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About Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur
Cameron Highlands
Pulau Perhentian (Besar)
Pulau Lang Tengga


Population: 21.8 million
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Major languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam
Major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism
Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 74 years (women)
Monetary unit: 1 ringgit (RM) = 100 sen
Main exports: Electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, chemicals, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles
Average annual income: US $3,380
Internet domain: .my
International dialling code: +60
Malaysia is a very pleasant place to live in. People are so nice and friendly, and you can enjoy all the modernity, at a very reasonable price.
Around 45% of Malays (Muslim), 45% of Chinese and 10% of Indians.

Currency: Ringgit RM online currency converter by Oanda
Weather: 2 'seasons' online weather in Malaysia by Yahoo
All year long : temperatures between 23C and 34C, relative humidity 80 to 90%
- October to March : rainy season (with heavy but short rains)
- April to September : 'dry' season (no rain but still very humid)
Appartment : in Kuala Lumpur:
- apartments : between RM1,000 and RM5,000
- house : between RM4,000 and RM10,000
(much cheaper outside KL)
Electricity : around RM130/month
Water and gaz : very cheap
Bills payment : go to the Post Office (for phone, mobile and electricity)
Bank account : Maybank is fine
DON'T drink tap water, buy mineral water, avoid ice.
Foreigner : 'Matsale'
Advice when you buy : bargain systematically, try what you buy and check the guaranty
English spoken almost everywhere in KL
Salaries: examples
- local average : RM1,500/month
- teacher: around RM2,000/month
- senior lecturer : around RM4,000/month
- CSNE / VIE : around FF12,000/month
Income Tax: around 15% of your income
Retirement scheme: EPF, not compulsory but very advisable

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What to do upon airport arrival ?
Exhange the least money as possible. Exchange rate is not so good at KLIA.
Take the Express Train to reach KL SENTRAL station in KL (1 way : 35 RM and 28 minutes).
Once you are at KL SENTRAL, you can buy a prepaid chip for your mobile phone (50 RM).

How to move around KL ?
Take taxi and insist on the 'meter' !!! (in 2008, taxi drivers tended to overcharge tourists by not using meters)
and use MONORAIL as much as possible in order to avoid trafic jam within KL. It's cheap and the sightseing is great.

Where to buy ?

SUNGEI WANG (shopping center)
Jalan Imbi (Monorail station : "Bukit Bintang")
What to buy: cameras, video, consoles ...
My favourite shopping place in KL, where you can buy a bit of everything. It hasn't changed much between the first time I went there (1997) and my last visit in September 2008.

Only 3 tips to remember to buy properly (in Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia) :
- check first on the Internet the price (in your own country) of the stuff you want to buy,
- then you can go there and start bargaining (at least 3 shops to be sure you get the bottom price): expect discounts between 10% and 50% cheaper than the dispayed price tag.
- ask about local or international garanty.

PLAZA IMBI (computer shopping center)
Jalan Imbi (Monorail station : "Bukit Bintang")
What to buy : computer stuff, hardware, software, ...
This place was a bit down in 2008, and most of computer stuff can be found at Plaza Low Yat Shopping Centre.

Off Jalan Bukit Bintang (Monorail station : "Bukit Bintang")
The best place to buy computer and photo/video stuff.

Many shops and shopping malls. The Malaysian 'Champs Elysees'

Note : The best places for MONEY EXCHANGE are Sungai Wang and Low Yat Plaza.
You may want to check a few before picking the one with the best exchange rates.

What to buy: handicraft, souvenirs, jade, gold, ...

Petaling Street
What to buy: In 1997-01, we still could buy all kind of copies ...
But things have changed since my last trip in 2008. The street is now covered with a hard roof, and copies are out of the streets, still can find in the shops at the back, but the quality is so-so and a bit expensive. Sad.

KLCC (Petrona Twin Towers)
What to do : shopping, cinemas...
I would recommend the food court, pretty good for a very decent price.

What to buy: food (supermarket Carrefour), cinemas ...

SUNWAY PYRAMID (shopping center outside KL)
What to do : shopping, cinemas...



Where to eat / drink ?

Food Court of KLCC (Petrona Twin Towers)
I would recommend the food court, pretty good for a very decent price.

The C. Club (Last floor of The Pavillon Shopping Center)
High class. You want to try the scalops with pan fried foie gras !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Its terasse is a great place to have a drink at night.

Shanghai Soup Dumpling at SUNGEI WANG (at the 'computer floor' - 3rd)
Very delicous and cheap Shanghai soup dumpling !!!

Mango Tree (1998-01). Maybe doesn't exist anymore.

AVOID the 'Revolving Restaurant' at the top of the KL Tower (Menara KL).
Buffet is DISGUSTING, service is LOUSY and the bill is SUPER EXPENSIVE (150 RM per person) !


Where to go out ?

BANGSAR (BARU) district
Nice place to hang out.
many bars, restaurants , ... (more expats than local people overthere)
The dirty but nice food stall I remembered (from 1998-01) have disappeared and got replaced by 'Bangsar Village' shopping center.
But the Bangsar district is still the same nice place to hang out, drink and eat.


There is a district around the Hard Rock Cafe, on the Jalan Sultan Ismail (intersection with Jalan P. Ramlee) with many brand new discos and bars:

Concorde Hotel




and many more ...

Where stay (long term) ?

32, Lorong Syed Putra Kiri
50460 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 3 273 12 17
Fax : +60 3 273 11 20
A bit run down ! Cheap, big and quiet, 100 m2 appartment around (RM1300/month), a little bit old.

RM 1,200 / month (1997-2001 rate) for almost 100m2 (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms)
(Very run down, but recommended by Philippe, this is where I stayed)

around 2,500 / month

MAPLE CONDOMINIUM (off Jalan Ipoh, Sentul West)
Very nice flats !!! Great Park !! Superb swimming pools !
Around 3500 RM / month for 120 m2.


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4 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur

What to do ?

Take fresh air ! Temperature is around 25C.
Visit the tea plantations and the flowers and strawberry farms.

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The best destination in Malaysia in my opinion.
IMPORTANT NOTE : inaccessible during the rainy season between mid-November and beginning of March !!

To get there, 2 possibilities:
- Take a plane to Kota Baru, then take a taxi to Kuala Besut (1h);
- By car : we tried this last September 2008; sooooo long; it took us 6h30 to rach Kuala Besut (and 8h00 to go back!).
Then, 1h30 by boat or 30 minutes with high speed boat from Kuala Besut.

Arriving in Kuala Besut (where you light have to stay 1 night waiting for the boat), you can book any place at any agencies there.
Go to the BIG island (Besar - more family type) or the SMALL island (Kecil - more backpackers style)



Where to stay ?

In 1998, we stayed at MAMA'S PLACE
Pulau Perhentian Besar,
22300 Besut, Terengganu
Tel: 010 98 40 232
Fax: 010 98 13 359
Cheap, but without AC

Pulau Perhentian Besar

In September 2008, we stayed at ARWANA RESORT (Pulau Besar).
Resort is super confortable, but the beach is so-so. Cannot really swim in front of the resort as too much (dead) corals. And when the tide withdraws the sea so far away, just forget it ...

What to do?

NOTHING ! That's why is so good.
Enjoy the beach, snorkling, diving, napping, ... and the crystal clear blue water !

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Very nice and quiet. The beach is however a bit 'rocky' and 'stony'.

Where to stay ?

Tel/Fax : 09 69 77 333


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Batu Caves is a pretty nice half day trip. Climb the stairs, watch the monkeys, and enjoy INdian culture and tradition.
If you can, go there during Thaipusam !!!!!
Near (North) KL


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Melaka is 1 hour away from KL by car.

Avoid wasting too much time visiting the Fort, and suroundings.
Go accross the river and visit the old / colonial style houses.

Head to Jalan Hang Jebat.

Visit the Cheng Ho Tea House ... and the Jonker Gallery.



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