Emerging from Dutch, Portuguese and British rule, Malaysia has prospered into a diverse and multicultural country where Chinese, Malay, Indian and Indo-Chinese cultures have combined to give the nation its unique flavour. Beginning in the futuristic city of Singapore, journey to the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur, hop down to fascinating Melaka, enjoy the cultural spoils of an island hideaway and get a dose of colonial history in Penang before winding up the adventure on the beaches of Pulau Langkawi. Sample mouth-watering foods, see a wealth of modern and historical sights and savour the natural beauty of the Malaysian landscape on this treasure-filled trip.
- A South East Asian adventure wouldn't be complete without cycling – or coconuts, for that matter. Pedal out to the rice fields around Kota Aur and learn all about how local coconuts are harvested
- Finish your adventure with a few days of blissful relaxation in the beachside village of Langkawi – the perfect place to extend your trip
- Spend time with a local family at a homestay in Kota Aur. You'll be treated to some warm hospitality, homemade cuisine and of course a chance to try out your new skills in Bahasa Malay!
- There's perhaps no better way to take in beautiful Melaka than by trishaw. Your three-wheeled tour of this ancient spice-trade town stops in at the major sights in town
- Try your hand at preparing some delicious local specialties with a cooking class in Penang
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- Start Date
- End Date
Day - 1
Location: Singapore - Welcome to Singapore! If you have arranged an airport transfer, you will be driven to your hotel. A pre-trip briefing will be held in the evening, generally around 6 pm. You will meet the other members of your group and discuss the trip itinerary at this meeting. Please check for a welcome notice on the hotel noticeboard, located near the hotel lifts, for more information. After the group meeting you may head out to a nearby restaurant for dinner with the group (this is optional). With free time for the rest of the evening, perhaps enjoy a quiet drink in the Clarke Quay or Boat Quay areas. You might like to arrive a bit earlier before the start of the trip to explore the island-state's many other attractions, such as the zoo (it's one of the world's best). Visiting Sentosa Island is also recommended – there you will find a few small beaches, Fort Siloso and the Universal Studios theme park.
Day - 2
Location: Melaka - Travel to Melaka today by public bus (approximately 5.5 hours). A former colonial outpost, this town retains a distinctive old-world charm that makes it a delight to visit. Travelling by trishaw in local style, you will take a tour of the town, cruising through the narrow, winding streets to get a taste of old Melaka and learn about the ancient local spice trade. Along the way you will pay a visit to Harmony Street, an aptly named strip of mosques and temples that exudes a tranquil air. You will also check out a mosque, a variety of Chinese Buddhist temples and a traditional Muslim house-museum.
Day - 3
Location: Kuala Lumpur - From old-fashioned colonial charm to the bustling big smoke – depart Melaka and head for Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia (approximately 2.5 hours). Known colloquially as 'KL' by the locals, Malaysia’s most cosmopolitan city is a wonderful mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. It's also home to nice green parks, excellent shopping spots and world-class cuisine – so you won't be short of things to do in your free time today. Ask your leader for a recommendation.
Day - 4
Location: Kuala Lumpur - Discover the key sites of Kuala Lumpur on a half-day city tour. Along the way, you will visit some of the city's most impressive architecture, such as the National Monument, National Mosque, Istana Negara (National Palace). You will also check out the Batu Caves (an impressive assortment of strange grottoes in a limestone hill by a river), and Royal Selangor Pewter (for a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic Malaysian manufacturer). Afterwards, you will have some free time to explore the city as you please. Taking in the spectacular views from the top of Menara Kuala Lumpur (the major lookout tower) is a wonderful way to wile away the hours.
Day - 5
Location: Malay Homestay - Travel north on the new electric train service to Butterworth (approximately 4 hours). From there you will take a minibus (approximately 30 minutes) to your homestay at Kota Aur. 'Kota Aur' translates to 'Village of Bamboo', although now the village is located in a picturesque rice growing area. Meet your friendly hosts on arrival and settle into your twin-share room (this is equipped with fan cooling, but may only have a cold shower). In the afternoon you will tour the village and rice fields by bicycle and learn about how the local coconuts are harvested. Experience a cooking demonstration and a home-cooked meal together with the group and one of your hosts. In the evening there will be the chance to learn about the Malay game of congkak and to enjoy a taste of family life in Malaysia. Note: Out of respect to your hosts, it's important to wear conservative clothing during your stay, ensuring shoulders and knees are covered. Your leader will give you more information on cultural etiquette before you arrive, and help you learn some basic Bahasa Malay. Most of the hosts speak a bit of English. Note that alcohol will not be available during your stay.
Day - 6
Location: Penang - Awake to the sounds of village life – possibly the crowing cockerels! After breakfast with your hosts you will head to the nearby market in the country town of Kepala Batus. It is known as the 'whispering market' because the customers prefer to whisper their bids to vendors to get the best prices for their fish. It is the only one of its kind remaining in Malaysia. Afterwards you will look at some of the traditional palm houses in an 8-acre palm plant nursery, and have the chance to taste some delicious palm juice. You will also make a stop at a monument to commemorate those who were lost in the 2004 tsunami. Later on, travel by minibus to Malaysia's prized island, Penang (approximately 1 hour). Enjoy free time on arrival – perhaps take a stroll to get acquainted with Penang's beautiful coastline and excellent cuisine.
Day - 7
Location: Penang - Discover Penang and all its colours and contrasts today. On a morning walking tour of the Georgetown area, you'll check out Fort Cornwallis, the site of the original British settlement. You will also take a drive to Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. After that, you might like to embark on an optional tour of the grand and opulent Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the Khoo Kongsi. Both will incur small entrance fees but are well worth your time. Take the chance to meander past wonderful antique shops and absorb the old-time Chinatown charm of Chulia Street, which exudes the ambience of a bygone era.
Day - 8
Location: Langkawi - Get hands-on today as you are treated to a cooking class. This fun and interactive activity will introduce you to the fine art of preparing Malaysian cuisine. You will be in the hands of a local expert who will impart to you their many years of experience, and no-doubt a few secrets. You'll see that this food is a combination of many different influences, including Chinese and Indian. Needless to say, the use of chilli can be liberal, and the spice of the famed Penang curry is a great example. In the afternoon, it's time to bid farewell to Penang and fly to the island of Langkawi. With pristine white-sand beaches, luscious rainforests and quiet, untouched Malay villages, this is a divine place to relax and let your hair down.
Day - 9
Location: Langkawi - Spend a day island-hopping around Langkawi and exploring some of the smaller islands by boat. Some of the surrounding landscapes are really beautiful and make for some great photographic opportunities, especially when coupled with the cool, clear blue waters. You'll also take a cable car trip today. On this little excursion you'll be treated to spectacular views over the Andaman Sea and some of the 99 tropical islands of Langkawi. After a day of sightseeing, perhaps pull up a towel and indulge in a few lazy, quiet hours by the sea.
Day - 10
Location: Langkawi - Your trip comes to an end today, with no further activities planned.