Image: Tourism Malaysia
Markets: The traditional back lanes of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown and the vibrant night markets show another side of the city. Foodies will love the blend of Chinese, Indian and Malay-style cuisine.
Towns: Malacca is perhaps the most atmospheric town to explore. Set on the south-east coast, it was a major port on the spice route 500 years ago. Traditional wooden Malay houses hang over the Malacca River and the Portuguese colonists' influence can be seen in the architecture. The huge Chinese population gives the place its particular character. On Penang Island, Georgetown is another gem with fort Cornwallis, built in the 18th century, affording great views and the dilapidated colonial streets and something of a Caribbean feel.
Diving: Malaysia is also staking its claim to become one of the world's top diving destinations. Located in the Indo-Pacific basin, it has a rich marine environment with a huge variety of dive sites and underwater scenery ranging from sloping reefs and coral walls to fascinating wrecks. Sipadan, on Borneo's east coast, is perhaps the best dive site in the country, while Layang Layang, off Sabah, offers wonderful coral diving.
Nightlife: If you want a lively beach destination, Penang Island off the west coast is the place to head. Linked by a bridge to the mainland, it is one of Malaysia's major resorts with tourism development around Batu Ferringhi Beach. There are dozens of hotels and restaurants, plenty of watersports and a lively nightlife, as well as the capital Georgetown to explore. It's the ideal choice for families and groups of friends or couples looking for somewhere offering more than just a beach.
Islands: Off the east coast lie some of the most spectacular islands in the Far East, all sweeping white sand beaches backed by lush vegetation. Redang, the largest east coast island, is particularly stunning, with fantastic beaches and unbeatable diving. Exotic Tioman Island, in a protected marine park, has volcanic peaks, dense jungle and coconut palm-lined beaches.
Culture: Once an important trading centre on the international spice route, Malaysia boasts a mosaic of cultures. Malays, Chinese and Indians have lived together for generations, while in Sabah and Sarawak indigenous ethnic groups add a dimension to the vibrant cultural mix. You will see the colourful heritage reflected in the architecture, lively markets and cuisine. Alongside tradition, the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur show off Malaysia's modern side, with luxury malls, duty-free shops and a nightlife that buzzes until dawn.
Wildlife: Peninsular Malaysia's highlight is Taman Negara National Park, a vast area of protected tropical forest in Pahang, with trees hundreds of years old, a huge array of birds and animals from elephant to deer and wild boar. On the island of Borneo, the states of Sabah and Sarawak offer unspoilt nature at its best. In Sabah, the world's largest orang-utan sanctuary at Sepilok is unmissable; here orang-utans that have been orphaned, abandoned or were once in captivity are cared for and rehabilitated into the wild. The Kinabatangan River is wonderful for a boat trip and you are likely to see proboscis monkeys sleeping in trees along the banks. Gibbon, Sumatran rhinoceros, otter and crocodile are among the area's varied wildlife.
Mountains: You can trek up Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South-east Asia, which soars to 13,435ft (4,095 metres) above the dense jungle.