With diverse cultures of Malay, Chinese and India – a hotchpotch of many wonderful influences – Malaysia truly is a multi-faceted country, boasting rich historical heritage; traditional and modern architecture and breathtaking natural beauty – read on for our Malaysia itinerary over two weeks.
Where to travel in Malaysia…
Malaysia Peninsular has a thriving metropolis in Kuala Lumpur, but head towards the coast and dotted islands and you are lucky enough to walk on some of the world’s most stunning beaches. Cutting across the South China Sea, you enter a different landscape altogether – lush tropical rainforests, nationals parks, and the home to the famous Borneo Orangutans.
Hubby and I have visited Malaysia twice, the first time separately, during our Malaysia backpacking adventures, and the second time as a couple. The first time I went, it was more of a travel-through to get overground to Singapore – which was fairly simple to do, before I flew to Indonesia. Travelling from the bottom of Thailand, we stopped in Penang and continued south towards Kuala Lumpur.
I didn’t appreciate my time there, it was a blur, which is why I was determined to go back and enjoy some of what the country had to offer. Hubby didn’t take much persuasion – but on a limited time frame, it was difficult to decide where to stay.
Deciding our Malaysia Itinerary…
Holiday ideas in Malaysia can be overwhelming – there is so much choice. We are beach lovers, while I enjoy scuba diving and snorkelling and was keen to do both. But Malaysia has so many wonderful beach resorts such as Langkawi. It’s a large country and rather than spending most of our time travelling it – and it is fairly easy to travel in Malaysia – after much deliberation we chose to go to the Perhentian Islands, followed by Tioman Island. But our first stop was to re-visit Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur.
There is no denying that Asia does luxury on a grand scale – and for a relatively modest price. Unlike western counterparts, you can pick yourself up a real bargain if you’re prepared to look around.
We stayed at The Mandarin Oriental, located next to the Petronas Towers and the City Centre Park. It is centrally located and has all the facilities and mod-cons you would expect from the luxury chain of hotels. I will never forget walking into the grand foyer, with all its sparkles and shiny marble floors in our flip flops, with the porter carrying our beaten-up old rucksacks. We looked really out of place, but soon settled into our upgraded suite and hurried down to the plush infinity pool which overlooks the park.
And at the time, all for the bargain price of around £80 per night. Okay, so it’s gone up since then, but you’re still looking at around £120, which, for five-star luxury, isn’t extortionate, considering some TravelLodges in London charge more.
Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur
We only spent two days in Kuala Lumpur, before heading to the islands on our Malaysia itinerary. But we made the most of our time by taking a stroll around Merdeka Square and consequently going to China Town to grab some street food. Then exploring the Golden Triangle which is the city’s main hub, the modern part of downtown Kuala Lumpur which is bounded to its north by Jalan Ampang, and to the west by Chinatown and Sungai Klang. It was just fun soaking in the sights and sounds of street life and the markets.
The Perhentian Islands
No Malaysia itinerary would be complete without some beach time. And our first stop was the Perhentian Islands. These beautiful pair of islands, Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil, just off the east coast, is a snorkelling and diving haven, with white sandy beaches framed with palm trees. It’s suitable for all budgets. This was the mainstay of our whole trip, and just a few hours from Kuala Lumpur via an internal flight and then a couple of hours by car to the small fishing village of Kaula Besut – where we hopped on to a speedboat and found paradise…
We stayed on the big island (Besar) at the Tunabay Island Resort, which is on a quiet part of the island. It’s a small, family-run hotel, with air-conditioned chalets overlooking the South China Sea. We literally hopped off our verandah and on to the beach. They also offer jungle and garden chalets as well as family-sized accommodation. Amenities were clean and basic, and there one bar and one restaurant which serves breakfast, fresh seafood and has an extensive choice. There were also many activities on offer from diving, turtle spotting and snorkelling.
• Swimming with turtles
• Scuba diving and snorkelling – Tuna Bay has a brilliant dive
• Boat-hopping and exploring Kecil
• Trekking and exploring Besar
• The red mullet steamed in banana leaves. It was delicious.
After spending a glorious week in the Perhentians, we felt we needed more white sandy beaches, and more lazing around in the sun – as if a week is enough! So we made our way back further south and took a one-hour plane journey over to Tioman Island – the last part of our Malaysia itinerary.
Famous for being the setting for 1958 musical South Pacific, Tioman Island was only beginning to attract tourists – with a small cluster of boutique hotels on offer including ours. Peaceful and tropical, there were points throughout our stay where we felt like the only people there.
We upgraded this time and opted for plush resort Japa Mala and, even though it was still being built in parts, this didn’t detract from the feeling of luxury and the staff’s attention to detail. We chose to stay in a treetop chalet and really did feel at one with nature, particularly at night when our room was infested by bugs… but hey, that’s a minor complaint seeing as we were situated in the jungle canopy – we had a fantastic view! As I mentioned previously, Japa Mala was planning to expand the resort and I believe that things have changed for the better – they now have a spa, another restaurant and more excursions. It was very quiet when we stayed – not that it was a bad thing… but it did lack atmosphere.
Our Adventure Holiday in Malaysia…
If you want a slice of paradise and want to get off the usual tourist package holiday conveyor belt, then Malaysia is a wonderful destination. Once you’re there, it’s relatively cheap to eat and drink, and meanwhile, the scuba diving and snorkelling are second to none. We still haven’t visited Borneo or Sipidan Island, which is one of the best diving sites in the world, but it’s certainly on our very long list of places to go. And we’re so glad to have gone back again. It certainly won’t be for the last time…
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