Malaysia – Travel Tips

malaysia

  • See the Malaysia Wikitravel page
  • Malaysia is split between Peninsula Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia. Air Asia is the best bet for travel between the two.
  • Kuala Lumpur – The capital; see the Tourist Board dance show and the Eye on Malaysia Ferris wheel and light show. Restaurants in the capital are great, and Chinatown is worth a visit. The Petronas Towers viewing platform is surprisingly underwhelming.
  • Cameron Highlands – Take a tour and see the local farms, rose garden, waterfalls, jungles etc..
  • Penang – Island off the north west, fantastic colonial history.
  • Perhentian Islands – Two dreamy tropical islands off the north-east coast. Find a quieter beach than the main Long Beach and relax amongst the sea turtles, monitor lizards, crystal clear water and laidback atmosphere. Snorkelling and diving are great here, and it is accessible by direct tourist minivan. Unmissable.
  • In Borneo Malaysia, the main cities are Kuching in the West (‘Cat city’ – see the orang-utan sanctuary and the excellent free museums), Miri (a stop off before Brunei) and Kota Kinabalu (the main hub for treks into the mountains, jungles and minority villages).

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Indonesia – Travel Tips

indonesia

  • See the Indonesia Wikitravel page
  • It is possible to enter overland from Singapore by taking a ferry to Batam in Sumatra. Beware of the persistent touts on the Indonesian side and make a beeline for the airport or the next city.
  • Jakarta – The capital disappoints most visitors as it is mostly an administrative base with very little to do for tourists, beyond the national museums. I would suggest hopping on a train to Yogyakarta as soon as possible.
  • Yogyakarta & Borobudur – Be sure to see gamelan music and a cultural performance either here or in Bali. A day trip to Borobudur will take you to the ‘Angkor’ of Indonesia – a splendid, recently resorted ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument.
  • Bali – Split your time between the tourist and nightclubbing hub of Kuta (the ‘Kao San’ area of Indonesia, full of mainly Australian backpackers) and Ubud (the arts/crafts capital, very laidback, be sure to see a cultural song/dance performance and the Enchanted Monkey Forest). Bungee jumping, trekking, white-water rafting and other adventure sports are all possible in Indonesia’s tourist centre.
  • Gilis and Lombock – Two beautiful islands near Bali, great to escape to and excellent diving.

Singapore – Travel Tips

singapore

  • See the Singapore Wikitravel page
  • It is possible to take a train to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, but consider getting off the train at the border and walking through no-man’s land rather than waiting for several hours on board.
  • Esplanade (the ‘Theatre on the Bay’) is a fantastic piece of architecture and is talking distance from the harbour, Raffles Hotel and iconic WWII memorial.
  • Little India has a fantastic atmosphere and is near to the Thieves Market.
  • A visit to the Judgement in Buddhist Hell exhibition at Haw Par Villa is an interesting and bizarre experience. Through gruesome models, it features the ten steps of judgement before reincarnation. Take SBS bus 200 from Buona Vista MRT Station (EW21).
  • There are several temples – Buddhist and Hindu – worth visiting. Singapore is also a shopping hub and has endless malls, restaurants and markets.

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Download my Southeast Asia travel tips as a PDF.

Adventures – Trans-siberian Railway Travel Tips

adventures

Costs

My tickets were booked on, or 1-3 days before departure either in person at the station or through my hostel. Tickets are generally cheaper during the off-peak season and for 3rd class (I generally travelled ‘kupe’ – 4-berth 2nd class). I had few problems travelling during the busy summer period, though a sleeper bus was necessary for the stretch from the Chinese border to Beijing, as the direct train was booked out for a week. Prices also vary depending on train number/speed. See seat61.com for more info.

Approx total distance travelled on train [Estonia to Hong Kong]:
6569miles/10,571km

*Tallin [Estonia] to St Petersburg [Russia] – 14/07/07
EEK336/EU21.46/US$28.87/UK£14.58
Seat – 6 hours – Approx 217 miles

*St Petersburg to Moscow – 18/07/07
R1928/EU55.62/US$74.80/UK£37.77
‘Kupe’ 2nd class – 1 night – Approx 375 miles

*Moscow to Irkutsk – 22/07/07
R7278.2/EU210/US$282.36/UK£142.591
Kupe 2nd’ class – 4 nights – Approx 4,735 miles from Moscow to Beijing

*Irkutsk to Ulaanbattaar [Mongolia] – 30/07/07
R1146.9/EU33.09/US$44.49/UK£22.46
‘Kupe’ 2nd class – 1 night

*Ulaanbattaar to Chinese border – 09/08/07
T34,370/EU21.75/US$29.25/UK£14.77
‘Kupe’ 2nd class – 1 night

*[Direct train fully booked, sleeper bus from border to Beijing] – 10/08/07
T47,630/EU30.15/US$40.54/UK£20.47
1 night

Thailand – Travel Tips

thailand

  • See the Thailand Wikitravel page
  • If you arrive in the middle of the night at Bangkok airport and the buses have finished, negotiate for a taxi – 400-500baht is reasonable, there may be road tolls too. When asked by the taxi driver, it’s worth claiming this is your ‘second or third’ visit to the country – see above for more safety/scams tips.
  • Bangkok – See the Grand Palace, the huge Chatunchak weekend Market, Kao San area, Reclining Buddha monastery, Siam Square and its luxury cinemas, and the night markets. You may wish to avoid the dodgy sex shows/’ping pong’ shows – as working conditions for the girls are as dire as you imagine. See above regarding Kao San Road – it is cheaper to stay just off Kao San itself, Rambuttri is a great option (asked to be dropped off by the police station). The Kao San market is bigger, busier and cheaper at night.