Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Let’s take a look at what makes: "Malaysia, truly Asia"

"Malaysia, truly Asia" - The slogan for tourism in Malaysia encompasses the multiculturalism that is the foundation of this South East Asian country. With its land bordering three other countries, it is a multiethnic and multicultural place. The demography consists of a few Asian ethnicities. Half of the population is made up of Malays, while the other half consists of descendants of Chinese, Indian, Aboriginal background, as well as other indigenous people. Culturally, influences include English, Persian, Arabic as well as the surrounding countries. This place is full of variety and this diversity extends to its cities, languages and landscapes as well.

Whether you are looking for a tropical beach vacation, a cultural experience, a mountain adventure or city lights, you will find it in Malaysia.

Mountains and Nature - Cameron Highlands

This green hilly retreat situated in the west, is home to the highest point accessible by road in Malaysia. Because of its altitude, it is much colder than the humid heat that covers the rest of Malaysia.

The Camerons can only be reached via 4 main roads coming from both the east and the west side.

There are buses and shuttles as well as rental cars that you can take from surrounding cities to Tanah Rata, which is the main town in the Camerons area. It is 2.5 hrs from Ipoh and 4.5 hrs from Kuala Lumpur.

A few places to visit:

Gunung Brinchang is the highest point in this area. At the top of the mountain is a 15m high observation tower and presents a magnificent view of the Cameron Highlands and the surrounding cities, and this is a great way to get an idea of the landscape.

Go for a trek through the 200,000 year old Mossy Forest. Covered in deep green moss, ancient trees and dewy mist, the rich forest is a mystical and breathtaking sight.

Boh Tea Estate is not far from Tanah Rata and is a scenic place to enjoy quality tea grown on the premises. There are hourly tours for most of the day and also a shop where you can by the Boh Tea to take home.

Strawberry farms can be found throughout the Camerons. These farms allow tourists to pick their own strawberries, charging by weight and offer strawberry products and beautiful views and is definitely worth a visit.

Ee Feng Gu Bee Farm is an apiary with beautiful gardens full of flowers where tourists can stroll through and learn about bees and honey production. Various honey products are also available.

There are also a number of restaurants serving a variety of food, reflecting the multiculturalism of Malaysia. Within these highlands you will find Devonshire Tea, Steamboat, Tandoori Chicken, Pork knuckles, Organic food and local Malay cuisine in the assortment of restaurants that scatter the hills.

As the area is a popular vacation destination there is a wide price range of accommodation available to cater for everyone.

Beach Resorts - Port Dickson

PD is a beach resort town, just a short hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. Despite its military history, Port Dickson is a very popular holiday destination for local Malaysians and beach homes owned by Singaporeans are plenty. Contrasting to the city life in KL, Port Dickson is a laid back, slow paced place.

A few things to do while in Port Dickson:

Waterskiing, canoeing, snorkelling and wind surfing are all activities that you will find on the beaches along PD. Pantai Cahaya Negeri, Teluk Kemang and Pantai Saujana are popular beaches for these water sports, you can even hire jet skis and banana boats. Blue Lagoon is also very well known for swimming as many of the Port Dickson resorts are located there.

Fishing is a popular past time in PD, and no better place to do so than Teluk Pelanduk the fishing village 18km south of town. Here, you will find small jetties for fishing boats and many fishermen. Some divers also charter boats from Teluk Pelanduk for diving trips.

Cape Rachado or Tanjung Tuan is a favourite bird watching spot, especially during the migratory seasons. There is also a historical lighthouse at the summit and from the lighthouse visitors can access the jungle trails that lead to hidden beaches.

Port Dickson Ostrich Farm is a small petting zoo along the PD beach road. There are a few animals, visitors can interact with and plenty more to see. You can even feed the ostriches. A restaurant on the premises serves ostrich meat and other Malay cuisine.

Due to the close proximity of PD to the major cities in Malaysia and Singapore, it makes for a great place to get away from the industrial life of the city. There are plenty of Port Dickson resorts and hotels offering beachfront accommodation, private pools and some even a private beach!

A Cultural Experience - Johor Bahru

JB is the second most populous city in Malaysia. One of the most important factors for the economic growth of Johor Bahru is tourism. Johor Bahru is located at the border of Singapore and receives almost 50% of the country's foreign tourists via its bridges and roads linking to Singapore. This city is an industrial, commercial and cultural hub for southern Malaysia.

A few cultural activities:

Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple is a major cultural attraction in JB. This Hindu temple is the first and only glass temple in Malaysia. Tourist visiting hours are in the afternoon and as the beautifully ornate decor of this glass temple is such a popular attraction it has become a bit of a museum rather than a place of devotion.

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque is open to Muslims only, however the architecture of this place of prayer is stunning and still worth having a look at from the outside.

Grand Palace Park was built in 1866 and is known for its Anglo-Malay architecture. This is also a great place to go to for some greenery and a stroll around the grounds. Also worth a visit is the Royal Museum located within the palace. It houses royal heirlooms, impressive rare artefacts and a good record of the history of the state's royal family.

Johor Zoo is a lovely family spot. This is one of the oldest zoos in Malaysia. When built in 1928, only the royal family had access to it initially. Nowadays, it is a popular spot for locals and Western tourists. There is a pond inside the zoo where you can rent boats. The Zoo also has a children's playground.

Lastly JB is known for cheap local cuisine. Many of the Singaporeans cross the border to get the same dishes at half price. So definitely stop by the hawker centres, selling street food and drinks throughout the city.

With tourism driving its economy, there is no shortage of hotels in Johor Bahru. From budget hostels to 5 star luxury hotels, the choice is yours.

City Excitement - Kuala Lumpur

The capital of Malaysia is the 6th most visited city in the world, with 8.9 million tourists a year. Its popularity is likely due to the city's cultural diversity, relatively low costs and wide gastronomic and shopping variety.

Petronas Twin Towers is the tallest twin towers in the world at 452m and also Kuala Lumpur's most well known landmark. The towers are striking during the day but even more so when lit up with the night sky as the backdrop. In fact it is so popular that to go up to the observation deck, lining up early in the morning is strongly advised, as tickets are often sold out by 8:30am.

Malaysia is one of the shopping capitals in the world, so no doubt a trip to the mall is essential when visiting KL. Pavilion mall is the newest addition to the exciting shopping scene in this city. Boasting 450 plus stores, offering fashion, homewares, culinary delights, cinema and karaoke, there's always something to do. If nothing else, it is a great air conditioned retreat from the humidity and heat in the streets of KL.

Central Market is the place to see the variety of races and cultures of Malaysia displaying traditional and contemporary art, handmade crafts, homewares side by side. It is arranged in a stall concept and is a one stop shopping market for handicrafts, artworks as well as a wide variety of Malaysian cuisine The Annexe Gallery in the market building is a space for the cultural and arts expression with dance, performance events and screenings occurring regularly, it is well worth a look.

Petaling Street aka Chinatown has a night market that is full of sights, sounds and energy. The wide variety of vendor stalls means you can buy anything from gems, incense to clothes and toys. Some of the restaurants there have been around for generations providing locals and tourists with great Chinese food. At the end of the street there is a Chinese temple called Chan See Shu Yuen. Dating back to 1906, the interior of this building features open courtyard pavilions, intricate carvings and paintings. The exterior is decorated with elaborately glazed ceramic sculptures both on the facade as well as the roof.

For those wanting a historical education of Malaysia the Malaysia Heritage Walk tour is a good option. The heat may be a bit challenging but this 4.5 hr walking tour of the local streets, eats and places of worship is an eye opener to the Malaysian culture and way of life. Perfect way to get a look in on Malaysia from a knowledgeable local.

Being the biggest city in Malaysia, KL is full of big name hotels to accommodate the large number of tourists that visit. However for the budget travellers going through the capital city there are plenty of hostels available as well.

Which is your favourite city to visit in Malaysia?



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Thistle Hotels

Thistle hotels are part of Guoman Hotel Management (UK) Limited operating a number of hotels throughout the UK and Malaysia. The guest experience is everything; wireless internet access in every area of the hotels and personal service delivered in a warm, efficient and straightforward manner. With 32 hotels UK wide and 2 hotels in the exotic peninsula of Malaysia, the name may be the same, but they’re showing the world a very different face.
Paul Monteath
P: 0477 661 114


Malaysia, Asia , travel



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