Malaysia is the often over-looked neighbor of Singapore. Occupying the Malaysian peninsula between Singapore and Thailand, as well as the Northern part of the island of Borneo, Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy of 13 states, plus three federal territories.

Nine of the peninsular states have heriditary sultans as heads of state. Malaysia is an odd sort of constitutional monarchy, with the king elected to a five-year term by the sultans from among their ranks.

The Christ Church of colonial Melaka The Christ Church of colonial Melaka

For the tourist, Malaysia offers everything from colonial buildings to ultra modern skyscrapers to some spectacular natural scenery.


Malaysia is made up of two rather distinct parts: Peninsular Malaysia extends from the Thai border down to Singapore. A spine of mountains runs down the peninsula slightly off-center. On the west side is a rather wide and flat fertile plain while on the east the mountains descend steeply to the ocean.

Map of Malaysia
Malaysia Map

The second, somewhat larger, part occupies the northern part of the island of Borneo. The southern portion of Borneo is part of Indonesia. Malaysian Borneo is divided into the two states of Sarawak and Sabah, with the small country of Brunei nestled in between. Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, at 4,101 meters (13,350 feet) in height, is Southeast Asia's tallest mountain.

Malaysia Highlights

Malaysia is a much more spread out and diverse country than, say, Thailand to the north. From the country's ultra-modern capital, Kuala Lumpur, to the colonial island of Penang, to tropical islands like Langkawi, there is a lot to see and tell you about.