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Malaysia Asia

Malaysia Asia

Malaysia travel blog and website on eco-tourism, nature, hotels and resorts, islands and beaches and also around Southeast Asia.
URL: http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/

Malaysia Asia

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  • Things to do in Banyuwangi
    This article on things to do in Banyuwangi is written purely for those heading to the east most part of Jawa island and also those going to Mount Ijen. Banyuwangi is a small town on the coast of east Java where from the beach, you can see the island of Bali. Kawah Ijen or Mount Ijen is one of the most popular places here as many come here to trek up this beautiful mountain to see the world famous blue flame. Banyuwangi would be your closest city to the mountain and you would also be staying here at one of the resorts or hotels. For those staying here, I have create a list of things to do in Banyuwangi, especially if you have an extra day or two here. Things to do in Banyuwangi1. Trek up Mount Ijen (Kawah Ijen)At the top of Mount Ijen in BanyuwangiHands down, this is the number one things to do in Banyuwangi as the magnificent blue flame is one of two in the world where you can see it. The trek is a tiring one where you need to depart at midnight to reach the foot of the mountain by 2.30am and then trek up about an hour or so to catch the elusive blue flame just before sunrise. Don't let the word trek fool you as it is not an easy trek by the way. Well, if you are a regular trekker or hiker, this would be easy for you, and if you are like me, not 100% fit, it would be a tough trek up. The park guides will tell you that it is easy, one hour flat ground, one hour uphill. I thought it was that easy, but it was actually one hour uphill and one more hour of 45 degrees hill. So, one needs to be prepared for this trek up to Mount Ijen. There are many tour companies offering the full Mount Ijen Trekking Package, so you simply need to book your tour and make the arrangements with your guide. The 4x4 vehicles will pick you from the hotel and you will travel overland for about one hour to the foot of Mount Ijen, before your briefing and trek up. You can also read my other article on how to go to Mount Ijen. 2. Visit the Baluran National Park Animals seen at the Baluran National Park Savannah in BanyuwangiThough this place is not well known to the western world, the Baluran National Park is actually quite a fascinating place. Why? Because they have a Savannah! Just like those in Africa, after about 30 minutes of driving deep into the national park, you will come across huge plains. The only thing missing are the lions, giraffes and elephants. However, at the Baluran Savannah, you will see the local sambar deer, buffaloes and macaques. This place is a must visit for anyone who loves national parks, outdoors and nature. To get here, you need to engage a tour company that will drive you there, explore the national park and then drive you back. In total, you can spend an average of 2-4 hours or even more here. Imagine, visiting a Savannah, but not in Africa, and in Indonesia.3. Eat at Ikan Bakar Pesona, BanyuwangiThe famous Ikan Bakar Pesona Restaurant in BanyuwangiThere is no doubt that good food is hard to find in Banyuwangi, and for visitors, the Ikan Bakar Pesona is one of the recommended places to experience local East Javanese food. Here, the restaurant caters to tourist and even large groups. A localised menu serving some amazing grilled fish complimented with an assortment of chicken, clams, vegetables and local appetisers. Most of the food is spicy therefore if you cannot take spicy, just let them know.Ikan Bakar Pesona BanyuwangiAddress: Jl.Yos Sudarso No. 46, Klatak, Banyuwangi.Tel: +62 852 5911 63994. Attend the Banyuwangi Jazz Festival 2017The scene at the Ijen Summer Jazz Festival (Image from www.kompasonline.com)There are two jazz festivals that take place in Banyuwangi, the Ijen Summer Jazz Festival and also the Banyuwangi Beach Jazz Festival. However, the Ijen Jazz Festival happens three times during the summer period in the months of July, August and September and you should check the dates out from the official Ijen Summer Jazz Website.5. Kite and Wind Surfing Festival in BanyuwangiFor the adventure and extreme sports lovers, there is a lot of coastline along Banyuwangi and one one of the most popular places for this is at Tabuhan Island. It is here where you can experience Kiteboarding. The island is a flat water paradise that comes with beautiful white beaches and turquoise waters. For wind, the place offers steady winds of 20+ knots from May until the end of October. There are no resorts on the island as they are all located on the mainland along the coast.6. Banyuwangi Batik Festival 2017A model in Batik at the Banyuwangi Batik Festival (Image from www.banyuwangibagus.com)If you are into traditional Indonesian fabrics, the Banyuwangi Batik Festival 2017 should be one of the interesting events to attend. The main highlight is a spectacular fashion show with the latest creations from designers all over Indonesia. However, the batik design from Banyuwangi is very unique with leafy designs. However, the trade mark pattern is called the Gajah Oling and in total, there are over 20 patterns to the Banyuwangi Batik.Note that each district around Indonesia has their own batik designs and the Banyuwangi Batik is one of the special ones. If you miss the batik festival here, you can also find them at some local batik boutiques around Banyuwangi city.7. Surfing at Pulau Merah BeachSome of the massive waves at Pulau Merah in Banyuwangi (Image from www.planetsurfonline.com)Among some of the popular surfing spots in Banyuwangi, Pulau Merah Beach or Red Island Beach which is around 67 kilometers  or three hours away from the city. Here, waves up to three or four meters are common and beautiful barrels the length of 300-400 meters long. This attracts local and international surfers during the surf season and the beach is suitable for beginner surfers as well. If you are a surf traveler, this is one of the places to check out in Banyuwangi and is also close to Bali.Best time to visit Pulau Merah Beach is from April to September and the comparison with Bali is that surfing at Pulau Merah Beach is much more peaceful and the waves are bigger. It is also recommended to rent a car or bike and find your way here. Professional surfers should check out Plengkung Beach and G-Land as these two places are well known too. There are basic hotels, restaurants and a surf school here.8. Stay at the Ketapang Indah Hotel in BanyuwangiThe landscape of the Ketapang Indah Hotel in BanyuwangiOne of the nicer places to stay is at the Ketapang Indah Hotel, which is actually a seaside resort with a beautiful view of Bali Island across the Bali Straits. This hotel offers chalet units in a beautifully landscaped garden atmosphere. Many stay here as this is one of the better accommodations before heading up to Mount Ijen. The Ketapang Indah Hotel also offers a spa and swimming pool and is away from the main city area. In the evenings, just take a short walk to the beach and catch the beautiful sunset behind Bali or you can simply wander around the lush manicured gardens.How To Go To BanyuwangiThe famous Ikan Bakar from BanyuwangiTo get to Banyuwangi, you need to fly to the Belimbingsari Airport or Banyuwangi Airport where local airlines fly here from larger cities around Indonesia. You can also get here from Bali by taking the ferry from Gilimanuk in the west coast of Bali Island to Banyuwangi.The above list is create by me and is part of the Wonderful Indonesia tourism campaign for Indonesia Tourism, where Banyuwangi was one of the beautiful destinations that I visited in Indonesia.The opinions are purely of my own and not of any tourism board. For more detailed information on the Banyuwangi Festival 2017 and the many events that are taking place around here, you should visit the official Banyuwangi Tourism Website. If you have any questions about the things to do in Banyuwangi, do leave them below in the comment form and I will get back to you.
    Saturday 14th of January 2017 06:28:00 AM
  • Samalona Island
    One of the beautiful islands off Makassar is Samalona Island, which is only 30 minutes from the main city harbour and is literally covered in beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Who would know that a short boat trip out of Makassar lies a couple of beautiful islands including Samalona Island and Kodengareng Keke Island. Pulau Samalona as it is locally called, attracts hundreds of local visitors on a daily basis, and even more during the holidays. But for the international traveller, Samalona Island isn't even heard of, unless you have been asking around, but lately, more foreign visitors have been coming here. The beauty about this island is that it houses a lighthouse, some very basic chalets and a couple of very local restaurants for the tourist. So, what is there to do at Samalona Island? Read below. One of the welcome signs at Samalona IslandSunbathing at Samalona IslandMost island tours in Makassar will bring you to both Samalona and Kodengareng Keke Island which is just another 15 minutes away. Or you can just opt for one of the islands. A majority of visitors prefer to just come here for a beach holiday to suntan, snorkel, picnic or just have a relaxed time. The facilities are basic, toilets, food and drinks but tour operators will bring the required equipment for the guests. Book your tours from Makassar City. Diving at Samalona IslandThe island is actually formed from a cluster of circular coral island with an overall area of 2.34 hectares. The coral reefs of Samalona Island is inhabited by diverse marine tropical fish, large and small while the coral landscape is beautiful and suitable for beginners. For advance divers, there are eight wreck dive sites all over the islands here. However, you should engage a proper dive operator to do diving at Samalona Island. Samalona Island offers water sports like jet ski and flyboardingWater Sports at Samalona IslandFor those into water sports, there are companies that offer jet skiing, flyboarding and even the banana boat on Samalona Island. When I arrived here, I saw someone trying out the flyboard just out of the island and there were a couple of jet skis moving about in a safe area of the island. For those interested in this, yo need to arrange this with your tour operator before coming to the island. A photo of Samalona Island taken from the boatPhotography at Samalona IslandWell, as today's generation is very active on social media, many beginners or even professionals come here to do island photography. Most of the photographers or videographers will bring their drones to do an areal video of Samalona Island as the island is really small. Apart from that, wedding photography and even portrait photography is becoming popular here. Just like the main photo in this article, I took it from the boat before reaching the island. Visitors entering Samalona IslandLocal homestays at Samalona IslandHow To Go To Samalona IslandSamalona Island is about 6 kilometers from Makassar City and it takes about 20-30 minutes to get here. The main departure would be from the Makassar Jetty Terminal in the town area. Chartered boats range from speed boats to larger fishing boats which can seat from 12 to 20 people. The best time to tour the island Samalona is from April to November.The above are just some of the things to do at Samalona Island and on my trip here in September 2016 under Indonesia Tourism for the Wonderful Indonesia campaign, we visited Samalona Island, Kodengareng Keke Island and a few places around Makassar before heading to other beautiful parts of Indonesia. Follow my Malaysia Asia Instagram to see more photos of Indonesia.Read this article about Makassar - Indonesia's Undiscovered Gem which was written by me in 2016. For anyone visiting Makassar, don't forget to visit Samalona Island as you can do it in a day trip, or even visit both islands in one trip. All you need to do is get it arranged by a local tour company in Makassar. 
    Friday 13th of January 2017 09:25:00 AM
  • How to go to Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi
    Those wanting to know how to go to Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi, this article will provide you with some information on one of the most popular mountains to trek in Indonesia. Mount Ijen or Kawah Ijen as it is locally called, is located in the Banyuwangi Regency which is the east most part of Java Island and neighbouring the island of Bali across the Bali Straits. Flying to BanyuwangiThere are a few ways to go to Banyuwangi and the fastest and easiest way is to fly into the Banyuwangi Airport (BWW) using the local Indonesian airlines. Most travelers wanting to hike up Mount Ijen would do this to save time.However, if you are a backpacker or budget traveler, you may travel overland from Surabaya which will take you a cool 10-12 hours via bus. If you are taking an international airline, you can land at Surabaya Airport and connect to Banyuwangi using Lion Air, Wings Air or Garuda Indonesia. From Jakarta, you need to transit at Surabaya before connecting to Banyuwangi. Note the flight timings are not as regular as other popular cities. From Bali to BanyuwangiAnother option is to travel from Bali to Banyuwangi, and this requires overland and a ferry trip which will take you no more than four to five hours. From Denpasar or Kuta, you need to travel to Gilimanuk Ferry Terminal in the west coast of Bali Island, take the ferry service across to the Ketapang Ferry Terminal and you are in Banyuwangi.Gilimanuk-Banyuwangi Ferry Service. (Photo credit www.visitijen.com)Trek up Mount Ijen (Kawah Ijen)The star tourist attraction of Banyuwangi is no other than Mount Ijen and the trek is a tiring one where you need to depart at midnight to reach the foot of the mountain by 1.30am and then trek up about two to three hours or so to catch the elusive blue flame just before sunrise. Most visitors who want to see this blue flame would start as early as 11pm. There are many tour companies offering the full Mount Ijen Trekking Package, so you simply need to book your tour and make the arrangements with your guide in Banyuwangi. You can ask your guesthouse or hotel for this. The 4x4 vehicles and guide will pick you from the hotel and you will travel overland for about one hour to the foot of Mount Ijen, before your briefing and trek up. In total, you will spend about six hours and will be back by breakfast.The scene at Mount Ijen taken at 5.00amThe trick for trekking up Mount Ijen is to sleep early the night before as you need your rest for the trek up. This means, forgoing your dinner and hitting the sack by about 4.00pm and to wake up at 11.00pm. Also, it is best to book a tour from a local tour company as it will be hassle free. Note the Kawah Ijen park entrance is around IDR100,000 weekdays, IDR150,000 weekends. A full tour package per person including the park entrance fees, 4x4 vehicle, guide, torch and mask would cost around IDR600,000 to IDR700,000. Recommended to shop around for the best price in Banyuwangi, and make sure you ask what is included in the price package. For more information, you can also visit the Indonesia Tourism website. The above are the best ways on how to go to Mount Ijen in Banyuwangi and if you have any comments or questions, please do ask them in the comment form below. Have a great trek and happy travelling. 
    Wednesday 11th of January 2017 09:03:00 AM
  • Things to do in Tawau
    What are the things to do in Tawau, Sabah? Many travelers may be asking this common question due to not much publicity on this coastal city on the East Coast of Sabah, Borneo. Tawau (??), the third largest town of Sabah was originally one of the earliest ports of east Sabah being active since the late 1890's. The British had a strong influence with the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBC) where trading was one of the main industries here. Tawau is also connected via roads from most cities around Sabah, and the Tawau Airport with direct flights here form Kuala Lumpur and other major cities of Malaysia. While most people would transit in Tawau as the main gateway to Sipadan and Mabul Islands, the airport sits in between Semporna and Tawau, therefore this list of things to do in Tawau was created for general interest, especially for travelers wanting to explore further into one of Sabah's old cities. Things to do in TawauTeck Guan Cocoa Museum in Tawau1. Teck Guan Cocoa MuseumProbably the only cocoa museum in the entire Malaysia which has a complete history on this unique plant and seed that is exported all over the world. The Teck Guan Cocoa Museum which opened in 2004, is about 20-30 minutes drive from Tawau city and is best visited in the mornings. Here, you will be introduced to the world of Cocoa, its origins, processes and what it can be made into. A guided tour by the museum staff will take you to a audio visual room to watch a short video and then one level up to see the original cocoa producing machinery. After that, you will be brought to the cocoa sampling kitchen before finishing your tour at the cocoa products room. For knowledge sake, did you know that Teck Guan Cocoa is exported to the makers of Godiva chocolates? That shows the quality of the local cocoa from Sabah. The Teck Guan Cocoa Museum also provides a special Cocoa Village Stay experience where you can spend a night or two and experience seeing the cocoa plants in their natural habitat while enjoying a special cocoa lunch and a famous Tawau seafood dinner. You need to contact Teck Guan Cocoa Village for this experience. Teck Guan Cocoa Village StayEmail: emas@teckguan.com Ms. Ivy Yap +6 019 883 0173 Ms. Selena Khoo +6 012 801 0228Teck Guan Cocoa Museum Opening Hours:Monday -  Saturday: 9:00am - 4:00pmClosed on SundaysPasar Tanjung Tawau, the largest indoor market in Malaysia2. Tawau Market (Tawau Tanjung Market)Known as Malaysia's largest indoor market with over 6000 stalls, this is one really huge market that sells dry produce and the famous Tawau dried seafood. The Tawau Tanjung Market sits in the main part of the city area and building is so huge, you will not miss it. It is also currently the Tawau UTC Centre which shares the market area. Most Malaysians that visit Tawau will definitely make a stop here to buy the famous dried seafood which is touted to be the cheapest in Malaysia. The ground floor of the market is where you will find the dry produce and vegetable sellers while in the front of the market, you will find kitchen ware and food souvenirs, loads of them. Tawau dried seafood is found on the first floor where you will see about 20 stalls selling all kinds of this dried seafood. You can buy various types of salted fish, dried fish, squid, anchovies, abalone, sea cucumber and even dried sting ray here. For those travelling on flight back, just let them know as they will pack the dried seafood specially for flights. Pasar Tanjung Tawau and the UTC Tawau CenterThe next level is a mezzanine level, which sells fabrics, clothes and local beauty products with some exceptions of toys and general items. Going up to the second level, you will find the local food court with about 40 vendors selling Chinese and Muslim food and drinks. This new food court was opened in October 2016. Finally, the highest level will be the UTC Centre of Tawau. The best time to visit here is also in the mornings when it is lively. Also, if you are planning to buy food souvenirs like the Tawau dried seafood, make this place your last stop before you depart. Pasar Tanjung Tawau AddressAlong Jalan Dunlop and Jalan Persisiran,Tawau City Centre Roundabout,Tawau, SabahStanding to one of the tallest rainforest trees in the world at Tawau. Photo by Wong Chun Xing.3. Tawau Hills National ParkFor nature lovers, the Tawau Hills National Park is one of two parks found in this part of Sabah. Located about 24 kilometers from town, it takes around 30 minutes to get to this 27,972 hectare park. It is also recommended that you engage a tour guide to visit this park, especially if you want to know more about the rainforest flora and fauna here and one of the highlights of the Tawau Hills Park is seeing one of the world's tallest tropical trees. There are camping sites, basic chalets and a picnic area for day trippers at the Tawau Hills Park. Those planning some extreme outdoors can climb Mount Magdalena which is 1,312 meters high and requires two days to reach the summit and back, while the other is Mount Lucia (1,202 meters) and Mount Maria (1,083 meters). There is also the Bombalai Hill at 530 meters high, which is a popular spot to trek up. For waterfall lovers, there is the Bukit Gelas Waterfalls and you can also explore the Sulphur Springs which is about a three kilometer trek from the main entrance. Actually, Tawau Hills Park is quite complete in terms of flora and fauna therefore if you are a hard core nature lover, this is one of the recommended places to visit. There are park rangers to guide you around and a night walk for frogging and nocturnal animals is also available.Birding or Bird Watching in Tawau is mainly done around here as there are many species of Bornean birds spotted here. Serious or casual bird watchers will find this place quite interesting for bird watching as it is said that you can spot six of the eight hornbill species of Borneo here. To go to Tawau Hills Park, you need to either take a taxi (RM 30 to RM 40 one way) or engage a tour company with a nature guide. Unfortunately, not many tour agents sell this product hence I am highlighting this here, hoping that someone would see this and capitalise on the Tawau Hills Tour Packages. Tawau Hills Park Address:Bal Estate, TawauTel: +60 89 768 719 or +60 89 925 719Email: info@sabahparks.org.myAdmission:MyKad holders (18 years and above): RM 3.00MyKad (below 18 years): RM 1.00Foreigners (18 years and above): RM 10.00Foreigners (below 18 years): RM 6.00Tawau Handicraft Centre or Pasar Gantung4. Tawau Handicraft Market (Pasar Gantung)Known as the Tawau Old Central Market or Pasar Gantung (Hanging Market), this attraction now serves as a handicraft market but more clothes and fabrics are seen sold here. When I walked around here in December 2016, there was around 50-60 vendors who were selling pearl jewellery, souvenirs, batik, ladies and men's clothing, kids clothes and a number of other local items. The reason why it's called Pasar Gantung or Hanging Market is simple, almost everything you see in the market is hung high up, probably due to the space constrain. In the same structure, there is also a small food court which sells local Tawau food and gets lively at night. The Tawau Handicraft Market would be one of the places where you can find a lot of imported items from the Philippines and Indonesia, namely the fabrics and pearls but for local tourist, this is a decent place to explore for an hour or so. The walkways are narrow with vendors close by each other and they are not aggressive traders that bother you. Prices are reasonable and you can try your luck to bargain a little. Souvenirs sold at the Pasar Gantung TawauMy opinion for this place is that more emphasis should be put into making the Pasar Gantung or Tawau Handicraft Market into a proper tourist attraction, like the Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market. By doing so, this would help in increasing the tourist numbers to Tawau, but the ministry or council should put in some funding to properly manage this potential spot and create awareness and giving it a fresh new look and approach.  Tawau Handicraft Market Address:Along Jalan Klinik, Bandar Tawau, Tawau.Open: 7.00 AM till 5.00 PMSabindo Plaza, Tawau's first shopping centre. Image from eTawau.com.5. Shopping in TawauI will be very honest here, shopping in Tawau is not something people look forward to, as if there is not enough shopping malls from where you come from? Well, Tawau being on the other side of Sabah is a very local place and currently, there are only two shopping malls in Tawau. One being Sabindo Plaza which has been around since 1999 and is more of a bazaar like concept, and the other being Eastern Plaza, a three story mall which opened in 2009. Eastern Plaza seems to fit the shopping mall concept where they have a supermarket as the main tenant while the first two floors cater to shops selling smart phones, accessories, ladies clothes and also men's fashion. The truth be told, you will not miss anything if you do not visit this place. My suggestion is to explore the Fajar area in Tawau city center as this is the most liveliest and trendiest part of Tawau with many new concept shops, cafes and bakeries. Anyway, most of the popular hotels in Tawau are located around this area too. But for fashion and accessories, Tawau is still not as advanced as Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu. So, in general, Tawau is great for some Sabah food souvenirs or Oleh-Oleh Sabah, like dried seafood. A beautiful sunset in Tawau, taken at the Tawau Waterfront6. Tawau WaterfrontWhen evening falls, you can head to the Tawau Waterfront or Tawau Esplanade to catch the beautiful Sabah sunset. Along the main road of Jalan Persisiran, there are many spots you can choose to watch the sunset and along with you, there will be many locals that come here to enjoy the magical moment that ends daylight. In December 2016, I made it a point to explore the Tawau Waterfront to catch the famous Sabah sunset and well, it was worth it, not as amazing as the ones at the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, but good enough. Along the waterfront, locals are seen selling freshly cut young mango as snacks so you can give it a try if you like. To catch he Tawau sunset, I chose a spot near the Tawau Ferry Terminal as it was convenient, due to me renting a car and moving around here. The result of the sunset is as you can see in the photo above. Not too bad if you ask me. Tawau Waterfront Address:Along Jalan Persisiran,Sabindo Area, Bandar TawauKam Ling Seafood, one of the most popular seafood restaurants in Tawau7. Eating in TawauThis is probably the top of things to do in Tawau as food here is very Indonesian-Sabah fusion due to Tawau being neighbours to Kalimantan Indonesia. Tawau is also well known for their cheap seafood where you can find some of the freshest seafood around Sabah. There are numerous seafood restaurants in Tawau where one of my personal favourites is located in the Sabindo area, at a place called Kam Ling Seafood in Tawau. Choices of fish, crabs, shells, prawns and lobsters make you think hard of which to order, and what style. But the menu provided is of great help too. One thing Tawau is famous for is the Pisang Cheese, Pisang Coklet and Sanggar Pisang, and is of Indonesian origins. These dishes are all made from bananas, deep friend and coated with cheese and chocolate, and found at a place called Indo Cafe, you can find probably the best Pisang Cheese in Sabah. For locals, this is no doubt, a must-try. And if you have tried it elsewhere, try it here and make that comparison. Another must-try famous Tawau food is the Nasi Kuning Tawau at Restoran Haji Tamrin, who has been running this place for the last 20 years. The Tawau Nasi Kuning originates from Indonesia and locally in Malaysia, they call this dish Nasi Kunyit or Turmeric Rice. The beauty of Restoran Haji Tamrin is that they use raw turmeric and no artificial flavors or ready made turmeric powder to cook their rice, which is accompanied by a choice of chicken, fish or beef with a hard boiled sambal egg.Other well known Tawau food is the original Pork Noodles (San Nyuk Mian), 6 Star Steamboat, Nasi Payau Rice and many others. For more food in Tawau, read my upcoming article on the best food in Tawau, where I experienced some of the highly recommend places in December 2016. The first mosque in Tawau8. Other Places of Interest in TawauWhile there are a few more places that may fit in this list, we are just highlighting it here, just in case you want to explore more. The Masjid Al-Kauthar Mosque, located in the city area is also Sabah's largest mosque which can accommodate up to 17,000 people. This beautiful mosque which cost RM31.5 million and opened in 2004, is also a beachfront mosque with a view of the Cowie Straits.Another beautiful mosque in Tawau is the Masjid Bandar Tawau or Masjid Waqaff Ahmad Bin Daing Mapata, located in the main city area. This mosque was also opened  in 1963 and is Tawau's oldest mosque. A mysterious attraction is the Bell Tower of Tawau, built by a Japanese businessman in 1918, during World War I, it was used by the police guards and rung at intervals. According to history, a bronze bell was used but it disappeared and no one knows where the bell is now, so there is only a six-sided oriental shaped tower standing about six meters high.Food Souvenirs at the Tawau MarketIn general, the above are probably the best things to do in Tawau, after researching and taking to locals, based on my recent trip here in December 2016. Tawau has always served as the main gateway to Semporna to get to Sipadan and Mabul Island, and also Maliau Basin as this is the closest city to catch a flight and then travel overland the the mentioned places. For more information, you can also check out the official Sabah Tourism website. One of Tawau's many roundaboutsIf you want to experience a real Sabahan city and how things were back in the day, Tawau is the best place to do so as the city is developing at a much slower pace than most other cities in Sabah.I love the concept of how you can find old style businesses here and people are friendly and not too caught up with the current modernisation. If you are planning to visit Sabah next year, read my article on Where to go in Sabah for 2017 as it narrows down a number of places for tourism. This list of things to do in Tawau is timely as now, more people are looking for new places to explore and discover, especially in the food tourism side as Tawau offers some pretty interesting local food to experience. A Tawau Food Trail would be great to explore if you are headed here. If you have any comments or feedback, please do share them in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this article for things to do in Tawau and if I missed out anything, let me know. Happy travels. 
    Saturday 31st of December 2016 10:51:00 AM
  • Where to go in Sarawak for 2017
    Sarawak has always been one of the unique destinations in Malaysia and many have always asked this question of where to go in Sarawak, and for 2017, I have come up with this list of places to visit in Sarawak Borneo for first timers or regular visitors. Before I continue, those who do not know, Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and located on the island of Borneo. Sarawak is also known as The Land of the Hornbill, and is neighbouring Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan. The only way to visit Sarawak is via flights from various airlines in the region. Sarawak is so huge, that it takes about 14 hours drive to get from one end to the other and many of their unique villages and towns are accessible via flights or logging roads. Rich with cultural and heritage, Sarawak boasts of some of Southeast Asia's most unique ethnic tribes and cultures. The number one thing to do in Sarawak is no other than Eco tourism where there is abundance of it available all over. Your starting city would also be Kuching, the capital of Sarawak or Miri, the resort city in the north, bordering Brunei. Most international and domestic flights arrive at these two cities and you can connect to certain smaller towns and villages using MAS Wings flights. Travel overland is also common here but note the long hours and off road conditions.Where to go in Sarawak for 2017Sibu Gateway in the city area1. SibuAs this year is Visit Sibu Year 2017, much has been planned for this central city in Sarawak. Sibu operates as the main city that caters to the central region and has recently opened up to tourism. However, Sibu is a very culturally rich place and you need to move around and out of Sibu to see this beautiful part of Sarawak. One of the must-visit places is no other than the traditional Melanau village by a river which is undisturbed and showcases the Melanau lifestyle.Malaysia's largest market in Sibu, SarawakIn Sibu city, highlights are the Sibu Heritage Centre which works as a museum showcasing the overall culture and history of Sibu and the ethnic people from around here.In the evenings, the Sibu Night Market in Market Square is an amazing gastronomical experience as you would encounter another side of Sarawak's fascinating food. Sibu is also home to Malaysia's largest market called the Sibu Central Market where you can find over 1000 stalls selling local produce. To go to Sibu, you can fly direct to Sibu with AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines or, you could also take a river ferry from Kuching that takes around two hours. Moving around requires you to engage a tour guide and we highly recommend Hou Kang from Greatown Travel who specialises in Sibu tours.Bario Highlands in Sarawak2. BarioFor probably the best encounter with a cultural highland experience, Bario is the place to be at in 2017. Away from it all, located in the Kelabit Highlands and bordering Kalimantan is a natural Eco village that sits 1000 meters above sea level and is cooling throughout the year. Most visitors that come to Bario seek Eco adventures like trekking, hiking, cycling and generally enjoying things as they were 50 years ago. Nothing much has changed here, hence making this destination ideal for those seeking purity and originality. Read my previous article A Journey to the Bario Highlands in Sarawak for more detailed information.Stay at any of the home stays here as there are no hotels, only family operated homestays which is such an amazing experience. Nigmat Ayu is one of the recommended places to stay in Bario.To go to Bario, the best way is to fly in via MAS Wings from Miri and the flight takes about one hour with a Twin Otter 19 seat turbo prop plane. The flight is an overall experience and you will land at one of the smallest airports in Malaysia. Moving around is on foot or hitching a ride from the locals.Niah Caves, out of Miri3. MiriMiri has always appealed to certain visitors over the years, but in the last five years, Miri has advanced quite a bit in terms of tourism, especially being the gateway to Northern Sarawak. Most of the visitors to Miri come from Brunei or Sabah, but since scuba diving became popular, there has been a surge of adventure tourist heading here. Read more about diving in MiriMiri's city also offers food tourism where you can sample some unique Kayan cuisine and in the old town area, a variety of local hawker food. Sites around Miri include temples, markets, hill top views and some really beautiful beaches. For shoppers, Miri has a few interesting shopping malls like Bintang Megamall and the newly opened Permaisuri Imperial City Mall. A Miri Handicraft Centre just next to Bintang Megamall is your one stop place for all the local ethnic cultures and souvenirs too.View of Miri City from the Miri Pullman HotelMiri is also home to the world famous Borneo Jazz Festival, which is also the region's premier international jazz festival that has been running for 12 solid years. The next Borneo Jazz 2017 takes place from 12-13 May 2017 and at the ParkCity Everly Hotel.For Ecotourism, Miri is also home to some of the popular national parks in Sarawak like the Niah National Park, Lambir Hills National Park and also the Loagan Bunut National Park which is around an hours drive from the city. To visit the parks, you need to engage the services of a tour company who provide driver and nature guides and one of the recommended companies is Brighton Travel and Tours in Miri.To go to Miri, you need to fly in from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kuching or Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. From Kuching, an overland journey will take you around 11-12 hours.View of the Marriott Resort in Mulu, Sarawak (Image from Mulu Marriott)4. Mulu National ParkOne of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia is no other than the Mulu National Park, where you can find the world renown Mulu Caves. For any outdoor or Eco lover, this is your number one place to visit in Sarawak due to the overall uniqueness of this national park an its surroundings. Long boat travels, cave explorations, nature trekking and abundance of flora and fauna is on top of your menu when you visit the Mulu National Park.Stay at the Mulu Marriott Resort, a luxury retreat located in the middle of the rainforest. Alternatively, the Mulu National Park offers lodging with longhouse dorms or even individual chalets. Outside the park, you can also find homestays and budget guesthouses or lodges.To go to Mulu, the best possible way is to fly in via Kuching, Miri or Kota Kinabalu in Sabah as they have direct flights using a turbo prop ATR72 plane. Flights are one hour long and lands at one of the smallest airports in Malaysia. For the hardcore explorer, you can also take a 7 hour long boat ride through the lush tropical rainforest, passing remote villages and beautiful picturesque scenery.Kuching's Old Town area5. KuchingThe capital of Sarawak and the most popular tourist destination, Kuching offers a laid back city lifestyle, culture and food as the main things to do here. Most visitors will arrive in Kuching and then head out to national parks, animal sanctuaries and also traditional ethnic longhouses or even the Sarawak Cultural Village. One of the recommended place for culture lovers in Kuching is the Sarawak Museum, which is touted as one of the best museums in the world in terms of ethnicity and cultural history.Kolo Mee Noodles in KuchingA walking tour in Kuching city is highly recommended as you can explore the old town of Kuching, take a Sarawak River Cruise and also indulge in savouring the famous Sarawak food around here.Eating in Kuching is one of the must do things as the cat city offers you the famous Sarawak Laksa noodles, Sarawak Kolo Mee, Belachan Bee Hoon, the Sarawak Layer Cakes or Kek Lapis and many other local favourites.Read about eating local food in Kuching which was done by me a few years ago, as it shares some of the popular food in Kuching. For seafood in Kuching, visit this place called Top Spot.Popular places out of Kuching are Kubah National Park, Semenggoh Orang Utan Centre and Annah Rais Longhouse which require you to use a tour company service. In the city, try renting a bicycle to move around as they also have cycling tours in Kuching that take you to local villages. Night life in Kuching is also spread out and the best place in the city to experience this is around Jalan Tabuan area where you can find the trendiest bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes. Carpenter Street is also another road where you can find some nightlife.To go to Kuching, fly in via various airlines from around the region an once there, you can either engage a tour company for your tours or simply explore on foot around the city.Sarawak Sea Stack at Bako National Park6. Bako National ParkTwo hours out of Kuching is the Bako National Park, which is probably the most visited national park in the south. The uniqueness of this place is that it is home to the local bearded pig, proboscis monkeys and many other birds and reptiles. There are two options to visiting here where you can either stay over at the park lodging or make a day trip here.The main highlight of Bako National Park is the trekking and hiking where there are many trails offered, from basic to advanced. Any trekking activities require park rangers to follow along for a small fee. Some beaches are also found along a few of the treks. Before departing the park, ask your boat man to bring you to the famous Sarawak Sea Stack and rock formations which is just nearby the main entrance to the national park.Bako National Park attracts all kinds of visitors, namely Eco lovers, trekkers and hikers, animal lovers, bird watchers and even photographers. The park is managed by the Sarawak Forestry Department and is well maintained.To go to Bako, usually tour operators sell day trips or overnight trips here. Book your Bako tour from any of the tour operators in Kuching city.Siniawan Night Market, photo by James & Sara of http://.karmacuzzies.wordpress.com7. Siniawan Night MarketProbably the hottest attraction for locals in the last couple of years is Siniawan Old Town, two hours from Kuching. The charm of this 100 over year old  town lies in that one main street with original 48 wooden shop houses. And at night, the Siniawan night market main street is closed and dining tables line the streets with Chinese lanterns hung above, giving that traditional food street ambiance which is really hard to come by nowadays.Launched in 2010, Siniawan Night Market was popular with the locals and after getting a lot of attention via social media, more tourist started coming here to experience this old charm. The night market is at full swing on weekends only and food is the main attraction here. Please note that only if you are into food and old towns, this would be a great place to visit. Most tours bring you here just before sunset and then to have dinner. A must try is the pitcher plant rice which is very unique and also the traditional local cakes.To go to Siniawan, you can either self drive here, take a taxi or engage a tour company. The Siniawan Night Market is open from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm and only on weekends.Rainforest World Music Festival 20178. Rainforest World Music Festival 2017One of the world's most unique music festival to attend is no other than the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 which takes place from 14-16 July at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong. This three day music festival showcases some of the best traditional and ethnic musicians from around the world and among the highlights are the music workshops that take place in the day.Known also as RWMF, the music festival's home is on the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village, which doubles as a living museum where various ethnic groups from Sarawak stay and operate each of their homes in the village. The music festival sees around 20,000 visitors from all over the world attending and is listed as one of the Top 25 Music Festivals in the world to attend by Songlines for six years in a row.If you love music festivals and unique cultures, the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 is a must attend and you should book your flights, tickers and accommodations as early as possible as they tend to sell out fast. You can choose to stay near the RWMF2017 in Santubong or stay in Kuching city.To go to Santubong, you can take the shuttle service, taxi, public bus and the journey takes about one hour one way.View of the Bario Highlands in SarawakThe above is personally compiled by David Hogan Jr of Malaysia Asia as I have been traveling around Sarawak for many years, exploring new destinations and many places of interest. The list also highlights places are there easily accessible for all kinds of tourist due to the proper infrastructure and facilities.These destinations are also overseen by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Ministry of Tourism Sarawak therefore, if you need more information, you can visit the Sarawak Tourism Board website on where to go in Sarawak for 2017. If you have any comments of feedback, please do leave them in the comment section below and have a fantastic year for 2017.
    Monday 26th of December 2016 04:00:00 AM
  • Recommended Places to Visit in Indonesia for 2017
    With a new year approaching an after numerous visits around Indonesia in 2016, here is an article about recommended places to visit in Indonesia for 2017 compiled by me. All the places in here have been visited by me personally and my recommendations are purely based on what general travelers would like to see. As Indonesia is really huge, there are many common and popular places like Bali, Bandung, Jakarta and so on, but when you explore further, there are many more interesting and unique places that most visitors have not been to. While you may have heard of places like Papua Indonesia, Kalimantan Borneo or even Sulawesi Island, there are still other places which have recently opened to full scale tourism as the infrastructure over the years has improved a lot.  Recommended Places to Visit in Indonesia for 2017This list is in no particular order and for further information, you can visit the official Indonesia Tourism website link at the end. A Komodo Dragon passes by at the Komodo National Park in Flores1. Flores, East Nusa Tenggara The island that is home to Komodo National Park and is currently one of the most popular destinations in Indonesia. Visitors are now heading here not only to see the Komodo Dragon, but also to explore the beautiful island of Flores, which is still under developed and is what most travelers want nowadays. Flores in East Nusa Tenggara is no doubt one of the new destinations in Indonesia which a lot of traveler are talking about as there is much to do here in a laid back environment. The island of Flores offers beaches, diving, bird watching, hiking, trekking, culture and lots of eco tourism. Mount Kelimutu with the tri-colored lakes are also located here. I did an article on things to do in Flores for anyone who wants to explore this island and for those planning to come here purely to see the mighty Komodo Dragons, I wrote another article on how to get to Komodo Island with the information you need for flights and so on. Approaching Gili Trawangan Island2. Gili Trawangan IslandHaving been around for many years, the Gili Islands have always been popular with the backpackers and recently in the last three to five years, more and more general touristy have been coming here to escape the commercialize Bali tourism places. There are three main beautiful paradise islands - Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno, and all three are accessible only via boats. The beauty about these three islands is that there are no airports, vehicles, bikes available and horse carriages and bicycles are the only mode of transport around here. To get to one another island, boats shuttle you up and down for a small fee. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three and has the most facilities and a majority of the visitors tend to stay here. For a more quiet place, Gili Meno would be the perfect place. The Gili Islands offer backpacking hostels, lodges, medium range accommodations and luxury hotels and resorts. Read about what to do in Gili Trawangan Island. Crystal clear waters at Kodingareng Keke Island, off Makassar3. Makassar, SulawesiThe capital of Sulawesi Island offers visitors some old world style of tourism where you will not find commercial tourism but a developing city that is open to all walks of life. I would easily brand Makassar as Indonesia's Hidden Gem which is rich in natural culture and also serving as a gateway to other must-visit places in Sulawesi. Locals are still fascinated by tourist and are ever friendly when approached. Some of the must-visit places around Makassar include the beautiful crystal clear water islands of Kodingareng Keke and Samalona, which is only 20-30 minutes out of Makassar City. For nature and Eco lovers, the Bantimurung National Park is a great place to explore as it lies about 60 minutes out of the city and you can spend half a day here trekking or just chilling out at the beautiful Bantimurung Waterfalls. Culture and historical fans will find Fort Rotterdam an exciting place which holds a lot of Dutch history dating back almost 400 years ago. Most exciting in Makassar is to sample the famous local food which is absolutely unique and different from your usual Indonesian cities. At the top of Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi4. Mount Ijen, BanyuwangiOne of the most popular volcanic mountains in Indonesia is no other than Mount Ijen in the district of Banyuwangi, east most of Java island. The locals call this mountain Kawah Ijen and this is one of two places in the world where you can see the very special and unique blue flame in one of the craters. The trek up is not easy and you have to leave the foot at about 3.00 AM to get up there by 4.30 AM to see the blue flame. This means, you need to depart from your hotel at around 12.00 midnight for that two hour plus 4x4 journey to the foot of the mountain before you trek up. The sulphuric smell in the air when you are at the peak is not a joking matter as you need to be prepared with proper face masks, not the cheap ones. Mount Ijen is also popular with bird lovers as there are a total of 107 bird species found around the mountain. Rangers are required to bring you up the mountain and at a cost. Usually, all of this is arranged when you make a booking through a tour company. Sade Village, a cultural experience of the Sasak people of Lombok5. Sasak Village, Lombok IslandOne of the original ethnic people on Lombok Island is no other than the Sasak people, who make up around 85% of the population of the island and the balance are Balinese people. Apart from Mount Rinjani and the beautiful beaches of Lombok, a visit to the Sade Village in South Lombok will introduce you to the traditional culture of the Sasak people here. Sade Village showcases a traditional Sasak village and living environment which is complete with thatched rooftop homes, homegrown industries like Songket cloth weaving and locally made handicraft. The village works like a cultural village where visitors are welcomed by a traditional Sasak musical welcome followed by a couple of traditional Sasak dances which are great photo opportunities. The best way to find out more about this ethnic group is to engage a guide that can translate everything to you. River tubing at Santirah River, Pangandaran6. Santirah River and Green Canyon, Pangandaran All the way to the south-east of West Java are two hidden Eco tourism marvels which only locals have been enjoying over the years. The Santirah River and Green Canyon both offer a unique river tubing experience that is suitable for just about anyone. Pangandaran would be the main city where you will stay at and this coastal city is considered very new to outside tourism as they have been doing well on the local side. With travelers wanting unique experiences, the Santirah River and Green Canyon offer a unique river tubing experience where you sit on recycled tire tubes and sail down the river for over one kilometer. The journey lets you pass waterfalls and narrow canyons and some basic rapids which give you a full ecotourism experience. Apart from river tubing, Pangandaran offers beaches, surfing, trekking, hiking, waterfalls and a very original laid back culture. There are guesthouses, hotels and resorts found around Pangandaran, but locally operated ones and not your Marriott or Hilton type. Some of them are quite interesting too, like The Arnawa Hotel in Pangandaran which I stayed at. To get to Pangandaran in West Java, you need to travel by land which takes you around six to seven hours. But if you are looking for a unique and scenic journey, this is one of the recommended places to visit in Indonesia for 2017. Kampung Naga's traditional homes in Tasikmalaya7. Kampung Naga, Tasikmalaya Just two hours south-east from Bandung is probably Indonesia's answer to Japan's Shirakawa-Go Village where Kampung Naga shares an uncanny resemblance to the Japanese UNESCO World Heritage Site. Translated as Dragon Village, this unique community is found in a valley and does not depend on modernization where the entire village operates without electricity and is a fully self sustained community. Kampung Naga is also located approximately 100 meters below sea level in the rich and fertile valley. Getting here is half the fun as when you arrive, you need to walk down a 45 degree slope into the valley and it is here where you will get a beautiful picturesque scenery of the entire village among the hill paddy fields. They offer day trips and also a homestay experience for anyone wanting to experience this. Visitors are required to respect the local community here and if you want to take photographs, please ask for permission first. I did an earlier article on places to visit beyond Bandung and some of the mentioned destinations are included in there. The unique Bird Cages or Lutung Kasarung in Dusun Bambu, Bandung (Photo from Dusun Bambu)8. Dusun Bambu, BandungSomehow, this place in Bandung had to be listed as it is quite unique, especially for those seeking a nature escape out of Bandung. Located about one hour out of Bandung, on the way to Tankuban Parahu Volcano Crater, this Eco-park practises the seven aspects of life: Ecology (nature), Education, Economic, Ethnology (culture), Ethics, Esthetics (Aesthetics), and Entertainment which makes up the 7E's. One of the most attractive things I have come across here is the Lutung Kasarung or Bird Cages where visitors can dine in them in an elevated park section. A very unique concept and is probably the most popular here as these bird cages are usually fully booked. The kind of food you can find here is of course, local Indonesia cuisine, but they also have an international menu. Overall, this place is awesome for families or couple travelers and they have lodging as well. Most visitors come here for day trips and Dusun Bambu gets crowded on weekends and holidays as it is currently the most popular and talked about place out of Bandung. View from the restaurant of Dusun Bambu in Bandung (Photo by Dusun Bambu)In general, there are many other beautiful places around Indonesia to visit but the above was compiled based on actual visits to some of these places  in 2016 under the #WonderfulIndonesia campaign to promote these destinations. For those who have been to Indonesia before, you may want to consider making future trips to some of these unique places, which are clearly off the general tourism radar. For more information on Indonesia, visit the official Indonesia Tourism website. As for me, I am also looking forward to exploring other new places around Indonesia which would be of interest to international travelers. You can also follow Malaysia Asia on Instagram as I am also uploading various travel photos there. Ad if you have any comments of feedback on recommended places to visit in Indonesia for 2017, please do share them in the comment form below. Safe travels and have a great 2017.
    Thursday 22nd of December 2016 07:31:00 AM
  • Places to Visit in Jordan for Malaysians
    Among the many places to visit in Jordan for Malaysians, I would personally recommend Petra as the number one place in Jordan to visit. You may be asking why I am writing this and the reasons is that most general Malaysians usually travel for under a week, leaving not many places to fully explore. Jordan is a beautiful place and it is best to spend at least a minimum of one week to fully see all the beautiful places and if you have read other reviews on Jordan, they are usually targeting the whole world in one post. Well, I am from Malaysia and my target readers is back to the Malaysians who plan to visit Jordan for their holidays, studies or even for business. I have read many articles on Jordan and everyone wants to have the top ten things to do in Jordan or top ten places to visit in Jordan, but again, sometimes these are not suitable for elderly or family travelers, especially from Malaysia or Southeast Asia. Anyway, my visit to Jordan was in 2015 where I had the opportunity to explore almost all of the main tourist spots here as I was under the Jordan Tourism Board on the VisitJordan tourism campaign. Places I visited was Amman, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and of course, the Dead Sea, but in his article, I will highlight a few of these places and why. Amman City in Jordan, in a panoramic photo (click to see full size)Amman, JordanThe capital of Jordan is Amman and all visitors will be arriving here. Just like any other city, there are many hotels available but you should know, Amman is unlike Asian cities which is bustling with shops, malls and traffic jams. Most visitors would put a night here before moving to the next destination but for those staying in Amman, one of the must visit places is Rainbow Street which is the main lifestyle area of Amman. Here, you will find cafes, coffee shops, boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants along Rainbow Street and the surrounding areas. Generally, you can just come here and walk around to explore the place. If you are visiting Rainbow Street on a Friday, do check out Souk Jara near the King Hussain Mosque. This souk is like a flea market where you can find some interesting crafts and local items. Other things to do in Amman would be to visit a local spice market, a Turkish bath, the Jordan Museum and the local perfume shops. One of the main attractions in Amman is also the Amman Citadel, which is located downtown. Amman Citadel in JordanAmman CitadelThe Amman Citadel lies smack center in the city and is located on the highest hill in Amman. This historical spot has been around from the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods where the rich history and structures still stand here. Among them are the famous Temple of Hercules, a Byzantine church and the Umayyad Palace. While here, visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which is home to a collection of artifacts from the Citadel and other Jordanian historic sites. At the highest point, you can get an amazing view of the city of Amman with the giant Jordanian flag flying in the distance. There is a lot of walking involved here therefore, it is recommended to come prepared and you can hire an English speaking tour guide at JD15 per hour. Alternatively, there are signs for each of the historical spots here in English as well. To get here from town center, take a taxi which will cost around JD1-2. Entrance ticket price for the Amman Citadel is JD2 per person. Prepare to spend around two to three hours here and the best time to go is after lunch, when the tour buses have left. Bring your water bottle and snacks too. Jerash Ruins in AmmanJerash RuinsLocated about one hours drive north of Amman, the Jerash Ruins is the best Greek and Roman ruins out of Italy or Greece. This place is filled with ancient history dating back to the Bronze Age right to the Ottoman period and to see the entire Jerash, you would probably need half a day and there is a lot of walking involved. However, for photography and historical knowledge, this is the place to explore and best done with a local guide. The place is not wheelchair friendly and proper walking shoes are required. For elderly visitors, you need to be in decent good health to explore Jerash. There is a main mini souk at the entrance area with souvenir shops and cafes and once you head into Jerash, there are is no food or drinks, so you need to bring water and some snacks. The first structure you will encounter is the Arch of Hadrian and after walking through, you will find massive historical structures like The Temple of Artemis, a Hippodrome, temples, churches and loads of Roman and Greek pillars. Petra's amazing MonasteryPetra The Treasury Building in Petra, JordanThe one must-visit place in Jordan is Petra, where  it is also known as one of the New Wonders of the World. Petra is also the most visited place in Jordan where this ancient site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The town that is just outside Petra is Wadi Musa, where all the hotels, cafes and restaurants are located.Among the notable spots in Petra one should visit is the Siq, the main beautiful gorge that leads you into the Treasury, a massive temple carved out of a mountain. Further in, there is the Royal Tombs, Hadrain Gate, Cardo Maximus and the Monastery, which is another structure like the Treasury. For Malaysians visiting Jordan, this would be the highlight of your visit and you would be staying at Wadi Musa. There are hotels ranging from basic to luxury for your choosing. For me, I stayed at Movenpick Resort in Petra, which is the closest hotel to the entrance of Petra, so it is easier for those wanting close access. At the entrance, the Petra Visitors Center is a good place to start as it provides all the information needed. Walking inside the beautiful Petra gorge, heading to the TreasuryPetra is so huge that it takes about two full days to see everything. But I would recommend staying at Wadi Musa for a minimum of three days to take your time and enjoy Petra. There is a lot of walking here but for those wanting quick access, the local Bedouin people provide transportation using donkeys, camels and even horse carriages for a fee. We are looking at prices of JD$5 to JD$30 per person, depending on the areas too. In total, I walked 16 kilometers from morning to evening in Petra, so you can imagine the distance in there. For elderly travelers, take your time and use the transportation services if required.If you would like to see more photos of Petra, I did a series Petra Jordan Photos which shows unedited photos taken from a Note 5 smartphone. This would give you a better visual image of Petra and what it has to offer. Journey from Amman to PetraFrom Amman to Petra, it takes about three hours drive south. Petra is on the way to Aqaba, the resort city of Jordan. In that three hours, you will see much desert scenery therefore, you can get some sleep on the way there. Make sure you get a comfortable van or car too. Along the way, you can make rest stops at various restaurant cum souvenir shops and this would be your toilet break or prayer stop. View of the Dead Sea in Jordan from one of the resorts hereDead SeaThe second most popular destination in Jordan is the Dead Sea which is located about one hour southwest of Jordan. The Dead Sea is also the lowest point on earth with an estimate 429 meters below sea level while the length is 50 kilometers long and 15 kilometers at its widest point. This is also one of the saltiest lakes on earth where the salt water here taste 10 times more salty that normal sea water. People from all over the world come here to experience a natural wellness and health therapies due to the unique mineral content of the Dead Sea water. Also, the reason for the word dead is simply because no life can live in it due to the high salinity. With tons of tourist, you will find many hotels and resorts located along the Dead Sea. Many international chains have their resorts here like Hilton, Crowne Plaza Jordan, Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea, Jordan Valley Marriott Resort and Spa, Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea and many others. There is even a small shopping mall here called Semarah Mall and there are a couple of restaurants, cafes, a small supermarket and some retail stores here. As for my trip, I stayed at the Movenpick Dead Sea and Spa Resort which is truly an amazing place, especially if you are traveling with a family. Floating on the Dead SeaA visitor floating in the Dead SeaYes, this is the phenomena here where no matter what you do, you cannot sink at the Dead Sea. Trust me as I tried this and failed. One thing you must be cautious about is the Dead Sea water getting into your eyes and mouth as it will sting in a painful manner. The wellness process here is simple, at most resorts, they have a mud pail where you can cover yourself with mud and then get into the water in a slow manner, soak yourself slowly and then float and keep your head up. In the event the water gets into your eyes, you should immediately get back to the land and wash it out with tap water. It would be wise to carry a large mineral water bottle, just in case but most resorts here have a staff on stand by with pails of water. You can imagine the number of people experiencing this as I did. Well, I had to try it to write about here here, and I also did drink some of the Dead Sea water, it is the most salty thing I have ever tasted in my life. Ma'In Hot Springs in JordanOther Places in JordanAqaba is the coastal resort city at the Red Sea, popular for water sports and scuba diving. It is here where you can see Israel from the coast and it takes around 4 hours to drive from Amman to Aqaba. If you are doing a round Jordan trip, then I suggest you start in Amman, head to Petra, then to Wadi Rum, then Aqaba and then up to the Dead Sea before heading back to Amman. As for me, I visited Aqaba to experience Diving in the Red Sea as it has been one of my diving bucket list. Wadi Rum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is mainly a scenic desert valley which is accessible by the main Desert Highway on the way to Aqaba. At Wadi Rum, Desert Safaris and Desert Camping is the main attraction where you can experience hot days and cold nights and exploring the beautiful natural structures in a 4x4 around this 74,000 hectare protected desert. Ma'in Hot Springs is located in the Dead Sea area just outside the Mijib Nature Reserve and only one luxury resort is available there. The Evason Six Sense Spa manages this luxurious resort which is deep down in a Oasis with no other property in the vicinity. In other word, luxurious and exclusive. A dessert safari in Wadi Rum, JordanJordan Dinar or Dollar (JOD)The Jordanian Dinar is often called JD, or sometimes Jordanian Dollar with the code JOD, and the conversion rates to Malaysian Ringgit is 1 JOD - RM 6.32 (Dec 2016 Rates). In general, a can of Coke is 1 JOD and going to the public restrooms along the highways will also cost you 1 JOD. Food is relatively reasonable with dishes priced at around 3-5 JOD and a meal around JD4-8. In general, you should take note of the conversions, especially when you are paying for souvenirs and other minor things.Changing Money in JordanThis is one of the experiences I had where the Ringgit Malaysia or other non-popular currency is accepted, but at a really low rate. I would highly recommend you change your Jordanian Dollar in Malaysia or your respective country before going to Jordan. Alternatively, bring US dollars to be changed there as you would get a much better rate. In general, US Dollars always save the day so keep some spare. Credit cards are accepted at most places. Jordan souvenirs - Sand Art which is easily seen at most tourist placesFlights to Jordan from MalaysiaCurrently, only one airline flies direct into Amman from Kuala Lumpur which is Etihad Airways. However there are many other airlines that do a stopover before landing in Amman and price wise, the difference is only around RM 500 versus the direct flight.Direct Flight Kuala Lumpur - AmmanEtihad Airways 7.20 PM (KUL) --> 2.15 AM (AMM)One Stopover from Kuala Lumpur - Amman Royal Jordanian/Malaysia Airlines via BangkokSaudi Airlines via Jeddah (Cheapest Flights)Emirates via Dubai (Cheapest Flights)Turkish Airlines via IstanbulMoving around JordanJordanian FoodThe best option is to book a tour with a knowledgeable local tour guide as it will be hassle free. And if you are those adventurous traveler, solo, couple of family, you can get around easily as most people here speak English, especially at popular tourist sites or bigger cities.For single female travelers or backpackers, caution should be observed, especially at the desert areas or attractions. I would recommend you get a proper guide at some of these places. Eating in JordanAs you already know, Jordan is a Muslim country and all the food here is Halal. However, you can find international food, mainly at hotels and resorts but in the towns or cities, it's pure Jordanian food which is really amazing. The local Hummus are a must try while the local grilled food is also recommended. But one thing that you must try is the Mansaf, which is the national dish of Jordan, made of lamb cooked in a fermented dried yogurt sauce and served with rice or bulgur.Sunset at the Dead Sea in JordanFor more information on Jordan, visit the official Jordan Tourism website which is branded as Visit Jordan. The interactive website has almost everything you need to know about this amazing country, even a section dedicated to food in Jordan.Overall, Jordan is one of the best places to visit in the Middle East as it is very safe, great infrastructure and with many interesting places to visit. Many Europeans and Americans are seen around Jordan as it is part of their Middle East Tour and for Malaysians, there are many Malaysian students studying here in Jordan.Amman to Petra map showing how long it takes to drive thereI would personally recommend doing a complete loop where you start in Amman, head to Petra and spend two nights there, then to the Dead Sea for another night and back to Amman which can be done in five to six days. Alternatively, you can also head to the resort city of Aqaba from Petra, then all the way up to the Dead Sea and back to Amman. To book tours to Jordan, I recommend visiting the Matta Fair 2017 as you can get some really good packages and deals from those selling Middle East tours. Again, this article was written specially for Malaysia as many locals would want to know the best places to visit in Jordan for Malaysians.
    Tuesday 20th of December 2016 05:01:00 AM
  • 10 Facts About 20th Century Fox World Genting
    Here are 10 Facts About 20th Century Fox World Genting for your reading which has been compiled over the months from various news reports and articles. The much talked about 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in Genting Malaysia is set to open its doors to the world somewhere in late 2017 or even in early 2018, where it was initially planned to open in 2016. Since the announcement of the new theme park in Genting was made in 2013, much has changed where constructions delays were one of the main causes for shifting the opening date. There has also been much speculations from the media and also analyst from around the world about the official opening for 20th Century Fox World Malaysia, but many are assuming it could be late 2017 or even in the late end of the first quarter of 2018. Anyway, below are some of the facts compiled for your reading pleasure.The official artist impression of the 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in Malaysia (Photo from 20th Century Fox Film)10 Facts About 20th Century Fox World Genting1. First 20th Century Fox Theme Park in the WorldThis came as huge industry news as 20th Century Fox was investing in a world class theme park and here in Malaysia, Southeast Asia. News reports all over the world highlighted this on mainstream and online portals creating excitement for the general public. The fact that it was being opened here in Genting, Malaysia, got the locals super excited about this world class theme park. 2. 20th Century Fox World Theme Park To Cost RM2.5 BillionA whopping RM2.5 Billion to build the worlds first 20th Century Fox World Theme Park has also made news as there have been questions raised on why that much was needed, but sources cite that this was not an extraordinary amount to build a world-class theme park nowadays. (Source http://www.ggrasia.com/year-end-launch-for-gen-highlands-sky-plaza-brokerage/) 3. 20th Century Fox World Malaysia To Open In PhasesWith the rush to get this new theme park open, sources cite that the 20th Century Fox World Malaysia is likely to open in phases, starting in late 2017 or early 2018. This means, the fully completer park will probably be ready by 2018 or even 2019.(Source: https://www.ggrasia.com/gen-malaysia-theme-park-phased-launch-analyst/)4. 2.3 Million Visitors Expected On First Year of OperationAn earlier mention where a forecast of 4 Million visitors per annum was cited, but in reality, 2.3 Million has been forcasted for the first 12 months of operation. However, the following year will see an increase to 3 Million visitors and projecting 4 Million visitors to the theme park in 2019. 5. 20th Century Fox World Malaysia Ticket Price To Be Around RM150.00 Analyst have projected the theme park tickets to be around RM 150.00 (US$36) per person. This is also being compared to other theme parks in Malaysia where ticket prices for Sunway Lagoon are priced around RM 96.00 and Legoland Malaysia at RM 83.00. However, this may change when the official news is announced for the 20th Century Fox World Malaysia opening. 6. 25 Rides At 20th Century Fox World Genting Theme ParkWith this being the first of its kind in the world, a total of 25 rides will be available at the new theme park in Genting. The 25 thrill rides and attractions will also be based on films and franchises like Planet of the Apes, Rio, Alien vs. Predator, Ice Age, Life of Pi, Night at the Museum and Titanic among the ones mentioned during the press conference back then. Rides will be offered in thrill rides, water rides and even dark rides for both children and adults. More top names may be added to the list before the opening.20th Century Fox World Layout Plan for GentingPhoto source: www.ffdrt.com7. 25 Acres Of Land Used For 20th Century Fox MalaysiaA whopping 25 acres of land space will be used for the entire theme park where it takes over the former Genting Outdoor Theme Park. This will also be one of the largest theme parks in Southeast Asia when completed. 8. Why Twentieth Century Fox Chose To Partner With Genting Malaysia?Resorts World (Genting) is one of the largest resort operators in the world and in Genting alone, Resorts World operates over 10,000 hotel rooms, 75 restaurants, an indoor mall and golf resort in Genting Highlands. With an average of 20 million people visit Genting yearly, very few places in the world can achieve this kind of tourist numbers.(Source: http://www.ejinsight.com/20160126-fox-unit-mulls-plans-for-mega-theme-park-in-china/)9. 20th Century Fox World Malaysia First Of Three Theme Parks In The WorldThere are currently a total of three 20th Century Fox Theme Parks in the world and the Malaysia one will be the first, followed by 20th Century Fox World Dubai, somewhere in 2018 and then 20th Century Fox World Korea, also in 2018 at Yeongjong Island. The Dubai theme park was announced in November 2015 and the Korea theme park was announced seven months after the first 20th Century Fox World Malaysia was announced. (Korea Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-twentieth-century-fox-theme-park-korea-20140716-story.html)(Dubai Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-20th-century-fox-dubai-20151103-story.html)10. Dream Parade at 20th Century Fox World MalaysiaJust like in Disneyland, a special Dream Parade which features characters and titles of movies and cartoons represented at the 20th Century Fox World will be in animatronics form. Though not fully confirmed, there are no images on this but you can easily imagine all the 20th Century Fox characters in this Dream Parade which will take place presumably on the main street of the theme park. The Old Genting Highlands Theme Park. Image from unknown source.Disclaimer - The above list is compiled by me based on numerous reports and articles that ave come out over the last year (2016) and I am in no position to be an authority on the list provided here as it is purely reading material based on news reports. Some of the information, numbers and facts may change over time. For more accurate and precise information, please visit Resorts World Genting. 20th Century Fox World Malaysia Launching by the Prime Minister in 2013 (Photo by ww.theeggyolks.com)Previously in 2013, I had also written an article of the official announcement of the 20th Century Fox Theme Park in Malaysia where they had a press conference at Resorts World Genting with the relative parties involved in this massive project. In 2015, I wrote another article on the 20th Century Fox World Genting to highlight more information on this world class project that is going to re-shape the landscape of Malaysia in terms of tourism. The article also touches on the many other projects that Genting is undergoing in their Genting Integrated Tourism Plan or GITP which cost a whopping RM10.38 Billion, which was doubled over the years since announcing it. For anyone planning to visit Malaysia when the 20th Century Fox World Malaysia opens, you may also want to take a look at the many other theme parks in Malaysia, also written by me which showcases all the theme parks around the country. If you have any additional facts or numbers, please do share them here in the comment form below. Also, if you have any comments, me and other readers would like to hear them. This 10 Facts About 20th Century Fox World Genting article has been compiled by David Hogan Jr of Malaysia Asia, who resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
    Thursday 15th of December 2016 04:21:00 AM
  • Where to go in Sabah for 2017
    You may be asking Where to go in Sabah for 2017, and fear not as Malaysia Asia will give you a basic guide to this as we have been traveling around North Borneo quite a bit. For the year 2017, there are many interesting places in Sabah for all kinds of travelers out there, which includes Ecotourism, adventure, islands, beaches, mountains, wildlife, birding, food hunting and even shopping. Yes, you guessed it, Sabah is one of the destinations of Malaysia that offer the best of just about anything. The main entry point into Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, the capital city which is a located by the sea and a mere 10 minutes from both the international airport and also the domestic airport which are side by side. You should also know that Kota Kinabalu or KK as it is commonly called is central, is your gateway to all around Sabah. For those visiting Sabah for the 1st time, you should read my other article on Sabah for first time visitors while for those returning, this article will shed some light on some interesting places to visit in Sabah based on what you may like. Before I proceed, I will just highlight what KK has to offer below.Kota Kinabalu's beautiful sunsets from the KK EsplanadeKota Kinabalu offers a mixture of lifestyle, shopping, food, relaxation, islands & beaches and loads of culture. While some may spend a day or two in KK, note that you can easily hop on a 15 minute boat ride from Jesselton Pier to visit the beautiful islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park which consist of Manukan, Mamutik and Sapi Islands. Sunbathing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sea walking, trekking and an island to island zip line awaits you here. For those wanting food, lifestyle and culture, you can simply explore KK city on foot and encounter all of these, especially near the Gaya Street area. Hotels, restaurants, cafes, malls and souvenir shops await the city traveler. A tip is to try the local breakfast and tea time at one of the classic coffee shops here. However, we recommend that you visit other parts of Kota Kinabalu to fully experience what Sabah has to offer. Where to go in Sabah for 2017This is a common question that I always get from travelers from my social media accounts and now, I can recommend some interesting places for where to go in Sabah for 2017. I will also highlight them by the destination and not by the city or town so you can roughly find what you would like to to or where you would like to visit in Sabah. Take note that the places below are not for your commercial tourism as those can be easily done at KK City with abundance of information available. The ones recommended below are catered to visitors wanting something different from the ordinary. River Cruise along the Kinabatangan River in SabahKinabatangan River for a Wildlife Experience Kinabatangan is clearly one of the best places in Sabah for wildlife and everything related to it. In short, it is here where visitors will see the most wildlife, birds, reptiles and flora, all in one destination. The popular Kinabatangan River is also known as Sukau where you will find numerous Eco resorts and lodges along the main river where moving around in boats is your main transportation.Among the activities, the Kinabatangan River Cruise is listed as the number one thing to do there, where you have the opportunity to spot wildlife, namely the Borneo Pygmy Elephants who move around in herds. Other wildlife include Orang Utans, Gibbons, Proboscis Monkeys, Birds, Snakes and even Crocodiles. Trekking is also available, but with the local nature guides that take you into the dense rainforest.For the nocturnal animals, there is a Kinabatangan night river cruise where you will experience spotting crocodiles, wild cats, snakes and birds in a boat that moves really slow along the side of the river and some smaller rivers here. Chances are you will be seeing wildlife, hence this is one of the best places in Sabah to spot wildlife. To book tours here, you can contact North Borneo Safari as they are one of the reputable Kinabatangan tour operators for many years. They also provide professional services like wildlife photography tours and video shooting.Danum Valley Canopy Walk in SabahDanum ValleySince the dawn of age, Danum has always been there and till this very day, Danum Valley is still one of the top three pristine rainforest that is under conservation. The absolute beauty about this place is that there is only one Eco resort called Borneo Rainforest Lodge or BRL in short, which is a 5-Star luxury resort and the Danum Valley Field Centre. Recently in 2016, news of another new resort in Danum Valley surfaced where they plan to open in 2017.Why visit Danum Valley? Well, to fully experience what a pristine rainforest is, and to see wildlife and nature in its natural condition, Danum Valley is one of the highly recommended places to do so. The place is so exclusive, you will only find pure nature lovers here as there is nothing else but nature here. No shopping, no bars, no cafes.... nothing.Must do at Danum Valley includes waking on the amazing canopy walk, going for the night safari and doing a nature trek with the highly trained local nature guides. To book the tours here, you need to book through Borneo Nature Tours who operate the Borneo Rainforest Lodge or BRL at Danum Valley. Minimum time to spend here is at least three to four days, or a week if you are a nature lover. Lankayan Island Dive Resort in SabahLankayan IslandOne of the isolated islands off Sandakan is no other than Lankayan Island, where there are no immediate neighbours within your eye view. This beautiful tropical island sits two hours off the east coast of Sandakan in the Sulu Sea and houses only one resort, which is the Lankayan Island Dive Resort where all of their 23 villas or chalets are sea facing! This means, you will not be getting those garden view type of units like most resorts have.While diving is the main activity here, many come here to get away from the other crowded islands as this place is so remote, there are no speed boats whizzing by or loads of people on the beach. Divers will be in for a treat as some of the best diving in Sabah is found here. A lot of macro life like nudibranches and other micro sea critters are easily spotted at the healthy corals here. Sometimes, the occasional whale shark makes a stop here while larger fishes are easily spotted too.Lankayan Island is also well known for turtle nesting and during the season from July till October. You can see how the turtle eggs are collected to be re-buried in their conservation efforts and if you're lucky, even see some turtles coming up to shore. Perfect for the honeymooner or even diving couple and if you're not a diver but one of those who loves peace and quiet during your vacation, this is one of the recommended islands to visit in Sabah. And if you are spending additional time around here, do read this article on things to do in Sandakan. For those interested, you can book through the official Lankayan Island Dive Resort website.Crocker Range in the morning, Photo by www.wikiwand.comCrocker Range While everyone is talking about Mount Kinabalu and Kundasang, those two places are overrated and over the years, many have forgotten that Crocker Range is another highland or mountain range just two hours out of Kota Kinabalu but heading south. Over here, you can find the Manis Manis Resort which is beautifully perched on a hill at the Crocker Range Park.This highland venue also has an average temperature range from 18°C at night and 24°C during the day which is similar to Kinabalu, minus the large crowds. The Manis Manis Resort was once known as Kayu Manis Resort and has been here for many years too. Re-branded recently, they now offer chalets for those seeking privacy and nicer accommodations while they still have dorm styled lodges and a camping ground for the adventurous.Things to do at Crocker Range include bird watching, trekking and hiking and simply absorbing in the natural beauty of this place. Personally, I would like to give some love to Crocker Range as this place has always been shadowed by Kinabalu and perhaps in 2017, more visitors will visit this beautiful place. You can book your Crocker Range Resort through the Manis Manis Resort Website.The River Lodging at Tabin Wildlife Reserve, SabahTabin Wildlife ReserveAnother reserve gets some love for 2017, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve is as big as Singapore, if not, Bigger! Bet you did not know that, and this wildlife reserve has an amazing reputation for some of the best bird watching is Sabah. Not forgetting the other wildlife like the Borneo Pygmy Elephants, rare jungle cats, civets, porcupines and the list goes on. Tabin Wildlife Reserve is located in Lahad Datu, a town in the east coast of Sabah and driving from the Lahad Datu airport will take you around 90 minutes.What is offered here are some really amazing lodging, they have two styles which are the river lodges and also the hill lodges. Both are equally beautiful and offer different views but the experience of staying here is something that is hard for me to put in words. In one word - Awesome! Provided you love nature and the outdoors, Tabin has some of the best nature guides in Sabah which are well knowledgeable and experienced.The resort is also situated in the heart of the wildlife reserve and there is no other hotel or resort for miles, meaning you are one with nature, minus the huge crowds. Guest here are usually nature lovers from Europe who enjoy trekking, hiking, bird watching or nature watching. There are night safaris which take you into the core area where you will definitely see some wildlife. For bird watchers, this is heaven as you can probably spot at least 40 to 50 species of Bornean birds here. Minimum time to spend is again three to four nights but better for five or six nights to fully experience this place. You can book through the official Tabin Wildlife Resort website.Maliau Basin Conservation Area Viewpoint in SabahMaliau Basin Often called the Lost World of Sabah, Maliau Basin is in the top three conservation's in Sabah that is least visited. Probably, if you are not a nature or Eco lover, you best skip this suggestion. Otherwise, Maliau Basin to me, is one of the prime nature escapes in Malaysia. Some say that only 30% of this conservation has been explored which makes this place even more inviting. However, to visit here, you need to book tours from appointed agents who specialise in Maliau Basin, not just any Tom, Dick or Harry tour company.Entrance to the Maliau Basin Canopy WalkWhat is in Maliau Basin? Well, think of 60,000 hectares of pristine rainforest in a basin. That's how huge Maliau Basin is. In total, the conservation spreads over 588 square kilometres which is also larger than the island of Singapore. Impressive right?When I visited in 2015, I was captivated by the sheer size of the place and they only have one lodge that is available for accommodations. A very nice dorm, individual rooms and a semi-luxury villa with three rooms. I stayed at both, the dorm and room with air-condition. The place is operated by Yayasan Sabah and has their own management team, wildlife rangers and facilities. There is a research centre in the vicinity too.The beauty about Maliau Basin is that the trekking here is out of this world. The main trek is only an hour long but the serious trekking takes days to reach certain parts of the basin. To visit the famous seven tier waterfalls, you need to trek at least three days both ways. However, for short stays, you would trek to Agatis Camp, visit the Maliau Basin Canopy Walk and do the night safaris.Good news for environment lovers, in 1997, Maliau Basin Conservation Area was upgraded by the Sabah state government to a Class 1 Protection Forest Reserve. It is also said to be one of the few remaining relatively untouched wilderness areas in the world, therefore I would highly recommend visiting this unique nature wonderland in Sabah. If you love trekking, hiking and camping, this is you mecca. To book, you need to go through Sabah Tourism Website as they have a list of reputable tour operators for Maliau Basin.Sea Bajau Kids at Semporna, SabahThe above is compiled and highlighted as part of the unique tourism places in Sabah and you will notice that all the places are not your commercial spots like Kinabalu, Desa Farm Kundasang, Tip of Borneo, Mabul Island, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and so on  as these commercial places have already been promoted by the Sabah Tourism Board and most people know of these places.As an travel influencer, photographer and writer, my main mission is to highlight some of these beautiful places, based on interest, genre and infrastructure for the would be traveler here. Meaning, I have personally been to all these places, stayed there and experienced the activities and can vouch for them. More information can also be obtained from the official Sabah Tourism website.If you have any enquiries or comments about this article on where to go in Sabah for 2017, do leave them in the comment form below and I will get back to you. Alternatively, you can also follow my Malaysia Asia Instagram account for more info and photos. Have a great year for 2017. 
    Monday 12th of December 2016 07:08:00 AM
  • Things to do in Flores
    For first timers, you may be asking what are the things to do in Flores and after two trips here in 2016, I can narrow them down for you here. One of the lesser visited places in Indonesia is the island of Flores but many may know this place as Komodo, due to Komodo Island being part of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia.Flores is all the way east of Bali, after Lombok and Gili Trawangan and just before Ambon and Papua Indonesia and there are only two ways of getting here, the old way via ferry and boats, and currently via flight from Bali using a number of local Indonesian airlines. For those who intend to visit Flores, I would recommend to book well in advance, especially if you are a budget traveller as of lately, more travelers are keen to visit here. Just to highlight, other articles you may have read by other travel bloggers would most likely touch around the Labuan Bajo area as a majority of them only visited this place, while this article goes beyond and further into Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.Things to do in FloresSome of the beautiful beaches at Flores, East Nusa TenggaraIn general, Flores is huge and there a a number of districts and towns where each of them have their own uniqueness. For example, Labuan Bajo will be the main gateway to Komodo Island, therefore if you are planning to see the Komodo Dragons, then your entry point will be Labuan Bajo, which is the most modern town on the island too. And when you head further east of the island, you will come across more natural tourism spots like the beautiful remote beaches of Flores.Most travelers or tourist are seen around Labuan Bajo as the infrastructure is probably the best on the island as they are mainly there for the Komodo Dragons or for scuba diving. At Labuan Bajo, you can find hotels, resorts, bars, bakeries, restaurants, travel agents and more here. You can also read my article on things to do in Labuan Bajo for more information, and below is my list of things to do in Flores.1. Visit the Komodo National ParkOne of the many Komodo Dragons at the Komodo National ParkProbably the most popular destination in Flores is no other than Komodo Island where you get to see the majestic Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat. Tours run daily and depart from Labuan Bajo for day trips while those on a budget opt for the overnight trips where they stay on board a local boat. In total, there are two islands that are open to visitors, Komodo Island and Rinca Island where you can trek with the park rangers to see the dragons. It is no doubt that when you want to visit Komodo, you have to make your port of entry in Labuan Bajo. I also wrote this article on how to get to Komodo Island for those who plane to visit here and let me just say, this place should be on everyone's bucket list, especially for Indonesia or Asia.2. Pink Beach at Komodo IslandPink Beach at Komodo IslandA beach that is pink in color? Yes, only here at Komodo Island you can find three main pink beaches which are a must-visit for any beach lover. Not to worry as any tours to Komodo will include a visit to the pink beaches here for you to snorkel and relax. After a trek to see the Komodo Dragons, you will be brought to the main popular pink beach to spend an hour or two before heading off. One of the must do things here is trek up the small hill to get a birds eye view of the pink beach.3. Padar Island Padar Island Photo, taken from the peakOne of the most amazing places in Flores is no other than Padar Island, which is neighboring Komodo Island and tours to Komodo Island will usually bring you here. This stunning experience lets you trek up a hill, all the way to the peak where you can see the entire island from up top. Photo above was taken by me using my smartphone panoramic mode. Hoards of tourist, local and foreigners head here to make that tiring journey uphill for about 30 minutes and to be rewarded with probably the most popular selfie in Indonesia. Padar Island is suitable for those in good health as there is some serious trekking uphill. Those with heart conditions or knee and leg problems are not recommended to attempt to climb up, but you can wait in the boat or beach below.4. Manggarai Village ExperienceThe unique Manggarai people at the village in FloresJust out of Labuan Bajo is a traditional Manggarai Village where you can visit and experience how the local Manggarai people live. This cultural experience lets you see the Manggarai tribe participate in their traditional rituals and dances. The welcome ritual takes you into the home where the head man will recite some prayers to welcome visitors. After that, the unique Caci war dance is performed followed by a harvest dance and then a traditional bamboo dance. Visitors will be treated to the local Flores Coffee and possibly a lunch with traditional Manggarai food. Well worth the experience if you love cultures, food and coffee.5. Diving in Komodo Island My dive master explains the dive site at Komodo IslandIf you are a diver, Komodo Island offers one of the best diving in Indonesia and as for me being a diver, I was totally speechless with the ultra rich marine and coral life at the many dive sites around Komodo Island. Many have said that Raja Ampat is the best dive site, but speaking to the local dive masters who have been diving for more than 20 years have told me that they spent time all over Indonesia and Komodo Island is still hands down the best dive spot in Indonesia. I couldn't agree more and after three dives, I was sold. My next dive trip will definitely be here, especially during the manta ray season. Read my article on diving at Komodo Island for more information.6. Volunteer at Rainbow Reading Garden (Taman Bacaan Pelangi)Nila Tanzil and the volunteers at Taman Bacaan Pelangi in Flores, East Nusa TenggaraOne of the must-do activities in Flores is to do some volunteering or voluntourism at the privately run Rainbow Reading Gardens, operated by Nila Tanzil, an Indonesian with a passion to help the children in remote places of Indonesia. Taman Bacaan Pelangi is also a non-profit organisation working to establish children?s libraries in remote areas of Eastern Indonesia since 2009. The beauty about this experience is that you get to communicate and share with these local children in their own little schools. Get more information from Taman Bacaan Pelangi as they can arrange for your volunteering in Flores or any of the other islands around here.7. Bird Watching in FloresA Wallacean Drongo seen at the Komodo National ParkFlores is one of the premier places in Indonesia to do birding due to the many species of migrating and also resident birds found on the entire island. This attracts many birders to do bird watching in Flores as the wildlife and overall island is still pristine and not developed. The bet way to do this is to engage a bird guide to travel around Flores. The recommended bird watching route would be to start in Labuan Bajo move to Komodo Island and slowly make your way towards Ruteng, Ende, Kelimutu National Park and end up in Maumere. There are flights connecting internally between Labuan Bajo, Ende and Maumere.8. Trekking up Mount Kelimutu Two of the three lakes at the peak of Mount Kelimutu in FloresSounds difficult, but this is probably the easiest mountain trek in Indonesia. Mount Kelimutu is well known for the tricolor lakes at the top of the mountain and these lakes tend to change colors over time. The beauty about the tricolor lakes is that you can see three different colors in the crater lakes. From the park headquarters, the trek up to Kelimutu peak will take you no longer than 45 minutes. The walkway is concrete steps all the way and probably the hardest part is just before the peak, but for seasoned hikers and trekkers, this is considered very easy. Along the way, you will pass through the Kelimutu National Park which is rich with flora and fauna. Elderly people can also do this trek up to Mount Kelimutu. The main city to visit Kelimutu is Ende where hotels and restaurants are available.9. Exploring MaumereThe stature of Mother Mary on Nilo Hill in Sikka, FloresProbably the least visited places in Flores, Maumere offers some beautiful isolated beach resorts that are comparable with those in Bali. I stayed at the Coconut Beach Resort in Maumere which is pretty amazing, with lovely bamboo themed individual villas and a beach all to yourself. Maumere is also known as one of the best diving spots in Flores after Komodo Island. Further out of Maumere town, you can visit some of the local tourist spots like the oldest wooden church in Flores located in the district of Sikka or even head up Nilo Hill to see the 28 meter statue of Mother Mary at the peak of the hill. In general, Maumere is for those who enjoy the laid back slow lifestyle, minus the tourist.10. Visit Wae Rebo VillageWae Rebo Village in Flores (Image from Indonesia.Travel)Wae Rebo is the one place that I really wanted to visit in my last trip but due to timing, we had to bypass this amazing place UNESCO village. It is actually one of the most beautifully preserved traditional Manggarai villages with amazing circular cone shaped homes and located on a hilly area. To get here, you need to trek for about three hours to the highlands before reaching Wae Rebo village. For culture and heritage fans, this is probably one of the main highlights of things to do in Flores.11. Explore BajawaBajawa Town in Flores (Image from http://www.florestourism.com)Another place which I totally missed on my last trip was visiting Bajawa in the Florinese Highlands. This town which is home to the Ngada people, is said to be the coolest part of Flores where it is found on an elevated area of 1500 meters above sea level. The weather here is cool and great for anyone wanting to see the natural way of life of the highlands here. Things to do around Bajawa include cycling, cultural experiences or just to experience the laid back life here.12. Liang Bua Historical SiteLiang Bua Cave in Flores. (Image from http://www.southeastasianarchaeology.com)For those who are into archaeology, history and culture, the Liang Bua Caves are probably the best place to visit in Flores. This is simply because in 2003, a group of archaeologist discovered the remains of a Homo Floresiensis, which is said to be a new kind of human species. Word got around and now, archaeology fans can come here to see what this is all about. Again for me, time was not on my side where I could not visit the Liang Bua Cave near Ruteng in Flores.A rooster at one of the local villages in the Sikka district of Maumere, FloresTo get to Flores, there are a number of airlines that fly into the island and you can check for flights to Flores using Skyscanner for some of the best deals. Note that you may have to do two or three flights depending on which city or country you fly from. The easiest way to get to Flores, East Nusa Tenggara is via Bali.The list above is compiled by me, David Hogan Jr from Malaysia who has been to Flores two times in 2016 with the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia and also Skyscanner Indonesia on a mission to explore and promote this beautiful island to the world. Each of the places was personally visited by me, unless stated above. Given the opportunity, I would visit this beautiful island to explore and find more thins to do in Flores.
    Wednesday 7th of December 2016 08:32:00 AM
  • Theme Parks in Sarawak
    The long awaited question, what are the theme parks in Sarawak? which has been asked for years, and to date, there are only two which are in operation. One is in Miri while the other is the newly re-launched project called Sarawak Sentosa Theme Park in Kuching. However, you should not get your hopes too high as these are both very small and does not qualify as world class theme parks, but more for the local family getaways. I am only being honest here as I would not want to deceive readers or visitors heading to Sarawak to be disappointed, therefore I will do my best to highlight them here. In the list are also some of the upcoming theme parks in Sarawak which are scheduled to open in 2017 and 2018, so do look out for them. Theme Parks in Sarawak The water park at Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort in MiriBorneo Tropical Rainforest Resort Water ParkMany may not know of this water park, but it has been around for many years now. Located on the way to the Niah National Park is the Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort and inside the resort, there is a mini water park with a racing slide and twist slides, a play pool and a mid sized swimming pool. The water park in Miri is free for guest staying here while visitors need to buy tickets. This place is very popular with the locals and tends to get busy on the weekends and school holidays. The beauty about this water park is that it is located in a rainforest. Next time you explore Miri, do check this place out as it is a great place to stay at if you are heading to the Niah Caves or national parks here. Sentosa Theme Park in Kuching, Sarawak (Photo from Facebook)Sarawak Sentosa Theme ParkRecently re-branded and re-launched on the 26th November 2016 is the Sarawak Sentosa Theme Park is located along Jalan Stakan in Kota Sentosa, Batu 7, Kuching. Well, this theme park in Kuching is more of an "activity park" as the attractions here are not theme park related. They offer the largest indoor skating rink, indoor archery field, a 12,000 square feet Kuso 5D Museum, 9D VR or Augmented Reality Experience, a few types of Go Karts, bubble football, hover boards, electronic darts and a games area. Originally, this was called the Sentosa World Sports Centre and was opened on 15 Jan 2016, but it was re-branded and re-launched under the brand Sentosa Theme Park. Well, those are most of the attractions offered and generally, it feels more of an activity park than a theme park, but somehow they got the branding Sentosa Theme Park. To be very honest, it is very confusing, especially for the tourist visiting Kuching as the title 'theme park' is very misleading. For locals, this would be a great place to have your kids go crazy and the fun does not stop as adults too can also participate. Sentosa Theme Park is also open 11.00 AM to 11.00 PM, daily and has a cafe and sports section. Currently, this is the talk of Kuching as the city has never had a theme park and this is the first of its kind, well sort of. The one month Mobile Water Theme Park at MJC, Batu Kawa in Kuching, SarawakMobile Water Theme Park at MJC Batu KawaThis interesting concept of a water park made an appearance in MJC Batu Kawa where a massive mobile water theme park was set up for a month in September 2016. This brought locals by the bus loads to experience this fun family concept but after opening it, there was no news of follow up on this mobile water park in Sarawak. Plans were to take this concept to other parts of Sarawak namely Sibu and Miri. Senadin Water Theme Park in Miri, the scale model (Photo from www.miricitysharing.com)Senadin Water Theme Park in MiriThe latest theme park in Sarawak which is scheduled to open somewhere in 2017 is no other than the Senadin Uptown Water Theme Park. Rumours had surfaced that the project was abandoned but the developers have stated that this theme park project is still on. The RM7 million Senadin Water Theme Park will have wave generators, swimming pools, water slides and tubes, and even a water canoe track. There will be a shopping mall, cultural village, hotel, amphitheater and even a planned man-made island in the 36 acre site near Sungai Tujuh, which is very close to Brunei. This massive project is also by the Miri Housing Development Realty Sdn. Bhd. and it was scheduled to be ready by 2016, but judging from the news, it may only be launched in 2018. Borneo Samariang Resort City Theme Park (Photo from ww.sentoria.com)Borneo Samariang Resort City Theme ParkAnother much talked about theme park project is the Borneo Samariang Resort City at Bandar Baru Samariang, which is a new satellite township rapidly taking shape to the north of Kuching. Plans to incorporate a theme park and water park similar to the sister project, Bukit Gambang Resort City will make this one of the top theme parks in Sarawak. Once fully developed and launched in 2018, the project will have a world class theme park, a water park and a safari park, There will also be a resort with 2000 rooms, a team building area and also a river cruise. So visitors will have to wait till 2018 before the Borneo Samariang Resort City opens. Sarawak Theme Parks That Never Made ItThere was in fact a one theme park that was planned by never did take off and it was located in Sibu, central Sarawak. The ambitious plan sounded good, but unfortunately never happened. This is highlighted here just to show that there was in fact, plans for theme parks in Sarawak, especially around 2011 and if it did take off, it would have been pretty good. Hornbill Bay at Pulau Kerto in Sibu, artist impression (Photo from Behance.com)Pulau Kerto Theme Park in SibuAn ambitious plan to build a theme park in Pulau Kerto in Sibu got everyone excited, but the project never did take off. It was also called the Rajang Basin Theme Park. The RM50 million project would have been spread over 50 acres of the island would have seen a an iconic gigantic hornbill sculpture standing at 150 feet high which would have made this into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest bird statue in the world. Rides would have included a river boat cruise, flying fox and a sky lift. A gallery was also planned to showcase Sarawakian historical and cultural artifacts and information of the various tribes of Sarawak. The Pulau Kerto Theme Park project would have put Sibu on the travel map, had this project gone through. It was also called Hornbill Bay, according to another report where the entire bay was shaped like a hornbill head. The giant hornbill that was supposed to be at the Pulau Kerto Theme Park in Sibu (Photo from Behance.com)If you have gone through this list, you may have noticed that all of them are water theme parks or water related, as someone once told me that building a water park is much more cheaper than building a full scale theme park. Anyway, since Sarawak is located in the tropical climate, it is only right to have water parks as visitors can head there to cool off and have fun. For the record, the much talked about and soon to open 20th Century Fox World Theme Park in Genting will be opening in 2017 or 2018, which is the first of its kind in the world and is awaited by the whole world. You can also read this article if you want to know more about Theme Parks in Malaysia as it gives you the complete list. Overall, these are the few theme parks planned for Sarawak and also those that are currently open and in operation. While Sarawak is more of a nature, culture and heritage place to visit, there are still those wanting theme parks in Sarawak as for most locals, they have to head to Singapore or Peninsular Malaysia to enjoy it. 
    Saturday 3rd of December 2016 04:33:00 AM
  • Must Eat Food in Sandakan
    If you have wondered what are the must eat food in Sandakan, this list will be an introduction to some of the best Sandakan local food places which can be found around the city area and its outskirts. Over the last ten years of visiting Sandakan on a yearly basis, I have been introduced to many local places, some which have closed while others still serving out the same quality from back then. As a travel influencer, writer or blogger, and having been a regular visitor to Sabah since 2005, I hardly write about food simply because I am no authority to claim which is the best food in Sandakan as everyone has a different taste palate and opinion to judge food. But over the years of experience and reading how food bloggers review places, I could not help but write this article. Here, I will open the doors and you be the judge of the food places in Sandakan that I have narrowed down from the last 10 years and based on many peoples opinions, usually the wise old locals rather than some new food blog or food blogger. Where is Sandakan? This nature city which is also known as Little Hong Kong, is located in the east coast of Sabah and is the gateway to numerous nature attractions like Sepilok, Labuk Bay and the world famous Kinabatangan River. Again, I am not a food blogger but share this information through years of experience eating at these places, and this list of must eat food in Sandakan is in no particular order below.Must Eat Food in SandakanMak Cik herself, poses at her original stall in Pasar Sim Sim, SandakanIkan Bakar at Pasar Sim Sim at Kampung Buli Sim SimFor fish and seafood lovers, Pasar Sim Sim is the most famous place to try the Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish) and many other types of fresh seafood that is barbecued. There are two ikan bakar stalls in this mini 'pasar' which serves the same thing, just that which stall you prefer. Both stalls offer grilled fish and seafood, it is available for lunch and dinner therefore the tip is to go early to get the best selection of squid (sotong), crabs (ketam), prawns (udang) and local sea fish like Ikan Bolu, Ikan Blais, Ikan Putih, Ikan Kerapu and many others. Most locals come here to eat and by seven in the evening, a lot of the selection is finished. You can order rice and other dishes to compliment your feast and don't forget to ask for their local 'sambal' which is really nice and spicy. Just to add on that Ikan Bakar Mama Resepi is one of the popular stalls here and over the years, she has opened a total of three branches all over Sandakan where the younger generation tends to eat at the Mama Resepi Ikan Bakar at IJM, Mile 6, which is one of the newer branches and at a proper restaurant.Mama Resepi Ikan Bakar Pasar Sim SimPasar Sim Sim, off Jalan Sim Sim,Kampung Buli Sim Sim, 1/2 Mile,90000 Sandakan.Tel: +6 016 824 8125 / +6 019 453 0484The unique Kadazan dishes from Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant in SandakanKadazan Food at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant, Mile 4 SandakanThis new Kadazan Restaurant in Sandakan called Borneo Ethnic Cuisine was recently opened ion early October 2016 and at Bandar Indah, Mile 4 Sandakan. The owners have brought the traditional Kadazan cuisine to Sandakan and is the first ethnic restaurant serving this unique food. They are open daily except Tuesdays and open for lunch and dinner and the highlights are the Nasi Linopot Ikan Basung Sets which are simply a must-try for anyone who is curious about Kadazan Food.Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant is open from 10.00 AM to 3.00 PM and then 5.00 PM to 10.00 PM. Pries are very reasonable and for a cultural food experience, this is highly recommended. From Sandakan city, it takes about 15-20 minutes drive to get here and the Kadazan Food Restaurant is located by a famous landmark which is the Kenalanmu Seafood Restaurant at Mile 4. Place is closed on Tuesdays.Borneo Ethnic Cuisine RestaurantGround Floor, Lot 8, Block 6, Mile 4,Jalan Cecily North, Bandar Indah,90000 Sandakan.Tel: +6 019 582 0077 (Stephanie) / 019 883 3842 (Rosaline)The delicious seafood spring noodles at Restoran 88 Sim Sim in SandakanSpring Noodles at Restoran 88 Sim Sim, SandakanThis local restaurant called Restoran 88 Sim Sim at the end of the jetty of bridge No.8 in Kampung Buli Sim Sim is well known for their spring seafood noodles which come in a dry type of noodles, accompanied with a bowl of amazing fresh seafood soup. If you are a noodle lover, this is one of the must eat food in Sandakan as the noodles are purely handmade and one of a kind. They are really springy and fragrant which can be found no where else. During lunch and dinner, Restoran 88 Sim Sim Seafood serves some awesome seafood dishes which are quite original and old school style, unlike the new seafood restaurants. There is a lot of character when you dine here too. For the spring noodles, the tip is to come here early in the morning to have the Sandakan spring noodles as it finishes fast, especially on the weekends. They are also well known for their Cheese Prawns dish. Not to be confused, there are two restaurants at the end of the jetty and this one is on the right side.Restoran 88 Sim SimRight Side, Jambatan No. 8,Kampung Buli Sim Sim,Jalan Sim Sim, Sandakan.Tel: +6 012 816 3633Seafood Bak Kut Teh in SandakanSeafood Bak Kut Teh in SandakanWithout fail, this is one of the most popular food in Sandakan where you can order seafood bak kut teh, a type of pork bone soup but instead of the pork, it is replaced with fresh seafood. From what I have tried here, there are only two restaurants serving this and one of them is the 27 year old Nam Chai Seafood Bak Kut Teh located in Tanah Merah area, along Jalan Leila which is the main coastal road out of Sandakan. It is also a 10 minute drive from the city too. The beauty about this seafood bak kut teh dish is that the owner claims that they do not use any other herbs like how the common bak kut teh is done and instead using only the general bak kut teh spices. This tends to bring out the flavor of the seafood which makes it quite unique and a must-try when you are in Sandakan. For the meat lovers, fear not as they do have the normal bak kut teh being served too. Place is closed on Mondays and the must-try dish here, ask for the 'Lai Mang' fish which sells out really fast.Nam Chai Seafood Bak Kut Teh RestaurantGround Floor, Blok D, Jalan Leila,Bandar Nam Tung, 90000, Sandakan.Tel: +6 089 612 603Kueh Teow with Deep Fried Pork from the 76 year old stall at the Sandakan MarketKueh Teow with Deep Fried Pork at Sandakan Central MarketWho would know that on top of a wet market lies one of the most oldest and famous local food stalls which serves a unique combination of kueh teow and deep fried pork pieces? This stall has been doing the 'Char Yuk Meen' since 1940 and is one of the pioneer noodle stalls where they still home make the kueh teow or flat rice noodles. To experience this, one needs to come here for breakfast and the stall open from 5.00 AM till about 11.00 AM and at times, the kueh teow noodles is sold out by 10.00 AM, so I would recommend you come before nine in the morning to savour this original dish.To find this stall, you need to find the main Sandakan Market, look for the stairs where you walk up two floors and look for the stall with their sign board. It's pretty obvious as you will not miss it among the other stalls here.Keuh Teow Deep Fried Pork Stall2nd Floor, Sandakan Wet Market,Jalan Pryer, Pusat Bandar Sandakan,90000 Sandakan.Tel: -Sandakan's most famous steamboat, 1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill, SandakanIf you love steamboat and seafood, this family run restaurant is hands down the best place to eat in Sandakan. Located on Trig Hill, just 10 minutes drive from Sandakan city, it is best to ask for directions or take a taxi here. The restaurant is called 1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill which has been around since early 2000 and serving mostly locals some of the best, fresh and cheapest seafood steamboat in the east coast of Sabah.1Malaysia Steamboat on Trig Hill is a straightforward and simple restaurant. Walk in, order for how many persons, go get your buffet and eat as you please. The price is RM30.00 per person, but when you look at the seafood buffet, you will be very pleased to know you only paid so little. The seafood is delivered daily, meaning they are really fresh. Prawns are medium to large sized, fish are seafood fillets, monster clams (kerang), average sized flower crabs and white clams.Wait... there's more, there is a selection of fish paste, fish balls, yong tau foo, vegetables, beef, chicken, satay, soft drinks, ice cream, soup, fried chicken wings and the list goes on. Seriously, for RM30, this is a fantastic deal. The tip is to come early, by 6.00PM as they do not refill the buffet. For an additional RM10.00, you can get a grill pan to grill some of the buffet items.1Malaysia Steamboat Restaurant SandakanJalan Bukit Trig, Bukit Bendera,90000, Sandakan.Tel: +6 013 540 4056 / 017 817 0908Sotong Kangkung at Bandar Kim Fong's Market is one of the famous Sandakan foodsSotong Kangkung at Pasar Kim Fung, Mile 4Another popular place for local hawker food is the Sotong Kangkung or Cuttlefish Salad which is found at the local pasar or wet market in Bandar Kim Fung, Mile 4 Sandakan. There are a number of food stalls here that sell a variety of local food but the Sotong Kangkung stall here is one of the recommended places to eat in Sandakan.This stall has been here for over 10 years and the way they prepare the sotong kangkung is unlike others that we have tasted around Malaysia. The lady boss secret lies in some fresh lime that is mixed into the overall dish together with some quality prawn paste, which gives it a very fresh taste. At RM 5.00 a plate, this also results in a very interesting and new flavor compared to the usual dish. While you are here, do try some of the other stalls selling tea time snacks, cakes, chee cheong fun and also the chicken wings.Sotong Kangkung at Pasar Kim FungPasar Kim Fung, off Jalan Pasaraya,Bandar Kim Fung, Mile 4,90000 Sandakan.Tel: -Seri Wijaya Restaurant at Mile 7, Sandakan which serves some awesome Malay food.Seri Wijaya Restoran at Mile 7, SandakanFor Malay Food in Sandakan, there are many choices available, but not many of them stand out or have a strong reputation. The reason is mainly because that Sandakan has many types of Muslims like the Bajau, Javanese and Sundanese therefore, you will find more Muslim food related to these Muslims here in Sandakan. I personally talked to the local Sandakan Malays and even they cannot give me a popular Malay restaurant in Sandakan.Restoran Seri Wijaya in Mile 7, Sandakan was a bonus find as they serve Javanese mix Malay food here. The owners are local Malay mix with Javanese and had recently opened this restaurant in late 2015 and opens from 7.00 AM till 12.00 Midnight. Their dishes are very interesting, freshly cooked for ala-carte and the overall restaurant is clean and hygiene.Food taste, I have to say, totally outstanding and I recommend trying the Ikan Bawal Bakar Set or Grilled Pomfret Fish Set. Another set to to order is the Ayam Kremes Rice Set as the chicken is tender and the crispiness is perfect. Their sets come with ulam or fresh vegetables, some home cooked spicy sambal and a bowl of soup.Restoran Seri Wijaya Off Jalan Lintas Labuk,Ground Floor Block C,Bandar Megah Jaya,Mile 7, Sandakan 9000,Sandakan.Tel: -Sandakan CityOverall, there are many other restaurants and hawkers which we tried but have not included them in this list. Many will know Sandakan for the great seafood restaurants like Ocean King Seafood which has now moved to Mile 6 and also Kenalanmu Seafood Restaurant in Mile 4, but those places are too commercial and over-rated. Other places like bakeries and stalls are popular, but on a very local level and perhaps we will feature the best bakeries in Sandakan in my future articles.For those traveling to Sandakan, and looking for some good food to try, you should know that the main city area is a morning place and everything tends to close around 5.00 PM. A number of famous restaurants in Sandakan are located in the main city area while the others are out of town area, namely Mile 4, 6 and 7 and some even further out of the city area. It is best to rent a car and move around to explore the must eat food in Sandakan as I have mentioned that they are well spread around.For more on Sabah food, do follow Makan Sabah on Instagram as their main objective is to promote real Sabahan food. In general, this list of places to eat in Sandakan is compiled based on credibility and real experiences in October 2016, and recommended to anyone traveling here. When travelers or businessmen visit this nature city the east coast of Sabah, one of the main questions is always what are the must eat food in Sandakan and with this, I hope that you will find a good culinary experience here. 
    Thursday 1st of December 2016 11:46:00 AM
  • Best Way To Get Around Kuala Lumpur
    The best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is by taking the multiple train systems as a majority of the popular places in KL are connected by the trains. Kuala Lumpur is not a large city like Bangkok or Jakarta and almost all of the main attractions in KL are mostly found within a ten kilometer radius while some of the attractions or places of interest are located out of Kuala Lumpur. Many have also been asking what is the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur city and currently, the train system in KL is hands down one of the best.Tourist and locals alike have been using the main train system for years with many new lines being added and connecting other places. Nowadays, even locals use the trains to go to work versus getting caught in the crazy traffic jams during peak and off peak hours and this shows that the public transport in Malaysia has improved tremendously over the last decade.When you arrive at KLIA, you need to look for the KLIA Express counter to buy the KL TravelPassTaking a taxi will cost you quite a bit, especially when the traffic comes to a standstill and one never knows when this can happen as usually during peak hours, it generally is neck-to-neck in traffic. However, with the rapid development in Kuala Lumpur, traffic can also get bad during off peak hours and you can never expect it. This also applies to UBER or GRAB as they too will be caught in traffic.What is the Best Way To Move Around Kuala Lumpur? The KLIA Express train that takes 28 minutes to the cityFor the tourist that is visiting Kuala Lumpur, you should take note that the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is in fact riding the Light Rail Transport or LRT Train.Your journey would most likely start when you arrive at the Kuala Lumpur Airport and you can take the KLIA Express direct into KL city and then connect to the LRT train or even Rapid KL Buses to get to your next destination. The KLIA Express is a fast train service that takes only 28 minutes to KL city.In most cases, travelers would be heading towards the city center from the airports, therefore you will take the KLIA Express to KL Sentral and then take the LRT or Monorail to Bukit Bintang, KLCC or even Petaling Street where most hotels are located. And to do this, you would need the KL Travel Pass which is an all transport ticket in one card and saving you time and hassle, especially if you have to change your currency and convert them.KL Sentral is the main transportation hub where you can connect to most areas in the city and also catch your trains to the airport or other cities and town in Malaysia. For express buses, there is another terminal which is not located here but at the Duta Bus Terminal.What is the KL Travel Pass?The KL Travel Pass is a public transportation card that can be used on most public transportation in Kuala Lumpur that accepts the Touch n Go card system. This convenient card is also incorporated with the Touch n Go system and also the KLIA Express ticket.This means, with one card, you can ride the KLIA Express train from the airport into the city for 28 minutes, versus taking a bus or taxi that will take you easily around 60-70 minutes. This is the easiest way to get into Kuala Lumpur city from the airport.Where to buy KL Travel Pass?To buy a KL Travel Pass card, there are currently three main places where you can get them. The first being at the KLIA Express ticket counters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA level 1, when you arrive just before you get your baggage.KL TravelPass CardThe second place would be at the KLIA Express ticket counter at Gateway Mall in KLIA 2, where the budget airlines are located at.And the third location is at KL Sentral, where the main KLIA Express terminal is located, just visit the ticket counter to buy your KL Travel Pass from them.To buy the KL Travel Pass, visit the KLIA Express website for additional information on purchasing the card and places where you can re-load your travel pass.KL Travel PassTwo options for the KL Travel Pass;KL TravelPass 1 - Single Trip for KLIA Express and RM10.00 stored Touch N Go value. KL TravelPass 2 - Return Trip for KLIA Express and RM10.00 stored Touch N Go value. The Touch N Go value of RM10.00 will let you travel about 3-4 times, depending on where your destinations around the Klang Valley.The further it is, the more expensive the ticket price. Average ticket price per person for one way is around RM2.50 for most buses or trains.Reloading KL Travel Pass Touch N Go CardYou can reload your card at over 9000 locations around Malaysia and the best places to do this is at the malls. Some retail outlets like Watson's and Guardian offer reloads, while convenient shops like 7-11, MyNews.com and KK Mart also offer reload services. Other easy places to do this is at popular petrol stations like Petronas Petrol Station or Shell Petrol Stations around the city or towns. Here is a list of Touch N Go reload places in Malaysia.LRT Train at one of the stations in Kuala Lumpur. Image from VisitKL.gov.myI would recommend that you reload around RM20 per person if you are planning to stay and move around Kuala Lumpur for one to two days as you can get to most places or tourism attractions here. Not to worry as for refunds, you can visit the Touch N Go hub at the Nu Sentral Shopping Mall at level two. The refund office opens daily from 10.00 AM till 10.00 PM, even on public holidays.Now you know the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur is by using the Kuala Lumpur Travel Pass Card and this would be hassle free, especially if you are a first time visitor to Kuala Lumpur. As long as you see any where that has the Touch N Go sign, you are able to use this card. If you are arriving at the international airports, just look for the KLIA Express counter to buy your KL Travel Pass card.
    Wednesday 30th of November 2016 05:37:00 AM
  • AirAsia Direct Flights to Luang Prabang
    AirAsia direct flights to Luang Prabang in Laos has been launched on 21st Nov 2016 where the airline will fly four times a week to the UNESCO world heritage city in Indochina. In the past, Luang Prabang was only accessible via Lao Airlines and with limited flights therefore connectivity was one of the biggest issues getting here. However, over the years, a number of other airlines have seen the tourism opportunity since 2008 when Luang Prabang was voted as the number one place to visit in the world by the New York Times. Pak Ou Buddha CavesWhat makes Luang Prabang so special is that the entire UNESCO World Heritage city is preserved and free from modern development. Tourist heading here would be those who enjoy cultural and heritage tourism as Luang Prabang offers the best of this. For me, I was fortunate to visit Luang Prabang in 2008 just before the tourism boom and saw what it originally looked like, minus the thousands of tourist that started flocking to Luang Prabang in Laos. I would easily recommend visiting Luang Prabang on a weekday to avoid the huge crowds and booking your accommodations way ahead as the hotels there can get full. One of the best attractions here is also the 29 temples and Stupa's found all over the city. A must visit is also the nightly Luang Prabang Night Market and also the day markets where you will find some of the most unique handicraft, art, fabrics and silver being sold. For Lao Food in Luang Prabang, you should make it a point to try them all as they are very unique and quite similar to Thai food or Indochina food. Luang Prabang was once French colonized therefore you will find a lot of French food in Luang Prabang, especially bakeries and restaurants offering casual to fine dining. Just before dinner, I would recommend you head up Phu Si Hill to catch the beautiful sunset in Luang Prabang and this is one of the best places to do it. Do keep in mind that my last visit here was in 2008, that was eight years ago before this place became one of the top tourist destinations in Indochina. Laos is part of ASEAN therefore, will be promoted for Visit ASEAN@50 in 2017. Places to Visit in Luang PrabangLuang Prabang Night MarketThere are many places to visit in Luang Prabang, some out of the town area where you need to take a boat or even walk a bit and one of the most popular places is Pak Ou Buddha Caves in Luang Prabang. The journey to the Pak Ou Caves requires you to take a boat trip and most likely stopping at the Whisky Village along the way. At the village, they give you about 30 minutes to explore where you can see traditional homes, Lao Silk being processed, Sa Paper being made and also sold.If you are a crafter, the Lao Sa Paper is said to be one of the best therefore it is one of the best places to buy them. If you see some souvenirs, get them here as they could be a little cheaper than in town.What To Buy in Luang Prabang?Lao Silk done at the local villagesThere are a lot of interesting things to buy in Luang Prabang, depending on what you are looking for. Most of the item can be use for excellent souvenirs or even for your own home decoration. The item include;Lao SilkSa PaperHmong Jewelry and AccessoriesLao Silver JewelryLao CoffeeBuddha and Monk PaintingsLao WhiskyTraditional Lao Whisky (With Gecko, Snake, Scorpion inside) I recommend you DO NOT buy this because it is prohibited to be brought into Malaysia and it will be confiscated at the airport. How Long To Stay In Luang Prabang?One of the main temples in Luang PrabangTo be very honest, the minimum required time to spend in Luang Prabang would be at least three nights, therefore a 4D/3N trip is the minimum to really enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage City, but for me, I spent a good 5 days here to see most of the places therefore, to fully experience Luang Prabang, a 5D/4N is recommended. Also, if you are planning to take your time, it is recommended to explore the city area on foot, therefore, expect a lot of walking. The weather here is very cooling as Luang Prabang is located on higher ground. AirAsia Direct Flights to Luang PrabangFlight Schedule for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) ? Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ)Flight No.FromToDepartureArrivalFlight FrequencyAK 562KULLPQ0645 hrs0840 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SunAK 563LPQKUL0925 hrs1330 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SunNote: All times depicted are local time at respective destinations.Note, if you plan on going for 3D/2N, you might as well not due to the return flight timing at 9.25 AM, meaning you need to be at the Luang Prabang airport by 7.30 AM, meaning that is one day gone. To book Luang Prabang flights, please go to www.airasia.com.Other places of interest include visiting the many Luang Prabang temples, walking around the core area of town, exploring the Sa Paper Village, the Whisky Village and taking a boat ride. Now with the AirAsia Direct Flights to Luang Prabang, you can easily fly in and out from Kuala Lumpur.
    Wednesday 23rd of November 2016 06:11:00 AM
  • Matta Fair Deals 2017
    For the many visitors who will attend Malaysia's largest travel fair, most would be looking for the best Matta Fair deals for 2017 where travel agents will offer all kinds of travel packages and promotions. They  are usually offered for domestic, international and even special interest packages that range from Muslim, groups and even cruise packages. These Matta Fair Deals for 2017 are usually found from all the agents where each tour company will be offering various promotions therefore it is recommended that you have a destination in mind and then head there to check out what is being offered. At many times, consumer who visit Malaysia's largest travel fair will simple have a change of mind when they are there. All because other packages are more worth it compared to the one that you are looking for. For example, if you are planning to look for a Bandung Package at Matta Fair, you may encounter many tour companies selling Bali packages which is much more worth it, compared to the Bandung one and in the end, some consumers will even buy both packages for the sake of the promotion. Usually, the Matta Fair Deals are offered for popular destinations locally and internationally, where the popular places would be Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan for international. And for local destinations, popular places like Legoland, Penang, Langkawi, Sabah and Sarawak are the favorable choices. For the Matta Fair 2017, the Malaysian Ringgit is fared very low compared to the US Dollar therefore, many will be choosing travel destinations around the region versus far places.Various airline tickets on promotion at Matta FairMatta Fair Airline Deals 2017Airlines always take advantage of the Matta Fair by offering special promotions and deals which are valid when bought during the travel fair. Players like Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo and Firefly will have their special flight ticket promotions running throughout the fair. Most of the times, it is done from their booths at the fair and sometimes they run it on their website. Even international airlines like Etihad, Emirates, Qatar and British Airways will be active by offering cheap flight tickets to international destinations but this will be done through the travel agents who sell flight tickets and also travel packages. So, during each fair, you should take note of which airline is offering the best deal for all airline tickets.Visitors at the Domestic Section in Matta fairMatta Fair Domestic Deals 2017Domestic destinations will be one of the most popular sellers during the Matta Fair 2017, simply because a majority of the consumers will be traveling locally, especially during the long school holidays or long weekends here in Malaysia. This can be found at Hall 3 where all the local and domestic travel packages are being sold. Most of the time, the Matta Fair domestic deals will not include transportation and will be ground only, this means you buy the package and find your own way there. However, flights can be included in your package for convenient, but then the price of the package goes up. So, destinations like Langkawi, Sarawak and Sabah would sometimes include flights, but many locals prefer to book their own flight tickets based on the special promotions offered by the airlines. At the International Hall of the Matta FairMatta Fair Cruise Deals 2017With Star Cruise being the leader for cruise packages, there will be a lot of offers on this as many are now looking for cruise packages that take them to multiple countries on one trip. However, there are also other cruise companies at the Matta Fair which are also offering promotions, and they include international cruise packages that range from seven to thirty days. Companies like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise and Costa Cruise are the international players who offer these luxury packages and are found in the international hall. Muslim Travel Packages to JapanMatta Fair Muslim Deals 2017The Muslim travel deals are one of the hottest packages being sold at the Matta Fair where many Malaysians are traveling to new destinations based on these specialized Muslim packages. Among the most popular are the Muslim travel packages to Japan as the country has been working very hard to comply with the Halal certifications for selected restaurants and also opening prayer rooms in various places.Other places include China, Europe, Australia, Indochina, Americas and even Africa. However, there are reputable travel agents that offer these special packages and it is recommended that you speak to them directly to find out more about the facilities, food and so on. At the Matta Fair 2017, you will surely see many travel agents selling Muslim Travel Deals.Matta Fair Honeymoon Deals 2017A more selective travel deal to look for, there are travel agents that specialize in providing honeymoon packages at Matta Fair. However, you need to sit down with them and discuss what is included in these packages. Usually, Bali and Maldives are one of the top destinations for honeymooners but lately, AirAsia X has opened up a new route to Mauritius and this is one of the new honeymoon destinations to look out for.Another popular honeymoon or anniversary package is  buying one of the romantic cruise packages. Unless you are the type that wants something very special, like buying a honeymoon package to Bahamas, you need to discuss this with the outbound travel agents as they can do a tailor made tour package for you.Domestic travel deals are one of the popular deal consumers look forMatta Fair Family Deals 2017No doubt, this is something many families look for as family travel has increased in the last 10 years and now even more with many airlines offering good discounts. Most families will book packages to Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, China and even Bali but those wanting to spend a bit more will choose destinations like Australia, New Zealand and even Indochina.Indonesia has been very aggressive on promotions in 2015 and 2016 therefore there will be much interest for the consumers who want to visit new places in Indonesia. Some of them include the Komodo Islands, Makassar, Gili Islands, Visitors asking about package deals at the Matta FairMatta Fair Theme Park Deals 2017Another very popular package sold are the theme park deals at Matta Fair where places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia are well received. However, since China opened their latest Shanghai Disneyland, many will be targeting to plan a visit there. Other further theme park destinations include Korea and Japan or even Australia.A huge disappointment is the 20th Century Fox World Genting Theme Park, where it was supposed to have opened in mid to late 2016 but this massive theme park project got postponed to somewhere late 2017 therefore Resorts World Genting will not be promoting this but their other theme parks like Universal Studios Singapore. Malaysian theme parks to also look out for include the new MAPS Perak or Movie Animation Park Studios in Ipoh, Perak which is scheduled to open in early 2017.Visitors getting informationMatta Fair Shopping Deals 2017A more targeted kind of travel is the shopping travel packages, where consumers book shopping trips to other countries, namely Bangkok, China or Indonesia. These are the common destinations for those wanting to buy for themselves or buy for their business. A number of online businesses or small retail vendors are looking to destinations like China for shopping travel packages.Indonesia is also high on the list as many Malaysians are heading to Bandung or even places for shopping in Jogjakarta as there are many interesting and new products being offered at these places. But the main market is no other than China, namely Gongzhou and Yiwu where there are special shopping travel packages being offered by smaller agents which include translators and so on. Visitors at the Matta FairAmong all the deals that will be offered at the Matta Fair 2017, you need to carefully decide on which package suites you or your family. Do not buy based on because it is cheap, because sometimes, cheap does not mean good. So, always check before buying. Over the years, I have done many articles on the Matta Fair and also on the Matta Fair Promotion Packages as it provides consumer information for those who are unsure about this. For the best Matta Fair Deals 2017, you need to attend the travel fair to check the offers out and if all works out well, you will be getting a fantastic bargain for your next vacation or trip. Who knows, you may even walk away with two or three packages. 
    Sunday 20th of November 2016 03:30:00 AM
  • Factory Outlets in Malaysia
    Over the years, numerous Factory Outlets in Malaysia have opened and soon, there will be another major one opening in 2017. Malaysians have always traveled overseas to shop and in the last five years or so, international brands have made their way into Malaysia offering choices of cheap factory outlet shopping here. These factory outlets in Malaysia are located in different states and some of them require some traveling to get to them. However, with the Malaysian economy going strong for certain sectors, this has invited others to consider opening in Malaysia as the country is trying to brand itself as a shopping hub. I would also like to remind you not be confused with some local Malaysian brands as the companies have named themselves as factory outlet like Factory Outlet Store (FOS) which is on a very small scale and more to retail as you can find them in just about any of the shopping malls in Malaysia. In the consumers mind, a factory outlet is a specialized place where reputable well known brands can retail their past seasons collection at a special discounted price. Factory Outlets in MalaysiaJohor Premium Outlets, the first Premium Outlet in Malaysia (Image from Gaya Travel)Johor Premium Outlets (JPO)The first proper factory outlet to enter Malaysia is the Johor Premium Outlets or JPO as most locals call it. Their strategy was to open in the state of Johor which neighbors Singapore and in the up and coming development of the Iskandar Region. The Johor Premium Outlets opened in December 2011 and has catered to most Malaysians and Southeast Asians. In terms of volume, JPO sees an average of 4 million visitors yearly which include locals and tourist and brands you can find here range from most international and local names. The beauty about JPO is that it is located in Iskandar nearby Legoland Malaysia and some other smaller theme parks and attractions. As the first factory outlet in Malaysia, and under Simon Genting group, they have made a name for themselves catering to many tourist visiting Malaysia. Website: http://premiumoutlets.com.my/One of the outlet stores at Mitsui Outlet Park KLIAMitsui Outlet Park KLIA SepangThe second largest factory outlet to open in Malaysia is the over-anticipated Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA (MOP) which opened in May 2015. This was the talk of town back then as many consumers in the Klang Valley were excited as it would only take one hour to drive to this new Japanese named factory outlet on the way to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA. The MOP also serves as a shopping stop for travelers who are transiting at KLIA or KLIA2 and also for those travelers leaving Malaysia, have one last shopping stop before they reach the airport. Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA offers shoppers a total of 128 shopping outlets occupying a massive area of 25,000 square meters, while the location of this outlet is perfect as it is strategically located just 6 km from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the new KLIA2. On of the highlights here is Japan Avenue, which is a place that exhibits and promotes authentic Japanese products, technology, cuisine, service and entertainment. All items are imported directly from Japan and is branded as a space to experience Japanese culture.By 2021, Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA Sepang will be the largest outlet mall in Southeast Asia where a total of 190 shops will be available after the expansion, which is supposedly completed by 2018. Website: https://www.mitsuioutletparkklia.com.my/Freeport A'Famosa Outlet Village in Melaka (Image Source: Azyyati Liah)Freeport A'Famosa Outlet MelakaThis is the latest factory outlet to open in Malaysia where this London based company has joined venture with the A'Famosa group to bring this factory outlet to Melaka. Opened in November 2015, Freeport AFamosa Outlet plans to hit a target of 2.5 million visitors by the first year. This is also the first phase of the factory outlet where the architecture of the outlet is themed on Malacca?s Dutch heritage. Walking around here, you will see a series of open-air plazas and features a windmill, fountains, gardens and a beautiful carousel.This factory outlet in Melaka also takes up around 180,000 square feet and houses around 70 tenants which include known brands like Clarks, Nike, Esprit, Puma, Geox, G2000, Cotton On, Carlo Rino, Forever 21, Samsonite, Saccor, Folli Follie, Camel and many more including kids stores, food and perfumes. Phase 2 of Freeport AFamosa Outlet is scheduled to open in 2018 where another 40 retail stores being added, bringing the total to 110 outlets here. This place is also located about two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur in the A'Famosa Resort on route to Melaka, Johor and Singapore.Website: http://www.freeportafamosa.com/Design Village in Penang, the first factory outlet in Penang. (Image Source: Design Village Facebook Page)Design Village PenangUpdate 23rd Nov - Design Village Penang is opening at 6.00pm 23rd November. Design Village is the latest factory outlet mall in Penang is supposed to open in November 2016 but there could be a slight delay in the opening. News states that the new Penang Factory Outlet is scheduled to open by end November 2016. Design Village also brands itself as the biggest outlet mall in Malaysia which is located only 5 minutes from the Penang Second Bridge near Batu Kawan. This outlet mall is also the first of its kind in the northern region of Malaysia, catering to locals and tourist. Artist Impression of Penang's Design Village.(Image source: Design Village Facebook Page)Design Village will feature luxury fashion labels, premium and high street brands, kids, sports and outdoor selections, F&B outlets, cafés and speciality lifestyle stores. In total, there are 150 stores planned in an area of 400,000 square feet.The landscape will be themed as a tropical garden setting to suite the Malaysian climate and the single-storey semi-open air mall will feature cool weather-sheltered walkways for visitors.Malaysia's biggest Adidas outlet will open here while the first outlet stores for Aldo and Bata will also be one of the tenants. Other branded retailers include Banana Republic, Guess, Padini Concept Store, Sacoor Brothers, Samsonite and Starbucks. For travelers, there is the Travel For All Outlet store and for leather lovers, the first Leather Made Outlet store will also be opened here. Design Village Outlet Mall will provide daily shuttle services to and from hotels and the airport.Design Village Outlet Mall is also developed by PE Land, which also owns and runs The Spring Shopping Mall in Kuching, Sarawak and operates under a mixed-use site that will include a hotel and also high-end condominiums.Website: http://designvillage.today/Genting Premium Outlets, artist impression (Image source: Resorts World Genting)Genting Premium Outlets (GPO)The latest factory outlet in Malaysia to open in 2017 is no other than the much talked about Genting Premium Outlets (GPO) which is also part of Resorts World plan to make Genting Highlands the entertainment and shopping hub of central Malaysia. This will complement the also soon to open 20th Century Fox World Theme Park Genting which is the first in the world too. The Genting Premium Outlet is located in Awana, which is the lower section of Genting Highlands and will be supported by a number of hotels and a new cable car system. Genting Premium Outlets is sized at 600,000 square feet in gross area and also houses 150 local and international designer names that will be tenants, making this one of the top premium factory outlets to date. Brands include Michael Kors, Aigner, Salvatore Ferragamo, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Burberry, Canali, Coach, Ermenegildo Zegna, Furla, Guy Laroche, Polo Ralph Lauren and many more therefore you know you will be getting some of the best brand names here. The GPO will also be be known as Southeast Asia's first hilltop premium outlet alongside with the 20th Century Fox World Genting theme park. To get here, it is only an hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city. With all the factory outlets being already opened, there are a couple more in the pipeline which are also scheduled to open in the next few years which include;Kuala Lumpur International Outlet (KLIO) at Cyberjaya, (Artist impression by Horizon Group)Kuala Lumpur International Outlets (KLIO)Another massive factory outlet in Malaysia which is set to make headlines is the Kuala Lumpur International Outlet or KLIO which was originally planned in 2014 and was scheduled to open in 2016 or 2017. But to date, after we checked online, there has been no news or information that has surfaced on this massive branded factory outlet project. It was stated in a press release a couple of years ago that the construction would begin in September 2014, with the grand opening slated for 1 July 2016.Kuala Lumpur International Outlet is joint venture with Horizon Group Properties and Mainstay Holdings Sdn Bhd, a local property and construction firm with plans to build a 400,000 square foot factory outlet in the Cyberjaya district of Selangor. One of their branding is that a large portion of KLIO will be focused entirely on luxury brands. A total of 140 stores are also planned for KLIO catering to luxury or near-luxury brands selling all kinds of merchandise in a luxurious European style setting. KLIO will have six entrances from the car park including the drop-off area and all the outlets will be located one level above. Retailers include popular names like Coach, Nike and Polo ? while other brands like Hugo Boss and Burberry offer previous season?s collections at discounted prices. The entire project is designed by an international team of architects from Ross Adams USA who worked on Horizon?s stable of outlets in the United States. To date, no added information is available therefore, we are just including this as a reference for future, if there project is still on.Website: http://www.horizongroup.com/Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets. (Artist impression by Sunway Group)Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets / Lost World Shopping MallAnother much awaited factory outlet in Ipoh is being planned but there is some confusion over what it will be called. To date, there are two names, one is Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets and the other is Lost World Shopping Mall. This RM300 million project is spread over 35 acres of land near the Lost World if Tambun, Ipoh's popular water park and will adapt the same concept as Sunway Resort City in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.This massive project will also feature popular luxury outlets like Michael Kors, Coach and Kate Spade in a 600,000 square feet area. Also branded as an integrated city, Sunway Ipoh Premium Outlets or Lost World Shopping Mall will also have a hotel, theme park and shopping mall there. Plans also include 8 premium outlets which are 10,000-20,000 square feet each. To date, there has been no official announcement on when the Ipoh factory outlet will open, but a recent report in the local newspapers mentioned that the Lost World Shopping Mall will most likely open between 2017 and 2019.The Two Rawang Outlet Mall. (Artist impression by DA Land)The Two Shopping Outlet Mall RawangA mega massive project called The Two Outlet Mall in Rawang, Selangor is also taking shape and this will be one of the largest projects to day where this integrated lifestyle concept features a shopping mall with a focus on entertainment, dining and shopping through integrated developments such as an outlet mall and indoor and outdoor theme parks.The Two Rawang will also be built on a massive 24 hectare piece of land which is slated as ambitious but interesting with a target of attracting local and international tourist who travel along the north-south expressway.  The main attraction here besides the factory outlet will be the largest indoor theme park in Southeast Asia which is also designed by the Sanderson Group.The Two Shopping Outlet Mall is being built and operated by DA Land and will comprise of a RM 5 billion theme park, wholesale city and outlet mall will be the only integrated lifestyle project in Selangor catering to locals and tourist. The project was also officiated and launched by the Malaysian Tourism Minister. Overall, if the project moves smoothly, we could see The Two Rawang opening in 2018 or 2019.Website: http://www.daland.com.my/Oriental Village in Langkawi was the first factory outlet concept which did not do well, but is still there today.First Factory Outlet in MalaysiaFor the record, the first factory outlet in Malaysia was actually in Langkawi, back in early 2000 when the Oriental Village was opened to cater to the huge tourist influx of Langkawi back then. However, the factory outlet business model did not do well and eventually was forced to change its concept to just another place having some stores selling local handicraft, clothes and so on. If you are heading to the Langkawi Cable Car or Langkawi Skybridge, the Oriental Village will be the first thing you see. There is hope for tourism numbers to increase in Malaysia as the Ministry of Tourism has indicated that they are indeed working extra hard to bring in more tourist over the years and China being one of the main targets, however, with a population of only 30 million in Malaysia, many a concerned about the oversupply of shopping malls and factory outlets in Malaysia where it may not be a novelty anymore, especially with the growth of online shopping. To find out more about shopping places in Malaysia, read this article on shopping malls in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur which highlights the best places to shop in KL. But for the shopaholic or tourist, a visit to Malaysia will definitely make you visit at least one of these factory outlets in Malaysia, mainly to see what kind of offers there are, especially with the currency conversions so have a great shopping time here.
    Friday 18th of November 2016 08:03:00 AM
  • Visit ASEAN@50
    The Visit ASEAN@50 tourism campaign was launched by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN on 6th September 2016 and the region wide campaign was unveiled by the 10 ASEAN heads of state at the ASEAN Summit 2016 in Vientiane, Laos. The tourism campaign was also in line with a mission to promote the twin objectives of commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN in 2017, and embracing the ASEAN region of Southeast Asia as a single and united, yet diverse, tourism destination.At the ASEAN Summit 2016, it was also highlighted that objectives of the Visit ASEAN@50 campaign include;Increasing international visitor arrivals to Southeast Asia from 108.9 million in 2015 to 121 million by the end of 2017Increasing tourism receipts from USD75 billion in 2014 to USD83 billion, also by the end of 2017Visit ASEAN Year 2017The ASEAN CountriesVisit ASEAN@50 Multiple activities and promotions will be announced to drive the Visit ASEAN@50 campaign while partners will be revealed at the 2016 ITB Asia travel industry show in Singapore in October. Other promotions include special travel experiences and offers that will be announced at the World Travel Market 2016 in London this November.Key target markets for ASEAN?s 50th anniversary tourism campaign in 2017 will be long-haul markets which include;EuropeMiddle EastAustraliaNorth AmericaChinaJapanKoreaIndiaASEAN Heads of state during the launching of Visit ASEAN@50Visit ASEAN Year 2017The ASEAN Tourism Competitiveness Committee, which is responsible for the tourism campaign implementation with partners has also announced that planned ASEAN@50 marketing activities  will include:VisitASEAN@50 official launch at the ASEAN Tourism Forum early January 2017 in SingaporeMedia familiarization trips (FAM Trips) showcasing ASEAN connectivity and multi-country travel routesSpecial tour packages with offers, special airfares, shopping discounts for travel in 2017 (details to be revealed at WTM London, November 2016)Campaign promotion in international travel trade shows in key source marketsCooperative marketing programs with travel, media and airline partners (to be announced at ITB Asia, October 2016)Print and online advertising, as well as TV, video and promotionsSocial media campaigns to enhance consumer engagementPromotional programs by ASEAN?s national tourism offices targeting trade, consumer and MICE markets throughout 2017For more information, you can visit the official ASEAN Tourism Website where you can get full details about what is happening in and around the ASEAN region. Alternatively, you can also check out the GoAsean website for more travel information.Meanwhile for Tourism Malaysia, the directive will be to go along with the Visit ASEAN campaign and promote Malaysia as one of the ASEAN destinations. This is purely due to the tourism budget cuts in Malaysia and there is no tourism agenda for Malaysia in 2017. however events listed in the calendar will still go on in Malaysia.Visit ASEAN 2017 is the 50th anniversary tourism campaign and is part of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025, which was adopted by the association?s tourism ministers in Manila in January 2016 and in line with this, the Visit ASEAN@50 Tourism Campaign is all set to enhance the Southeast Asia tourism economy.
    Monday 14th of November 2016 04:00:00 AM
  • Japan Travel Fair Malaysia
    The Japan Travel Fair Malaysia takes place in One Utama Shopping Mall from 9-13 November 2016 with a mission to provide information about Japan's tourism, Japanese Culture and also the many beautiful destinations from all over Japan to the general consumers. This is also the second time that the Japan Travel Fair Malaysia is taking place in just one year where the first fair was held in February at the same venue and was received well by the Malaysian consumers. Having the second fair at the end of this year is to promote Japan's Winter and also Spring time which is said to be two of the most beautiful and best time to visit Japan, namely the snowy areas and also for the Cherry Blossom or Sakura Season in Spring. At the five day travel fair, anyone buying any Japan travel packages, tours or even airline tickets, JNTO will be giving out a free gift during the JTF2016. To add on, there will also be a lucky draw for the mentioned purchases where you stand a chance to also win return airline tickets to Japan, a Canon Digital Camera and Japanese souvenirs. At the official launching of Japan Travel Fair 2016 in One Utama Shopping Mall in Petaling JayaThe Japan Travel Fair November 2016 event was also launched by the Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia and JNTO's Executive Director Mr. Masatoshi Miyake together with specially invited guest on the 9th November at 3.00pm. Media from mainstream and electronic, representatives from tour companies, invited guests and shoppers were treated to a Japanese drum performance and also the unveiling of Dr. Soo Wincci's new music video which was shot entirely in Japan. As for the events happening during the Japan Travel Fair 2016, there will be a special live performance by Dr. Soo Wincci, a Blogger Talk Show featuring Kampung Boy City Girl, demonstrations on food and craft, quizzes, and many others listed below;11 - 13 Nov, 1.00PM - 1.30PM: Hand-Made Wagashi (Japanese Sweet Making Technique)11 - 13 Nov, 2.30PM - 3.00PM: Art of Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy Performance)11 - 13 Nov, 7.00PM - 7.30PM: Bonodori Performance12 - 13 Nov, 4.00PM - 4.30PM: Mochi Pounding Performance12 Nov Saturday, 6.00PM - 6.40PM: Soo Wincci Performance13 Nov Sunday, 6.00PM - 6.30PM: Blogger Talk Show featuring Kampung Boy City GirlJapan Yes-No Quiz Event11 Nov: 11.30-12.00, 4.00-4.30, 6.00-6.3012 Nov: 11.30-12.0013 Nov: 11.30-12.00Canon Photo Booth at JNTO BoothVisitors can also experience dressing in a Japanese Yukata and have their photo taken at the Canon Photo Booth during the event. Visitors to the JNTO Booth at the Japan Travel Week Fair in One UtamaVisitors checking out the booths at the Japan Travel Week November 2016Japan Travel Fair 2016 MalaysiaThe Japanese travel fair (????????) is located on the Highstreet at the first floor of the One Utama Shopping Mall where a total of 21 booths offering information and also sales on Japanese destinations. Out of the 21 booths, 11 of them are tour companies that specialize in selling Japan Travel Packages to multiple prefectures. The other 10 booths are occupied by the various Japanese tourism prefectures.Visitors can walk in as it is free and you can obtain information on multiple places around Japan here. Prior to the recent Matta Fair 2016, the Japan National Tourism Organization or JNTO has taken added steps to promote Japan aggressively as it is one of the top destinations for Malaysian tourist heading outbound. In 2015, the number of Malaysians that visited Japan had surpassed 300,000 and from January to September 2016, the number had already reached around 250,000 visitors to Japan from Malaysia. A growing number of Muslim visitors to Japan has also contributed to these numbers as Japan has seriously taken into consideration about Muslim Travel around Japan. Many restaurants now offer a special Halal menu while there are Muslim Prayer Rooms (Surau) available in almost all prefectures and also in some shopping malls and airports. VIP's, Tourism Organaizations and Malaysian Travel Agents during the launching of Japan Travel Week in One UtamaVendors at Japan Travel Fair Malaysia 2016The list of vendors and travel agents participating at the Japan Travel Fair 2016 Malaysia is below and you can visit them to obtain more information about the places or packages around Japan. Travel AgentsApple Vacations & ConventionsGolden Tourworld TravelHello HolidaysHIS MalaysiaJapan Travel BureauJ-Horizons Travel (M)Malaysian Harmony Tours and TravelParlo ToursPearl Holiday Travel and TourReliance TravelSunrise Tours and TravelJapanese ExhibitorsJETROMitsukoshi Isetan HoldingShizuoka Prefectural Government Office Okinawa Convention and Visitor BureauThe Flower of JapanWakayama CityYokohama CityHoshino Resort Tomamu, SapporoVision Data (Samurai WiFi)Trip DesignerOne the first day of Japan Travel Week in One Utama Shopping Center, Bandar UtamaJapan Travel Fair MalaysiaVenue: Highstreet, Ground Floor One Utama Shopping Mall, New WingDate: 9-13 November, 2016Time: 10.00 AM to 10.00 PMIf you are planning to visit Japan anytime soon, this would be a great place to start at as there is much information about many places. However, for those planning a trip in mid or late next year, you can also visit the Matta Fair 2017 as JNTO will also be there featuring more booths during the travel fair in Kuala Lumpur in March. Alternatively, the Japan Travel Fair Malaysia is created in-between the main travel fairs to capitalize on the months where there are no other travel events going on and has been much welcomed by the local consumers who want to visit Japan. 
    Wednesday 9th of November 2016 11:17:00 AM
  • Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion
    Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion or Alitrip MTP was launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister on 4th November 2016 with an aim for China travellers to access Malaysia's travel and tourism products through this e-marketplace which is a local online travel agent (OTA) in China. AliTrip is also created by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and will be managed and operated by Beijing Xinlian Mobile Technology, appointed by Alibaba and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia.Alitrip MTP provides an excellent platform for Malaysian travel trade players to engage directly with Alibaba?s 100 million active online travel products customers. The travel products and services that Malaysian tourism merchants promote and offer directly to Chinese travellers via Alitrip MTP include local tour and hotel packages (with or without flight tickets), shopping and dining mobile vouchers, local attraction and event tickets, and local transportation and communication services. Tourist Arrivals from China to Malaysia 2015In 2015, tourist arrivals from China to Malaysia increased by 4%, reaching 1.68 million against 1.61 million in 2014. The first eight months of 2016 already recorded a 26.3% growth in arrivals from the Chinese market, with a total of 1.4 million tourists. Malaysia is now gearing up to achieve 2 million Chinese arrivals by the end of this year, and 8 million by 2020. Therefore, the Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion couldn?t have come at a better time for the country to achieve this ambitious target. The Prime Minister of Malaysia encouraged Chinese tourists to visit Malaysia as it is now easier for them to travel to the country due to the relaxed visa requirements which supposed to expire by end of 2016, has now been extended until 31 December 2017. Najib Razak and Jack Ma in Beijing. Picture courtesy of Twitter/BernamaThe Prime Minister launched Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion at the China World Hotel in Beijing on the 4th November 2016 where the event was graced by the Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Dato? Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Ambassador of Malaysia to China Dato? Zainuddin Yahya, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Tan Sri Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Tourism Malaysia Chairman Dato? Dr. Siew Ka Wei, Tourism Malaysia Director General Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Prime Minister?s Special Envoy to the People?s Republic of China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and Alitrip President and Alibaba Group Vice President Li Shaohua.Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion or Alitrip MTP is a local China platform where everything is in Mandarin and is targeted to the local China consumers to book tickets for flights and many other things and also ground packages for travel and tourism. 
    Friday 4th of November 2016 09:39:00 AM
  • Malaysia Airlines New China Destination Routes
    On November 2016, eight Malaysia Airlines New China Destination Routes have been announced as part of a rapid expansion campaign into China. This was also announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato? Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, who made the official news in Beijing that the airline will serve 8 new destinations and 11 new routes with 35 additional frequencies between Malaysia and China beginning in early 2017.  Malaysia Airlines? CEO Peter Bellew has also mentioned that Malaysia Airlines plans to triple the Chinese business over the next five years as the CEO sees potential for direct flights to 20 Chinese cities from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching by 2019. Malaysia Airlines New China Destination RoutesMalaysia Airlines will be flying the following destinations in China after the first half of 2017;OriginDestinationStart Weekly FreqNew Routes Kuala LumpurHaikou Dec-162Kuala LumpurNanjing Apr-173Kuala LumpurFuzhouApr-173Kuala LumpurWuhan Aug-173Kuala LumpurChengdu*Oct-175Kuala LumpurChongqing*Oct-173Kota Kinabalu TianjinTBD2PenangShenzhen*Aug-173PenangShanghai*Aug-174Existing Routes Kuala LumpurShanghai*Apr-17Increase from 7x to 14x weekly Kuala LumpurHong KongJan-17Upgauge of MH 72/73 to A330 *Subject to slot availability. L-R: MAB CEO Peter Bellew, MAB Chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof, YAB Prime Minister of Malaysia, YB Minister of Transport, Khazanah Nasional Berhad CEO Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar in Beijing, ChinaMalaysia Airlines will also be adding a second daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai subject to slots in April 2017. This follows the airline?s recent announcement on the service upgrade to its morning Kuala Lumpur - Hong Kong sector from the Boeing 737 to the Airbus A330 aircraft.  As most of the destinations are quite similar to those of other budget airlines, the eight Malaysia Airlines New China Destination Routes will only take off after the first half of 2017 therefore, travelers and businessmen now await the confirmation dates and also the flight timings to each of the destinations in China. 
    Friday 4th of November 2016 08:50:00 AM
  • Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant Sandakan
    If you love Kadazan traditional food, there is a new place called Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant in Sandakan that opened in early October 2016. This Sabah ethnic food restaurant has created a hype in the city as there has never been a restaurant serving authentic Kadazan food here before and now, locals are heading here to try the many different choices of Kadazan cuisine being offered here. Borneo Ethnic Cuisine, or BEC is also the brainchild of three friends who have come together to make this ethnic restaurant a reality and after months of planning, they have opened Sandakan's first Kadazan Restaurant which is located at Mile 4 in Sandakan. Mile 4 or Batu Empat is also known as Bandar Indah and is one of the developed areas of outskirt Sandakan city and to get here from town, it is only 15 to 20 minutes drive. Traditional Kadazan Food in SandakanWhen I visited this place based on a recommendation, they had just opened for a week and the place was pretty crowded for dinner on a weekday. Speaking to Rosaline Pinso, who is one of the partners, she had informed me that it was high time that the east coast of Sabah had a proper Kadazan restaurant as there was none available over the years. In terms of the menu, you will see a lot of ethnic Kadazan dishes being sold where some of them are even fusioned with local flavors. Even her son, who is a culinary graduate, is also hands on in the business where he plans to introduce a very local Kadazan Nasi Lemak among many other dishes in the near future. By the time this article is published, some of the dishes will be available for lunch too. Inside the Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant at Mile 4 in SandakanIkan Patin Masak Terjun, a well known local dish served at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine for RM8.00For first timers trying the Kadazan food in Sandakan, it is highly recommended that you try their local set called Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Pinasakan, which comes with Hinava, Bambangan, Sambal Tuhau, salted fish, Sabah vegetables, salted egg and a traditional drink. This interesting menu is also priced at RM18.00 which is a very reasonable deal, considering that this is a pure ethnic dish and time consuming to prepare. Alternatively, you can also try the other popular Kadazan food set which is Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Goreng Kacang Hitam or black bean. This comes with the Linopot rice and the same condiments as above set and also priced at RM18.00. As for me, I have been a huge fan of Kadazan food where over the years, I have tried a number of them and I have to say that the Kadazan food at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine is probably one of the best I have tried in years. Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Pinasakan set which is RM18.00Nasi Linopot with Ikan Basung Goreng Kacang Hitam set which is also RM18.00For desserts, the Hinompuka is definitely a must try at RM0.50 per piece. This sticky rich is actually made from grinded hill rice and brown sugar and some other ingredients, which gives it a purple colored finish. One glance and it looks like pulut (sticky rice) wrapped in a banana leaf, but it is actually very interesting, as it not too sweet and has a nice mild taste. Another dessert to try here is the Ubi Manis or Sweet Tapioca which is served with Coconut Milk (Santan). Previously, this end shop lot in Bandar Indah was known as Taro's Sushi but the Japanese Restaurant here closed and the new owners took over the end corner lot which is very spacious. An average of 80-100 people can be seated in the restaurant with additional outdoor space as an option for special events or parties. Another landmark is a restaurant next to it called Jom Lepak or directly opposite is the famous Kenalanmu Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan. Hinompuka, a traditional Kadazan dessert sold at the restaurant hereUbi Manis or Sweet Tapioca which is a popular dessert hereKadazan decoration is seen around the restaurant making the ambiance very localBorneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant at Mile 4, SandakanBorneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant Review VideoCheck out this video done by MakanSabah when they visited Sandakan for a food hunt. It shows an overview of Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant, which features the local Kadazan food and desserts found here at Mile 4, Sandakan. For more food photos and videos from around Sabah, follow MakanSabah on Instagram.Borneo Ethnic Cuisine RestaurantBusiness hours at Borneo Ethnic Cuisine in SandakanOpen: Mon, Wed to SundayClosed: Every TuesdayOpening Hours: 10.00 AM to 3.00 PM, 5.00  PM to 10.00 PMParking: Available outsideNo Pork ServedBorneo Ethnic CuisineCorner End of Block 5, Jalan Bandar Indah 1, Bandar Indah, Mile 4,Sandakan, SabahContact: Rosaline Pinso - +6019 883 3842Stephanie Rose - +6019 582 0077Borneo Ethnic Cuisine sign and decoration inside the shop showing some Kadazan attire and itemsThere are a number of must eat food in Sandakan which is found in the main city area right till Mile 7 and this is one of the unique cuisines that totally made my food hunt in Sandakan worthwhile. Overall, the seafood in Sandakan is known to be one of the best in Sabah, but when you dig deeper, there are many other local types of food to be discovered. For anyone heading to the east coast of Sabah, do make a stop at the Borneo Ethnic Cuisine Restaurant in Sandakan to sample some authentic Kadazan food. 
    Monday 31st of October 2016 03:30:00 AM
  • Best Places to Visit in Malaysia 2017
    Anyone visiting Malaysia this year would want to know where are the best place to visit in Malaysia for 2017 and this article will provide you with my personal first hand experiences at the many places recommended in this list. The places are all located all over the country but I will make it easy for the traveler, as you need to plan your trip properly, in order to visit at least some of the recommended places to visit in Malaysia. Know that when you enter Malaysia, you will land at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) or KLIA2 which is the budget terminal where AirAsia operates from. Then you will either connect on another flight to your next destination or head to Kuala Lumpur city to connect via bus, train or van to other places. The list of best places to visit in Malaysia for 2017 is;PerakIpoh's Concubine Lane on a weekend is one of the must visit placesPerak is one of the lesser visited states but over the last few years, Perak has grown to be one of the up and coming places in Malaysia to visit. Even Lonely Planet has named Perak as one of the Top 10 Regions to Visit in 2017 and this would be bringing more tourist to this state which is a couple of hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city and on the way up north to Penang.Perak has been the epicentre of early Malaya during the colonial rule where tin mining was one of the biggest industries besides plantations. Nowadays, the old colonial towns like Ipoh and Taiping have opened their doors to tourism, and a number of theme parks are already available in the vicinity of Ipoh, namely The Lost World of Tambun, a massive family water park and the all new MAPS Perak or Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh which opens in December 2016.However, Lonely Planet focuses mainly on the core of Ipoh city which is the surroundings of Kong Heng Square which has transformed from an old rundown square to a beautiful fusion of modern day businesses in classic heritage buildings, giving a juxtapose of characters for the visitor. And no, it does not look like a Hong Kong or Singapore replica, but a truly Malaysian style.Taiping is one of the best places to visit in Perak, for a relaxed getawayWhat to do in PerakExplore Ipoh City, as this is highly recommended for first timers to Perak. I have also done an article on places to visit in Ipoh which narrows down the main areas to explore. Some of the current places to explore in Ipoh is no other than Kong Heng Square and Concubine Lane in the Ipoh Old Town area.For those into nature and adventure, there are numerous places in Perak to explore, like Gopeng and Slim River for the white water rafting and caving and for trekking, wildlife, bird watching and other nature experiences, Royal Belum State Park and Kinta Nature Park are the two main places to check out.Taiping is home to some of the firsts of Malaysia, like the first lake gardens, first museum, first railway and so on, therefore the city is rich with culture and information about early Malaya. For island lovers, Pangkor Island is a quaint and pretty laid back island with a very local village and accommodations ranging from backpackers hostels to luxury resorts.Kong Heng Square, the top place to visit in IpohPlaces of Interest in PerakKong Heng SquareConcubine LaneIpoh Old TownIpoh Railway StationTaipingPangkor IslandKinta Valley Nature ParkRoyal Belum State ParkBukit Merah LaketownKellie's Castle What to Eat in PerakIpoh Chee Cheong Fun Noodles, a must tryHands down the food in Ipoh is a must-try for any traveler here. Most of the well known dishes are found around the Ipoh Old Town area but there are some notable places in Ipoh New Town area too.Some dishes not to be missed are the Hakka Noodles, Ipoh Chicken Rice, Lum Mee Noodles, Ipoh Hor Fun Noodles and the Ipoh Chee Cheong Fun flat noodles. Coffee lovers, you should know that Ipoh serves some of the best coffee in Malaysia and you can sample it at Ipoh Old Town area.What to Buy in PerakGenerally, in terms of souvenirs, there is nothing much except food souvenirs which are highly popular among the locals. Many swear by the local Chicken Biscuit (Kai Chai Pang), Ipoh Salt Baked Chicken (Yim Kok Kai), Pomelo fruits and the regional famous Ipoh White Coffee. In terms of handicraft, there is not much or not that I know of, however, if you know of some, please do share it here with me.What to Expect in PerakIpoh Old Town Coffee at Sin Yoon LoongPerak is one of the hottest states in Malaysia, especially in Ipoh so it is best to be prepared for the weather changes as when it rains, it pours there. As for places, you can expect lots of local tourist moving around and in terms of English, it is widely spoken in the larger towns in Perak. The places to visit in Perak are mostly far apart therefore, factor in the time for travel.Best Time to Visit PerakAnytime is a great time to visit Perak in 2017 where the rainy season is around March, April, October to December and September to December being the cooler time of the year. The year end school holidays (Nov and Dec) are probably going to be really crowded with local tourist, so you should book early for some of the popular places.Where is Perak? Perak is the next state up north from Selangor or Kuala Lumpur. You can get there by train, car or bus. From Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, it is only a two hour train ride or drive while from KL to Taiping, it is a three hour drive. Moving around Perak requires to self drive or hire a tour guide. You can rent a car from KL and drive up north to Perak to move around there. Melaka Melaka River CruiseThe nearest tourism city near Kuala Lumpur (KL) is not other than historical Melaka or Malacca, which is only a 90 minute drive from KL. Melaka is also one of two UNESCO World Heritage cities in Malaysia, where the other is Penang and you can expect a lot of old buildings dating to hundreds of years old. Stadhuys in Melaka and the Christ ChurchMelaka has been one of the most important ports of call from the years during 1400 to 1600 and has been heavily influenced by many different countries from around the world which include the Dutch, Portuguese, Javanese, Chinese, Arabs and Indians, where a cultural mix of ethnicity has evolved throughout the centuries here and thus making this place a beautiful and amazing place to visit.What to do and see in Melaka?You will be treated with lots of historical and cultural charm here but apart from this, there are a lot more being offered in Melaka, as in interactive attractions, rides and shopping spots. The multicultural mix here provides a lot of places of worship like temples, mosques and churches. Some of them dating back to the 1700's too. We recommend taking the Melaka River Cruise to have a glimpse of the old Melaka. Below are some of the things to do in Melaka;? Melaka River Cruise (Day and Night)? Joget@Melaka (Special Cultural Show on weekends) Melaka Cendol and Rojak? Melaka Alive Theater Show? The Shore Oceanarium (Newly Opened Aquarium)? Tamin Sari Tower Ride (Melaka Sky Tower)? Multiple Parks, Zoos and Museums? Visit an Old Submarine and Old Wooden Galleon Where to Eat in Melaka?Melaka is one of the melting pots for food in Malaysia but the crème de la crème is no other than the Peranakan or Nyonya cuisines found all over Melaka. Some in simple cafes, while others in any restaurants or even in hotels, these unique cuisines are a must-try for any foodie. What to Buy in Melaka?Apart from the traditional Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan items found easily here in terms of clothing and jewelry, there are also a lot of antique dealers around the Jonker Walk area. Most of the souvenirs sold around the main street include your general everyday types of souvenirs too. For those wanting something a little more, you can check out some of the food souvenirs to buy in Melaka. Best Time to go to Melaka?Honestly, I would recommend going from Tuesday till Fridays as it gets really overly crowded on Saturday and Sunday. But the weekend market takes place during these days along Jonker Walk, so if you are fine with crowds, then go on the weekends. Otherwise, I would recommend a weekday to have a peaceful walk and experience here. What to Expect in Melaka?Melaka city is not that huge and most of the attractions are within walking distances. You should note that there will be a lot of walking around at most of these places so best to come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, poncho, umbrella and lots of water. People are generally nice here and most people speak English. Exploring out of Melaka requires transport and the best is to get a taxi to some of these places.Where is Melaka?Melaka is the state south of Kuala Lumpur or Selangor. It takes around one and a half hours to drive there or about two hours by bus. Usually day trips to Melaka are done but to fully see Melaka, you need to spend a night or two there. Tour companies organise tour or you can rent a car and self drive there. SarawakThe amazingly beautiful Bakelalan HighlandsThe home of the Hornbills and Rainforest on Borneo Island, Sarawak is Malaysia's largest state literally covered with rich dense rainforest, mountains and abundance of culture and heritage. Not your typical touristy city, Sarawak is an entirely different style of Malaysia offering a very unique experience when visited. Most foreigners will also know this place by the name of Borneo, oh and there is no more head hunting doing on here too. What to do in Sarawak?A Chinese Temple in Kuching City, SarawakGenerally, Sarawak is so huge that you need about two weeks to see most of the places here. However, each traveler needs to break down what they want to do and Kuching would be a great place to start.Most of the popular attractions are within one to two hours drive from Kuching. As for Kuching city, it is an easy walk about here to visit the old streets, temples, mosques and museums.For exploring out of Kuching, there is Sibu, Miri, Mulu, Bakelalan and Bario which are best connected via flights. If you plan to travel overland via bus, be prepared to spend more than 8 hours. Miri is a resort city neighboring Brunei and Sabah and is also branded as a resort city. Read about Things to do in Miri which I reviewed based on the places I have visited there. However, Miri also caters as a gateway to unique destinations like Mulu, Bario and Bakelalan in the Kelabit Highlands. One needs to take a small plane flight to these mountainous villages at 1000 meters above sea level. Mulu is renown as a UNESCO world heritage site offering nature lovers one of the best experiences you can have in a rainforest.Sibu, a river city is up and coming with food and culture tourism being the strongest here. For those into the food and culture scene, Sibu would be recommended to visit, but know this - Sibu is not your typical tourist stop but this year is branded as Visit Sibu Year 2017.The beautiful Talang Island in Sarawak, many do not know that Sarawak has amazing islandsPlaces of interest around Kuching Sarawak;? Sarawak Cultural Village? Sarawak River Cruise? Anna Rais Longhouse? Semenggoh Orangutan Nature Reserve? Bako National Park? Talang Satang National Park? Kuching Cat Museum? Kuching WaterfrontKelabit Food from Miri, SarawakWhat to eat in Sarawak?Gawai Festival in SarawakThe local ethnic food which can be found all over. In Kuching city, seafood is very popular at Top Spot Food Court, the foodie should venture around the city to try some of the very local ethnic foods from the Iban or Kayan people here. For eating local food in Kuching, there are a lot of local coffee shops, cafes and restaurants found all over the city where you can experience a daily breakfast or lunch. Umai is a delicacy which is recommended to try apart from the very famous Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee.What to buy in Sarawak?There are quite a few interesting things to buy from Sarawak, but most Asians heading here will opt for the local Sarawak Batik, local handicraft and lot of food souvenirs like Ikan Terubuk and Sarawak Kek Lapis or layered cakes. For the antique collector, there are quite a number of antique shops along the Kuching Main Bazaar the Kuching Waterfront. From my personal views, I think that the ethnic crafts are the best deals in terms of souvenirs to buy in Sarawak. What to expect in Sarawak?The Sarawak Cultural Village in SantubongFor the short stay traveler, you can expect a lot of walking in the city of Kuching while for the adventurous traveler, expect high humidity when traveling from place to place.Culture is the strongest selling point of Sarawak so you have the opportunity to see many different ethnic races and tribes here and one of the best places to see and experience this is at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong. Rainforest are abundance which provide excellent nature, flora and fauna and national parks are the best place to do this.Best time to go to Sarawak?Anytime is a good time as Sarawak lies close to the equator and from my experience, some of the best times are during the harvest festival or Gawai in June, where you can witness or even participate in the celebrations held all over the state. Alternatively, a good time to visit Sarawak is also during the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 which takes place from 7-9 August at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching.Where is Sarawak?Sarawak is located on the island of Borneo, on East Malaysia therefore you need to take a flight from KL or other cities to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. In Kuching city, you can move around on foot, but to travel to other parts of Sarawak, you need to fly or self drive which is quite time consuming. From Kuching to Miri, it is about 12 hours drive or a one hour flight.TerengganuLong Beach on Pulau Perhentian, one of the best places to visit in TerengganuLocated on the east coast of Malaysia, Terengganu is truly a paradise for anyone looking towards a island or beach holiday. Most of the popular islands are located off Terengganu which include Perhentian Island, Redang Island, Tenggol Island and Lang Tengah Island where all are about 30 to 45 minutes boat rides from the coast. One of the beautiful and unique properties on the mainland by the sea is no other than Tanjong Jara Resort, a luxurious private 'kampung' style villa resort located deep in a local village and away from any other property. Here, you are assured of the finest resort hospitality and experiences minus the crowds. What to do in Terengganu?As Terengganu is huge, most of the tourism activitiestake place off the coast, so visiting the islands are one of the top activities as it is also Visit Terengganu Year 2017. As for the state itself, there are also ecotourism spots to explore like the Lake Kenyir Resort which was featured in CNN as one of the 12 Malaysia Rainforest Resorts to Visit.Other places include the Taman Negara National Park where there is an entrance via Terengganu while at the capitol - Kuala Terengganu, you have the opportunity to see the old city style of Malaysia and Terengganu Chinatown is also a recommended place to explore.There are only a handful of traditional boat makers left and you can find them at Pulau Duyong, an island in between a river mouth in the city area. Currently, there are three boat makers located here for those wanting to see how they are made.Places of interest around Terengganu;? Pasar Payang Market? Noor Arfa Craft Complex? Terengganu Chinatown? Islamic Civilization Park? Terengganu State Museum? Kenyir Elephant Village? Lake Kenyir Visit? Turtle Watching at Rantau AbangTerengganu's beautiful resorts, Tanjong Jara ResortWhat to eat in Terengganu?Lots of Seafood, Keropok Lekor and the very unique local Malay food dishes are a must-try for anyone visiting Terengganu. For the serious foodies, there are some very traditional dishes available too, but one needs to ask locals about them. At the resorts or islands, you can find all kinds of local and international cuisines too. For those safe eaters, there are international fast food chains around Kuala Terengganu and Dungun town. What to buy in Terengganu?Batik fabrics are well known in Terengganu and you can visit some of the Batik factories to see how they are hand drawn and made. Other popular unique items here include the traditional brass ware, Songket fabrics and handicrafts, and a great place to see or buy them is at Pasar Payang Market. What to expect in Terengganu?Terengganu ChinatownLots of old world charms, smiles and friendly faces. However, to move around here, you need at least two to three days to see most of the attractions.But if you are planning to do both islands and mainland, then it would be recommended to spend about five to seven days here. The city is a daytime city, so everything happens before dusk. During the fasting month, almost all restaurants are closed in the day and only open in the evenings.Getting to the islands in TerengganuThe main islands are all about 30 to 45 minutes boat rides from the main land. However, you should double check as to which jetty you will depart from as different islands operate from different jetties in Terengganu. Flying in, you will land in Kota Baharu, Kelantan and then take a one hour taxi or van drive down to the jetties. Best time to go to Terengganu?After the monsoon season (October till March) is the best time to go, however you should take note of the fasting month in Malaysia and many vendors, stalls and shops close to observe the 'Puasa' hence you will only fine them open around 6.00 pm in the cities and towns. The island resorts are not affected by this, so if you are staying at any of the islands, you should not be worried.For more travel and general information, you can also visit the Tourism Terengganu website - http://tourism.terengganu.gov.my/Where is Terengganu?Terengganu is located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and to get here, you can either take a bus (6-7 hours), self drive (5-6 hours) or fly from Kuala Lumpur which is only 45 minutes. Once in Terengganu, you can take the local taxis around town or if you are headed to the islands, the local boat service. Langkawi Island - KedahBeautiful white sand beaches in Langkawi Known as the Jewel of Kedah, this northern state near Penang Island called Langkawi Island is one of the most visited islands in Malaysia due to the beautiful beaches, lush tropical rainforest and the stunning hotels and resorts which caters from budget to luxury tourist. The island is also well known as a duty free island where you can get cheap chocolates, alcohol and many other items.  What to do in Langkawi?Pantai Cenang activities in LangkawiThere is quite a lot to do around the island, depending on what you like. For beach lovers, Pantai Cenang is the most popular beach here while there are many other beaches which are less crowded.Nature lovers can go for hikes, treks or even bird watching, for wellness lovers, there are a lot of spas found throughout the island in the form of shops to resorts and also to luxury spas.Shopping is quite popular for the locals therefore Kuah town is one of the popular places and the other shopping places in Langkawi are located along Pantai Cenang Beach.Popular things to do in Langkawi;? Mangrove River Cruises at Kilim Geopark? Cable Car Ride to Mat Cincang Mountain? Parasailing at Tanjung Rhu? Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls? Sunset Dinner Cruise? 3D Art Museum? Visit a Night Market in Kuah TownWhat to eat in Langkawi?Local Malay food is one of the must-try cuisines, especially in the local village areas as the northern style is very different from the center and south of Malaysia. Seafood is also a very popular dish but again, just on the surface level and not comparable to those on the east coast of Malaysia or Sabah.Pantai Cenang is loaded with all kinds of restaurants, cafes and bars offering from local to international cuisines, so this would be a great place to start. For an evening to remember, I would personally recommend dining on the beach at La Luna Restaurant at Casa del Mar along Pantai Cenang and best to make reservations. Another unique eatery is located at Bon Ton Villas, which is along the same road here.Known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is one of the popular tropical islands to visit in MalaysiaWhat to buy in Langkawi?Duty free products, among the top are chocolates, liquor, beer, cameras, sporting goods, cookery items and the list goes on. Duty free shopping in Langkawi is one of the highlights when visiting the island and the main places to get these are in Kuah Town or along Jalan Pantai Cenang. There are quite a number of duty free shops and even supermarkets in Langkawi for the serious shopper.What to expect in Langkawi?Quiet day time and busy nights. Most of the visitors to Langkawi would do the general sightseeing in the day and come nightfall, you can see popular places around the island come to life, especially Pantai Cenang Beach. You can also expect to be moving around for activities and one of the best ways is to rent a car or motorbike in Langkawi Island. Best time to go to Langkawi?I would say anytime of the year, but during the months of December till February,the island can get really crowded due to the festive holidays. January to March is also the dry season where rain will not damper any holiday moods too, but on a general note, the best time to visit Langkawi is from October till April.More information on Kedah - http://www.discover-kedah.my/More information on Langkawi - http://naturallylangkawi.my/EN/HomeWhere is Langkawi? Langkawi Island is up north of Malaysia, above Penang Island and bordering Thailand and the best way to get here is to fly to the Langkawi International Airport from KL which is only about an hour. Once on Langkawi, rent a car or bike and move around as it is much easier. Kilim Geoforest in LangkawiBasically I have just summarized the list to the above and there are in fact many other places to visit in Malaysia, just that these are currently the most popular places in Malaysia that many visitors are heading too. I also have another article called where to go in Malaysia for 2016 for those interested to know a little more.Again, the best time to Visit Malaysia in 2016 is just about anytime as we are a tropical country and it is warm throughout the year. During the school holidays or major festive holidays, popular tourism places can get very crowded so it is always best to double check your dates to see if they clash with any major public holidays or school holidays in Malaysia.This article is created by me as I have been traveling all over the country in the last few years and not one of those top 10 lists that is created by researching facts on the internet. There are too many people out there claiming they know it all with just one trip to Malaysia, but I would like to stress that this is written by a Malaysian who is involved with the tourism and travel industry and who has been traveling around the country for the last 10 years for my work.If you have any comments or feedback, please leave them in the comment form below and I will respond to each and every one, based on my availability and I hope you enjoyed this article of Best Places to Visit in Malaysia 2017. Have a wonderful trip here if you are planning to come this year.
    Wednesday 26th of October 2016 08:31:00 AM
  • Things to do in Labuan Bajo
    Apart from the famous Komodo Island, there are many other interesting places worth exploring here and here is a list of things to do in Labuan Bajo, Flores which is located in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Many may only know Komodo Island which is located about an hour from Labuan Bajo and after visiting Flores twice in the last year, I can now share with you on the many other things to do around here. Your main gateway into Flores is also the city of Labuan Bajo or Ende where there are direct flights available from Jakarta and Bali and most visitors would fly into Labuan Bajo for the opportunity to see the Komodo Dragons or for their diving trips here. As I have personally visited Flores twice, once with the #TripofWonders campaign from Indonesia Tourism and recently in September 2016, with Skyscanner Indonesia therefore, on both trips, I managed to see quite a bit of Flores Island and also Labuan Bajo where I can now share my experiences with the would be visitor here. Things to do in Labuan BajoKomodo Island Tours1. Komodo National Park - This is the number one place to see the the worlds largest lizard called the Komodo Dragon. There are four islands that are home to the Komodo Dragon but only two are open for visitors, which are Komodo Island and Rinca Island. You can book day trips to these islands or even book an overnight live-on-board boat experience to a number of islands. Prices range anywhere from IDR 600,000 to IDR 2,000,000 per person, depending on the type of Komodo Island Package you choose and most people would do a 2D/1N live-on-board trip. Pink Beach at Komodo Island2. Pink Beach - One of them most unique beaches in the world are found here in the Komodo National Park and imagine pink sand.There are around nine pink beaches located around the national park where most Komodo Island tours will bring you to the most popular one on Komodo Island.The Pink Beach at Komodo Island is also perfect for photo shooting and social media and in general, this place attracts all walks of life , so coming here on a weekend will surely be crowded. Snorkeling here is quite amazing too as the marine life is very impressive. Some even take a 15 minute hike up the main hill that overlooks the pink beach for that epic landscape photo. 3. Komodo Island Hopping - For the sun seekers, photographers and explorers, there are a number of beautiful islands located around the national park here and visiting them can be arranged with your boat or tour operator. Note the price is slightly different when you book a multiple island hopping package in Labuan Bajo too. It is always best to ask about the prices and islands you are visiting before you confirm the trip. 4. Sembilan Island Stingless Jellyfish - I have heard about this place but never got a chance to visit it due to the time constrain, but the tour operators offer a visit here where at Pulau Sembilan or Nine Island, there is a small pond in the island that is home to a species of sting-less jellyfish where you can snorkel and see them. Truly amazing and this is one my next place to visit in Flores.Padar Island5. Padar Island Photography - Hands down the most epic photo you will get at the Komodo National Park. Padar Island is part the the national park and many visitors come here to trek to the top of the island for their epic photo and mesmerizing view. The trek up is around 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your fitness level and once up there, all your tiredness will vanish. The Padar Island photo went viral a few years ago after an epic photo of someone standing with the amazing view went viral in Indonesia. Now, hoards of local and also foreign tourist, some even dressed up, make their way here to get that epic photo taken at the top of Padar Island.6. Manggarai Cultural Village - A very ethnic cultural village located in the highland of Flores, which is around one hours drive from Labuan Bajo where you can see the Manggarai tribe perform their traditional dances (Caci Dance) while sampling some of the local food and also local Flores Coffee. Suitable for culture lovers, this experience would take you around three to four hours and needs to be booked by one of the local tour agents in Labuan Bajo.A beautiful Labuan Bajo Sunset7. Sunset Watching at Labuan Bajo - The best place to see the Labuan Bajo Sunset is from the many beaches or some of the modern beach resorts and bars that face the west. For me, I have seen beautiful sunsets from the hotels I have stayed at, namely the Sylvia Waicicu Beach Resort (www.sylviaresortkomodo.com/) which I highly recommend, Le Pirate Bajo Hotel (https://lepirate.com/labuan-bajo/) for hipsters and for the family traveler, Laprima Hotel (Email reservation@hotellaprima.com) by the sea.Other sunset watching places in Labuan Bajo are Atlantis Beach Club or Paradise Bar which sits on a hill overlooking the bay where you can have cocktails or a drink just before dinner. For those wanting a magnificent and beautiful view, you can explore towards the Sylvia Resort where there are a few hills behind the resort where you can walk up or drive up there. The view from up here is simply breath-taking and you can see both sides of the island from up here.Street life in Labuan Bajo8. Exploring Labuan Bajo Town - To be very honest, this place is just developing in terms of tourism therefore the main street is probably the only place you will be exploring. The main road called Jl. Soekarno Hatta goes one loop around the main town area as it is one way and near the old harbor area, there is a great night market selling all kinds of fresh local Indonesian food and also seafood worth exploring. For the main street area where hotels are also located at, you can find some local and international restaurants, cafes and even a French Bakery next to a Mexican Restaurant! There is also a spa, banks with ATM machines, pharmacies and general stores so this is your one-stop place to get items and so on. 10. Try the Flores Coffee - This is one of the top coffee produced in Indonesia and you can find the local Flores Coffee at some of the local cafes here. One coffee joint in Labuan Bajo which stands out is the Cafe In Hit Coffee Shop, located just next to Le Pirate Bajo Hotel. Here you can get some really good latte and cappuccino (some say it's perfect) for your daily fix apart from the iced latte and frappes and also some interesting salads and sandwiches. Prices are very affordable for now too.Bird Watching in Labuan Bajo9. Bird Watching in Labuan Bajo - For the avid bird watcher or birder, Labuan Bajo and its surroundings offer some pretty interesting species of birds to spot or photograph. In total, there are over 10 endemics in Flores and around 280 plus species of birds throughout the island.In the city area of Labuan Bajo, you can easily spot Eagles, Kingfishers, Drongos, Flowerpeckers, Pigeons and many others. As I am still an amateur bird watcher, I can easily say that I spotted at least 30 species of birds during my last trip in September 2016 and thus, I highly recommend bird watching in Labuan Bajo, Flores. 10. Diving at Komodo Island - Scuba divers will be in for a treat as the Komodo Islands are one of the best places in Indonesia to dive and most operators in Labuan Bajo are professional and offer all kinds of diving in Komodo, ranging from day trips to live on boards which are a plenty. Personally for me, I did a Komodo day trip dive because of the time restriction we had so we visited three of the most popular dive sites - Pink Beach Dive Site, Manta Point and Batu Bolong where all three are fascinating. Each of the dive sites offered a different kind of diving in Komodo with unique seascape and marine life.Photos of Labuan BajoBelow are various photos taken around Labuan Bajo town and its surroundings in September 2016.A panoramic photo of Labuan Bajo. Click to see full image.Local boats at the Labuan Bajo portManggarai People from West Flores, near Labuan BajoVarious tour packages in Labuan BajoLocal wet market in Labuan BajoSylvia Resort in Labuan BajoTo get to Labuan Bajo, you can fly directly from Bali via a number of airlines, namely Wings Air who does two daily flights and only takes an hour from Denpasar. Alternatively, you can check Skyscanner for the cheapest flights as I checked from Kuala Lumpur to Labuan Bajo, it cost only RM1,700 with three stops. But if you fly direct to Bali and connect to Labuan Bajo, it could be cheaper too.If you are also heading elsewhere in the country, you can also read my other article on places to visit in Indonesia to give you some idea as I have personally visited all of the places listed in that article due to my previous trips around Indonesia. If you are heading to see the dragons, you can also read my article on how to get to Komodo Island which I wrote about a few months ago. As I personally think that Flores will be the next destination to explore in 2017, I highly recommend you start thinking about heading here early before the main commercial tourist start to flood the place and prices will start to rise. So with this list of Things to do in Labuan Bajo, I hope you get the chance to visit this amazing place soon.
    Monday 17th of October 2016 03:00:00 AM
  • Inuyama Castle
    One of the Japanese National Treasures is Inuyama Castle, located in the city of Inuyama which is also in the Aichi Prefecture, 25 kilometers north of Nagoya. This castle is also said to be the oldest castle in Japan where it was completed in 1537 and was built by a relative of one of the greatest Samurai Warriors of the Edo period in Japan. The castle is also called Inuyama Hakutei Castle. Now, this National Treasure is one of Nagoya's top tourist destination attracting not only locals but foreigners here to see the beautiful castle architecture and its surroundings, especially the Kiso River which runs next to the castle. History also states that the castle was originally completed in 1440 but this was heavily debated, however this still remains as one of the oldest castles in Japan and standing at a height of 25 meters from the ground level, but it is located on a hill overlooking Inuyama City. Inuyama CastleAt the top of the castle, you can see the beautiful view of Inuyama City Visitors can also go up to the top level where you can get a beautiful panoramic view of Inuyama City. In total, there are four main floors and two basement floors in Inuyama Castle. Outside the Inuyama Castle area, visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the Inuyama Artifacts Museum and the Karakuri Exhibition Room to see some of the historical pieces on display.Inuyama Castle Shrine (Sanko Inari Shrine)Sanko Inari Shrine at Inuyama CastleAs you exit the Inuyama Castle, you will head towards the Sanko Inari Shrine, which is a beautiful Shinto Shrine where you can observe Japanese people doing prayers. You are allowed to walk around the shrine and as you exit the shrine area, you will pass the beautiful red arches called Torii which is one of the best places to take photographs. Inuyama Castle Information;Inuyama Castle Ticket PricesAddress: 65-2 Kita-Koken, Inuyama-shi, AichiOpening Time: 9.00 AM till 4.30 PMOpen: DailyClosed: December 29-31Tickets Adult: ¥550 (2016)Tickets Child: ¥110Below are random photos taken at Inuyama Castle and the beautiful views from the castle top. The steep wooden staircase inside the castleA replica model of the Inuyama Castle at one of the museums outside the castleView of Inuyama city from the castleView from the rooftop of Inuyama CastleInuyama city viewHow to go to Inuyama CastleFrom Nagoya - Take the Meitetsu Line which takes about 40 minutes and exit at the Meitetsu Inuyama Yuen Station. From the station, it is only a 15 minute walk to Inuyama Castle. If you want, you can take a taxi to the castle, but note that taxis in Japan are not cheap. I would recommend taking a slow walk and admire the Japanese small town lifestyle which is so different from the major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Recommendations for Inuyama CastleFor those planning a day trip, this would be the best as you can take a train from Nagoya in the morning, visit Inuyama Castle and its surroundings, then head to Inuyama Old Town for some awesome Japanese food and then head back to Nagoya after dinner. Alternatively, you can choose to spend a day or two here as Inuyama does have some interesting attractions like Meiji Mura Village which is a massive outdoor village museum and theme park. There are proper hotels here with Tatami style rooms and staying here will allow you a glimpse of the typical small Japanese city lifestyle. There is also the Inuyama Temple Town where small streets are lined with street vendors selling local produce. Other attractions in Inuyama include the Urakuen Japanese Garden and The Old Isobe House from the Edo period. The best time to visit Inuyama is also in Autumn to see the beautiful foliage colors. Inuyama Castle is one of four important national treasure castles of Japan. The four castles are Himeji Castle, Matsumoto Castle, Hikone Castle and Inuyama Castle which are listed as the most beautiful castles while there are a total of 12 castles found throughout Japan. 
    Saturday 15th of October 2016 11:12:00 AM
  • MIDE 2017
    MIDE 2017 takes place from 12 - 14 May at the PWTC Kuala Lumpur and earlier that it usually is scheduled for the month of July as it was brought forward to facilitate the fasting month and the Hari Raya celebration. More good news is that MIDE 2017 is also moved from Hall 3 to Hall 1 at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) to a bigger hall space of 8,000 square meters and covering a total gross space of 12,000 square meters of exhibition and retail space. The largest dive expo in Malaysia is also looking at more than 2,000 exhibitors, with 200 participating companies from local and abroad attending. MIDE 2017 is geared to welcome business entrepreneurs, tourism boards, dive agencies brand manufacturers and distributors to utilize the platform that has been created and designed to meet the lucrative business for every organisation.Some of the new products that will be featured at MIDE 2017Pros and Cons of MIDE 2017With any event, there are bound to be pros and cons and for MIDE2017, there are the great sides while there are also the negative. The good thing about the dive expo is that many consumers or beginners get added awareness about scuba diving and also about the many different types of services and products found in the international markets. While the dive expo is well known as the main place for purchasing of dive equipment, courses and dive travel destinations. many consumers now have been spoiled to wait for the expo to buy their dive equipment and this has lead to a slowdown of purchases from the general retailers throughout the year. As I am a diver myself, I have been attending MIDE over the years and I have also spoken to to a number of people which includes consumers and also retailers. In the end, the consumers are the big winners as they hold back their general purchases until the event takes place. The retailers on the other hand, do good business, as suppliers and distributors would take advantage of the massive turn out by offering special discounts for their items or packages.Most of the time, you would see a number items sold at really cheap prices and they are 'Only at MIDE Prices', meaning you can only get those prices if you come for the event. Suppliers and distributors are also seen clearing stock with amazing deals, most of the time, overstocked items or last season's items. Some smaller retailers have expressed frustration as in this niche industry, the larger companies have a strong monopoly over the mass consumer, leaving the piece of cake much smaller than it was ten years ago.  For example, Hypergear, the maker of dry bags offered a serious 30% discount on some of their bags and many consumers waited for MIDE to buy these bags. A 20 liter fancy dry bag backpack retails at RM 320.00 with no discount, and at the expo, it was going for RM 220.00 which is a steal. In 2015, the Malaysian dive expo generated a total sales of RM 8 million and for the year of 2016, overall sales reached at approximate total of RM 10 million and the organizers are anticipating a turnover projected sales between RM 10 to 12 million for MIDE 2017. The organisers also claim that the expo has delivered and continue to deliver a great significant growth of revenue for participating companies and further contributes positively to a healthy economic growth towards the dive tourism.Visitors checking out some of the booths at MIDEDiving in Malaysia or Abroad? Most new divers are also spoiled for choices when it comes to dive destinations as ever since AirAsia and many of the other budget airlines came about, the choices to visit neighboring countries was no longer a luxury and affordable to just about anyone. divers now compare countries and live on boards versus back ten years ago when it was just which island in Malaysia we dived at. Recently, I as a diver did my inaugural diving at Komodo Island where it was on a tourism work trip and for me, an experience to share with my readers, but the truth be told, many divers have already been there due to the easy connectivity from the budget airlines. If you talk about diving in Maldives, chances are four out of ten divers have already been there. This goes to show that divers now have many choices and do not mind spending that extra money to go abroad for scuba diving. The writer diving at Mantanani Island, SabahRaja Ampat seems to be the flavor over the last few years and is one of the most expensive dive locations in the region, but during MIDE 2015, a few dive operators from Raja Ampat were seen at the dive expo, the one I talked to was a Raja Ampat Budget Dive Operator who was offering basic homestay on land and boat dives.Speaking further with the operator, they had already known that there are in fact many new divers in Malaysia who are seeking budget destinations, but not your normal places and more exotic ones, like Raja Ampat.For diving in Malaysia in 2017, I would have to say that Miri in Sarawak is one of the growing destinations to explore due to the many beautiful reefs that some even say are comparable to Sabah. There are only one or two dive operators there who frequent the many beautiful Miri dive sites which are around an hour from the mainland.Visitors entering the Malaysia International Dive Expo in KLADCON 2017While MIDE happens, the Asia Dive Conference 2017 (ADCON 2017) will also take place where this special dive conference will enable visitors to explore more option of the conference that will be take place during the 3 day event. The venue for the Malaysia dive conference will be held within the main venue hall to enable visitors have easy access to the seminar room.ADCON 2017 will also focus on bringing more insight on technical aspect on diving, servicing and maintenance of dive equipment, camera housing, demonstration on latest products hands-on, demonstrating and teaching on Photoshop techniques, exploring on nitrox certification courses and more.Diving Tourism and Social Media Branding AwarenessThe writer diving at the Red Sea in JordanUnfortunately, there is no speaker to promote digital dive tourism and social media and diving as this is the current trend with society over the years. Digital and Social Media for diving is one of the best platforms to help businesses, dive resorts and operators to brand themselves online.I have spoken to many local universities and events on social media and tourism, even as a diver who has been to a number of places around the world, I have been promoting this hobby over the years using Malaysia Asia and my multiple social media channels. Perhaps one day, it would be an honor to be invited to talk at a diving forum or seminar, but in the mean time, you can follow Malaysia Asia in Instagram for my updates.MIDE 2017Date: 12-14 May, 2017Time: 10.00 AM to 9.00 PMVenue: Hall 1, PWTC, Kuala LumpurWebsite: www.mide.com.myWith a strong consistent track record from 2006 till 2016, a total of  approximately 110,000 visitors have been visiting the MIDE dive exhibition and expo here in Kuala Lumpur. The number of scuba divers have also grown over the last five years with more and more people wanting to experience this amazing hobby, locally and also abroad and with MIDE being the pioneering force behind the scuba diving industry in Malaysia who organises these events, the number will continue to grow steadily. MIDE 2016 was equally impressive with huge turnout numbers and vendors and for the would be diver, I will easily say that a visit to MIDE 2017 will definitely open up your diving interest and possibly excite your passion to see the unique underwater life found at many places around the region and also the world. 
    Thursday 13th of October 2016 04:12:00 AM


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