| Part 1: Introduction
9.8-10.8: Munich -> Dubai -> KL
13.8: KL -> Khao Lak
20.8: Bangkok -> Kuala Lumpur -> Kota Kinabalu
21.8: Kota Kinabalu -> Garama river -> Kota Kinabalu
22.8: Kota Kinabalu -> Pulau Tiga -> Kota Kinabalu
23.8: Kota Kinabalu -> Mari Mari cultural village -> Sandakan
24.8: Sandakan -> Sepilok -> Sandakan
25.8: Sandakan -> Pulau Berhala -> Lahad Datu
26.8: Lahad Datu -> Tabin wildlife reserve -> Lahad Datu
27.8: Lahad Datu -> KK -> Mamutik and Sapi -> KK
28.8: KK -> Mantanani island
29.8: Mantanani -> KK -> KL
30.8: KL -> Singapore
31.8: Singapore -> KL
1.9: KL -> Munich via Dubai
The idea for this year's trip to Malaysia was to visit a number of
places in Sabah where I had not been before. Essentially the trip
consisted of a few days in Kuala Lumpur, followed by nine days in Sabah
and one day in Singapore.
In Sabah I explored some islands, such as Mantanani, Tiga, Berhala and
the Tunku Abdul Rahman national park. Now, having seen these islands, I
wouldn't recommend any for a beach holiday. The only island with nice
beaches and seawater is Mantanani, but it lacks good accommodation and
there are sandflies.
I visited also a number of wildlife locations: the Garama river area,
the Sepilok rehabilitation centre and the Tabin reserve near Lahad
Datu. The Tabin reserve could be an interesting place, but the cost of
staying there is high and the resort is at the western edge of the
reserve, close to the palm tree plantations, i.e. not in the middle of
The trip to Singapore was very interesting, because I visited the now
completed Marina bay area. This is a section of Singapore which has
been developed over the past years and is now beautifully choreographed
and has interesting architecture.
Prices in Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak, but especially Sabah) have
skyrocketed over the past 4-5 years. In several cases, prices have
tripled since 2008-09. For instance 2D/1N trips to Tabin cost around RM
600 just a few years ago, and RM 1700 now. The same 3D/2N Danum valley
trip which I did in December 2008 for RM 1260 now costs around RM 3000
(single occupancy). In 2003 the tour to the Sarawak cultural village
cost RM 55 (including transportation from Kuching) while now this tour
costs RM 160. The various daytrips and half-day-trips from KK now cost
all in the hundreds of RM range. The Mt Kinabalu climb is a similar
case. The total cost has gone up from a RM 200-300 to around RM 1000.
Given this price increase, I would advise not to travel to Sabah at the
moment, or to avoid locations where prices have increased a lot. That
would mean avoiding Tabin and Danum and instead visiting the
Kinabatangan river, which can still be accessed even on a very low
Accomodation in Singapore is quite pricey (I paid 81 Euro for a 7mē
room with no toilet or windows).
Malaysia and Singapore offer a dazzling array of delicious food
specialities. 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
In Malaysia I stayed in a number of midrange places, spending between
RM 120 and 150 per night. I got the impression that prices have risen
again since last year. KK has a good tourist infrastructure, and some
new hotels have opened recently. Hotels in Singapore are very
expensive, if you want to be not too far from the city centre.
Accomodation in August on Perhentian and Redang was very hard to find.
It seems that these islands are overrun with tourists at this time of
the year. This is why I ended up booking a few days with the family in
southern Thailand instead.
Exchange rate (August 2013)
1 Euro = 4.35 RM
1 Euro = 1.33 USD
For current exchange rates check the Universal
ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a
Cirrus/Maestro ATM card.
phones and prepaid cards
I used a SIM card from Maxis which cost RM25 with RM10 of airtime on
it. A 500MB day Internet flatrate cost RM5, a 200MB flat rate less.
Phone calls were around RM 0.30, a bit pricey. But the Internet speed
was really very good, both in the downlink and the uplink. Also mobile
tethering (using the smartphone as a modem for the computer) worked
very well. Coverage was good in all places I visited.
I used the WLAN network in the hotel and the smartphone to access the
Mostly sunny with a blue sky, with some clouds and rain every now and
then. Hot and tropical. In Sabah the weather was initially unstable due
to the typhoon in the Philippines. Very good weather in Singapore.
The usual set of tropical vaccinations. I didn't refresh any
immunisations for this trip.
VISA / Entry
A visa on arrival allowing a three months stay is available for
tourists of most western and developed countries. It is no longer
necessary to fill out an arrivals form.
Overall Malaysia and Singapore are very safe places.
Of the places I visited on this trip, I wouldn't recommend any. Tabin
could be interesting for a few days, if the prices were much lower. The
architecture in Singapore is beautiful, and the area around Marina bay
is now well worth visiting.
Things to avoid
the moment Sabah should be avoided, due to the ridicolously high price
increases of the recent years. Some places have tripled their prices
over the past few years.
I moved around with a mix of flights, long distance taxis and tour operators.