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I can't believe we're going to Asia, help!

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Nov 16th, 2013, 05:18 PM
  #1
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I can't believe we're going to Asia, help!

So I've never been further east than Jordan. Now my husband has booked a summer trip for us to Malaysia for 16 days. After some initial research, I really want to add Thailand. The shelves at the bookstore are packed with Thailand guidebooks and only 4 books on Malaysia. Questions-

1. A guidebook recommendation for Malaysia? (Would love for it to include Thailand but that looks like wishful thinking).

2. Best way to travel between the countries?

3. Recommended top spots to visit? We love nature, history, walks and of course food. I'm imaging elephant rides, jungles, turquoise water, orangutans.

4. Which is less expensive destinations? (We use u.s dollars).

Apologies if I sound stupid. I'm just starting my research. I didn't even know these two countries were located next to each other
layanluvstotravel is offline  
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Nov 16th, 2013, 05:36 PM
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Welcome to the Asia board. Great choice! A lot of posters here prefer Thailand to Malaysia, but I think Malaysia is a good intro to Asia, and I'm not a big fan of Bangkok.

1. Insight and Eyewitness to decide what you want to see. Lonely Planet and/or Rough Guide for logistics.

2. Train or plane. For train info see http://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm

3. You might want to include Borneo with Malaysia rather than Thailand (and that would be one guidebook).

4. Both can be cheap or expensive, depends on how you want to spend your money. See http://www.lonelyplanet.com/malaysia...on/money-costs and http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand...on/money-costs
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Nov 16th, 2013, 05:44 PM
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I can only hope you enjoy Asia even half as much as I do!!! I'm on my way to Bangkok (trip #33) for the holidays. Unlike Thursdaysd, I love love love Bangkok! There is so much going on, so much to see and do. I hope you find time to include it in your travels to Malaysia.

Malaysia is on my to-do list within the next couple of years. I'm looking at a short hop though, sort of a 3-day flight to maybe Georgetown? Would love to see the orangs in real life, but that would take more time than I think I might be able to set aside.

Anyway, happy planning, and welcome to the Asia forums. You will find folks here to be quite helpful.
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Nov 16th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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If you want to see orangutans, you want to go to Malaysian Borneo. Malaysia is divided between peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak). Decide if you are content to see orangutans in captivity at "Rehab" centers or if you want to see them in the wild. The best place to see them in the wild is in the Danum Valley. Take a look at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

If you opt for Malaysian Borneo, that will take some time, and you'll have to decide what else you want to do. You could certainly spend all of your time in Malaysia - Sabak, Sarawak on Borneo and Georgetown Penang and Kuala Lumpur on Peninsular Malaysia.

For elephants, you would need to go to northern Thailand, and choose one of the reputable places - Elephant Nature Park or Thai Elephant Conservation Center.

Lonely Planet has an excellent Malaysia book.
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Nov 17th, 2013, 03:12 AM
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We have been to both Thailand and Malaysia. Our trip to Malaysia 2 years ago included a few days in Singapore, which I highly recommend. We also visited Penang, Langkawi and Kuching. I prefer Bangkok to any of them but it was still a good trip. With 16 days, you could probably tack on Bangkok but not much else. Regarding your questions:
1. Lonely Planet was very helpful. I also like the Eyewitness guide.
2. Flights are relatively cheap and a good way to get around the islands. We flew from Singapore to Kuching and then to Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur. We had a direct flight from Langkawi to Georgetown (Penang) and from there we returned to Singapore. We obviously could not have done this itinerary by train.
3. Nature/orangutans/jungles - Malaysian Borneo (Sabah/Sarawak). From a logistical point of view, it takes some time to get around - you could wind up most of your time on Borneo. Be prepared to rough it a bit as the tourist infrastructure is somewhat limited. History/walks - we found that both Kuching and Georgetown were great for walking. There are interesting historical sites in Georgetown. I prefer Bangkok for food, but that being said, we ate well in Malaysia. Turquoise water - the Four Seasons Langkawi has one of the most beautiful white sand beaches/turquoise water I've ever seen. We stayed at the fabulous Bon Ton Resort, which is not on the water, however. As Kathie said, you'll have to go to northern Thailand to ride elephants.
4. We found Malaysia to be quite reasonable. Bangkok has gotten much more expensive over the years but we lean towards the high end experiences when we are there. Traveling in Thailand and Malaysia can be done fairly inexpensively, if you do your research. Air Asia is a budget airline that we used for most of our flights in Malaysia.
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Nov 17th, 2013, 07:40 AM
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Besides the places Craig lists I would certainly add Kuala Lumpur. I don't usually enjoy lying around on beaches, but I did enjoy Perhentian Besar in the NW of Malaysia and would recomend it if you're there at the right time of year. Plus, if you're visiting the Perhentians it makes sense to stop off in Kota Bharu, which will give you a look at a different side of Malaysia (see http://wilhelmswords.com/asia2002/ - Sons of the Soil).

Of course, if you're going to islands you fly or take a ferry, but trains are still a viable option for the mainland. You can certainly travel from Georgetown to Singapore by train. The long distance buses in Malaysia are also very good.

If you are on a budget you had better ignore any references to places like the Four Seasons Langkawi, which costs more for a night (using agoda.com, not the rack rate) than I might spend for a week, and some travelers for two or three weeks. However, it is easy to sleep comfortably in SEA for a great deal less money.

Bangkok has good food and good sights. However, it is very big, very noisy, polluted, and has absolutely awful traffic. For a trip including Borneo it makes more sense to include Singapore if you want a big city (even though I call it Disneyland Asia) and certainly Kuala Lumpur. If you do go to Bangkok try to stay on the river (maybe at the new Ibis) and use water transport and the sky train as much as possible.
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Nov 17th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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It sounds like, with only 16 days you would be better to concentrate on Malaysia. It take time to go from place to place in Asia. George Town is very interesting with lots to see and do there. Maleca is another interesting place. KUala Lumpur is another big city. Other than the Petronis towers I would rather spend the time in smaller areas. It is a fascinating country. Do some reading and come back with more questions.
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Nov 17th, 2013, 06:21 PM
  #8
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Thanks everyone for your replies! After a bit more research, I've decided to keep this trip focused on Malaysia. We can always do Thailand another time. I'm also leaning toward not going to Singapore (but looks like we may end up passing by since flight to Sarawak may go through here). I don't know but it sounds like a big city namely for business and shopping luxury. I'm not interested in either.

So, our flight goes into/out of Kuala Lumpur. Here's my inital thoughts (we have 16 full nights so I know I need to cut something out):

*Arrive late afternoon in KL and stay for 3 nights (first night is often spent trying to fight jet lag).
*Travel (by bus?) to Malacca. Stay 1 night? (or should we do this as a day trip from KL)?
*Travel (by train? bus? rent a car?) to Cameron Highlands.1 night or 2? Undecided about Ipoh? I like Cameron Highlands but what exactly is there to do (not interested in picking strawberries- can do that at home)?
*Penang-Georgetown. 3 nights? There looks like there's a lot to do here and a great variety of things.
*Langkawi- 3 nights? (love to relax with beautiful scenery but don't really swim)
*Fly to Borneo, Sarawak- stay in Kuching (Bako National Park looks fun). 3 or 4 nights?
*Fly back to Kuala Lumpur, stay 1 night and leave to USA.

I'm traveling with my hubby and we enjoy walking, relaxing, nature and history.
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Nov 17th, 2013, 07:33 PM
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Hopefully, this doesn't sound too nuts but Bali, Indonesia is looking very attractive to me. On AirAsia it's about $200 a person from Kuala Lumpur. Would it make sense to add Bali (and of course take something out- maybe Langkawi Or Sarawak)? Thoughts?
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Nov 17th, 2013, 07:51 PM
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How much time do you actually have, allowing for getting there and back?
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Nov 17th, 2013, 09:32 PM
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Getting to and from Bali will take up most of a day so it only makes sense if that's where you want to be. The AirAsia flights are generally efficient and effortless.

Personally, I'd choose Bali over peninsular (Western) Malaysia. Melaka, Georgetown, Langkawi are all good destinations, but they wouldn't be my first choice for a trip to Asia and I'd put KL low on the list.

Borneo part of Malaysia (Eastern) is a whole different environment and hard to beat for nature/adventure/wildlife travel. So it really depends what you want to do.

In Bali you could spend a few days inland in the Ubud area for nature and culture and a few days at the beach. (Though I would note that the beaches in Langkawi are nicer than Bali.)

There's lots to do. I'd recommend Periplus Guide to give you an idea.

If you mean Northern Hemisphere summer (June/July/August) you should get good weather in Bali. August, however, is high season (as it is all over Asia) and rates go up.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 09:13 AM
  #12
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July 28 arrive in KL 5pm in the afternoon so that's obviously a wash.

We stay until August 14 (3:20) leaving KL (though it's still possible to change our flight although I prefer not to).

So, that's actually 19 days (I miscounted- take out the first jet lag day, so 18 full days). I'm going to definitely miss my kids .

I'm more confused now than when I first started my research. After speaking to my sister last night (she went to Singapore a few years ago) she convinced me that we must go to Singapore (some kind of night safari that she loved where they rode elephants, beautiful city, cable car and so much to do she says but relatively expensive).

So, now I'm trying to decide what to do in addition to Peninsular Malaysia (hubby wants to do it). Singapore? Sarawak? Bali? Bali just looks amazing from the pictures I'm looking at.

Marmot- how many days for Bali would you suggest? I like to stay active during our trips (hubby is ok with that as long as he has some down time). We won't have our teen kids on this trip so I guess we could move faster if we wanted to.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 09:16 AM
  #13
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I don't know what's wrong with me (math was never my strong suit). We have 16 full days (not counting our arrival and departure days).
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Nov 18th, 2013, 09:48 AM
  #14
 
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See my comments on your new thread.
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