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This journey through the tropical peninsular takes us from the gleaming modern metropolis of Singapore to the idyllic beaches of Langkawi. We discover colonial buildings in Malacca, stay overnight in a forest homestay and learn how tea is picked in the Cameron Highlands.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights simple homestay
11 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Singapore, Southeast Asia's financial powerhouse and famously its cleanest, greenest city.
Located just one degree north of the equator and surrounded by rainforest, modern-day Singapore is uniquely positioned to understand its own impact on the environment, and has been working hard to earn its reputation as the 'Garden City'. The concrete fronts of skyscrapers and buildings are being repurposed to accommodate green spaces wherever possible, creating their own colourful eco-systems in the sky. And although being one of the most densely populated countries on the planet, over 50% of Singapore is made up of parks and gardens, including of course the very unique Gardens by the Bay.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), which is one hour from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information over breakfast on day 2.
After the welcome meeting our Tour Leader plans to lead you on a night-walking tour to experience something synonymous with the Singapore experience- its mouth-watering street food. We hop on a public bus and make our way towards Chinatown, first stopping at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Bathed in the twinkling glow of the city's evening lights, its a place where local Singaporeans come to wind down after a busy day, and is a great spot to witness some games of Chinese Chess being expertly played.
We then move on to Lau Pa Sat, the famous hawkers centre with its mind-boggling array of stalls. Offering anything from classics like steaming Singapore noodles and Malaysian Laksa to Shanghai pork buns or thunder tea rice, it is the place to get adventurous with food. Our Leader will talk us through a variety of dishes, and we end the night with a cooling desert such mango shaved ice or perhaps even a durian dessert.
Ibis Bencoolen (or similar)
This morning we head off on foot to discover more of this eclectic city. We start in the characterful commune of Little India, which grew from an Indian enclave in the 19th Century to the buzzing community we find today; brimming with restaurants, shops and art galleries all steeped in Tamil culture. We next move onto Kampong Glam, where the towering golden dome of the Sultan's Mosque watches over the narrow lanes of the Malay quarter, filled with boutique shops selling home-made wares and quirky street art galleries. We change environment again as we move into the Civic District, the birthplace of modern-day Singapore. It was from here where Sir Stamford Raffles vision of Singapore pored outwards, and befittingly it houses some excellent, well-preserved colonial-era buildings, such as the old Parliament House, Supreme Court building and the iconic Cricket Club.
Moving into the more modern areas of Singapore, we stop off at the home of the Merlion, a mythical creature that's half-lion, half-fish, depicted here as a statue spouting water into the Singapore River below. Merlion Park offers great views of the glittering Marina Bay as a backdrop to this famous statue. We end our walking tour today at the Boat Quay, the perfect water-side spot to enjoy a bite to eat or perhaps even a Singapore Sling at one of the many colourful alfresco bars or restaurants.
The remainder of the day has been left free to relax, or to further explore the city at your own pace. Those interested in shopping may wish to visit the trendy Orchard Street, art and nature lovers may wish to stroll around the Gardens by the Bay, and it is also possible to organise a river cruise to see the city from a different perspective.
Leaving Singapore behind this morning, we cross at Woodlands checkpoint on to the Johor Causeway bridge out of the city and then across border into Malaysia. We drive north, reaching the Dutch-colonial settlement of Malacca in around four hours. Malacca is one of the oldest towns in Malaysia, and certainly the most cosmopolitan. In its time it has been ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the Japanese, finally becoming Malay in 1957.
This afternoon we make a visit to Villa Sentosa. This traditional house offering an interesting insight into the daily lives of a typical middle-class Malaysian family at the turn of the 20th century. This house-come-museum has been kept almost entirely as it was 100 years ago, and is located within the sleepy settlement of Kampong Morten, a village community hidden within the confines of the city.
This evening we include a river cruise, offering an interesting vantage point to watch the sun set over the colonial cityscape.
Rosa Malacca (or similar)
Old Malacca is a fascinating area to wander around and discover and this morning we include a walking tour of some of the major sights such as the tomb of Hang Kasturi, one of Malacca's five great 15th century warriors, and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia.
We then continue on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, where we should arrive in the late afternoon. East and West rub shoulders in this eclectic and energetic city. KL (as it is known locally) has a hugely varied population, comprising mainly of Malays, Sikhs, Chinese, Indians, Tamils (many in local dress), and the odd splash of saffron from a robed Buddhist monk, adding colour to the vibrant street scenes.
Travelodge Bukit Bintang (or similar)
This morning we embark on a walking tour to uncover some of the cultural diversity of this lively and modern city. The tour starts at the colourfully decorated Guan Yin Temple, an ornate Buddhist temple dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion. We then venture into Chinatown and onto Petaling Street, a pedestrianised lane lined with traditional Chinese lanterns and where anything from sunglasses to Bonsai trees can be bought. We move next onto the Hindu temple of Sri Maha Mariamman, a towering temple that is South Indian in style, and is said to be the oldest Hindu temple in all of Malaysia. On our way out of Chinatown we stop via the Central Market before crossing the Gombak River and onto the city's birthplace. This area offers a stark contrast from Chinatown and is full of historic buildings such as the Cathedral of Saint Mary and the Tudor-styled Royal Selangor club, from Malaysia's colonial days.
The rest of the day is free at leisure. If you would prefer to explore, you may wish to visit 'KLCC' , the area in which the magnificent Petronas Towers lie. For wonderful views of the Towers along with a choice of Asian-inspired cocktails, head for the 'Sky Bar', residing on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel, directly opposite the towers.
This morning we head out of the city and on to the iconic Batu Caves. Some 272 steps lead up to the sacred Hindu temple that lies inside the cave, and wonderful views of the city and beyond can be had from the entrance. The temple is a shrine to a Hindu deity, Lord Murugah and the complex consists of three caves full of colourful Hindu murals and artwork. After some time spent exploring, and perhaps witnessing a puja if we are lucky (a Hindu ceremony of worship where often an offering to the gods or deity will be made), we will continue north to Perak. Although a journey of 400 kilometres, the drive is comfortable and on a well-laid highway. We expect to make it to our homestay in Chenderoh Lake by the early afternoon.
The Suka Suka Lake Retreat is set on the banks of Chenderoh Lake and offers a great insight into daily life in rural Malaysia. It is set amongst tropical forests and working rubber plantations, and its accommodation comprises of a selection of traditional 'Kampung' style guesthouses with en-suite bathrooms and hot showers. Fans and mosquito nets are provided in all of the rooms.
After settling into our homestay we set off for an orientation walk around the local area. This area is home to many different plantations, and we will walk through active rubber and palm oil plantations to learn about how these crops are harvested, and why locals have chosen to make a living this way. We hope it offers a unique insight at a grassroots level into the realities of the oil palm trade, a multi-billion dollar industry for which Malaysia is the second-largest exporter in the world.
We will help to prepare dinner tonight alongside our hosts, which is likely to be a selection local fried fish, nasi goreng (tasty fried rice often served with egg and spices) and steamed vegetables. Sambal is another staple at dinner time - a kind of garnish paste made with chillies, herbs and spices. After dinner there is a chance to try your hand at Congkak - a popular Malaysian board game played with stones or beans.
Suka Suka Homestay (or similar)
This morning has been left free to relax in our natural surroundings. There is the option to take a kayak and have a gentle paddle around the calm waters of Chendorah Lake, or perhaps take another short walk.
Waving goodbye to our hosts we set off for the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia's hill-country. The highlands were discovered in the hey-days of the colonial era, with Victorian explorers sending home news of verdant slopes and mild climes which offered respite to Malaysia's punishing summer swelter. The British soon moved in, and up popped country estate houses, vast swathes of lush tea plantations and curious traditions of tea, scones and strawberries.
Present-day Cameron Highlands still retains some of this nostalgic charm, and tea plantations still make up large parts of the landscape.
Dinner tonight serves up a contrast to all of this British influence, as we will be cooking our own Malaysian hot pot. A hearty meal often eaten during winter months, this traditional way of cooking allows for meat and fish to be fried, and vegetables and other ingredients to be boiled all together in one pot under an open flame.
Strawberry Park Resorts (or similar)
Travelling by 4WD this morning, we will drive out to the nearby 'Mossy Forest' for a short walk through this eerie landscape. The forest lies at the highest elevation of this range, and as such is enveloped in near-permanent cloud cover, covering the forest in mist and constant moisture. This provides the perfect environment for moss, ferns and other evergreen plants to flourish.
After the Mossy Forest we will continue onto BOH tea factory. Nestled within many hectares of lush tea plantations, BOH have been growing tea for nearly 100 years. We will take a walk through the rows of plantations to see how tea is grown, picked and harvested, before visiting the factory to learn how it is refined to create the different varieties we find in our brews. We end with tea tasting in BOH's tea rooms, located high up with panoramic views of the plantations below.
After lunch, we leave the Cameron Highlands and drive to the provincial city of Ipoh. From here we board our high-speed train, a comfortable two hour journey to Butterworth.
Ozo Georgetown (or similar)
Often called the 'Pearl of the Orient' by the local people, Penang lies some 4km off the Malay mainland. Its deep-water harbour is ideal for trade and so the island has become a haven of commerce. This morning we take an excursion around the island by private bus; visiting the majestic Kek Lok Si Temple, located on top of a hill, giving us a good insight into local life as it takes us through rural villages. You can also ride on the funicular railway to the top of Penang Hill (optional) for far reaching views across the island. In the afternoon you are free to explore. The Botanical Gardens are beautiful and can be reached quite easily by local bus, and there are many other interesting mosques and Buddhist temples to see. Appreciators of art should search out the local batik work at the Penang Art Gallery. In the evening we will organise to eat at one of the many local food stalls that Penang is so famous for, whether Indian, Chinese or Malay, the choice is yours!
We rise early this morning for our ferry to the idyllic island paradise of Langkawi, a journey of approximately three hours. Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands lying just off the west coast of the Malaysian Peninsular. Surrounded by turquoise waters, the interior of the main island is a mixture of jungle-clad hills and picturesque paddy fields. This lush interior is encapsulated by white-sand beaches lapped by the warm waters of the Andaman Sea; an ideal place to relax or explore for our last few days in Malaysia. We will be met on arrival on the island and transferred to our base for the next 3 nights, where the rest of the day has been left free at leisure.
Holiday Villa Langkawi (or similar)
Today is a free day where you can choose to relax on the beautiful coconut palm-fringed beaches or perhaps snorkel amongst the tropical fish of the Andaman Sea. If you would prefer to remain more active, there are a number of optional excursions which can be arranged. Optional excursions include a cycling tour where you can explore some of the island's towns and villages on two wheels, an island-hopping cruise where you can discover some of the lesser-visited islands of the archipelago, or a visit to the Northern Mangroves taking in the unique geology, flora and fauna of this area.
We have another free day to relax, unwind, or explore.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Langkawi.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Langkawi at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Langkawi International Airport (LGK), which is 30 minutes from the hotel.
Temperatures are uniform throughout the year, with conditions on the coast more humid. Day-time temperatures reach around 31°C and then drop at night to about 23°C. There is no clearly defined wet and dry seasons, though the southwest monsoon (September to November) and the northeast monsoon (November to February) bring rather more rain. On the west coast rain tends to fall mainly in short lived thunderstorms, and the sky clears quite quickly.
3 Pin Flat
Temperatures are uniform throughout the year, with conditions on the coast more humid. Day-time temperatures reach around 31°C and then drop at night to about 23°C. There is no clearly defined wet and dry seasons, though the southwest monsoon (September to November) and the northeast monsoon (November to February) bring rather more rain.
3 Pin (type G)
Penang - Take a trip on the funicular hill railway for views of Georgetown and beyond - £7.00 per person Kuala Lumpur - Dinner dance show £12.00 per person Langkawi - Cable Car and Oriental Village - £25 per person Langkawi - Tour of northern mangroves and bat caves - £32 per person Langkawi - Boat trip and snorkelling Pulau Payar Marine Park - £50 per person
Pack for hot conditions. Bear in mind that the region is tropical (humid) and that days can be very hot. Lightweight rainwear is advisable all year. Casual clothes are the most practical (something with long sleeves, and long trousers for evenings). Malaysia is a Muslim country so dress with respect, tight or brief shorts and clothes should be avoided by both men and women.
Comfortable shoes and sandals. Lightweight walking shoes are recommended.
One main piece of baggage and daysac. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
A small torch, some insect repellent and a water bottle for walks.
Bus, Ferry, Train
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
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Malaysia: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. All passports must have at least 6 months validity after departure from Malaysia. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
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You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
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