet, night markets (pasar malam).

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
Limited (The Prime Minister is appointed by the party who wins the legislative elections; the electoral Commission is often accused of fraud;  Freedom House score: 4/7).
Civil Liberty
Freedom of the Press
Not guaranteed (censorship for political, religious and moral reasons)
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2009 report : 131/175
Evolution: 1 place up compared to 2008
For Further Information, Consult Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2009, Reporters Without Borders
Free Access to the Internet
Internet, used especially to denounce and comment on cases of corruption, is subject to government censorship, which tries to control the content of websites.
Freedom of Assembly
Limited (authorizations required, arrests and repression following demonstrations...)
Rule of Law
Malaysia is not yet ruled by law. Corruption plagues politics, the economy, the police.
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
If the Constitution lays down equal treatment for citizens, the government's policy favors Malays and other natives ("bumi putra"); the rights of foreign domestic workers are often flouted, and non Muslim minorities are subject to restrictions and bans.
Women's Condition
In spite of some progress, women are under-represented in politics, and in the Civil Service, they are victims of violence, and are at a disadvantage in Islamic Law.
For Further Information
Freedom House

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Degree of Freedom
Freedom of religion is limited (restrictions are imposed on minorities and there are strict rules for Muslims).
Muslims 52.7%, Buddhists 16.7%, Christians 6.8%, Hindus 6.7%, Others 17.1%.
Role of Religion in Society
Islam, the official religion, and also Buddhism and Hinduism govern the rhythm of daily life and play an important social, political and economic role.

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