I have found Asian countries have so much to offer to the world for people of all interests and tastes – but many western travellers are nervous due to the cultural differences. Their loss is of course, our gain, and that is no more true than in Singapore and Malaysia. These neighbouring countries are in themselves an adventure of cultural heritage, beautiful scenery and gorgeous weather. Considering that the countries are a half hour drive away from each other, there’s no real reason why you shouldn’t visit both!
Singapore is a lively and bustling city with a plethora of attractions and shops for tourists and natives to enjoy. The whole city is simply beautiful with the tall, elegant buildings providing shade for the many million city dwellers. One thing that will strike you is the great pride Singapore takes in its cleanliness which is evident after spending just an hour there. The outside ground is pretty much spotless due to the laws and regulations strictly upheld by Singapore citizens. I am reminded of my first trip to New York where I was attacked by bird droppings and entered my hotel with chewing gum stuck on my backside; rest assured this will not happen here! I simply have never been anywhere else in the world that maintains its streets in the way that Singapore does.
In addition, the public transport system in the city makes it extremely simple (and cheap) to see everything you want to in the city. You use what’s known as an “EZ Link” card to travel around the city. The EZ Link card contains a balance (which you can top up, much like London’s Oyster card) and can be used across the trains, buses and taxis.
My personal highlights from Singapore are as follows:
Orchard Road – A massive shopping road containing famous high street brands as well as markets for those local deals. Expect to see that Dior handbag for sale in a Dior shop at 10% off the Western prices, and that same Dior handbag for sale in the Market with 90% off… I’m not advocating the counterfeits – just acknowledging them!
Clarke Quay – Singapore’s historical riverside quay with shopping centres, bungee slings and more. On your first visit you will arrive at the Quay and wonder why you don’t live here – think of Queenstown’s ‘edge’ in a region the size of 100 football fields – it’s bustling and packed with energy and I promise you will spend at least a half day here.
Universal Studios – It’s a theme park, it has rides, it has many attractions… yes it is a clone of other theme parks – but remember you are (probably) thousands of miles away from home. There is, even though I hate to admit it – something satisfying about eating a Big Mac out here.
Malaysia is less technologically advanced than Singapore, although that’s not to say that it doesn’t make for a great and memorable experience. Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia’s capital, contains an abundance of activities and sights to see. These range from cultural restaurants to massive towers and shopping centres. KL is home to the world’s tallest pair of twin towers, which is open to the public. It’s a beautiful spot with lot’s to see and do within the towers. Within the towers, there’s a huge shopping complex available for the public. You won’t find a collection quite like it anywhere else in the world.
In addition to the towers, there’s also the KL tower, a massive structure with a viewing platform at the top. The KL tower can be used as a vantage point to see the whole city. Looking at the city from the skies is something nobody visiting KL should miss out on. This is because you can only fully appreciate the beauty of the city from this breathtaking point of view. Malaysia has more to offer than just KL, with amazing beaches and traditional Malay towns to visit.
And these Malay towns are what a lot of people actually go travelling for, when visiting you are made to feel welcome and sometimes (not in all cases) you are treated like a local citizen – there is something undeniably humbling to see a Malay child walking to school – it’s just like the life you have lived, but different.
Author: Rachel is a travel blogger who loves exploring the earth one place at a time. Follow along with her at Explore-Earth travel blog.
Photo Credit: Photo 1 is shared courtesy of flickr user jjcb via creative commons licensing.