Travelling to Malaysia with the family in August and really struggling to choose which place to go so would really appreciate some help. Have read loads of reviews and comments but still confused!!
We are looking for swimming , snorkling, fishing, local food , and experience some local culture, want nice quality accomodation but prefer not to be in a big resort.
Pangkor Island beach resort
Kota kinabalu - not sure where
Pangkor island has a number of comments that suggests its not so good for snorkling and that the cystal clear waters and perfect beaches are to be found in the East.
Redang looks idylic but sounds like its difficult to drink alcohol, maybe not much local culture and read reports of being bitten to bits by sand flies if you lie on the beach.
Kota Kinabalu looks quite built up and resorts large but looks like there is lots of culture and other things to see but struggling to find somewhere to stay that sounds like the swimming /snorkling is great.
Have I got it all wrong? which is the best place for what we are looking for?!! Help please!
If you are looking to go snorkeling and some where not so built up, you should consider the Perhentian Islands, you will not be disappointed! It's not a boozy place, (although not alcohol free, just pretty expensive) as it is quite a conservative muslim area, but honestly it shouldn't be a problem, as it is so beautiful! I have such good memories of this place.
If you need more information, let me know.
I did not go to Kota Kinabalu, but did hear from other travellers that there is a fabulous national park & mount Kinabalu is worth climbing.
The Cameron Higlands are also a must.
As for the Capital Kuala Lumpur, I did find it a little boring, but it's worth a 2-3 day visit. China town is the best place, great food and excellent for watches, trainers etc. And the Petronas Towers are spectacular.
Perhentian Islands are a must if you are looking for spectacular beaches. Depending on how many and how young your children are, it could be quite a hassle getting there.
If you've got small kids tagging along, suggest you take a flight to Kota Bharu and then hire a taxi to the jetty from there. Otherwise taking the overnight sleeper train from KL to Wakaf Baru and then hire a taxi to the jetty is pretty much straight forward.
Perhentian Besar Island has less backpackers and is more upscale but equally nice.
If you are looking for island atmosphere like the full moon party in Thailand, I'm afraid you are looking at the wrong country.
Thank you for your replies which are greatly appreciated. Your comments have got me looking at the Perhentian Besar Island which does look wonderful. Have three teenage daughters who like holidays on remote islands just a little worried that some of the accomodation looks a little basic and they are not so keen on sharing their bedroom with creepy crawly creatures. Any recomendations on where to stay? Have been looking at Tuna Bay and Coral View.
One of you said it is quite a conservative muslim area but i presume that being a vacation spot there are no issues about my daughters needing to cover up?
Hello, there are some more up market places to stay on Besar, kecil is more aimed at back packers.
Take a look at this site for options on accomadation:
You can sun bathe wearing usual western beach wear (topless is a big no no though), but when you eat out, you should cover up to avoid causing offence (a sarong is best) The local malaysians will bathe fully clothed!
You will find that the local Malaysians are very friendly. & very helpful.
Also bare in mind that your teenage daughters may get bored, unless they are big swimmers and snorkellers. There isn't a lot to do apart from relax, eat, swim & snorkel. But for most it's why they come to these islands.
I assume that with your three girls you'll be travelling as a family of five. That makes it a little hairy as taxis here can carry four at most, so you will have to take two cabs everywhere.
Anyway, I live smack in the middle of KL, and I'm a good guide for food if you are adventurous. If you're a picky eater, then you don't need me to help you find the McD.
Beach: East coast is a bit conservative, so regular beach wear and then put on a Tee-shirt or wrap a towel around immmediately upon getting out of the water. No nudity in public.
They don't really care because they need the tourist dollar, and are more likely to peek if you do something naughty. But all the same, just be sensible.
Also consider Penang and Melaka states for beach. Langkawi in Kedah is another option. All three are on the west coast. Kota Kinabalu is in East Malaysia, and you will have to fly there from West Malaysia.
After you get here, I'm sure you wouldn't want to be flying around very much. The KL airport is out of the way compared to the old airport.
Fishing: I don't know. Some people I know rent boats to go out sea fishing, but I have no idea about the details.
Local Food: KL and Penang are the key food places in Malaysia. Malacca is good too. Try everything at least once, even the spicy stuff. Remember that the 3 major races each have a variant of certain kinds of dishes. That is to say, fried noodles or rice come in Chinese, Malay and Indian styles. They are quite different from each other in flavour.
You finalise your plans, and then we'll talk about the hotels. BTW, if you want to see nature, you should expect the odd insect to show up in your hotel room. Drinking alcohol is fine in most places, just so you don't make an ass of yourself after you do so.
KL accomodation I can do. There is a quiet but clean budget hotel just a little bit out of the tourist area. It is next to a shopping complex and the train, which for about RM3 will take you down to the city.
No the hotel doesn't pay me to advertise for them, but I've had a lot of European friends come by over the years and they like it there. It not such a tourist trap, just a nice comfy budget 3-star with a tiny pool.
Me? I hate the city and go to great lengths not to go into the business district if I can help it. I hate the human and vehicle crowding.
Sorry. Malacca and Melaka refer to the same state, and the capital of that state is known as Malacca City or Bandar Melaka.
Go to Langkawi if you want cheap booze. It's cheaper to drink beer than Coke! :D and duty-free cigarettes! A pack of Malboro goes for RM4.20 (70p)
Great resorts, perfect for R&R.