The performance of Asian universities in the QS World University Rankings® has shown this part of the world is one to keep your eye on. Boasting some of the continent's top-ranked institutions - including National University of Singapore (NUS), which came third in the 2010 QS Asian University Rankings - both Singapore and Malaysia will provide any undergraduate student studying abroad with a high-class education along with a cultural experience not to be forgotten. Top Universities has come up with the top ten things any undergraduate student should do to get the most out of your time studying abroad in Malaysia and Singapore.

width=2001.   Visit Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur
Nearest universities: University of MALAYA (UM); National University of Malaysia (UKM);

If you've chosen to study abroad in Malaysia for your undergraduate degree, your first point of call should be Kuala Lumpur. The capital of this small island nation consists of a vibrant mix of cultures, wealth and business. From the colour, smells and bargains in the city's Chinatown district, to the high-rise office buildings surrounding the iconic Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur is a city that combines the historical with the contemporary, the traditional with the innovative. Be sure to get a bird's-eye view of the city from the Kuala Lumpur Tower, photograph the Victoria clock tower that today is the court house, and enjoy the greenery of the Merdeka Square where the English spent their evenings playing cricket during the years when Malaysia was a British colony.

width=3002.   Night Safari in Singapore
Nearest universities: National University of Singapore (NUS); Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Ask anyone for recommendations of what there is to see and do in Singapore, and we guarantee a visit to the Night Zoo will be high on their list. The world's premier night zoo offers you the chance to see over 1,000 nocturnal animals hunt, prey and play as the sun goes down. Join a night safari, get your hiking boots on and take to one of the zoos' walking trails, or simply stand fascinated as you watch these creatures come alive at night. From elephants to antelopes, bats to warthogs, if you haven't been to a zoo since you were a child, relive the experience while studying abroad in Singapore.

width=3003.    Experience real Malaysian culture in Penang
Nearest universities: University of Science, Malaysia (USM);

One of Malaysia's most popular destinations is Penang and once you've experienced the hustle and bustle of the region's capital, Georgetown and the surrounding district, you'll see why it's such an attraction to locals and tourists alike. The best way to explore Georgetown is on board a tuk tuk. Forget the air-conditioned bus, you'll find out much more from your guide as he pedals you around the streets, past beautiful temples, down church row, and out onto the jetties. Rather English in its appearance (unsurprisingly after 171 years of British influence on the island), Penang is the most populated state in Malaysia and is also home to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which is ranked in the top 400 of the QS World University Rankings®.

width=3004.    Have a meal of tom yum soup

Colourful, spicy and filled with fresh ingredients, the tasty and affordable local cuisine means you won't go hungry while studying abroad in Malaysia. Food is cheap and plentiful here and is also guaranteed to test those tastebuds. With the country's mix of cultures, including Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian, whether you're after satay chicken or sweet and sour pork, rogan josh or a pot of 2-minute noodles, you won't go hungry on a student budget. One dish is a must though, and that is tom yum soup. It may have originated from neighbouring Laos and Thailand, but you can be guaranteed to find it on nearly every Malaysian menu. Just be careful to check the number of chilli symbols next to it before you place your order!

width=3005.    Clarke Quay, Singapore
Nearest universities: National University of Singapore (NUS); Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Singapore's known for its shopping and there's no better place to indulge in some retail therapy than Clarke Quay, Singapore's historical riverside quay. Situated on the banks of the Singapore River, where Singapore first began to emerge as a city over 150 years ago, today Clarke Quay is busy with locals and tourists in need of some wining, dining and shopping. Filled with heritage and charm, you may find yourself looking at the architecture of the old shops as much as you are the bargains to be found on the sales racks. This is a shopping mall with a difference.

width=3006.    Take a river cruise
Nearest universities: National University of Singapore (NUS); Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

What better way to explore this island nation than from the water? During your time studying abroad in Singapore, make sure you set a date to hop aboard a Singapore River Cruise. There are plenty of operators willing to take you down the river for a guided tour of a city that has become one of the world's economic powerhouses. You'll also be able to get a different view of Singapore's mascot, the Merlion. This imaginary creature, which sports a lion's head and a fish's body, can be found in Merlion Park in the CBD.

width=3007.    Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Nearest universities: National University of Singapore (NUS); Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Singapore's skyline may be impressive with its high-rise housing and office buildings, but don't be put off studying abroad here if you're someone who prefers the great outdoors. Singapore actually offers the best of both worlds. The world of glass towers is balanced with nature reserves and parks that are easily accessible for exercising or simply relaxing. You may also find yourself face to face with monkeys and other exotic animals. Head to the summit of the highest hill in Singapore, Bukit Timah, or simply wander through this magical patch of rainforest. East Coast Park, with 15km of coastline, is also a popular destination for city slickers in need of some exercise. It's a great place for a BBQ or simply hanging out with friends. 

width=2008.    Malaysian festivals
Nearest universities: University of MALAYA (UM); National University of Malaysia (UKM); University of Science, Malaysia (USM); University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM); Putra University, Malaysia (UPM)

With such a melting pot of cultures in Malaysia, there's no shortage of festivals taking place - in fact, study abroad in this part of the world and there are festivals taking place all year round. From Chinese New Year to Deepavali (the Hindu Festival of Light), Thaiponggal  (a Malaysian harvest festival), to international dragon boat racing - these cultures are known for their colour, their love of life, their passion and their celebrations. Get caught up in the crowd, revel in the atmosphere and enjoy this added experience of studying abroad.

width=3009.    Taman Negara National Park
Nearest universities: University of MALAYA (UM); National University of Malaysia (UKM);

Malaysia's top two universities are situated in Kuala Lumpur so much of your time studying abroad is likely to be spent in this concrete jungle. However, there are plenty of places to escape the city, and Taman Negara National Park, with its 4,000 square kilometres of forest, may be exactly what you're looking for. Among the plentiful varieties of flora and fauna, you may also come across exotic animals such as elephants and tigers, but you might want to be on a guided tour before encountering those! Spend a night under the stars as part of a safari, or if you're between semesters, why not spend a week in the bush - a nine-day trek will get you to the top of Gunung Taha, the highest mountain on the Malaysian Peninsular.

width=30010.    Pop across to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos

These three countries are a popular destination on the tourist trail, and for good reason. With their unique cultures, beautiful beaches and friendly locals, added to that the fact that these places are also incredibly cheap, you may want to schedule at least a month after your study abroad experience ends before you head back to home and reality. From the bustling metropolises of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (the Old Quarter is a must in the former, and exploring by bike is the only way for the latter) to the breathtaking beauty of the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia perhaps a month won't be long enough after all, particularly when there are elephant treks and boat trips up the Mekong River in Laos to fit in as well!

Once you've finished those:

1. Enrol in a cookery course (and learn to make tom yum soup to your taste!)

2. Visit Kuching in Borneo, a city where east truly meets west

3. For a real cultural experience that won't leave you hungry, head to Singapore's neighbourhood of ethnic eateries. There's China Town, Little India, and Arab Street all in one.

4.  In need of some more retail therapy? Singapore's markets are where you'll find some great bargains. There's a big one near Bugis Junction.

5. Head up the Singapore Flyer for a view over the city - it's bigger than the London Eye.