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Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand in 3 weeks - itinerary help please!

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Aug 8th, 2007, 04:53 PM
  #1
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Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand in 3 weeks - itinerary help please!

Hi all,

Myself and my girlfriend are planning 3 weeks holiday in Malaysia and Thailand in January. We'll be starting in Singapore, as we will have been staying with my uncle there after my New Years Eve gig in Hong Kong (nice work if you can get it!) - after that we can do what we like in 3 weeks. I thought we'd probably travel mostly by rail through Malaysia and Thailand, spending plenty of time enjoying the beaches as well as the rainforest etc. Guessing its probably best to work our way up to Bangkok and fly back from there but I'm open to suggestions.

We have a reasonable budget so don't need to scrimp too much, we'd like a reasonably laid back and comfortable time while still taking in the landscape and culture of Malaysia and Thailand. I heard the "jungle railway" is a really amazing trip, but does it go to the side of the peninsula that's best to visit? Or is it worth doing for its own sake? Someone mentioned the east side in January is too rainy, is this true?

Would like to do the following - beaches, islands, boat trips/rafting, snorkelling, seeing the rainforest (no long treks though) and anything else that you can recommend!!! Not really interested in shopping, spending too much time in the cities, or partying (well maybe a little).

We'd really appreciate suggestions, ideas and even whole itineraries!! How much time should we spend in each place, which rail routes are best, how to get to the islands etc.

Thanks in advance for your help - we're currently excited but a bit clueless!

Jamie and Lou
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Aug 8th, 2007, 05:05 PM
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Forgot to say that while we have an ok budget, we can't afford 5* hotels all the way!! I fancy spending a few nights in a beach hut anyway.
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Aug 8th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Redang and Perhentian Islands in Malaysia are recommended but January may be dicey with the monsoons. Penang is recommended for temples, sunbaking and food. Bangkok is a must for at least 4 to 5 days.
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Aug 8th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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the rail goes up the west side of malaysia...

most places you might want to go to are not served by rail: langkawi, penang, phuket, krabi, all the islands...

i would check out air asia...great deals...

i would go singapore to K/L (kuala lumpur), maybe an island, then fly to bkk and work out from there
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Aug 9th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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If you don't want to fly, you will find the luxury buses to be a better way to travel through Malaysia than rail as you have more options of where to go. But as Bob says, it really makes more sense to fly.

Start with a couple of good guide books. You are talking about rainforests, but the famous Malaysian rainforests are in Borneo. There are pockets of rainforest in peninsular Malaysia.

In addition to beaches, choose places that will give you a feel for the culture. I loved Penang (not for beaches) but for historic Georgetown and the famous hawker food. You may want to read my trip report from Nov 2006. IF you can splurge for a few nights at the E&O, that would be really special.
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Aug 9th, 2007, 11:54 PM
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I just got back from three weeks in SE Asia. We started in Hong Kong then to Singapore then to Malaysia. We were a bit disapponted with Malaysia. After seeing the ads on tv and the research for Malaysia we thought we would like it more than we did. From there we went to Indonesia - KL for a few days then to Bali. There is not a whole lot to do in KL but we took a tour of the city, Chinatown and the harbor. I really enjoyed seeing how the real people live. Amazing. We also took drive up the tea plantations. Again, very neat. We ended up in Bali where we were going to stay for six days but loved it so much we stayed for ten.

I have more information and pictures on my site http://www.bombasticlife.com Hope this helps.
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Aug 10th, 2007, 04:04 AM
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Hi,

Thanks for the advice so far. Travel by rail seems to be not particularly recommended - would it be worth flying to Penang, then go straight into Thailand? Maybe spend only a few days in Malaysia and then the rest of the time in Thailand? Are there any good rail trips in Thailand?

Thanks again, and please keep the advice coming!

Jamie and Lou
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Aug 10th, 2007, 05:53 AM
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Hi,

I don't necessarily agree that "train travel is not recommended" and that you might as well fly to Penang and then fly to BKK.

It sort of depends whether the journey in itself is part of the attraction, and, yes, the buses are great.

I have travelled Singapore-BKK overland, though not via the most thought-out of itineraries. I had loads of time, and no particular wish list so it didn't matter. I enjoyed Melaka; KL is worth a few days; loved a small town called Taiping which is on the railway line between KL and Butterworth; found Georgetown a great place to wander - so much to see; and the Perhentians are to die for (though you will have to do the research on the weather). You can cross the border into Thailand from Khota Bharu, and the first town on the other side, Narathiwat, is a peaceful sort of place. This would be bus ex Singapore; bus ex Melaka; train ex KL towards Penang, bus over to the east coast, etc.

Could be too much zig-zagging, and you'd need to check current travel advisories for far South Thailand. You might prefer to cross on the west coast - picking up the train again at Butterworth and going on to Hat Hai. From there you can bus it to Krabi - another fabulous beach spot as an alternative to the Perhentians. From there, now that there are so many more budget airlines, I probably WOULD fly to BKK.

Loads of info on Northern Thailand on this board so I'll leave it at that.

Except to say that there was a good article in the SMH about the Jungle Railway just a few weeks ago. Here's the link.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/south-eas...559941282.html

Have a great time. Malaysia is an interesting destination.
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Aug 10th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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PS - you asked about good train trips in Thailand. The obvious one is BKK to Chiang Mai, usually done as an overnight, and quite comfy even in second class. It's lovely to approach CM in the early morning light.
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Aug 10th, 2007, 06:35 AM
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bombasticlife, where did you go in Malaysia that you were disappointed? The only place you mention here is KL...
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Aug 11th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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Hi all,

Many thanks for the informative responses.

I think we will cut down on the Malaysia leg of our trip and spend more time in Thailand and make sure we have enough time to properly relax.

Any more ideas on what to do will be much appreciated.

Thanks again for all your help!

Jamie
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Aug 11th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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Have you considered Cambodia and Vietnam instead? 3 weeks is not a lot of time though if you're traveling by land. However, do consider the low-cost airlines in Asia (Air Asia, Bangkok Airways and their pass, Thai Airways pass). Doing Vietnam by land north to south seems to be a favorite. I would do Bangkok, northern Thailand, Krabi, and then head to Vietnam or Cambodia, though you would probably only have time to do 1-2 cities if you do all three locations in Thailand considering you only have 3 weeks.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 11:36 PM
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Sigh you spent a couple of days in KL and concluded that "We were a bit disapponted with Malaysia"? KL doesn't even represent 5% of Malaysia.

I am not going to debunk andrew of bombasticlife.com but I'm think he's into run-off-the-mill luxury 5 star travelling, while OP jamie like local culture, rainforest and outdoorsy thrills.

Spore-KL-Penang-BKK is the route to soak up the very best of multiculturism and outdoorsy stuffs. The east coast would be wet with monsoon during January, you can forget about jungle rail. Here are the pitstops in sunny side west coast you should make ...

1) Malacca, old fort town that's brimming with bygone Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and English leftovers.

2) KL, enough details on www to walk you thru.

3) Ipoh, Gua Tempurung cave, tribal villages, Bukit Kinta rainforest reserve, Malim Nawar wetlands.

4) Cameron Highlands, tea plantation trails, countryside and flower farms. A bit touristy though.

5) Taiping, the best hidden secret as enjoyed by chimani. Great traditional street food.

6) Bagan Krian / Kuala Gula, bird watching, fire fly colonies, seafood, fishing villages, mangrove forest. Very nice for river safari. SE Asia largest bird sanctuary for birds escaping the northern hemisphere winter. Your camera will go berserk here.

7) Penang, Georgetown is going to be recognised by UNESCO as world heritage site and already listed in Patricia Shultz's "1000 places to see before you die".

Need i say more?



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Aug 14th, 2007, 03:07 AM
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It would be a shame to skip over Malaysia. I've had some fantastic holidays there. Travel Twiddle recommends an excellent itinerary. Don't miss out on the wonderful food in Penang and if you want a bit of luxury and a stunning beach, I highly recommend the Datai in Langkawi for a splurge for a couple of days. Or, for something different with amazing food, try Bon Ton.

I find Malaysia more chilled out than Thailand and a bit less touristy/commercialised. I've also seen much more wildlife in Malaysia than Thailand if that appeals. That's not to say that Thailand isn't an amazing experience and the Andaman islands and Phang Nga bay are stunning. Bangkok has to be experienced once too!
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Aug 14th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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It certainly would be a shame if jamie skipped Malaysia because of an off hand comment by bombastic. I've been to Malaysia many times and have always enjoyed it. It has a lot of offer, and it is really less touristed than Thailand and it has better infrastructure.

Traveltwaddle has lots of good suggestions!
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Aug 14th, 2007, 03:39 PM
  #16
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Thanks everyone! Some great suggestions, especially traveltwaddle - those ideas are definately the kind of thing we're looking for.

Problem is going to be figuring out what to leave out!

Thanks again everyone

Jamie
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