Most international tourist flying to Malaysia visit the state of Selangor first….without even knowing it.
The reason being that Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is not located in Kuala Lumpur as the name suggests, but in the federal state of Selangor. Selangor surrounds the Malaysian capital just like Brandenburg surrounds Germany’s capital Berlin. Therefore, from KL its many touristic attractions are very easy to be reached.
History buffs might visit the old town of Klang where free guided tours are offered every Saturday morning. Kanching Rainforest Waterfall, also known as Kanching Recreational Forest, is set in a forest reserve of nearly 500 hectares in the Rawang district just north of Kuala Lumpur.
Another favourite for nature lovers is Broga Hill which is 40 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur. With its 400 meters height it is a good place to escape from the heat. Selangor is also the home of many religious sites. Built in 1996, the Dong Zen Temple houses a school of Buddhism, and is the cradle for the Malaysian young Buddhists.
Another beautiful architecture is that of the Blue Mosque in Shah Alam. The most famous attraction, however, is certainly the world’s tallest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity, which rises in front of Batu Caves, which are one of the top tourist attractions in Malaysia. They are located only 13km from downtown Kuala Lumpur and thus easily can be explored in a half day journey. It is not even neccesary to use tour operators to reach it, as it is easily reached by commuter train from KL Sentral.
The Turtle Watch Camp is located on Tengah Island, about seven nautical miles from Mersing, Malaysia. The private island also hosts the Batu Batu resort and is the perfect hideaway for visitors who want to escape all the hustle and bustle of every day life. It boasts three wonderful reefs off its shores, home to an array of colorful fish families, attracting visitors like dolphins and endangered sea turtles. MALAYSIA INSIGHTS visited the Turtle Watch Camp and was introduced to its work. At the time of our visit we spoke to volunteers Stephen Lee from Canada and Mariana Pereira from Portugal.
The hatchery was opened in May 2014 and the first relocation of eggs was in June 2014. In 2015, the hatchery was enlarged to accommodate 6 times more which resulted in the safe release of 3000 Hawksbill and Green turtle hatchlings. Today, the camp is relocating eggs throughout the entire state of Johor covering over 10 islands.
„Unfortunately, there is still a lot of poaching that happens in the area,“ says Stephen, „so what we do is, we try to work with the poachers to reform them into our collectors so they still can make live their livelihood out of that.“ The Camp then takes care of the eggs, protect the sea turtles until they hatch and collect the data on how many turtles are hatching. „By doing so we can get a success rate, so that we know that we are handling them properly. So far, we are doing very well.“ At the time of our visit, they had been collecting over 4,300 eggs and releasing more than 1,300 Hatchlings.
„After the female leaves the eggs, we need to wait 50 to 70 days until they hatch,“ explains Mariana. „So they have a 20 days period where they can hatch anytime normally during the night.“ The eggs are buried about 60 centimeters deep in the sand which means that „it actually takes a few days for the turtles to dig their way out“, adds Stephen.
„Recently, we expanded our conservation work to the preservation and monitoring of corals and the identification of the main fish species that inhabit Pulau Tengah reefs“, says Mariana, „and we will also start monitoring terrestrial organisms and vegetation“. But the camp’s mission is not only to preserve, research and monitor the marine and terrestrial habitats and its associated organisms. They also deem education on the need for turtle and marine conservation as a crucial part of their work. One of the goals for 2018 is to educate more local communities and resort staff.
In Malaysia, you can travel relatively safely and easily on your own. The transport infrastructure is on a high level, transportation fares are low and there is no need to learn the Malay language, because English is widely spoken. Actually, you only need a few things to be prepared for travelling: A smartphone, including some relevant apps, Malaysian SIM card and, not to be forgotten: a pullover!
The pullover is essential because in the sun-drenched country, where outside temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius are the norm, it seems to be a widespread disease to regulate all interiors, especially of buses, trains and taxis down to refrigerator temperatures. At times, this made me feel so uncomfortable that I had to leave buses more than once before reaching my target just to escape the ice-cold, merciless blower on my sweaty skin.
First thing you arrive in Malaysia, you should exchange money, if you haven’t already done so. This is usually accomplished at the private money changers‘ premises that can be found at airports and railway stations, as well as in shopping malls and shopping streets. Those counters, little booths or shops usually display the current courses on illuminated signs – so you don’t have to worry about being bamboozled as a foreigner. There are also no fees, so it is absolutely transparent, WYSIWYG so to speak: What You See Is What You Get.
On top of that, the prices are also cheaper than those in the banks (in which you also need a lot of patience, but that’s another story). Currently you get between 4.50 and 4.90 Ringgit for one Euro, with the exchange rates among the Money Changers usually differing only a few cents.
Alternatively, you can, of course, also draw cash by EC or credit card at the ATM. Please note that fees may be charged by both the Malaysian and the domestic institute.
Internet & Phone
The second thing you should get is a Malaysian SIM card to have a local phone number (makes it easier to communicate with drivers) and, more importantly, an Internet flat rate. These can best be purchased directly in a shop or sales counter at the airport or train station. Ask the seller to directly activate it for you on site for immediate use. Flat rates are usually advertised for starting at 40 Ringgit, providing a data volume of 1 GB or more in a given time frame.
Then you should install the following apps:
1. Grab and/or Uber
Grab is the Malaysian competitor of Uber, and it is used by the locals more often than Uber, according to my observation. Usually Grab offers its rides a bit cheaper… which explains why Grab competes Uber so successfully, because Malaysians are smart savers! Incidentally, Grab in Malaysia seems to have become THE national part-time job offerer. Nearly all the Grab drivers I’ve talked to do the job just casually in their spare time.
Once you have installed and activated the app, simply enter the pick-up and destination address, the price will be displayed shortly afterwards and the request will be confirmed. Then wait a few seconds or minutes for a driver to be found. They will be informed automatically and will contact you by phone or via messenger shortly before arriving. The app itself also provides information on where your driver is at any time.
2. A hotel booking app
I personally used booking. com exclusively because I am used to the app and never faced any problems. But of course this should also apply to the competitors as well. Those who prefer private accommodation should also check out airbnb or use the official „Homestay“ program of the Malaysian tourism authorities. (However, their offer is quite manageable, see: http://www.malaysia.travel/en/resources/tourism-directory/homestay)
With these, you are perfectly equipped to move around as an individual traveller without stress, at least in the conurbations. Maybe a navigation software wouldn’t hurt either, but I personally didn’t use any; if at all, I consulted maps to estimate distances.
In the metropolises, especially in Kuala Lumpur and George Town, there are well developed bus networks, in those two cities there are even free bus lines connecting the main attractions (Go KL resp. MBPP Rapid Penang CAT). The regular lines are also not expensive. If you want to explore the city by bus, you should check out the Hopon HopOff lines in KL and Penang. Although they are quite expensive with 40 resp. 50 Ringgit, they are a comfortable offer and the tickets are valid for a whole day.
If you want to travel longer distances, you should either rent a car (international driver’s license is necessary!) – there are usually several providers at the airports, and if you take the time to compare fares, you can save a few bucks here – or consider long-distance buses or trains. It is not advisable (and not always feasible) to buy tickets online beforehand. Instead, I recommend the classic way of getting through to the train station/bus terminal, buying tickets on site and waiting for the next bus. However, it makes sense to google in advance when and how often the buses actually go.
Tickets should only be purchased at the official counters to avoid being cheated – it sometimes happens on the way to the counter that tourists are being approached by „helpful“ people who want to sell them tickets. Ignore them! Instead, cue in front of the counter, even if it takes a little longer. Better than waiting afterwards for a bus that has just left or departs only hours later!
The quality of the buses is mostly fine, but of course you don’t have a guarantee. On the popular routes between the metropolises, different providers operate at different prices, perhaps it makes sense not to save at the wrong end and to choose a higher-priced provider.
Beautiful sandy beaches, a unique marine life and diverse nature are the hallmarks of Malaysia’s islands. From Pulau Tioman to Pulau Pangkor to Gaya Island, the country’s versatility is also reflected in Malaysia’s islands, which offer tropical rainforest and a fascinating underwater world to explore. Depending on the island, the recommended travel times vary so that the country can be visited at any time of the year.
Tioman is one of Malaysia’s most beautiful and most travelled islands. It is about 38 km long and 19 km wide and represents the largest island in a group of 64 volcanic islands off the coast of Pahang. In addition to its natural landscape, Tioman is also known for its fascinating underwater world. Whether diving on coral benches or snorkeling on Salang Beach in the coral gardens between sea fans and sea anemones – diving and snorkeling enthusiasts can enjoy the rich marine life of Tiomans. The large selection of 5-star hotels on the island ensures a luxurious holiday experience, but there are also numerous accommodations for the smaller budget. The best time to visit Tioman is from March to October.
How to get there: Take a bus or drive to Mersing on the Eastern coast of the Malaysian peninsular. Find the jetty harbour and take two-hour ride to the island.
It has a reason that the name of the island can be derived from the Thai word „Pang Ko“ – beautiful island. On its beautiful beaches, the island of Pangkor offers various activities – from diving, snorkelling and windsurfing to fishing – water lovers will be delighted. The island is a fascinating holiday destination with its extraordinary mix of resorts and fishing villages. Tourists interested in culture explore the lively fishing villages and gain an insight into the life of the locals. Snorkel lovers will find shallow, crystal clear water and still undamaged coral reefs at the beach area Pasir Bogak. The Teluk Nipah offers a wider, less populated beach section with emerald green water and is known as a coral beach. Located on the beach of Pantai Puteri Dewi, the Pangkor Island Beach Resort has a top location and offers stylishly furnished rooms, sports facilities and a golf course. Here you can also observe the protected hornbills and other wild animals. To go sightseeing on the island of Pangkor, travelers can rent vehicles from van to motorcycle. The months of January to April and August to November are best suited for a trip on Pangkor.
How to get there: Take a bus or drive to Ipoh and from there to the town of Lumut where you can take a 30-minute ferry ride over.
Off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah province, lies the island of Gaya, which belongs to the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and has been a forest reserve since 1923. In addition to its fine snorkeling possibilities, Gaya Island is also ideal for nature lovers. In order to preserve the unique natural and animal world, the Gaya Island Resort and its Marine Center are committed to the rescue of turtles and the protection of coral reefs as well as to raising awareness of nature conservation. At the Wildlife Center, travellers can marvel at the wealth of flora and fauna, as well as some of the most fascinating and exotic species in the world. The months between March and October are ideal for a trip on Gaya Island.
Chief Editor Uwe Fischer visited the Malaysian booth to meet the Minister of Tourism and Culture. He also met with the Malaysian Ambassador to Germany, exhibitors and other Malaysian representatives to learn about Malaysia’s latest tourism offers.111
The MALAYSIA INSIGHTS Yearbook 2017 was distributed at the pavillon with great success. Fischer also met with Malaysia’s top video producer Andy Sengiah to discuss media cooperations in the near future.
There is no denying that Kuala Lumpur has a lot to offer for the shopaholics and business frenzies. However, it should be noted that this city also has a spot specially for the nature enthusiasts. Deemed as ‘The Ocean in the Heart of Kuala Lumpur’, Aquaria KLCC is home to over 5,000 different marine lives and land-bound creatures. The 60,000 square foot oceanarium is located on the Concourse Level in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Dato’ Simon Foong, the Group CEO, has been a key player in realizing the vision of Aquaria KLCC since its inception in 2005. The idea of having such an exhibit popped up as he felt the need to do something that could promote environmental conservation awareness. He also admitted that his children’s passion for aquariums they visited whilst travelling abroad motivated him. “We wanted to make sure that we have a world-class aquarium in Malaysia”, he said.
Aquaria KLCC was initiated with the hope that “everybody will feel as if the ocean is just a step away from them”. The elements of education and entertainment are here to meet and greet its visitors. Not only do visitors get to witness majestic livings that range from stingrays to geckos to even corals in close-up view, they will also be provided with information that relates to the subjects. Fun facts and interactive devices are placed at strategic locations for visitors’ access. The friendly staff are available to answer your queries too! New species are introduced regularly here, thus making the visit to this particular exhibit always relevant. “We are planning to bring in penguins soon”, Foong explained.
Visitors will have the opportunity to observe feeding sessions of creatures like the otters and arapaima and it is also possible to touch animals like the bamboo sharks and king crabs. Their newest hands-on learning site is called ‘Station Aquarius’. Participants will be equipped with a workbook and tools to learn about endangered species, the life cycle of jellyfish and seahorse as well as the evolution of animals. They will be guided by a team of educators with the aid of advanced technology featuring contents that are recognized by National Geographic society too.
Aquaria KLCC houses a magnificent salt water tank that can hold up to 2.5 million litres of salt water too. The tank holds the title of Malaysia’s largest single salt water tank. Moreover, they have Malaysia’s longest underwater tunnel which is 90 meter in length. There is also a 15-feet tall cylindrical tank which is based on the history of Tasik Kenyir. The all-time favourite of the crowd, however, is the ‘Piranha tank’ which is inhabited by 200 Red-bellied Piranhas. According to Foong, “Only Aquaria KLCC has the permission to exhibit this species in Malaysia”.
Another attraction is the ‘Undersea Shipwreck’ zone which now appears with a more realistic shipwreck environment. Detailed information is provided to help visitors understand better about the history of shipwrecks that are found in Malaysian waters. The area features ancient and modern shipwrecks with unique marine life that inhabits them. Visitors are encouraged to “take as much time as they need to discover, learn and experience”.
Foong wrapped up the interview by expressing his hope that, “Visitors will be more educated about the importance of conserving the animals after coming to Aquaria KLCC, especially the children”. With the enlightening and engaging attractions as well as the good causes they promote, Aquaria KLCC is absolutely the go-to place for the whole family.
Malaysian news paper THE STAR published the statement of Minister of Tourism And Culture, saying that „offices throughout the country will be closed with immediate effect to avoid job duplication with state agencies in promoting tourist attractions.“
The Guardian compiled 10 travel tips sent in by its readers and combined them with excellent photos. The result is a colourful miniature of impressions with famous and lesser known attractions of Malaysia. Read more: