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destination | malaysia Coastal Escapes


Island life is a great wind-down after exploring the cities and remote jungles, and Malaysia boasts some impressive beaches and resorts. Langkawi is perhaps the most famous of the resort islands, and one that’s attracted a wealth of luxury hotels since it started developing in the 1980s. Langkawi is surrounded by the same stunning


Andaman Sea as many of its T ai rivals, but manages to avoid an overwhelming nightlife scene, retaining a more tranquil poise. Take the


SkyCab cable car to the top of Machincang mountain for amazing views. Tioman Island is impressively unspoiled.


In among the pristine fl ora and greenery, it’s possible to fi nd long stretches of seductive beach, with coral reefs to explore while snorkeling or diving. Penang has a very colonial feel to it, and


reinvented itself after the collapse of the British Empire. After taking in the capital Georgetown, head to the Batu Ferringhi beach resort for watersports. T ere are also beachside bazaars and a reassuringly wide choice of modern international hotels.


FASTFACTS Tioman Island.


Below: Boh tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands


Rural Life


Escape the heat of the lowlands in the Cameron Highlands, a colonial throwback that still has working tea plantations. Hill stations pepper the verdant slopes, and you could forget you were in the tropics thanks to the region’s microclimate. Probably the best place to experience the


indigenous cultures of the Malaysian peninsula is in the town of Kota Bharu, bordering T ailand on the east coast. Its night markets have a wealth of traditional food, locally made handicrafts and shows featuring traditional shadow puppets. It’s a good place to be for national holidays


or festivals, especially the Sultan’s birthday in March and the Kite Festival in June. Sarawak also has ancient tribal villages to visit.


Ulu Ai is one such place, where the Iban people have lived unchanged for centuries. Visit their longhouses, lining the banks of the Skrang and Lemenak rivers, and witness traditional life tied up in the local agricultural economy. Many wear the colorful tribal clothes of their peoples. 


86 | ASTAnetwork | summer 2014


 CLIMATE: Malaysia has an equatorial climate, with relatively high levels of heat and humidity throughout the year. It has two monsoon seasons, from late May to September and from November to March. Localized climates can be found across the country’s mountain ranges.  CURRENCY: Malaysian ringgit (MYR). $1 = MYR3.23.  TIME: GMT +8.  DIAL CODE: +60.  GETTING THERE: Los Angeles is the most used US hub for fl ights to Kuala Lumpur, with Cathay Pacifi c being the main carrier. The majority of its routes have a stop in Hong Kong.  GETTING AROUND: Peninsular Malaysia has an excellent bus system, with local public buses for short journeys and private coaches for longer trips. Driving is simple here compared to many other Asian countries, but low-cost airlines are a better way to travel between regions.  GEOGRAPHY: Malaysia is on the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia. It also includes Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Most of Malaysia is covered by forest.  US VISITOR FIGURES: There were around 200,000 US visitors in 2013.  TOURIST BOARD: Tourism Malaysia. tourismmalaysiausa.com  SAMPLE: SITA World Tours offers a seven- night Best of Malaysia tour from $1,800 per person, double, taking in Kuchin in Sarawak, a river safari on the Lemanak River, hiking on Mount Kinabalu, orangutans in Sandakan and the highlights of KL. The price includes B&B accommodation, transfers and guided tours, but excludes international fl ights. T: 1 800 421 5643. sitatours.com


THAILAND CAMBODIA


South China Sea


Penang Langkawi


Batu Caves


KUALA LUMPUR


Peninsular Malaysia


SINGAPORE


Mt Kinabalu BRUNEI


MALAYSIA


Tioman Island


SARAWAK Borneo


INDIAN OCEAN 200 miles


INDONESIA Java Sea


Sepilok SABAH Sungai


Malaysian Borneo


Kinabatangan


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MAP: JOHN PLUMER. IMAGES: TOURISM MALAYSIA; GETTY


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