A Small Circuit Around South East Asia

My first trip of 2019 and its a pretty big one. I visited 4 places of different characteristics. Kuala Lumpur which is one of Asia’s fastest growing cities, Siem Reap a majestic Cambodian Province, Langkawi a large adventurous island and Finally Koh Lipe a calm relaxing Thai island.

All were great and had its own approach

First Stop Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

The First stop and my base city for this trip. For the first part in Kuala Lumpur I stayed in popular KL hostel Backhome. An eye opener with lots of different things to see and do.

Second Stop Siem Reap (Cambodia)

One of the main reasons to venture in this part of the world was to visit Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have to admit the fact that Angkor Wat is consistently top 3 must visit places in various websites, made visiting this city a must.

Then Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Venture to one of Malaysia’s popular island. Travelled by plane instead of boat due to work perks. Quieter than the usual islands I visit like Boracay, Crete, Cebu and others but Langkawi didn’t fail to impress.

Fourth Stop in Koh Lipe (Thailand)

A short venture to another small nearby island. Koh Lipe happens to be crossing the boarder to Thailand. An interesting experience with a beach immigration system.

Finale, Back to Kuala Lumpur

A rest back in Kuala Lumpur, this time a more chilled and comfortable accommodation, ready to fly back to London.

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Koh Lipe

“You’re small cosy paradise”

Type : Island
Best Date :  Nov- May
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Walk along beach, Sun bathe, Scuba Dive, Kayaking
Points of Interest: Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, Pattaya Beach, Walking Street
The Good: Warm white sand beaches, beautiful marine life
The Bad: Limited areas to visit

Brief

Koh Lipe is one of the southern most island in Thailand just in the edge of the Adaman sea near the border with Malaysia. The island is only about 3.5km long and lies within the Tarutao national marine park a popular dive spot.

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The Place

Koh Lipe was the last place I visited on this small south east Asian circuit venture. The purpose of this visit was to relax before heading back to London. It is a relatively quiet and calm island but can have its congestion with many tourists arriving for day tours. Nonetheless Koh Lipe is was an interesting visit, a place that small groups can enjoy.

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Firstly I want to write about getting to the island itself. There are no airports in this island so boats are the main mode of transport to get to and from the island. As Koh Lipe has a low sea level, there is also no piers for larger boats to dock and thus they have a to stop at offshore pontoon where passengers will take a smaller long tail boat to arrive on the island. These are said to cost 50 baht however I didn’t need to pay this when I arrived. Upon arrival depending on where you departed/arrived from/to  there is also an immigration and custom system which was unlike any other as you line up on the beach (a sight to see).

Popular ways to get to Koh Lipe are from Langkawi (Malaysia) or Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket and Pak Bara from Thailand. There also several possible ways to travel to and from small islands within the Andaman Sea. I arrived and departed from Langkawi and there for required to through an immigration system.

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Pattaya Beach

One of the main points to visit in the island is Pattaya Beach the main point where visitors arrive and depart. This beach is a stretch of beautiful white sand south of the island. Arguably this beach is the most popular of the beaches with the most shops, bars and restaurants beachfront. This beach also connects to walking street one of the main parts of the islands. There is also an beachfront makeshift movie theatre  placed at night beachside which is an interesting concept.

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Pattaya Beach

Another popular place to see is Sunset Beach. The smallest of the main beaches visited. It is said you can see the best views of the lovely sunset however I in my opinion there is a better location. This small stretch of white sand beach is not very popular for high end hotels but a place for bungalows. Sunset beach is a bit further away to walking street than Pattaya and Sunrise beach.

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Sunrise Beach

Lastly Sunrise Beach where I stayed and another popular place unwind, popular for sunrise yoga and morning jogs. In my understanding this is the longest of all the beaches on the island. This is my favourite place in the island as it is much more quieter than other areas, this is also where a beautiful spot is to watch the sunset (in the northmost end of sunrise beach). However I did notice that the tide can get very high making the shore very thin, so walking around the beach can be difficult. Nonetheless there are many quiet bars, restaurants and massage places beachfront which makes this my favourite place to roam.

Walking Street is in my opinion the main roaming place away from the beaches. This short 15 minute (walking) stretch is full of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. In my opinion at night this is the brightest and noisiest area in the island it is a busy street however it is not overcrowded and messy. This street has plenty sea food restaurants which is very popular in the island. There are also plenty souvenir, tour shops and massage parlour around here and most importantly for tourists this is the place for ATM machines and money changers which are very relevant in the island.

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Tourists come to this islands for the calm and relaxing atmosphere which you wouldn’t normally get from other islands. However a few activities are very popular in Koh Lipe, these are Snorkelling, Scuba Diving and Kayaking. There are a few different companies to choose from so research for best prices are a good idea. I did love my Scuba diving experience where I saw schools of fish, many different breeds and types of underwater creatures.

Conclusion

When I planned this trip I knew it would be a quiet calm place with maybe a few hundred visitors. However I was surprised when my hotel and scuba diving activities were fully booked, the island also had a few more people than I thought but it wasnt overcrowded. The sand and beach was lovely but there were plenty of boats parked in the shore which in my opinion ruined the potential scenery of the island. There were plenty of dogs around and unlike the aggressive dogs around the Philippines the dogs here were very friendly and many tourists love to play with them. My favourite part of the visit was definitely the Scuba Diving and also just walking around this small island itself. I’d say a 2 night stay is enough as anything longer would result into potential boredom as the island is small with not much activities or things to do, however if your purpose is to relax then maybe you could stay a little longer.

Back to “A small circuit around South East Asia”

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Kuala Lumpur

“One of the most friendliest modern capitals”

Type : City break
Best Date :  May-Jul
Expense :  Cheap
Things to do : Shopping, Dine, Cultural
Points of Interest: KL menorah(tower), Petronas tower, Jalan Alor (food market), Bukit Bintang, Batu Caves, Central Market, Petalling Street and many more
The Good: Cheap, Free tourist buses
The Bad: Prepare for long walks or long waits for transport

Brief

Kuala Lumpur also known as KL is the capital city of Malaysia situated southwest of the country. It is the largest city in the country and is known to be the fastest growing in the ASEAN (Association of south-east Asian nations) region which include nations such as Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines and a few more. Kuala Lumpur only acquired its city status in 1972 which also means it is one of the newest in the region, only being founded by Chinese miners at 1857.

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The city has influences from British, Chinese and Japanese occupation and has the architecture and cuisine to portray these.  Furthermore KL is home to one of the tallest twin towers with the Petronas towers which was built within just 6 years. The city is one of the worlds leading visited for tourism and shopping a brilliant place for all.

The Place

Kuala Lumpur was the first stop and a central base in my latest South East Asian ventures. Malaysia is the first mainly muslim country I have travelled to and Kuala Lumpur my first city. It has been a place I have intended to travel for a long time with many positive feedback and recommendations.

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When I visited the city was hot and very humid with an average of 30c-35c degrees. It was a very diverse city with many different influence in lifestyle, food and other aspects.

Because of potential flight problems I took an earlier flight, which resulted being in Kuala Lumpur a day early resulting on an extra day.

Firstly I came across Bukit Bintang which is home to various points of interest in the city itself and the preferred location to stay with hotels for any budget. The region has both luxurious and affordable establishments with the famed Pavilion mall, Times Square Mall and the cheaper Jalan Alor which is the popular food market. Firstly the focal purpose of Bukit Bintang is shopping and dining with the Pavilion mall being the main attraction. This mall has the upper class and luxurious labels such as Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and others alike. They also have the finer restaurants around but also the popular chains. The mall itself had a beautiful architecture and is a sight to see. Next to Pavilion is a cheaper mall called Fahrenheit which also attracts shopping travellers. Further down around the corner of Bukit Bintang about 10 minutes walk from Pavilion is another mall called Times Square Mall a trendy artsy mall with many of the popular affordable shops. Lastly another main place to visit within Bukit Bintang is Jalan Alor a popular food market with plenty of local cuisines. The market is amazing however can get very crowded and is not as cheap as you might think. Overall Bukit Bintang is mainly for shopping, it is a nice central location to start off your visit it also is a convenient area to stay with nearly everything like restaurants, supermarkets and shops nearby.

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Bridge from Pavilion (Bukit Bintang) to Petronas Towers (KLCC)

Just a 10 minute walk away via a conveniently built elevated airconditioned walkway behind the Pavilion Mall is a place called Kuala Lumpur City Centre better known as KLCC which is a place where the Aquaria, Petronas Tower, Suria Mall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and others are situated. It is a more touristic area with plenty of sightseeing hotspots. Firstly one of the more family friendly attraction in KLCC is Aquaria which is located below the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre I didn’t personally visit this as I deemed it for families or kids, however ive been told it is underrated. Next in the area is the main landmark of the whole city and in my opinion the country aswell.

The Petronas towers also known as the Petronas Twin Towers  are two twin skyscrapers joined (midpoint called the skybridge) designed by an Argentine architect and built by two different companies, Japanese built tower one and a South Korean consortium built tower two. Known as the city’s crown jewel the 88 storey building is open to limited tourists per day (limited by day, limited by night) to go up and view KLs panoramic scenery. There are also high end restaurants inside the Petronas towers so those with a higher budget can dine in one of the highest points in the city. Below the towers is a popular mall called Suria Mall, this shopping area is somewhat similar to the Pavilion in terms of the shops and restaurants it accommodates. Another nearby area popular with tourists is the KLCC Park which is a nice place for tourists and locals alike to chill, there are many different trees and plants but most observed is the symphony lake which presents magical fountain shows at around 2000, 2100 and 2145 every night, it is nice to see but for me I have seen better. Overall KLCC is a nice area to visit the Petronas towers and its architectural surroundings are amazing and beautiful.

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The Kuala Lumpur Menora or Kuala Lumpur Tower which is more known to tourists is another must see landmark whilst visiting Kuala Lumpur. The tower which is the seventh largest telecommunication tower in the world has an observation deck, a revolving restaurant, sky deck, sky box and a few others. I only managed to go on the revolving restaurant called atmosphere 360, it was a good experience that had marvellous views of the city. Surrounding the tower is Kuala Lumpur Eco Park which is an interesting visit in itself. Like a botanical garden this parks has plenty different plants and trees. What’s more enjoyable about this Eco Park is the canopy walk which takes people into a nice desired height to enjoy and observe the park from a panoramic view.

Other places popular to visit are the markets. I visited two of the city’s main markets, the Central Market and Petalling Street which is also known to be the city’s China town. Firstly the Central Market, which sells local handicrafts and eateries. Before visiting the place I thought it would be a local wet market selling produce but it was very focused selling to tourists. The Market was an interesting place to walk around which has had its own story to tell, you can appreciate the local Malaysian creativity. The market also offers delicious local delicacies such as durian, you would not be let down if you come here. Petalling  Street which is a short 10min walk from the Central Market is another popular place for tourists. Known as KL’s china town this area has many different street foods and cheap products. Also roamed by locals these side streets can also be a shoppers haven, a place where your haggling skills can be tested.

Just outside of Kuala Lumpur in the region known as Selangor which circles around the capital is home to one of the most famous points of interest in the ‘Batu Caves’ which is a limestone hill that has a series of caves which consist of over 100 year old Hindu temples. Firstly on the front there is a large golden (painted) statue of Lord Muragan in whom the temples are dedicated to. This statue is significant to the country as it is also the  largest at 43 metres high. Past the statue is 272 steps which lead up to the temple caves. These steps which have recently been coloured are somewhat obstacles for religious pilgrims. Whilst climbing these steps monkeys are ever present, they are very nice to take pictures with but be careful these monkeys are known to steal food and water, they will also bite if felt threatened. After the steps the cave is amazing and picturesque there are a lot of Hindu idols statues around and there temples are very active in prayers. The Batu cave is a must whilst visiting Malaysia it is free and there are no touts or vendors annoying tourists, the only thing you would need to think about is what you wear. It is a religious place and respectful attire are required, stricter for women than men.

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A popular thing to do whilst staying in Kuala Lumpur is to do a day excursions. I visited Kuala Gandah which was just over an hour drive from the capital. Kuala Gandah is usually visited for the National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC) which is a retreat for rescued elephants, so visiting this facility is helpful to the creatures whilst a brilliant experience and spectacle to those who visit. In the conservation you will watch a short 30min video about the rescued animals, feed, learn and watch a show about these majestic giants. You will also be able to bath with baby elephants which is a popular thing to do for many tourists.

Conclusion

Overall Kuala Lumpur was an eye opener, it is definitely one of my favourite capitals I have visited just because of its culture and the amount of things you can see and do. The city is cheap but can be a luxurious as you want it to be. There is also a lot that can be done whatever your age, interest and budget. My particular favourite is the Elephant conservation centre which highlighted the importance of protecting elephants but any creatures altogether, which is something special to learn especially for tourists from large cities that don’t know about these problems. Another place I loved about KL is the Petronas Towers which is just an architectural spectacle from any angle.

A visit to Kuala Lumpur is something any traveller must do, nice people, delicious food, eye opening culture and outstanding architecture, you cant go wrong.

Back to “A small circuit around south east Asia”

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Reference:

15 Interesting Facts About Kuala Lumpur
http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/en https://menarakl.com.my/index.php/the-tower/about-us