Travel to Malaysia:
Mountain Retreats - Genting Highlands - Malakka

 

 




Introduction



Sooner or later the island seems to be too small for spending a weekend and you will like to explore the neighboring country Malaysia.

Be advised that when driving into Malaysia you need to show at least a three-quarter full gasoline tank before leaving Singapore to the Singapore customs authorities. Non-compliance means heavy fines. There are other rules to follow that you should explore at the web sites below.

We do advise drivers to bring along sufficient Malaysia Ringgit to pay for toll charges. Expect to pay around RM100 for a two-way journey on the North-South Highway to Genting Highlands and back to Singapore (via Tuas Second Link).

Get a Touch' n Go card

Touch ‘n Go card is an electronic purse that can be used at all highways in Malaysia, major public transports in Klang Valley, selected parking sites and theme park. Touch ‘n Go uses contactless smartcard technology. The card looks similar to a credit card. User can continue using the card as long as it is pre-loaded with electronic cash. User can reload the card at toll plazas, train stations, Automated Teller Machines, Cash Deposit Machines, Petrol kiosks and at authorised third party outlets. Reload denomination is ranging from RM20 to RM500.

The card can be purchased in Malaysia only, see below website for more information.

 

 


How to Travel to Malaysia



The country has quite a number of attractions and some beautiful beaches and islands to offer. Note that bathing with tiny swim wear may land you in jail. At the East Coast swimming and sunbathing on the beach can only be enjoyed fully covered. Study Islamic rules first! For adventure travel in Malaysia you should also consider to fly to Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia.

For drivers who enjoy driving holidays, the Automobile Association of Singapore organises regular Auto-VenturesTM, or driving holidays up north to exciting destinations like Cameron Highlands, Melaka, Damai Laut, Ipoh, Pulau Tioman, Pulau Redang and Kuantan, to name a few. Participants have the choice to either travel in a convoy led by experienced AA personnel, or at their own leisurely pace.

For more information on AA’s activities, please visit www.aas.com.sg or call AA’s Programme and Activities department at Tel: 68312 140.


Driving in Malaysia is not without risks once you leave the highway. Make yourself familiar with traffic rules and immigration procedures before you leave. The speed limit is 110 kmh and you need to take along RM 50 for toll charges.

 

If you need to pay traffic fines accumulated in Malaysia please see Driving. Check the traffic situation at the two checkpoints at the border before you start you trip at Tel: 6863 0117 or check the web site above.

If you want to travel by train to Malaysia you have to catch the train in the morning at 9.15 am or in the evening at 10.00 pm. Alternatively there is a fast train leaving at 12.15 pm. Undoubtedly the trip by day is more interesting. The train drive lasts between six and eight hours and adult tickets for seats cost between RM 19 to RM 69. If you want to save money buy the return ticket in Kuala Lumpur as it is cheaper there.

 


Malaysia's Mountains



Those who wish to get away from the heat for a while may cool off and relax in Malaysia's many a mountain resort, where temperatures average 21 degrees in the daytime, and occasionally drop to 10 degrees Centigrade at night, depending on the season. All resorts offer a wide scale of accommodations, several of them on a take-care-of-yourself basis. On your way back, do take some fruit, vegetables and flowers home. But watch the laws on importing goods to Singapore!

These are some mountain areas to explore in Malaysia

Genting Highlands/Pahang

Malaysia's only casino is located at an altitude of 2000 m, in Genting Highlands, 51 km or one hour's drive away from Kuala Lumpur. Around this phenomenon, supposedly very popular among the Chinese, a whole industry of expensive nightclubs, restaurants and hotels has grown. Plenty of sports as well: horse riding, golf, swimming, tennis, table tennis, squash, badminton, basketball and a bowling alley.

In Genting Highlands you have a choice between hotels, apartments and chalets.

 

Cameron Highlands/Pahang

Cameron Highlands is a plateau at 1800 m in Perak, discovered by the British William Cameron in 1888, and promoted as a health resort ever since. The climate is pleasant: about 24 degrees in the daytime, and during the night down to 2 degrees sometimes. You definitely need your pullover and your raincoat!

The lovely scenery offers many a recreational possibility. Like hiking: to the Robinson and Parit waterfalls, to the top of the Gunung Brinchang (2032 m), Gunung Beremban (1841 m) or Gunung Jasar (1696 m). Or bird-watching: more than 120 species are to be seen! Visit a village of the Orang Asli, the aborigines of Malaysia. Look around at a tea plantation and its production plant or - If you require a very quiet, relaxing time: go fishing in Lake Sultan Abu Bakar near Ringlet.

Cameron Highlands has a whole range of hotels, and several of them are keeping their charming old-English country-house appearance well intact, like Ye Old Smokehouse, or the Lakehouse. There are small hotels as well, plus bungalows and apartments.

 

Fraser's Hill/Pahang

This recreational area is situated in the Central mountain range of Pahang, a 2 - 3 hours' drive from Kuala Lumpur via Rawa and Kuala Kubu Baru. At an altitude of about 1500 m the temperature during the daytime is between 20 and 25 Centigrade, whereas at night it goes down to about 10 degrees. Fraser's Hill was named after Louis James Fraser, an adventurer who traded tin ore, exploited a gambling joint and dealt in opium. The latter must have been his doom, because he disappeared from the scene in 1916. It was a British clergyman who, when on the lookout for Fraser, discovered this beautiful spot

Rides, jungle trekking on the seven hills, swimming at the Jeriau Waterfalls, and visits to nurseries and plantations guarantee a relaxing weekend for the whole family.

 

Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill)/Perak

Bukit Larut ( formerly Maxwell Hill) rises 1250 meters above and behind the city of Taiping in Perak. It was made accessible in 1888, and therefore is the oldest holiday resort in the Malaysian mountains. Temperatures are between 15 and 25 degrees during the daytime. With its over 5000 mm rain per year, Bukit Larut must be the rainiest place in the country, in particular between September and November. You get the best weather between February and June.

The mountain is a popular holiday outing, with its many birds and monkeys.

Driving up the mountain in your own car is not allowed. The Larut Matang and Selama District Office drives visitors up the mountain in its Land rovers in half an hour of curves and bends. If you're prone to car-sickness you'd better prepare yourself for the 72 hair-pin bends. Walking to the top is possible, too: it takes about four to five hours, along two different routes.

A visit to Malaysia's oldest zoo in Taiping and to the bird park in Kuala Gula is easy to combine with your outing to Bukit Lara. Bota Kanan is on the route as well, with its breeding centre of river turtles (season: November-March), and Menderang, with the Sungkai game farm.

 

Gunung Jerai/Kedah

Gunung Jerai (or Kedah Peak) can be reached by plane, or by train to Alor Setar, 33 km away from the mountain. Here, a Land rover service takes people to the top, reaching it across 18 km of narrow winding roads. The temperature during daytime is about 25 degrees centigrade.

The mountain, with its height of 1202 meters, is the highest in the state of Kedah. During the sixth century it housed the capital of the old kingdom of Srivijaya. From the top, there is a breathtaking view across the rice fields of Kedah. The road up leads through a splendid forest full of monkeys and extraordinary plants.


A trip to this mountain can be very well combined with a swimming holiday to the islands Penang or Langkawi, and may be extended by a visit to the excavation site and the museum at Bujang Valley. More about this in the next chapter, and in the chapter V "Island Paradise."


From Johore Bahru to Malacca


Drive north to Kukup, via Pontian and Pekan. It's a charming and very photogenic fishing-village on stilts, and it's inviting you to a seafood meal. From here it is not far to Air Hitam which is well known for its potteries; the largest and most famous one is Aw Pottery, manufacturing 2000 different pieces a day. It has been the domain of the Aw Eng Kwaung family for four generations. One descendant has settled in America. Visitors are allowed to watch the process, and admire -- and buy! --the results later in the showroom. Have a cup of coffee in the Claycraft Coffee House; an unusual combination of restaurant and pottery.

Heading further north you pass Kampung Lalang and Kampung Parit Pechah. nearby there's an old cemetery with 90 tombstones. Legend has it that in the village, once upon a night 500 years ago, a jealous lover took his spear and killed bride, groom and all the wedding guests. In Pagoh, about 26 km from Muar, you see an old fortress established as a protection against pirates.

On the way to Muar you should drive in the direction of Segamat, to the Sahil Waterfalls and enjoy some coolness. Proceeding to Melaka you can take a picture of an old traditional Malay house built in 1894 - roughly 24 km from Melaka/Malacca.


Malacca/Melaca

Malacca/Melaka is the only city within Malaysia which may boast a 600 year old history, traceable from its origins onwards. Once a settlement of Orang Laut (sea people), Melaka was founded around 1400 by the Hindu prince Parameswara (the later Sultan Iskandar Shah), and within 80 years it grew into an important trading centre in which many foreign traders settled. Neither the palaces of the rich Malay nor the early-Islamic buildings have been preserved.

In 1511, the Portuguese Alfonso d'Albuquerke conquered the city. The A Famosa fort dates from those days, but unfortunately got demolished in 1807 by the British, who had become the rulers of Melaka in 1719. In the meantime the Dutch had been there, too, had taken Melaka after a long siege in 1641 and left its mark for more than 200 years. In Melaka, the traces of this past are manifold and you may as well take a whole weekend and discover them. Even after many visits Melaka won't bore you and it is an ideal place to entertain visitors from abroad. Get a copy of the "Visitors' Guide to Melaka" at the Ayer Keroh Information Centre, on the road leading into Melaka, or at the Melaka State Development Corporation, or the Melaka Tourist Information centre. This brochure is very well put together, it is one of the best available in Malaysia. It suggests several trips: walking, or by trishaw.

In addition to the many places worth visiting, a boating trip on the Melaka river is very interesting. It offers an entirely different view of the architecture from the usual tours . It shows you the living circumstances of the riparian people and the loading of old wooden boats transporting merchandise between Sumatra and Melaka. And it shows you the iguanas bustling about the banks looking for food -- very photogenic! Departure of the boats, preferably early in the morning because of the tide, is every hour from the pier behind the Tourist Centre.

Yonkers Street is antique lovers' paradise, one can find literally anything here. Be aware of excessively raised prices, though! Bargain pitilessly, even if you get the impression prices have been corrupted by many tourists long before. If you are living in Malaysia you may be better off not buying the article straight away but first ask a relevant -- and reliable! -- antique dealer in Kuala Lumpur and then compare prices at ease and at home. Don't let yourself be talked into buying the last one and only article on the spot. A dealer who knows his trade is sure to sell such an article anyhow, he won't need to persuade his better informed clients.

Melaka is at its most interesting during the San Pedro Festival from 21 to 24th June, and during the Chinese Lantern Festival in September.

 


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