Malaysia’s northeast coast is simply beautiful. Picturesque palm-fringed beaches and bucolic kampung (villages) abound, but what brings folks back to the region time and again are the tantalising tropical islands offshore. ‘Paradise’ barely does these gems justice, though that’ll likely be the word that comes to mind when you first lay eyes on the white sands and azure waters of Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Redang or Pulau Kapas. Snorkellers and divers revel in these crystal-clear waters featuring colourful coral gardens and myriads of fishes.
Travellers prepared to explore beyond the island resorts will find a distinctive vibe in cities like Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu. These urban hubs have retained their Malay heritage and boast lively Chinatown districts, but are also developing rapidly and reinventing themselves. Nature lovers will want to spend time exploring the national parks protecting the remaining pockets of rainforest and best accessed along the famous jungle railway.