Need help with where in Malaysia to go

Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 08:11 PM
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Need help with where in Malaysia to go

My husband and I are going to Kuala Lumpur for a week in May, then we want to spend a few days each in other places--Penang, Sarawak, and one other place. We were thinking about Kota Bahru, but not sure if there's enough to do and see there or if we'd be missing out on some other area we should see.
To give you an idea of what we like, I'm a weaver and jewelry designer and he's an archaeologist who loves to cook. We'll definitely do a cooking class, probably in KL.
Where would those who know suggest we stay between Penang and going to Sarawak?
Thanks so much for any help you can give us.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 09:43 PM
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I've been to Kota Bharu, but I mostly used it as a stop on the way to Perhentian Besar, and it doesn't sound like you'd be too interested in that. (See http://wilhelmswords.com/asia2002/index.html )

I'd recommend Melaka, but you could also take a look at the Cameron Highlands on the way.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 02:16 AM
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Perhentian Islands my fav remote bueautiful.Cameron Highlands #2. seat61.com/malaysia virtualtourist.com good info usually self guide nice cheaper asiarooms.com hotels
though I usually book on the fly except around flights.

Have fun!
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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How much time do you have?

You'll want at least three days in Penang - probably more since your husband loves to cook and Penang has probably the best hawker food in the world. You'll want to stay in historic Georgetown, not out at the beach. We loved the E&O.

And we loved Kuching. You'll likewise want at least three full days there, more if you plan to go to the longhouses or to Bako.

Three full days somewhere is four nights. It will take all of a day to get from Penang to Sarawak by air. Do you have enough time for another stop?
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 08:55 AM
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The only places that I've booked so far are the week outside Kuala Lumpur and 3 nights in Penang at Clove Hall. After that, I was thinking 3 nights in the place that has yet to be decided, then 3 nights in Kuching (but after reading what you wrote, Kathie, might rethink this and add one more night), then if we fly home from Singapore, stay one night there.
After reading these posts (thanks so much), I'm looking at Melaka or maybe the Cameron Highlands. I've been reading reviews online and no one jumps for joy regarding Kota Bahru, though the guide book says it has the biggest or best night market and is the place to see traditional skills in both textiles and silver-working.
Our time is open, though we find 18-21 days to be away is plenty for us.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 09:08 AM
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Unless you are going for business a week in KL is too many based upon several visits for business. You may be surprised but if you are speaking about KL and it's immediate suberbs 2-3 full days is "just right" There really is not that much other than to go to the top of the Petronis Tower. Get thee at7:45-8 AM and you will be finished before 9:30. Batu Caves areorth a visit going on a 1/2 day tour in a small group orgnizede through the hoitel. It is slippery so walking shoes are best. The Cammeromn Highlandswere beatiful in may but as you may know it is almost a hour care trip each way and the first 2 hours of the trip is highway or boring local roads. But within 45 minutes of the Highlands it is magnificant. Because of the 6 hour RT it is wise to stay at one of thre few decent hotels and be driven around the tea fields and flower farms.
If you are an avid snorkeler or diver if you are going between March and June I recommend the Redang Islands over te Prehebtians. The uderwater pleasures are 99% the same but ou can fly (~$175 RT) to the Redangs in 50 minutes from the City airport in KL vs. a 8-10 hour trip by bus and ferry to the Prehentians. But there is no scial activity so Penang has that but the underater pleasures do not compare to the Redangs.
We stayed at the Sheraton-LUXURY Collection in KL qa few times and it was just lobvely and 25% less than the Ritz, Westin, Hyatt, etc.
Enjoy.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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Don't know about the night market, but I enjoyed the day market. For pix of where I waited for the boat to the islands, Perhentian Besar, and the Kota Bharu market, see http://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/A...-east-Malaysia - password ne malaysia
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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Has anyone driven to the Cameron Highlands themselves? We often rent a car and drive, but haven't checked out doing so in Malaysia. We'd be coming from Penang, so have no idea how far that is or if it's advisable.
Also, we try to stay at locally-owned hotels, not large chains like Sheratons or HIltons--we don't even stay in those in the States. So if anyone knows of good, clean, and comfortable hotels or inns, those recommendations are also appreciated.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Note - you don't need a tour for the Batu Caves. I took a bus, but you could take a taxi instead. I enjoyed KL - but I stayed in Chinatown, not the posh part. You need to get out and walk the streets (morning and evening, it's hot and humid), check out the assorted churches/temples/mosques, the Islamic Arts Museum, and the Bird Park. And eat...
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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We did a lovely trip one Christmas to Malaysia and Singapore. Hopefully there is something in this report that can be of use to you. Every suggestion made to me here by the "experts" was spot on!

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...and-penang.cfm
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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I'm not fond of KL. I am fond of Penang, Melaka (Penang better), Cameron Highlands, Sabah & Sarawak.

Your choices seem far afield in a short time. Have you considered Singapore instead of KL which I much prefer? KL is not a walking city, Singapore is. If you went from Georgetown to Singapore to Borneo I think it would work well.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Well, we already have a week booked in KL through a time-share, but it's not in the city. Because my husband loves to cook, we'll book 1-2 classes I've read about (also outside the city) and plan some day trips both in and out of KL. We're also planned and booked for Georgetown.
I'd love to spend an extra day in Singapore, and it sounds like you recommend it, Mme Perdu. We're going to Borneo--have you been to both Sabah and Sarawak? Which do you recommend of the two? We like going to places not full of tourists--no big resorts on the beach--but also not so rustic we're fending off bugs in our sleep.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 12:55 PM
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I've been to both Sabah (Kota Kinabalu, Kinabalu Park and the Danum Valley) and to Sarawak (Kuching and the surrounding area). Which place to go depends upon your interests. If you want the opportunity to see Orangutans and other wildlife in the wild, you can't beat a few days at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. It takes time, as you have to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu and it's about 3-4 hours by jeep from there.

Kuching is a more attractive city than Kota Kinabalu, IMO. I found the city itself charming and enjoyed exploring it. You can also go to some interesting parks, Bako, for instance. There are beaches nearby at Damai as well.

Neither Sabah or Sarawak are "full of tourists." The tourists you'll see are mostly from other parts of Malaysia. There are some lovely beach resorts, and you'll see westerners there.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 01:15 PM
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Yes, I do recommend Singapore.

Yes, been to both Sabah & Sarawak. The places I particularly like are Kinabalu Park, near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kinabalu

And in Sarawak the city of Kuching is one of my all time favorites as well as a trip up the Batang Rajang (river) from Sibu to the Pelagus Rapids where there's a very nice place to stay.

If you don't have the time for the river trip (there are no roads) I suggest Kuching, a lovely small city with the colorful history of the White Rajas you might want to read up on.

An upscale place to stay is the Kuching Hilton in a great location on the river. If budget is a concern there are less expensive hotels and guesthouses.
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Old Feb 4th, 2012, 02:43 PM
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We had 3 nights, 2-1/2 days in Kuching and that was plenty even with the two day trips we took. As for food we enjoyed the restaurants we visited in Kuching. Singapore deserves more time. We felt that 3 nights was not enough - we missed a lot. 4 nights in Penang was perfect but we did not do one of the morning cooking classes which would included a market visit. We also spent 3 nights on Langkawi - worthwhile if you want to chill but not much there otherwise unless you are into nature.

Click on my name to access my trip report - we went last July.
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 09:44 AM
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Thanks, Craig....I'd already read your report before I even posted here, which is how we ended up with reservations at Clove Hall. Unfortunately, Saffron room was already taken, so we opted for Cinnamon. I also told my husband about the breakfasts you tried (our feelings are we can get bacon and eggs any time here, so let's try the local food) and last night told him about the fried noodle dish you described--char kway teow. He's ready! One of Matthew's biggest disappointments when we were in Cambodia is he didn't get to try the fried tarantulas for dinner.
I think we'll now add a day to Penang and Kuching since they seem to be many people's favorite places. Still unsure about a few days--Melaka sounds good, but we're staying about 15k from KL and could get to Melaka for a day trip fairly easily, I think.
Anyone stay at the Limetree Hotel in Kuching?
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 10:23 PM
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Check out Malacca and Cameron Highlands, closer to Kuala Lumpur, easier to travel there too. You can do CH on the way to Penang via bus, really easy to get a bus there. Cooking class, best to do it in Penang, food mecca of SE Asia! Penang, if you are into swimming then hotel in Batu Fehringi area, if not, then stay at G hotel, half-way between downtown Penang and Batu Fehringi, easier to get around or at least in that G Hotel vincinity, close Gurney hawker center too. In Penang, negotiate with taxi driver, you can hire them per hour or per day.
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 10:26 PM
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By the way, if you're staying in Cameron Highlands, bring something warm/sweater along, most hotels there don't have heat & thin blanket & it can be cold at time, even for us coming from the states.
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Old Feb 13th, 2012, 08:51 PM
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patt711-which timeshares are you staying at in KL? We too have 2 weeks in Sept/Oct through timeshares. I have booked a guide in one area-through Fodors.!st timeshare is Golden Palm Tree Sea Villas the second-where we have our guide is Palace of the Golden Horses. I am having him take us 2 days to Penang & back through Cameron Highlands.
It has been so much fun planning this. This site is so helpful.The guides name is Ken-while I havn't used him he has been very prompt in answering questions. Chris
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Old Feb 17th, 2012, 09:39 PM
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Hi Chris,
We are also staying at the Palace of the Golden Horses! How did you find Ken? We would also like to hire a guide for a day or two while we are there. Would you mind sharing his contact information with me? And Chris, do you live in Benicia, CA?
Funnetbabe, thanks for the information. Do you know a cooking school in Penang you'd recommend? The two near KL we're looking at both sound great, but we're open to more ideas.
We're now booked everywhere except Singapore for 2 nights, and I increased our stay in both Penang and Kuching based on people's responses here. We did decide to go to Kota Bharu for just 2 nights.
Patt
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