| Part 1: Introduction |
travel to Malaysia every
year, so I'm quite used to the country and there is not much that
surprises me. The interesting thing this year was the sharp
increase in prices, especially for what concerns taxis in KL and some
restaurants. Apparently in the past year prices for some basic goods
(petrol, food etc.) have increased substantially in Malaysia, prompting
sharp price increases in some sectors.
this trip I had no predefined schedule when I arrived to Malaysia. I
was hoping to visit the Ulu Muda reserve and therefore tried to be flexible
timewise, in case it would have been possible to visit this reserve.
turned out that the only guesthouse on the Pedu lake was fully booked
most of the time and the only guide who could have brought me into the reserve wasn't
interested in single travellers.
price increases compared to 2009 in some sectors: taxis in KL, some
restaurants. Rising prices in the Boulevard hotel where we usually stay
in KL. The exchange rate Euro/RM was a bit unfavourable when we visited
compared to one year ago: only RM 4 for one Euro compared to RM 5 one
Still, on a general note, it is possible to spend not too much, by carefully
choosing hotels, restaurants, activities etc.
There is an incredible variety of food in Kuala Lumpur, with tons of
restaurants and eateries everywhere. In every shopping complex there
are one or two floors dedicated to restaurants and food stalls.
Especially in the basement floor of the Midvalley shopping complex in
KL there are tons of places where to find all sorts of food and snacks.
Elsewhere in Malaysia the situation is similar. Malaysia is benefiting
from its ethnic mix: Malays, Chinese and Indians.
I stayed in a mix of places, ranging from the luxury Four points hotel
in Kuching to the open hut in Camp 5 of the Mulu national park.
Accomodation in Malaysia is plentiful and affordable. Some places,
especially in Sabah, Langkawi and some islands of the east coast only
have resort or other expensive accomodation.
/ Exchange rate (June 2010)
1 Euro = around RM 4
1 Euro = USD 1.25
ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a
Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.
phones and prepaid cards
time we bought Maxis SIM cards. Cost was 10 RM, with 4 RM of airtime on
them. I topped mine up with 30 RM. A few hours later, thanks to a Nokia
dumbphone which initiated a data download, the card was almost empty
(see here for more details).
however is nothing compared to the USD 500 bill somebody I know had to
pay, after he gave his iphone to his daughter while on a visit to
China. The computer-savvy, sweet girl used the iphone to surf the web
and watch youtube videos, using data roaming. In the evening customer
support called him from the USA informing him that his bill had
exceeded USD 500...
Conclusion: it's a good idea to 1) use a local
SIM card and thus avoid roaming and 2) even better to purchase a local
mobile data flat rate in the country you are visiting. In Malaysia such
packages are available.
While Internet cafes are plentiful and available everywhere in
Malaysia, I mostly relied on Internet access in the hotel rooms. Where
unavailable or too expensive I used either Internet cafes or coffee
shops offering free WLAN.
Tropical weather, hot and steamy. June-July actually is the
dry season in Malaysia, but for some strange reason I experienced heavy
rain in parts of Sarawak. Typical tropical weather pattern with cloud
free mornings, gradual clouds build-up during the morning and heavy
rain in the afternoon.
The usual set of vaccinations for tropical countries (consult your
doctor). These include polio, Hep A, tetanus,
diphteria, typhoid, although this list may be subject to change.
Malaria tablets are recommended if you go to the interior rural regions
of Malaysia and Borneo.
A valid passport is necessary. EU
nationals automatically get a three month visa upon arrival. This also
holds for nationals of many other countries - check with the Malaysian
embassy in your country.
No issues here. Malaysia is a
very stable and peaceful country.
- The Pinnacles trek is very tough, but the view from the top is very rewarding.
- Lang Tengah, beautiful little island with white coral sand beaches and pristine waters.
- Kuala Kangsar in Perak, with its breathtaking mosque.
- The cave temples near Ipoh are very impressive.
was a positive surprise. Much better organised than when I first
visited 10 years ago. Plenty of orang-utans during the feeding time.
Things to avoid
- I wasn't particularly impressed by the Kubah national park and the nearby Matang wildlife reserve.
trip to the Kuching wetlands national park was also a disappointment,
as we didn't see any dolphins. I've been later told that you can spot
dolphins, when taking the boat from Kuching to Sibu.
in KL now have increased their prices by 50% compared to last year, but
still refuse to use the meter in the touristy areas of KL.
usual I relied on a mix of flights and chartered taxis to get from A to
B. Not the cheapest way to travel, especially if you book on very short
notice, but very fast and gives you a lot of flexibility. Travelling
with buses is a lot cheaper, but takes much more time.
Renting a car is also an option, but the problem is that you may get lost or unable to find the place you want to visit.