Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei
Entwined by shared history, Southeast Asia's terrific trio offer steamy jungles packed with wildlife, beautiful beaches, idyllic islands, culinary sensations and multi-ethnic culture. Urban Adventures If urban exploration is more your scene, you won't be disappointed either.
‘Pearl of the Orient’, Penang’s nickname, conjures romantic images of trishaws pedalling past watermarked Chinese shophouses, blue joss smoke and a sting of chilli in the air; or maybe it’s ornate temples, and gold-embroidered saris displayed in shop windows, next to mosques sending a call to the midday prayer.
It’s full of car exhaust and has a marked lack of footpaths, but George Town is able to woo even the most acute cityphobe with its explosive cultural mishmash in a scene fit for a movie set. Dodge traffic while strolling past Chinese shophouses where people might be roasting coffee over a fire or sculpting giant incense for a ceremony.
Golden Triangle & KLCC
Centred on Bukit Bintang (Star Hill), the Golden Triangle is roughly the area bounded by Jln Raja Chulan, Jln Bukit Bintang and Jln Sultan Ismail. It's home to a cluster of major shopping malls and many excellent places to eat and drink, not least of which is Jln Alor, KL's most famous food street.
The old chestnut ‘What do you prefer, the mountains or the ocean?’ goes over pretty well in Perak, peninsular Malaysia’s second-largest state. ‘Perak’ means ‘silver’ in Malay, but historians debate whether the word references the state’s tin mines or the fish off its sandy coast. For travellers, this ambiguity simply reinforces the variety of the region.
Lake Gardens, Brickfields & Bangsar
Born of the British desire to conquer the teeming jungle and fashion it into a pleasant park, the Lake Gardens remains a lush breathing space in the heart of KL. It's mainly covered by the Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park and includes major institutions such as the Islamic Arts Museum, National Museum and National Mosque.
Kedah & Perlis
The Malays are known as bumiputra – sons of the soil – and that soil, physical and cultural, is most fertile in Kedah and Perlis. Limestone pillars thrust up through this emerald paddyscape, which contributes to the harvest of over half of Malaysia’s domestic rice supply. Not that many foreigners see this.