Malaysia is blessed with a varied topography, as it is divided into two different areas– Malaysia Peninsular and Borneo Malaysia, along with many islands thrown in. This makes it one of most wonderful places to visit, because this is where you’ll find towering mountains, beautiful beaches, limestone caves and some of the most beautiful wildlife-packed rainforests, all in one place.

Because of its tropical climate, the country gets a lot of sunshine, with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees through the year. On the west coast, however, the monsoons go from April through May, and again from October through November. This is why the tourist season peaks from December to end of January – the rains are minimum and the heat and humidity are low in the evenings.

The weather at this time is conducive to not only enjoy the sandy havens the islands offer, but also to admire the mesmerising skyline of the cities. From Kuala Lumpur’s dense urban jungle to the unspoilt beaches of Langkawi, and Penang’s street food, Malaysia is every traveller’s dream.

Here’s what you can do in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang in December and January.

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a place where Malay kampung (village) life stands arm-in-arm with the 21st-century glitz of the Petronas Towers, and shoppers tread from traditional wet markets to air-conditioned mega malls with equal fervour. The sprawling city is famous for its two favourite pastimes: shopping and eating.

You can spend all day browsing opulent air-conditioned malls such as Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Suria KLCC and Mid Valley Megamall in search of designer labels and bargains. Bangsar and Publika are the places to go to for lesser-known and offbeat designers. Alternatively, explore Central Market for locally made souvenirs and handicrafts, and hunt out the few remaining artisans and antique dealers in and around Chinatown.

Siddhi Mehta

For the best food, walking around Kuala Lumpur is your best bet – this is where you’ll come across the hawker stalls and traditional neighbourhood kopitiams (coffee shops) that beckon you over with the aroma of freshly cooked food. Despite the city’s relentless march towards modernity, parts of KL retain the laid-back ambience and green lushness of the kampung (village) it once was.

Weather in December & January

Visited by millions for its temperate weather, unique culture and high quality of life, Kuala Lumpur is one of the few alpha world cities, and one of the top tourist destinations in South-East Asia in winter.

Daily Expenses

In Malaysia, accommodation is likely to be the biggest expense, but if you’re looking for a mid-budget trip, you can safely account for Rs 6,000 for each day you stay here, including internal transfers, food and accommodation.

Penang

Also known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is a coastal town that exists in two parts: Penang island, where the capital George Town is located, and Seberang Perai, on the Malay Peninsula. The state, named after the pinang tree that looks like a palm tree has long served as a link between Asia’s great kingdoms and an important outlet to the markets of Europe and the Middle East.

At its heart is diverse, cosmopolitan George Town, Penang Island’s main city and an urban centre, delivers old-world Asia in equal measure. The freshest aspects of modern culture are present, too, in the street art and murals along with free-spirited carnivals, all fed by a local enthusiasm for Penang’s long history as a kaleidoscope of cultures.

Combine this history with temples, including Kek Lok Si, famous food courts, a vibrant shopping scene, and the country’s longest coffee shop, and there’s little wonder why Penang is a top place to visit in Malaysia.

Weather In December & January

In winters, Penang sees little rain, but the downpours mostly happen at night, and the temperature is between a comfortable 22 degrees and 30 degrees Celsius.

How To Get There

Considering it’s an island, Penang is quite easily accessible – you can take a flight or an overnight train here from KL. While the hour-long flight will be about Rs 4,000, or US$ 54, the train will cost about Rs 1,500, or US$ 20, but the travel time gets added because after you get off the train, there is another 30-minute ferry to George Town.

Daily Expenses

While Penang lives up to Malaysia’s promise of a relatively economical holiday destination in South-East Asia, the actual expenses will obviously depend on the kind of vacation you’re planning. The average daily cost, including accommodation, roughly comes up to Rs 5,000, or US$ 68.

Langkawi

| Ithaka

Dominating an archipelago of more than 100 islands and islets, Pulau Langkawi, which is the main island, is known for its turquoise waters, jungle-cloaked valleys and bargain shopping. Although its blonde beaches are its biggest draw, this island has been duty-free since 1987, making low-cost alcohol a very close second.

Spas, seafood restaurants and beach bars are aplenty, but Pulau Langkawi has not yet been developed beyond recognition. This is where you can sample a life lived in the slow lane in traditional kampungs (villages). The island’s official name means ‘the jewel of Kedah’, and its rugged beauty is evident in its many waterfalls, hot springs and forest parks – all excellent to explore.

Weather In December & January

The best time to visit Langkawi is between January and March. The monsoons generally end by December, and you can enjoy a whole day of bright sunshine with pleasant temperatures that give you the authentic island life experience.

How To Get There

Although Langkawi may seem like an isolated cluster of islands on the Andaman Sea and separated by the Malacca Strait by some 30kms from the nearest point of Malaysia’s western coast, it is well connected with the mainland of Malaysia. There are both regular air and waterway connections to the main island of Langkawi.

If you’re going by flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi, account for about an hour and Rs 3,500, or US$ 47 in fare. If you’d like to witness the local scenery by bus, the journey is around 6 to 7 hours to Kuala Perlis, from where you have to take a 1-1.5-hour long ferry to Langkawi. This bus-plus-ferry journey will only set you back by about Rs 1,000, or US$ 13.5.

Daily Expenses

Because the whole island is duty-free, Langkawi is one of the cheapest destinations in Malaysia. While the actual amount comes down to what kind of vacation you’re on, Rs 4,000, or US$ 54 per day is a good place to start.