Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forums Other Destination advice The Malaysia and KL master thread

  • Aston100 1,501 posts

    Behold, my revamped itinerary for summer 2023:
    23 nights

    4 nights in Malacca (Holiday Inn. The Doubletree and area around it have gone downhill)
    7 nights in KK (Hilton) couple of day trips to the national park and a couple of day trips for snorkelling and suchlike
    6 nights in the Sepilok / Sandakan area broken down thusly:
    …2 nights at a lodge along the Kinabatangan River (multiple cruises arranged)
    …3 nights at a new lodge in Sepilok (Borneo Sepilok rainforest resort)
    …1 night on Turtle Island (Selingan Island)
    5 nights in Kuching (Hilton)
    1 night in KL at the SamaSama airport hotel

    Some last minute alterations (thank goodness for flexible points bookings) led to a revised itinerary.
    The majority of this was booked with points and led to some amazing redemption value.

    5 nights in Bangkok (Millennium Hilton Riverside) – standard reward room booking, upgraded to Executive Room. Decent hotel but poor pool and I don’t think this is a good location for transport.
    7 nights in Kota Kinabalu (Hilton) – standard reward room booking, upgraded to a large suite (82sqm). Day trip to the national park and 3 * day trips for snorkelling and suchlike. Good hotel. Slightly spoilt by guests from a specific country who were lacking social etiquette (spitting in the pool and sticking bare hands into breakfast buffet etc)
    6 nights in the Sepilok / Sandakan area broken down thusly:
    …2 nights at a lodge along the Kinabatangan River (5 river cruises and a jungle walk) lots of crocs, snakes, birds and monkey sightings. Exceptional value, but beware most lodges in this region are very basic (we did have air con and hot water though).
    …3 nights at a new lodge in Sepilok (Borneo Sepilok rainforest resort) well located for the Orangutans, Sun bears and the Rainforest Discovery Centre (night walk is not to be missed). Had a decent pool too (rarity in this area). Please note, Sandakan is a bit of a dump. Could have got away with 2 nights. Was strangely full of Brits for some reason.
    …1 night on Turtle Island (Selingan Island) horrible accommodation & facilities but the Turtle experience made it worthwhile. Book directly with the official operator (Crystal Quest). Dirt cheap.
    7 nights in Kuching (Hilton) – Riverview suite booked with points – cost the same points as the standard king room. I reckon this was an ‘intern rate error’

    International flights with Qatar: BHX > DOH in J; DOH > BKK in F. 75k each way per person (so 300k for 2 adults, return). Not sure why the First Class sector cost the same as the business class but I’m not complaining.
    Domestic flights (and also flights from Thailand to Malaysia) mostly with Malaysia Airlines. I found the cash price for fully flex tickets was cheaper than using Avios, and obviously gave greater flexibility (fully refundable); priority boarding; 35kg baggage; free seat selection from row 5 onwards.
    Couple of flights with Air Asia.

    Overall, I was very happy with this, and as said, received amazing value for the points.

    Jon 273 posts

    Sounds like you had a fantastic trip!

    On the subject of:

    7 nights in Kota Kinabalu (Hilton) … Slightly spoilt by guests from a specific country who were lacking social etiquette (spitting in the pool and sticking bare hands into breakfast buffet etc)

    Could be worse, if it’s any consolation 😉 Many years ago I stayed at the Shangri-La in Kota Kinabalu, which was also slightly spoilt by guests from a specific country, who evidently felt that loudly playing the recorder (or some other such equally painful instrument) on their balcony at 6am was just what all the other guests needed, and (possibly a different family) who decided the best place for their toddler to take a sh*t was right in the middle of the hotel lawns. Lovely.

    pauline 44 posts

    …2 nights at a lodge along the Kinabatangan River (multiple cruises arranged)
    …3 nights at a new lodge in Sepilok (Borneo Sepilok rainforest resort)

    Was the Kinabatangan River lodge the Sukau Rainforest Lodge by any chance. We are booked for 2 days there and then 2 days at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (don’t think its the same one as its not new) next March – really looking forward to it (and both have AC!)

    mol27 26 posts

    Thank you for the mini trip report Aston100.

    How did you find Kuching and the various day trips from there compared with Sabah? Thanks

    Aston100 1,501 posts

    Thank you for the mini trip report Aston100.

    How did you find Kuching and the various day trips from there compared with Sabah? Thanks

    We enjoyed Kuching but felt the area around it didn’t have as much to offer as around Kota Kinabalu.
    I am aware there are a number of outdoor places of interest around the state of Sarawak, but IMO it doesn’t compare to the options in the state of Sabah e.g. Kinabalu Park (and the mountain for those who are capable), the marine park (TARP), the Kinabatangan River; Danum Valley; Lankayan Island; Selingan Island and various other islands.
    However, we got to see dolphins on a cruise along the Santubong river – something that I don’t think can be found in Sabah state.

    Surprisingly, what we enjoyed above all else about Kuching (and the state of Sarawak) was the unexpected history of the place. Unexpected to us of course.
    We found it really fascinating going around various museums and through parts of the city in order to learn more about the White Rajahs (Brooke family) and how the state was previously pretty much a private kingdom run by an English family.
    Kuching felt like a better city to be in than KK, but at state level Sabah beats Sarawak in my opinion.

    In hindsight, 5 days is more than enough in Kuching in my opinion.

    AndyGWP 279 posts

    I’ve just jumped on the BA flights to KUL Avios bandwagon, so bumping this thread so that:

    a) Other folk who have done similar can have a read of it
    b) I remember to read it

    I’m sure I’ll be back with questions at some point!

    Aston100 1,501 posts

    I’ve just jumped on the BA flights to KUL Avios bandwagon, so bumping this thread

    It’s useful to note that Malaysia Airlines will interline onto BA (and other Oneworld partners), which is useful if you’re coming back from somewhere like Borneo or Langkawi.

    AndyGWP 279 posts

    Hi experts… so, we’re going in Feb ’25

    Our plan is a few days in KL, then work our way from there to Penang via. Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands, Ipoh.

    I don’t really want to hire a car (hire prices are a bit mad and I just don’t want to drive anyways), but found this that would work really well:
    https://www.tamannegara.asia/packages/cameron-highlands/4d3n-taman-negara-cameron-highlands/

    Unfortunately, reviews for the company seem awful!

    Anyone aware of anything similar? or a way for us to do what I’ve outlined above. It seems we can easily get from KL to Cameron using a private hire, and we can use Grab there and to Ipoh (where we can train to Penang). I just don’t know how we can squeeze in Taman Negara efficiently?

    (We’d probably fly back from Penang to KL, or train but I’ve not looked into it yet)

    Thanks 🙂

    runnerbean 56 posts

    Hi experts… so, we’re going in Feb ’25

    Our plan is a few days in KL, then work our way from there to Penang via. Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands, Ipoh.

    I don’t really want to hire a car (hire prices are a bit mad and I just don’t want to drive anyways), but found this that would work really well:
    https://www.tamannegara.asia/packages/cameron-highlands/4d3n-taman-negara-cameron-highlands/

    Unfortunately, reviews for the company seem awful!

    Anyone aware of anything similar? or a way for us to do what I’ve outlined above. It seems we can easily get from KL to Cameron using a private hire, and we can use Grab there and to Ipoh (where we can train to Penang). I just don’t know how we can squeeze in Taman Negara efficiently?

    (We’d probably fly back from Penang to KL, or train but I’ve not looked into it yet)

    Thanks 🙂

    We’re in Singapore now for 4 nights having just done 5 nights in Bangkok, 3 nights Penang , 2 nights Cameron Highlands, 3 nights Melaka. We used Exo travel for transfers and the Malaysia hotels. Grab has been v useful throughout and astonishingly cheap. We travelled to Cameron highlands at the weekend and it was a big mistake ie 4.5 hours at a pace barely above walking speed and Majestic Hotel there was expensive and not pleasant. Weekday could be ok but we were kicking our heels for things to do in the daily rain. In retrospect swapping this out for Langkawi would have been better.

    If we were repeating I’d certainly do E&O in Penang again – they were very good. Majestic KL also v good. Can’t comment on Taman Negara other than 35 years ago I spent a night in a hide there and saw one civet sans coffee beans. We preferred Melaka to Penang.

    Our experience of being driven in Malaysia is generally that the standard of driving is very hairy. I wouldn’t consider it… I bumped into some guys in KL who were also using long distance buses.

    Hope that helps?

    runnerbean 56 posts

    Hi experts… so, we’re going in Feb ’25

    Our plan is a few days in KL, then work our way from there to Penang via. Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands, Ipoh.

    I don’t really want to hire a car (hire prices are a bit mad and I just don’t want to drive anyways), but found this that would work really well:
    https://www.tamannegara.asia/packages/cameron-highlands/4d3n-taman-negara-cameron-highlands/

    Unfortunately, reviews for the company seem awful!

    Anyone aware of anything similar? or a way for us to do what I’ve outlined above. It seems we can easily get from KL to Cameron using a private hire, and we can use Grab there and to Ipoh (where we can train to Penang). I just don’t know how we can squeeze in Taman Negara efficiently?

    (We’d probably fly back from Penang to KL, or train but I’ve not looked into it yet)

    Thanks 🙂

    We’re in Singapore now for 4 nights having just done 5 nights in Bangkok, 3 nights Penang , 2 nights Cameron Highlands, 3 nights Melaka. We used Exo travel for transfers and the Malaysia hotels. Grab has been v useful throughout and astonishingly cheap. We travelled to Cameron highlands at the weekend and it was a big mistake ie 4.5 hours at a pace barely above walking speed and Majestic Hotel there was expensive and not pleasant. Weekday could be ok but we were kicking our heels for things to do in the daily rain. In retrospect swapping this out for Langkawi would have been better.

    If we were repeating I’d certainly do E&O in Penang again – they were very good. Majestic KL also v good. Can’t comment on Taman Negara other than 35 years ago I spent a night in a hide there and saw one civet sans coffee beans. We preferred Melaka to Penang.

    Our experience of being driven in Malaysia is generally that the standard of driving is very hairy. I wouldn’t consider it… I bumped into some guys in KL who were also using long distance buses.

    Hope that helps?

    BBbetter 821 posts

    There are luxury coaches that run between cities. Very comfortable with recliner seats and takes the stress out. Get a local sim or books if you prefer that and you’ll be entertained during the journey even if delayed.
    I agree with above comment that Cameron highlands can be skipped. It’s not a must see destination. It’s more geared towards locals trying to escape the heat in the cities.

    HampshireHog 176 posts

    Worth noting that El Portillo is back on Iplayer with his Asia tramp starting in KL

    moonman 3 posts

    Am I being daft, but I cant seem to find any BA 2-4-1 availability at all to Kuala Lumpur this autumn/winter? Has it really completely sold out of avios seats?

    AndyGWP 279 posts

    Thanks @runnerbean and @BBbetter – time to re-evaluate options…

    AndyGWP 279 posts

    Hi folks, so the current plan is:

    – 2 full days in KL
    Train to Penang
    – 3 full days in Georgetown
    Travel to Batu Ferrengi or Langkawi or somewhere similar to relax?
    – 3 full days ‘there’
    (then back to KL, and fly home)

    Any opinions to throw out there? Bit stuck on the 3 full days of relaxation? Wondering if best to stay on Penang in terms of time and cost saving, unless there are strong reasons to go to Langkawi (we’re not big beach people to be honest, just been a rough few years so like the idea of having a few days to chill)

    (also still toying with tweaking things slightly and getting driver to Cameron for a night, then getting train / ferry to Penang the next day – that would mean we’d travel to Cameron on a Sunday)

    Thanks

    runnerbean 56 posts

    Hi folks, so the current plan is:

    – 2 full days in KL
    Train to Penang
    – 3 full days in Georgetown
    Travel to Batu Ferrengi or Langkawi or somewhere similar to relax?
    – 3 full days ‘there’
    (then back to KL, and fly home)

    Any opinions to throw out there? Bit stuck on the 3 full days of relaxation? Wondering if best to stay on Penang in terms of time and cost saving, unless there are strong reasons to go to Langkawi (we’re not big beach people to be honest, just been a rough few years so like the idea of having a few days to chill)

    (also still toying with tweaking things slightly and getting driver to Cameron for a night, then getting train / ferry to Penang the next day – that would mean we’d travel to Cameron on a Sunday)

    Thanks

    Couple of comments – We struggled to find enough to see and do in Penang for two full days. I was thankful for the infinity pool at E&O.

    And Cameron Highlands. I may have as already said this but our timing was bad ie the weekend. 4 hrs 35mins from Penang in a car (with driver, bypassing all traffic by going down the middle of the white lines at every opportunity). C. 3 hours or so coming down to KL. The Majestic Hotel was very uninspiring, food not great and alcohol was Singaporean in terms of cost.

    AndyGWP 279 posts

    Thanks @runnerbean – yes, I’d picked up those comments but had (naively) assumed travelling on a Sunday would be ok. I had the LA – Vegas weekend traffic in my mind… I’m assuming this isn’t what you mean though? Other than hotel, how was Cameron? much to see / do there?

    Thanks for Georgetown comments – we will probably reduce time there then, but struggling with what to do / where to go instead.

    Aston100 1,501 posts

    Thanks for Georgetown comments – we will probably reduce time there then, but struggling with what to do / where to go instead.

    I’m going to be staying for 5 to 7 nights over there when I revisit Malaysia.
    Which goes to show how different everybody is.

    runnerbean 56 posts

    @AndyGWP I’m not familiar with the LA Vegas traffic. The last few miles up to Cameron Highlands were (I calculated) slower than walking pace because of the sheer volume. We were looking at either Apple Maps or google maps, can’t remember which, and it showed red lines right the way up. I don’t know if you can access live maps from UK but if so it would be worth looking for the time/ day of the week to get an idea of traffic flows. In terms of things to do and see, it was not practical to use Grab to do sightseeing simply because of the traffic. Given this, we did a bit of local walking and there is a golf course, strawberry farm, nature walks etc. I don’t know what a Sunday trip would be like. It just didn’t do it for us.

    BBbetter 821 posts

    Thanks for Georgetown comments – we will probably reduce time there then, but struggling with what to do / where to go instead.

    If it’s not already on your list, you can include the temples in Penang. Some were built in 18th and 19th century by the earliest settlers from India and China. Lovely architecture.

    Penang Hill is a tourist trap, but good to escape the heat for a while.

    TunnocksTeaCake 24 posts

    We were in Malaysia in January 2024 and visited Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. We travelled there by bus from KL, stayed 2 nights and then travelled by bus to George Town. Bus journeys were comfortable and cheap. However we were underwhelmed by Tanah Rata, finding not much to see or do there. We took a full day tour to tea plantation, strawberry farm, etc. but felt the tour company were simply “padding” to fill the day.

    pauline 44 posts

    Looking to spend 3 days in Penang next March and E and O seems to a recommended choice – there are very different rooms. Can anyone who has stayed there give me their preference and why thanks

    TicknBash 56 posts

    Just done a road trip for 2 nights in Cameron and 4 nights in Penang.
    Would recommend avoiding the weekend for both places as it is popular local tourist destinations which also helps with lower hotel rates and queues for attractions.

    Stayed 2 nights at Jawi Peranakan Mansion in Penang which is a restored old mansion with plenty of character and close to plenty of local food options and reasonably priced.

    2 nights at Shangri La Rasa Sayang which is a beach front resort but the beach was underwhelming but the resort itself is maintained at a good standard. So if it’s relaxed luxury E&O will be the go to choice.

    Locals say there’s an unusual heatwave now midday reaching a burning 35 degrees and some days definitely feels more especially with the humidity here.

    Back in KL now before setting off to Perhentian islands next week.

    Aston100 1,501 posts

    Back in KL now before setting off to Perhentian islands next week.

    Good luck. Look forward to feedback on this.
    Not many trip reports on the internet.

    runnerbean 56 posts

    Looking to spend 3 days in Penang next March and E and O seems to a recommended choice – there are very different rooms. Can anyone who has stayed there give me their preference and why thanks

    Hi @Pauline, we had a studio suite in the Victory Annexe and were very pleased with it. The room was huge and looked out onto the sea, balcony, huge bathroom with two sinks, two wardrobes, roll top bath and double shower – and best of all there was a decent door between the bathroom and the bedroom. We did struggle, and failed, to lock the balcony doors at night. Other than that it was lovely

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.