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Malaysia Travel Survival Guide

Getting around Malaysia

It’s easy. Thanks to their train and outer city bus systems. You can book buses via travel agencies, your hotel or just show up at the bus station early and book a ticket. Normally, there are several times offered for major tourist/city destinations.

The train system is awesome. It’s possible to get from Thailand to Singapore for fairly inexpensive prices via the Malay railway! Just keep in mind that most Malaysia primarily handles only Malaysia destinations and can’t make bookings for you to cross the border. Thus, continuing into Thailand or Singapore, your reservations must be made in those countries.  The online train booking system www.KTMB.com at the time wasn’t working (but it shows you the schedule), so it’s probably best to book with directly through a tourist agency (of which you’ll find in most tourist/guesthouse areas) or go down to the station in person.

Information on railway routes and schedules:  http://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm
•  Download a train schedule here: jadual tren 01 mac 2011 v4 final north south

My original launching point was from Bangkok to Hat Yai to Butterworth <http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm>.

Malaysia Travel Survival Guide | Getting around in Malaysia

Bangkok was able to handle this reservation up to Butterworth. However, returning to Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur, I was told the KTMB could only book me up to Hat Yai (and it would have to  make an overnight stop in Butterworth, which I didn’t want to do). So I decide to fly to Hat Yai directly instead. Saved me time and money.

 

  Getting from Kuala Lumpur to the LCCT (aka Low Cost Carrier Terminal or the terminal for Air Asia)  airport:

The convenient part of traveling Kuala Lumpur is that the major bus, train station and Skybus all converge at KL Sentral (picture above). There are 2 airports (International & LCCT) and if your flights are with Air Asia, yours will be the LCCT. From the KL Sentral , catch the Skybus to the LCCT.  Cost of Bus to LCCT: 9 ringgit. It takes no more than 45 minutes and is easy.

For Skybus information go to their website at www.skybus.com.my

Malaysia Travel Survival Guide | Getting around in Penang | Butterworth

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What to see and do in Malaysia?

PENANG / BUTTERWORTH

Is it Penang or Butterworth? It’s easy to find confusion with the names but the two names are known synonymously as the same place. Butterworth is the port that connects to the island of Penang and Georgetown is the capital city. The main attraction in the city is Chinatown — a Chinatown in the sense of old architecture and Chinese signs– but it has to be one of the mellowed versions in all the world. It’s a small and quiet district with a few Chinese restaurants, hawker stands and it’s seemingly a bit of a ghost town. Little India occupies a few streets and there’s a free shuttle bus to take you around to the major sites in Georgetown.  You may feel a little strapped for itinerary ideas here; the city is pretty quiet. However, take a bus ride out of the city and around the island and you’ll find it has a tad bit of a country flavor.

Accommodations:

Star Lodge (Area: Chinatown)
39 Muntri street
Georgetown, Penang,
Tel: 604-2626
www.Starlodge. Net
*Rough Guides recommend. Forget guidebook prices– most places have hiked their prices up within a year of publication.  Basic double with bathroom ensuite. Fan. 36 MYR.

Sightseeing :

Little India
Take free shuttle to famous landmarks
Take local bus to giant Kuan Yin temple

Getting There (from Bangkok):

Take overnight train from BKK to Butterworth ($25-35). Train stops at Hat Yai for border crossing. Ferries shuttle between Butterworth & Georgetown/Penang Island every 10 minutes, taking 15 minutes.

 

  MELAKA

Malaysia Travel Survival Guide | Getting around in Melaka

Accommodations:

  River top Guesthouse (Area: Chinatown)
No39, Jalan kampong pantai
Tel: 012-3277746
E: [email protected]
When I visited in June it was still newly opened. Owners Mani & Raymond offer the most generous hospitality. Clean rooms, nicely designed modern guesthouse with rooftop patio, they offer free home-baked cakes, fruit, tea/coffee and WiFi. Central and walking distance to everything.
It may seem a bit more pricier than figures in the guidebook will quote, but the home-like hospitality makes it worth every ringgit.

 

Getting There (to Melaka from Penang):

• Overnight bus from Penang to Melaka. Approx. $15. You can book with your guesthouse or through tour agencies. Arrival in Melaka bus station (15-20 minutes from the city). Take taxi into the city.
• Day bus from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur: bus tickets to Kuala Lumpur and onward, can be purchased at the station.

 

Sightseeing:

River Cruise
Shopping Mall in park
Flaming Sari
Jonker street
Weekend night markets
Take the ferry up/down the canal at day or night * night is best for lighting.
Houses on stilts

 

  KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia Travel Survival Guide | Getting around in Kuala Lumpur

As the Malay capital, KUL was a lot more interesting and worthwhile of a stop than I had initially read about. There’s sites to see, malls to shop, restaurants to dine at and nearby day trips you can take.  A surprisingly modern city, it’s also fairly small. You may not know it but it’s actually walkable. Still, you won’t need to walk as there’s the LRT & Skytrain (a monorail/metro) that gets you around. You can catch buses from Chinatown or take the train to nearby outer city destinations.

Getting to the airport is easy-peasy. You just take a skytrain to the LRT station (central train & bus station) and take the bus to the airport. The bus ride will cost under $5 and take not more than 45 minutes.

 

Accommodations:

Explorer Guesthouse
156 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
35 dorm
$10/night dorm
Clean, a few months old. Great lobby/lounge area with free wifi, tv, computers and free coffee and tea. Free continental breakfast-= coffee/tea and bread with jams. Free water.

 

Sightseeing :

Masjid Jamek (Oldest mosque built in 1909)
— take Rapid KL LRT off Jalan Tun Perak

 

Kuala Lumpur Tower (4th tallest telecom tower in the world)

• Gettting there: Take KL Monorail- Bukit Nanas Station. Free shuttles at base of tower. Opens 9A-10P daily

Malaysia Travel Survival Guide: What to do and see in Kuala Lumpur

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Petronas Twin Towers (451.9 m high)

May not be the highest tower in Kuala Lumpur but is certainly one of the most impressive, especially when lit up at night. Inside building holds a chic shopping mall with designer brands. Going up to the Skybridge? The line for tickets starts at 8A but be there earlier;  the cutoff time for tickets can be at 8A. Admits a limited number of tickets (approx 100) daily

Website: www.klcc.com.my

Getting there: Take LRT to KLCC Station

Malaysia Travel Survival Guide: What to do and see in Kuala Lumpur

Buddhist temple
lunch– full plate of vegetarian food at 9MYR

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Chinatown Petaling Street

Street lined with vendors selling anything from watches, bags, dvds and souvenirs. Food restaurants selling Malay faire on street running perpendicular. Food carts for shishkabob items and fruits within the vicinity.

Getting there: Take the LRT to Pasar Seni Station. 10 min walk from the station.

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 Bukit Bintang

If shopping malls are your thing this area’s got a handful to choose from.
Getting there: Take the monorail to Bukit Bintang.

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  A Day Trip to Batu Caves

13km north of KL. 140 feet statue of Lord Muruga and 272 steps up to the temple.  Bottom temple at entrance devoted to Shiva and other gods.  Occasionally temple offers free food. Inside the caves, there are three big caves housing Hindu shrines.Two nearby restaurants serving Indian food– okay but your tastebuds won’t feel quite like you’re in India.

Getting There: Take #11 Bus from Chinatown to Batu Caves or KTM Komuter train.

 

 

  TAMAN NEGARA (3 days)

If there’s one place which offered a lot to do and see for me, it was Taman Negara. This was my highlight. The oldest national rainforest in the world, Taman Negara is accessible by boat and offers treks (independent or with guide), river shooting, night safaris and the option to camp out at observation hides. But just a warning on the latter– accommodations are bare bare bones and you’re roughing it. Treks can be long and beware of the leeches. Chances are, if you stay on the worn path, you’ll not encounter them. They don’t sting or hurt (from what I’ve heard– you don’t know they’re there until you take off your shoes) and they’re deeper in the jungle.

TAMAN NEGARA NATIONAL PARK TOUR (Oldest national rainforest)
3 DAYS , 2 NIGHTS  FREE & EASY Tour Package
Includes Accommodations, Park Permit, Breakfast, Transportation to & from Taman Negara
Price: 160,000 MYR

Accommodations (2 nights):

Mutiara Resort Hotel
AC  Hostel

Tour @HAN TRAVEL, LOCATED IN 5 ELEMENTS HOTEL, CHINATOWN
03-20310899

Sightseeing (3 days):

  NIGHT JUNGLE WALK

8-12 Flashlights light the darkness  like première night as you walk in the darkness of the jungle looking for nocturnal insects and animals. Salt bees, wood ants, large tarantula like spiders and antenna swishing crickets. What I like is that they’re in the jungle and not my room. We made our way to a observation deck or hide to see if we could spot anything. They say it’s rare to have a spotting and the more people sounds less the chance. But we did see some anteaters as well as the glint of watchful eyes – apparently you can camp at some of these if you’re the adventurous sort. But the setup is fairly minimal- you’re pretty much you, a raised platform and nature.

• Free Treks at Taman Negara Park
  CANOPY– WORLD’S LONGEST HANGING BRIDGE, TREKKING TO BUKIT TERESAK

Getting There: Van bus from Kuala Lumpur to KUALA TEMBLING (RT); transfer to boat KUALA TAHAN TO KUALA TEMBELING

2 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Hello,
    I frequented your website before moving to Korea, and now that I’m here and planning my summer vacation I’m looking for your advice yet again!

    I will be traveling to Malaysia and was interested in Taman Negara.
    Did you find the hotel to be far removed from the park? From the website it seems a bit…upscale. Did you feel crowded or disconnected from the rainforest around you?

    Thanks so much,
    Sarah

    • @Sarah: Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Glad the itinerary can be of a little help.

      … Depends on the hotel you stay at. At my resort hotel, the park/jungle was in the backyard literally, so I wasn’t disconnected at all! Everyone came over to my side for the treks and night safaris and such. It’s a resort but they have a hostel/dorm section, which is difficult to stay at when you look at the resort bungalows. ha ha… But it had the best location in terms of jungle if you want to spend a lot of time there or taking hikes on your own. However, it was also on the opposite of the river, where the REST of the hotels, restaurants and the one convenience shop were located. There’s a boat that runs back and forth but sometimes you have to wait a while. The hotels near the river weren’t so bad, but the more resortish ones seemed a little further away, which was a bit more of a walk. I’m not sure how I got so lucky with my tour, as they booked me there and booked others in farther hotels. I think this was one time being solo was helpful to me!

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