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So What To See And Do in Malaysia

Most people coming to Malaysia if here for a holiday will book to stay at a resort either on the East or West Coast, of which there are many. Most of the big resort hotels will have swimming pools, spa treatments and various water sports and tours to see local handicraft, village life, temples and shopping. They are often almost villages in their own right, and many people will simply spend all their time at the resort – and that is fine. Others want to see more of the country.

There are many great hotels to stay in throughout Malaysia – with big clean rooms, great service and good value too.

Below you will find some information that we hope you will find useful in your travel to Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR – is the Capital City and these are some of the things to see here –
If you can stay in the City Centre (they call it the "Golden Triangle") stay somewhere near the Petronas Twin Towers, around Jalan Ampang, Bukit Bintang or Jalan Imbi. This puts you close to lots of shops and other activities.

  • Petronas Twin Towers - these two towers stand tall above the city, and are now world famous, as the second highest towers in the world. The towers stand 451.9 metres high, with a Skybridge linking the two towers at 170 metres above the ground. Petronas is Malaysia's Oil Company, and they are also a sponsor of Formula 1 racing. The Towers were built between 1992 and 1999 in stainless steel, glass and concrete, designed by the architect Cesar Pelli, with 88 storeys to the top, or 1765 Steps. You can visit the towers and look over the city from the Skybridge or go to the 86th Floor, though you need to pick a clear day to see clearly across the city. At the base of the tower you can also visit the Galeri Petronas Art Gallery, and the PetroSains – Science and Technology Centre (Tel: (603) 2331 8181)
  • Suria KLCC – is almost next to the Petronas Twin Towers and it is a stylish shopping location with lots of shops and variety, as well as 12 cinema theatres. You will also find here Aquaria (a big aquarium), the Dewan Filharmonik theatre, and outside is the KLCC Park – which covers some 50 acres of parklands and lake area. Here too is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre – where many conventions and exhibitions are staged during the year.

SHOPPING CENTRES – there are many and they are all air conditioned, multi storey, with lots of facilities like movie cinemas and you can easily spend a day in any of a number of them. These are some of them to see –

  • Along Bukit Bintang – there is stylish Starhill Gallery, Fahrenheit 88, Sungei Wang, Pavillion –all within walking distance of each other, and an older one Sungei Wang and Low Yat Plaza. There is food, fashion, homewares, specialty stores, coffee places, and at street level there are open air bar/coffee places with fans blowing mists of water to add some coolness to the air around you.
  • Jalan Imbi – look for Berjaya Times Square with over 1000 retail stores and 65 food outlets, as well as an indoor Theme Park with rides and other activities, even a bowling alley. Plaza Imbi is also on Jalan Imbi.
  • Kenanga Kompleks – is located at 2 Jalan Gelugor, off Jalan Kenanga Wilayah Persekutuan. This is where you can see fashion shows and buy lots of fashion clothing, shoes and other goods with some 800 stores.
  • Mid-Valley Megamall – is a taxi ride away from the center of the City – but Taxis are cheap and easy to find. This is a super-size Megamall with 100's of shops and things to see here.
  • 1 Utama – (See www.1utama.com.my ) is said to be the 4th biggest shopping mall in the world. It covers some 5 million square feet of retail space with 6 levels of shopping and 650 specialty stores, plus restaurants, pet stores, supermarkets, theatres, and masses of parking. It is in Bandar Utama (the area name), and is depending on traffic about 30 minutes from the centre of KL.
  • Craft shops – finding Malaysian crafts – from spinning tops, paintings, photos, books, traditional clothing, batik etc – head to the 'Kompleks Kraf' – 5 Jalan Conlay – not far from the Centre of KL, a short taxi ride away. See www.kraftangan.gov.my Tel: 2162 7459.
  • Royal Selangor Pewter – is worth a visit to see how they make it. The factory, demonstrations and Visitor Centre showrooms are located at 4 Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya. Tel: 4145 6122. See www.visitorcenter.royalselangor.com
  • Jade – see the Jade Museum at 26 Jalan Delima (off Jalan Imbi) Tel: 603 2144 5939.

Markets - The two most famous markets in KL to see are

  • Petaling Street in Chinatown – open day and night, and lots of fun to see and buy authentic and fake clothing brands, watches and other designer brands, as well as food. It does get crowded, but that is also part of the fun of being here. It is a MUST DO fun place to go to in the early evening.
  • Central Market – and Kasturi Walk - Jalan Hang Kasturi. A street with lots of character and things to buy.
  • Little India – is in Brickfields – where you can buy all things 'Indian' – from a Sari to Indian sweets, chapatti, curry, Bollywood movies and music.

Birds and Animals

  • KL Bird Park – Jalan Cenderawasih (Lake Gardens) Tel: 2272 1010. See www.klbird.com Here you walk inside a massive garden enclosure cage, where the birds fly above and around you.
  • KL Zoo – Hulu Kelang, Ampang – See www.zoonegaramalaysia.my . Located about 5 km from KL with Malaysian Sun Bears, a giant Panda, and many other animals to see. You can get there by the LRT U34, or U23.
  • KL Butterfly Park – Jalan Cendararasari (Lake Gardens) See www.klbutterflypark.com Tel: +60 3 2693 4799. Here you can see over 5000 butterflies in the gardens, as well as see Koi fish, turtles. The colours of the Butterflies is amazing.
  • Fireflies – (Glow worms) and Bats – see these at Batu Caves, 13 miles to the north of KL. The caves have a Hindu Temple and 272 steps that lead to the first of three caves in the Limestone hillside where the statue of Muragan is located. The caves are located beside the MRR2, or you can take the KTM Komuter train to Batu Caves too. In many ways it is easier to take a tour, as getting lost driving there can be quite frustrating. In January-February at the time of the full moon, the Tamil Indian festival of Thaipusam is held at Batu Caves.

Malay House

Traditional Malay houses are hard to find and see, but there is one (Rumah Penhulu) is close to Bukit Bintang at 2 Jalan Stoner (Tel: 603 2144 9273) The house dates back to 1916 when it was built in Kedah and has been re-located and restored by the Malaysian Heritage Group.

Mosques

National Mosque of Malaysia – Jalan Perdana. See www.masjidnegara.gov.my Tel: 03 2693 7784. This is open for Visitors, but closed one hour before Prayer times.

The Blue Mosque – Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz at Shah Alam (about half way between KL and Klang on the coast). The mosque has a blue dome 107 metres high and the Minarets that point to Mecca are 142 metres high. Visitors to the Mosque are permitted outside of Prayer times. Tel: +60 1 300 88 5050.

Museums and Art Galleries

  • Islamic Arts Museum – Jalan Lembak Perdana. See www.iamm.org.my Tel: 2274 2030. Two floors of permanent gallery space, plus 2 special exhibition spaces too. This is where you can see and learn more about Islamic Art over the centuries.
  • Museum Negara – Jalan Demansara (Lake Gardens). Tel: 3 2282 6255 See www.muziumnegara.gov.my This is a big museum with lots of historic pieces to see.
  • National Textile Museum – Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin (Merdeka Square). Here you can see some of the intricate Malay patterns and fabric designs, as well as Songkets (the Malaysian dress that you will see a lot of).
  • Bank Negara Malaysian Museum and Art Gallery – 2 Jalan Dato Onn, Sasana Kijang. See www.museum.bnm.gov.my Bank Negara is Malaysia's Central Bank, and this museum has a massive coin collection, as well as information about Islamic Banking, which is quite different to British and American banking practices.

Theme Parks

  • Kidzania - 18 Jalan PJU 7/5 Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya. See www.kidzania.com.my Tel: 1300 88 5439. Here kids can 'play' adult roles as doctors, airline pilots, nurses, firemen, chefs and more. Great for primary age children.
  • Sunway Lagoon - 3 Jalan PJS 11/11 Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya. See www.sunwaylagoon.com Tel: 603 5639 0182. This water park is built in an old open cut tin mine, and there is now Sunway Resort City, the waterpark, spas, hotels, Pyramid Shopping centre all here. Subang Jaya is about half way from KL to Klang – about 30 minutes from KL.
  • Desa Theme Park – Taman Danau Desa. See www.desawaterpark.com.my Tel: 03 7118 8338. Also about half an hour from KL, heading southwards.
  • Berjaya Times Square – 1 Jalan Imbi. See www.timessquarekl.com This theme park is above the Shopping Centre (see shopping Centres above).
  • Genting Highlands Theme Park (part of the whole Casino/Hotels Resort complex – see below) around 500,000 square feet of indoor theme park, shops and food places. Massive.
  • Casino - Genting Highlands in Pehang sits on the top of the mountains, north east of KL, (about 1 hour away) and depending on where you are you can see the lights of Genting from KL. Genting Resort Casino is Malaysia's only Casino and it is huge with hotels, 200,000 square feet of gaming tables, shops, restaurants, food and the theme park. Being high up, it can be cold and misty there too, so bring warm clothes if you are heading there. The views are also pretty spectacular too.
  • Cameron Highlands Tea Estates – roughly 2 hours north of KL, this is really a full day trip or better still, a stay over in one of the hotels here. You can head here via the Simang Pulai Rd or the Old Tapah Rd which winds up through the mountains and valleys. On the way up you will come across Orang Asli people selling their crafts and fruits from the jungle, and then in the Cameron Highlands you will come to a string of small hillside villages/towns. What makes Cameron Highlands so interesting is that here in the misty hills you will see and can visit Tea Estates (Boh Tea and others), strawberry farms, flower farms, vegetable farms and see old Land Rovers with a CH badge – which stands for Cameron Highlands, not Switzerland. The Land Rovers and old Black& White Tudor buildings/hotels that are dotted along the road are a reflection from the time of the British, when the area was a cool hillside retreat from the heat of the tropics. There was no air-conditioning back then!

Malacca (Melaka) – is the old port city on the Malacca Straits about 2 hours south of Kuala Lumpur (KL) on the North-South Expressway that heads to Johor Baru (JB) and Singapore.

It has been a trading post for centuries – with traders from China at the time of Admiral Cheng Ho, then by Portuguese who first came here in 1509, then in 1641 by the Dutch and then in the 1800's by the English – so it has an interesting history.

Admiral Cheng Ho ( Zheng He) (1371-1433) from China ranks aside great explorers like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus and others as one of the world's greatest explorers.

Today, Malacca is a busy commercial, retail and industrial city, but it also takes pride in its Malay/Chinese/Portuguese/Dutch/Indian/British history, and there are a number of places to see in the downtown area where you can get a feel for that history and the cultural mix that has made Malacca such a popular destination for tourists to come to.

Flowing through the centre of the City is the Melaka River – and you can take a boat ride along it to get a feel for the city and its development –

  • See www.Melakarivercruise.com - catch a 45 minute tour from Muara Jetty, next to the Quayside Heritage Centre, Jalan Laksamoana
  • See www.malaccaducktours.com.my – Jalan Merdeka, Bandar Hillr, in front of the Taming Sari Tower. The Sultanate 13 metre high Water Wheel is here too
  • The Boardwalk along the Riverside is at Jalan Munshi Abdullah.

To gain an insight into the rich cultural mix of people, cultures, religion and language that make up Malacca, look and see some of the following places -

For Dutch Influence – see Dutch Square where you can see the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower, Christ Church (built 1741-1753)with Dutch inscriptions on the floor, and Stadthuys – a Dutch Building with a history dating back to 1660, which now houses museums here and next to it on Malacca's history, architecture, Islamic history and Literature. Look for the red walls of the Dutch buildings. There is also the Dutch Graveyard on Jalan Kota (the road that circles around the hill that leads up to St Paul's Church Ruins (see below). Close to the Dutch Graveyard there is also the Malacca Sultanate Palace on Jalan Kota too. There is also a Dutch Fort, built in the 1800's called St John's Fort on top of a hill at Jalan Ujong Pasir.

Portuguese influence – The most notable place to see the history of Portuguese settlement is the Maritime Museum and the replica of the Portuguese ship "Flora de la Mar" that is located here. Also see the A'Farmosa Fort built in 1511 – to see it walk up St Paul's Hill (quite steep stairway to the top, but good views) to St Paul's Church ruins and down the other side to the A'Farmosa Fort ruins on Jalan Kota. St Paul's Church was built by the Portuguese in 1521, but later was used by the Dutch who buried some of their people there. There is also the Portuguese Settlement and Portuguese Square (Medan Portugis) next to the coastline at Ujong Pasir and Bandar Hilir. There are Portuguese style restaurants here, and also some Portuguese (Kristang) houses here too. Another Church, St Peter's was built in 1710 by Portuguese descendants – with the Church Bell made in Goa dated 1608. The church is located at the corner of Jalan Bendahara and Lorong Haji Bachee, and with an active congregation and Priest.

Chinese Influence – see Bukit China Chinese cemetery that dates back to 1622 and the old Kings Well (1459) on Jalan Puteri Hang Li Poh – named in honour of Princess Hang Li Poh who came here from China in the 15th Century, to wed Sultan Mansor Shah, the sixth Sultan of Melaka (who ruled here from 1456-1477)along with some 500 other Chinese as part of her entourage. The Poh San Teng Temple (built 1795) is near the well at the bottom of Bukit China. Another temple to see is the Geok Hu Keng Temple at the corner of Jalan Pokok Mangga and Jalan Klebang, and another the Sam Po Kong Temple located at Jalan Puten Hang Li Po. This temple is named in honour of the fish that saved Admiral Cheng Ho by placing its body over a hole in the bottom of the ship, stopping the ship from sinking.

Baba-Nyonya Chinese influence – Jalan Hang Jebat (once called under the Dutch name Jonkers Walk) is the centre of Malacca's Baba-Nynonya culture – with a quite distinctive Peranakan architectural style and layout of the house/shops along the street. Take a look inside one to see this, and ideally listen to a tour guide to learn more. Here on Friday and Saturday nights there is also a night market here too. To gain a better knowledge of Baba- Nyonya Culture – see the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum at 48-50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (the street parallel to Jalan Hang Jebat ). See www.babanyonyamuseum.com . Also look for the many Nyonya Restaurants to try Nyonya noodles, other dishes, cakes, jellies and sweets. Really good. You may well want to buy a Nyonya Cookbook after eating Nyonya Food. Also look for tea shops too.

Malay Culture – see the Melaka Sultanate Palace on Jalan Kota (that runs around the base of the Hill where St Paul's is located). This is a re-creation of what Sultan Mansur Shah's Palace may have looked like, and the Museum here, building and contents take you into another age. Also head to Kampung Morten at Lorong Tun Mamat 1 on the Malacca River (Sungai Melaka) where there is a whole village of Malay stilt houses to walk around and see and feel what Malaysia would have been like in the early day. Another place to see Malay house styles not far outside Malacca in the town of Ayer Keroh called Taman Mini Malaysia and Mini ASEAN (near Malacca Zoo and Botanical Gardens). Here there are individual houses from 13 Malaysian States, including from Borneo (Sabah/Sarawak) and an Orang Asli house too.

Islamic Culture - To gain knowledge of Malaysia's Islamic history, there is the Islamic Museum next to Stadthuys. Here in Malacca too there is a beautiful mosque that is built on an island (Taman Pulau Island) just off the coastline of Malacca. At night it is lit up and on a high tide it appears to 'float' above the water. Stunning in the early morning too if you are on the beach, and hear the sounds of morning prayers too.

Indian Culture – Arab and Indian traders also came to Malacca prior to the Portuguese arrival, and also in the centuries that followed, including in the time of the British who brought Indians to Malaya to work as public servants as well as in the rubber plantations and tin mines. The Indians also brought with them the Hindu Religion, and you can see the Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple built in 1781 on Jalan Tukang Emas. Also the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple at Jalan Tambok Paya. Early Indian Traders (called Chitty's) also married Malays or Chinese and their descendants, what are called "Hindu Peranakans" also have a village in Malacca, called Chitty or Chetty Village – at Jalan Gajah Berang, in Tengkera. There is also the 'Chetty Museum' here too which is sometimes open.

Malacca has many hotels and accommodation options, and there are the shopping malls, theme parks, the Zoo and also beaches to enjoy. Here are some of the places you might want to see –

  • Melaka Wonderland Theme Park – in Ayer Keroh. See www.melakawonderland.com.my This is a large water park.
  • Melaka Zoo – in Ayer Keroh, between Ayer Keroh Toll Plaza and Malacca. Lots of animals to see, including some rare ones, such as the Sumatran Rhinocerus.
  • Melaka Botanical Gardens – Ayer Keroh.
  • Padang Kemunting Sea-Turtle Sanctuary – located at Pantai Padang Kemunting Beach – about 28km from Malacca.

BEACHES

When booking a place to stay, you have really two options – stay close to or in the Center of Malacca near all the historic sites, or head to one of the beach areas either up or down the coastline, or to one of the islands, just off the coast.

Malacca is at the narrowest section of the Malacca Straits, and a lot of shipping heads up and down the Straits each day. While you can swim in the Malacca Straits and Andaman Sea, most people prefer to swim in hotel pools. The big Malaysian resorts are much further to the north, such as in Langkawi, Penang and on the East Coast, more so than around Malacca. The beaches here in Malacca still have the sand and palm trees and a more laid-back, small village feel – which some people prefer too.

Beaches you might like to look for are – beaches in Malacca itself, Tanjung Bidara (about 35 km from Malacca), Pantai Kundur (17km), and Tanjung Keling (10km).

IslandsPulau Besar Island about 3km off the coast (a rough speedboat ride away) or Pulau Upeh – which is also a turtle sanctuary.

A lot of people come to Malacca just for the day from Singapore or KL, and during the year there are a number of festivals and events happening. Malaysians enjoy a lot of holidays during the year – with Muslim, Hindu, Chinese and Christian holidays all celebrated, as well as National and also State holidays too - Ramadan, Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya, National Independence Day and of course school holidays too, when many people will head to Malacca.

I hope you have a great time in Malaysia – and enjoy some of the best food that you will find anywhere in the world.

Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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