Holiday in KL and Singapore

Thought of sharing the details of my vacation in KL and Singapore. Hope you folks, who are planning to holiday in KL and Singapore, find it useful. Tripadvisor site http://www.tripadvisor.in/ is a good place to start your research but there’s an overwhelming amount of information. So have patience to read through tripadvsior. Excellent site though. Through my blog, I will attempt to share as much information as possible to help you guys plan and have a great vacation in KL and Singapore.

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Here are the details
Visas

Malaysian visas are usually issued for 1 year, multiple entry. Costs around Rs 1000 (USD 20 per traveller). So go ahead and get the visa as soon as you can.. However, Singapore visas are given for 4 to 6 weeks validity. So get your singapore visas (costs around SG $30 per traveller) as close to the travel date as possible, lest your visa should expire before your journey ends. You get Singapore visa (in a paper form) in 1 working day. So no sweat. Malaysian visas take 5 working days (Max). You need your flight tickets to get your Malaysian visas. So book the flights first. 4 days in KL and 4 days in Singapore are just about enough for sightseeing. I booked Hyderabad – KL return flight. Our vacation was for 9 days/8 Nights.

Tickets
Once I booked the Hyderabad- KL return, I also booked KL- Singapore tickets by aeroline bus (a must travel bus – more on this later in the section) and Singapore – KL (by airasia – low cost but amazing airline – again more on this later). That completes all the travel bookings.

Hotels
Ideal location to stay in KL would be the KLCC area, near the twin towers. Most of the major attractions are around here. I booked the Corus Hotel, Kuala Lumpur for 3 nights/4 days for MYR (Malaysian Ringgit) 707 all inclusive.. Good deal for a 4 Star hotel. The hotel is bang opposite Petronas Twin towers and if you are lucky, you can get a room facing the twin towers – we were not :( . The KL Hop-on Hop off bus stops very near at the hotel.  The Indian eateries are two stops from Corus Hotel. Most importantly, the aeroline bus to singapore starts from Corus – Big deal. Also, KLCC MRT (your lifeline to get around in KL) is 2 minutes by walk.. Big deal again.

In Singapore we landed during the F1 racing weekend. So getting hotel rooms were a challenge. However I managed to get a smaller hotel called Asphodel Inn near Serangoon road (for SG $ 365 for 5 nights all inclusive) and Farrer part MRT – A big deal again, as MRT is your lifeline in Singapore. Also Indian eateries are close by – a big Plus.

Trip details
Our journey from Hyderbad (India) to KL was uneventful. Ontime departures and ontime arrival. No frills airline (I flew Malaysian Airlines). I felt our own Kingfisher and Jet are far superior to MA. But that’s another story.
After immigration formalities, we came to the cab-hire counter at the KLIA. Ask for budget cab to your hotel. we got it for MYR 75. If you donot specify budget cab – you may end up getting a Merc at MYR 200 for the same trip. The check-in time at all hotels in KL (and Singapore) is at 2:00 PM and our flight to KL landed at 8:00 am !!! The hotel staff were kind enough to allow us check-in at 9:30 am at no extra charge. Just be polite to the front desk.. That’s it.

Day 1

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After ‘freshening’ up we decided to have good food. A place called Leboh Ampang (two bus stops away from the Corus hotel – Bus Route 79 and 78) has plenty of Indian hotels. Sangita is the best. we reached at the lunch hour. Had plate meals (amazing food) for MYR 8 per person. One bus stop away (inbetween Corus and Leboh Ampang) is the Malaysian Tourism Center (MTC). we went there to collect the maps of KL. Also the hop-on hop off bus (a must for tourists) starts from this place. For MYR 37 per adult and MYR 19 for a child, you get unlimited ride in the hop-on hop off for a day. It stops at 22 places near some 40 attractions in KL. Stop number 21 is bang opposite Corus hotel. About 200 mts from Stop 21 is Stop 22 -the petronas twin towers and stop 1 (200 mts from stop 22) is the Malaysian tourist center. I paid MYR 93 for 2 adults and one child and boarded the hop-on bus. Extremely good bus – double decker, running commentary in English, Hindi (!!) and few other languages. The bus took us to all the major attraction in KL. We went 2 full trips around KL without getting down in any stop. That’s give you a good orientation of KL and you don’t have to wait for another hop-on bus to pick you up. sometimes you end up waiting forever.

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During our third trip on hop-on we requested the driver to drop us at Leboh Ampang –  for dinner – again at Sangita. Post dinner, we took a route bus (MYR 1 per adult and no ticket for the child) back to Corus and retired for the day. Very satisfying day 1 in the sense that we got a good glimpse of the city with enough Photo shoot of the majestic twin towers, KL tower, Bukit Bintang, Royal palace and the like.

Day2
After breakfast we boarded the hop-on bus and this time got down at Bukit Bintang (Stop 6). That’s a trendy place with lots of Malls. we window shopped and boarded the hop-on bus and got down at KL Sentral (the hub of all trains in KL). We bought tickets at KLIA Transit counter to go to Putrajaya – the seat of Malaysian Govt. Beautifully planned city. The ticket cost around MYR 47 for all of us. There are two trains (KLIA Express – that goes from KL Sentral to KL International Airport via Putrajaya but DOES NOT stop at putrajaya and second train KLIA Transit goes the same route to KLIA but stops at 3 places. The second stop is Putrajaya station).

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We got down at Putrajaya. Normally there are two options to explore Putrajaya. You hire a Taxi for 1 hour at MYR 40 and ask him to drive around Putrajaya OR board one of the route buses and ride around for MYR 1 per person. No guesses. We took the latter option. No brainer :) So at MYR 3 my family went around Putrajaya and came back to the railway station after 2 hours. Good orientation of the city. Boarded the KLIA Transit back to KL Sentral.

You need to book tickets to Genting Highlands from KL Sentral (Genting ticket counter is clearly marked and visible – Level 1). Since it was Ramzan holiday the next day, most of the KL crowd would be at Genting and you need to book tickets soon. As luck would have it, the tickets to Genting from KL Sentral were sold out!!!. There’s a bus leaving from KL Sentral to Genting every 30 minutes from 8:00 am till 5:00 pm and all were sold out!!. But buses to Genting leave from 5 different places from KL and we were asked to go to a place called Terminal Putra to buy tickets to Genting. We boarded the Rapid KL train from Sentral Station to terminal putra (30 minutes – MYR 20 for return tickets for all 3 of us) and reached the counter marked “Genting”. Thankfully tickets were available. It’s a combo (Bus + Cable car ride) ticket at MYR 50 for the family of three.

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Batu Caves – Hindu Temples inside million year old caves is a must see spot for desis. Trip to KL is incomplete without a visit to Genting and to Batu Caves. Batu caves are closer to Terminal Putra but you need to change 3 buses to get there. Hence we took a taxi (MYR 55 for the trip and 1 hour waiting). The Caves and the temples were worth the money. Exteremly good. KL skyline from Batu Caves were breathtaking. After spending a hour (sufficient) we took the taxi back to Terminal putra and took the Rapid KL train back to KL Sentral.

At KL Sentral my son wanted to experience Monorail ride. So boarded the monorail to Bukit Bintang. Bintang is fabulous in the evening. Well lit, happening place. Bintang walk is very popular. We spent quality time at Bintang, had dinner and took a bus back to the hotel. Retired for the day. Again a very satisfying day.

Day3

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After breakfast, we left for Genting. We boarded the Rapid KL train from KLCC (2 minutes walking distance from the hotel) to Terminal Putra – the same place we went the previous day to buy the Genting tickets. Terminal putra is also known as Gombak – 7 stations inbetween. Took 30 minutes. We boarded the bus to Genting at 11:00 from Terminal Putra. The drive to the moutains was breath-taking. After 40 minutes or so, we reached the cable car station.

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The remaining part of the journey to Genting is by Cable car ride and the ticket covers this ride too. Lots of crowd at the cable car station as expected; as it was holiday in Malaysia due to Ramzan. We waited almost an hour, eventhough a cablecar leaves every 2 minutes, before we got to board the cable car. The journey of 20 minutes over the Rain forest was worth all the efforts. Finally, we reached Genting. Spent quality time. Cable car ride back and the bus drive were spectacular to say the least. Boarded the Rapid KL and returned to hotel. Time well spent.

Day 4
We were to leave for Singapore this afternoon. Check out time at KL hotels is Noon. Our bus to Singapore starts at 3:00 PM from Corus hotel. We requested the hotel staff to give us a couple of more hours, which they agreed. We spent the day at KLCC mall (trendy mall with all Global brands) and came back to the hotel to check-out. We boarded the aeroline double decker bus to Singapore. Amazing to say the least. The lower deck had sofas, TVs and a refrigirator – looked like a lounge of a star hotel.

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The upper deck seated around 20 people in 1+ 2 seat pattern. So enough legroom. The roads were amazingly smooth, lots of greenery around, lunch and tea were served in the bus – the trip was a memorable one. Please donot miss the bus journey. Aeroline is the best (Nice ++ bus is also equally good according to lots of people) and since Aeroline starts from Corus, another reason for us to stay in this hotel. The bus makes one stop for 20 minutes in between for refreshments. In 4 hours we were at the Johar Bahru immigration point. Very swift.

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In another hour we reached the Singapore Harbour (last point). We took a taxi to the hotel. The hotel is located very near to Farrer Park MRT, apart from Indian joints for food. The famed Mustafa shopping mall (the only 24 hour mall in singapore) is 5 minutes by walk. Incidentally, this mall is run by Indians settled in Singapore. We met our friends at Singapore, who just checked in from Hongkong. The next 4 days were spent in the company of 5 kids and 6 elders.

Day 5
After sumptuous breakfast at Komalas (next to Mustafa Mall) – Indian restaurant – We took the train from Farrer park MRT to Sentosa. We bought a ezeepass for SG $15 per head. You can use it for both trains and buses. You can top-up when you run out of balance on the card. All very easy, convenient, hassle-free and fool proof. The entry ticket including 5 attractions inside Sentosa costed around SG$ 200 – Underwater ocenarium with amazing collection of whales + Dolphin show – kids loved it, Segway rides, Merlion, 4D magix (another must see), images of Singapore (another beauty) rounded off our day. We spent the entire day at Sentosa and still couldn’t have enough of it. Back to hotel after dinner at Komalas.

The hotels rooms were small (nothing like the 4 star wonder in KL) but clean. We couldn’t do much as most of the hotels were full, thanks to the F1 weekend. We were so tired at the end of the day, we slept immediately after we hit the bed

Day 6
After breakfast at Komalas (yawn!!! – you can’t get enough of komalas) we pushed off to the Zoo. Singapore Zoo is probably the best in the world. You get a combo ticket for the Zoo + Night Safari + Jurong bird park for about SG $ 150. Go for it.. Worth every penny. Took the MRT from Farrer park to Ang Mo Kio (change at Dhouby Ghat station) Very easy to find your way. The kids loved the zoo. The animals are in the natural environment. Got to see three shows. Sealion, Elephant and birds. All enjoyable.

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Giraffe, Polar bear, White Tiger, Kangaroos were special attractions apart from the usual suspects like Rhinos, Hippos, Elephants, Lions, Zebras etc. All in all a great experience for the kids. After spending the day, we waited for the Night Safari to start. Night Safari is next door to the Zoo and it makes sense to do it the same day. When you buy the combo package make sure to buy the tram tickets for all the three. You would love it.

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After a show, we boarded the tram. They take you deep into the rainforest during the safari and you can see all the nocturnal animals at their natural habitat. We loved it. You can also get down at one stop to explore the rainforest in the night. The day ended at 11:00 PM and we returned to the hotel at midnight.

Day 7
We took the Hippo Hop-on hop-off tours to see Singapore. There are many city tours but Hippo is the best and also the most expensive. We paid SG $60 for 3 of us and boarded the bus. The Hippo double-decker bus comes to Mustafa and you can board the bus at any stop and buy the tickets inside the bus. Suntech city is the Hub for this tour. Hippo takes you to all the attractions of Singapore.

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There are two tours on the Hippo –  City and Heritage. $60 gets you both the tours. We did about 2 trips each, on City and Heritage routes and got a good orientation of Singapore city. Got down at Mustafa – did some shopping – Got a great deal on a Digital Camera – SG $ 156 for 8 MP, 5x Optical zoom, 8GB Memory card, pouch. Boarded the MRT train to have a look at the water founrtain at Sun tech city. Outstanding laser show on the fountain. You can give a message and see it displayed on the fountain. More fun. Back to hotel after dinner at a friend’s place. My B-school classmate.

Day 8
Today we visited the Jurong bird park. Took the MRT train to Boon Lay station and a bus to bird park. Excellent collection of birds. The shows were great. Magic show was outstanding for the kids. Spent the entire day at the bird park. Penguins and waterfalls inside the park were special attaraction. Tram rides in the park gave a good orientation of the park. After dinner at Annalakshmi, back to hotel.

Day 9
Visited the Venkateswara Swamy temple. Great darshan. Post breakfast and last minute shopping at the 24 hour Mustafa mall, we packed our bags to return to India. I had booked the airasia flight from Singapore to KL. Air asia is better than some of our full fare airline. 1 hour flight to KL. However, this lands in the LCCT terminal and not at KLIA. Though the runway is same for both these airports, the terminal buildings are connected ONLY by road. The journey via road is 20 kms ride. There are lots of buses plying apart from taxis. We took the bus for MYR 4 for the entire family. 30 minutes ride. Another catch is you need to get your baggage, clear immigration and customs to go to the other airport. Budget at least 3 hours for this entire activity. Once we reached the KLIA, spent sometime exploring, eating, window shopping. Boarded our flight back to Hyderabad with fond memories of the trip.

I am amazed that you have read my blog till here :)) Excellent articles by accomplished writers can hold readers attention for about 1000 words. After that it’s a challenge. I have exceeded that limit by almost 3 times and still managed to have your attention!!!. Not bad.. What Say?

Final Thoughts
— The entire trip costed me less than INR 1,40,000 (USD 3000). We visited all the major attractions, stayed at good hotels, had great indian foods, flew quality airlines and still managed to spend much less than what many of the tour operators charge. So do it yourself.
— Public transport is cheap and efficient at both KL and Singapore.
— There’s so much to see in these places. I have been there before on official visits and thought I have seen the place.. But was pleasantly surprised to discover many places of attraction.

Enjoy your vacation!! I could not get these information in one place when I planned for my visit. So my humble attempt to provide you a peek into what you can expect in KL and Singapore. Hope you benefit from this blog. Thanks for taking time to read the article.

17 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    I had been to Malaysia & Singapore approx. 2 years back , your post refreshed all those memory.

    Link for my write up on Malaysia:-

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/08/18/malaysia-truly-asia-kuala-lumpur-genting-highland

  • Prats says:

    Awesome post. Really informative. I am planning a trip early next year for S’pore, ws a great help reading ur blog.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Very informative account, and thanks for including the costs in detail. Glad to see you have enjoyed the trip to KL and Singapore, two favorite holiday locations to many around the world. There is a Hollywood film featuring the Petrona Towers in detail, titled ENTRAPMENT starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones.

    Your post prompts me to book a similar flight to Malaysia and Singapore. Well written with beautiful photographs.

    Jerry

    • Swaminathan Mani says:

      Thanks Jerry. I found the Malaysian people to be warm and friendly. On few occassions I asked them for directions and they were very helpful.. In KLIA there’s a huge board which says ” Come to Malaysia as a Visitor and leave as a Guest”. I totally agree. I really felt like a Guest. I was certainly treated as one. Thank you Malaysia. I would love to come back again

      — Swami

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Calm down ‘Gerrit Smith’ (?). This post might be of interest for those who wish to travel to Malaysia -Singapore region and for those who were already there. Evidently, Mr. Swaminathan Mani and his friends enjoyed this trip and wrote about it. I am sure the readers of this post are well traveled and educated to see what is going on around the world. As such, fanatical comments are not called for. Thank you.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    No, thank you. Not interested in developing fanatical views. Life is too short. Get along with others and enjoy the life.

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome aboard Swami.

    A very thorough post and extremely valuable for someone planning a vacation to KL and SG.

    Malaysia has done a tremendous job of promoting tourism and I guess there is a lesson or two to learn from them.

    Looking fwd to read more from you.

  • Swaminathan Mani says:

    Thanks Nandan. This is a great portal to share views on travel. Appreciate all the good work done by you folks. I would love to share more travel stories in days to come..

    –Swami

  • Nisha says:

    I have just come back from Malaysia. You have given quite a few information which I would have also provided, had I written this article. :-)

    We did more places in Malaysia with an insight to local people, culture and cuisine.

    Thanks for sharing. Your pictures are impressive.

    • Swaminathan Mani says:

      Thanks Nisha. I suggest you should also share your experiences of Malaysia. I just saw KL whereas you have seen other areas as well. Air Asia has commenced operations from Cochin, Trivandrum and Kolkatta, to KL. They have introductry return fares of Rs 1500 (Inclusive of all taxes) per adult from Cochin to KL. Yes you read that right. Rs one thousand and five hundred only per adult, all inclusive return fare.

      I suspect many many families will take-off to Malaysia for a vacation, as these fares are valid for the next 6 months. Many of these travellers could be going out of the country for the first time. The could immensely benefit from reading more blogs on Malaysia

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Useful information (a trifle too detailed, though) and practical suggestions, unlike some of the brochure-like blogs that you see around.

    Photographs suggest that you are a bus-buff :-)

  • tanya says:

    hey Mani

    Your post is interesting and full on with all the right info required for anyone going in there….
    i like your hopping on-off buses bit and must say ur holiday was meticulously planned and quite a deal at that!!!

  • sriram vaidyanathan says:

    Good effort .. congrats

  • Pradeep says:

    Very good information provided. Can you tell me the overall expenses you incurred apart from flight charges..It would be better if you can add that information here so that people who are looking at this will get rough idea..

  • Pradeep says:

    Mani good info. I am planning to visit both these places april end.If I had read this article before ,I would have planned accordingly.Unfortunately it is too late as i had booked thru tour operator which is costly according to your calculation.Anyhow ,I will go thru this site before planning any trip next time around.

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