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A bargain shopper’s delight is just across the causeway in Malaysia, with numerous bus and train services available to ferry travelers across the border. The largest and most popular malls are easily accessible from the checkpoint and offer a blend of name-brand and knockoff shopping. Dig deeper and you’ll appreciate the city’s differences, good and bad, from Singapore, though rumors of rampant crime are overblown. Museums and places of worship abound, along with good dining for any budget. A new premium outlet mall opened just outside the city in December 2011, and keep an eye on the new Legoland Malaysia, slated to open at the end of 2012.
A popular destination for golfers looking for better rates and more accessible courses, Bintan is also a nice way to escape the bustle of Singapore. A ferry ride takes between one and two hours, depending on where you’re headed. From there you can relax on one of the beaches or head inland for hiking and ATV rides or take a ride at the elephant park. There are a couple of towns on Bintan, but the island’s natural beauty is what draws visitors.
The cultural hub of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is visually defined by the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which, at 88 stories high, are the tallest twin buildings in the world and a vision of modern architecture. On the flip side, the Sri Mahamariamman is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia, its façade a colorful totem pole of iconography. Shopping at the Central Market is a joyful experience that involves haggling, handicrafts, and happiness.
Nibble, slurp, and chow your way through Petaling Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur that offers up endless options for tourists hungry for a taste of local culture. The Wat Chetawan Thai Buddhist temple will offer you spiritual sustenance, while the thumping beats of hip nightlife spots will take you to a higher place.
The British colonial city of Ipoh had humble beginnings, but has blossomed into a beautiful cityscape that marries old-world charm with modern amenities. This is a foodie's city, offering endless street stalls and restaurants all eager to serve up a sample of mouthwatering local fare. Walk it all off on a jaunt through breathtaking limestone caves that seem carved by the capable hands of a higher power.
The beauty and rich history of George Town keeps tourists flocking all year round. George Town offers views of the famous Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Kapitan Keling Mosque and many of the capital's golden crowned Buddhist temples. With museums showcasing the country's rich-historical treasures, restaurants that offer classic Malaysian cuisine and dozens of shopping malls, there's guaranteed to be something for everyone to see.
Forested hills, romantic white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters greet visitors to tropical Palau Langkawi, the largest of the 99 islands in Langkawi archipelago. Known mysteriously as "Legendary Island" because of myths associated with its ancient geological formations, it drifts serenely alongside Malaysia in the azure Andaman Sea. Sample local cuisine at the night markets, hike to dramatic waterfalls or dive into an underwater marine park to take a guided glimpse at life beneath the sea.
Chaotic, crowded, and cosmopolitan, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is a city of contrasts. Home to millions of people from around the world, the city is a mixture of languages and cultures, poverty and wealth. The city boasts some of the best nightlife in Asia and some of the worst traffic. Every holiday, the locals escape the pollution and the crowds to enjoy relaxing diversions like Ancol Dreamland, an amusement area featuring water parks, beaches, golf courses, and a SeaWorld.
Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo is the bustling gateway to acclaimed Kinabalu National Park. The park's high point is 13,400-foot Mount Kinabula, Malaysia's tallest peak, a mecca for climbers. Ninety miles away, thrilling jungle trekking and camping await in the Crocker Range National Park.