If you saw my recent post on the Cameron Highlands, you’ll know that I’m in a bit of a travel frenzy right now. Nothing too crazy, but there’s definite yearnings to explore new territory — which I’ve decided to satiate with well-timed city breaks in Malaysia.
KL is a wonderful city, and it affords one many great things. These include (but are certainly not limited to) imported goods, an abundance of English (this now counts as a luxury after living in Korea), warm weather, delicious food and pools everywhere. It’s great. Really! But sometimes, even when you live in a palace, you need to get away — even if just for a bit.
Hence why we dashed off to the highlands for the weekend — which I would absolutely do again in a heartbeat, by the way. And now, we’ve lined up a trip to Malacca this weekend, which I’m thrilled about. Basically anything to switch up the scenery and pump a little life back into my veins!
So, what are the best ways to “do” city breaks in Malaysia? Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my short time here
1. Travel off-peak
Okay, I’m going to start with a doozy here — because I know how fortunate I am to have a plethora of flexitime at my beck and call. Not everyone has this, but if you do, make the most of it. I find travelling from Thursday to Saturday to make a world of difference to my travel experience, in terms of actual and perceived busy-ness.
For example, last week we left for Cameron Highlands on Thursday, and decided on Saturday to head to the BOH tea plantation to check it out before leaving that afternoon. However, earlier that morning we’d already noticed how much heavier the traffic was (there were some serious hoons out and about), and heading up to the plantation… boy, did we get a lesson real quick. There was a jam for 2km, which happened to move quite quickly, but the “tea rooms” at the plantation were overflowing with people by the time we got there.
Moral of the story? Travel when most other people aren’t, and reap the rewards in empty roads and an abundance of personal space — which leaves me looking rather chuffed:
2. Book ahead
This is pretty straightforward, but something also easy to forget about. Booking ahead (and online) will save you lots of trouble and miscommunications in the long run, and just makes for a nice smooth journey.
In my experiences travelling to Ipoh and Penang, Gav kindly took care of the bookings and it worked like a dream. Except for one sickening moment where, as the train doors closed, I thought I’d boarded us on the wrong train… but apart from that, everything was gravy!
Honestly, your best bet for finding transport to any holiday spot in Malaysia — Ipoh, Penang, Malacca, Cameron Highlands — is just to Google and book. That’s my MO and it’s served me well!
Also, remember to print out everything and have it on you. I know that this is pretty obvious, but I find that paper confirmation is invaluable here… so just have your docs at the ready.
3. take short trips, often
This is something that I’m cottoning onto, and I think it’s perhaps an important thing if you live in any big city. But living in a bustling city like KL really magnifies this feeling for me… that urge to get out and see something different, perhaps a bit more quaint, older, and more personal. Don’t get me wrong, I love cities (which is why I always live in them), but as Joni Mitchell sang, you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.
The ironic thing about KL is that it’s naturally such a tropical, rich environment… but all of that has been knocked down to make way for a seemingly infinite amount of condos. In fact, the area I live in used to be a jungle, even about 10 years ago. But you wouldn’t know it to look at all the building that’s going on here.
So instead, I choose to get out of the big smoke and into the smaller, less explored towns as often as I can. It doesn’t need to be long for me to feel a huge difference in my stress levels and overall wellbeing. Particularly in Cameron Highlands, I noticed a startling difference in air quality that just changed everything. Plus, the fact that I could wear jeans and a jumper and not be a sweaty mess was just a godsend.
So, these are my top tips for doing city breaks in Malaysia… basically, just take holidays when you can and breathe in as much fresh air as yo’ lungs will take. It does the soul good! As I said, I love KL and enjoy mooching about here, but especially with such a naturally beautiful country as Malaysia, there’s a lot to see and do outside the capital.
And so, I’ll be off to Malacca this Thursday, and will be sure to chow down on the incredible food I’ve heard so much about. If you’ve been there before, send me your recommendations — I’m all ears! 🙂
Until next time,