In 1990, Malaysia saw an annual increase of nearly 3 million tourists — results of its recently debuted campaign, Visit Malaysia Year (VMY). Intending to draw tourist attention to the distant Asian land, the country labeled an endangered species as its mascot and fervently broadcasted its planned events, highlighting festivals and exhibitions to catch an interested eye. The campaign was a wild success and the country went on to host two more VMY campaigns, one in 1994, and the other in 2007, each better than the last.
If asked, would travelers say it was the colorful festivals, natural wonders or cultural heritage that drew them in and effectively made Malaysia the tenth most visited country in the world?
Now, some 6 years later, the country is at it again. Set to launch Jan. 1, “Celebrating Malaysia… Truly Asia” beckons to travelers: Are you ready?
Royal Belum World Drums Festival
|Photo of Ipoh by Colourportal via Wikimedia Commons|
When: April 5-16, 2014
Where: Ipoh, Perak
Held in conjunction with the birthday of the Sultan of Perak, Darul Ridzuan, this colorful international drums festival features musical talents from Thailand, Japan, Egypt, Turkey, Kenya and, of course, the host country itself.
Hosted in the state’s capital city, this festival will not only allow you to appreciate drum troupes from numerous countries, but experience everything else the British colonial city has to offer. It’s a foodie’s city, with street stalls and vendors eagerly waiting to help you sample the local flavors.
Ipoh’s climate is classic tropical rainforest — it rains a lot — with little variation throughout the year. Expect sticky weather but nothing too hot, with temperatures ranging from 72 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. Before your trip, consider investing in an outfit or two designed for sweaty situations. For example, Columbia makes an advanced cooling shirt designed to release heat and feel cooler to the touch.
Photo of the KDCA Hall by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
When: May 30-31, 2014
Where: Throughout Sabah and Labuan
A favorite among locals and tourists, Tadau Kaamatan — the Harvest Festival — is a month long celebration comprised of cultural dancing, singing, eating and traditional games. Held in Penampang, Sabah, the final two-day party will commence at Hongkod Koisaan the KDCA Hall. This will also be the main stage for the final round of Unduk Ngadau, the state’s famous beauty pageant.
If you plan to spend some time on the island of Labuan before the main event, consider booking accommodations before you make the trip. There’s one hostel on HostelWorld.com, the Siang Guest House, that offers private rooms for about $10 a night. Private or not, consider investing in some type of identity theft protection methods, including a luggage lock, money belt and passport carrier.
Borneo Cultural Festival
|Photo by Symm via Wikimedia Commons|
When: July 12-14, 2014
Where: Sibu, Sarawak
A cultural celebration honoring the diverse background of the Sibu community, the Borneo Cultural Festival is Sibu’s biggest tourism event. The festival includes food, music and performances representing Sarawak’s Chinese, Malay-Melanau and Dayak traditions.
But what makes this party stand out among the rest? Where it’s held, naturally. The Lonely Planet calls the beauty of Sarawak a “blend of tribal tradition and unfettered nature.” In other words, a wild and mysterious wonder. After the event, consider booking a tour through the jungle to experience the best of the Borneo. Available at LonelyPlanet.com, trips range from 2 days to 3 weeks, with prices starting at $229.