There are 13 states in Malaysia. Nine of which are located in West Malaysia and two in East Malaysia. Originally when Malaysia gained its independence on 31st August 1957 it comprised the nine states in the Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysia was known as Malaya at that time. On 16th September, 1963, Sabah and Sarawak joined the Federation and Malaysia was formed.Of the many years of Independence Day celebration, they were centred on 31st August as the day of independence from British colonial rule. Only as of 2009 was 16th September recognised as the day of formation for Malaysia.

Sunset in Raub town

Tourist Attractions in Malaysia States

This a brief run through of the various tourist attractions in Malaysia States.

West Malaysia

The Northern Region


Perlis is smallest state in Malaysia. Located on the west coast of the northern area, it shares its border with neighbouring Thailand. Perlis is also the departure point to the popular Malaysia island resort of Langkawi. The Padang Besar town is an important entry point by rail for visitors coming in from Southern Thailand. This state is also the popular exit point for many Malaysians heading to Hatyai for short vacation trip by road to Southern Thailand. Among the tourist attractions of Perlis are Gua Kelam (Dark Caves), Perlis Snake and Reptile Farm and the Wang Kelian State Park.


Kedah is regarded as the “Rice Bowl” state of Malaysia. It has a very peaceful scenic view of vast green padi fields and lush greenery on relatively flat lands punctuated with occasional hills. Alor Setar is the capital town of Kedah. It is the administrative and commercial centre of Kedah and it has many well preserved historical landmarks with Moorish, Thai and colonial influences. The popular Malaysia island resort, Langkawi is well known internationally and Langkawi consists of ninety-nine islands with breathtaking scenery and beautiful Malaysia beaches, enchanting marine life which is good for scuba diving, spectacular limestone formation makes for a very interesting eco-tourism. Langkawi has many fascinating myths and legends the mystery of those legends seems to reflect its previous doldrums and current resurgence in economic prosperity. Langkawi’s duty free status offers many attractive shopping spree opportunities.


Penang Komtar BuildingPenang is regarded as the “Pearl of the Orient” with its colourful history and rich mix of cultures. Many regard the beaches as lovely and has interesting night life and bazaars at the popular tourist beaches at Batu Feringhi. Georgetown is the capital and port city and is listed as a Unesco heritage city with its many historical buildings. Georgetown is rather cramp with the many one way street zig-zagging across many old heritage buildings. This is a city that combines the best of the East and West. Penang is also a Malaysia food paradise with its interesting hawker fare that both tempts the palate and sizzles your taste bud if you go for the adventure of sampling spicy morsels of local cuisine. Enter the Pearl of the Orient from Prai mainland area either via the famous Penang Bridge or the local ferry service.


In its heyday, Perak was synonymous with Malaysia tin mining industry, though the name Perak means silver in Malay, though tin is not silver, tin was indeed one of Perak major income earner till it went bust. Still Perak has many interesting tourist attractions not necessary attributed to tin. Ipoh is the state capital surrounded by many interesting limestone formation and has many interesting local fare, not to mention the popular white coffee which is a must try! The Pulau Pangkor Island is a simple Malaysia island getaway and of course splurge yourself for beautiful stay at the award winning YTL Pangkor Laut Resort. For some soothing relaxing, visit the peaceful town of Taiping with its picturesque lake garden that still retains a strong British resemblance or perhaps head up the hill station of Bukit Larut (Maxwell’s Hill). Visit the royal town of Kuala Kangsar and learn some interesting facts about the Perak royal family. Or go for an adventure and visit the Gua Tempurung’s fascinating limestone formations and drop by for mysterious visit to Kellie’s Castle!

The Central Region


Mosque Selangor is the main gateway for visitors to Malaysia. Notwithstanding this is where you will set foot first as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (aka KLIA) is located in Sepang, Selangor. This is also the location of the Sepang International Circuit where many international races are held like the Formula F1 and GT races. From the KLIA you would likely head out to Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia for your stay. Along the way you may drop in Putrajaya, the administrative centre of Malaysia. Perhaps a visit to Shah Alam, the state capital, which is also the site of the beautiful Blue Mosque with the tallest minarets in the world. For some eco-tourism visit the Kuala Selangor during the night to view some captivating fireflies or head out to seaside towns for some mouth-watering seafood dinner!

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia with its root and early beginnings in the 1800s where it started off as a mining outpost. Over the years it became the central hub of commerce, politics and education. The relentless pace of modernisation has made Kuala Lumpur an ultra-modern city and yet if you walk around KL you still find the old shop houses intersperse with the new. Fascinating contrast and a potpourri of diverse culture and walks of life. There is always something to explore as travel amidst the famous Petronas Twin Towers and visiting various street corners of old heritage buildings.


Putrajaya is the administrative capital of Malaysia and it is located about 25km south of Kuala Lumpur. It is hailed as the “Intelligent Garden City”, as a model township build from the ground up completely from scratch to be a symbol of Malaysia aspiration to be a developed nation. The many impressive modern building retaining classical heritage design makes for breathtaking visit. The Putra Square is the Prime Minister’s Office is a must visit and of course the uniquely designed bridges that span the various entry points across the Putrajaya Lake makes a photographer’s haven during the day as well as night.

The Southern States

Negeri Sembilan

The Minangkabau culture is a distinctive characteristic of Negeri Sembilan state. The name itself refers to nine states that was merge into one, hence Negeri Sembilan, the Nine States. The flourishing capital of Seremban houses several interesting historical and cultural sites like the royal enclave Seri Menanti which is home to Malaysia’s largest traditional timber palace. Port Dickson is a popular weekend retreat for the KLites because it is the short travel distance from Kuala Lumpur to visit a stretch of long coastline and wide choice of seaside resort and accommodations. For a Malaysia village experience, find some Malaysia homestays in Negeri Sembilan for a unique local “kampong” living experience.


Melaka tourist trishawThe historical city, Melaka bearing the same name of the state has a long history and treasure trove of the past and culture. Melaka is one of the more famous historical city in Malaysia and tourist flock over to learn more about why this port town was the central trading between the east and the west. It is because of its important sea route that invaders from Europe came over to make their mark and left behind some very interesting history. Some of the interesting relics include the well-preserved 17th century Dutch Stadhuys and remains of the Portugese A’Formosa fort. Other places of interest includes several museums, a replica of the Melaka Sultanate Palace and the Independence Memorial Building. The Baba Nyonya culture left behind some interesting influence our Malaysia food cuisine and culture, and you can find out more about this unique Malaysia culture at the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum. For some splashing fun in the sun, visit the A’Formosa Water Park at Ayer Keroh.


Johor is the southern gateway for West Malaysia. This is where you can hop over from or to Singapore by road and which many Malaysians and Singaporean do that for some shopping spree and of course everybody’s favourite pastime of “makan-makan” feasting! The many offering of Johor state include sunny tropical islands where you can laze around beautiful Malaysian beaches, or go for some eco-adventure tourism into the recreational forest and national parks such as the Endau-Rompin National Park, waterfalls or something more educational like historical museums or forget about learning and take time off for golfing. You could go for some exciting water sports and underwater excursion and take your pick of Malaysia islands located in the South China Sea with islands like Sibu, Rawa, Besar and Pemanggil and many other Malaysia islands dotted around the South China Sea. Interestingly the Johor name is derived from Jauhar which Arabic means precious stones. Truly Johor is a precious jewel for its southern gateway to many interesting gems!

The East Coast Region


Heading off to the north-eastern state of Kelantan, you may think that this state would be rather isolate due to distance require to travel by road, not so. Once you arrived here especially as you get nearer to Kota Bahru, the capital of Kelantan, the hustle and bustle of activity would surprise you and you would have thought this place should have a laid-back lifestyle. For that you have to head out to the countryside where you can find rustic fishing villages and other cultural activities. Some Kelantanese traditional pastime such as giant kite-flying, top-spinning competitions (these are not the school boy spinning tops, they are big and heavy) and of course silat, the Malay traditional art of self-defence would be interesting to experience. The Kelantanese are also gifted craftsman and you could find interesting silverware, textiles, kites and brass work.


The idyllic settings of the countryside and their beautiful stretches of white sand Malaysia beaches; this is sure the place to go for that perfect seaside paradise holiday! Terengganu has many captivating Malaysia islands with crystal clear waters perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving to explore the interesting marine life! Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian are the popular Malaysia islands in Terengganu travel destination for that sun, sea and sand holiday getaway. Too much sun? Then explore Kuala Terengganu and found out more about the traditional boat building and traditional handicraft activities such as the traditional textile batik-painting and songket-weaving. Or else head inland to Tasik Kenyir, the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia where you can do some freshwater fishing and some eco-adventure travel.


This is the largest state in the Peninsular Malaysia, with its large forest reserves. This is also where Malaysia national parks are located like the Taman Negara, home to the highest peak in West Malaysia, the Gunung Tahan. With the many mountain ranges, this is also where the many popular hill resorts are located like the Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands and Fraser’s Hill to name a few. For some sun, sea and sand activities, head out to Cherating and look out for Club Med, Asia’s first Club Mediterranean holiday resort or head out to sea and find Pulau Tioman, voted as one of the most beautiful Malaysia islands in the world.

East Malaysia


Malaysia BeachThe state of Sabah is nature lovers’ paradise. Visit the popular world heritage site, the Kinabalu National Park and explore nature or take off on a 2 day challenge to scale the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, the Mount Kinabalu. Head out to sea and visit the many Malaysia islands like Sipadan, a world-class diving destination or visit the cluster of Malaysia island at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, from here explore Sabah and myriad of Sabah culture, which has a mix of 32 ethnic groups with the main Kadazan, Dusun, Murut and Bajau group.


Sarawak is the largest of all the states in Malaysia. Located on the northwestern coast of Borneo, it is called the “Land of the Hornbills” where you can find the diverse ecological nature in its pristine rainforest and diverse lifestyle of its indigenous people with their colourful customs and traditions. Explore the magnificent Mulu Caves, visit the Sarawak Cultural Village. The Sarawak national parks is also a must visit and ranks as one major Malaysia tourist attractions. Want more? How about going for some white water rafting? Sarawak boasts many exciting water rafting adventures which is sure to please the many thrill seeking adventure tourists!


Labuan, designated as a federal territory is located off the west coast of Sabah. Labuan is fame for ship wreck scuba diving and international deep sea fishing. The annual Labuan International Sea Challenge is an exciting water sports event for the enthusiast who wants some thrills and challenge of water sports. Labuan Island is also the site of several World War Two memorials.

More About Malaysia:
Welcome to Tourism Malaysia Travel Destination
Malaysia Facts
Malaysia Facts 2

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