Malaysia - A culture vulture's paradise
Malaysia is a multi-cultural society, heavily influenced by the ancient Malay culture and the cultures of Malaysia's two most prominent trading partners – China and India. Although each of these cultures has retained their religions, customs and way of life, they have also blended together to create Malaysia's diverse heritage, including two cultural UNESCO World Heritage Cities, with Malaysia celebrating their heritage with a large number of public festivals and parades throughout the year. Malaysia entices the culture-vulture and heritage loving visitor from the UK with fantastic value-for-money packages, with a 5 night break in Capital City Kuala Lumpur for as little as £699.
Malaysia’s two cultural UNESCO World Heritage Cities are both located on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia: MelakaCity, the capital of Malacca and George Town, the capital of Penang. MelakaCity has unique architecture inherited from centuries of Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. One of the best ways for holidaymakers to learn about the culture of MelakaCity is to visit the MelakaSultanatePalacethat showcases clothing, stone inscriptions, musical instruments and photographs of the past decades.
Another must see in Malacca is A'Famosa, a Portuguese fort built around the city in 1511 by Alfonso d'Albuquerque. The fort was badly damaged in the 17th and 18th Century, leaving only the iconic gateway standing, near St. Paul's Church. George Town was awarded UNESCO status for its 'outstanding universal value', with its well-preserved colonial core and original shophouses. PenangSateMuseum allows holidaymakers to best discover the multiethnic background of George Town. Both MelakaCity and George Town celebrate their UNESCO Awards on 07 July each year with a month long cultural and music celebration. For those wanting to learn more about the history of Malaysia, the state of Kedah is a great place to start as Malaysia's largest archaeological site. Ancient Kedah inhabitants are believed to be the oldest civilization in South East Asia.
Due to the various cultures present, there are a number of religions in Malaysia, including Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, with the most prevalent being Muslim. All religions are free to practice their individual beliefs and customs and public holidays mark the most important festivals of each group. One of the most notorious religious holidays in Malaysia is Deepavali or ‘Festival of Lights’ that marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is celebrated with prayers, family gatherings and festivities.
Hindu families invite friends to their homes to celebrate (except in Labuan and Sarawak) and this year in Malaysia the festival falls on 13 November. A large festival for the Muslim community in Malaysiais Hari Raya Aidilftri or Hari Raya Puasa that marks the end of Ramadan, the fasting month and the first day of Syawal, the tenth month of the Muslim calendar that is on 19 August this year. This again is a time for open houses when Muslims welcome their relatives and friends round to celebrate, houses are spring-cleaned in preparation and special decorations are usually put up. In the Kampungs (villages) the houses are spectacularly lit up at this time of year.
One of the largest musical events in Malaysia, the Rainforest World Music Festival, with the spectacular rainforest of Sarawak as its setting aims to celebrate world music with performances by ethnic musicians from around the world on 13 – 15 July 2012. For those planning ahead ‘Colours of Malaysia’ is a month long festival held annually from the end of May to June in Kuala Lumpur. The celebration showcases the cultural heritage of the 13 states consisting of a grand procession and traditional dance performers parading through Malaysia’s Capital.
This mix of cultural heritage has greatly influenced Malaysia’s architecture from the unique longhouses in Sabah and Sarawak and the Mosques, Chinese, Buddhist, Hindu & SikhTemples that can be found across the country to the modern day PetronasTwinTowers in Kuala Lumpur.
Visit tourism.gov.my to find our more.