Wonderful Malaysia

Traveling with kids in Malaysia

Traveling to Southeast Asia with children is not particularly advertised. However, most holidays in region are perfectly suitable for children. Always check beforehand to determine if a certain organized trip is age appropriate. Visitors of Wonderful Malaysia often ask the question if it is possible – and if it is wise – to travel to Malaysia with small children. Looking only at all fun attractions in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, it is clear that the answer is ‘Yes’. However, as parents, you do need to take certain things into account that you do not have to think about in non-tropical countries. Malaysia is a fantastic country for children. There is an enormous variation and so there is always something to do. The kids will not get bored that easily in this country.

Great things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Berjaya Times Square Theme Park


In every city in Malaysia, there are a few big shopping malls and because they also serve as a social meeting point for the locals (also kids), you will often find many fun attractions within the malls. Each mall has a cinema and a big bowling alley. For example, the Berjaya Times Square mall has a bowling alley – Ampang Superbowl – with a whopping 48 lanes. However, the shopping mall is mainly – world – famous due to the indoor Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, where a roller coaster with loops thunders past the railings of the balconies of the various levels.

Sunway Lagoon


Next to the big Sunway Pyramid Mall – which is quite a distance from the Kuala Lumpur city center – lays the enormous aqua theme park called Sunway Lagoon, very popular amongst the locals and lots of fun as a day trip away from the big city.

Genting Highlands Theme Park


One of the biggest (and most hectic) kids’ paradise in Malaysia is about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. Genting Highlands is an entertainment city with many attractions (including numerous casinos) and with a huge kids’ theme park. A big advantage of this theme park is the coolness of the highlands; a possible disadvantage are the crowds. We had never seen so many families with kids in one place. The theme is currently closed for renovations and expected to open in 2016 as the world’s first Twentieth Century Fox Theme Park.

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park


Within the beautiful Lake Gardens, the biggest park in Kuala Lumpur, you can find the popular KL Bird Park. Here you can see thousands of birds. Children will have a great time, and they will learn a lot about all the bird species you can see here too. Especially popular is the World’s Largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary; where you can see birds flying around you or even have birds sitting on your shoulder.

KLCC Aquarium


Another popular attraction for kids is the KLCC Aquarium. Here you can see thousands of fish species, many species can also be found in the seas surrounding Malaysia. This great attraction is located right in the center of Kuala Lumpur, nearby the huge Suria KLCC shopping mall.



If you are traveling with young children and are looking for a fun day out in Kuala Lumpur, you should consider KidZania; an indoor family educational and entertainment center which offers an interactive learning and entertainment experience for kids in a kid-sized city to deliver the first-of-its-kind edutainment fun. The KidZania experience is about real-life experiences, empowering, inspiring and educating kids through role-play. It is located near a nice shopping mall, so you can combine this with some nice shopping afterwards.

Adventure trips with kids

Apart from the big cities, you also have many beautiful attractions which are equally pleasant for children and adults.

There is enough to do on the Malaysian peninsula. Visiting the beautiful National Park Taman Negara is absolutely a highlight of your trip; though you will spot few big animals, there are lots of smaller ones, birds and insects. The longboat trip to the nature reserve on its own will be liked by the children. The highlands are also great as a change (it is a lot cooler and you can go for lovely walks). Especially popular are the Cameron Highlands, where your kids can also visit one of many tea plantations.


The islands of Langkawi and Penang can also be visited with children, usually visiting these islands is an excellent finale of a tour organized by the travel agency.

At the Oriental Village at Langkawi Island there is an enormous cable car – Panorama Langkawi – which takes you to the top of the mountain to see the beautiful panoramic view of the island. Langkawi has numerous other great attractions that your kids will love.


Penang has a tropical fruit farm and a beautiful butterfly garden. There are quite a few nice temples and numerous other sights. The night market in the small coastal town Batu Feringghi is also great fun for kids.

If you want to visit the best dive and snorkel islands during the dry season – April until October, then you should travel to east coast islands like Perhentian, Redang, Kapas or Tioman. You can snorkel, swim and even dive together with the children. Besides many beautiful fish species, there is a big chance you can swim with huge turtles (especially abundant in the seas around Perhentian Island).


Kuala Gandah is a small village just a few hours away from the capital Kuala Lumpur, where you will find an elephant sanctuary. You can feed and wash the elephants, which is yet another great experience for the kids (please do not ride on the back of elephants as they weren’t built for that). Also nearby Kuala Lumpur is the small village of Kuala Selangor. Here you can visit the firefly park (in the evenings) and witness millions of fireflies (lightning bugs) once it is dark.

In Borneo you can for example easily discover the jungle (basic level). You will choose an easy to reach and accessible nature park instead of the really hard core jungle trips. A visit to one of the traditional indigenous people will also be memorable for the kids. In the northeast of Borneo (close to Sandakan) you can also visit Sepilok, the orangutan reserve.

There are also various other attractions, such as the humongous Gomantong bat cave, Turtle Island where you can observe turtles and the amazing Kinabatangan river (3 to 4 hours’ drive from Sandakan); where you can see elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and many other kinds of animals and birds. A true adventure for children!


If your kids love theme parks, you should consider a visit to Johor Bahru in the south of Malaysia near Singapore. Here you have Legoland Malaysia; with over 40 rides, shows and attractions. Highlight is Miniland; where over 30 million bricks of lego where used to recreate numerous Asian landmarks.


All in all there is so much to do with children on tour through Malaysia. Apart from all these huge attractions, there are often also small activities which will be of extra fun for the kids. The locals are always very nice and sweet with children. They will often be spoiled and will get far more attention than they need.

A beautiful description of a proud parent with children

Our kids traveled with us for a couple of months, they spent a long time in airplanes and buses but still were easy to handle. Most travelers are surprised when they realize that you can still go backpacking once you have kids. Our kids talk to everybody and get a lot of attention in return. Observing things with the kids gives you another view on the country, because they will notice completely different things than you. Children’s simplicity … A new world opens up. And if they cry from time to time…it doesn’t matter. Give them some attention and they are fine again. For years our kids have behaved so well on the plane. It is the biggest experience in their lives. And why do you travel….because as parents, you enjoy it. You want something more than Center Parcs, European beaches or similar. And kids like everything…So, you travel because as an adult you like it, you are doing it for yourself. In the process, you try and make it fun for the children too and you organize some activities that they really like. So, people with kids, keep flying!!!! Everyone has been young and has cried before. No reason to miss out on these great adventures…

Malaysia is a safe country

Malaysia is an exceptionally safe country, but rule of thumb is not to do or undertake any crazy things (the ones that you would also avoid in your own country). Driving in Malaysia is safe too, highways are often in excellent conditions. Roads in local towns might force you to drive slowly. Self-drives are particularly popular at the peninsula.

Protect yourself and your children

You should always be well prepared (for example during day trips): take enough water, enough DEET to protect yourself against mosquitoes, Dengue does occur a lot and it is not pleasant (read: life threatening!). If your family doctor advises malaria treatment, then go ahead with it. Only in a few regions in Malaysia there is a risk of Malaria. If you do not like Malaria treatment for your children (for example because they are too young for it), just avoid those areas.

It is also important that you and your children are well informed in advance regarding the tropical regions. Apart from the vital protection, you should also carry sun screen wherever you go. Adults usually get sunburn within the hour, children are often a lot more sensitive. You can buy sun screen in Malaysia too.

Visit Malaysia 2014

2014 will be an important year for Malaysia, as it has been branded ‘Visit Malaysia 2014‘. During this year there will be many events to celebrate Malaysia’s tourism achievements and potential. Many events are also great for kids, so if you are planning a trip to this wonderful country, make sure you do so in 2014.

Have fun in Malaysia.


Wonderful Malaysia

Most Charming Asian Island Destination Award winner

Malaysia was recognized as the most charming Asian island destination by New Voyage Magazine at its annual awards ceremony held at Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng Hotel on 15 January 2013.


Director of Tourism Malaysia in Beijing

Trophy for most charming Asian island destination

Trophy for most charming Asian island destination

The win is seen as a boost to Malaysia’s tourism plans for 2013 as it prepares to receive tourists this year, which has been designated as a promotion year for the Visit Malaysia Year campaign in 2014.

Malaysia’s many islands and beaches have long been a favorite destination for many. Langkawi is known for its natural attractions such as forests and 500 million-year-old rock formations which earned it the status of World Geopark by UNESCO in 2007.

Penang island, meanwhile, is a melting pot of cultures, beautiful architecture, rich history and delicious food, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pangkor Laut Island is known for its truly luxurious “one island, one resort” concept and has attracted celebrities the likes of actress Jodie Foster, golfer Nick Faldo, and world-renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

The east coast of Malaysia also boasts of jewels such as Perhentian, Redang, Gemia and Sibu islands.

Equally captivating are the islands and beaches in Sabah and Sarawak, with Sipadan Island leading the pack for the world-class diving experience it offers. Mabul and Mataking islands are also gaining popularity as diving destinations in Sabah, while the five islands within Tunku Abdul Ramman Marine Park offer visitors an island experience close to the city.

Nominations for the New Voyage Magazine awards for Best Outbound Travel Destinations were received throughout 2012 for voting by its readers, media, travelers and tourism industry players. Besides Malaysia, AirAsia also emerged the top winner for favorite airline.

About 200 guests from airlines, hotels, national tourism boards, China’s tourism bureaus, and members of the media attended the function. The monthly magazine has a circulation of about 310,000.

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Wonderful Malaysia

10 best dive locations in Malaysia

Where can I find the best dive spots in Malaysia?

Malaysia has numerous great dive locations. The best dive sites in Malaysia can be found in the southeastern region of Sabah (on the island of Borneo). Easiest to reach are the dive sites at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but this region is prone to the yearly monsoon season between October and March. Below our top10, based on the dive conditions, bio-diversity and attractiveness.

1. Sipadan Island, Mabul Island and Kapalai Island

Diving at Sipadan Island in Malaysia

These three islands probably contain the best dive sites in the whole of Malaysia. Sipadan is by far the best place to enjoy scuba diving; it is also not that easy to actually dive at because of the restricting rules that are in place (daily permit). Mabul is known worldwide for its amazing muck diving conditions. Kapalai is a small sand bank, not that great for diving, but here you can find a very exclusive resort built on stilts. Actually both Sipadan and Mabul earn their own spot in this list, but since you can’t visit one (Sipadan) without the other (Mabul) we just listed the whole cluster as one entry.

2. Lankayan Island

Whale shark sighting at Lankayan Island in Malaysia

A small island located north of the city of Sandakan in eastern Sabah. Lankayan only has one (luxurious) resort and it’s all about diving and relaxing. Accommodation might be quite expensive for non-divers, they might be better off at numerous other islands. After Sipadan, Lankayan probably offers the best dive spots and diving conditions in Malaysia.

3. Layang-Layang Island

Diving at Layang-Layang Island in Malaysia

Layang-Layang is not a tropical island per se. It is a concrete landing strip with one resort and a marine base, located on a big sand bank located just below sea level. Layang-Layang is located in a remote area, where the underwater world has not been affected by human beings. Corals are in pristine conditions. Layang-Layang is a place to see big species and big schools of fish (not so much smaller stuff).

4. Mataking Island, Pom Island and Sibuan Island

Diving at Sibuan Island in Malaysia

Though not as great as diving conditions at the nearby islands of Sipadan and Mabul, the area surrounding Mataking, Pom and Sibuan still offers quite a few amazing dive sites (especially Sibuan is known for great muck diving). Mataking is a wonderful place to stay. There is a very luxurious resort from where you can enjoy dive trips in the area.

5. Redang Island

Diving at Redang Island in Malaysia

Redang is the first island in our list that is not located in Borneo. Redang Island lies within the Terengganu Marine Park, nearby the city of Kuala Terengganu at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Redang offers great dive sites and perfect dive conditions. It is a great place to start with your diving adventure, as prices of a 4 day PADI course are very affordable. Redang cannot be visited between October and March because of the monsoon season.

6. Lang Tengah Island

Diving at Lang Tengah Island in Malaysia

Located between the more popular islands of Redang and Perhentian, the smaller island of Lang Tengah offers great diving opportunities. The island has a few nice resorts, and is also suitable for non-divers. Lang Tenggah cannot be visited between October and March because of the monsoon season.

7. Tenggol Island

Diving at Tenggol Island in Malaysia

Tenggol Island is located at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It offers splendid diving conditions, but it is perhaps not suitable for beginners due to the currents that often play a big role in dives around the island. There are a few nice resorts on the island. Tenggol cannot be visited between October and March because of the monsoon season.

8. Tioman Island (and the surround islands)

Diving conditions at Tioman are similar to the other popular islands at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Especially great about Tioman is that besides diving it is also a great place to do snorkeling, sunbathing and kayaking. The island is big enough to do numerous other fun activities. Possible downside might be that is not that easy to reach compared to other islands (unless you are willing to pay dearly for the direct KL – Tioman flight operated by Berjaya Air).

9. Perhentian Island

Diving at Perhentian Island in Malaysia

Perhentian is the best island in Malaysia to do a diving course. The diving conditions are splendid for beginners, and there are many dive spots available to enjoy immediately after finishing the PADI course. Perhentian has calm waters and an abundance of marine life. Besides diving it is probably one of the best islands for snorkeling, with shallow reefs with pretty nice corals and great marine life (also big fish and many turtles). At Perhentian prices for fun dives and for the diving course are probably the lowest in Malaysia. If you are a beginner, Perhentian Island is definitely the place to be!

10. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Diving at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Malaysia

Right opposite of the city of Kota Kinabalu in western Sabah (Borneo) lies the wonderful Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TAR Marine Park). This area contains numerous dive sites that are definitely worth a visit. Dive schools mainly operate from out of Kota Kinabalu, though there are also a few that are located on the islands. Similar to Perhentian Island this is a great place to start diving by doing a 4 day PADI course as the dive conditions are optimal for beginners.

Dive locations in Malaysia that almost made it into our top10

Of course there are many other great places to dive in Malaysia, below a few that didn’t make it to our top10, but are still very much worth a visit (especially if you take certain non-dive aspects into consideration):

11. Mantanani Island; a little bit better than TAR Marine Park but also a bit more remote located.

12. Kapas Island; great option, small island, easy to reach from Kuala Terengganu. Many (better) dive sites at nearby islands though.

13. Talang-Talang Island; small island nearby Kuching. Not really a renowned dive spot, but might become one in the future.

14. Tiga Island; popular island nearby Kota Kinabalu. Better dive sites at the east coast of Sabah, but still some very nice sites.

15. Mengalum Island; if you are only staying around Kota Kinabalu.

16. Pulau Payar; your best option if you are only visiting the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

And some turtle islands (for those that do not dive):

17. Selingan Island (Turtle Island near Sandakan); not really a perfect dive spot, but the best place to visit to learn more about turtles.

18. Satang Island (Turtle Island near Kuching); another turtle island in Malaysia.

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Wonderful Malaysia

Gerard’s Place Cameron Highlands

Gerards Place Cameron Highlands 1

A few weeks ago we visited Cameron Highlands. We make a habit out of staying at a different place every time we visit the place, this time we decided to stay at Gerard’s Place, a cozy and affordable guesthouse just outside of Tanah Rata. We already stayed at 8Mentigi once, also owned by the same people as Gerard’s Place. The popular Fathers Guesthouse is also part of the same group of owners, though this guesthouse is currently closed for various reasons (though they are intended to open soon).

As we were familiar in Tanah Rata it didn’t take that long to find the road that leads up to the guesthouse. If you are arriving by car from the Tapah exit (when coming from KL) then you need to take a right turn just before entering Tanah Rata, one of the main villages in Cameron Highlands. When you drove over the modern highway to Cameron Highlands (exit Simpang Pulai near Ipoh); you first need to drive through Tanah Rata and just when you exit the village, take a left turn. From there on you follow the road upwards as the guesthouse is located on a hill.

The guesthouse is actually located within a residential area, part of a few blocks of houses and opposite the Heritage Hotel. The actual house numbers are: Carnation Block C 9, C 10 C 17 in Greenhill Resort. This already gives the guesthouse a pleasant feeling, you feel like you have arrived at home. The living room also gives that impression, there are a few beautiful pictures, a big screen television with cable tv, a shared fridge, a kitchen and an area with a pc that you can use to check the internet. As Cameron Highlands is a highland resort, it is usually not warmer than 24 degrees. There are no aircon’s, you have no use for them anyway. There is a small patio and a patch of green where you can site outside. At night you can actually spot fireflies right in front of the patio.

One of the great aspects of all three guesthouses, Gerard’s Place, Fathers Guesthouse and 8Mentigi, is that the same owners also operate the local tour agency Cameron Secrets. Besides the standard tours, they also offer very nice Eco-tours and adventure tours (like jungle treks and exploration tours). Standard tours typically last half a day, or a whole day and contains a visit to almost all highlights in the area. Besides tours, Cameron Secrets also offers transport to either Perhentian Island, Taman Negara (both via Gua Musang) and to Penang. If you book a tour with Cameron Secrets you will be picked up at the given time in front of the guesthouse.

Rooms are quite nice at Gerard’s Place. Some have a shared bathroom; others have a bathroom within the room. Showers worked great, though we found it a bit difficult to get out from under it, because of the cold temperatures outside. The bed slept great. Breakfast is very basic, but just enough to last you until lunch time. You can always bring you own stuff and keep it in the shared fridge or you can walk to Tanah Rata town in 5 minutes to enjoy a very nice breakfast at Rosedale Bistro.

Gerard’s Place offers free wifi. There are also quite a few nice magazines (mostly travel) for you to read. Some guests left their books behind for the next guests. From the guesthouse it is a 5 minute walk to the center of Tanah Rata. Because of the colder climate it is actually very pleasant to walk around in Cameron Highlands, a 5 minute walk in Kuala Lumpur would probably be a different experience because of the heat.

We paid between RM70 and RM100 for our rooms. During peak season and public holidays (like Chinese New Year) there is a surcharge. You can make reservations directly via their website (well, sort of as they do not have an official website yet). The best way is to call them, but you can also contact them by email.






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Tourism Malaysia

13 Day 12 Night Grand Peninsular Self Drive Tour


Distance: 70 Kms (1 hour by car)

Meals: None

Drive Guide:

No driving for the day


Arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Flight TBA

Meet greet by our driver and transfer to hotel.


Distance: 0 Kms (0 hour by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

No driving for the day

Remarks: 24 hours Hop on Hop off pass included

Breakfast at hotel

Stroll through the capital city of Malaysia for a sightseeing tour. The mix of modern and old architecture creates an eclectic atmosphere that can be hardly found anywhere else in the world.


Distance: 205 kms (3-4 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

After getting acquainted with the rented car, drive out of Kuala Lumpur through the North South highway to Cameron Highlands.


Breakfast at hotel

The rented car will be delivered to your hotel by AVIS in the morning.

Enjoy a number of stops along the way to Cameron Highlands. Suggested stops include the Royal Selangor Pewter factory, Batu Caves, Tapah, and Lata Iskandar waterfalls. In the evening after your arrival at Cameron Highlands, visit the Night Market if the weather permits.


Distance: 0 kms (0 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

Drive around Cameron Highlands for your own exploration.


Breakfast at hotel

Take your time in your exploration of Cameron Highlands. Remember to stroll through the farms and markets.


Distance: 259 kms (4 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

Head down from Cameron Highlands towards Penang. The drive will take you through the state of Perak. Enjoy the view of the Straits of Malacca as you opt for either the Penang Bridge or the Penang Ferry Service to get to the island.


Breakfast at hotel

Along your drive, you are advised to stop at Kuala Kangsar, the royal town of Perak. Other attractions that might take your fancy along the drive include Kellie’s Castle, Orang Utan Island at Bukit Merah, and the Cave temples around Ipoh. During the night after arriving at Penang Island, you might also want to take a drive to Batu Feringghi to check out the night market.


Distance: 0 kms (0 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

Time to drive around Penang Island and enjoy the sights.


Breakfast at hotel

Design your very own drive around tour of Penang Island. Pick from the many amazing sights that the island has to offer, including Cheong Fat Tze Mansion, Penang Hill, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Khoo Kongsi, Kek Lok Si Temple and many more.


Distance: 337 kms (4-5 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

Bid Penang Island goodbye and begin your drive eastwards along the East-West highway to Kota Bharu. The route includes some stunning scenery, especially Banding Island, which is at the centre of a huge man-made lake.


Breakfast at hotel

Stop for lunch at Banding Island and admire the breath taking view there. At Kota Bharu, remember to visit some of the city’s attractions, like the State Mosque and State Museum. Most of the sights will be closed for Friday, Saturday and Fasting month between 20 July – 18 August 2012.


Distance: 55 kms (1.5 hour by car, 1 hour by boat)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

Drive around Kota Bharu before heading to Kuala Besut for a boat ride to Perhentian Island. Park the vehicle at a safe parking area near Kuala Besut jetty (parking fees approx. MYR 5-10 per day).


Breakfast at hotel

Before leaving Kota Bharu, pay a visit to the famous Siti Khadijah Market located in the heart of the city, where you can find all kind of local products in market. When you reach Perhentian Island you can relax in the sun, go windsurfing, snorkelling or just swimming.


Distance: 0 kms (0 hours)

Meals: Breakfast

Driving Guide:

No driving for the day


Breakfast at resort

Spend your day enjoying the natural beauty of Perhentian Island. Set up a snorkelling trip or just spend an entire day under the sun in the sand.


Distance: 114 kms (1 hour by boat, 2.5 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Driving Guide:

Depart Perhentian Island by boat and hop back into the car for a trip to Kuala Terengganu.


Breakfast at hotel

While you make your way to Kuala Terengganu, it is advisable to make a stop at a typical fishing village near Marang to see how fishermen traditionally process a variety of dried food products. During your exploration of Kuala Terengganu, remember to check out the State Museum, Bukit Puteri, Istana Maziab and also Duyung Island. Note: Most of the sights will be closed for Friday, Saturday and Fasting month between 20 July – 18 Aug 2012 in Kelantan and Kuala Terengganu.


Distance: 178 kms (3-4 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Driving Guide:

Depart Kuala Terengganu and head to Kuantan, the capital of Pahang. In the afternoon, you might want to drive to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Kemaman.


Breakfast at hotel

During your drive to Kuantan, you might want to stop at Cherating Beach at one of the villages to observe their traditional way of life. Later in the afternoon, if you choose to drive to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, and if it is between July to mid-September, you get the chance of observing the Leatherback Turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs at the nearby beach at night.


Distance: 349 kms (5 hours by car)

Meals: Breakfast

Drive Guide:

As you leave Kuantan, you can visit Lake Chini, a famous lake in Malaysia that has several legends associated to it. Besides this, you can also visit an Orang Asli settlement to get to know how they lived off the land. Then drive through the South Highway to Malacca.


Breakfast at hotel

Highlights of the day include the visit to Lake Chini and the visit to the Orang Asli settlement. In Malacca, you can drive around to check out the heritage buildings like the Porta De Santiago, the Dutch Square and pay a visit to Jonker Street in the evening.


Distance: 144 kms (2 hours by car)

Drive Guide:

Depart from Malacca and head to Kuala Lumpur. You can drop the car off at either downtown Kuala Lumpur at the main lobby of Crown Plaza Mutiara Hotel, or at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where you proceed to ground floor block D at the AVIS assigned parking bay and drop the car keys off at the car rental office.

Meals: Breakfast


Breakfast at hotel

Enjoy your drive back from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur.