14 Days - Classic Escorted Tours

Although Malaysia is a member of the Commonwealth and was part of the British Empire for many years, it is perhaps less well known than many other ex-colonies in South East Asia. Yet there’s so much to see and experience between peninsula Malaysia, its outlying islands and the vastness of Borneo: it may sound like a bit of cliché, but the country really is an incredible ‘cultural melting-pot’! Every major city is a fascinating amalgam of Chinese, Indians and Malays, all with their own individual histories, architecture, traditions and cuisines. In the not too distant past, Malaysia was an assortment of competing states which only finally became independent as late as 1963. Prior to that, the three main cities, Penang, Malacca and Singapore, were known as the Straits Settlements and were controlled direct from Britain. Before we came on the scene Malacca in particular was fought over by the Dutch and Portuguese who first settled there in the 16th century - there’s still a sizeable community here proud of their Portuguese surnames. Add to the mix the intriguing indigenous tribes of Borneo and no other country in the region can boast such a contrasting collection of cultures!   Borneo is Malaysia’s shining verdant jewel in the crown, the third largest island in the world. Its luxuriant tropical forests teem with thousands of extraordinary endemic plant and animal species: there are no fewer than 102 types of bat, long-tailed macaques, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels, the world’s largest snake, sun bears and of course the remarkable red-haired ‘man of the forest’, the orangutan. Borneo is also known for the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, named after Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. Our tour includes a stay in the Borneo state of Sabah, covering the northern tip of the island and dominated by the towering bulk of Mt. Kinabalu, at over 13,400ft, the highest peak  in Malaysia. The first stop of our exploration of peninsula Malaysia is the island of Penang, just off the north-west coast. Its main settlement, George Town, was founded in 1786 by Francis Light of the British East India Company. He built Fort Cornwallis, which still stands to this day and promoted it as a free port, vastly increasing trade and attracting large numbers of Chinese and Indian settlers. The same successful tactic was followed in Malacca to the south and both cities, along with Singapore, developed their unique mix of cultures which is still evident today. What is particularly fascinating is that despite being bombed by the Japanese in WWII, George Town still has thousands of pre-war buildings, mostly Chinese-owned ‘shophouses’ and numerous fine colonial-era villas and public buildings which have helped it attain UNESCO World Heritage status. George Town represents a fascinating glimpse into 18th century colonial life. In complete contrast, the city of Kuala Lumpur is super-modern, with numerous startling skyscrapers of all shapes and sizes. After our stay in ‘KL’, we fly to Sandakan in Borneo, a lesser-known colonial outpost which unfortunately was bombed very efficiently by the Allies towards the end of WWII - not many original buildings survive. But it’s here that you can get closest to one of the natural wonders of this amazing island - a few miles outside town you’ll visit the famed Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre where you can see orangutans in their natural forest habitat. Then it’s off to Kota Kinabalu, via a short flight, for a relaxing three-night stay at the renowned five-star Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, considered one of the best hotels in the country. Of course, any trip to the Far East cannot be complete without trying out the delectable flavours of one of the world’s most varied cuisines. The best-known Malaysian dish is satay - chicken skewers rubbed with turmeric and grilled over coals along with a mildly spicy peanut sauce. But there’s so much more: try Nasi Kandar, steamed rice soaked in curry sauce with prawns, chicken or mutton; or perhaps Hokkien Mee, fried thick yellow noodles, or Beef Rendang, Curry Laksa - the list is almost endless! The Malaysians themselves are supremely welcoming and keen to share their history, culture and cuisine with all visitors, so come with us and explore this extraordinary country!


  • Happy by day two or we'll bring you home with a full refund
  • Tour historic George Town in Penang by cycle rickshaw and travel on the Penang Hill funicular railway
  • Discover Kuala Lumpur and marvel at the soaring Petronas Twin Towers, which used to be the world’s tallest buildings
  • Option to visit Malacca, once one of the world’s great trading ports
  • Discover the wonders of Malay food culture – a mouth-watering fusion of Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and Indian cuisines
  • Fly to Borneo and visit the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, seeing the charming orangutans
  • Explore the fascinating history of Sandakan in eastern Borneo
  • Learn about the culture and traditions of Borneo’s indigenous tribes at the fascinating Mari-Mari cultural village near Kota Kinabalu
  • Relax and stay for three nights at the five-star Shangri-La Resort with its own nature reserve, golf course and mile-long beach