As Sydney enters its cold winter months, what tropical destinations are you dreaming of?
I am dreaming about Malaysia. Not just because there are white sandy beaches (you can more easily locate them in Queensland) but also the amazing array of tropical fruits and local delicacies and shopping destinations. In my opinion, most tourists don’t spend enough time in Malaysia to get to know the country well enough. 2 weeks would be an ideal time period, and if I had a 2 week itinerary, this is how I would plan it out…
Kuala Lumpur (KL)
With Air Asia running promotions almost every month, it should be relatively easy to get cheap flights to Kuala Lumpur even during holiday season. Most tourists start their travel in Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur as it is the capital and most easily accessible. Your two days in Kuala Lumpur can be spent going up to the SkyBridge of the famous Petronas Towers then followed by shopping in the nearby city center shopping mall KLCC. For a good selection of local delicacies, go to Asia Café in Klang Valley which is where the local university students hang out; or the busy Petaling Street where predominantly Chinese delicacies and lots of counterfeit products draw tourists. For an edgier, younger vibe check out the Bangsar area which has many up and coming boutiques.
Penang Penang is a laid back seaside city 4 hours north of Kuala Lumpur. It is segmented into Pulau Pinang which refers to the island and it also has a mainland part, much like Hong Kong. Most importantly, Penang is where the good food’s at! Ask anyone from Malaysia and they will tell you that unanimously. The one stop shop for hawker delicacies is Gurney Drive, where you must try (write this down): Assam Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Rojak, Char Koey Teow and Bak Kut Teh (at the very minimum). To walk off the food coma, seek out the lovely streets of George Town to admire its unique architecture – it’s listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Also check out Batu Ferringhi beach for some seaside relaxation – if you have a few extra days, you could even venture to Langkawi which is an island relatively close to Penang.
Melaka Melaka is an interesting place because of its history and culture. Colonised by the British, Dutch and Portugese, there are many historical sites here such as A’Famosa here that are not built in the traditional Malaysian style and is worth a visit. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at Jonker Street for Melaka’s famous chicken rice balls.
East Malaysia As a tourist (in my own country), I would be most fascinated by east Malaysia or Borneo, which deserves a lot more press than it usually gets. It is made up of states Sabah and Sarawak. Here you can find world renowned diving sites such as Sipadan where dolphins and turtles swim through crystal clear waters. If you are relatively athletic and adventurous, why not climb the highest peak in Malaysia – Mount Kinabalu at 4000 meters above sea level? If you’re not the climbing type, a tour of the national park and its neighboring hot springs (Poring Hot Spring) is a good way to get closer to nature, or join a safari and get deep into our mangrove swamps and rainforests! There is much worth seeing- we are home to the largest flower on earth after all. You can also relax on isolated islands close to Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu such as Mantanani Island or Pulau Tiga.