Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How to Get to Malaysia?

Just visiting Malaysia - seeing a few sights, meeting its people, and eating good food - is more than enough to make for an unforgettable trip. Your best memory might be a quiet day you spend wandering the colonial streets of Malacca, or breathing in the earthy air of a kampung. Usually, it will be the Malaysians themselves you remember most, their smiles and generosity. That said, Malaysia also offers some very special activities, and if you make room for one or two of them, they will enhance your trip immeasurably.

Sea


There are no services connecting the peninsula with Malaysian Borneo.



Brunei




You can travel by sea between Bandar Seri Begawan (Muara Port), Brunei, and Pulau Labuan, Sabah. You can also travel by boat between Limbang in Sarawak and Brunei.



Indonesia



The main ferry routes between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra are GeorgetownMedan and Melaka–Dumai.

The popular crossing between Georgetown (on Pulau Penang) and Medan has services most days of the week. The boats actually land in Belawan in Sumatra, and the journey to Medan is completed by bus (included in the price).

Twice-daily high-speed ferries run between Melaka and Dumai in Sumatra. Dumai is now a visa-free entry port into Indonesia for citizens of most countries.

You can also take a boat from the Bebas Cukai ferry terminal in JB direct to Pulau Batam and Pulau Bintan, both in the Riau Islands.

Boats head between Tawau in Sabah and Tarakan in Kalimantan daily except Sunday. There are also daily boats between Tawau and Nunukan in Kalimantan, most of which continue on to Tarakan.



Philippines



Passenger ferries run twice weekly between Sandakan in Sabah and Zamboanga in the Philippines.



Thailand




Regular daily boats run between Pulau Langkawi and Satun in Thailand. There are customs and immigration posts here, but it’s an expensive entry/exit point.



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Land



Brunei



You can catch buses and taxis between Miri in Sarawak and Kuala Belait in Brunei. Kuala Belait has easy bus connections with Bandar Seri Begawan; you can also cross from Lawas to Bangar (in Brunei), and then head on to Limbang.



Indonesia



In Borneo, regular buses run between Kuching and the Indonesian city of Pontianak via the Tebedu–Entikong crossing.



Singapore




At the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia you can cross into Singapore via Johor Bahru by bus. Taking the train from JB is less convenient.



Thailand



On the western side of Peninsular Malaysia, you can travel by bus from Alor Setar to the border crossing at Bukit Kayu Hitam. There are also two trains passing through Alor Setar to Padang Besar and then continuing north into Thailand; the first stops at Hat Yai, while the second terminates in Bangkok. Some visitors may not feel safe travelling through Hat Yai, which has been a hot spot for Muslim and Buddhist clashes in Thailand.

On the peninsula’s eastern side you can bus it from Kota Bharu to the border town of Rantau Panjang but at the time of writing this was not a safe place to cross due to violence in this area of southern Thailand.

There is also a border crossing between Keroh (Malaysia) and Betong (Thailand), but at the time of writing it was extremely inadvisable to travel here due to the violence in Yala Provinc, Thailand.



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Air


The gateway to Peninsular Malaysia is the city of Kuala Lumpur, although Pulau Penang and Johor Bahru (JB) also have international connections. Singapore is a handy arrival/departure point, since it’s just a short trip across the Causeway from JB and has more international connections. Malaysia Airlines is the country’s main airline carrier although Air Asia flights are much cheaper. Air Asia's long-haul budget carrier Air Asia X flies regularly between Malaysia and the Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne (Australia); Hangzhou and Tianjin (China); as well London.

There are weekly flights between Kuching and Pontianak in Kalimantan (Indonesia), and between Tawau in Sabah and Tarakan in Kalimantan.

The following are some airlines servicing Malaysia; numbers beginning with 03 are for Kuala Lumpur.

Aeroflot (code SU; 03-2161 0231; ­www.aeroflot.ru/eng)

Air Asia (code AK; 03-8775 4000; www.airasia.com)

Air India (code AI; 03-2142 0166; www.airindia.com)

British Airways (code BA; 1800 881 260; www.britishairways.com)

Cathay Pacific Airways (code CX; 03-2035 2788; www.cathaypacific.com)

China Airlines (code CI; 03-2142 7344; www.china-airlines.com)

Garuda Indonesian Airlines (code GA; 03-2162 2811; www.garuda-indonesia.com)

Japan Airlines (code JL; 03-2161 1722; www.jal.com)

Lufthansa (code LH; 03-2161 4666; www.lufthansa.com)

Malaysia Airlines (code MH; 1300 883 000, 03-2161 0555; www.malaysiaairlines.com)

Qantas (code QF; 1800 881 260; www.qantas.com)

Royal Brunei Airlines (code BI; 03-2070 7166; www.bruneiair.com)

Singapore Airlines (code SQ; 03-2692 3122; www.singaporeair.com)

Thai Airways International (THAI, code TG; 03-2031 2900; www.thaiairways.com)

Vietnam Airlines (code VN; www.vietnamairlines.com)

Virgin Atlantic (code VS; 03-2143 0322; www.virgin-atlantic.com)

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