Can you believe it’s almost time to celebrate Merdeka again? If you’ve been caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and just realised that Malaysia’s Independence Day is right around the corner, fret not! We’ve got you covered with some exciting last-minute Merdeka destination ideas (according to Agoda’s top bookings) that will have you waving your Malaysian flag high and soaking in the cultural splendour of this diverse nation. And most importantly, we tell you where to eat and stay!

Kuala Lumpur

Staycation, anyone? The easiest escape to have is right within your own city! The upcoming extended weekend saw a surge in bookings to Kuala Lumpur, making it the top domestic destination on Agoda.

When it comes to affordable, delicious street cuisine, this buzzing capital city is unparalleled. Get ready for a culinary explosion that will send your taste buds into a happy dance, from the sizzling satay skewers to the aromatic nasi lemak. Speaking of joy, don’t miss WhiteBurger if you’re up for a ‘burgembira’ time in a special location to enjoy delectable fare while taking in gorgeous vistas. To celebrate Merdeka in style, head to this burger establishment, which serves succulent patties against the backdrop of the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers.

Stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown for a city escape in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s historic district.

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The island of Penang is the second most popular place to visit during Merdeka. Penang, known for its outstanding cuisine, is unquestionably Malaysia’s culinary hub. The ‘Pearl of the Orient’ has an amazing variety of hawker stalls and traditional restaurants that appeal to foodies. Enjoy the mouthwatering flavours of Penang char kway teow, the renowned Penang assam laksa, or the scrumptious Penang rojak.

In celebration of our nation’s 66th birthday, we would be remiss if we didn’t give recognition to the professional chefs who have been feeding us for decades. Uncle Guan, the 77-year-old culinary master behind Apom Guan, who makes the best banana pancakes on the island, is one such hero. Head here to eat to your heart’s content.

Areca Hotel Penang is a quaint heritage hotel in the heart of George Town, where guests can easily rediscover the island’s past and immerse themselves in its rich tradition.

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Melaka is a city full of treasures for those who enjoy good food and are interested in its multiethnic history and culture. Much of the local history can be experienced and learned about through its food, as Melaka has welcomed culinary innovation in addition to its cultural treasures, giving rise to some of Malaysia’s most popular and beloved delicacies — such as Peranakan cuisine. The refreshing Klebang coconut shake and the delicious cheesy prawn mee hoon never disappoint in Melaka.

One unexpected restaurant has become a viral sensation in the vast gastronomic world. Grass Stream Kitchen, a kampung-style eatery famous for its Parang Pizza, where the pizza is distinctively carved using a machete, will astound you. For those looking for exceptional culinary adventures in Melaka, this unusual encounter adds a dash of adrenaline and is a must-try.

Indulge in some downtime at Rosa Malacca, the crown jewel among Melaka’s plethora of quaint vintage inns. This industrial-style hotel is conveniently located in the middle of a city listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it an ideal base from which to explore or to relax and unwind.

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Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

On the tropical island of Borneo, in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu entices with a delectable combination of local flavours and mouthwatering seafood specialties. Enjoy the fragrant flavours of Sabahan nasi lemak, delectable seafood meals, or the spiciness of sinalau bakas — a unique Kadazandusun dish.

Off the main road, you may find My Native Sabah for a genuinely distinctive gastronomic experience. Authentic Kadazandusun delicacies, reflecting the diverse cultural history of Sabah, are served at this local eatery, which continues a beloved family tradition.

While in Sabah, stay at The LUMA Hotel, a unique design hotel whose decor was inspired by the region’s wonderful tropics, from the mesmerising spiral staircase that resembles a river to the lush green-themed bedrooms.

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Kuantan, Pahang

Get your taste buds ready for a unique culinary experience in Kuantan, as this bustling city on Peninsular Malaysia’s eastern coast serves you a wide variety of authentic Malay cuisine.

Being a coastal city, there’s no better place than here to sink your teeth into some ikan bakar, which features grilled fish been marinated in a flavourful combination of spices. Of course, try the keropok lekor too — every Malaysian’s favourite tea-time snack. Enjoy the flavours of Malaysia at Cendol Air Putih for the ideal sweet finish. The large cendol menu there includes the famous Durian Cendol, a must-try treat that will leave you craving more divine bites.

Enjoy the long Merdeka weekend in peace and quiet at Laman Sentosa Boutique Residence in Kuantan. It’s even got a private pool and modern finishings for a comfortable stay.

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