About Malaysia & Singapore Travel
Batu Caves: The limestone Batu Caves is home to a series of caves and cave temples in the Gombak District a short distance north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It takes its name from the nearby Batu River. The caves are among the most honored Hindu shrines outside of India. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam. The limestone caves are thought to be about 400 millions years old. By 1860, Chinese settlers began excavating the caves for guano to fertilize vegetable patches. The colonial settlers described the site as did the American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878. Batu Caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader, who was inspired to dedicate a temple to Lord Murugan within the caves. In 1890, Pillai, who also founded the fantastic Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur, installed the murti (consecrated statue) of Sri Murugan Swami in what is today known as the Temple Cave, which now includes several Hindu shrines beneath its high vaulted ceiling. Since 1892, the Thaipusam festival has been celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai, which falls in late January/early February. Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920 and have since been replaced by 272 concrete steps. Temple Cave. It is a pilgrimage site for Hindus worldwide.
Cameron Highlands: Cameron Highlands is north of Kuala Lumpur, in Pahang, Malaysia. At 1,524 meters/5,000 feet, it offers a cool retreat. The highland district is ideal for growing strawberries, roses, vegetables and tea. It also has a butterfly farm, Brinchang Hindu Temples, Sam Poh Chinese Mahayana Buddhist Temple and Market Square.
Kota Kinabalu: Wildlife, diverse ethnic groups and exotic flora define the area. Dramatic caves are filled with impressive formations and specially adapted wildlife. It is the capital of Sabah state in East Malaysia. This industrial city is on the coast of Borneo facing the South China Sea. Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park lies on one side. Nearby Mt. Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4,095 meters/1,3431feet. This is a gateway to Sabah and Borneo. Malaysia’s first national park, Kinabalu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a vital biological site with more than 4,500 species of flora and fauna. Padas River offers excellent whitewater rafting.
Kuala Lumpur: The capital city is the largest in Malaysia, encompassing some 43 square kilometers/94 square miles. It is the economic engine of the country. It is a designated global city, meaning that it is an important part of the global economic system. KL is the cultural hub of Malaysia and home to Petronas Philharmonic Hall and several museums including the National Art Museum. The Islamic Arts Museum houses more than 7,000 Islamic artifacts. Famous Petaling Street comes alive at night. The center of Kuala Lumpur’s original Chinatown, Petaling Street, retains its old-style atmosphere, especially at night when vendor’s wares, from food to toys to gems, flow out on the streets.
Kuching: The once-colonial city is the capital of Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state. All manner of traders landed in this port in the 19th century in search of exotic spices. The palace once belonged to the White Rajah (Englishman James Brooke). The White Rajahs ruled Sarawak from 1841 to 1946. The palace serves as the residence of the governor. Semonggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, south of Kuching, is a sanctuary for injured and rescued orangutans. Semi-wild orangutans roam freely in the rainforest, often returning to the center at feeding time.
Miri: Miri is the center of Malaysia’s oil and gas industry, but tourism is also important focus. Miri has a diverse ecology with five national parks, including a marine park.
Mulu National Park: Near Miri, Sarawak in Borneo, this park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for its cave system and karst formations. The park encompasses 51,800 hectares/128,000 acres of primary forest. Three mountains and towering limestone pinnacles dominate the scene. Here, too, are recordbreaking caves such as Sarawak Chamber, the world’s largest enclosed space; Clearwater, longest cave in Southeast Asia; and Deer, world’s largest cave entrance. In the early evening, witness the enormous population of free-tailed bats, some two million strong, swarm from Lang Cave. This is one of the last places to encounter the nomadic Penan people. Now only about 200 out of some 16,000 Penans cling to the traditional way of life. They are noted for their practice of ‘molong,’ never taking more than necessary.
Penang: Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia, and sits on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. It is estimated that the area was inhabited as far back as 5,000 years. Penang was part of the Malay Sultanate of Kedah, but in 1786, the sultan handed control over to the British East India Company in exchange for promised military protection from invading armies from Siam and Burma. In 1826, Penang, Malacca and Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements, under direct British colonial rule in 1867. In 1948, Penang became part of the Federation of Malaya, which nine years later gained independence. The capital of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its unique architecture and culture that includes rows of century-old “shophouses” and colonial villas. Local artisans still practice the traditional Chinese art called Khoo Kongsi, delicately carved wooden panels.
Singapore: Red coiled incense smolders just outside ancient temples, brilliantly colored birds sing from birdcages along the street, monks in morning prayer blend together to form the mosaic that is Singapore. On the major sea routes at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, the island-city-state has been visited by Chinese junks, Indian vessels, Arab dhows, and Portuguese and English battleships. Singapore reflects that dynamic mix in its sleek skyscrapers, tropical gardens and pockets of traditional neighborhoods. Little India is packed with pungent spices in stalls along Arab Street and colorful Sri Mariammam Temple is boldly adorned with gods, demons, mortals and animals. Chinatown has a plethora of shops of crafts, clothes, teas and potions. Fine hotels and restaurants, a busy nightlife and nearby Sentosa Island’s relaxed resorts make this a great way to begin or end an Asian odyssey.
Suggested Malaysia & Singapore Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia/Miri
Kuala Lumpur is the gateway to Malaysia. Miri is situated on the northwest coast in Malaysian Borneo.
Day 2: Miri/Gunung Mulu National Park
This area is famous for its caves such as Sarawak Chamber, the largest enclosed space in the world. The semi-nomadic Penan tribe inhabits the area.
Day 4: Kota Kinabalu/Mt. Kinabalu
Kinabalu Park is home to Mt. Kinabalu, highest mountain in Malaysia and home to over 1,000 varieties of wild orchids.
Day 5: Kota Kinabalu/Padas River
Padas River offers superb whitewater rafting.
Day 6: Kota Kinablu/Sepilok Orangutan Center/Sukau Wildlife
The Orangutan Rehabilitation Center at Sepilok gives visitors the opportunity to see orphaned and rescued orangutans.
Day 7: Sukau Wildlife/Danum Valley
Gomantong Caves are home to a million or more swiftlets. Elephant, Sumatran rhino and clouded leopard live here.
Day 8: Danum Valley
Bird watching, forest treks to waterfalls, ancient burial coffins, and a canopy walkway are part of the experience.
Day 9: Danum Valley/Lahad Datu/Kota Kinabalu/Singapore
This tropical island nation is an ideal place to end any journey to Asia.
Day 10: Singapore
Singapore’s dynamic character is seen in sleek skyscrapers and pockets of old neighborhoods.
Day 11: Singapore/Depart
Custom Travel Options
Cameron Highlands (3 days)
Cool highland retreat is ideal for growing strawberries, roses, vegetables and teas. Here, too, is the Brinchang Hindu Temple.
Kuching, Borneo (3 days)
Malaysia’s once-colonial city is the capital of Sarawak, and nearby is Semonggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Approx. $350 - $500 per day.