For westerners considering a holiday to escape the winter cold, heading east is often a popular option. But many still consider those countries with the strongest European association – Singapore, Hong Kong, or onwards to Australia or New Zealand. They are missing out on are some of the Far East's most fabulous locations.
Whether they are looking to soak up the rays on a beach, or a family-friendly destination with scope to keep youngsters fully occupied, Malaysia offer more than most. This location is becoming increasingly popular towards the end of December as western tourists shake off the post-Christmas blues, not to mention their over-indulgence in turkey and all the trimmings.
Malaysia's island retreats
Of course, Malaysia is far from one country. Its two main portions are split by the South China Sea into Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, the latter sharing the island of Borneo with Brunei and parts of Indonesia. There are many island sanctuaries where travellers can bask in the idyllic palm-fringed surrounds. In fact, Travel and Leisure Magazine named Malaysia as the source of the world's most romantic island getaways for 2013.
The holiday accommodation ranges from fabulous five-star hotels, catering for everything you could possibly require during your Far Eastern break, to beautiful bungalows built on stilts, poised above the turquoise seas. Easing into sleep against a backdrop of gently lapping waves is considered the epitome of luxury by city dwellers more used to urban noise and traffic!
The Malaysian Experience
While snorkeling or while snorkeling or diving in crystal clear, or sunning on golden beaches, may be the holiday of choice for some, others may prefer a bit more activity. Malaysia is such a melting pot of people and cultures there is never a dull moment for those wishing to savour the atmosphere in its more built-up regions.
Its capital, Kuala Lumpur, is a cosmopolitan metropolis that can offer visitors diverse attractions. No matter what your tastes for cuisine are you will find a range of sumptuous restaurants and cafes, offering you an incredibly diverse taste of the Far-East. The bustling city might seem slightly intimidating for first-time tourists, but the locals will quickly make you feel at home. There is a good transport infrastructure for getting around the various attractions and places of interest, whether your preferred mode is rail, tram or taxi.
Galleries as well as museums that trace the evolution of the region's many cultures. Wherever you are in Malaysia, whether it's a large city or a smaller town, you are never too far from lush countryside. After a day spent transferring from various trains or taxis to places on your Kuala Lumpur ‘to do' list, a great idea is to take some time out exploring the hinterland. There are forest trails that can be booked, where experienced guides will introduce you to the wilder side of the nation. Climbing through the rugged landscapes, surrounded by tall trees, beautifully-coloured tropical plants, against the backdrop of chattering monkeys and exotic birds, will be an unforgettable experience. You might even be lucky enough to spot one of Malaysia's most famous residents, its furtive orangutans.