Malaysia is a terrific destination for families. It's safe, friendly, and free of some of the seedier trappings of tourism that can be seen in other parts of Asia. For this itinerary, I've included an equal mix of beach and culture -- sightseeing in the mornings and fun in the afternoons -- at a pace that allows for maximum flexibility.
Days 1 & 2: Arrive in Kuala Lumpur
After arriving in Malaysia's capital city, allow yourself a full day to recover and just spend your time wandering through the city's streets. Start in Chinatown, where you'll find a street bazaar and the Sri Mahamariaman Hindu Temple, then cut through the bustling Central Market to Merdeka Square, the focal point of colonial KL. From the Jame Mosque, hop on the train to Jalan Imbi. Next to the station, you'll find Berjaya Times Square, KL's largest shopping mall, filled with tons of food and shopping, not to mention Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, the world's largest indoor amusement park.
Day 3: Penang
Take an early-morning flight to Penang. Check into the Holiday Inn Resort Penang at Batu Feringgi, where they have special kids' suites. Have a ball at the beach! Don't forget to book watersports activities for the following days.
Day 4: Georgetown
Spend your morning in Georgetown. Hit the Penang Museum and Art Gallery at 9am, when it opens. Afterward, head over to the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion for the 11am tour. Afterward, wander free through the streets before heading back to your resort for an afternoon of relaxation at the beach.
Day 5: Penang Hill
The funicular train up the side of Penang Hill was built in 1923 to take British colonials up to the cooler climate of the hill, where they built lovely country homes and gardens. The new funicular railway will reopen in 2011. At the top of the hill, you'll find restaurants, temples, and trails, one of which will lead you down to the botanical gardens. The trek lasts only an hour or two, so if your children aren't too young, it should be a nice little adventure. Carry water and snacks (and bug spray)!
Days 6 & 7: Back to KL
Hop a flight back to KL to prepare for your return home. If you have time, you can stock up on gifts at Kompleks Kraf Kuala Lumpur -- you'll find something for everyone on your list, in all price ranges, at this handicrafts showroom.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.