Q: Our son and daughter-in-law have just moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Please advise us as the best time of the year to visit them and the best and cheapest way to get there. Also we would like to visit Singapore and perhaps one other location. How can we make the best use of our dollars, see the most and make the best use of our two-three week vacation? We would like to be in Kuala Lumpur for a week.
A: Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia's hidden secrets. I spent some time there two years ago, and loved the blend of cultures — Malay, Indian and Chinese — and all the exotic ways they intersect when it comes to culture, religion, architecture and food. You won't be disappointed.
Your least-expensive option for getting to Kuala Lumpur will likely be EVA Air from Seattle with a connection in Taiwan. See www.evaair.com or check with a travel agent in the Chinatown/International District for a discounted fare. Delta has connections from Seattle into Kuala Lumpur via Honolulu and out of Singapore via Tokyo, should you decide to end your trip in Singapore without backtracking. Check www.kayak.com for other itineraries.
Temperatures vary little during the year since both Malaysia and Singapore are near the equator. Rains are heaviest in April-May and October-November. The exception is the northeast coast of the Malayan Peninsula and parts of Borneo where rains can be torrential from late autumn into early spring.
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Train and bus travel is easy and efficient, but to make the most of your time, consider Air Asia's (www.airasia.com) short-hop flights. For instance, you could fly from Kuala Lumpur to the island of Penang, Malaysia's colorful culinary capital. From there, you could fly to Singapore and back to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia, or leave Singapore on your international flight. Air Asia flights can usually be booked last-minute from wherever you are.
If you like nature, consider taking the bus or hiring a car and driver to take you to the old royal capital of Kuala Selangor to see the flashing fireflies perform their nightly light show along the Sungai Selangora River. For more on this and other ideas on travel in Malaysia, see my blog from 2008 at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/traveloutdoors/2003936628 _webasiatripindex12.html.