Quick Guide to Borneo (the resort of Rasa Ria)

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How to get there

You can fly in from Kuala Lumpur or Penang with Air Asia or transfer in from Brunei as other travellers we met had done.  We transferred from Penang airport and it cost just under £50 pp.

Where to stay

The Shangri La Rasa Ria has an on site nature reserve and orangutan rehabilitation centre.  It’s probably one of the best hotels in the world due to its super standard rooms and incredibly friendly and professional service.

What to do

This is largely resort based and Borneo itself has lots to offer but for now, see what you can do mainly at the Rasa Ria:

  • Play golf – the resort has an 18 hole championship golf course adjoining the hotel
  • See the orangutans – there are morning and afternoon sessions –  take good footwear and appropriate clothes for a jungle type trek.  If you have an electronic fan this would be helpful as would a hat as it can get exceptionally hot.

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  • Take a trip to Mount Kinabalu and take a trek to remember
  • See the Fireflies – this is weather dependant and so book early in your stay

Where to eat

There is street food available throughout Borneo and not too far from the hotel but do be careful.  If red tide hits when you’re there, we would advise you stick to the hotel restaurants.

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To see our photos of the resort click HERE

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Quick Guide to Penang

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How to get there

You can fly from KL to Penang and we can recommend the award winning budget airline, Air Asia, to get you there.  If you are heading to Penang from Ipoh or the Cameron Highlands, you can get a coach for about £8 for 2 people with Sri Maju (the bus station is about a 10 minute walk from the M Boutique hotel in Ipoh).

Where to stay

Depending on your budget and the experience you would like, we would suggest two alternatives.

Noordin Mews – for around £50 – £60 per night you can stay at this wonderfully welcoming and cosy hotel.  The door is bolted and locked with a padlock and all rooms centre on the pool in the courtyard.  It’s small and friendly and provides an excellent breakfast and is also in a great location.

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Eastern & Oriental – for £130 a night you can stay at this elegant colonial hotel set in a beautiful location overlooking the water.

What to do

  • Street Art by Ernest Zacharevic located all across Georgetown.  Most hotels will have a map of where this can be found.

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  • Fort Cornwallis – visit early to avoid the heat.
  • The Clan Jetties – Chew Jetty is the oldest – have lunch at Chew jetty right at the entrance as it really is very good.

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  • Penang Hill – a little bus ride out and so go early as you can twin this with the Kek Lok Si Temple.  You can get a gold cart around Penang Hill but if you can, talk the walk as you may see a bit more!  Don’t forget the monkey cups.

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  • Kek Lok Si Temple – situated a manageable walk away from Penang Hill although you can get a bus but why miss out on the all Malaysian restaurants on the way?!  This is very commercialised and is nice to see but can feel quite intense at times.

Where to eat

Gerogetown, Penang is one of the best places to visit if you’re a foodie!  You really are spoiled for choice here and it is difficult to narrow this down to just a few options.  However, we would recommend:

Little Kitchen – a wonderful restaurant on Lebuh Noordin and the smallest kitchen in Penang!  Mr Loh and his family are the friendliest hosts and you can dine very well for about £22 for two people!  If you stay at Noordin Mews, get them to book this for you and you will be treated extra well.

Street food which can be found just around the corner from Noordin Mews on Lebuh McNair.  It’s much smaller than the larger street food selections further into town but we found it a much more intimate dining experience and could relax (and find a table).

To see our photos of Penang, click HERE

Quick Guide to Cameron Highlands

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How to get there

We took a day trip from Ipoh and hired a taxi for the day which picked us up at 9am, drove us around the Highlands and dropped us back to our hotel for about 6pm.  It cost about £59.00.  We organised this with our hotel in Ipoh (M Boutique).

You can also get a bus from various other departure points (see HERE for alternatives) but it really doesn’t give you enough time to explore the Highlands in a day and therefore we would recommend that if you did this, to stay over in the Highlands.

Where to stay

The Lakehouse gets good reviews and is in a very good location to explore the Highlands.

We visited the Smokehouse and it was beautifully English and the service was good and s could recommend you look at this property too.

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What to do

There are lots of things to do including a visit to the mossy forest, lavender plantations, a number or tea plantations and museums but we have picked just a few:

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  • Smokehouse for afternoon tea – we had an afternoon tea for one, a hot chocolate and strawberry sundae for just £11 in a setting which could have been the UK on a hot summers day
  • Sam Poh Temple is worth a visit on the way out and let the fishes kiss your fingers….try it!

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 Don’t forget your strawberry jam as a souvenir.

Where to eat

Singh Chapati Urban Restaurant is currently top on Trip Advisor for a reason.  For tasty reasonably priced food you can’t go wrong.

To see some more photos of the Cameron Highlands click HERE

Quick Guide to Ipoh

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How to get there

From KL Sentral you can get the train to Ipoh for about £6.50 and it will take roughly 2.5 hours.  The trains are clean and come with entertainment!  You can book in advance HERE.

Where to stay

There are a good few to choose from but we loved M Boutique which was not in the centre and so not so hectic but it wasn’t too far to walk in – about 10 minutes.

We loved the quirky breakfasts!

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What to do

Some of our top attractions include:

  • A general walkabout will have you seeing lots.  There is the Birch Memorial Clock Tower, the train station with the Ipoh Tree outside, Tin Museum (check opening times before visiting), you can take iced drinks from locals at the stands they run near to the river etc.
  • Gunung Rapat: 3 temples – you will need to get a taxi here but it’s quite cheap.  You will find 3 temples on one street and they are quite vast and so allow a couple of hours.  You may want to ask your taxi driver to wait for you (we didn’t and had to start walking back and Malaysia is not good for pedestrians!).  You can buy food at the oldest temple (and the one which is furthest away) to feed the tortoises.

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  • Break the Code – something which is very much not cultural but it’s different and if the weather isn’t good, it’s not a bad place to go.  We haven’t laughed so much in a while!

 Where to eat

Try Restoran Ong Kee (Tauge Ayam).  Now there are a few of these and the Trip Advisor review does not picture the one we tried.  Head to the one which takes over the corner plot, it’s much bigger.  The food is tasty and very reasonably priced.

Also, you may want to try Missing Marbles which has friendly hosts and serves great food in a very relaxed setting.

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See our photos of Ipoh HERE

Quick Guide to Kuala Lumpur

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How to get there

From the airport you can take a taxi for about £10 each way or a train from the airport into KL Sentral (on the KILA Ekspres) for £13 return.

Where to stay

There is lots of choice in KL to cover every budget but we loved:

Hilton Kuala Lumpur

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Situated near to the train station where you will arrive if you get the train from the airport into the centre and so ideally located for a quick stop in KL.

We love the modern rooms where the bathroom flows into the bedroom and it’s also very quiet.

Shangri La Kuala Lumpur

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More centrally located than the Hilton and just minutes away from the Petronas Towers and close to the monorail that runs through the city and so very easy to get around.

We love the luxurious feel to every part of this hotel (make sure you have an evening drink in the bar listening to the pianist).

What to do

Get yourself a good guide book and plan your trip well (e.g. the Petronas Towers are closed on Mondays – this is useful to know before you get there).  We really like the DK guides but choose one you like and are familiar with.

Some of our top attractions include:

  • Petronas Towers – book online in advance
  • Batu Caves – a love or hate thing but very cheap to get to from KL Sentral station (about 75p return)

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  • Merdeka Square – a general walk around here and you will find the world’s tallest flagpole, the city gallery, the Sultan Abdul Samad building and some quaint British styled buildings.
  • Masjid Jamek Mosque – wonderful volunteers made this an exceptionally welcoming and interesting place to visit (if you’re not covering your arms and legs, you will need to borrow a robe with a hood)

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  • Don’t forget a walk around China Town and if you can, find and visit Sze Ya Temple, our favourite!

If your trip is part of a stop-over, Wonderful Malaysia provides lots of helpful hints.

Where to eat

You can’t go to KL without a trip to Jalan Alor.  This is a bustling street with a feast of options to satisfy your stomach.  Have a look at this list of foods to try and see how many you can get through!

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See our photo album HERE

South Africa Exclusive

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The wonderful tour operator, Visions, has put together 2 terrific luxury deals to pass on to its customers as an early Christmas present!  The first is a 13 night tour of the country taking in Capetown, the Winelands, the Garden Route and a game reserve from just £2,130 pp.  The accommodation is luxurious and the added extras are a one off and so this really is a terrific deal (accommodation can always be changed to suit your budget).  The second offers 9 nights and takes in Capetown, the Winelands and the magnificent Kruger Park and starts from £2,659 pp.

If South Africa is on your bucket list, make 2015 the year it’s ticked off.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss these deals or your tailor-made trip to South Africa.  There is no obligation to book but you may find it hard not to when you see the itineraries we can offer!

Deal one: South Africa Exclusive 13 nights

Deal two: South Africa Exclusive 9 nights

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Call us now on 07951 219293