Kuala Lumpur and Redang Island
The Travelers: Hong Kongers Jacob Yip, Yoko Wu and their son Jaden (17 months)
Destination: Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Redang Island, Malaysia
The Plan: The family flew to Kuala Lumpur after booking flights with Air Malaysia (www.malaysiaairlines.com), then traveled to Johor Bahru for their friends’ April wedding. They later joined the newlyweds and other wedding guests for a stay at a resort on Redang Island, one hour from KL by air.
Scenic Heights: The Malaysian capital’s twin Petronas Towers (www.petronastwintowers.com.my) are a must-see; until 2004 they were the tallest buildings in the world. Take the lift to the Skybridge for great views over the city, but get your free tickets in advance – they run out early. The children’s water park at the foot of the towers is a great spot for kids (age 12 and under) to cool off, with waterfalls and stepping stones galore, while parents loll in the shade. They can then dry off in the fabulous playgrounds nearby.
Into the Wild: Wu recommends the National Zoo (www.zoonegara.org.my, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun, 9.30am-10.30pm), which has an extensive array of wildlife, including the Sumatran tiger and the world’s longest venomous snake – the king cobra. Kids can also ride an elephant or shake hands with an orangutan. Aquaria KLCC (www.klaquaria.com) houses more than 5,000 water creatures, not to mention reptiles and insects, and Kuala Lumpur Bird Park (www.malaysiasite.nl/klbirdparkeng.htm) is one of the biggest in the world – a 20-hectare aviary where birds fly freely. Kids can even get acquainted with an eagle or macaw. KL’s famed Butterfly Park is home to more than 6,000 fluttery friends who just love to alight on the hair, shoulders and noses of little ones (Butterfly Park, Jalan Cenderawasih, 00 60 3 2693 4799, open 9am-6pm daily).
Water Worlds: For kids of all ages, KL is the king of water parks. Sunway Lagoon has giant twin-speed water slides, a waterfall garden and an Extreme Park and Wildlife Park next door (www.sunway.com.my/lagoon; tickets MYR 45 adults, MYR 30 children per park). Sunway’s Lost World of Tambun (www.sunway.com.my/lostworldoftambun) will delight everyone, with Malaysia’s longest river ride for the young ones and Tambun Hot Springs for older travelers . A’Famosa Water World (www.afamosa.com) is surrounded by a resort, golf course and several other theme parks, and if you’re looking for more water adventures, test your speed endurance on a pair of water slides seven stories high! Wet World in Shah Alam also has an impressive array of water terrors including the Monsoon Buster ride, a 225-meter rollercoaster which propels riders upwards with powerful water jets (www.onlyworldgroup.com).
Getting Around: Plan ahead – KL’s taxi drivers often refuse to use the meter and being stranded in the Malaysian heat is no fun. Try to find a taxi stand and insist on using the meter or ask your concierge to organize a car. Otherwise, hop on the city’s mass transit system. See www.kualalumpur.gov.my/getting1.htm for information on transport options.
Kuala Knickknacks: Food is one of Malaysia’s top attractions, but local handicrafts are also worth a few ringgit. Older kids will enjoy Chinatown’s Petaling Street, especially in the evening when it is transformed into a lively night market. Pick up a bargain at the Central Market (Pasar Seni) – a treasure-trove of Malaysian arts and crafts housed in a gorgeous art deco building. Kids can also enjoy shadow puppet plays (wayang kulit), traditional music and dance, art exhibitions and batik painting at the market.
Accommodation: In KL, the family stayed in a three-bedroom serviced apartment at the Berjaya Suites (from MYR 500 per night, KL Plaza I, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 00 60 3 2145 6988). At the Berjaya Resort (www.berjayaresorts.com, from MYR 390 per night), the family opted to stay just meters from the stunning white-sand beach and clear ocean waters, a perfect place for toddlers. They enjoyed the resort’s friendly staff and delicious food, especially all the fresh local fruit. The baby pool at the resort was such a hit with Jaden that it was tough to get him out of the water.
Redang Island: Part of the stunning archipelago of islands off the north-east coast of Malaysia, Pulau Redang can be reached by ferry (MYR 40 each way) from the coast near Terengganu. Boat transfers need to be booked in advance (ask your travel agent or hotel) and take about 45 minutes. If you stay at the Berjaya Resort like the wedding party did, you can purchase packages that include accommodation, breakfast and flights to the island on a small aircraft. This is a particularly convenient option if you’re traveling with kids (www.redangisland.com).
Island-hopping: The family particularly enjoyed their boat trips around the islands. On one boat trip, the boatman insisted on holding Jaden while he slept so Wu and Yip could go snorkeling a few meters away. Swim among turtles and baby reef sharks, and feed fish from the boat. Trips can be organized daily from your hotel.
Culinary Adventure: Malaysia’s striking range of delectable foods really impressed Yip and Wu. The traditional bukude stew – ribs and Chinese herbs, eaten with rice was a firm favorite. Yoko recommends the Klang area in KL for restaurants and food stalls with cheap, safe food. Don’t expect a plethora of seafood options, however, because of fishing regulations aimed at protecting Malaysia’s marine life. The family found it easy to find food for Jaden, who loved both the chicken and rice as well as the plentiful exotic fruits. Other local favorites included beef jerky and kaya (coconut jam). Yoko was even converted to the notoriously stinky king of fruits, the durian. She highly recommends the durian popsicles sold on food streets – yet another local delicacy that made the family’s trip an adventure to remember.