Malaysia is a beautiful country to take your kids for a vacation, whether a short or long stay. You get a 3 month visa on arrival that can easily be renewed by leaving the country and re-entering too, making it a great place for a long sabbatical. Malaysia has pretty good transportation, from trains to air-conditioned buses and of course Air Asia. From islands like Langkawi and Penang to the bustling capital Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has lots of activities and sites that are family-friendly, as well as hotels for every price range.
And many Malayasians speak three or more languages, from Malay to English and Chinese, Arabic, and more. It’s truly a melting pot of cultures, which makes it a great destination, no matter where you’re coming from.
Our family has been traveling to Malaysia 3 or more times per year for the past 5 years or so. We’ve driven from Phuket to Penang once too, which made for a great ( although long) roadtrip, but most of the time, we fly there. Asia is lucky to have a number of budget airlines that fly around South East Asia for a good price, such as Dragon Air, Air Asia, Nok Air, and Firefly, so even though we’re closer to China, Laos, and Myanmar now that we live in Chiang Mai, it’s still relatively easy for us to fly to KL or even Penang.
Did I mention that the major airports are also kid-friendly? Even the smallish airport in Penang now has a play area in the domestic section.
Kid-Friendly Attractions in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur ( frequently called KL) is Malaysia’s capital, and it attracts tourists from around the world. Whether you’re looking to get some shopping done or want to travel to visit the local temples and mosques, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
One of the reasons we love taking Kaya to Malaysia is because of the theme parks and activities for kids. And KL has some of the best in the country!
KidZania is one such place. Kids can dress up as firefighters, doctors, and other professionals, and partake in themed activities to give them a glimpse into what it’s like in that profession.
Kaya absolutely loved going to the theme park in Berjaya Times Square, located inside a huge mall. The park has loads of rides for kids of all ages, and when we went, they had a cool sort of haunted maze that Kaya loved so much she decided to go in it twice! You’ll find plenty of places to grab a bite to eat before and after you go on rides ( since the park is in the mall) and lots of places to go shopping, from small stalls selling clothes and electronics, to big-name brands.
You can find even more activities to do with your kids in Kuala Lumpur here.
Activities For Kids in Penang
We go to Penang more often than KL, because we have friends there. This island is a fantastic place for families to visit, and has both outdoor activities and historical attractions, on top of the malls and small museums that dot the island.
We typically stay in Georgetown, which is a UNESCO heritage site and in my opinion, the heart and soul of Penang. The buildings in Georgetown are similar to those in Phuket Town ( Sino Portuguese), and it’s filled with Chinese and Hindu temples.
Depending on your childrens’ age and how hot it is outside, you may consider taking them on a walking tour of Georgetown, while stopping to admire the numerous murals on buildings. The street art really adds to the charm of the island, but note that the drains are very large and pay close attention when walking with a stroller. Billy fell into one of the drains when we were walking back to our hotel, while he was holding Kaya. She was OK, but he was left with a big scar.
If you decide to stay in Georgetown and are wondering where to stay, we usually go to Banana Boutique hotel or Merchant hotel. The former is located right on Chulia Street, and both are in a fantastic location to find a bus or taxi to other parts of the island.
Penang is well-known for its beaches too, so if you and the kids are craving some time in the Andaman, you’re going to want to find a hotel or resort that’s on the beach. We’ve stayed at the Flamingo Hotel two or three times, which has a large pool and children’s play area. It also has a great breakfast buffet, featuring dining options from both Asia and Western cuisines, and the hotel is across from one of our favorite Indian restaurants.
The Penang Hill is a popular attraction for families and other travelers who are looking to see great views of the island. There’s also a small toy museum for families, as well as a 3D museum similar to the ones here in Thailand. For additional activities for kids in Penang, check out this post.
All in all, we’ve always had a great time traveling with Kaya in Malaysia, and even before she was born, I went to KL with my family as a kid, and Billy and I went to Kuantan on our honeymoon in Asia. We highly recommend going to Malaysia at least once with your children, if not more!