For 3 weeks I ventured out to Asia for the first time with my boyfriend and his family. We spent around 2 weeks in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and a week in Seoul in South Korea. This post is all about my experience in Malaysia and my top tips for a first time trip.
First off, when heading to Malaysia, be prepared for a very long flight. Direct flights are more expensive so in my case we did have about 3 flights but the longest was still around 12 hours. So my advice is make sure you wear comfy clothes, get a comfy neck pillow, an eye mask and ear plugs and snacks. Although of course you do get on flight meals, I found snacks were definitely needed too inbetween the onflight meals.
Next up, you need to be prepared for the heat in Malaysia. Of course, most places indoors are air conditioned, especially shopping centers, but I would definitely recommend a lot of shorts and loose fitting clothing for being outdoors. My boyfriend’s mum also made the excellent decision of bringing portable rechargeable fans to carry with us. They were definitely a good investment for if you spend extended periods of time outside.
Things to do
Admittedly I didn’t know much about Malaysia before going there but I definitely didn’t realize it’s really good for shopping. They have a lot of large shopping centers with a variety of shops from big chains to smaller independent Malaysian shops so it has something to suit everyone’s tastes. A lot of them are also really good for their food courts and restaurants and smaller food and drink stalls so they’re definitely a good place to go for foodies. The best shopping center that I suggest going to is 1 Utama Shopping Mall. It’s further out from the center of Kuala Lumpur but it’s worth the trip, with its hundreds of shops, with a mix of high-end brands and local brands. It also has a cinema, bowling and an arcade. What makes it even more appealing is the Rainforest at the center of it, where you can have a wander through and over the suspension bridge to take in the greenery and the koi pond underneath. It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Other shopping centers I’d recommend are: Mid Valley Megamall, Sungei Wang Plaza, Pavillion and Berjaya Times Square.
The Batu Caves are a popular tourist attraction and they are definitely a great site, with their 200 odd rainbow coloured steps. They are definitely a site I would recommend, although it’s better to go as early in the day as you can before it gets unbearably warm and very busy. I went around 7am and there was already a large crowd of people. There is also a lot of monkeys on the steps, so be wary of holding onto your things and make sure you don’t have any food on you because they will take it from you. Either way it is definitely a sight to see and makes for some very nice pictures.
Another good tourist attraction is the KL Tower, which has some impressive views of the city. We actually went up and had a meal in the revolving restaurant which again was nice although the food was not quite worth the money but it was still a pleasant experience. The best time of the day to go up the tower in my opinion is just before the sun sets so you can experience the views in the daylight and at night.
A fun thing to do for a day or a couple of days is head up to the Genting Highlands. This is essentially an entertainment area on top of a mountain. It has the Genting Casino, shops, restaurants, an indoor theme park, an outdoor theme park (although that was closed when we went), an arcade, a few zones you could pay for such as a winter zone and a VR zone and a hotel to stay in.
Another fun thing about it is that you can take a cable car from the bottom to the top of the mountain. It gives amazing views as you go up (although as someone afraid of heights I was a little bit scared!). I saw you can also take a cable car with a glass bottom which I can imagine is a fun experience if you like heights.
Another fun thing we did was go to Sunway Lagoon, which is a large waterpark with water rides, wave pools as well as normal rides and a zoo. I really enjoyed this, although definitely be wary of suncream as I put factor 50 on regularly and still managed to get burnt. It definitely makes for a full fun day out if you want to take a break from all of the tourist attractions.
Of course we couldn’t have a trip to Kuala Lumpur without going to see the Twin Towers, which look very impressive and have some very fancy shops inside. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go up as all of the tickets had sold out far in advance so if you do plan on going up and going across the walkway, make sure to plan your visit and buy your tickets in advance. You can get some good value combined tickets with the aquarium up the towers as well. I’m hoping to go up next time I go back.
Food wise, there was a variety of food to experience. There were outdoor street food stalls, night markets of different snacks, individual cafes and restaurants and of course in the shopping centers there are the bigger chains. I enjoyed the wide variety of food, especially seeing big chains that aren’t available in the UK. I really enjoyed the wide variety of sweet snacks such as rotiboys and shaved ice desserts. (One place I’d highly recommend for those of you with a sweet tooth is the Molten Chocolate Cafe which offers so many delicious chocolate smothered desserts! They’re large portions and still cheaper than desserts in the UK.) Drink wise there are a lot of places for bubble tea lovers and you should definitely try iced milo (which is a popular chocolate drink) and cold soya milk. There are also some traditional teas you can try that you pour syrup into but I wasn’t a fan.
Either way you should definitely make sure you try eating in the more traditional areas such as street markets and night markets, as well as in the larger shopping centers and restaurants to get the full experience.
Other Top Tips
- For travel I would definitely recommend downloading the app Grab, which is essentially the Asian version of Uber. It’s cheap and a much more convenient way of getting around.
- Price wise, Malaysia is very cheap which is nice. You can eat out for so much cheaper than in the UK or general touristy places when you go abroad and prices of generic tourist attractions still aren’t too bad in comparison to a lot of places.
- One thing to be wary of though is that you may get stared at a lot by the locals. I didn’t see that many tourists around so I’m guessing it’s quite an unusual site to see a white English female around. It was a bit unsettling to begin with but you do get used to it after a while and learn to ignore it.
- Also a lot of people do speak some English so communication isn’t too hard when trying to communicate such as when buyingsomething or ordering food.
Overall I really enjoyed my trip to Malaysia and I feel like there is still so much of it to see, including day trips further out from the capital. Have you been to Malaysia? What did you think of it?
More details to come in my next blog post about the next part of my trip, South Korea!