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Singapore & Malaysia: A Journey through Southeast Asia13 days from $1,999 (USD)
Discover the mystique of Singapore and Malaysia.
Run away to wild, beautiful Malaysia and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime! Occupying the famed Southeast Asian island of Borneo along with a strip of continental real estate, Malaysia ranks consistently in the world’s top vacation getaways. Little wonder, too. Lapping into the South China Sea like the flicking tail of a mythological beast, the country is dynamic, thriving, and always exciting. Adorable colonial villages (with gardens and greens straight out of a picture book) and shining big cities coexist here, along with sun-drenched beaches and mysterious deep jungles.
Malaysia is proudly classified as “megadiverse” from a biological standpoint, housing no less than twenty percent of the world’s animal species! Lush, welcoming ecosystems of striking variety provide not only an endless change in scenery, but a home for some fascinating wildlife as well. Care to scope out orangutans, tigers, or elephants in their natural environment? This is the place to be!
It’s a little-known fact that Malay cuisine is among the best in Southeast Asia. Foodies will delight in the unique treats to be found here—and no, not all of them involve the formidable durian! You can tuck into a steaming cup of Milo (a ubiquitous chocolate/malt drink), slurp some noodles, or quaff some Guinness—did you know Malaysia is known for having the best stout outside Ireland? The food is delicious and full of surprises, marrying the unexpected savor of Asian cuisine with Muslim traditional dishes, and the street eats are as excellent as those found in the country’s many top-notch restaurants.
Top Sights in Malaysia
On top of being the Malaysian capital and biggest city, there can be no doubt that Kuala Lumpur is the beloved heart of this immense melting pot. Chinese, Indian, and Malay influences swirl together enticingly here in a captivating stew of languages, traditions, and people. Prepare to be astounded by the Petronas Twin Towers, connected by a skybridge forty-one vertiginous stories above ground. Do you dare make the crossing? In the same vicinity, take in a show at the Petronas Concert Hall and let the melodious strains of classical music stir your soul. For a bit of a wilder experience, don’t miss the KL Bird Park. This reserve, home to some 2,000 species (including jungle superstars like the toucan!), is fascinating to visitors of all ages.
Located on the Bornean part of Malaysia, Sarawak is very much the Borneo one pictures! Rich, green jungles and pristine landscapes reign here. There’s Kuching, the fabled City of Cats (which has less to do with actual felines than a Malaysian play on language), a city rich with sightseeing opportunities as well as some of the best sunsets in this part of the world. Love orangutans? There’s a reserve and care center for them on the island of Semengoh. The world’s largest cave system is found within Gunung Mulu National Park, and the trekking is outstanding. The Rainforest Music Festival is held on Sarawak once a year and brings piles of visitors here. Interestingly, Sarawak is the largest region of Malaysia, and yet the least populated.
The capital of Perak is also one of Malaysia’s largest cities! Tin mining was the industry that caused a population boom here, but visitors today come for excellent dining and a visually impressive colonial influence. Strolling through town not only makes for pleasant and romantic afternoons, but is a great way to take in the sights as well! One of those is the Birch Memorial Clocktower, which is covered in friezes depicting scenes from local history. Have a picnic lunch on Padang Ipoh, the town green! Marvel at the Railway Station, a neoclassical building so lovely that it has been called the “Taj Mahal of Ipoh.” There are guided tours of the Old Town that will bring you on a virtual trip back in time through the fascinating history of pre-WWI Ipoh.
Big, gorgeous Penang is a significant Malaysian gem. Its capital, Georgetown, is not only a treasure of Malaysian culture, but a World Heritage Site as well. The food is unrivaled, the sun is warm, and the accommodations are excellent—what else could you want? In Georgetown, visit the statue of founder Francis Light and take a rest beneath the iconic clock tower. You’ll see historic buildings, visit a gorgeous Buddhist wat, and enjoy strolling the outdoor markets. Outside Georgetown, the showstoppers include the Penang Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly Farm, and numerous small fruit farms offering tours and tastes of toothsome local wares. Fireflies flit through the mangroves lining the river at dusk, making a charming sight as well.
Intriguingly mixed colonial influences colored the past and continue to tint the present in Malacca. The old city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Are you an antique buff hoping to bring a piece of Malaysia’s fascinating history home with you? Take a shopping trip to Jonker Street, a Chinatown thoroughfare bustling with open-air markets and antique bazaars. See the King’s Well, built in honor of a Chinese princess who came to marry a Malaysian sultan, the wooden houses of the Portuguese Settlement, or the fort on St. John’s Hill. Walk the picturesque boardwalk along the Melaka River (or catch a river cruise!), drop on the Melaka Zoo, or fly kites on Klebang Beach.
|Capital: Kuala Lumpur|
|Primary Airports: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI), Penang International Airport (PEN)|
|Government: Constitutional Monarchy|
|Currency: Malaysian ringgit|
|Population: 29,024,000 (2012 est.)|
|Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug)|
|Time Zone: UTC +8|
Malaysia Travel Reviews
Weekend Getaway in Malaysia
My girlfriend and I, both living and working in Seoul, decided on a weekend trip to Malaysia. Based on the positive online reviews, we booked two nights at the Parkroyal Resort on the island of Penang. It is an exceptional resort in a majestic location. I couldn't imagine better accommodation for the price at $200/night. It wasn't overly crowded, but still had many creature comforts we desired - a perfect beachside balance. I would absolutely recommend staying anywhere along the northernmost point of the island.
Despite the island's beauty, the true highlight was exploring the Batu Caves. Upon our arrival, a giant gold Hindi statue greeted us, encouraging our trek up the massive staircase. An amazing, golden Hindi shrine proceeds the caves and provides an amazing juxtaposition to the jagged limestone landscape. This particular statue, ornate and detailed with many Hindu deities, is the most impressive religious sight I had witnessed and we were only beginning! All throughout the caves, sharing space with the dangling daggers of rock, were beautiful statues and shrines built alongside, and often directly into, the thick rock. Atop the main staircase, the cityscape view of Kuala Lumpur is amazing! The conjoined twin skyscraper, Petronas Towers reach towards the sky. To anyone visiting Malaysia's capital city: I highly recommend taking the time to visit this epic site. It is a place where the beauty of nature collides with divine artistic expression. Penang Island and the Batu Caves are both wonderful locations that will leave any traveler awestruck!
Spontaneous Getaway in Malaysia
After spending a frigid winter in Europe, my boyfriend and I decided to turn up the heat by taking a spontaneous early summer vacation in Malaysia during May. We flew into a small international airport on one of the islands of Langkawi and quickly jumped into a cheap cab ride toward the strip of hotels and restaurants along Cenang Beach. We wanted to keep the trip adventurous by not booking a hotel in advance, so we were lucky to find a beach town that wasn't overcrowded during this time and offered plenty of vacancies in cheap hotels situated right on the beach. We opted for a budget motel, Cenang Beach Motel, as it provided an ideal location with the quintessential beach style living at a very likable price. The island offered plenty of opportunities regarding outdoor activities and scenic views. The main beach was nothing special, but offered a number of water activities provided by different companies. For most of the days, we hopped on a moped in search of the island’s beautiful wildlife and we were never disappointed. One of the most breathtaking sights was the Telaga Tejuh Waterfalls, or Seven Wells Waterfall. You had to climb several steps to get there (and be sure to bring insect repellant!) but once we made it, ours eyes popped out and jaws dropped as the water burst over the side of enormous cliffs surrounded by lush greenery. The water gathered perfectly at the bottom to create a shallow pool perfect for relaxing while soaking in the humidity and sun. We stayed on Langkawi for 7 days and absorbed as much of that island -- the people, wildlife and landscape -- as possible.
R&R in Kuala Lumpur
I ended up in Kuala Lumpur almost on a whim. In order to break up a very long flight from London, England to Melbourne, Australia; my wife and I decided to take a five night vacation in Kuala Lumpur. We stayed in a 4 star hotel which was walking distance to the city center, and it only cost around seventy USD per night. The first landmark we visited was the Petronas Twin Towers. The view from the observation deck was breathtaking. In all directions gorgeous skyscrapers appeared from the lush green canopy below, highlighting the city's unique blend of urban and natural spaces. The Petronas Towers also house one of the largest shopping centers in the city. About a twenty minute train ride north of Kuala Lumpur are the Batu Caves. A long dusty road filled with street vendors peddling souvenirs and local delicacies leads to the entrance. Be prepared for a long hike once you've reached the entrance. A steep stairway consisting of 272 steps leads you 100 meters up to the cave. Inside the cave is a Hindu shrine and a roving gang of actual monkeys. The real attraction is actually outside of the caves, a 140 foot tall gold statue of the Hindu deity Murugan. Though there is plenty of sightseeing and shopping in KL the most enjoyable activity was simply walking down the side streets, sampling the local food and drink, and enjoying the warmth of KL's climate and its people.
Visiting the heart of Southeast Asia
If you have the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur, you will enjoy it and be glad you did, this beautiful city has a lot to offer travelers. The unique location in Southeast Asia and the close proximity to the equator, gives Kuala Lumpur a wonderful climate to enjoy, as long as you like the afternoon showers.
Two places that should be high on your list to visit while in Kuala Lumpur, include the PETRONAS Twin Towers, these towers are found in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and offer a great view of the city from a high. The second stop should take you to the heart of the city where you can enjoy a combination of outdoor shopping along with visiting the large indoor mall, all of these attractions can be found on and very near the Old Market Square.
When I went on this trip to Kuala Lumpur, I used mainly the internet in planning my trip from my airline ticket, to my hotel room along with the bus route to and from the airport to get me into the heart of the city without having to have a rental car.
I would give this destination a 4 out of 5 stars, the only reason I wont give it a 5 stars is due to the large population that is out and any given time can make it very hectic.
My Travel Through Malaysia
My girlfriend and I flew into Singapore in order to travel up to Thailand for a month. Some protests in Bangkok had pushed into the airport so we had to fly to Singapore instead and move north. Johor Bahru is the city port across from the island of Singapore. Now, the city itself is a complete juxtaposition from Singapore, but not necessarily in a bad way. The street food proved delicious, with food vendors offering up some delicious offerings, and everything else cost a fraction of the price as it did in Singapore. Best of all, we arrived in December, and the country was having a month long, government sale, on everything (in all department stores, malls and locations that collected taxes). I found shopping in Malaysia to be far better than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Transportation was a breeze, and the train service made it easy to make it to Thailand. Kuala Lumpur receives most of the attention for being the capital of the country and rightfully so. It is a beautiful city and the downtown region is great for restaurants, clubs, shopping and just about anything else a person might want (the largest mall in Southeast Asia is found right here). However, Penang really needs to receive some attention. This island right off the west coast of the northern portion of the island has beautiful Dutch origins and shows so much with the architectural design, as even traditional Dutch windmills can be found throughout the city.
GREAT VACATION SPOT
LOVED THE BEACH, ENJOYED THE HOTEL SUNSETS WERE BREATHE TAKING.. ENJOYED THE QUIET VACATION TOOK SIDE TRIPS TO THE SURROUNDING AREAS MAGNIFICENT SCENERY. I USE A CANE AND HAD NO TROUBLE GETTING AROUND..PEOPLE WERE VERY HELPFUL
Me, Myself, and Malaysia
After taking some much needed time off work this summer, I decided to visit a country I've heard so much about. SE Asia is a buzzing hive for tourism, and Malaysia seemed like an ideal destination. After doing research, I decided the best course of action would be to start in Kuala Lumpur, and spend the rest of the month touring the rest of country. The initial leg of my journey began on June 12th. Checking in to the Furama Bukit Bintang was a delight, and gave me enough time to unpack and plan the weeks ahead. After hitting the road, my first destination was north, towards Georgetown. The train ride took three hours and ended up being the most relaxing and exciting time, watching people and cities pass by from the ease of my coach passenger seat. I stopped to have dinner at Ang Hoay Lor, a unique restaurant that has been a staple in this city for years. After a refreshing meal, I wandered out to see the rest of the city.
Malaysia is beautiful! Over the course of the next month I had hiked up Mount Kinablu, sunbathed on the mystical sands of Kota Kinabalu, wandered into Cheng Hoon Teng (a few more hours in this city and I swear I would have crawled out a Buddhist), and was struck by the sights of the Batu Caves. There is enough to do here to satisfy the most apathetic traveler, and I have no doubt I'm returning soon.