Just visiting Malaysia - seeing a few sights, meeting its people, and eating good food - is more than enough to make for an unforgettable trip. Your best memory might be a quiet day you spend wandering the colonial streets of Malacca, or breathing in the earthy air of a kampung. Usually, it will be the Malaysians themselves you remember most, their smiles and generosity. That said, Malaysia also offers some very special activities, and if you make room for one or two of them, they will enhance your trip immeasurably. Here are some suggestions: 

Visit the rain forest:  
This is usually high on the list for anyone planning a trip to Malaysia, and it should be: the Malaysian rain forest is unique in the world, the oldest on the planet. A trip to one of the national parks, where you can take guided jungle treks both day and night, can be a profound experience. Nature has been infinitely inventive with life here, producing the world's largest flower, fantastically adapted insects and mammals, and trees that will make you gawk at their size. How thoroughly you experience it is up to you: most parks have resort-like headquarters where you can stay in comfort, or you can opt for a hard-core, guided trek deep into the jungle interior (which will of course require you to be in shape!). 

The tropical waters off both Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo offer some of the world's best scuba diving. This is a place endowed with some of the sport's best possibilities: you can dive with whale sharks, hover around immense coral gardens and walls, or dive on ominous and hulking WWII shipwrecks. In many places, you can get 100 + feet of visibility. Also, the country has become increasingly aware of the biological and economic importance of its marine heritage, and each year brings better access to and protection for the unique marine life. Because of the hundreds of islands, there are many dive options. Visit the dive pages to learn more about Malaysia's diving options. 

Next to activities like spelunking and jungle trekking, "shopping" may sound a bit tame, but make no mistake: exploring Malaysia's outdoor markets is pure adventure (and of course you can take home whatever you hunt  - or bargain - down). The variety of bargain items you can find in the major markets is endless, ranging from quality electronics to blowguns to traditional arts and crafts. Currently, the dollar goes a long way in Malaysia, so if you're serious about shopping you might consider bringing an extra bag along. 

Visit a longhouse:  
Along the rivers of Sarawak and Sabah are some very unique native communities where people  live in structures called longhouses, which are really entire villages housed under a single long roof. They live off small crops and the bounty of the rain forest, and their communality and generosity might best be summed up by one simple fact: anyone is welcome to stay for free for as long as they like (though it is recommended that you bring some small gifts, such as a candy for the kids). Most visitors come with a native guide who can also take you on a jungle walk and translate for you. Some longhouses have special "guest longhouses" adjacent for visitors, others host guests inside the main longhouse itself. 

Nature has been almost as generous to Malaysia regarding its caves as it has with the rain forest. Both the world's largest single cave chamber, and the longest cave passage in Southeast Asia can be found in Sarawak's extraordinary Gunung Mulu National Park. In fact, almost every national park in Malaysia has a significant limestone cave system, and many of them offer guided tours, with varying levels of penetration. 

Dining Out:  
Because of its myriad cultural influences, Malaysia is a country renown for its creative, complex, and lovingly prepared original cuisine. Food is taken very seriously here, from the five-star restaurants right down to the hawker's booths. Sauces tend to be highly developed, often incorporating local fruits and spices, and the seafood dishes are what you'd expect from a country almost entirely surrounded by ocean. To get a good overview of what's out there, check out the cuisine section.

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