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Tourism Malaysia

IN CHOCOLATE HEAVEN

A long, long time ago, the Mayans were believed to have first discovered cocoa, which they considered as a sacred treat. Nowadays, chocolates are still considered precious delights. They certainly make wonderful treats during festive seasons and who would ever say no to a chocolate souvenir! Yup, chocolates are some of the popular things tourists buy as souvenirs to bring home. Malaysia certainly has its own home-grown chocolate brands, but besides that, while you are here in Malaysia, why not indulge in something more chocolate-y? Perhaps a tea-time treat at a chocolate café…or a tour of a chocolate factory?

Malaysian chocolate flavours

Typically, you can always count on the standard flavours of chocolates such as white, milk and dark (with various percentages of cocoa). The chocolate experience is a bit novel in Malaysia, though, as Malaysian chocolatiers have taken chocolate-making a step further by infusing local flavours into their creations.

For instance, you find many chocolate brands in local shops, with unique flavours that you cannot find elsewhere. Try mango chocolates…or for those who love the King of Fruits, there are many durian chocolate selections…these are popular flavours among tourists. How about Gula Melaka chocolates and Teh Tarik chocolates? Well, we leave it to you to taste!

Here are some Malaysia-brand chocolates you may wish to bring home as souvenirs, which can be easily found in most supermarkets and shopping malls: Beryl’s, Camior, Daiana, Fidani, Hoko, Vochelle and many more.

Chocolate Cafés

Chocolate cafes are booming fast, almost overtaking those trendy cafes and their coffees! Well, it’s a blessing for all chocolate lovers, then. If you want to really savour your chocolate indulgence, make a visit to MyTown Shopping Centre in Cheras, where you will find chocolate decadence at The Dark Gallery (https://thedarkgallery.com). Reading the menu list itself will make you drool, but if you are overwhelmed by the choices, it’s wise to go with the tasting platter that combines their best chocolate pastries, ice creams and hot chocolates.

The pretty décor of Nayuta Chocolatasia (http://www.nayuta.com.my), meanwhile, will remind you very much of the Far East. The café, located within Isetan Japan Store in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, prides itself in the high quality of cacao beans cultivated right here in the Southeast Asian region, namely Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and of course, Malaysia. They call themselves the “chocolate label produced by Asian people to suit the Asian taste palate” for milky, caramel-infused and soft textured chocolate. Spend an afternoon here to sample their delicate 8g bonbons with typical Asian ganache such as lime, pineapple and yuzu, or delight in a huge bar of chocolate with cashew nuts, dried mango and caramelised coconuts. With all that sweetness in your mouth and the artful décor, you will want to daintily sip that cup of hot chocolate!

Chocolate Museum

Looking for more? Apart from the trendy cafes, some established chocolate manufacturers have also introduced a specialty concept-store known as the chocolate museum.

One of these chocolate museums that the public can visit for free is the Chocolate Museum by Fidani (www.chocolatemuseum.my)   at Kota Damansara. Apart from the boutique shop selling more than 100 chocolate brands, the premise is well-equipped with a large gallery full of informative facts and displays about the art and science of chocolate-making. Learn about the history of cacao beans, the farming process and how it is transformed from bean to bar. They also have a live-kitchen demo by a chef on the makings of chocolates.

Another worth-visiting museum is the Beryl’s Chocolate Museum (www.berylschocolate.com.my), about 20 kilometres from the city centre. The museum is well-laid out with informative chocolate displays on history, chocolate facts and more. You’ll also be able to purchase all sorts of chocolate flavours from the Beryl’s brand.

Chocolate Cupid

For the serious chocolate lover, head over to the heart of Bangsar, where the Chocolate Concierge (www.chocconcierge.com) will be most happy to match you with the right chocolate that you’ve been craving for, selected from their large selection of chocolate flavours and recipes. And if your chocolate urge is still not satisfied, they’ll even custom-make the chocolate for you, of course, with a low minimum order. With passion-driven care for chocolates and bean origin, Chocolate Concierge is mighty serious about their bean-to-bar process, and it’s no surprise that they’ve been featured in the Michelin food guide as a rising chocolatier. Try the soft filling chocolate morsels with hints of cappuccino, strawberry, or wasabi, and their hand piped truffles. Or for something truly local, go for the freshly-made Pahang Origin Dark chocolate with cocoa nibs.

 

 

 

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

5 REASONS TO VISIT KUALA LUMPUR CRAFT COMPLEX

Dubbed the one-stop craft centre, Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex has become a tourist destination offering visitors with a wide range of artisan craft products made in Malaysia. Located at Jalan Conlay, it is within walking distance to the famous and busy Pavilion shopping mall and Bukit Bintang shopping district.

Featuring beautiful Malay architecture, the complex houses several different sections comprising gifts and souvenirs gallery, a craft museum, artists’ colony and craft village. It is worth exploring for visitors as you will be amazed by the wide variety of local made craft products.

Let’s see what key activities visitors can get up to on a visit here:

Shop for Malaysian crafts

The Karyaneka shop offers a variety of local craft products on sale for visitors at an attractive price. Products range from gifts and souvenirs, clothing and accessories, home furnishings and decorations from various craft categories. Some of the local handicrafts on sale are batik, rattan baskets, pottery and other crafty knick-knacks. We love their hand-painted batik fabrics and the pretty baskets woven from pandanus and rattan leaves. Be prepared to bring back a heavy shopping after this visit!

Make your own Malaysian handicraft

At the Craft Village section, there are live demonstrations of local craft-making by talented artisans. Visitors can also try their hand at ceramic making or batik painting. Besides that, visitors can even learn the basic techniques of handling the knife for carving at the wood-carving village. Opportunities are given for visitors to explore their creative talents with the guidance of local crafters at the site. At a time when consumers are used to buying ready-made products, this hands-on craft-making activity is an eye-opening and refreshing experience.

Own a piece of artwork by local artists

There is also an Artist’s Colony, where art lovers can purchase works of art directly from local artists.  Art lovers can get to know local artists and watch how they go about producing the art work. The artists work with acrylic paints, oil paints, charcoal and even pencil. Their subject matter ranges from local landscapes to abstract images to portraits. We love spending time chit-chatting with these artists who are not only highly-skilled but offer unique perspectives of Malaysia through their artworks.

Visit the Craft Museum 

The gallery is an informative museum on the history of Malaysian handicrafts, covering each state’s traditional craft heritage. The collection of museum pieces are authentic and truly an amazing documentation of Malaysia’s craft heritage.  Visitors can learn more about Malaysian handicraft through the dioramas and video presentation.

Splurge on National Craft Day

Every year, the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex organises the National Craft Day or Hari Kraf Kebangsaan (HKK). It is a huge event that gathers hundreds of crafters from Malaysia and international countries under one roof to display, promote and sell their creations. If you are looking for authentic and high quality Malaysian crafts, as well as handmade items from small and medium enterprises, then this is the place to be. The diversity of crafts here covers textiles, woodwork, metalwork, woven items, forest products, and more. International artisan groups also exhibit their traditional handicrafts besides performing their cultural dances and music.

One of the most enjoyable ways to get to Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex is by riding the KL Hop-On Hop-Off (HoHo) open top buses. The complex is one of the 23 stops covered by the bus service. A ticket allows passengers to ride the bus and see other famous landmarks of Kuala Lumpur city centre and visit destinations such as Chinatown, Central Market, KLCC and more.

Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex
Address: Seksyen 63, Jalan Conlay, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2161 1470/1480
Operation Hours: 9.00 am-6.00 pm
Email: [email protected]

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Tourism Malaysia

In Johor, Everything Is Awesome!

2016 is almost over and if there’s ever a time to pack up and leave with your family, it’s now! Holidays were made for us to unplug and reconnect with the people we love, especially our family. It’s also a time where anyone of any age can relax and unwind. Once in a while, we need to take vacations because we can always make a living but we can’t always make memories.  And what better way to make memories than in Johor

To make it easier, let us help you plan the perfect weekend trip to Johor!

Saturday

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Lego® Kingdom

Legoland; the name itself can awaken our inner child. A land where all our imaginations have been put to life. Once you step into the Lego world, you can’t help but to feel young again. The architecture, the rides and even the food will leave you wanting more. It is safe to say that Legoland is the perfect location for a family trip, especially if you have young children.

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KLCC – Miniland

One of the places that you’ll find yourself revisiting would probably be the Miniland. A few minutes wouldn’t be enough because you’ll be mesmerized by all the intricate details of each model. There’s a total of 18 iconic places that you can find in Miniland, such as Cambodia, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Johor, Myanmar, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur and many more.

Don’t forget to look out for the newly upgraded Miniland KL Cluster that features iconic architectures of the city such as Petaling Street, National Monument and Bukit Bintang. Over 3 million lego bricks are used to complete the upgraded KL cluster.

Don’t be afraid to zoom in because it’s even more amazing when you’re up-close.

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Lego® Ninjago™ World

End your day with a bang by getting a ride on Asia’s first 4D Indoor Ride! Ninjago is the newest edition to the Legoland rides and it certainly lives to its expectation. Many lined up to get a spot on their interactive ride and boy was it fun! You’ll have the chance to be heroes and defeat the “Great Devourer” (the main villain of the story-led experience) with your bare hands. Thanks to all new sensor technology, you’ll have full control of your actions, giving it a new meaning to indoor rides.

During the ride, you’ll be divided into teams of 4, each competing to see which team scores the highest. The rules of the ride are quite simple actually, you’ll only need to use your hands to guide the controls, aiming at the targets to engage. The ride takes about 3-5 minutes to complete but rest assured that every second you spend inside is going to be filled with fun.

Sunday

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Hello Kitty Town – Wishful Studio

Before leaving Johor, you should pay a visit to one of Legoland’s awesome neighbours.  Just 5 km away lies another attraction that your kids would definitely want to visit. Hello Kitty Town was built to put a smile on children’s faces. For girls especially, it’s practically a dream come true.

There’s a handful of fun activities to do inside, such as a taking a tour inside Hello Kitty’s house, watch performances on the “Purrfect Stage”, spin on their “Tea Cup Rides” and many more. The best of all is probably the “Wishful Studio”; where we get to create our own Hello Kitty themed souvenirs such as the Hello Kitty Handkerchiefs and Hello Kitty Cookies!

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Thomas Town

Hello Kitty town might not sound that appealing to the boys but thankfully there’s another famous town that is just upstairs! Thomas Town is located on the top floor of the building and they have more rides compared to Hello Kitty Town, such as the Knapford Station Thomas Train Ride, Colin Crane Drop ride, Bertie the Bus and many more. You’ll definitely have fun when experiencing the Bumping Buffers Steamies Diesels Ride aka bumper cars!

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Other Characters – Barney Live Show

The fun doesn’t stop there, there’s also other characters such as Angelina Ballerina, Pingu, Bob The Builder and Barney. Throughout the day, there are live performances on every level so your little ones can meet all their favourite characters. Children have the chance to sing, dance and interact with characters that they usually see on TV. What a treat!

Since tickets for Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town + Other Characters are sold separately, we suggest that if you prefer more rides and other interactive activities, Thomas Town + Other Characters would be a more suitable choice. However, we recommended that you obtain the “All Park Access” so your children won’t miss out on any of their favourite characters.

Here are some friendly tips to make your trip easier:

1.Buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in line.

2. If possible, use your own transport so you’ll be in full control of your activities.

3. Arrive early.

4. Bring water bottles, snacks, hats and hand-fans.

5. Visit the souvenir stores as the last stop to avoid extra baggage.

6. Bring EXTRA clothes in Legoland because there’s going to be some water games.

Book your tickets now and get ready for the time of your life!

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

A budget guide to travelling Malaysia

By Lloyd Green

Okay, if you’re coming to Malaysia to spend two weeks in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands, you’re probably not going to do it on the cheap. But there’s also plenty of people who pass through Malaysia on their way north from Singapore en route to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

For these people, every dime is important and in a city like KL where extravagance is flashed in your face on every corner, finding things suited to your budget can be difficult. This also applies to travelling across Malaysia, with knowledge of how and when to travel, important to your attempts at saving money.

So let’s start with your arrival.

If, like most people, you arrive in Malaysia by air at either KLIA or KLIA2 terminals and have booked accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, you will have a few options of varying cost and duration to reach your destination. Often backpackers fly blind during this process and can waste money without even knowing it. The KLIA Express train is the fastest way to and from the KLIA airports from KL Sentral, but it is not the cheapest.

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The cheapest route to Kuala Lumpur is by bus with a one-way ticket for adults from KLIA or KLIA2 terminals to KL Sentral priced at 10 Ringgit. Peak hour traffic in Kuala Lumpur can cause lengthy delays, so if you are on a tight schedule and want to get to the city as soon as possible, KLIA Express train is the best option. It takes 28 minutes and is RM55. If you want to save five Ringgit make sure you pay with your credit card at the kiosk and not at the counter. It will be RM50.

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(Picture by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com)

In terms of accommodation, there are two main places to stay for backpackers; Changkat in Bukit Bintang and Chinatown not far from Pasar Seni LRT station. There’s a host of backpacker accommodation in both areas with single rooms as cheap as RM40-50 and dorms beds priced at around 20 Ringgit. Of course, the quality of your hostel will vary with price. Changkat is closer to KL’s nightlife, KLCC and the Petronas Twin Towers, but Chinatown is more conveniently located near the city’s main transportation hub — KL Sentral. Many coaches to Malacca, Johor Bahru, Penang and Ipoh now leave from TBS bus station, which is approximately 20 minutes from KL Sentral.

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Jalan Alor off Changkat is foodie-central with Chinese seafood restaurants and hawker stalls selling an array of local delicacies and international cuisines until the wee hours of the morning. Petaling Street in Chinatown is also famous for food with its night market chock-full of shops and stalls selling goods and street food. Be aware, both of these areas are aimed at tourists and as such prices can be inflated.

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(Picture by Calvin Chan / Shutterstock.com)

Most of KL’s main attractions are aimed at families, couples and those who are dazzled by the bright lights, so if you prefer a bit of adventure but want to stay within in the perimeters of the city I suggest you check out Petaling Jaya and in particular areas such as Subang where an urban youth culture has evolved. If you are able to make friends with locals, that’s even better and ask them to take you out of KL City. The food in areas such as Klang, Petaling Jaya, Ampang and Cheras is just as good (and cheaper) and is where most of the locals eat. Also keep an eye out for local night markets known as Pasar Malam. They offer amazing delicacies and fresh produce and are more authentic than the ones in the city. If you want a quiet night at the cinema, Wednesday is the cheapest evening with tickets as cheap as 10 to 12 Ringgit.

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Just a stones throw away from KL are a places such as Chilling Falls and Broga Hill. These are quite popular amongst locals and provide a nice respite from the concrete jungle of the city. They are free and relatively easy to get to by car. Check out the best places for hiking, camping and waterfalls in and around Kuala Lumpur here.

Budget guide 3(Picture by Travelblog.com)

The bus and train are the cheapest options for making your way around Peninsular Malaysia. For Ipoh, catch the rain as Ipoh Railway Station is located in the centre of town, whereas the coach terminal is some 15 minutes away. You will only save five Ringgit if you catch the bus. The bus from KL to Penang is the best option as it takes you directly to the island and within five minutes of George Town. If you want relax on Malaysia’s famed beaches like Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands, the bus and ferry is the way to go.

shutterstock_115589299For those interested in checking out Borneo’s wildlife, make sure you book your flights to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in advance as flights to East Malaysia can be expensive.

Strangely, food prices also vary between Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia with Indian food slightly more pricier in Borneo. Popular music festivals such the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak and the Penang Jazz Festival on the mainland are relatively cheap compared to other international events, but again book in advance to save yourself some cash.

A great, inexpensive way to see Malaysia is to volunteer. Malaysia offers volunteering opportunities for every taste and interest: from wildlife projects in the untamed jungle of Borneo to teaching English to children in urban and rural environments. Most places provide free accommodation and sometimes food and you’ll have access to remote communities you probably never knew existed. Read more here.

When exiting Malaysia, consider the bus trip north to Hat Yai in Thailand. It is less than 60 Ringgit and you can split the journey up by stopping over in Penang for the night. Cheap flights from KL to popular tourist destinations in Asia such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines can be found via Air Asia, but any additional items such as luggage over 20 kilograms can increase the price.

In summary, Malaysia is a wonderful place to explore and the more adventurous you are, the better your experience will be. Doing it on the cheap is possible but having a friend to show you around or give you advice definitely helps with your budget.

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Tourism Malaysia

My Malaysia

By Lloyd Green

I sit here on the plane leaving Malaysia after eight months. An experience quite unlike any I have ever encountered. Malaysia is a country where the more you invest, the more you get out of it. You could be forgiven for thinking Malaysia is embodied by KL’s global reputation — its bright lights, shopping malls, bustling nightlife and iconic Petronas Twin Towers showcasing an opulence craved by many tourists — as well as pristine island getaways such as Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands.

But if you have ever had the chance to peer beyond its veneer, you will find a land of great beauty and a population eager to share it with you. This is where the real Malaysia lies and a world in which I’ve had the privilege to step into. You’ll enter one world and exit another taking with you snippets of many cultures that will not only shape your memories but also your relationships.

My Msia 1

The view from one of the more secluded areas at Genting Highlands

Much of my adventure here is owed to the great local friends I have made. They have afforded me an authentic experience not often chronicled in your local tour guides: Guest at an Indian wedding in Klang; life as a local at Orang Asli kampungs in the jungle near Gua Musang and Raub; a road trip to Pangkor; KL’s burgeoning comedy scene; a guided tour of the famed Kacang Putih industry in Ipoh; hiking around the intriguing Genting Highlands; celebrating Deepavali with Indian families in Klang; KL’s underground punk rock scene; teaching English in remote and rural communities; celebrating Christmas in the Portuguese Settlement in Malacca; adventures to Peninsular Malaysia’s most stunning waterfalls and hikes including Chilling Falls and Gunang Tahan; picking rambutans and bananas at plantations in the jungle; witnessing Iban tribal ceremonies in Sarawak; staying on a boat house in the Royal Belum National Park as well as tasting local delicacies such as the best fish noodle soup in Petaling Jaya and homemade Indian curries in Brickfields and Klang.

My Msia 2

You can hire a boat house and enjoy the tranquil Royal Belum National Park
(Pic http://belum.com.my/tour/2d-1n-houseboat-lake-temenggor/)

That’s not to say Malaysia’s main attractions are unworthy of your presence — the tourist trail in Malaysia is reliable and growing stronger all the time. In the economic hub of Kuala Lumpur, flavours and colour of India, China and Malay locals float inconspicuously, adding great contrast and history to this modern megacity with landmarks such as Batu Caves, Bukit Bintang and KLCC ensuring thousands continue to flock there.

Venture north to George Town in Penang and Ipoh for a romantic cocktail of art, architecture and colonial influences with night markets, Chinese hawker stalls in Batu Ferringhi, the original Old Town White Coffee in Ipoh and the emergence of urban street art in both places giving reason for tourism to thrive.

The chance to live and look after Orangutans as well as the quest of climbing Malaysia’s highest peak — Mount Kinabalu — will always ensure people go to Sabah and the magic of the Rainforest World Music Festival is a beacon for Sarawak tourism each year. And of course if island hopping and diving is your thing, then you’ll fall in love with places such as Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Layang Layang and Lankayan.

Malaysia has no doubt won a special place in my heart and I urge other travellers, tourists and expatriates to immerse yourself in the culture and let Malaysia sweep you off your feet. You will never regret it.

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