Written by Emmanuel Surendra
Last week, Malaysia saw its currency flirting with levels last seen during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 with the local unit trading at 4.460 to the US dollar.
Couple that with the rising living cost, it has certainly been a tough year for Malaysians that the thought of a year-end vacation is just ludicrous.
What’s more, if you are a parent, the impending school-year just translates to bills, bills and even more bills.
While it is undeniable that you will have to crimp on expenditure, you can still have some respite and downtime with the family.
Here are three places to check out that promises some fun for the family without drilling a deep hole in your pocket.
Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor
This town, also known as KKB, is only 70km from Kuala Lumpur. It is usually a stopover for cyclists or holidaymakers making their way to Fraser’s Hill. But recently the town’s charm has been the intrigue of urban folk wanting a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
How to get there
Use a car to get to and around KKB. You can also opt for a train ride via the KTM Komuter, the easiest way to get there through public transport and hop on the shuttle that takes you to KKB town. The shuttle, however, runs every one hour and it is a 25-minute journey to town.*Rough estimate for Perodua Myvi .
**Cashless option includes Touch ‘n Go and monthly passes.
Where to stay
There are homestays and Airbnb rentals that cater for families from as low as RM288. Travel up north to Fraser’s Hill, which is about 25 minutes away from town, and you have better options, starting from as low as RM45.
For a unique travel experience…
Stay at The Sticks. This eco-glamping retreat is located in the jungles of KKB. Here holidaymakers are offered various configurations of a tendok (half tent, half pondok) but don’t let that turn you off, as some choices come with en suite bathrooms.
If you intend on staying a little longer in KKB, you can either explore the town or head over to Fraser’s Hill.
If the town is your choice, then a walking tour is best, where you will be greeted by shophouses built during the British colonial-era. There’s also a clock tower built in the 1930s, an old fire station and the grave of the then district officer, Cecil Ranking.
Also, the town is host to a wet market. Get up early and besides the fresh produce, you get to indulge in local fair ranging from roti canai to lontong and soto. There are a few Chinese coffee shops around the area as well.
Hipster central is what many would associate Ipoh these days with its offering of coffee joints serving up premium java. But it’s still laidback and quaint, making it a decent holiday spot, if you are sick and tired of Penang.
How to get there
Ipoh is well connected. The Sultan Azlan Shah Airport serves budget airlines Firefly, Malindo Air and Tigerair. Trains and expresses buses frequently shuttle between Kuala Lumpur and this northern town several times a day, too. You can also get to Ipoh by car through the North-South Expressway.
Getting around is also fairly hassle free. Local buses run around the city and its suburb and Ipoh also has its own Uber service, as well.
Where to stay
You should not run out of options here from the budget Bed & Bike Backpackers Studio to the expensive Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. So it all boils down to the depth of your wallet.
For a unique travel experience…
A quaint space for a weekend getaway. Pic courtesy of Sekeping.
Stay at the Sekeping Kong Heng. Located above the famous Kong Heng Coffee Shop, Sekeping is a neo-classical shophouse located in Ipoh’s Old Town.*Prices do not include food and other charges incurred such as entrance fees to selected destinations.
If you are foodie, then a tour of what Ipoh has to offer should be the top of the list. Street food in Ipoh is easy on the pocket, from the famed nasi vanggey (a concoction of rice and curries) to kai see hor fun (Chinese-style flat, rice noodles in chicken broth).
To enrich your holiday, make a trip to Tambun, a suburb close to the city centre. There is the Lost World of Tambun, the only water theme-park in Ipoh and the well-known hot springs.
5 ways to save for a vacation
- Long weekend trips over a “dream vacation”. This is always easier on the wallet.
- Build cash with a “pantry week”. For one week of each month, stay out of the grocery store and eat what you have at home.
- Sacrifice now for fun later. Do you subscribe to services you no longer use or can downgrade?
- Sell your stuff. Get entrepreneurial and use the money for your trip.
- Use a travel credit card. Yep, use them to accumulate points and redeem them for hotel stays, air miles, or room discounts. But pay off your balance in full – vacation debt is not the kind of souvenir you want to collect.
This town is known for its cool climate and close proximity to Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Malaysia. If you want to board a plane but not pay a bomb for it, then consider this one.
How to get there
Public transportation and infrastructure are poor in Malaysia’s easternmost state. Your best bet is to rent a car from Kota Kinabalu and drive up to Kundasang, which would take you about two hours.
Where to stay
There are a number of homestays, inns and Airbnb rentals around town, so you are definitely spoilt for choices. But as this place is a favourite among the locals, you will want to lock down a place to stay ASAP.
For a unique travel experience…
Stunning views and a cool vacation. What more can you ask for? Pic courtesy of H. Benjamin Residence.
Stay at the H.Benjamin Residence, a boutique hotel located at 1,700 metres above sea level in Mesilou, where you get to enjoy stunning vistas of Mount Kinabalu.**Price does not include petrol and other expenses such as lunch and dinner or entrance fees to selected destinations.
The Desa Dairy Farm has been receiving some coverage for its Friesian cows and its New Zealand-esque environment. Entrance fee is RM5 per person.
If you are history buff, the Kundasang War Memorial is a must-visit. It was established as a tribute to the World War II prisoners of war who died during the Sandakan Death Marches.
There is also the Sabah Tea Plantation where you can sip a warm cup of tea while surrounded by the world’s oldest rainforest, and the Poring Hot Springs where you get to enjoy the therapeutic properties of a natural hot pool.
So, it’s all about having fun
That’s the goal. A year-end holiday is not about splurging till you’re broke in a foreign country but about having that deserved time off to relax, unwind and just breathe in the fresh air.
Sure, times are tough, but with some financial finesse, you can certainly enjoy a decent vacation nearby, and it doesn’t have to be a boring one, too.
Images from Wikicommons, Flickr, and Lonely Planet
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Nearly a 3 months after our trip to Malaysia & Singapore,we have finally got around to writing this report.
First of all, We Thanks to Trip Advisor & its fellow travelers & advisors (like Bradjill, Singapore Nancy, Rainmann Mumbai & many more) who willingly give their valuable advice to others, regardless how simple the questions seem. We found lots of answers and valuable info in the various forums that could not be found in the various websites, no matter how much searching we did.
We love going to Malaysia & Singapore for its tropical feel, friendly people and a general all round great infrastructure. We thought it might be of interest to others planning a visit to these fantastic countries. We flew to Malaysia from Mumbai by Malaysian Airlines – such a wonderful airline(liked peanuts & veg. food serve during going to Kualumppur). We Catch midnight non stop flight from Mumbai & arriving in Kualumppur, Malaysia at 7 a.m., giving us a whole day to do things.
Arrived to Kualumppur International Airport (KIA). We caught a Sky train from terminal 2 to reach terminal 1. After one hour journey by private taxi, reach to Hotel Areena star (Near China Town). Since our check in time at 14.00, after keeping our luggage in hotel lobby, we went for 4 hrs. sight seeing of Kualumppur city by private taxi.
First, we went to world famous Petronas Twin Tower for photo shoot from outside. From there we went to see King Palace, Museum, Leather factory & chocolate factory.
Around 3 p.m. we check in to hotel & after lunch, we took rest.
In the evening, we went to KL tower by using KL Purple bus which is free shuttle service to roam around in city.
We went to second level of KL tower approx. 350 meter high to see magnificent view of city by night. We purchased souvenir like key chain, T-shirt, watch etc. from there.
Later we return to hotel by walking for 20 minutes & ordered Domino’s pizza in our hotel. Pl. note that there is very few variety for vegetarian.
After having breakfast, we check out the hotel & Start for genting highland by private taxi at 10 a.m. Enroute, we saw Batu caves & reached genting highland by 12.00. After checkin into Hotel First world, we went for outdoor theme park. We bought full day pass but due to heavy rain, major rides closed & we will able to sit only in cork screw & pendulum. Our children set in THE WAVES ride which they like very much. Personally, we feel that there is nothing much in Indoor park for adults.
In the evening, after having veg. dinner at second floor level, we went to casino.
After having breakfast, we check out the hotel. We set in monorail which runs through enitre outdoor & indoor theme park (20 min. round). We kept our luggage in private taxi & get down by cable car (apprx, for 20 min.- It runs from morning around six till midnight, worth to have one way trip) to lower level, from where our private taxi took us for airport.
On way to airport, we went to famous china town for purchasing souvenirs.
We heard about KLIA express on trip advisor , so myself & my wife got down at KL central. From there, we caught KLIA express for airport (about 38 min. nonstop at RM35 per pax-worth to experience & really good for family or ind, person doing tour of themselves). We like KIA very much. U can easily spend around 3 to 4 hrs.
We took flight to Singapore at 19.00 & reach SingaporeChangi Airport by 20.00. After gathering information from airport, we proceeded to hotel Windsor near Aljunied by private 12 seater bus.
After having breakfast, we went to famous Little India Area by Bus. We had our lunch at Park Baloochi Restaurant (opp. To world famous Mustaffa market). We liked veg. food very very much (we went almost once in everyday, even though it is far from our hotel about 4 km).
For travelling in to Singapore of our own, we bought E z link card for SGD 20 for 5 Pax which include processing charge of SGD 5 for one time, which is not refundable. After that when we refill (min.SGD 5) the card, we’ll get full paid up value to utilize. E Z link cards offer discount on travel by bus & train. We also bought Singapore tourist pass for 3 days for 3 Pax at SGD30 out of which SGD 10 we got it back from airport when we depart from Singapore. It entitle us to travel free in any MRT, LRT & bus. At the end of tour, we feel that it is better to have tourist pass for 3 days(i.e. for 72 hrs.) for travelling in to Singapore of our own (for more than 3 days, they also offer 5 days pass but min. is for 72hrs. at SGD 30).
From China town, we took MRT to Esplanade for Singapore flyer at 16.00. We bought ride pass from my singaporian friend ( Zi Hao, who helped us a lot in travelling Singapore & to cover which place by what time). Flyer took apprx. 40 min. for one round(worth to have one round).
From there we went for walk on Helix bridge & from there via Marina Bay Mall we reached Garden By Bay by 18.00. We feel 2 hrs. is not enough to see Garden By Bay as it is very informative & our children liked very much. We saw spectacular light show over there at 20.30 for half an hour.
We also saw Spectacular Light & laser show performed near marina bay for 45 min. at 21.30 which is worth seeing, we returned to hotel via train & Bus service.
After Having breakfast, we took bus from Mcpherson Rd. to Harbour front bus st.(1 hr.) for visiting world famous Universal Studio in Sentosa Highland.
From Harbour front Bus st., we caught RSW8 bus for Sentosa(15 to 20min). We can go by cable car but we took bus.
We reached Universal studio by 11.00. we have children with us, so we started from anticlockwise direction to avoid long que at adult ride like transformer, mummy ride.
First up went to Shred 4d and Madagascar ride. We then lined up for Water world shows at 12pm– don’t miss this.Took a break for lunch, followed by Jurassic park adventure. We continued to Transformers ride with waiting time of < 5 mins twice. Superb ride. After that did Revenge of Mummy. Kids did the transformers ride again followed by Battlestar Galactica (Human). None of them wanted the cyclon one. Took some snaps with some characters at evening parade and we were done by 18.00.
(Tip – go early at 10am and go on a non peak day & we suggest to family going with children should start from kids zone).
We left Universal Studio & came to Vivocity mall by monorail(free only from U.S.S. to vivocity) in 10 min.
From vivocity, my family member took MRT for little india, while I took double decker bus no. 30 for Bedok MRT at 19.30 (again thanks to trip advisor for posting article on bus no. 30 route) It took around 1hr. to reach Bedok MRT. On the way to Bedok, I saw garden by bay, Singapore flyer, helix bridge, etc.(worth to take this route).
From Bedok MRT, I caught train for Dhobighat MRT & from there train for china town. After having dinner at Park Baloochi Restaurant, we return to our hotel by Bus.
After having breakfast, we caught bus for Aljuneid MRT. From there we went to City mall MRT for Duck tour.
We experienced the Duck tour (for 1hr. give good info. About Singapore history, worth if u don’t go for Singapore river cruise) After having our lunch, we went to Hotel Maradian( Near City Mall) for free bus shuttle service for Universal Studio(thanks to Singapore Nancy, Trip Advisor) . we show our passport & embarkation card to driver & he allowed us to sit in bus.
After reaching Sentosa, we get down at Beach station(transfer hub)
Our chidren like Luge ride & sky way very much & they set 4 times (apprx. 30 min. per round)
Later evening at 21.00, we saw famous Crane dance show (20 min.) Crane dance was too good. Again a not to be missed show & returned to Vivocity mall by monorail. (we suggest to reach sentosa by 14.00 to enjoy its various beach & keep one day separate for universal sudio)
We had our dinner at Sub Way at ground floor level in Vivocity mall.
We returned to our hotel by train & bus.
After breakfast, went to the bugges for souvenirs purchase. we check out our hotel at around 13.30 & transfer to airport by 12 seater private bus (30 min.) After having packed lunch from Park Baloochi Restaurant, we went to see Terminal 3 by train. After roaming for 2 hrs. we returned to terminal 2 by train to catch our flight for Mumbai via Kuallumpur at 18.05.
Attractions visited in Singapore:-
• Singapore flyer
• Gardens by the bay
• Universal StudiosSingapore – Transformers, The Mummy, Jurrasic Park, Madagaskar ride – the best
• Sentosa attractions – 4D Adventure land, Luge and skyrides(every one will enjoy)
• Crane dance at 21.00
• Duck Tour
In a Nut shell, We feel that our decision to go Malaysia & Singapore of our own is wise. The best way to travel around there is by taking 3 or 5 day Tourist pass which is easily available from any MRT on request.
We very much like both countries transport system which is very well interconnected & discipline of people.
We once again thanks to everyone knowingly or unknowingly helped us to make our tour memorable since we enjoyed each moment from start till end of our tour.
We request u to give ur comment, query, suggestion for this article so that it can be useful to many other tourist like us. We r happy to help.