One of Southeast Asia's most diverse countries, Malaysia is home to 25 million people, about 50% of them Malay, 24% Chinese, and 7% Indian. The remainder are a mix of non-Malay indigenous tribes and immigrants. Malaysia is officially a Muslim country, but Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia's two states on northern Borneo, are primarily Christian, the legacy of 20th-century missionaries. Sabah encompasses some 75,500 square km (29,388 square miles), but it only has about 3 million people, with the indigenous Kadazan the largest of the myriad ethnic groups. Along Sabah's west coast, the Bajau grow rice, raise ponies, and are known as the Cowboys of Asia; on the east coast, Bajau are mostly fishers and were once known as "Sea Gypsies." The Chinese, who run much of Sabah's commerce, live primarily in the towns and make up about 10% of the population. The state is largely covered by rain forest and plantations.
- Eat Your Way Across Asia Malaysian cuisine is a smorgasbord of Indian, Chinese, and Filipino flavors, with delicious influences from neighboring Thailand and Java.
- Swim, Cycle, Repeat In Penang, take a dip in the ocean before cruising around the shop house-lined streets of colonial Georgetown.
- Hike Mount Kinabalu This UNESCO World Heritage site is among Southeast Asia's highest; its peaks offer gorgeous, sweeping views.
- Take Advantage of the Hub. AirAsia's hub is in Kuala Lumpur, which means frequent flights to a bevy of neighboring countries at low, low prices.
- Swing by Singapore. Singapore is a shopper's paradise, and the tiny city-state is just four hours' driving time from Kuala Lumpur.