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Classic Malaysia & Borneo
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A public bus journey takes us to the World Heritage-listed port town of Melaka. Once the most important trading port of Malaysia, Melaka attracted Chinese, Indian, Dutch, Portuguese and British traders, all seeking wealth or an opportunity to control the Straits of Malacca, a vital trading route between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Today, Melaka's wealth of historical sites remind visitors of times gone by and its multicultural past is revealed in its distinctive cuisine. Take a quaint trishaw tour along the narrow winding streets to get a taste of old Melaka and learn about the ancient spice trade. Take in sites such as Harmony Street, a mosque, Chinese Buddhist Temples and a traditional Muslim house-museum.
Transfer from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur by minivan. Kuala Lumpur, the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia, is affectionately known as KL and you'll almost always hear locals refer to it by its acronym. Communities of Indian, Chinese and ethnic Malay people mingle peacefully, allowing travellers to get the best of all three worlds. Take a half-day tour and experience the fascinating cultural mix that gives it such a uniquely cosmopolitan feel. Visit some of the city's most impressive architecture such as the National Monument, National Mosque, Istana Negara (National Palace), Batu Caves and Royal Selangor Pewter. Enjoy an included dinner at the Old China Cafe in KL.
Penang Island was the first destination of the colonial British in 1786. They invited Chinese, as well as others from all over Asia, to live on this island in the tropics. Today, this exotic blend of cultures still exists and the World Heritage site of Georgetown, which features a fascinating collection of places of worship. Explore Little India, taking a glimpse of the ancient Hindu traditions in its decorative temples and tasting freshly made delicious Indian snacks. Don't miss a visit to the Chinese stilt houses or the chance to have high tea at the legendary Eastern and Oriental Hotel. A tour of Penang takes in Fort Cornwallis, the site of the original British settlement. Take in Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. Discover the flavours of Malay cuisine with a cooking class in Penang.
Fly from Penang to the island of Langkawi. This flight is included in your trip price. Pulau Langkawi is only 487.5 sq km in area but it's one of Malaysia's premier tourist destinations, featuring stunning beaches and some of the best sunsets you'll find in the country. It's essential to treat yourself to a swim, snorkel or sunbake on the sultry exotic white sand beaches or perhaps unwind in a boutique spa. Take a day trip to explore some of the smaller islands. Please note, if the weather is too wet we'll do a day tour of the main island instead. Not to be missed is a trip on the cable car with spectacular views over the Andaman Sea and some of the 99 tropical islands of Langkawi. Enjoy a delicious seafood barbecue dinner.
Fly from Langkawi to Kota Kinabalu. This flight is included in your trip price. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having survived World War II bombings, 'KK' (as it's commonly known) now has a charm that can only be found in a frontier town. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Mt Kinabalu (located within Kinabalu National Park) at 4,095.2 metres, is the highest mountain on the island of Borneo and one of the youngest non-volcanic mountains in the world, formed within the last 10 to 35 million years. Kinabalu National Park covers an area of 754 square kilometers and was Malaysia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mountain and its surroundings are among the most important biological sites in the world, with over 800 species of orchid, 600 species of ferns, 326 species of birds, and is the richest place in the world for the Nepenthes insectivorous pitcher plants (five of the thirteen are found nowhere else on earth). Take in the mountain views from a walking trail before paying a visit at Poring Hot Springs and taking a canopy walk.
Amble across the jungle rooftop on a canopy walk before slipping into the steaming Poring Hot Springs. Warm sulphur water is piped into these open-air Japanese-style baths making them the perfect solution for tired muscles. Hit the road and head to Black Cave, which lies within an intricate system known as the Gomantong Caves. Bunk down for the night in a protected rainforest. Spend free time relishing the tranquil setting, attempting to spot beady-eyed crocodiles on a river sojourn or, if feeling adventurous, joining a guided night hike.
On the way to Sandakan, stop at the Sandakan War Memorial to pay homage to those who died during the infamous ‘Death Marches’ of WWII. Sandakan was once the capital of British North Borneo and traditionally has strong trading ties with Hong Kong. Enjoy some time temple-hopping through the Chinese temples, strolling the local markets, and sampling the food. Maybe pay a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, home to apes who are being rehabilitated before being reintroduced to the wild, or keep on the primate theme and visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary to watch these bizarre-looking animals lazing about.
Transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu. The maximum luggage allowance for this flight is 15kg maximum. Located just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Manukan Island is one of the larger islands located within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park. We spend two days here, with the first day free for activities. Take the chance to walk along the 1.5km beach at low tide, go swimming, or simply kick back and relax. On the second day we explore the island and take a snorkelling trip - be sure to look out for tropical fish and colourful coral. We stay here for one more night before heading back to Kota Kinabalu.
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