Quick Getaway: KL, Malacca, Singapore

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When you only have 3 days off-day on the weekend and wonder where to travel, maybe my following trip can give you some idea.

Travel Summary

1.  Location  :  Kuala Lumpur, Malacca (Malaysia), Singapore

2.  Duration  :   3 days/ 4 nights

3.  Budget :  Rp. 3.000.000/ person (airport tax, air plane tickets, hotels, Bus/ MRT, meals, souvenir)

4. Visa requirement  :  no

5.  Activities :  City sightseeing, inter-cities travel, river-cruise, theme-park.

Travel Story

On 13-16 February 2014 I visited Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malacca and Singapore with my brother. We leaved on Thursday night and comeback on Sunday night, did not miss any single day at work!!

So, if you work 7 AM to 5 PM just like I do, you still can catch the last plane to KL from Jakarta. I took Air Asia which departs at 20:30, from my office in South Jakarta to Soekarno Hatta Airport; it takes usually 1.5-2 hours since the traffic on Thursday is USUALLY not too bad. But, do web check-in to save time. If you depart from terminal 3 by Air Asia, and you already have your boarding pass from web check-in and you only bring cabin baggage, you can directly go to Immigration Counter. The airport tax can be paid after passing the immigration counter. I arrived at 23:30 (KL time); good news is the airport bus from KL LCCT to KL Sentral is still available on that hour (even though the LCCT web informs that the last airport bus departs on 22.00). Taking the bus is a good saving because taxi fare in KL at night is 50% higher than the day. As a comparison bus fare is 10 RM and taxi fare can be 100 RM from LCCT to KL downtown. From KL sentral, you can walk or take taxi with shorter distance to your destination.

We spent the night in my best friend’s apartment who works in KL. The next day (Friday), we start KL half-tour day by having Malaysian breakfast (Roti Chennai dipped in curry) in a food court in Ampang Park area. From there we took LRT (subway) to KLCC station, it is the location of Petronas Tower to get some pictures. I guess it is the must-do destination for all first timers who visits KL. We did not take the ride to the top, as I have been hinted that it is not worthy, and the second reason: we didn’t have enough time. LRT is an efficient means to transport, however the station and direction to it are not well-marked. And if you only spend a few days in KL, no need to buy the multiple ride card, just buy the token for one time ride to each destination, it is simpler. Depend on how long the distance, the LRT fare is 1-3 RM (Ringgit Malaysia). The token vending machine is available in each station.

From KLCC, we continue our trip to Pasar Seni station. It is the location of Central Market, the best place to find souvenir. From there then we walked to Dataran Merdeka to visit KL City Gallery. It is a quite cool place (not to mention free admission). They have what they claimed as biggest city model in the world (I am not so sure, because it is pretty small to me) and there is a 5 minutes show every 15 minutes or so, with the light and presentation of next city project of KL. On the first floor there are displays of Malaysian handicraft, there is also small workshop to show the visitor how they made it. From KL city gallery, we continued our trip to Masjid Jamek, it is not the biggest mosque in KL but maybe the most historical. Then we took LRT from Masjid Jamek station to Bandar Tasik Selatan, the location of bus terminal (Terminal Besepadu Selatan) to continue our journey to Malacca. One tip about Masjid Jamek station, it is located in the 2nd level in the middle of the street where there are 2 entries on the opposite side of the street. Ensure that you took the right entry for your route; otherwise it will be a long walk to the other side. The station arrangement is really confusing and not practical. Another tip when strolling in KL is not to forget to bring sun glasses, umbrella and a lot of water, I found out that KL was hotter than Jakarta.

Terminal Bersepadu Selatan is main terminal of KL. Maybe it is the best bus terminal that I ever visited. It is so big and so organize and so similar to Airport. You have to show your passport when buying the ticket, the gate of the bus was shown in a big screen and you have to go through security check to enter waiting room at the gate. We took the next bus to Malacca (or Melaka), the fare is 10 RM and the journey took 2 hours.

We arrived at Melaka Sentral Station on 15:00. This station is not much different with bus stations in Indonesia, crowded and not-too-organized. We grab lunch in the food court there then went to domestic departure. There is a tourist information desk in the station, the office speaks English and she pointed us which bus to take. Bus 17 is the one to take if you want to go the tourist area, such as Stadhuys or Jonker Street. The final destination of the bus is Mahkota Parede Shopping Mall which is on the side of sea. When you get on board the bus driver will ask your destination and he will give you the ticket showing how much you have to pay. If you stopping at Stadhuys, the fare is 1.5 RM.

Stadhuys (an old Dutch spelling, meaning city hall) is the famous red building complex in center of Malacca. From there, other tourist destination is within walking distance. We went to our hostel first, Bala’s place, to drop our bag before starting our tour in Malacca. The hostel is owned by Indian but hosted by a very kind Indonesian man. It is located in Chinatown area, where stadhuys and jonker street walk is 500m and 200m away. The fare is 45 RM/ night, free Wi-Fi included. So, our Malacca tour route as follow:
1. Stadhuys (Dutch city hall)
2. The ruin of St. Paul church in the top of the hill.
3. A famosa (the remain of Portuguese fortress)
4. Malacca river cruise
5. Jonker street night market.
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The trip to St.Paul church and Malacca River cruise is a must if you visit Malacca. From the hill you can see the Malacca city including the strait and the sea; it’s a very beautiful view. The river cruise was even better. The fare is 15 RM for roundtrip (around 45 minutes). Pick the time around 7 PM so you can see the day view of Malacca then experience the sunset on the boat then see the night of Malacca which is very beautiful, with all of the lights. Honestly, the river trip is the best thing on the trip. The view is breathtaking. The tourism board of Malacca is really serious to make it worthy. The tour is completed with audio guide in Bahasa Melayu and English so you can understand what you’re seeing. If you lucky you can spot crocodile in the river bank. If there is one, the boat driver will stop and notify the visitors on board; just like he did on my tour when small crocodile was spotted. The start of this river cruise is near Maritime Museum, you will not miss it as you will see a big miniature of wooden boat in the street side. After river cruise, our last stop was Jonker street night market. It is a typical night marked in Asia, long and crowded. But what different was that night when we were there is the“Cap Go Meh” the last day of Chinese New Year celebration, so there was a show with barongsai and everything which are quite interesting. I was also get unique souvenir which is a cardigan made from bamboo!!

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The next day (Saturday), we took the same route to Melaka Sentral Station to take our bus to Singapore. Be careful to select the bus as well as the departing schedule as in my experience the fare can be very different for the same route. It is better to book it online beforehand. For us, we took Malacca-Singapore Express for 25 RM. The journey took 4 hours. I chose this bus, because the point of destination in Singapore (Textile Center) is so close to our hostel. It was my first experience of crossing country-border on bus. It turned out that we have to get off from our bus in Malaysian Immigration office in Johor Baru to get our passport stamped. Then we get on again to the bus. After crossing the bridge which connects Johor Baru – Singapore, we have to get off again from the bus in Singapore immigration office, before continue to our destination.

In Singapore, we stayed in 5footway.Inn Project Bugis. It is backpacker hostel in Bugis Area, free Wi-Fi and breakfast included. The fare is 22 SGD (Singapore Dollar) for a bed in 4 beds dorm (shared bathroom). The location is excellent and I determine that I will choose the same location if someday I visit Singapore again. It is so close to Sultan Mosque, the biggest mosque in Singapore. What I admired from this mosque, even though it is much smaller that Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, it is included as a tourist destination and marked in Singapore Tourist Map. The mosque provides tour service outside of praying time, the long clothes are provided for tourist to wear inside the mosque if they are wearing shorts during the visit. There are posters about Islam in general and Islam development in Singapore inside the mosque. Another positive thing to stay close to the mosque is easy to find halal food. There is a famous halal food restaurant here, called Kampong Glam, with a delicious taste and reasonable price.

We rested for a while in the hostel before started our trip. This is the 4th time I visited Singapore, so my main objective here just to accompany my brother. As in my other trips to Singapore, we used EZ-link card to get around by MRT, so then my brother can compare it with the LRT in KL and KRL in Jakarta, to get the sense by how much we are left behind the neighbor country in term of capability to provide comfortable public transportation. If you haven’t had an EZ-link card, it can be bought in information counter in each station or mini mart. The card costs 12 SGD (including 7 SGD values that can be used directly). The MRT station which is closest to our hostel is Nicoll Highway or Bugis.

So, my brother’s Singapore itinerary was:
1. Sultan Mosque
2. Merlion Park (MRT: Raffles Place)
3. Esplanade to watch Wonderfull show at 8 PM
4. Dinner in Makan Sutra
5. Marina Bay and Garden By The Bay
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The next day (Sunday), we checked-out from the hostel, but we still keep our back pack there, and then headed to Sentosa Island. First we went to MRT station: Harbourfront which is located under Vivo Mall. Then we went to 3rd floor to take Sentosa Express (fare: 4 SGD, can be paid using EZ-link card). If you want, you can also take cable car or walk from Harbourfront to Sentosa Island. We spend the half day exploring the sentosa island, to the beach, to the giant merlion, universal studios and others, before went back to the hostel at 15:00 to retrieve our bag and went to Changi International Airport to fly back home. To go to Changi Airport, take the green line to Pasir Ris then transfer in Tanah Merah. I always like Singapore for the efficient public transportation, the thing that I think, every citizen of Jakarta really envy of.

Overall, I am satisfied with this trip. I think my brother also thinks the same. We travelled a quite long distance in an efficient time (and cost, if you plan it right) – it is a quick getaway to make the most of our weekend.

Ciao.

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