Exploring Malaysia – 6 days trip 2nd week of May, 2014
Overall our trip to Malaysia worked out much better than we anticipated, in-spite of bad weather forecast. Combination of places like (KL)Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and 1 night Cruise from Penang just worked perfect for our interest of exploring new country on culture, nature and cruise(Star Cruises Libra) experience. Experience and few suggestions….
Kuala Lumpur international airport (KLIA) is far from city (79 Kms) and easily takes 1hr+. Recommend to stay in city limits, as most tourist places are close by. Central Market (from 1888) and China Market are must visit for shopping and heritage, which are open till late night. Exercise your bargain skills as much in these places.
When it comes to food in KL, options are local food (non-veg) which is normally seen roadside and seems cheaper. Other option is Indian restaurants like Sarvanan bavan ... If none of these works for you, don’t worry, you have KFC and MacDonald(process are same as in India).
You should experience light rail/Metro system, which is very easy to use and connects most of the places (much cheaper than taking Taxi). Bus transportation is another option, but you will need local guidance. It is better to sign up for a half day tour, which takes you to key places like Kings Palace (outside view only) Kula Lumpur Tower (KL Tower), Petronas Twin Tower, City Museum. National mosque etc. they will also take you to tea/coffee tasting shops, chocolate & leather factories, which is more of a marketing stunt.
Batik Factory where they make fabric printing is ok to watch. You can plan for day long trips to places like Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands. Batu caves is another place you can visit (takes 3-4 hours) to see caves, small zoo, Hindu temple and mountain climbing experience (275 steps).
If you have long transit time at KL, within the airport nothing much to do, instead you can take a metro/train to Terminal 2 (KLIA2), which looks like a mall with lot of shopping options and it takes just 5 minutes to reach.
Langkawi is a small beautiful island (of Bangalore size) having around 100 thousand people. Since there is no tax, it is a hub for lot of duty free shopping. Main attractions are beaches, small nearby islands (beach hopping tour), Kilim Geoforest Park also called Mangrove boat ride(good one), Cable Car (Must visit)/Sky bridge (Currently under renovation) in oriental village. You can also buy a package with Duck tour (ride on road and sea by same vehicle, OK kind ride) & cable car, so it is cheaper. There is no public transportation or metro/train service. Only option is taxi.
Oceanic Langkawi holidays is the travel agency that we used and there are many. Do prior booking, so airport pick up and drop becomes easy and package tours & in a group works cheaper. Chenang is a nice street for evening beach/sunset, shopping and food joints.
Shops are open very late and taxis are available all the time here. (note that prices are higher after 11pm). Options for stay are Chenang or Kuah, which has mainly duty free shops. On Chenang street there are 2-3 Indian restaurants like Taj Mahal, Mumbai and I found food is little expensive. It also has a underwater world with fascinating species of fish, penguins and sea lions etc. which takes minimum 45 minutes.
Penang seems like old city and hosts many companies & has many educational institutes. Main place for Star Cruises, which is very close to little India. Komtar is another nearby place to see big shopping mall/tallest building in Penang. There are Indian Mariamma temple and very next is china temple. I found Indian food are cheaper than Langkawi and KL here. For first timer, cruise experience is really good and if you are in group, you will enjoy more.
Expenses mainly depends on your eating habits and shopping items/habits. For food for a family of 3 easily 100 MR/day excluding breakfast and you will spend easily ~700-1000 for site seeing/entry tickets for 6 days. Avoid using credit cards as they charge ~3.5% more and 12% service charge on that. Carry sufficient forex. It is a good idea to carry Maxis kind post-paid SIM, which is at reasonable price (3.25 MR for India calls and local calls at .5 MR, incoming free). It was easy to get Forex, travel insurance and SIM, all provided by one vendor like Maxis.
All Malaysian airports have free WIFI and most hotels also provide free WIFI, so Data plans are not a must, unless you want to spoil your vacation by checking office emails.