Malaysia Truly Asia
If I had to pick one country that offers the best melting pot, lip-smackingly tasty food, it would have to be Malaysia, so I was thrilled to find out that Malaysia is going to be the host country for ATF (ASEAN Tourism Forum) 2014.
Who Should Go?
Any foodie worth their weight in salt or "rempah empat beradik" the four sibling spices found in Malay food: star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Ditto with style-happy shopaholics who might be surprised to find out that the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is rated the 4th best shopping city in the world-higher than Paris- per a 2012 CNN survey.
Welcoming an amazing 25 million tourists in 2012, Malaysia works hard to ensure that they have plenty to keep them happy, busy and well fed, so the hits just keep rolling here. Glam new hotels, upscale shopping malls, and quality wellness centers and are springing up everywhere. There is even a new airport opening this year in K.L. to accommodate an additional 30 million tourists. But if you want to get away from the throngs of visitors, you can take advantage of Malaysia's home- stay program (which recently won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy) where you can experience local life first hand.
The newly refurbished icon, the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur (under the talented hands of architect, Zaidan Tahir) offers an opulent ode to the decadent 1930’s.
About as reliable as the sun setting in the west is that you can almost blindly pick any restaurant here (even a generic hawker stall) and be guaranteed of a great meal. But continuing with the everything old is new again theme, Old China Cafe (set in a 1920s guild hall building) makes an atmospheric pick , where you'll dine surrounded by period furnishings and architecture. Don’t miss the antique gallery on the second floor. The same owners recently opened Precious Old China restaurant, a grander outlet located in the cultural bazaar.
1 Utama Shopping Centre is not content to just satisfy your every shopping need so just to be on the safe side the centre also offers a baseball center, the biggest rock-climbing gym in Asia, a scuba diving center, and a BookCrossing zone where books are traded for free.
Head to Kuala Selangor to see the fireflies on the Selangor River - after exploring the jungle trails and eating at a local Malay meal, you’ll take a sampan (small boat) ride to see the millions of fireflies that light up the Selangor River, like fairy lights.
For a city filled with shopping malls (over 65 at last count) Malaysia also has quite the green thumb. The Tourism Malaysia Garden won a gold at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show in London, widely considered the world's most famous flower show. Kuala Lumpur boasts a wide array of public green parks and gardens, most notably KL Lake Gardens ( which houses a Butterfly Park, Deer Park, and Bird Park) KLCC Park and Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.
For more info:
Tourism Malaysia www.myce.com.my