Port Kelang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia
As you travel from Port Kelang to Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, 37 kilometers (23 miles) to the northeast, it can be hard to believe that the city with a skyline of soaring towers was a small mining town for much of the 19th century. That changed beginning in 1880, when the British moved the capital of Malaya here. The extensive program of improvements that followed continues to this day. For more than a century, Kuala Lumpur has been determined to become bigger and better while at the same time preserving some of its beautiful historic architecture.
Porto Malai, Langkawi, Malaysia
While some 99 islands make up the Malaysian archipelago of Langkawi, Pulau Langkawi, the largest island, is the destination where cruise ships call (at Porto Malai) and where ferries and flights arrive from Malaysia's mainland, just 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the east. The lush island lies just south of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and is home to roughly 95,000 people. While Langkawi’s economy long centered on fishing and rubber plantations, today there's an excellent infrastructure of hotels, international and Malayan restaurants and eco- and adventure attractions. It is a paradise for visitors looking to enjoy beautiful beaches on their Southeast Asian vacation.
Malacca (often Melaka) earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its remarkable history as a meeting place of East and West. For more than four centuries, Malacca was ruled by a series of European powers—the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the British—as well as by Japan, for a brief period during World War II. In one day, you can visit Malaysia's oldest church, constructed by the Portuguese; the country's oldest Chinatown; and Stadthuys, the oldest Dutch building in Southeast Asia. When it's time to eat, opt for nyonya—the food of Chinese settlers in Malaysia; afternoon tea; or spicy Indian fare.
Malaysia is the very definition of multiethnic and multicultural: Its population is a mix of Chinese, Indians and ethnic Malays, and its art, food and culture have been shaped by Portuguese, Dutch and British colonizers. Nowhere is this more evident than in the state of Penang, which was the British Empire’s first settlement in Southeast Asia. It’s easy to while away a day in the state’s capital, George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit ornate historic houses, snap pictures of its charming streets and break for spicy laksa (coconut-curry soup) and kopi peng (iced coffee with condensed milk).