An 8-day Malaysian drive
Visa Info : Malaysia visa for Indians need to be obtained in advance. It takes minimum of 1 week to get it processed. You can approach any travel agent and they will help you with it. Cost is ~Rs.4500/head (~Rm.270/$70). Visa on arrival is available for India passport holders only if they are holding a valid visa for Singapore or Thailand and visiting Malaysia from there. However, there are 58 other nationalities who are granted visa free entry into Malaysia.
|Day 1||Morning||KOCHI AIRPORT|
|Evening||BBKLCC – shopping|
|Night||Kuala Lumpur||Jalan Alor – Street food|
|Night||Langkawi||Sunba pub & The Brasserie restaurant|
|Day 3||Morning||Cable Car, Sky Bridge|
|Night||Langkawi||The Cliff restaurant|
|Evening||A’Famosa. St.Paul’s Church|
|Night||Malacca||Jonker Walk – Night Market|
|Day 5||Morning||Christ Church, Baba & Nyonya Museum|
|Afternoon||Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple|
|Day 6||Morning||Jungle Trek to Teresek Hill, Canopy Walkway|
|Afternoon||Orang Asli Settlement + Rapid Shooting|
|Night||Taman Negara||Night Safari|
|Day 7||Morning||TN – GH|
|Afternoon||Theme Park & Water World|
|Day 8||Morning||GH-KL||Batu Caves|
|Evening||Petronas Towers, KLCC Suria – shopping|
This trip was planned with the intend to celebrate 2016 New Years in Kuala Lumpur. So we flew from Kochi airport on 31st Dec, 2015 reaching there in 4.30 hours. Since our Malaysia itinerary was just hectic sightseeing and crashing the nights at the hotel, we had booked budget hotels in most places. We used Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) to book a room in MySpaceInn (~Rs.1000/Rm.60/$15 per night) in Kuala Lumpur, which was just a stone’s throw away from Titiwangsa Monorail Station. We took the Metro from KLIA 2 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2) to KL Sentral Station, changed over and took the monorail to Titiwangsa. Metro travel is quite easy in KL as it is in any other city with a lot of connecting trains all the time.
We rested for a while and then took off to Jalan Alor Food Street via Metrorail. In one shop I found a melange of dumplings, which was a treat to the eyes, but not so much to the mouth. Then there were a variety of shops which had an array of seafood dishes of all kinds; Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisines mainly. We relished oysters in ginger barbecue sauce and coconut icecream for dessert. Coconut ice-cream was especially yummy, topped with sweet marshmallowy cubes of ‘Nata de coco’ 🙂
After that we took a cab to KLCC park and watched the sky get lit up in New Year fireworks, with the background of Petronas Towers.
Next morning we flew off to the tropical island (rather an archipelago) of Langkawi. Our whole Malaysia itinerary was mostly self drive. We had planned it that way since my research told me that’s the best & cheapest way to explore the country especially since it was same side driving as in India. We were going to be in Langkawi only for 2 days, so took a hatchback Kia for hire (~Rs.750-Rm.45/$11 per day. We were famished when we landed in Langkawi and so had brunch from a Thai restaurant on the way to the resort – Fried Chicken strips in Barbecue sauce and Prawns Thai Yellow curry with rice and bread. I think it seemed pretty good only because we were too hungry to even gauge the taste. 😀
Resorts World Langkawi was at a beautiful location where short cruise boats docked. The seafacing room we got (~Rs.5500-Rm330/$80 per night) was breathtaking with the aqua waves shining its magic upon us.
In the evening we roamed around Pentai Cenang, which is the most happening area of Langkawi. We had food and drinks from The Brasserie which is right on the beach and Sunba Retro Bar, which is across the road.
The next day we drove to Oriental village and took tickets for Skycab (Normal – ~Rs.500/Rm.30/$7.5, Express Queue – ~Rs.1500/Rm80/$20). Make sure you take the Express entry if you don’t want to wait in queue for 2 hours just to get the ticket and more time at each of the intermediary points waiting for the skycab. The ride up was beautiful with view of the island at different heights.
Once we are up there, we are supposed to either walk to the Skybridge (~Rs. 85 – Rm5/$1.25) or take a skyglide – sort of like a small elevator (~Rs.250 – Rm15/$3.75). The skybridge by itself offers jaw-dropping panoramic views of Langkawi and the blue-green waters encompassing it.
- Langkawi Cable Car is 1.4 miles long
- Langkawi Skybridge was built in 2005 and has a maximum capacity to hold 200 persons
- It is 125m curved pedestrian cable-stayed bridge, located at 660m above sea-level at the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang
On the way back we stopped by some tranquil areas by the beach, with calm light blue waters, and not much waves. We parked the car and strolled around and drove back to the hotel by around 3 in the afternoon. Langkawi is a small island and driving to any spot would take a max of 45 min-1 hour only.
We took rest for sometime and then drove to Datarang Lang (Free Entry), which is also called as Eagle Square.
From there we returned to the hotel, changed and went over to The Cliff to celebrate our Anniversary (It was our 1st anniversary on Jan 2nd 🙂 The place sits atop pillars that are built on the seaside, infact the waves wash over them and we feel like we are inside the Bay of Bengal while having food. The ambience and food was really good which justifies the fact that it is a little pricier than the other beachside shacks. (Avg food+drinks/person = Rs.2500/Rm150/$35)
Next day we flew back to KLIA 2, and picked up our car, Proton Persona from Europcar (www.europcar.com) for an average rate of Rs.2500/day (Rm.150/$35) including the rent for the GPS. I had booked it earlier online since I got a discount with my Accorhotels (www.accorhotels.com) membership due to their tie-up with Europcar.
We drove to Malacca from there and on the way got the customary Batu Caves (Free entry) visit over with.
Batu Caves Trivia
- Most famous Hindu temple outside India
- Dedicated to Lord Murugan
- 272 steps need to be climbed to access the 100m cave
- One of the attractions is a massive 140 ft high gold painted statue of Murugan
- Estimate cost of the statue – Rs.24,00,00,000 (~$3.5 mn)
After 3.5 hours drive in expressway, we reached Malacca by late afternoon and checked into our hotel Arena Deluxe Boutique (~Rs.2000 – Rm.120/$30 per night). The hotel was a decent one with clean room, linen and prompt service – just fitting for a night stay.
By late evening we drove to the city centre from where we took these extremely funny looking cycle rickshaws with loud music blasting from them and decorated all around with a lot of cartoony designs and lights.
The rickshaw driver dropped us at A’Famosa (Free entry). It is an old Portuguese fortress, with an eery aura about it. Next to it was St. Paul’s Church (Free entry), a dilapidated historic Portuguese church. There was not a single soul in the whole area and the silence of the ruins was creepy and intriguing at the same time.
Later we went to Jonker Street Night Market. It’s nothing great, but you can get local products and homemade items along the way. We did some street shopping, had street food and then sat down to watch a stage show by some oldies. Though at first I laughed till my stomach hurt watching their performance, the passion with which they were singing made my heart melt towards the end. We also took some videos of them, since that was the most amusing part of the market.
Next morning we went to Little India, and had Dosa and Vada for breakfast to fulfill my hubby’s craving for Indian food. From there we walked round the corner towards Stathbuys and Christ Church.
We took some pics there and walked to Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum (Entry fee ~Rs.265 – $4/Rm.16) with help of Google navigator in phone. The museum showcases the local history of ethnic Chinese-Malays, also known as Pernakan. You can tour the museum by yourself or have a guided tour at an extra rate. We were not allowed to click past the front room and had to leave behind our cams and bags there before exploring the rest of the house. Their traditions, customs, etc were described in each room; their clothes and utilitarian items were all displayed. Was quite interesting to tour the house and get a taste of how the life of the Pernakans were about a century ago. Sadly had to store all of that information just in our heads.
Our next stop was Cheng-Hoon Teng Temple (Free Entry), a Chinese temple practising the Three Doctrinal Systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. It is the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia.
Malacca has been declared as a ‘World Heritage Area’ by UNESCO and the reason was more than evident. History sleeps here.
After a light lunch we started our long drive to Taman Negara, a 130 million years old rainforest – the oldest in the world, yes, older than the Amazon!
Taman Negara Trivia
- Older than ice ages
- Haven for endangered species such as Malayan Tigers, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Asian elephants
- Rich plant life with over 1,400 species
- Has the world’s longest canopy walk (530 meters)
The drive towards TN had varied vegetation all the way. The long winding road was flanked by palm trees on both the sides and was a pleasure to drive by. We stopped by a small wayside shop and had Plain rice and Fish in Yellow Cocunut curry, tasted somewhat like Kerala fish curry.
Once we reached TN, we stayed at ‘Xcape Resort’ (Rs.2500 – Rm.148/$38 per night), which was the only decent hotel there other than ‘Mutiara Taman Negara’ (which is a beautiful and much more expensive resort by the river banks).
There are many activities in Taman Negara, and I had booked via email with one of the tour operator before travelling. However when I reached there, they said they don’t accept credit or debit cards and there was no ATM in atleast 50km radius of the forest. Hence we walked over to another operator’s office which accepted cards. I am so glad we did that, since we got this amazing guide for our activities. His name is Eddy and I’m giving his contact details here for anyone who wants to visit TN.(Tahan Makmur Travel & Tours – Edy 013-9508068)
At night we had dinner from one out of the only 3 floating restaurants in Taman Negara, but we were disappointed with the insipid and tasteless food.
The next day was jam-packed. First we did a jungle trek to Bukit Teresek. There were steps through half the way and the rest of the way we had to climb the natural steps created by previous hikers, and by clinging on to branches and tree vines. After about 2 kms of trekking we reached the top. And the view was truly worth the climb.
Edy showed us various types of trees, their medicinal properties, trivia about them etc., out of which was this one plant that had an interesting looking leaf, like that of a hand, and another one with blue leaves etc. The whole trek was quite informative and interesting, though extremely tiring.
On the way up, we did take a detour to go to the Canopy Walkway, which is supposedly the longest in the world with 10 platforms. Walking among the trees was surely more than I thought it would be, especially since the trees were ridiculously tall and we felt like we were up in the clouds with tree branches and leaves leaning over us from both sides.
Finally we reached Bukit Teresek and spent some time there indulging in the beautiful view of Taman Negara from the top.
After the trek we got back to the base and had lunch. We rushed back in time to catch our boat to Orang Asli settlement. We were taken with some other tourists in the rapid shooting boat. The boat was long and pointed and functioned using a motor. Edy and the boat driver were jovial guys who kept making jokes and entertaining all of us. And every time we hit a rapid, they would use their oars to splash more water on to us and we laughed so hard till our stomach hurt.
Orang Asli are tribes or aborigines who still live in a nomadic style. They live in simple basic structure of palm-thatched shelters inside the jungle or along the river banks. They get fruits & veggies from the forest and hunt animals using bamboo blow pipe. During our visit they showed us how to use the blow pipes and we all tried it out. They also showed how they make fire naturally using herbs, sticks and stones.
The tribes were speaking in their aboriginal language, but since Edy kept translating it we didn’t have difficulty understanding. We saw some small kids running around, and I felt really bad thinking that they will also grow up not knowing the outside world, never going to school or being educated. Our guides told us that the Malaysian government had made several attempts to bring these tribes to urban regions, even offering them shelter, food and occupation. However, they repeatedly refused to leave the jungle or lead a civilized life. 😦 I guess for them the jungle is their haven, and they fear the outside world and everything of it. Edy told us the only times they leave the jungle willingly is to buy cigarettes!!
On our way back, the guides stopped our boat at a spot where we all got down and swam in the river. The water was the perfect temperature, not hot, not cold. And while lazing on the shores of the river, Edy drew some art on my face with color extracted from natural stones. I looked hideous!
We reached back to our hotel by 6 and at 9 we were taken for Night Safari. This was a real waste of time and money. Because we expected a real jungle safari, but they just took us around the palm trees and showed us some wild cats, owls, palm civets etc. If you have more days you should do the 2+ days trek into the jungle, which is the real deal. Since we were crunched for time, that was not quite an option for us. The only fun part was the fact that we were sitting on top of the Jeep the whole while, completely unbridled, staring at the darkness with the cool wind blowing on our faces.
Jungle Trekking & Canopy Walkway – Rs.600 (Rm.35/$9)
Rapid Shooting & Orang Asli Settlement – Rs.1200 (Rm.70/$18)
Night Safari – Rs.600 (Rm.35/$9)
You can also take a boat trip to Lata Barkoh (Rs.3300/Rm200/$50), which is supposedly super fun; but we were disappointed that it couldn’t be fit into our tight schedule.
Next day morning we drove to Genting Highlands. The drive up till there was really pleasant, with wide winding roads. But once we reached there we realised it was such a waste of time!
Genting is just a themepark cum shopping arena cum activities centre cum hotel all into combined into one huge closed area on top of a hill. The best part about the place is the theme park and unfortunately for us, renovation was going on at the time and hence we couldn’t get on any dry or wet rides as well. What disappointed us even more was that, the casino was also not open then! So we just roamed around and visited some of the attractions like Haunted Adventure, Snow World etc. We also did some shopping especially some dried exotic fruits and sweets for people back home. The only interesting part was the feeling that we were literally staying & sleeping over that night inside a mall. And in the evening we got out of the room in PJs, took the lift to the mall and had dinner from one of the restaurants there. 😀
Our last day in Malaysia was again a rather hectic one. We drove back to KL, did some shopping, and then went to visit Petronas Towers (~Rs.1500 – Rm.85/$22). I had booked this in advance the day we arrived at KL. It is very difficult to get tickets there without a reservation, else you should be ready to arrive early morning and stand in queue. So its better to book the day and time beforehand.
Petronas Towers Trivia
- The two towers along with the bridge aims at resembling the ‘M’ of Malaysia
- Observation desk on the 86th floor gives you an aerial view of the city
- Sky-walk on the 42nd and 43rd floors are also the world’s highest sky-bridge which connects the two towers.
- 452m high has 88 floors and 32000 windows, and cost $1.2bn in 1998 when it was completed and was tallest buildings till 2004
I was not so impressed with the whole affair. Petronas is just another huge massive concrete structure built by humans. But yet, if you are in KL, it is definitely one of the must-visits from where you can have a beautiful view of the whole city.
Skybridge on 42nd & 43rd floors
From there we did some shopping at KLCC Suria Mall and then drove directly to KLIA2. Got a little panicked in between seeing the traffic in KL city, but reached on time for the flight back.
Total expense/person for 8-day trip = ~Rs.68000 (Rm.4100/$1000)
[incl.all accommodation, food, activities, transportation and return tickets of Cochin-KL & KL-Langkawi]
All in all, the trip was a little too hectic, but we did enjoy a lot; though somehow I wouldn’t tag Malaysia as one of my favorite countries so far. Still I would say it is worth a visit, especially considering the affordable prices Malaysia offers for everything, from accommodation to travel to food. And if you sign up for price alerts, you will get good deals for Air Asia flights as well. So if anyone has doubts while preparing Malaysia itinerary , pls feel free to contact me, I’m all ears. 🙂