Why pick this guide?

Malaysia is a multi-cultural country that has postcard-perfect beaches, endangered wildlife, warm people and ridiculously good food which sums up why we moved here 5 years ago. Where else can you find Indian, Chinese and Malay cultures all blending together in one spot? Most Malaysians speak English, making travel very easy, and the friendly locals are very proud and extremely happy to help. It’s a safe country with affordable but first-world transportation options. It’s underrated, and a little off the beaten path but I don’t know a soul that hasn’t fallen in love once they’ve been here!

Meet Kirsten & Mark

In 2013 Kirsten and Mark sold everything and moved from Chicago to Penang, Malaysia, just for the adventure of it all.

As a child, Kirsten fell in love with travelling and decided to make it an essential part of her life. After college, she lived and taught English in England, Brazil and South Africa but ultimately returned home to get a “real job.” She created her own wholesale clothing company, but after 13 years she was ready for a new adventure.

Mark spent 21 years as a real estate broker. He began traveling while in college, and his wanderlust was never quelled. In 2012, tired of the rat race, he planned a trip to Penang in hopes that Kirsten would fall in love with the island lifestyle and want to move there. It worked! Nine months later, they moved.

Together, they have gone to 41 countries and are hungry for more.


Malaysia is a multi-cultural country that has postcard-perfect beaches, endangered wildlife, warm people and ridiculously good food.


  • Visit Little India & China Town KL.
  • See most important holy sites in Malaysia.
  • Street food and art of Penang.
  • Clan jetty houses-see what life was like in the 1800’s.
  • Scooter around Langkawi.
  • Hike Mt. Kinabalu.
  • Watch endangered proboscis monkeys.

Stop 1: Kuala Lumpur

KL, as the locals call it, is the bustling capital city of Malaysia. This world-class city is a perfect place to get over your jet lag, get acquainted with Malaysia and wander the streets. It is a vibrant city full of culture, food, and sights. As with all of Malaysia, the locals are friendly and curious and always happy to help. Getting around the city is easy and cheap with the various train systems. There is so much to do here, we could write a guide just on the city itself, but we’ve picked our top 5 to get you started.

Stop 2: Langkawi

Visit this little island paradise on the west coast of Malaysia known for its turquoise seas and lush interior. Get below sea level and check out the aquatic life and soar to the top of the island and take in the view of a few of the 99 islands that make up the archipelago. Unlike the rest of Malaysia, beer and booze are cheap here; it’s a duty-free island. There are many affordable and tasty fresh food options available at the night market or along the main beach in Cenang.

Stop 3: Penang

There is loads to do on this little cosmopolitan island, but with only a few days it’s best to stick to George Town, the capital. Wander the streets. Get lost in its maze of back alleys. Talk to the locals. Stuff your face full of cheap local delights. Walking around is like stepping back in time. Discover the UNESCO heritage zone and the surrounding temples. Penang is the reason we moved to Malaysia, we were entranced after the first week!

Stop 4: Kota Kinabalu

KK is the gateway to incredible wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and it’s namesake Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest peak. The city itself isn’t anything super special, but it’s the perfect place to start your adventures. Don’t miss incredible snorkeling/scuba and seeing wildlife endemic to Borneo.

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