Things to do in Kuala Lumpur with kids

Kuala Lumpur was the last stop on our trip. In hindsight, this is the only part of the itinerary I would have done differently. It took me a few days to get in sync with KL and at first I thought I didn’t really like it. But after a while I realized I was just in beach-mode after Langkawi and Koh Lipe, and it was taking an effort to get back into city/sightseeing-mode. We didn’t do as much as we could have or thought we would (it’s been stinking hot), but here’s what we enjoyed:

Petronas Towers

We were planning to go up to the skybridge and then to the top, but when we got there, the lines were HUGE. My advice – you really do need to get there early. We skipped that part and wandered the shops for a while, which was fun, then headed to the large park behind the towers. It was lovely here, and there’s a big playground and public pool. The kids were so annoyed they hadn’t worn their swimmers! A word of warning, though – the park attendants watch you like hawks and blow their whistles every time they see a rule being flouted. And there seem to be so many rules! About lying down on the grass, or accidentally walking on the tiled area with your shoes on, or sitting on play equipment if you are too old. We all found it quite funny.

IMG_5925

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pool and park behind the towers. 

Petrosains

The Questacon of Malaysia, Petrosains is funded by oil and gas company Petronas and is a science and discovery centre with loads of interactive exhibits and activities.

The kids LOVED this place. We spent four hours here and didn’t get around to everything. It is a must-do for kids in KL. I have to say, though, the blatant, over-the-top propaganda for the petrol industry kind of sticks in your craw. I felt like a bit of my soul died (although as I drive a car I can’t be too high and mighty!) Also, we caught one of the educational shows, which was all about how the digestive system works – informative, and kind of gross. But then it got quite weird when the educator finally got to the end of process – the rectum – and started explaining in graphic detail how people smuggle drugs in their faeces! The kids were round-eyed with surprise, and Souljourneyboy and I couldn’t stop laughing, it was so absurd.

IMG_5868

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookworm enjoying one of the interactive exhibits – he’s about to go down the oil rig escape hatch. 

Central Market

A marketplace with airconditioning! We were in heaven and spent way to much money. A hand carved wooden chess set and an antique gong from Borneo were our favourite finds. And we had a foot fish spa! Yes, where the fish suck off your dried skin. I didn’t think I was going to be able to last 15 minutes, it was creepy and ticklish and kind of sandpapery, but I hung in there 🙂

Petaling Street (Chinatown)

Mostly knock-off junk but fun for a morning stroll. I bought converse sneakers for $15, Bookworm bought binoculars for $6 and there are lots of handbags and sunglasses etc if you’re into that sort of thing.

We liked KL but as I said before, I would do it differently next time, and make sure the very last stop was for chilling out and relaxing. I’ve realised as a family we do love our beach/pool/swimming time 🙂

 

Advertisements

Enjoying Koh Lipe with kids

Sometimes when travelling, the anticipation of a place can be more rewarding than the destination itself – I remember as a kid I was really excited about seeing a black sand beach, only to be pretty disappointed when I actually got to see one. A friend of mine had the same reaction upon finally viewing Stonehenge – she didn’t realise it would be next to a highway, and so protected it couldn’t really be enjoyed. Sometimes the reality doesn’t live up to the postcards, or the hype. I had a lot of hype in my head about Koh Lipe. One of my favourite things to do is research beautiful islands to visit, and Koh Lipe trumps many of those “Top 10” lists you find on the internet. When I realized how easy it was to get to from Langkawi (a short ferry ride away) I was really excited, but couldn’t help wonder – would it really be as beautiful as those possibly photo-shopped pictures on the internet?

The answer, my friends, is yes. Koh Lipe is EXACTLY how it looks in the pictures. Here are some of my snaps (completely untouched!)

IMG_5210

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two orange spots in the water are Souljourneyboy and Bookworm snorkelling, while Little Miss and Picasso built sandcastles on the shore. Here’s a couple more:

IMG_5324

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5199

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is basically paradise on earth. Powder-white beaches, and the clearest water I’ve ever seen, rivalled only by the Whitsundays – that stunning, breathtaking turquoise. My only regret was that we came for just three days – next time we visit Koh Lipe we will make sure we stay for at least a week. Here are some things we enjoyed:

Pattaya Beach

The main stretch of beach, lined with most of the island’s resorts, bungalows, cafes and bars . The beach is beautiful, and the vibe is just so wonderfully chilled. There are fancy resorts, but there are charming little bars with bean bags and sofas stretching out onto the beach, and in the evenings, there’s music and people milling around and sandcastles with candles and fire dancing and its just fantastic.

Walking street

There aren’t very many streets on Koh Lipe, and Walking Street is the main stretch of concrete road bordered by little shops, cafes, restaurants, massage lounges, juice bars and tourist spots. Little Miss got her hair braided, island-style, and we spent each night exploring. Lots of fun.

IMG_5397

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sita Resort

We stayed at the Sita, which fronts directly into Pattaya Beach. With lovely rooms, a decent breakfast buffet and two pools, we loved it here. We lazed by the pool reading, then swam when we got too hot, then ordered freshly squeezed juice, then walked five metres to swim in the sea, and then did it all over again. It was also in a nice spot for a family– close to Walking Street, but far enough away from bars and restaurants so the rooms were very peaceful at night. And we met a lovely Australian couple here too! I do love that I have met so many great people on our trip.

Sunset Beach

We found this delightful cove hidden behind the Sit Resort and spent the day here. You can snorkel about 1 metre into the ocean, the water is just that pristine. Bookworm and Souljourneyboy snorkeled for hours. It was practically deserted – nothing here except a few tents, and a cute shack that doubles as a cocktail bar/café. It was fabulous.

IMG_5217

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cocktail bar on Sunset Beach. You can order food too – they jump on their motorbike, head over to Walking Street an buy whatever thou want, then deliver it back here. What else could anyone want?

Koh Lipe is definitely a place I will visit again. It’s obviously a tourist island, but not dominated by huge, characterless all-inclusive resorts – its beauty is as yet unspoiled by overdevelopment. I hope this lasts. Apparently the military coup that happened in Thailand last year resulted in the new government cracking down on hawkers approaching sunbathers, and hotels scattering sunbeds all over their beachfronts to claim them as “private”. I was glad of both. Part of me worries what the former hawkers are now doing for money (although there seemed to be five people employed to do one job in the Immigration Office, so maybe they’re all working there), but after Vietnam it was nice to just enjoy the beach without being asked to buy things every five minutes. And I liked that the beaches are being kept clear of the hotel sunbeds – these beautiful beaches should be public, not just for guests of specific hotels . All in all, Koh Lipe really is the perfect place to chill out. We cannot wait to go there again – and the kids have made me promise we’ll stay at least one week 🙂

 

Fun for the family in Langkawi

When I was organising our itinerary in the early stages of planning, I did loads of research on tropical islands, trying to find the perfect place for a 5 lengthy relaxation stop after 5 weeks of hard travelling. After much research, I landed on Langkawi – and I am delighted to say this beautiful island has not disappointed us! Here’s how we’ve spent the last six days…

 Relaxing at the Bon Ton Resort

A colleague of mine visited Bon Ton earlier last year, and had raved about it. It was certainly far more pricey than any of our other accommodation (which had been super-budget) but a fortuitous tax return enabled us to splurge a little, and we have absolutely loved it here. I think what I liked most is that it’s not your typical big resort, which can feel a little characterless. It’s not large – a handful of beautiful 100-year old wooden Malay villas situated around a lovely but simple pool, beside a lake. The restaurant is superb, the food delicious – the best I’ve had in this entire trip. There are gorgeous touches everywhere – old statues, a boutique shop, lounge areas with daybeds, fresh towels always available by the pool, free water and fruit delivered to your daybed while you’re swimming… and cats. Loads of cats! The Bon Ton operates a cat sanctuary which desexes and houses stray cats, some of whom live at the resort. The kids loved playing with them. The only drawback is that there is a vet clinic with dogs next door, and sometimes a plane overhead will set them barking. This didn’t happen often though. The staff are super friendly and are happy to organize anything for you. Adding to the chilled vibe was that you didn’t have to go anywhere for breakfast – the staff pack it into your fridge the night before. We loved that, and no one got out of bed before about 9:30am each day! Our villa was gorgeous too, two huge rooms, a kitchenette and two bathrooms, one with an enormous timber bath. It was also next to a sister resort – the Temple Tree, and you were able to use their pools and restaurant too. Highly recommend!

Chilling out on Pantai Cenang

The main beach strip in town is a great place to eat, drink and be merry, and just a few minutes’ drive from the Bon Ton. It didn’t feel as touristy as Nha Trang – it has a really great, relaxed beach vibe but without the sleaze. Probably because Langkawi is a Muslim island. The beach itself is nice and there are heaps of water sports you can do. Souljourneyboy took Bookworm and Picasso out on a jet ski – Bookworm loved it, but it was a little bit too much for poor Picasso.

The Andaman Resort

We’d heard that the beaches on the north of the island are amazing, and so we headed out in our rental car to the Andaman Resort, which is an incredible place right beside the beach and hidden in the jungle. We bought lunch there and asked to use the private beach, which wasn’t a problem. This was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to – powdery white sand, and crystal clear water. We swam for ages. Then we used the resort-style Andaman pool for a while before heading back to the Bon Ton. It was a lovely outing, though I probably wouldn’t want to stay there – it was a little too far from everything else. Apparently you can do a similar kind of trip to the Four Seasons hotel as well, and their beach is just as lovely.

Island hopping

The staff at the Bon Ton organized this for us, and it was so much fun, except for Little Miss, who unfortunately had a bad cold. We went out in a small boat to visit one of the outer islands with a freshwater lake, which was fun until we were attacked by an enraged monkey that wanted our bag and towels. It was seriously terrifying, and Picasso and Souljourneyboy were the only ones to keep their heads. (If ever I saw proof that Picasso will make an excellent nurse, I saw it then – quick, cool, calm and collected, even when a monkey was chasing him, screeching all the way. Bookworm and Little Miss were completely hysterical 🙂 ). We also visited a mangrove and watched wild water eagles diving for fish, and then went swimming on an uninhabited island on the way back. Heaps of fun, and less than $100 for the five of us on a private boat.

 A note on car rental for Langkawi and Penang

 You really do need to hire a car when you visit Langkawi. There was no public transport I could see, apart from taxis. It wasn’t expensive – about $30 a day, and we really enjoyed tripping around the island. You organize the cars through the hotel where you’re staying, and it’s very easy to do.

We also hired a car in Penang, which was a LOT more expensive, probably because we got it from one of the companies at the airport. I don’t think it’s worth it if you are travelling alone or as a couple – there are excellent hop-on/hop-off buses that go to all the tourist spots. As a family though I think it was worth it. We could keep our own schedule, leave stuff in the car, and enjoy good air-conditioning as we travelled around. I will say though that driving in Georgetown is very stressful (and caused some raised voices on more than one occasion!) For some bizarre reason, the same road will be one-way up to a half way point, and then switch directions to be one-way, but going the other way. The directions meet in the middle, and the road just veers you right off onto some other road, so before you know it, you’ve turned twice and you are ages away from where you need to be with no idea how to turn around. Quite odd!

We’re heading to Koh Lipe next for a few more days of beachside fun, before flying back to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of nights as our last stop. I am so sad our wonderful trip is nearly over! We have just enjoyed it so much.

Great things to do in Penang for the whole family

Penang! Where to start? Only to say – I think I could live here!

One of the best things about travelling with kids is that you visit places you might not normally visit – and you are so glad you did. And the great thing about Penang is that I didn’t feel like the attractions were either for grown-ups OR for kids – they were just fantastic for everyone. We were there four days and we barely scratched the surface, but here’s what we loved:

 Little India

Butter chicken. Need I say more? We had it three days in a row and Picasso was in heaven. Little India is in Georgetown and is, indeed, Little India. We enjoyed the food, the music and the atmosphere, bought some gemstones and just soaked it up.

 Penang Municipal Park (Youth Park)

This is one attraction we probably wouldn’t have visited if we didn’t have kids and we would have totally missed out! It’s beautiful – positioned beside a waterfall and in the jungle. It has playing equipment, exercise equipment, three pools, soccer field, skate park, chess sets, archery range – and it’s ALL FREE. Yes, that’s right. There are monkeys everywhere and one cheeky fellow stole the bag of crisps from right under my nose and sat under a bush eating it, mocking me 🙂

 Penang Butterfly Farm

With 3,000 species of butterflies to see, this is one amazing place. They flutter all around you in the enclosure, and there are also other insects and spiders to see inside. The kids learned a lot and loved it.

Batu Ferringhi

The beach strip in Penang. We found a quiet little beach near Hard Rock Hotel and had a lovely time swimming. The water was so warm and the waves small enough for Little Miss to really enjoy.

Penang Hill

This was amazing. We took the funicular to the top, which provides breath-taking views over Georgetown and Penang. There’s heaps to do once you’re there, including a jungle walk where we saw a Giant Black Squirrel, an Owl Museum and places where you get Henna art done – which Little Miss was very excited about. There’s also a temple and other attractions but we didn’t have time for everything. It probably deserves a whole day on its own. My only advice would be to NOT eat at Bellevue Hill Hotel, which was an expensive and horrible lunch.

 Georgetown 3D Art Museum

Again, something we wouldn’t have done if we didn’t have the kids, and it was awesome. It’s an art gallery of trick images, which look like they are coming out if the wall. You can have your picture taken and it looks very cool. The kids LOVED this. Here’s an example:

IMG_4766

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I highly recommend Penang as a family destination. I would definitely come again and this time stay for longer. We had such fun as a family here.