Malaysia

Holidays in Malaysia

Malaysia

About Malaysia

Malaysia is made up of a peninsula and the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Holidays in Malaysia - Beautiful Islands with White Sandy BeachesIt is well known for its lovely beaches, lush rainforests, exotic wildlife, charming small towns and modern cosmopolitan cities, and so much more.

There are many races in Malaysia; such as Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian. As such, much of their architecture, food, fashion, language, attractions, entertainment and lifestyle have interesting cultural influences.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. It is a fascinating city with so much to offer. See our Things To See In Kuala Lumpur for some of the interesting attractions such as Batu Caves and the iconic 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers.



Culture & Religion

Officially, the main religion in Malaysia is Islam. At the same time many other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Christianity are accepted, tolerated and respected.

With all the different races – the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians – there is much diversity in customs and traditions that has gifted the country with a very colourful heritage.

Important festivals celebrated by each religion are proclaimed as public holidays. As everyone observes others’ practices, there is a feeling of understanding and respect for each other.

Dress Codes & National Dress

Most Malaysians wear clothing that is of western influence. On special or major religious occasions, they will wear the traditional fashion and accessories.

Holidays in Malaysia - TudungSome Malaysians wear a form of a headscarf called Tudung. It is worn in accordance to Islam belief. It covers the hair, ears, and neck, leaving only the face to be seen.

As a visitor, please be respectful and do not stare when you see someone wearing the Tudung. Also, do not wear clothes that are too revealing or offensive in public.

National Sport

Sepak Takraw. Heard of it?

This is Malaysia’s national sport. Players use every body part except their hands to get a ball over a net. The ball is made of rattan or woven palm stems. It is hollow on the inside.

This sport is also popular and played in many other Southeast Asian countries.

Festivals and Public Holidays

Here are some of the public holidays and festivals in Malaysia:

– Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Malay)
– Thaipusam (Indian)
– Chinese New Year (Chinese)
– Hari Raya Aidil Adha (Malay)
– Awal Muharram (Malay)
– Wesak Day (Chinese & Indian)
– Sabah Kaamatan Festival
– Sarawak Gawai Festival
– The Birthday of SPB Yang Di Pertuan Agong
– Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
– National Day
– Moon Cake Festival (Chinese)
– Deepavali (Indian)
– Christmas (Indian & Chinese)

Dates are not shown as some can change because they follow the lunar calendar.


Where is Malaysia?

Holidays in Malaysia - map

 

Just north of Singapore, above the equator, and south of Thailand is the peninsula that is West Malaysia. Across the South China Sea, part of the island of Borneo is East Malaysia.

Together, they form the entire country known as Malaysia.


How to get to Malaysia?

Since West Malaysia is a peninsula, there are many choices on how to get to this part of the country. For East Malaysia, it is only by plane.

By plane

Malaysia’s national carrier is the Malaysia Airlines. AirAsia is its sister carrier that is no frills and a budget airline. Most international flights land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

There are other airports in other states where more and more flights have access to. These are Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), Kuching (Sarawak), Penang, Langkawi and Johor Bahru.

By train

From Thailand, you can take the national railway operator that is the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM, also known as Malayan Railways). This system used to travel to and from Singapore. But it has been closed. A new train system is now being planned to replace this route.

By bus

Bus and coaches are the best ways to travel to West Malaysia when you are arriving from neighboring countries such as Singapore or Thailand. There are many transportation companies that provide this service.

They have direct routes to various destinations such as Penang, Malacca, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, and even Kuala Lumpur as well as the smaller towns like Petaling Jaya.

One of the best bus operators we have experienced so far is Aeroline. We have used this luxury bus service often from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The experience is very good. We will share about it in a blog post soon.

By road

As mentioned above, there are buses and coaches that travel by road to many cities in Malaysia. This means that you can also drive into the country with a car.

Do note that you will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP) in order to drive into and around Malaysia. Do check with your car rental company for more details.

By boat

There are ferries that sail over the waters to various ports in East and West Malaysia from Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Luxury cruises are also a choice if you prefer a more comfortable journey with all the facilities, amenities, great food and entertainment they offer.

Do check out the ferry and cruises sites for further information.

On foot

Walking into the island of Borneo is not possible. But you can enter West Malaysia from Thailand on foot. The entry points are at Wang Kelian and Padang Besar (both in Perlis), Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah), Pengkalan Hulu (Perak) and Rantau Panjang (Kelantan).

Getting to West Malaysia on foot from Singapore is not allowed.

Visas

Most nationalities can enter Malaysia without a visa. Depending on the country you are from, the length of stay permitted can be 14, 30 or 90 days.

To know whether you require a visa to visit Malaysia or not, please confirm with the Malaysian Embassy in your country. Better still, visit the Immigration Department of Malaysia website and the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for confirmation.

Do note that when you overstay in Malaysia, you are subjected to a possible fine. Currently, the rate is MYR30 per day.


Best time to go Malaysia

Almost every day is good to visit Malaysia. This is because the weather is almost the same throughout the year. The only concern is the monsoon that arrives at year end. It usually lasts till January, or latest February. And that can put a dampener on your vacation plans.

1st Low Season (Mar–May)

Weather gets a little warmer. Good news is it is not monsoon season. Also, fewer tourists than other months. Ideal period if you prefer to avoid large crowds, especially at tourist places.

1st High Season (Jun–Aug)

Singapore’s school holidays are during the month of June. Many Singaporeans too arrive in huge numbers to enjoy all that Malaysia has to offer.

From July to August, sometimes way into mid-September, there are many visitors from the Gulf region. Also, due to school holidays. Most are escaping the heat in their own countries.

2nd Low Season (Sep–early Nov)

September to November is less crowded, similar to the 1st Low Season from March to May.

2nd High Season (late Nov–Feb)

Late November to December heralds the school holidays in Malaysia and Singapore. Many Malaysians visit other towns and cities in their home country.

Then there is the New Year followed by Chinese New Year. Traffic can get quite bad during these months as many Malaysians travel from other countries to return home to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Do note that prices are known to escalate during the peak seasons. Even then, remember to book transportation and hotels in advance.

Also, do note that if you plan to enjoy water sports or beach activities, do not visit from November to March. This is monsoon season.


Things to see in Malaysia

Gigantic Lord Murugan Statue at one of the Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu CavesThere is plenty to see in Malaysia, both East and West. There is the famous Batu Caves, the National icon – Petronas Twin Towers, and many more interesting sights.

We have covered some of them in the Things To See In Kuala Lumpur, so far. We have plans to visit more amazing attractions in Malaysia, and will share them with you soon.


What to eat in Malaysia

Madam Kwan KLCC Menu - Nasi LemakWhenever we visit Malaysia, we find ourselves enjoying the wide range of food that is really delicious. As mentioned earlier, there is a very rich culture in Malaysia due to the many races living in harmony. That has produced many delightful dishes that pleases the taste buds.

Of course, there is food that is not so good, too. And that is why we only share about the best. Check out our reviews of the Best Places To Eat In Kuala Lumpur.


Shopping in Malaysia

Whether it is in the larger cities or smaller towns, you can enjoy the shopping experience in shopping malls, charming small stores to street stalls at night markets.

Holidays in Malaysia - Shopping Mall in Malaysia

The range of goods is extensive. Some malls are known for lower priced goods while there are luxury malls, too.

The best time to shop is during the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival, which happens around June to September every year. Do check online for exact dates.

There is exemption of duty on a range of items such as cameras, watches, pens, cosmetics, perfumes, mobile phones, computers, cigarettes and liquor. Islands like Labuan and Langkawi offer goods that are duty-free.

Tip: It is all right to bargain at roadside stalls or night markets.


How to get around in Malaysia?

There are many ways to get around Malaysia – by plane, by train, by bus, by taxi, and by foot. When traveling between West and East Malaysia, the only option is flying. This is because the two lands are separated by South China Sea.

By plane

Travel between states in Malaysia is easy by plane. There is the carrier called AirAsia. This is a budget airline, and as such the flights are quite affordable. Another airline, Firefly, is also budget, and flies to certain states only.

By train

This is a slower choice of travel compared to road transport, especially for long distances. For short distances, for example, Getting To Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur, it is decent and fast enough.

There is the ETC (Electric Train Service) that runs faster, and is comfortable with cool air conditioning. It offers fast connection between destinations. This is for West Malaysia.

For East Malaysia, there is a railway line that runs from Tanjung Aru to Tenom.

By car/taxi

Malaysia’s highway network is extensive and quite good. One can practically drive from one state to another easily. Do note that there are tolls along the way, each requiring different amounts of payment. Do get cash ready or get the infamous xxx card.

Within cities, with the help of maps, a car can get you around and about. Alternatively, you can hire taxis. Taxis are available almost everywhere in all the cities and larger towns.

Do note that you must negotiate the fare before getting into the vehicle. They rarely go by the meter. Recently, Uber and Grab have started in Malaysia. These services have been found to be cheaper than the taxis, most of the time.

By bus

This is the cheapest way to travel in Malaysia. There are many bus operators. The two most dependable ones are Transnasional and NICE/Plusliner. Do choose the 24-seater buses when traveling long distances.

When traveling during peak seasons, which are holidays or weekends, it is wiser to reserve your seats in advance.


Weather in Malaysia

The temperate in Malaysia varies very little. It is usually around 30°C by day.  It does get humid all year round, and that does make the air feel warm and uncomfortable.

The northeast monsoon ushers in the rainy season from the months of late Holidays in Malaysia - MonsoonNovember to early March. Driest months are usually May to August.

But it has been noted that the weather is a little different these days. There can be heavy rains or even torrential thunderstorms during June. So do check weather websites before planning to visit.

There is also another thing to look out for, and that is Haze. This can affect visibility, and as such ruin a good vacation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict when it will happen.


Currency in Malaysia

Holidays in Malaysia - RinggitThe currency of Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit. It is sometimes symbolized by RM. The currency code is MYR.

 

Do exchange some Ringgit for use in Malaysia as it is widely accepted.



If you have ANY questions about Malaysia, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Batu Caves

Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Batu Caves is amazing! It is definitely one of the Things To See In Kuala Lumpur! A natural wonder and such an work of art by the lovely Mother Earth.

The large stalactites and stalagmites are truly breath taking. Some even form shapes that looked strangely familiar. It is no wonder it has become one of the icons of Malaysia, and a popular tourist attraction.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur by Aeroline bus that took us about 6 hours. It was a very comfortable ride. Upon arriving at Kuala Lumpur, we visited the Petronas Twin Towers. It was a magnificent sight to behold! And to top it off, we were delighted to find The Suites Hotel, where we stayed, an absolute pleasure.

The next day, according to our plans, we made the trip to the famous Batu Caves. We shot a video about Getting To Batu Caves (click link to see the blog post and video). And below is the video we took of our Batu Caves experience.


Getting To Batu Caves

There are many ways of Getting To Batu Caves (click link to read and watch video of how we traveled there via train), and we chose to go there by train. It turned out to be a comfortable ride, economical, and only took us around 80 minutes.



Batu Caves

There are many limestone hills, said to be around 400 million years old, in Selangor. And Batu Caves is one of them. What makes it unique is that it is the limestone hill that has many naturally formed caves, and temples have been built in some of these caves.

The largest of these caves, and the most well known, is the Temple Cave. The name is derived from the fact that the cave houses many Hindu shrines within its majestic high ceiling limestone caverns.

The word ‘Batu’ means ‘Stone’. So many people think that the name – Batu Caves – came from the concept that the caves are made of limestone. But the truth is the name is taken from a river that flows past the hills. The river is aptly named Sungai Batu, which means Stone River

Travel Tip: Every cave has a different admission price. Please note that the Temple Cave is Free to enter. And opening hours may vary for each cave.

In the video, you can see a long flight of steps to the entrance of the Temple Cave. Originally, back in 1920, the steps were made of wood. Today, the steps have been rebuilt with concrete.

And the number of steps? 272!

Yes, you read it right. 272 steps that will test your fitness to the limits. Many people stop along the way to catch their breath. You can see it in the video too.

But it is all worth it!

When you arrive at the destination, you get a visual treat of awe-inspiring natural caverns that you will remember for a lifetime. I know I sure did.

Travel Tip: Near the Temple Cave is the Dark Cave. There is a mini exhibition area that provides you information about the natural history of the entire area. And if you dare, you can explore the Dark Cave with a tour (for a reasonable price).


Magnificent Gigantic Statue of Lord  Murugan

Gigantic Lord Murugan Statue at one of the Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves
Gigantic Lord Murugan Statue, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

You can’t miss it. It is the huge statue at the bottom of the steps that leads to the Temple Cave. And it is in Gold! It is the Lord Murugan Statue.

This is the tallest statue of a Hindu god in Malaysia. In the world, it is the second tallest statue of a Hindu god. Its height is 42.7 metres, which is 140 feet. The tall image took 3 years to build, and was unveiled in January 2006 during the Thaipusam festival then.


Batu Caves Temple

Deep at the heart of the Temple Cave, 100m above ground, is the murti (consecrated statue) of Sri Murugan Swami. It was placed there by an Indian trader by the name of K. Thamboosamy Pillai in 1890.

2 years later, in 1892, the annual Hindu festival – Thaipusam – was celebrated there. And has been ever since. Thaipusam is a three-day festival that is held around late January or early February. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims converge to pay homage to Lord Murugan during this time.

Today, the cave and the temple combine to be one of the most popular Hindhu shrines outside of India.


Monkeys, Spiders, Bats and Other Natural Inhabitants

In the vast network of the caves, there are numerous natural inhabitants such as spiders, bats, snakes, and most visibly – Monkeys.

 

Beware the Monkey at one of the Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves. They look adorable but can turn fierce.
One of the monkeys inside the caves, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The monkeys are almost everywhere; as you climb the heart stress tester steps, and as you visit the shrine deep inside the Temple Cave. You can see them getting food and drinks from visitors.

Travel Tip: Beware of the Monkeys! I have seen a packet of drink snatched from a visitor by a monkey. And I have heard of phones, bags, wallets, purses and more being taken away very quickly by the fast moving monkeys. So do keep your valuables close to you!

Besides the monkeys, there are lots of creatures living in the caves. Of course there will be right? This is their natural home. Visit the Dark Cave to see a mini exhibit where you can see photos of the natural history of this site as well as of these intriguing creatures.

Do visit the Batu Caves! They are truly amazing and one of the Things To See In Kuala Lumpur.



If you have ANY questions about this review, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Getting To Batu Caves

Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Getting To Batu Caves via train

Getting To Batu Caves

There are many ways of Getting To Batu Caves. You can get there by car, taxi, bus or via train. We traveled from KLCC to Batu Caves using the train system in Kuala Lumpur. Batu Caves is one of the icons of Malaysia and a very popular tourist attraction. You can read more about it in our blog post – Batu Caves.

Let’s start the journey, shall we? We began by taking the LRT from KLCC station that was at Petronas Twin Towers / Suria KLCC to KL Sentral station. Then switched to KTM Komuter line (the blue line) to travel from KL Sentral station to Batu Caves station.

In all it took us about 80 minutes because there was some time taken to find the entrances to the right lines, locate the ticket counter, understand how to pay for the tickets, etc. If you are familiar with all that, the trip should be shorter, about 60 minutes.

Along the entire route, we took photos and videos. Watch the video below to see how we traveled to Batu Caves from KLCC. Remember to turn on the subtitles for more detailed information.


From KLCC station (also known as KJ10 KLCC) to KL Sentral Station

The Malaysian train system is quite efficient and can get you to many places of interest around Kuala Lumpur as well as from Kuala Lumpur to well known sites such as Batu Caves. We started at the KLCC station.

Some parts of the train line is above ground, and some are under ground. The route from KLCC station to KL Sentral station is underground. As such, we took the escalator down and walked along a pathway to the station control area.

Travel Tip: Make sure you are at the right station. See the station name. In this case it is KJ10 KLCC.

There was a map of the train system next to the ticketing machines. Locate that map to see how to travel from one station to another.

Map of train system to get to one of the Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves
Map of transit system, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

We found out that KJ10 KLCC station was along the LRT Laluan Kelana Jaya line (Line 5, the red line).

To go to Batu Caves, we needed to go to KL Sentral station, and switch to the blue line that was the KTM Komuter line. That train would take us all the way to Batu Caves station, which was the last stop for that line.

With that planned route in mind, we headed to the ticketing machines that were nearby. These machines are for commuters to buy tickets for travel from one station to another.

Do note that Only Cash is accepted, there is no credit card or any other form of card payment for the tickets.

Travel Tip: Some ticketing machines only accept coins and MYR$1 and MYR$5. Get ready some small change!

And we are not mentioning the cost of the tickets because costs can change over time.

Buying the tickets was relatively easy. You just have to click on your choice of destination. In the next screen, you make sure you have chosen the correct destination, and select the number of tickets you require. If you need more, simply click on the ‘+’ button.

The total amount to be paid is displayed. Insert the cash (in notes or coins) into the respective slots. The tickets (in this case they were blue round chips) will drop out into the collection area. And you collect your tickets, and change, if any.

We used the tickets at the turnstiles, and entered the station. Then we got down to the platform using the escalator. And when the train arrived, we boarded the train.

Travel Tip: Make sure you board the right train. Check the signages to see which side of the platform is the train to take to get to your stop.



Arrive at KL Sentral Station

The ride from KLCC station to KL Sentral station was quite short. It only took about 12 to 14 minutes. Again, depending on when your train arrived.

At KL Sentral station. we took the escalator to the ground level, and exit the station into KL Sentral, which is a huge shopping area with lots of cafes, restaurants and amenities.

But there was no time to shop. We wanted to get to Batu Caves as quickly as possible as we knew there was much to see there.

We looked around, and it was easy to spot the KTM Komuter ticket counter. There was a large sign hanging above the counter, and a line of people queuing to buy tickets.

We bought the tickets to travel on the KTM blue line from KL Sentral station to Batu Caves station. Then we entered the station and onto the platform to wait for the train that would take us there.


From KL Sentral Station to Batu Caves Station

It was fun waiting for the train. There was a group of tourists from Japan. We knew they were Japanese because the tour guide was excitedly explaining to the group what to expect and what to do when the train arrived.

Travel Tip: Look out for the electronic sign! It will inform you if the train that is coming is going to Batu Caves or not. And an estimated time of arrival. Don’t board the wrong train.

We waited only about 10 minutes. When the train arrived, it was very exciting. It came in really fast! (see the video to watch the excitement)

When the train stopped, there was the usual commotion and excitement as people alighted, and everyone that was waiting on the platform started to board.

When we boarded the train, we found the seating style to be similar to that of Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). That is, the seats were aligned to the walls of the train, and passengers faced one another.

But silly us! We were like the blind men who only saw parts of an elephant.

As we sat, we began to look at other parts of the train in front of us and behind. And we noticed that seating on other parts of the train were different from this part of the train.

There were seats that were so comfortable with high back support. And the best part was that they faced the forward motion of the train. We loved it as we could watch scenes of the city through the windows when the train started to zoom above the ground.

Travel Tip: There are designated cabins Only For Women. Do Not Sit in these cabins if you are male or couple. (see photo below) Kindly be respectful of others’ culture, please.

When taking the KTM Komuter train to one of the Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur, do take note that some cabins of the train are only for women. Do Not Sit In These Cabins. Please be respectful of their culture.
Ladies only cabin, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

We Arrived at Batu Caves!

After about 35 to 40 minutes, we arrived at Batu Caves station! There was still a very short walk (about 5 minutes) to the actual Batu Caves. But hey, we loved how fast this trip was, and how economical too! Plus, we traveled in comfort.

Arrived Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves!
The breathtaking Batu Caves!, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

We had a great time at Batu Caves. Again, we took lots of photos and videos. To see them, go to our blog post titled – Batu Caves.



If you have ANY questions about this article, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Things To See In Kuala Lumpur

Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves

Things To See In Kuala Lumpur

There are many sights to see in the capital of Malaysia, and here are some of the Things To See in Kuala Lumpur.

We started with the post about the tallest twin buildings in the world – the Petronas Twin Towers. Located at the heart of the city, the twin towers have now become an icon of Malaysia. Check out the link below and don’t miss reading about this as well as some nice photos and videos.

The next couple of posts we added recently are about Getting to Batu Caves and about Batu Caves Temple itself. Getting to Batu Caves features a video that shows you how to get to Batu Caves using the train system. The Batu Caves Temple article has videos and photos that try their best to bring you to the caves and have as close to a magical experience as possible.

Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves

Batu Caves

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Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - Getting To Batu Caves via train

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Best Places To Visit In Kuala Lumpur - the Petronas Twin Towers as well as KL Tower

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We have also completed a review of The Face Suites Hotel. Do check it out.

If you like to find out where are some of the places that serve good food, read out reviews of Madam Kwan Restaurant and DC Comics Superheroes Cafe.


If you have ANY questions about the above articles, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus