Last Christmas, Sankara and I decided to have a family holiday in Malaysia for 8 days. It seemed to be an ideal choice considering the weather, cost and duration of our travel. Malaysia is also a very popular tourist destination for Indians. This post brings about some information about our visit in Malaysia.
The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is well connected to major cities in India. Since we went during Christmas, we did not get the cheapest flights but it was still cheaper than the flights to some Indian cities!! Malaysian Airlines, Indigo, Malindo and Air Asia have direct flights from Bengaluru to Kuala Lumpur.
It is a simple process to get tourist visa. More information can be found here.
Places to visit
Malaysia can be logically split into two parts – Malay peninsula and part of Borneo island. We decided to spend time in Malay peninsula area. Malay Peninsula itself was quite big and can be further divided into east and west coast. December is generally wet in eastern coast and we decided to visit places in Western coast. Malaysia is a tropical country and rains can be expected any time. But probability of good weather was high in West coast. With around 7 days in hand, we chose to spend 2 days in Kuala Lumpur, 2 days in Penang and 3 days in Langkawi.
While Kuala Lumpur has lot of city attractions like Petronas twin towers, Penang has colonial feel with some nice beaches. Langkawi is a pure beach experience.
Travel within Malaysia
Malaysia has a good network of buses, trains, boats and flights. We travelled on train between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The trains are not super fast (max speed was around 140km/h) but they are very efficient and comfortable. The seat61 website provides a very good information of train routes and schedules. We booked the train ticket in advance from Go Asia website.
We travelled between Penang and Langkawi on boat. The journey time was about 3 hours and it was ok. Tickets were booked in advance from Super Fast ferry website.
Malaysia has very good flight network with many low cost carriers. We flew from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia flight. The flights are super cheap but of course the cost increases a bit when luggages are added but it was still very economical. Note that the Kuala Lumpur airport is situated about 50 kms from the city.
Local travel in cities
We used multiple modes of transport within city.
Traditional taxis are present everywhere but are the most expensive form of transport. We did travel in those taxis at some places. But app based taxis are becoming popular in Malaysia. Grab is the most popular one and we used it extensively. It was much cheaper than the traditional taxi and even worked out economical and efficient than public transport as we were six of us. Th service was much better than Ola or Uber in India.
We did not use public transport all as Grab worked out to be cheaper for us. Google maps show only metro train in Kuala Lumpur making it difficult to mix the modes of transport.
We rented out car in Langkawi on the day when we went out for day trip. Indian driving license is accepted in Malaysia. There are many local players and it is important to find the reliable ones. We did not make any prior booking and just went to the rental shop directly on the day of travel and took the car.
It is possible to manage with English at most places.
The official currency is Malaysian Ringets. We used ATM’s to get cash and used credit cards wherever possible. No issues.
South Indian restaurants are present in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Langkawi has few Indian restaurants. No issues at all for vegetarians.
We found Malaysia to be very friendly on our pockets. It was my second cheapest family travel after Sri Lanka (Read about Sri Lanka experience here). Food in some South Indian restaurants was cheaper than Bengaluru!! Langkawi was expensive when compared to Kuala Lumpur and Penang.