MEN'S FOLIO Malaysia|August 2020
We give you the low-down on the best islands on both sides of Peninsular Malaysia with each isle offering everything from crystal clear water beaches to UNESCO sites.
Nawaf Rahman

Most countries are separated by physical boundaries – state lines, deserts, and bodies of water. However, the divides go far deeper than that, especially when it concerns culture, history, religion, and patterns of immigration. In the United States, for instance, the west leads a diverse lifestyle from that of the east coast due to later immigration and warmer weather. The same can be said for many European and Asian countries where people from different regions have different accents and sometimes even physical appearances.

Likewise, in Peninsular Malaysia, there’s a marked dissimilarity between the east and west coast, and this is obvious in how the islands have developed and what they offer travellers.


Peninsular Malaysia’s west coast is densely populated and more progressive. The population is integrated and weather patterns like the monsoons don’t have as many impacts on tourism there than they do at the opposite side. It faces the Strait of Malacca, which is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. This also means the water doesn’t have that amazing azure transparency in comparison. Though what it does have are super luxe resorts, interesting history and culture, and the kind of buzz for being more modern and urbanised.


Here for: Resorts, UNESCO Geopark, duty-free

Langkawi is part of an archipelago of 99 islands and still has the ambiance of a sleepy Malay village. The sea might not be crystal clear and it can get crowded, but it does come with its own charm and the beautiful beaches, dotted with bars and cafes offering the cheapest alcohol in the country, is very attractive to a large percentage of visitors.

Another big attraction is its UNESCO Geopark, encompassing virgin rainforest and mangroves teeming with wildlife, as well as ancient rock formations with the oldest rising from the seas 500 million years ago! It’s no wonder that hotels like The St. Regis, Four Seasons and The Westin have set up shop there. If a luxury resort isn’t your thing, there are quaint huts on the beach and boutique establishments.


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August 2020