Visit Malaysia 2014 or VMY 2014 is currently being prepared by the tourism ministry this year. Malaysia has always been known for its amazing multi-cultural society where exploring different parts of the country will give travellers a unique experience not to be forgotten. For many years, Malaysia has focused its main tourism on a number of touristic specialties which range from culture and heritage to Eco tourism among some of the best sellers and in the last 10 years, quite a number of new products have been introduce to entice the would-be tourist or those returning. Among them are food, shopping, lifestyle, sport, education and recently medical and luxury tourism.
As we start 2013 with multiple Events in Malaysia, much talk has been heard from the tourism industry where it will be once again Visit Malaysia 2014 (VMY2014) and this time around, the highlights involved would be shopping, family, food and luxury tourism. Overall, the tourism ministry has been working hard to promote the country worldwide with on-ground campaigns at trade shows and mainstream media. This would be the main target to increase the arrivals into Malaysia to reach the 28 million mark as the last recorded tourist arrivals were clocked in at 23 million.
To achieve the targeted arrivals, a new campaign for Visit Malaysia 2014 is being created with a new theme song while the well-known tag line – “Malaysia Truly Asia” may be still used in the upcoming campaign. The following will be highlights of some of Malaysia’s unique genres of tourism in no particular order.
Food Tourism in Malaysia
With strong multi-cultural influences in Malaysia, there is abundance of choices when it comes to food. The main ethnic groups consist of Malay, Chinese and Indian while the sub-ethnic groups are made of Portugese, Mamak, Iban, Kadazan, Baba & Peranakan, Punjabi and many other smaller groups. This means traveling around Malaysia from east to west will offer food tourist a myriad of food selections. However in the city of Kuala Lumpur, the main food groups are easily found at almost any nook and cranny in all sorts of eating environment. From hawker stalls to high end restaurants, you will be amazed with the choices available. Last year alone, tourist visiting Malaysia spent a whopping RM9.4 billion just on food in Malaysia and this alone says that many travellers come here for the amazing food. As they say, if you have not tried Malaysian food, then you have not visited Malaysia.
Family Travel in Malaysia
In the recent years, there have been many new theme and attraction parks opening around Malaysia catering to different types and styles for family travelers. Family theme parks have been around for many years catering to all kinds of outdoor and indoor fun. Water parks go back a long way to the late 70s with the start of Mimaland Water Park in Selangor which ceased operations in the mid-eighties. Nowadays, modern theme parks have been sprouting all over the country and below are a list of the popular ones in Malaysia.
Among the oldest and most popular is the well-known theme park Genting Highlands which is located in the state of Pahang where it is located on top of a mountain. This park also has the countries only casino while there are many other attractions available here including an outdoor and indoor theme park. Those that want to enjoy the cooling highland air and have a variety of entertainment should check out this place.
Another popular water and theme park is the multi-award winning Sunway Lagoon located in Petaling Jaya. This is the largest water park in Malaysia which offers a surf pool and a man-made beach which is excellent for families. With over 80 attractions spread over the entire park, guest can choose from the amusement, water, adventure, scream and wildlife park here. For those seeking some thrills, there is an Extreme park here too whole for entertainment; the park has an amphitheatre for shows and concerts. The Sunway shopping mall is connected to the water park so there is a good balance of shopping and fun here.
Also in Petaling Jaya, there is the new KidZania Malaysia, a kids-only theme park which opened in 2011 in Mutiara Damansara, just next to The Curve Shopping Mall and IKEA Malaysia. This entire entertainment and shopping complex promises a wholesome family time in one area.
Legoland which recently opened in the state of Johor boasts of the first international theme park in Malaysia promising kids and adults an excellent time at this huge theme park which is the first in Asia. Over 40 interactive attractions await guest. There are numerous tour packages from all over Malaysia to Legoland while those in Singapore can simply drive across in less than 30 minutes.
Not far by, Hello Kitty Town, the first Sanrio theme park out of Japan just opened at the end of October 2012 therefore you can visit both places in one trip. This indoor theme park is spread over 60,000 square feet which is housed in a four storey entertainment complex at Nusajaya. For a full fun and shopping therapy, visit both parks and also the Johor Premium Outlets which is also in the same area of Nusajaya, Johor.
In the city of Kuala Lumpur, there are numerous places for family travel where the KL Lake Gardens comes up tops with a great balance of recreational parks. You can find the Butterfly Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden, Deer Park, National Monument, National Planetarium and the Bird Park in one area. This requires some walking and when you are done there, you can just walk over to the Central Market.
The Berjaya Times Square shopping mall in Bukit Bintang area has an indoor theme park for kids called Cosmo’s World where you can have the best of shopping and family time here. Over at Suria KLCC, there is the Petrosains Discovery Center where kids can learn quite a few things there. Petrosains covers a total exhibit area of more than 70,000 square feet and the entrance to Petrosains is through Level 4 of the Suria KLCC mall.
In other states around Malaysia, there are also a number of family places like Bukit Merah Laketown Resort which is in the state of Perak. They have a water theme park, a mini zoo, Eco Park and also an Orangutan Island to visit which promises some exciting overall fun for the family. Nearby at Taiping town, there is the Taiping Zoo which also offers a night safari apart from the main zoo. This is also the country’s oldest zoo and about an hour’s drive to Bukit Merah.
Down south in the UNESCO state of Melaka, there are numerous attractions to visit along the way into the city. In Ayer Keroh area, there is also the A’Famosa Theme Park where they offer an animal world safari, a water world theme park and a cowboy town entertainment park area. Apart from that, they offer golf, entertainment and shopping making this a one stop place for family travel in the lower states of Malaysia.
Shopping in Malaysia
Recently in late October 2012, Malaysia was nominated the 2nd best city to shop in the entire Asia Pacific by the world shopping global index. As the country is located in between Singapore and Thailand, it makes Kuala Lumpur one of the more desirable places to stop by. The tourism ministry has also been active in helping promote shopping by organising three mega Malaysia Sales a year which is early, mid and year end where the entire country is on sale. Apart from the Malaysia Mega Sale, there are also many other festive season sales on going and usually you can find excellent deals at all the shopping centers around the country.
Tourists love to shop in Malaysia as they can get all kinds of good bargains. From local souvenirs to branded goods, discounts are usually up to 80% off. Popular places where you can find great bargains are shopping malls in Bukit Bintang like Pavilion, Lot 10, Sungai Wang Plaza, Bukit Bintang Plaza, Berjaya Times Square and Fahrenheit 88 and Suria KLCC which is located at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers. Over by the border of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya sits the Mid Valley Megamall is also a popular choice for tourist. Other notable shopping places in the Klang Valley include One Utama Shopping Mall and The Curve in Petaling Jaya area. These two mega malls would require you at least half a day here.
Petaling Street (Also known as Chinatown) is also another popular place to get souvenirs and other items where your bargaining skills will come into play. Items that can be found here include watches, bags, t-shirts, shoes, gadgets and much more. For the art and craft lovers, you should also check out Central Market which is located just nearby Chinatown. Here, you will find the many ethnic and local handicrafts being sold. Items include the popular Malaysian Batik, wood carvings, art, jewellery and even antiques. Prices are fixed price at retails stores but look out for discounts or offers.
Duty Free Shopping in Malaysia
Duty Free Shopping in Malaysia can be found at all international airports and at some islands. Those visiting the island of Langkawi, Tioman and Labuan will be spoilt for choices of chocolates, apparels and even liquor. But when you leave the country via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) of Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), you will be able to purchase duty free items which are considered on par with other countries in the region. Moreover, the KLIA Duty Free Shops offers a massive contest where shoppers stand a chance to win RM1,000,000 in prizes from now till 2013 in their Indulge and Win Contest for travellers.
Last but not least, the Johor Premium Outlets or JPO was opened late 2011 and this is the country’s first international factory outlet in the southern state of Johor which borders Singapore. Catering to over 200 speciality shops, you can find most of the branded goods on sale with huge discounts up to 70% at the JPO.
Luxury Tourism in Malaysia
As Malaysia has numerous luxury destinations, travellers will be pleased to know that you have a choice of luxury places to visit here. Those looking for a luxurious island escape will find a number of islands around Malaysia that offer luxury retreats and resorts.
Langkawi Island in the northern state of Kedah is one of the preferred islands as there are a number of luxurious retreats available here. The Four Seasons Langkawi is located along Tanjung Rhu and is a closed concept resort where privacy is guaranteed. This place is suitable for couples and single travellers. There is also the Datai, a rainforest concept resort which is located way up north east of the island and hidden away from everything. Couples, singles and families seeking nature will find this place suitable. The Andaman is also nearby the Datai where it caters to the beach lovers and for families, couples and singles as well. All these luxury resorts have their own signature spas for those looking for some pampering and wellness. If you want to experience something different with a touch of luxury in the typical Malaysian lifestyle, you can try Temple Tree and Bon Ton Resort, a unique village styled concept tucked away from the beach. Recently opened Seri Chenang Resort & Spa also boasts of a traditional Malay wooden villa experience along the famous Pantai Cenang beach apart from the many things to do in Langkawi.
At Pangkor Island off the state of Perak, you will find the luxurious Pangkor Laut Resort which sits on its own private island. This award-winning resort and spa is very popular with the Asian honeymooners too. Villa units are on stilts above water while there are no other hotels or resorts on the private island. Suitable for families and couples, this place is only accessible by boat from the main land. Over on the east coast state of Terengganu, there is the Tanjung Jara Resort which follows the traditional Malay culture and style. The place is also a standalone resort with no other resort nearby. Private and exclusive, the resort sits by the main beach and covered by lots of greens with Eco-friendly activities, scuba diving, traditional jamu making classes and even bird watching.
Sabah offers some luxurious resorts as well which are situated on the islands just outside of Kota Kinabalu city. There is the newly launched Gaya Island Resort located on Pulau Gaya with seafront villas. Around the same island, there is also the Bungaraya Resort where you get a mix of island and rainforest style living. A stunning number of hibiscus or bungaraya flowers are grown throughout the resort grounds. With no other resort in view, you can be assured of your privacy here while there is also a helicopter landing pad for those wanting a quick transfer here. And in the front of the island sits the Gayana Eco Resort which has individual villas on stilts similar to the ones in Maldives. Private villas here offer breakfast sent to you by boat while the villa has a glass portion floor for guests to view the sea. Each of these resorts on Gaya Island offers a different luxurious experience for the traveller as they have a Marine Conservation Center here too.
If you are a nature loving traveler, there is the award-winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge or BRL located in a forest conservation called Danum Valley, Sabah Borneo. This unique resort offers a full nature and wildlife experience in the heart of Borneo. The nearest town or city is located a good fours away. Beautiful rainforest views can be experienced here at the resorts famous canopy or tree walk. Trekking, night walks, night safaris and bird watching are the specialties offered at this luxurious place.
Luxury Villas in Malaysia Borneo
A number of small islands around Sabah Borneo have individual resorts which cater to luxury guests. These islands include Kapalai Island, Langkayan Island, Mabul Island and Layang Layang Island where luxury travellers can enjoy a beautiful honeymoon, get away or even scuba dive and snorkel here.
For the sea lovers who wish not to be wet, a number of luxury yachts and catamarans are available for charter through the country. Popular places for this are Langkawi Island, Port Klang and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah Borneo where private docks are available. There are also a number of companies that offer private luxury cruises for couples, families or even groups as big as a hundred people. Charters include just going out to international waters or even cruising up to Thailand and back.
Helicopter tours have also been growing in the recent couple of years around Malaysia. Places you can arrange for these special tours to see the country by air are at Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi and over on east Malaysia, you can also get helicopter tours in Sabah Borneo.
With this, the growing trend of luxury tourism in Malaysia is slowly catching up. Compared to five years ago, there are more choices available around Malaysia and definitely more to come in the next few years as the luxury travel trend is catching up where Malaysia is now catering to this genre of tourism.
For those who are planning to visit Malaysia in 2014, you should plan well ahead as there are many celebrations and festivals throughout the year. There will also be promotions on travel deals which can be bought at the Matta Fair 2013, Malaysia's largest travel fair that happens twice a year in Kuala Lumpur. Otherwise, most tourism representatives locally and also around the world will also be promoting VMY 2014 or Visit Malaysia 2014.