5 weeks in Malaysia with kids

Old May 3rd, 2022, 03:41 AM
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5 weeks in Malaysia with kids

We are considering a trip to Malaysia & Borneo with our 3 kids (aged 14, 12 and 9) in July. I have put together a rough itinerary, but it's a bit longer than we have time for - so I'm looking for suggestions on where we could possibly shave off a few days here & there. Also if there is anything we haven't included that we really should do while we're in the area I would be grateful for suggestions too.

Kuala Lumpur 5 nights
Ipoh 1 night
Cameron Highlands 3 nights
Taman Negara 3 nights
Cherating 1 night
Perhetian islands 4 nights
Belum Rainforest 1 night
Penang 4 nights
Langkawi 4 nights

Fly to Borneo
Kuching 2 nights
Bako National Park 1 night
Mulu National Park 3 nights
Brunei 2 nights
Kota Kinabalu 4 nights



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Old May 3rd, 2022, 11:28 AM
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I think you need to start over - what do you want to do/see/experience in Malaysia? In general anywhere you say "1 night" that is all you are likely to get in that place - as you will be traveling the day before and day after. Once you decide what your priorities are, you can choose the places you want to spend some time. There are places I'd cut immediately, like Brunei. And I'd spend less time in KL. If you can, I'd suggest staying in a wildlife lodge in Borneo. That's an unforgettable experience - expensive, but well worth it.

How much time do you have? And where are you coming from?
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Old May 3rd, 2022, 12:01 PM
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A few observations and suggestions.

Firstly, if you check out the weather patterns for Malaysia you will see that July is a great time for the east coast of peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. The west coast is in its rainy season by then. For that reason I would probably skip Langkawi if you are there for the beaches. Penang is great anytime as it is not really known for its beaches.

Ipoh deserves a couple of nights. there is a lot to see in and close to the city so maybe add a night there and drop a night in the Cameron Highlands.

I dont think we have ever been to Cherating so cant really comment except to say that one night stays don't really work unless as a transit stop. By teh time you have got there and away you most likely wont have time to see anything.

As far as Borneo is concerned

Perhentian is great if you are diving but the beaches are tiny and the accommodation is no great shakes. if you want nice beaches then I would add time to an east coast mainland resort of perhaps Redang Island which is more family oriented. Also, a I recall Perhentian being a very time consuming place to get to and in order to get the ferry to the islands we had to stay the night before at a hotel near the ferry terminal. An alternative could be to add beach time to your time in Borneo.

With regards to a rainforest experience, I dont think you need both Taman Negara and Belum. Taman is easier to get to so perhaps drop Bellum .

As far as Borneo is concerned, all of the places you mention re pretty amazing. Bako can be done as a day trip from Kuching, which in itself is a very rewarding place for a few days. Three days in Mulu is about right unless you plan on hiking to the Pinnacles!

Personally, I wouldn’t bother with Brunei and would spend more time in Kinabalu, not just the city but Mount Kinabalu park which has some wonderful hikes form the Park HQ which are reasonably child friendly. Other options could be to include Sandakan and the Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuaries. Some of the best beaches I have ever seen are up at the Tip of Borneo and they see few visitors.

we have covered most of these places in our blog which has a lot of photos which should provide an idea of what to expect https://accidentalnomads.com/category/malaysia/

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Old May 3rd, 2022, 04:03 PM
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Agree with kathie that you don't need that much time in KL.

Sorry to disagree with crellston, but I enjoyed Perhentian Besar. Admittedly I was there to rest up during a long trip, plus I had a bad ankle that likewise needed a rest. I agree it's a bit of a trek to get there - not a problem for me as I was headed north. I found that part of Malaysia interesting, too, much more obviously Muslim than the rest of the peninsula (but it was 2002).
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Old May 3rd, 2022, 04:05 PM
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IMO, based on my experience with kids in tow, those youngsters will be bored to tears. Life thru their eyes is very different from your's. The heat, the strange people, the repressive culture, the smells, the poor internet connections will all lead to moaning and groaning.
YOU may love it. They will not.
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Old May 4th, 2022, 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Kathie View Post
I think you need to start over - what do you want to do/see/experience in Malaysia? In general anywhere you say "1 night" that is all you are likely to get in that place - as you will be traveling the day before and day after. Once you decide what your priorities are, you can choose the places you want to spend some time. There are places I'd cut immediately, like Brunei. And I'd spend less time in KL. If you can, I'd suggest staying in a wildlife lodge in Borneo. That's an unforgettable experience - expensive, but well worth it.

How much time do you have? And where are you coming from?
Thank you for the response.

So I had started with what we want to see/do, etc, and then came up with the itinerary on that basis! We would like to experience as much as we can - to see KL, to visit some islands with tropical beaches, as well as the highlands & rainforest. In Borneo it's really all about the wildlife for us.

We have 5 weeks, and the itinerary I posted is just under 6 weeks, so I only need to shave off a few days. I know there's quite a while in KL at the beginning - but I'm conscious of jet lag and we will also be spending a day with friends who live there, so want to leave enough time to see the rest of the city.

With the exception of Ipoh, I selected the 'one night' places on the basis that they will break a long drive. Both of those long drives are 6 hours, and with stops, etc, it would mean the majority of the day in the car, so I thought it better to break the journey with a stop off, though I might revisit this.

And yes, we'd love to stay in a wildlife lodge near Kota Kinabalu. It's on the list!

Thanks for all your help!
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Old May 4th, 2022, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
A few observations and suggestions.

Firstly, if you check out the weather patterns for Malaysia you will see that July is a great time for the east coast of peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. The west coast is in its rainy season by then. For that reason I would probably skip Langkawi if you are there for the beaches. Penang is great anytime as it is not really known for its beaches.

Ipoh deserves a couple of nights. there is a lot to see in and close to the city so maybe add a night there and drop a night in the Cameron Highlands.

I dont think we have ever been to Cherating so cant really comment except to say that one night stays don't really work unless as a transit stop. By teh time you have got there and away you most likely wont have time to see anything.

As far as Borneo is concerned

Perhentian is great if you are diving but the beaches are tiny and the accommodation is no great shakes. if you want nice beaches then I would add time to an east coast mainland resort of perhaps Redang Island which is more family oriented. Also, a I recall Perhentian being a very time consuming place to get to and in order to get the ferry to the islands we had to stay the night before at a hotel near the ferry terminal. An alternative could be to add beach time to your time in Borneo.

With regards to a rainforest experience, I dont think you need both Taman Negara and Belum. Taman is easier to get to so perhaps drop Bellum .

As far as Borneo is concerned, all of the places you mention re pretty amazing. Bako can be done as a day trip from Kuching, which in itself is a very rewarding place for a few days. Three days in Mulu is about right unless you plan on hiking to the Pinnacles!

Personally, I wouldn’t bother with Brunei and would spend more time in Kinabalu, not just the city but Mount Kinabalu park which has some wonderful hikes form the Park HQ which are reasonably child friendly. Other options could be to include Sandakan and the Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuaries. Some of the best beaches I have ever seen are up at the Tip of Borneo and they see few visitors.

we have covered most of these places in our blog which has a lot of photos which should provide an idea of what to expect
Thanks for this - I love these suggestions. I had taken out Ipoh but will add it back in now and will add a second night too and drop a night in the Highlands to compensate. I might drop a night in Langkawi. I was aware of the weather, and that was the main reason for looking at the Perhentian Islands instead. But I like your idea of islands in Borneo as an alternative - that way we can cut out Cherating too (which was just a stopover to break the journey).

Love your ideas for Borneo too and I'll check out your blog - thank you!
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Old May 4th, 2022, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Agree with kathie that you don't need that much time in KL.

Sorry to disagree with crellston, but I enjoyed Perhentian Besar. Admittedly I was there to rest up during a long trip, plus I had a bad ankle that likewise needed a rest. I agree it's a bit of a trek to get there - not a problem for me as I was headed north. I found that part of Malaysia interesting, too, much more obviously Muslim than the rest of the peninsula (but it was 2002).
ha, now I am torn on Perhentian Besar! Too many nice places to go! It actually looks right up our street! Totally conflicted!
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Old May 4th, 2022, 02:32 AM
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Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed our time in Perhentian. It was just that we found it a little claustrophobic. Beaches are small and accommodation seemed packed in around a few places. There are more relaxing beach destination. The diving is good but the snorkelling direct from the beach is excellent. We stayed at Turtle Beach where you could snorkel a few metres off the beach and see loads of fish including shoals of barracuda and several turtles (hence the name I guess). Getting elsewhere on the island always seemed to involve a steep hike through the interior (its not a big place!) or a boat to one of the other bays.

It sounds like you are planning on driving there. If so, the route there and onwards may be a little easier. We did it by plane and bus. Easy enough but time consuming. There are, IMHO other beaches and islands better suited to families. Some decent resorts in and around KK and some of the offshore islands.

FWIW I think 5 nights in KL would be an ideal amount of time. There is a lot of stuff to occupy the kids should you need it and, with the possible exceptions of Ipoh, and possibly Penang, it is has the best food on the peninsula
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Old May 4th, 2022, 05:42 AM
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I was on Perhentian Besar right at the end of the season, so no crowding. Also, as I said, I wanted a rest, and it was perfect for that. Also perfect for snorkeling off the beach. Whether the kids would get bored is another matter.

If interested, my (old) TR starting in Malaysia is here: Wilhelm's Words -- Travels Round Asia 2002 - Perhentian Besar is in the "Sons of the Soil" piece. Rereading it I see that getting there was part of the fun.
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Old May 4th, 2022, 06:17 AM
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Thank you both, this is all so helpful (sorry about the name change - I had to re-register, for some reason it won't allow me to post with my previous login details!)

I've started revising our plans - less time on the peninsula and more in Borneo...
Kuala Lumpur 5 nights
Taman Negara 3 nights
Cameron Highlands 2 nights
Ipoh 2 nights

Penang 3 nights
Langkawi 3 nights

Fly to Borneo
Kuching 3 nights (including day trip to Bako NP)
Mulu National Park 3 nights
Sandakan (wildlife lodge) 4 nights
Kota Kinabalu 3 nights
Island off the coast of Kota Kinabalu 4 nights
how does that seem now? that's exactly 5 weeks!
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Old May 4th, 2022, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by jobin View Post
IMO, based on my experience with kids in tow, those youngsters will be bored to tears. Life thru their eyes is very different from your's. The heat, the strange people, the repressive culture, the smells, the poor internet connections will all lead to moaning and groaning.
YOU may love it. They will not.
thanks for your advice. Our kids are well travelled and have been in hot countries before. They have muslim friends and have been to muslim countries before. I'm not sure what you mean by "strange people" but they have met lots of different types of people from different parts of the world. They've been to busy cities - New York, London, Paris, Nairobi, Marrakech to name but a few. They are adventurous, they are great eaters and love trying new things and visiting new places. We've just returned from a trip to a dessert camp in the sahara where they didn't moan once about the lack of wifi. When I organise holidays I take all our interests and likes and dislikes into account. Your kids may not love it, but I sure hope mine do.
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Old May 4th, 2022, 12:00 PM
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That seems like an excellent use of your five weeks! I think that itinerary will make for an excellent balance of locations and activities. I am sure your kids will love this trip.
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Old May 5th, 2022, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
That seems like an excellent use of your five weeks! I think that itinerary will make for an excellent balance of locations and activities. I am sure your kids will love this trip.
Thanks for all your help! I'm really excited about it now.
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Old May 6th, 2022, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by cailin1965 View Post
thanks for your advice. Our kids are well travelled and have been in hot countries before. They have muslim friends and have been to muslim countries before. I'm not sure what you mean by "strange people" but they have met lots of different types of people from different parts of the world. They've been to busy cities - New York, London, Paris, Nairobi, Marrakech to name but a few. They are adventurous, they are great eaters and love trying new things and visiting new places. We've just returned from a trip to a dessert camp in the sahara where they didn't moan once about the lack of wifi. When I organise holidays I take all our interests and likes and dislikes into account. Your kids may not love it, but I sure hope mine do.
I think any kid would love a dessert camp.
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