The best places to visit in Malaysia

MY WIFE AND I ARE GOING TO SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA FOR TWO WEEKS IN EARLY SEPTEMBER. WE'D LIKE SOME SUGGESTIONS OF WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE TO GO. AFTER THREE DAYS IN SINGAPORE WE'D LIKE TO VISIT KUALA LUMPUR AND TRAVEL UP TO THE CAMERON HIGHLANDS AND ALSO GEORGE TOWN IN PENANG. SHOULD WE STAY WITH THOSE CHOICES OR FIT IN SOMEWHERE ELSE? WE ARE MORE INTERESTED IN HISTORY AND COUNTRYSIDE THAN BEACHES AND RESORTS.

D. BAKER, LENNOX HEAD

There are a couple of possible itineraries here. First is what you have in mind with the addition of Malacca, a quaint old town and once an outpost of the far-flung trading empires of Portugal and Holland, within easy reach of KL, which makes it a day trip. The Cameron Highlands are lovely, a cool, misty world of tea plantations and golf courses with strong links to its colonial heritage. If you're looking for atmosphere, book in for a couple of nights at Ye Olde Smokehouse (thesmokehouse.my) and don't miss the scones. George Town is one of the most likeable cities in south-east Asia, with its sleepy World Heritage zone, its temples, the funicular that hoists you to the top of Penang Hill and the island of Penang itself, which captures in miniature most of the facets of the Malaysian experience. According to my calculations, you'd probably be spending around six days on Penang and that might be a bit long.

Another alternative would be to hire a car and drive from KL up the east coast almost as far as the Thai border then turn west to cross the peninsula to reach Penang. The east coast is Malaysia in slow motion, more traditional-minded and mannered, with some lovely scenery along the way. Driving here is stress-free and roads are good. A reasonable time for this part of the itinerary would be four to five days, which would probably give you about three to four days in George Town.

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