Warning: Be prepared to fall in love with the food. Chinese dishes, Malay dishes, Indian dishes, and western food(what can I say, I like the western dishes here better cuz it is halal)! I hope you appreciate spicy food Big Grin Mind you, if you are a health freak don't overdo it as most of our food (especially malay food) is laden with oil, coconut, sugar and ajinamoto.
First, Langkawi is a lovely place to just chill by the beach and take things easy. Personally, the best part for me in langkawi was the fact that its duty free :P Get your booze and ciggies there before coming to KL. 3 days is fine for Langkawi in my opinion. You may like to check out other islands around m'sia though some have become very commercialized and touristy. If you like diving, go to perhentian which is one of the best spots in m'sia to dive at.
I cant give you advice on Sandakan, sorry but I reckon it will have its own charms to offer.
Penang is very nice. A city to enjoy but less hectic than KL. Enjoy the food and atmosphere. A few days there is fine too depending on how much you like it.
Cameron Highlands is great but I am biased cuz I love the cool (by m'sian standards anyway) weather. But it is rural and to be honest I get bored easily so I wouldnt spend more than 2-3 days there.
Melaka for me is colourful due to the fact that it does offer a unique slice of malay+chinese+portugese mixture. Heh. Those chinese descendants tortuga was speaking of is known as "Baba Nyonya". They adopted the malay lifestyle and created their own 'line'. Some are still buddhist and whatnot, some are muslims - most dont eat pork despite being chinese and I know some are actually offended when clumped together with Chinese in general. Haha! They are unique. Check out the temples, the colorful Becas (sort of taxi but its a bike with seats for passengers) and the food.
KL has quite abit to offer if you look. Taman Negara is definitely great to go to. There is also the butterfly park, deer park, etc if you like that stuff. There are huge Malls to check out (KLCC, One Utama, Sunway Pyramid, Midvalley, etc). Museums aren't as interesting but I am from M'sia so don't take that to heart. Do check out our Islamic art museum though. I think it is lovely with gorgeous islamic art from around the world (I like the Chinese islamic art :P Dunno if it still there). You can also check out Central market though I advise you not to buy anything as it is overpriced. Nightlife is good if your into that as well. Hmmm... what else...
I can't vouch for the buses here as I drive to most places I need to get to though I think trains are fine. Taxis get you where you need to go as well though they will fleece you by not using the meter when they see your a foreigner(nothing personal, they do it to locals as well). Insist on the meter and if they still refuse... BARGAIN!
Dunno local tours :/ Sorry! Renting a car here is fine (I think it is always fun to get lost while driving haha) but we drive on the left side of the road and the driver sits on the right side of the car so note that if you usually drive in the opposite direction.
Language wise - Speaking english will get you around most places fine though I recommend learning some Malay phrases such as thank you (Te-ri-ma ka-sih : literally means 'accept care' LoL), I am sorry/Excuse me/I apologize (Min-ta Ma-af : Literally means 'ask forgiveness'), Could you help me? (Bo-leh to-long sa-ya tak?: Can help me not?).
Hahahaha! If nothing else, you will get some smiles and giggles for your efforts. Some people won't be able to speak english fluently if at all but overall you should be fine.
Safety rules apply as usual anywhere. There are pick pockets, purse snatchers, etc here like anywhere else.
If you plan to be in KL for a few nights, let me know!! I would be happy meet you for a meal and maybe I can even put you up while your here for awhile. I have a clean room empty though my home is messy. Erk.
Btw, you can get a train from KL to Singapore if you like. I think it costs more than RM100 though~ I can look it up if you like.
Anyway! I really hope you enjoy your stay around m'sia! >< Some come here and love it, some hate it. Hope you'll be among the former. (By Shazie)