Often referred to as “West Malaysia” or “Malay Peninsula,” Peninsular Malaysia is the part of Malaysia that lies on the Malay Peninsula and shares its borders with Thailand to the north. Separated from East Malaysia (on Borneo) by the South China Sea, this region comprises 11 of Malaysia’s 13 states and 2 federal territories.
Peninsular Malaysia, bordered by the South China Sea on the east and the Straits of Malacca on the west, spans the southernmost part of the Eurasian tectonic plate. It consists of 11 states: Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor, Pahang, Terengganu, and Kelantan, along with the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
The Malay Peninsula has been a central region for trade for centuries, given its strategic location between the East and the West. Its rich history involves various kingdoms like Langkasuka and Srivijaya, followed by the Malacca Sultanate which played a pivotal role in the spread of Islam in the region. Colonial powers, including the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, have left their mark on the peninsula. It was during British rule that Peninsular Malaysia saw significant economic and infrastructural development. Following World War II and Japanese occupation, a move towards independence was initiated, culminating in the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Kuala Lumpur: The nation’s bustling capital, renowned for its modern skyline dominated by the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
- Historic Melaka: A UNESCO World Heritage site, it offers a beautiful mix of historic architecture, reflecting its storied past of traders and colonizers.
- Penang: The “Pearl of the Orient” boasts a rich cultural heritage, delicious street food, and charming colonial architecture in George Town.
- Langkawi: An archipelago of 99 islands, it’s a haven for beach lovers and those seeking natural beauty.
- Taman Negara: One of the oldest rainforests in the world, offering adventurous activities like canopy walks and river cruises.
How to Get In and Out
- By Air: Major international airports like Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Penang International Airport connect Peninsular Malaysia to various global destinations.
- By Road: The North-South Expressway runs the length of the peninsula, providing excellent road connectivity. Border crossings into Thailand are available in the states of Kedah and Perlis.
- By Sea: Ports like Port Klang near Kuala Lumpur and Swettenham Pier in Penang cater to cruise liners and ferries.
- By Rail: The Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway network connects various parts of the peninsula and offers international services to Thailand and Singapore.
Peninsular Malaysia offers travelers a captivating blend of modern cities, historic towns, verdant rainforests, and pristine beaches. With its rich tapestry of cultures and traditions, it stands as a testament to the nation’s diverse heritage and promising future.