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So many choices, making me confused- help!

So many choices, making me confused- help!

Nov 18th, 2013, 08:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 361
So many choices, making me confused- help!

I decided to start a new post

My husband and I are active travelers (he is going to turn 50 next year, me 40). We've decided to go to Asia for the first time. Hubby wants to go to Malaysia so we got round trip tickets landing into Kuala Lumpur on July 28 in the afternoon. We leave KL on August 14. So, that's 16 full days (not counting arrival and departure).

Background on us: We get bored staying in one spot for too long. We do however like some down time built into our trip (usually in the beginning and end). We love hiking, nature, walking, beach (but we're not swimmers, more walkers/gazers and if there's one of those submarine things that goes underwater then we will go on it), culture, history and we like to eat (though don't usually spend too much time at fancy restaurants).

I've done some preliminary research that's just made me more confused.

Peninsula Malaysia (KL, Melacca, Georgetown/Penang, Langkawi- all sound appealing)
Singapore (sis has been and is persuading me to go saying there's a nice night safari)
Borneo (seems out of the way and possibly more rugged but nature calls)
Bali (wowzers the pictures look amazing and it looks like a combo of culture with nature which is really appealing).

Thoughts? Itinerary suggestions? Is this doable? How many days to allow for each? What to cut out for another time?

Thanks so much in advance!
layanluvstotravel is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 08:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
We are going to Bali for the second time next September. The last time we went for 12 days. I think you could get a good feel for the island in 6 or 7 full days. You can fly directly from either KL or Singapore (or fly out of one and return to the other). You visit Bali for the culture (although there is nature too) and I would favor it over any place in Malaysia. The beaches on Bali aren't great, and I would suggest staying in or around Ubud. The rice fields in the area are beautiful.

If you have been on a real safari, the night safari in Singapore is no big deal. The city has lots to offer though. It can be expensive.

I researched Borneo and concluded that we would spend too much time getting to any of the nature destinations that were worthwhile.
Craig is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 09:53 AM
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Firstly, I would give Singapore a miss unless you love cities. KL is great for a few days and probably has the best food in Asia. A huge range of cuisines and everything from street stalls and markets to 5 * restaurants. The problem with Malayasia at that time of year is the weather. The west coast places you mention will be in monsoon mode so will be subject to heavy rains. Not the end of the world unless you are looking for beach time but not the best time of year. Melaka could be done as a day or overnight trip.

Malaysian Borneo is an option but probably not the best choice for your intro to Asia as the tourism infrastructure is not as developed as in other places in Asia.

Bali is in the Southern Hemisphere and will be dry and sunny at that time so an ideal time to go. It has some stunning scenery especially around Ubud. Beaches are ok there are better in Asia. The food is pretty good too and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy., hiking in the rice terraces, biking down volcanoes, horse riding etc. not a bad place for diving as well.
crellston is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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While the west coast will be dealing with the western monsoon, this won't affect the east coast, so if you want beach time you could visit the Perhentians. (They get the eastern monsoon from late October to April.) I wouldn't go to Bali for the beach.

I agree with crellston that KL is a better city intro to Asia than Singapore. It's cheaper, too.

On your other thread you mentioned the Cameron Highlands. I wasn't impressed by them, but I had a bad foot and couldn't hike. However, with your interests Taman Negara might be a better choice.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Your wish list sounds like a kid in a candy store! The issue for you will be choosing just a few locations - 4 at most. Travel from place to place takes time.

Malaysian Borneo is the most off the track place. The experience of staying in the rainforest and seeing animals in the wild is amazing. There is a lot of travel time involved, thug. Google the Borneo Rainforest Lodge - it is the best place to see orangutans in the wild.

Bali is an ideal destination for a first trip to Asia. While many people think of it as a beach destination, it is so much more. The people are warm and welcoming, and the culture is so accessible. If you opt for Bali, I'd suggest dividing your time between a beach location and an inland location near Ubud, the cultural center.

Singapore is a huge modern city. Clean and safe, it can be a good intro to Asia for the first timer. But - it has become a very expensive city. I certainly wouldn't go to Singapore for the Night Safari. It's a nice zoo experience but in no way is it a real safari.

Peninsular Malaysia has some good options. I love Georgetown, Penang - stay at the E&O if it is in the budget. This is a delightful world heritage site and has some of the best hawker food anywhere. I have to admit I'm not fond of KL. I find it rather boring. It does have good food.

Here are two proposals:

1. I'd suggest Bali as one of your destinations and I suggest four nights each at a beach and inland. Then choose one other place, maybe Georgetown Penang.

2. Malaysian Borneo - A jungle lodge in Sabah for 3 nights, plus Kuching for three nights. With all of the transport issues (you have to fly to Kota Kinabalu, then the next day to Lahad Datu then a two hour drive to the lodge), those destinations will take up much of your time. The travel will require two overnights in Kota Kinabalu. Add one more destination to round out your trip.

My rule for trip planning is that no stop should be less than three nights, which is just two full days. One night stops (like those at KK) are just transportation stops. You may think you just want to move fast, but you are more likely to be bored with destinations you move too quickly through. It takes time to experience these very different cultures.

You might find our travel photos helpful: www.marlandc.com

Good luck with your planning!
Kathie is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,140
Kathie - they're flying in and out of KL, so mainland Malaysia will definitely be one or more stops. I'd add either Bali or Borneo - given their initial list of interests probably Borneo, if they can afford it.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 02:23 PM
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July 28, 2014 is the start of Idul Fitri/Hari Raya Puasa, the biggest holiday in the Islamic calendar. Thousands of people in Malaysia will be traveling and services will be disrupted. Hotels will function as usual, but many free standing restaurants and public facilities will be closed. My suggestion would be to get out of the country for that week, the sooner the better.

Getting to Bali from Kuala Lumpur is easily done. If it were me, I'd just keep going and connect to Bali on July 28. You'll arrive late, but when you wake up you'll be in Bali! You need to make a decision on this right away because flights will be full because of the holidays.

I'd spend a few days in Seminyak on the beach. It's a great walking beach -- several miles long, big waves, glorious sunsets. It's lively and well used so there's lots of activity. If you're thinking pristine and deserted, it's not Bali. In Seminyak you can recover from jet lag, indulge in spa treatments, do some shopping, take advantage of the many, many restaurants in the area.

Then I'd head up to the Ubud area for a few days of nature and culture. Plenty of hiking, mountains, rice paddies, little villages, temples, ceremonies, performances, arts and crafts. It's a magical environment.

That would take you to about August 5/6 giving you a week for one or two other places. Think about what it was that drew you -- or your husband -- to Malaysia in the first place and that might help you narrow in your choices.

Malaysia has some interesting destinations but I wouldn't put them on the top of the list for a first trip to Asia. Eastern Malaysia (Borneo) is fantastic for adventure travel, especially for rain forest and wildlife, but getting in and out requires a lot of advance planning.

Georgetown and Melaka are nice towns with well preserved colonial histories, but, again, I don't think I'd put them on the top of the list for an introduction to Asia. I haven't been to Taman Negara but it sounds like a good nature experience.

Singapore has a lot to offer, but it's somewhat prepackaged. (The night safari is really a zoo that's open at night. It's a fun experience, but not one I'd fly around the world for.) If you're looking for a fascinating Asian city, I'd choose Bangkok every time.

Seems kind of counter intuitive if you're flying into Kuala Lumpur, but my choices would be Bali, BangkoK and if adding one more option doesn't make your head explode Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Is it possible to reroute your tickets? I would think that Singapore or Bangkok would give you more options on connections.
marmot is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 361
Thanks everyone. I don't think I've ever been this indecisive about a trip. Anyways, we've decided on 8 days malaysia and 8 in Thailand (hopefully we can still change one leg of our trip).

Thailand portion-
4 in chiang Mai
4 in ko Samui

3 Penang
3 ? Suggestions???
Last 2 in Kuala Lumpur

So I'm still stuck on Malaysia. Ideas?
layanluvstotravel is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,984
Id' say, given what you are thinking now, make it:

Thailand portion:
3 days in Chiang Mai
4 in Ko Samui
3 or 4 in Bangkok

Malaysia portion:
3-4 in Georgetown, Penang
Last 2 in KL
Kathie is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 05:01 PM
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Posts: 361
I like that Kathie but my bro/his wife and 4 of our friends keep begging us to avoid Bangkok like the plague. They keep saying that if we were annoyed by the hustlers in Cairo then we'll be miserable in Bangkok. ???
layanluvstotravel is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,764
Bangkok is a fabulous city with so much to do and see. The food is great and the old palace and main sites are worth spending at least 3 days. The Thai people are wonderful. I can't imagine why you were told not to go there. Bangkok is a great introduction to Asia.
dgunbug is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 05:27 PM
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Posts: 25,140
Bangkok is far from my favorite city, but that has nothing to do with hustlers. You do need to know about a few scams (no, the Grand Palace is not closed), and how to bargain if you want a tuk-tuk, but it's nothing like places with real hustlers.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
Comparing Bangkok to Cairo is nonsense. We have been to Bangkok at least a half dozen times and there have been maybe one or two very obvious attempts at hustling. If you follow our advice here, you can avoid it all. If you are trying to experience the highlights of SE Asia, then skip Chiang Mai, and Koh Samai. Head to Bali, please (!) and have a REAL Asian experience. A few days in Penang would be okay.
Craig is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 06:25 PM
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Lol thanks guys I'm gonna sleep on it
layanluvstotravel is offline  
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