Your visit to Malaysia will leave you in awe, thanks to the suggestions I am going to present to you. Indeed, this country which does not first come to mind when you think of visiting Asia, but which nevertheless has so much cultural, natural and gastronomic diversity! We completely fell in love with Malaysia.
The awesome places to visit in Malaysia
The architectural icon of Kuala Lumpur is obviously the famous Petronas Twin Towers. But we also had the opportunity to see the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which was built to serve the British colonial administration and is now the most photographed building in Kuala Lumpur. At a close distance, Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is a tourist information centre with a floor that houses mock-ups of the city’s buildings.
Also in Kuala Lumpur, we visited the Batu Caves, which are the largest Hindu sanctuary outside India. In front of the sanctuary stands a 42.7 meter statue of Murugan, the Hindu deity of war, which is 42.7 meters tall. The place is very original, with multicolored stairs leading to the caves that are located high up.
Bako National Park
Bako National Park was one of the most difficult natural places to reach on our world tour. In the middle of the jungle, in this tropical rainforest of Borneo Island, carnivorous plants live alongside an extremely abundant fauna. But the real star of the area is none other than the Proboscis monkey, an ape with a protuberant nose that can only be seen in the wild on this island.
To reach the park, we had to take a boat on a river that is reportedly infested with crocodiles. We haven’t seen any, but we were told to stay away from the shore. When we arrived on the beach of the base camp, we already noticed a wild boar in the distance and a multitude of little crabs. As soon as we put down the bags, we immediately went looking for the animals. Unfortunately, in the midday heat, they are not very active, but we were still able to admire beautiful specimens of bearded wild boars and Silver leaf monkeys. It was on the way back from our little walk that we were able to meet a family of Proboscis monkeys that were quietly walking on a wooden bridge, a short walk from the park’s main building. It was very impressive!
Many spend a day in the park, as part of a day-trip from Kuching. We chose to spend the evening there in order to see as many animals as possible in their natural habitat. And it was the best decision we could have made because the animals are more active at dawn and dusk. The night walk was the highlight of the evening. Accompanied by a guide, we walked for nearly 2 hours on a trail and see a host of creatures: spiders, vipers, scorpions, phasemes, frogs, flying lemurs, bats, swallows, giant ants and a multitude of other animals that I was unable to capture with the camera!
We slept in a rustic house that had air conditioning, built high above the ground and with grates to prevent the nasty macaques from entering. Indeed, it appears that these little creatures know how to use their ingenuity to steal the belongings of unwary visitors. Even in the canteen, we were always told to keep an eye on these monkeys.
Every time we left the house, there were one or several wild boars at our balcony. Once, we heard a disturbing noise in the back of the house. It was a boar trying to brake in through the grate…
In other words, it was really an extraordinary experience!
Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, a state that alone covers 1/3 of Malaysia’s area. It is located on the island of Borneo, whose territory is shared between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The city is beautiful, well developed, with an incredible architecture and many mural paintings.
As half of Sarawak’s inhabitants are from indigenous tribes, we found it interesting to visit Sarawak’s cultural village. We were able to discover the traditions and customs of each ethnic group composing Sarawak: the Ibans, the Malay, the Chinese, the Bidayuh, the Orang Ulu, the Melanau. We were even able to attend a traditional dance show.
Orangutans are native to the Islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Unfortunately, there are not many places left where these primates can be seen in their natural environment. The Semenggoh Nature Reserve is a sanctuary dedicated to the preservation of orangutans. As the forest area is too small for the monkey population, fruit is served twice a day, allowing visitors to see them in a close range. We were lucky to be able to see one of the 3 big males in the reserve. Impressive!
We spent two nights in Desaru, located on the East coast of the Malaysian peninsula. What is there to do in there? Not much except to relax by the pool of our hotel, walk on the beaches and eat. It is a large vacation resort under construction, with amusement parks and new hotels.
We took a break at the crocodile farm in Teluk Sengat, where more than a thousand crocodiles live peacefully, including a 155-year-old specimen! We were able to feed them chicken and hold a 10-month-old crocodile baby that was only 30 cm tall! Besides, did you know that a crocodile does not age? Indeed, biological degeneration does not exist in some vertebrates such as crocodiles, alligators or turtles. Although in theory they are biologically immortal, they die at some point either from predation or hunger.
For a better preparation
Kuala Lumpur being an airport hub for Air Asia, we had to transit several times through this beautiful city, which we got to know and appreciate.
Our itinerary in Malaysia can be summarized as follows:
- 4 short stays in Kuala Lumpur for a total of 6 nights;
- A 4-night stay in Sarawak (North of Borneo) aimed primarily at visiting Bako National Park;
- 2 nights in Desaru, in the Malaysian peninsula.
As previously mentioned, we have benefited from the fact that Kuala Lumpur is an Air Asia hub to fly to the country 4 times. In addition, since domestic fares are ridiculously low, we took the opportunity to visit Sarawak.
And it suited us very well, since we loved visiting the Premium Plaza Lounge, which we used the most often during our entire trip. In addition to being one of the most beautiful Priority Pass lounges we have ever used, it offers a wide range of excellent food. Moreover, as it is one of the few lounges outside the boarding areas, we could refresh there both on arrival and departure, which allowed us to save a lot of money on food!
In the main peninsula, we mostly used Grab (the Asian equivalent of Uber, which is also from Malaysia) or used public transport such as trains and buses. In Sarawak, we preferred to rent a car in order to be more flexible.
When we first visited Kuala Lumpur, we stayed in the beautiful Element Kuala Lumpur, which occupies the upper floors of the Ilham Tower, the 5th tallest tower in the country. Needless to say, the view from up there is sensational! It is a Bonvoy Category 2 hotel (12500 points), but we booked it when it was still a Category 1 hotel, which allowed us to stay there for only 7500 Marriott points.
For the remaining stays in Kuala Lumpur, however, we preferred the Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral, another 4-star Category 2 hotel that we had booked when it was category 1. The reason was that the airport bus literally dropped us off in the basement of the hotel. All we had to do was take the elevator to reach the lobby. The main advantages: ideally located in the heart of the city and a swimming pool on the 30th floor, on the building’s terrace.
On our last visit to Malaysia, we stayed by the beach, in the brand new The Westin Desaru Coast Resort. It is one of the few Westin Category 2 hotels, which means that we only spent 12500 points per night! There is no doubt that this hotel’s category will soon increase, given the quality of the location and the potential of the resort. We had a beautiful and spacious room with a sea view. The breakfast was fantastic! As far back as we can remember, we never had a greater variety of food. The service and staff were flawless.
Tasty and varied with Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, is what characterizes Malaysian food. Especially since it was very cheap! We absolutely enjoyed it!
The cost of living in Malaysia is incredibly low. In addition, as we often slept in Bonvoy hotels with our points, our accommodation expenses were almost irrelevant. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is only:
- 4,535.00 MYR (1,090.67 USD);
- 378.00 MYR (90.91 USD) per day;
- 94.00 MYR (22.61 USD) per person and per day.
In detail :
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flights||1,689.00 MYR / 406.21 USD|
|Accomodation||557.00 MYR / 133.96 USD|
|Transport||962.00 MYR / 231.36 USD|
|Eating out||687.00 MYR / 165.22 USD|
|Groceries||304.00 MYR / 73.11 USD|
|Activities||336.00 MYR / 80.81 USD|
|Total||4,535.00 MYR / 1,090.67 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-01-12 to 2019-01-13; 2019-01-29 to 2019-01-30; 2019-05-07 to 2019-05-15; 2019-06-03 to 2019-06-05|
|Number of days||4 stays: 12 days in total|
|Cities we visited||Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Desaru|
|Inbound||From Macau by plane (for the longest stay)|
|Outbound||To Indonesia by plane (for the longest stay)|
|Mode of transport||Train, bus, taxi, car rental|
|Distance travelled (excluding flights)||891 km|
|Number of photos taken||4500 (375 per day)|
|Currency||The Malaysian Ringgit (1.00 USD = 4.16 MYR)|
If you ask Luka what his favorite country is, he will say Malaysia. And for good reasons! We spent some memorable moments there. Malaysia is a rich, organized and very affordable country, with varied and excellent food, as well as a population with multiple cultural origins!
Don’t miss my upcoming post on Bali!
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