A kaleidoscopic sensual feast assails the visitor fortunate or wise enough to drift into the efflorescent world of Malaysia.

Fragments of imagery dazzle the eye, from the luxury shopping malls and hotels of the modern age, epitomised by its capital, Kuala Lumpur, through the unmistakable hybrid architectural charm of the Colonial period, to the glittering Mosques, splendorous temples and ornate shrines of the multiplicitity of friendly cultures that inhabit this land.

Wandering through the market stalls of the cities and towns, the traveller is greeted with the heady mixture of the unmistakable aromas of Malaysian cooking, together with distinctively colourful local crafts, batik, kites and other curios.

You will also not be long in Malaysia before the haunting soulful sound emanating from the minarets imparts that you are in a very different culturescape from the largely Buddhist countries to the north.

Nevertheless, although the Islamic culture of the majority ethnic Malay benefits from special legal protections, Malaysia, despite possessing some of the undercurrents pervading Islamic culture, prides itself on its pluralistic secularism, and is also home to large Chinese and Indian minorities whose culture also noticeably suffuses the subtle ethnographic ambience.

Nature however, although inevitably under immense pressure from human beings, has no regard for the transience of their cultural nuances, and some of the remarkable pockets of the world’s most ancient rainforest which are also found further up the peninsula in parts of Thailand resurface, notably in the National Parks of Taman Nagara, Belum-Temengor Forest, and Endau Rompin.

For the Nature lover, Malaysia’s exotically lush interior is home to some of the most diverse wildlife anywhere on Earth, in search of which there is an array of interesting outdoor experiences from woodland walks, river journeys, lake trips and waterfalls to deep jungle encounters.

Also inland, the rarefied world of the former British tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands is an almost surreal evocation of English charm, resplendent with rose gardens, Tudor style cottages and teahouses.

On the coast, the colonial themes interwoven into Malaysia’s cultural tapestry are most prominent in the island of Penang, one the headquarters of British Southeast Asian adventures and also in the mix of several European influences present in the profoundly historic port of Malacca.

Malaysia’s coastal and island contours are fringed with countless lovely beaches, many of which are supported with modern luxury resorts, fabulous golf courses, water and other sport facilities.

Penang, Pangkor and the Langkawi archipelago are the most sought after of these leisure destinations on the Peninsula’s west coast while the crystalline white sand beauty of the eastern islands of Redang, and the Perhentian islands are its finest treasures and provide excellent opportunities for superlative diving and snorkelling.

Further offshore to the east, the Malaysian northern territories of the island of Borneo also provide truly great diving potentials, some of which rank among the world’s very best.

For nature lovers, Borneo has practically everything - lush forests dripping with life and home to some of the most diverse wildlife anywhere on Earth in the less densely populated, Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, partially separated by the small independent country of Brunei.

More than half of Sarawak's residents and about two-thirds of Sabah's are from indigenous groups, comprisied of thirty-three ethnic native tribes, most notably the heavily tattooed Dyak peoples, the legendary headhunters of the past. Each has its distinct ethnic rituals and performances and some still live in traditional ‘longhouses’.

This is the land of jungle, mountains, caves, unique cultures, superb beaches and, away from the ravages of lucrative but environmentally destructive palm-oil plantations, peacefully quiet.

The tourism infrastructure in some ways lags behind that of the Peninsula but is still more than adequate, even for luxury travellers. Getting around involves long drives around the mountains, but there’s plenty to do and see on the way. Sabah has a railway that runs 83miles (134 km) along the coast. Rivers are still used as the main means of transportation by the natives of these two states.

Borneo Malaysia is mainly comprised of undeveloped land, dense jungles and large river networks. Sabah is very mountainous. The Crocker Range separates the narrow lowland of the northwest coast from the interior and peaks in Mt. Kinabalu 13,450 feet (4,101 m). It also has one of the largest natural caves in the world.

Although deforestation has reduced ground cover, intensified by the large-scale palm oil plantations, Borneo's forests remain one of the most bio-diverse on the planet. Fortunately for its future preservation, except for scientific specialists, entry to large areas of the most spectacular rainforest has been banned completely.

The numbers of indigenous, rare and endangered species is enormous with more previously unknown species still being frequently discovered.