Malaysia, in southeast Asia, is divided into two parts: the peninsula, and the island of Borneo. The multicultural peninsula is a mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese populations (along with their respective delicious cuisines) and the island of Borneo is a wild jungle of rainforest and granite mountains hosting orangutans, tigers, and isolated tribes.
Within these two very different Malaysias are the modern skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur to the longhouse villages of Sarawak, to the lovely powdered beaches of the Perhentian Islands. The food of peninsular Malaysia is some of the world's finest with its enticing blends from different cultures (think of curried roti for lunch and exquisite Chinese food for dinner.)
There's a lot to see of colorful Malaysia but there are some definite highlights that should not be missed. One is a visit to the island of Penang. This 28-sq-km island became — with the advent of Dutch colonialists — a bustling port with entrepreneurs from the world over flocking to it to trade every imaginable ware and spice. The capital city of Georgetown still retains its colonial architecture and history, and, for the traveler, there is every style of accommodation, from hostel, to guest house, to upscale hotels, to a Hare Krishna temple where you can stay for free if you're willing to wake at 5 am every morning to chant. Amidst all the night life, cafes, restaurants and local hangouts, is a thriving high tech industry that the average tourist doesn't see. Beyond bustling Georgetown are beach resorts and fishing villages on the other side of the island.
Another interesting highlight is Kota Bharu, also known as "The Islamic City". Kota Bharu is at the end of the east coast highway and the last stop before Thailand. Many travelers stop here to obtain their visas to Thailand and while waiting, they spend a couple days exploring this fascinating town so steeped in Malay culture. Don't miss the markets full of exotic fruit, the royal palaces and museums, as well as the eclectic mix of restaurants.
If you want to escape the heat (after all, Malaysia is very close to the equator), head to the Cameron Highlands. This wide-ranging hill station has altitudes of 1300 to 1800 meters. Just 60 kilometers off the KL-Ipoh-Butterworth Road, the Cameron Highlands are a massive area of lush green hills, tea plantations and rainforests with some very interesting, and in some cases, very rare, wildlife. It's definitely worth the trip not just to cool off for a few days, but to explore this out-of-the-way and wild part of Asia.
As for Malaysia's climate, rain falls evenly through the year, except on the peninsula's east coast where rain is heavy from November to February. Rain is heaviest in Sabah and Sarawak from October to March.