As a tourist destination, Malaysia more than holds its own against its Southeast Asian counterparts. You have delicious food, crowded street markets, colorful cultural festivals, and so on. But every once in a while, Malaysia surprises travelers with some unexpected attractions that may appear seriously weird to some people, especially foreign visitors.
Can’t think of any?
Well, take a look at the list below.
Adopt a baby orangutan
“I went to Malaysia on holiday, and then I came home as the proud mum/dad of an orangutan!”… is what you might say after visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah. Built-in 1964, the center’s primary purpose is to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans.
As an attraction, the center offers visitors the chance to observe the daily routines of orangutans in their natural habitat. And if you’re really in the mood to do something meaningful, you can even adopt a baby orangutan (this does not mean you can bring them home, though) and support the center’s efforts to take better care of the animals!
When in Malaysia, visit Thai temples?!
Don’t worry, you did not board the wrong plane, and you did not end up in Bangkok when all you wanted to do was visit Penang. As odd as it may sound, the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram is a Thai Buddhist temple situated in Georgetown, Penang. The temple was built in 1845, and it is most notable for its gigantic reclining Buddha statue – the third largest in the world!
And this is not the only Thai temple in Malaysia! The Wat Chetawan is another popular Thai temple located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. How’s that for “Malaysia Truly Asia”?
Stay at a Bed & Breakfast that is in a museum
The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, or more affectionately known as the Blue Mansion, was once a private property owned, in the 1880s, by a Chinese trader of the same name (Cheong Fatt Tze, not Blue, his name was NOT Blue).
The mansion’s architecture draws inspiration from different cultures, such as the Su Chow Dynasty of China and gothic designs of medieval Europe. Since the estate was bought over in the late 1980s, renovation and restoration work to ensure an integral part of Penang’s heritage is not wasted away. Although some property features are still privately owned, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion now stands as a Bed & Breakfast and museum, including daily tours in English.
There’s also a museum dedicated to ghosts!
Oh yes, it’s a thing. Located at 57, Lebuh Melayu in Georgetown, Penang, the Penang Ghost museum is an interactive museum that features different types of ghouls and ghosts across a wide array of cultures and backgrounds.
There are the cute, funny-looking ones and the I’m-gonna-have-nightmares-about-them ones. Visitors can take pictures with the ‘exhibits,’ including detailed explanations of the various ghosts and their legends. It’s well worth noting that special admission discounts for children (<7 years old), students, and senior citizens with valid identification. It’s an exciting experience and unique in every sense of the word.
Visit the Niah Caves in Sarawak
This one is probably the most ‘normal’ item on the list (trust me, it only gets weirder from here). So, when people say ‘caves’ in Malaysia, they think of the famous Batu Caves. But did you know that the Niah Caves in Sarawak is the oldest human settlement of East Malaysia, with archaeological findings which date back almost 40,000 years?
Actual cave paintings are dating back at least a thousand years can be found in this vast, majestic network of limestone caves! Who knows? You might even stumble across an archaeological find and become famous. Sigh… that’s not likely to happen.