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Discover the best of Malaysia on a short but insightful tour. Travel from Singapore to Penang, taking in the historic, cultural and natural wonders of this diverse country. Wander Kuala Lumpur’s bustling street markets, cycle through Penang’s quiet countryside, hike to highland tea plantations and much more.
Explore Malacca and Penang to see the influences of the Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and other cultures on modern-day Malaysia.
Take a street food tour of Kuala Lumpur, try ‘steamboat’ in the Cameron Highlands and sample durian in Penang’s countryside.
Take a bike ride through Penang’s outskirts to discover farms, local villages and authentic ways of life.
The Classic Malaysia - 9 Days / 8 Nights
A “tiger of the Orient”, modern Singapore was formed in 1819 by Sir Thomas Raffles. Back then, it was little more than a fishing village and trading outpost. Nowadays it is a microcosm of glittering skyscrapers and lush green spaces, which blend with its colonial- and Chinese-influenced past. Singapore is always rewarding; renowned for its food and shopping, it also offers a compact opportunity to explore the historical changes of one Asia’s smallest countries.
Upon arrival, be met by the guide and transferred to the hotel for check-in. Depending on the flight time, either rest at the hotel or embark on a walking tour of one of Singapore’s well-preserved historical areas.
Whilst the geography has changed markedly, buildings still date to the late 19th century and the area is awash with temples and towering trees, which make for an easy introduction to the formation of modern day Singapore. Chinatown is always a hurried hub of activity, and here is no different. Take a cold Chinese tea and watch the world go by or enjoy a plate of Singapore noodles before walking to Clarke Pier to catch a boat ride. This is a great way to see the variety of architectural styles that are at play in this city, nighttime is the best time to experience them.
Take this opportunity to stroll through the spacious public areas of The Fullerton Hotel, grab a Singapore Sling at The Raffles or check out the amazing art installation at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Return to the hotel by local transport.
Overnight in Singapore.
Depart the hotel at around 08:00 a vehicle transfer to Malacca.
The journey to Malacca passes through Johor Bharu and along major highways flanked by palm trees. On arrival in Malacca, transfer to the hotel for check-in.
Malacca is steeped in trading history, not surprising given its unique location along the vital Malacca Strait. The melting pot of cultures is the result of a unique history from the rest of Malaysia. Most notably, there is a substantial Portuguese and Dutch influence in the area. Just like other cities in Malaysia, Malacca‘s history is best explored on foot (a trishaw can be used for this tour at an additional cost).
Meander through areas steeped in history, starting at the oldest remaining example of European architecture in Southeast Asia, A Famosa, before climbing St Paul’s Hill to visit St Paul’s Church and descending to one of the best examples of Dutch colonial architecture, the Stadthuys - the former Dutch City Hall which is flanked by flamboyantly decorated trishaws.
Sample food at a ‘Teochew’ style restaurants in Malacca. This style of food is influenced by the Cantonese and often favoured for its light, healthy ingredients and modest spice. Follow this with a delicious warm Portuguese tart from one of the many nearby vendors.
Next, head to Temple Street, so named because for the multicultural range of temples and mosques that have stood since the early 18th century. This is the perfect place to get a taste of the area’s uniquely diverse local culture.
Continue to see restored Peranakan buildings (a cultural mix of Han-Chinese and Malay that forged its own style, known as the Baba-Nyonya, from the 15th century).
Visit one of the excellent Baba-Nyonya museums along the way to learn more about the culture (additional charges apply) before exploring some interesting antique stores and cafes along the famous Jonkers Street.
Evening at leisure.
Try Restoran Peranakan for dinner. Housed within an original building and furnished with authentic décor, this is a great place to enjoy traditional dishes in a vibrant atmosphere.
Overnight in Malacca.
Spend the day exploring Malacca’s many fascinating antique stores, craft shops and museums at leisure. A cooking class can also be arranged to learn the intricacies of Baba-Nyonya cuisine. A river cruise is also an interesting way to explore the surrounding areas of Malacca.
Overnight in Malacca.
After breakfast in the morning, depart for the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. This comfortable journey takes around two hours along major highways and is not accompanied by a guide. On arrival in Kuala Lumpur, or ‘KL’ as it is often referred to, meet the local guide and visit the Federal Territory – the 44th mosque of KL which has a unique design influenced by the Ottoman Empire. This mosque also functions as community hall and contains a school. Like any place of worship, a dress standard needs to be adhered to, with robes and headscarves provided. Follow the guide’s lead through various elements of the mosque to gain a further insight into Malaysia’s primary religion.
Please note that entry to the Mosque is closed to tourists on Fridays and during religious ceremonies so a photo stop will only be possible.
Make a photo stop at the National Monument and the British-built Cenotaph, which honours those that fell in the Second World War. Stop by the gate of the King’s Palace before arriving to the hotel for check-in.
In the afternoon there is an option to visit the peaceful Orchid Conservatory of the Majestic Hotel. Here, enjoy high tea amongst more than 300 species of orchid – the only venue of its kind in the country (additional charges apply).
In the evening, venture over to one of the busiest areas of Kuala Lumpur and enjoy a range of freshly prepared dishes from the street vendors (meal on own account). The guide will be on hand to talk guests through the range and diversity of options available. This really is a great introduction to the city and the start of a rewarding cultural culinary experience.
While returning to the hotel, make a photo stop at the incredible Petronas Towers. Best viewed at night, these twin towers are among the most iconic modern structures in the world.
Overnight in Kuala Lumpur.
Today’s walking tour can be adjusted to suit special needs and interests.
KL is a harmonious blend of cultures and history, brimming with a modern sophistication. Malay, Indian and Chinese ethnicities constitute the majority of Kuala Lumpur’s population. The tour today focuses on understanding how these ethnicities influence the city’s food, architecture and culture.
An early start is recommended to get the best of the cultural activities that occur. Start with a visit to a local morning market, which is a riot of colour, sounds and smells as locals bargain for their day’s food. Learn about the various spices, fruits, vegetables and snacks that can be found in the market while following the local guide around. Stop by a local coffee house to sample a Chow Kit favourite -curry laksa! This dish’s 65 years of history belies the subtlety of its flavour and texture. Continue by local transport to the old centre of KL, which is rich in architecture and culture, and provides a sublime range of cuisines to try.
Afterwards, continue to the architectural colonial heart of old KL to learn about the history of these iconic buildings, which date back to the late 1800s.
The tour then winds its way to the eclectic Chinatown area and the birthplace of a range of dishes that have put KL on the global culinary map. Enjoy authentic Hokkien ‘mee’ at a local restaurant which has used the same recipe for more than 100 years, and learn about the benefits of Chinese tea from engaging merchants who have operated there since the early 1940s.
Please note: all dishes mentioned are offered on a shared basis. The routing of this program may be changed due to the location of the hotel, but all experiences will be enjoyed.
Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.
Overnight in Kuala Lumpur.
0900 Depart for Batu Caves, a giant limestone outcrop just outside of the city with an English Speaking Driver. Hindu worshippers from across the world come to pay their respects at this unique site which features three main caves and an important Hindu temple. Ascend the 272 stairs to view the icons and paintings dedicated to Lord Rama. Two smaller caves can be visited at the base of the stairs, one of which holds one of the world’s most unique natural habitats -a cavern that remained shut off to the outside world for millions of years and now has a wide range of endemic species living in it that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Take a tali (Indian-style) lunch at one of the local restaurants before continuing another three hours to the largest tea growing area in Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands.
Arrive in the mid-afternoon and check in to the hotel before spending the afternoon at leisure enjoying the cool refreshing air of the highlands.
Evening at Leisure
Overnight in the Cameron Highlands.
Start the day early to enjoy the crisp morning air and wispy light that streams across the Mossy Forest.
Embark on a half-day exploration of Cameron Highlands. At 09:00 be picked up from the hotel by an experienced nature guide and transferred by 4WD to Cameron Highlands Tea Plantation for a short tour of the plantation. Drive to higher heights of the Mossy Forest of Gunung Brinchang. Be enlightened on the value of medicinal plants that can be found in the forest and learn all about the eco-system of the rainforest.
With the knowledge of a nature guide, learn about some of the most exotic flora on earth, like the pitcher plant, orchids, primitive ferns, spices and medicinal plant, all home to the Mossy Forest.
Following this take a short walk around the Sungai Palas BOH Tea Factory and enjoy some light refreshments.
At 13:00 return to the hotel to meet the driver for a local lunch.
1400 After experiencing the magic of the highlands, descend back down to the lowlands following a winding mountain range and head onwards to Penang. The journey takes around four hours. Stop en route at the historical mining town of Ipoh to the Perak Tong Cave Temple. Created in 1926 by a local Chinese couple, this beautiful temple features brightly coloured murals as well as a large standing Buddha - a serene experience.
Travel a further two hours to Georgetown, Penang for early evening arrival.
Penang has a long history as a stopping point for traders traversing the long route between India and China. Blessed with a natural harbour and bountiful fresh water, it came under British control in the mid-1700’s and soon became a world-renowned trading port. Today, UNESCO-listed Penang is still calling visitors to its shores, promising a distinctive cuisine and unique colonial charm.
After freshening up at the hotel, head out to Little India to enjoy a sensory explosion of flavoursome curries, burning incense, Bollywood beats and kaleidoscopic of colours. The aptly named “Street of Harmony” meanders along Hindu and Muslim to Chinese and Christian influences in a short but vibrant walk, and provides a great introduction to Penang and its unique cultural diversity.
There is a range of local choices for dinner tonight and the guide will be able to offer many suggestions depending on preferences.
Overnight in Penang.
Depart early in the morning after breakfast for a memorable cycling trip around the the countryside of Penang, visiting local artisans and villages and sampling local produce along the way. The interactions, sights and sounds encountered provide unique insight into the area’s cultural heritage. Visit the local market, busting with fruit, herbs and spices from the local area. Then, learn about the process in creating one of Malaysia’s most important ingredients. Belacan, or shrimp paste, is a staple used in the preparation of many Malaysian dishes.
Coconuts are an important staple in Malaysia. Visit a coconut farm and learn about the myriad of daily uses coconuts have in Malaysian culture. Cycling along quiet country roads in the surrounding area to see a side of Penang often forgotten, with quiet pathways flanked by sustainable farms, mangroves, herds of goats and wooden villages. The “King of Fruit”, the much-maligned durian, is also grown here. If it’s in season, be sure to give it a try. Although not everyone likes it, this area is known to have some of the highest quality durian in the world.
After the morning’s cycling adventure, travel to Kek Lok Si Temple. Construction first started in 1883, and the unique ‘Pagoda of the 10,000 Buddhas’ traces its connection to Buddhism through China, Myanmar and Thailand. There is also an option to visit Penang Hill, which is located nearby (additional costs apply).
Return to the hotel around 15:00 for an afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Penang.
Cycling grade: Easy
Enjoy a leisurely morning before transferring to the airport for an onward journey.
There is a range of direct flights to number of gem-like islands; travel consultants can advise on further details.
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