Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Malaysia Theme Parks: The Ultimate Family Guide

Theme Parks Malaysia

If you are wondering what kind of Malaysia Theme Parks are available, this ultimate guide is created to assist anyone looking for some family fun. There are actually quite a number of theme parks in Malaysia to choose from, and at different states, there are different kinds of theme parks too.

Some of them are basic theme parks while others are world class international ones. Depending on where you in Malaysia, there is always a theme park or water park available for just about anyone. This list will go through the popular theme parks in Malaysia.

Malaysia Theme Parks: The Ultimate Family Guide
Roller Coaster Berjaya Times Square
Inside Berjaya Times Square, an indoor theme park
Kuala Lumpur Theme Parks

Berjaya Times Square Theme Park - As Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, most visitors, local or international will surely visit here. And if you are travelling with kids, you will most likely visit the Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, which is a one stop family entertainment and shopping center. While mummy does some shopping, daddy can take the kids to the only indoor theme park in KL city. Berjaya Times Square Theme Park is located in the golden triangle of Kuala Lumpur and is accessible by the KL Monorail. 

Petaling Jaya Theme Parks 

Sunway Lagoon - For those planning to visit one of the largest shopping and entertainment malls in Petaling Jaya or PJ, you would be heading to the Sunway area where a world-class integrated shopping mall is connected to the famous Sunway Lagoon Water and Theme Park. Truly one of the best homegrown brands, Sunway Lagoon is a full fledged water and theme amusement park that caters to the entire family. There is a wave pool, man-made beach and many different rides available here. 

Kidzania Malaysia - Located in the Mutiara Damansara area where you can find IKEA PJ, The Curve Shopping Mall and Ikano Power Centre is Malaysia's only Kidzania. This wonderland for children is an interactive theme park where they can actually learn while having fun. Parents can leave their kids under supervision and focus on shopping in the area where the other malls are strategically located. Kidzania Malaysia is located about 30 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur city.

Melaka Theme Parks
A'Famosa Resort
One of the water rides at A'Famosa Resort in Melaka
A'Famosa Resort - Just 90 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur, you will be in historical Melaka which is a popular day trip tourist attraction. Before reaching Melaka, you can stop at the A'Famosa Resort and Theme Park which is another big homegrown brand. Treat your family to the unique Old West Cowboy Town, Water World and Safari Wonderland. If that is not enough, you can also shop at Freeport Melaka, the first factory outlet in this state. This experience combines resort living, family fun, entertainment and shopping in one trip.

Pahang Theme Parks

Bukit Gambang Resort City - Located nearer to Kuantan is the Bukit Gambang Resort City, which has made its name popular among the local Malaysians. They have the largest Zoo Safari in Malaysia apart from a modern water park, paintball area and a resort which makes this a one-stop family fun center. Recently revamped in the last couple of years, Bukit Gambang Resort is now on par with other water parks and  theme parks in Malaysia

20th Century Fox World Malaysia - The former Genting Highlands Theme Park is currently undergoing a world class revamp where the first 20th Century Fox World Genting theme park will open here in Malaysia. After much delays, the operators have announced that the new Genting Theme Park will be opening its doors in early 2018, so this is something to look out for. Imagine a world class theme park 2000 meters up in the cooling highlands of Malaysia. Resorts World Genting is only a one hour drive from Kuala Lumpur city too.

Johor Theme Parks 
Johor Theme Parks
The Legoland Malaysia Water Park, just next to the theme park
Legoland Malaysia - If you are a huge Lego fan, this theme park in Johor will be your ultimate haven. Legoland Malaysia is the first international chain to open in Asia, and has been attracting visitors from all over the region. They offer more than 70 activities and rides for anyone aged from three years and above. Indoor and outdoor activities are available, including the first 3D simulator ride called Ninja-Go. There is also the Legoland Water Park and Hotel which is all interconnected, and possibly in 2018, there will also be the Legoland Aquarium.

Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park - For kids, and those who love Hello Kitty, the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park is the place to visit. Housed indoors, there are three main sections in this family theme park. The Thistle Hotel is conveniently located just next door, making it easy for families who want to travel here. Plus, Legoland Malaysia and the Johor Premium Outlets is only 20 minutes away. This park is excellent for those with kids under 12 years old, and especially if they love Hello Kitty.

Angry Birds Activity Park - Imagine a 26,000 square feet indoor park where kids can let loose. Yes, the Angry Bird Activity Park in Johor is the perfect place to combine lifestyle, shopping and family fun in one visit. Located on the third floor of Komtar JBCC Shopping Mall, this first of it's kind activity theme park offers play pits, climbing area, mini track, toddler's playing area, a themed cafe and also an interesting souvenir shop.

Perak Theme Parks
Perak Theme Park
One o the rides at Lost World of Tambun theme park in Perak
Lost World of Tambun - Over the years, one of the most successful theme parks in Perak is the Lost World of Tambun, which is also owned by the Sunway Group. Located just 20 minutes out of Ipoh city, this water and theme park comes complete with a resort hotel and a variety of shops and attractions. The Lost World of Tambun also brands itself as a theme park, hotel and spa, which is perfect for the family where everyone gets to indulge in something.

Movie Animation Park Studios - The latest theme park to open in Ipoh is the Movie Animation Parks Studios or MAPS Perak, which is a world-class theme park. Opening in June 2017, and is a new attraction here, you can be assured that there will be lot of curiosity. The attractions here come in shows, stunts, rides and interactive games which is suitable for kids and adults. MAPS Perak is also a two hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and can be done on a day trip.

Penang Theme Parks
Some of the natural activities at Escape Adventureplay theme park in Penang
Escape Adventureplay - For anyone heading to Penang Island, there is a very unique theme park called Escape Adventureplay located at Teluk Bahang, all the way past Batu Feringgi, which is a very popular tourist area in Penang.

This eco-themed concept brings you back to the good old days of childhood and parents who lived in the 80s and 90s, and is the perfect place to let your kids experience how you enjoyed back in the day. Climbing trees, swinging, jumping and crawling is part of the activities here, so you can imagine what kind of fun your kids will have at this theme park which is build around a natural environment. To complete your vacation, stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang, which is just five minutes drive away.
Genting Highlands Old Theme Park
Genting Highlands used to be the king of theme parks, this is the former outdoor theme park there
This Malaysia theme park guide is done for those who are wondering which theme park is the best place to visit, especially with the school holidays and also the long weekends that Malaysia experiences from time to time. Overall, there are many theme parks in Malaysia, which include water parks, and it all depends which part of the country you are going for your vacation.

Remember, you need to book well in advance in order to get some of the theme park promotions. And for accommodations, it is always better to book ahead to get the best deals. Ultimately, for visitors or even locals traveling around Malaysia, you now have the luxury of visiting some of the theme parks here, where you can plan your family vacation to enjoy the best of the destination and also indulge in some family fun at the many Malaysia theme parks. 

AirAsia Cambodia

Cambodia AirAsia

According to news reports in May, AirAsia Cambodia is set to be launched in August 2017. This would be the second AirAsia in Indochina after AirAsia Thailand. The reason for this is purely handle an increasing number of air travelers from Malaysia to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville in Cambodia. 

Cambodia has an open skies policy that promotes Asean connectivity and this in turn allows more goods to be transported and more people to travel to other countries. The news of AirAsia Cambodia also surfaced during a recent press conference in Kuala Lumpur where CEO Tony Fernandes announced a new service from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville city.

AirAsia Cambodia
Air Asia Cambodia
Sihanoukville beach. Photo from www.www.mekongtourism.org
With the new service, a total of four AirAsia flights a week from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 to Sihanouk International Airport is scheduled for August 9, 2017. Currently, AirAsia flies a daily service from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

The objective of AirAsia Cambodia is also about connectivity and according to Tony Fernandes, one of the most important aspects is for the people of Sihanoukville to have another option to fly. He also hopes that small businesses can benefit by expanding their businesses into Asean. This is also part of the AirAsia expansion into Indochina where AirAsia Vietnam is also in the works for 2018. For more information, visit the AirAsia website. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Batik Air Malaysia: New Name for Malindo Air

Batik Air Malaysia: New Name for Malindo Air

In Malaysian aviation news, Malindo Air will be renamed as Batik Air Malaysia in the second half of 2017 to align itself with the Indonesian airline currently using the original name. Chief executive officer Chandran Rama Muthy mentioned that the branding change will give the airline a better position in the Lion Air Group that controls both Malindo and Batik Air, and to offer seamless domestic and international service.

Batik Air Malaysia

With this change in name, the airline is positioned to be the international link within the Lion Air group, while the existing Batik Air Indonesia will continue to serve the Indonesian market as a full service airline. Under the new name, the company will promote Batik Air Malaysia brand across the 16 countries which will also help boost Malaysia's heritage and culture. 

Currently, Lion Air Group owns 49 per cent of Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd, and Chandran owns a 51% stake. Besides Malindo Air and Batik Air, other subsidiaries in the group include Wings Abadi Airlines, Lion Bizjet, and Thai Lion Air which focuses primarily around the Southeast Asian and Asian region.  Currently, Malindo offers interlining services to four other international airlines which are Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways. with a mission to connect ASEAN and European markets. 
Batik Airline Malaysia
What the Batik Air Malaysia livery looks like
Main Image from @DafeeTravelGeek (Twitter). 

Originally, Batik Air Malaysia is supposed to service international routes while Batik Air will focus on the domestic Indonesia routes. The airline currently operates a fleet of 11 ATR72-600s, 11 B737-800s, and 7 B737-900ERs on flights throughout Malaysia as well as to Indonesia, India, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China. With the new name change of Malindo Air to Batik Air Malaysia, the airline plans to have 30 interline partners and several code-shares by 2018. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Award 2017

Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Award 2017

The Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Awards 2017 came to a resounding finale with the Award Presentation and Gala Dinner Event held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on the 23rd May. The KLMTA 2017 is also organized by the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau under Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and this year’s event was the third edition of the tri-annual industry awards program.

Previous editions were organized in 2011 and 2014. For this years Kuala Lumpur Mayor's Tourism Awards, 650 guests that included Kuala Lumpur tourism industry players, related government agencies and members of the media attended the prestigious event.

The guest of honour for the evening was no other than the Minister of Tourism & Culture, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Bin Abdul Aziz. In the Mayor's speech, he mentioned that Kuala Lumpur was ranked as the 7th Most Visited City in the World according the Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index for 2016. The city received 12.02 million visitors, an increase of 7.4% from the previous year of 11.19 million visitors, while the total revenue garnered from this volume of visitors in 2016 was USD11.3 billion. 

Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Award 2017 Winners List

Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution
Tan Sri Datuk Yong Poh Kon
Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping

Accommodation Category (5-Star Hotel)
Platinum Award – Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
Gold Award – Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur

Accommodation Category (4-Star Hotel)
Platinum Award – Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa
Gold Award – Ambassador Row Hotel Suites by Lanson Place

Accommodation Category (Budget Hotel)
Platinum Award – Tai Ichi Hotel
Gold Award – Sungei Wang Hotel

Dining Category (Fine Dining Restaurant)
Platinum Award – Taka by Sushi Saito
Gold Award – Nobu Kuala Lumpur

Dining Category (Home Grown Restaurant)
Gold Award – Serai Restaurant
Gold Award – Dancing Fish 

Dining Category (Food Court)
Platinum Award – Lot 10 Hutong
Gold Award – Quizinn by Rasa

Tourist Attraction Category (Family Entertainment)
Platinum Award – KL Bird Park
Gold Award – Aquaria KLCC

Tourist Attraction Category (Culture, Arts & Heritage)
Platinum Award – Royal Selangor
Gold Award – Kuala Lumpur City Gallery

Shopping Mall Category
Platinum Award – Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
Gold Award – Sunway Putra Mall

Medical Tourism Category
Platinum Award – KPJ Tawakkal Specialist Hospital & KPJ Tawakkal Health Centre
Gold Award – Institut Jantung Negara

Education Tourism Category
Platinum Award – University of Malaya
Gold Award – Berjaya University College of Hospitality

Mayor’s Commendable Award for Front Liners
Ms. Lim Hwi Shuen (The Federal Kuala Lumpur)

A total of over 500 nominations were received for the 14 categories and subcategories, and only 449 were qualified for the first round of judging where nominee’s submissions were scrutinized and shortlisted for the final round. For the final rounds of judging, the panels of judges conducted site visits and even sampled the products and services first hand.

Continuing with the system of voting from the previous editions of the programme, the judges scores made up 95% of the total marks awarded to each nominee, while public voting made up the remaining 5% of the marks. Members of the public were invited to vote for their favourite establishment by logging onto the official awards programme website and registering.

Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Award: What's Missing? 

While the KL Mayor's Tourism Awards focuses on the mainstream industry, I have suggested that they include a digital category in 2014, but it was left to deaf ears. Unfortunately, the committee is either not interested or just not bothered about the digital sector. We all know that digital is currently the number one method for tourism around the world, including Malaysia. 

The key element is how tourist or visitors find attractions, places to stay or places to eat. A good 80% of this comes from online branding and marketing and it is those who are actively promoting these places, that should also be recognized. 

Even players like Sarawak Tourism and Sabah Tourism have acknowledged digital and online tourism as one of the awards in their tourism awards since five years ago, and Tourism Malaysia also has a category for digital or online, so why can't the Kuala Lumpur Mayor’s Tourism Award have this? We shall see for the next awards. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Best Way To Go To Taman Negara

How to go to Taman Negara National Park

What is the best way to go to Taman Negara? A common question that is asked by most travellers who plan to visit the oldest national park in Malaysia, I will share with you some of the best ways to get there, all depending on your budget and how fast you need to travel. 

Before I get into the logistics for Taman Negara, you should know that this massive national park is located only three and a half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city and anyone can visit this place without prior booking or permits. Taman Negara National Park is open to everyone who is into nature, trekking, hiking or wildlife watching and is Malaysia's premier rainforest destination in the peninsular. 

Best Way To Go To Taman Negara

As there are a few ways to get here, and each of them require traveling around three to five hours. I will narrow down the best way to go to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang for anyone interested to visit this fascinating and enchanting rainforest in Malaysia.
Taman Negara Transport
Taman Negara's famous canopy walk
Taman Negara Van Transfers - This is the best way to get to Taman Negara National Park from Kuala Lumpur or KL City. There is a daily Taman Negara van transfer service by Ivy Holidays which is located at Wisma Selangor Complex along Jalan Sultan and they depart at about 8.30 AM daily. All you need to do is make a booking by phone (+6 010 900 8699) or visiting the tour counter on the ground floor of the building. Walk in through the main entrance and it is on your right. 

The entire journey takes about four to five hours and direct to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang. Ivy Holidays is also offering a package price of RM90 per person, one way, which includes the van transfer and also boat ticket to Kuala Tahan, which is the main gateway to the national park.
Bus to Taman Negara National Park
The van I traveled with to Taman Negara National Park
Travel Time to Taman Negara
  • Van from KL to Kuala Tembeling - 3.5 Hours 
  • Boat from Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara - 2 hours
Taman Negara Bus Service - There are buses that go to Taman Negara National Park but the only public bus is from the town of Jerantut to Taman Negara, which is three times a day. For those bus lovers, and must travel by public bus, the only way is to take an express bus to Jerantut and then take the local bus to Kuala Tahan.

*Important Note - We would like to clarify that bus means 20-40 seat coach buses. Many companies in Malaysia use the term bus when it is actually a tour van that seats from 6 to 10 people. So, when you see a company selling Bus to Taman Negara, it is actually a small van.
Boat Jetty Kuala Tembeling
View from the jetty of Kuala Tembeling, before you take your boat to Taman Negara
Taxi to Taman Negara - This is probably the most expensive option. From KLIA or KLIA2, a taxi or private van will also take about 4 to 5 hours drive to Taman Negara National Park. The price however, is much higher than getting the van shuttle from KL City. A tip is to take the KLIA Express into the city, then take the van transfer to Taman Negara. The price would be anywhere from RM550 to RM750 per van or taxi. However, if you are a family, this could be one option to ease moving around too much. 

Flights to Taman Negara - This is tricky, but there are no flights to anywhere near here. The closest airport is Kuantan Airport and it takes 40 minutes flight time from KLIA. From the airport, you need to take a taxi or private van transfer which will take about 3 hours. It generally works out to be around the same time therefore I am not recommending this, unless you have lots of frequent flyer miles to spend.
Taman Negara Boat Service
Taking a local boat to and from Taman Negara allows beautiful scenic landscapes
Boat to Taman Negara - Well, in reality, the only boat service is from Kuala Tembeling town near Jerantut where they have boat service to Taman Negara. There is no other boat service from other towns or from Kuala Lumpur. So, when you see anyone promoting a boat transfer or boat service to Taman Negara, it is from Kuala Tembeling Jetty.

They are wooden long boats that seat about 14 to 16 people and has a roof on top. The boat journey is fascinating as you get to see nature at its best along the two hour journey to Kuala Tahan along the Tembeling River. Most overnight tours will have you dropped off at Kuala Tembeling Jetty where you catch the long boat to Taman Negara national park.
Kuala Tahan Taman Negara
View of Kuala Tahan town outside Taman Negara
You can also find out more about the types of Taman Negara tour packages which I have written about. Each of the tours highlight the different days or if you plan to do day trips to Taman Negara National Park. This is one of the premium national parks that has one of the best canopy walks in Malaysiaand is also one of the oldest national park in the world.

My trip in April 2017 was an amazing experience using both van and boat as I had booked my Taman Negara tour with Ivy Holidays. They can be contacted at +6 010 900 8699 or via email at marketing (at) ivyholidays.com. You can Whatsapp, Line or WeChat to inquire about any transport or overnight trip here. Even if you need last minute bookings, they can arrange it for you. 

The next time you want to know what is the best way to go to Taman Negara National Park, hopefully this article will shed some information for you to choose from. Enjoy the journey there and don't forget to take lots of photos.