My Travelling Guide Tips to MalaysiaMay 6, 2015 / by Marco / Categories : Travel
I recently took a 2 1/2 week family holiday to Malaysia (my wife’s hometown) and wanted to share some of my travelling tips so that I could use them for next time.
- 1 Credit Card Complimentary Travel Insurance
- 2 Travel Insurance Direct
- 3 Credit Card for Free International Purchases
- 4 Passport
- 5 Register with Smart Traveller
- 6 Mobile Offline Maps
- 7 Local Malaysian SIM card
- 8 Money exchange locations
- 9 Accomodation
- 10 Transportation
- 11 Places to see
- 12 Final Words
- 13 Our Sponsors
Credit Card Complimentary Travel Insurance
I’ve been a Commonwealth Bank Credit Card member (on Platinum Awards) for many years and always thought that when I purchase my travel and accomodation with them for my overseas trips I would be covered. Unfortunately, in order to get covered you must been a very important condition:
you need to spend $1000 per person to be covered for International Travel Insurance. The exact terms used on their website is: “Spend $1,000 or more on prepaid travel costs listed below by redeeming your CommBank Award points and/or using your active, eligible CommBank Gold, Platinum or Diamond credit card; and Have return overseas travel tickets.” Source: https://www.commbank.com.au/personal/credit-cards/complimentary-insurance-cover.html
Now, the return tickets that I purchased costed about $550 per person, but as you can see from above, the spend has to be $1000. So I called up their customer service and asked whether paying for accommodation could be included in the total spend and they said YES….The only problem is that the places where I stayed didn’t actually process the payments until you checkout of the hotel. So I was pretty much left without Complimentary Travel Insurance, if I knew about this condition I should have paid with my ANZ Credit Card which would have covered. Oh well lesson learnt. So I had to look for a Travel Insurance company as I was told that it’s a good idea to have especially when travelling with Kids (I have two under the age of 10).
Travel Insurance Direct
After some researching and recommendations I ended up going with Travel Insurance Direct. They ended up being the cheapest and also had the best cover. At the time I also used a 10% discount code (used TIDSAVE). I also paid an extra $25 (basically the 10% discount) to have no excess. I was told to go with to avoid having to pay an excess every time you or someone in your family is admitted to hospital or even when you need to see a doctor. Basically 1 visit = 1 excess payment. I was lucky enough not to make any claims so I can’t really comment on how quickly or how difficult it is for claim recovery and reimbursements.
Credit Card for Free International Purchases
I ended up applying for a Citibank Plus Savings account (uses Visa Debit) as it had no monthly account keeping fees or International fees when making a purchase overseas. You can also use the Citibank Card to make cash withdrawls at some of the ATMs for free. You need to check online to see which ATMs don’t charge any additional fees. Visa has a currency conversion calculator that you can use to check the currency for that local country. You can check it here Visa Currency Calculator
Also, I stupidly used my Commonwealth Bank Credit Card for one of the accomodation payments and I was charged an International Processing Fee of $25. At the time it didn’t occur to me that I was going to have this fee as I thought that since I booked it online it was going to just deduct the cost in AU$ but that wasn’t the case. I then did use my Citibank Plus for the next payment and there was no fees. So lesson learnt!
Check to make sure you have a valid passport. I had to renew my passport because it expired the previous year. The application for the renewal was pretty straight forward and I was able to complete and print an online application. With adult passports you can only renew it for 10 years whereas for children it’s 5 years.
I also had to renew my child’s passport, even though it was still valid for 2 months. There are some countries that require at least 6 month validity before they let you in the country. So make sure you check this. Luckily someone told me about this as I had no clue.
I used Australia Post to take the photos for myself and for the kids. I did notice that there are a few mobile apps that are designed to take passport photos however since I really needed the passports I decided not to take this risk. Also, Australia Post has a policy that refunds or retakes the photo if it doesn’t meet the Australia passport requirements which I ended up doing. In actual fact I had to get my child’s one done again because the top part of the head was slightly cut off and my neighbour (the guarantor) mentioned to me that it may not get approved so I didn’t want to take any risks or delays and had it done again.
I was glad that there was no complications with the application and received it 2 weeks after they were submitted.
Register with Smart Traveller
It’s a good idea to register with Smart Traveller so that at least the government has an Emergency contact in the event something happens. You can go here to register with Smart Traveller: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
You can also subscribe to receive travel advice updates e.g in case there’s natural disaster in the country you’re visiting
Mobile Offline Maps
This is a must have for all Travellers. Having access to offline maps on your mobile phone is mandatory when travelling to another country especially if you don’t plan to get a SIM card with Mobile Data access. I know that most people actually take screenshots of Google Maps and saves this on the smartphone. I found this very time consuming… but it does work. Google also has a feature to save offline maps – you can read the instructions on how to do this here: Google Offline Maps
As an alternative after some researching I discovered that there was an actual Mobile App (only available in Android) called MapFactor: GPS Navigation. you can download it from MapFactor GPS Navigation and it’s FREE. It uses OpenStreetMaps data and actually even provides turn by turn navigation. The only thing that can improve is the interface and the searching capability but besides that it definitely beats taking screenshots.
Basically the Mobile application downloads the maps of the country you select. Some maps are roughly 100 Megs or less and they are actually pretty detailed. If you don’t have Android, then your option is to take screenshots… sorry.
Local Malaysian SIM card
Based on my only research for the best Malaysian Prepaid Mobile SIM card I found that HotLink http://www.hotlink.com.my/ was the best option because it was affordable and had the best data and mobile plans. They also provide free Internet data access for social media (includes WhatsApp) once your plan runs out but it’s capped at 64kb. Better than nothing.However, when I actually went to get one I was told that I had to wait for 2 days (I land there on the 29th March 2015) and was told that they were updating their system for the introduction of GST (introduced on the 1st of April 2015) and it was best if I just waited. Since I was travelling with my in laws, they need to buy a SIM ASAP to contact the relatives for waiting was not an option. For me I just needed to by one so I could use Mobile Data. In the end we ended up going with DiGi another Mobile carrier http://digi.com.my
Their plans was not too bad and what I really liked about this Carrier was that in most places that I went to i had 4G access. I was quite surprised as I even had 4G in some country areas. Also, the other value added benefit was that once your Data plan runs out, you can still use whatsapp for free. This was great, especially since they started introducing the feature of being able to can make phone calls using whatsapp.
Money exchange locations
Whatever you do don’t exchange all your money before you leave your country. You get better rates when you exchange the AU$ to RM$. Also don’t exchange when you are at the Airports. It is better to shop around and looks for the best rates. When we were in Kuala Lumpur the best place to exchange money was in Mid Valley Megamall. They had the best rates compared to most other places.
I stayed mostly in 5 star hotels or apartments (my wife and mother-in-law picked these places). My wife’s mandatory requirement for each hotel was free wifi, free breakfast and must have a good gym. So below is the list of where we stayed:
G Hotel in Penang
This hotel was simply awesome. My kids fell in love with this hotel and it was close to the Gurney shopping centre. It was pretty much in the middle of everything.
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang in Penang
This was a nice resort and had a large swimming area. I think I was sun burnt from staying too long in the pools.
Fraser Residence Apartments in Kualar Lumpur
This was like actually living in an apartment. We stayed in a two bedroom apartment with 2 king size beds. Had it upgraded because their website had the wrong information. The building was completed last year and the facilities were just amazing. They have 2 towers and at the very top of each tower there is a 24 hour gym… so yeah there’s two gyms. They had a slide at the pools which the kids loved. They also had a playground and room for the kids. In actual fact my girl was injured in the playroom and I had to get them to fix one of the doors to prevent the injury from happening again. They were lucky I didn’t sue them. Anyways put that aside they also had pool tables, Internet Room and a chill out room. I will definitely stay there again despite some of the minor issues. Also be prepared to wake up at around 6am due to some of the chanting next to the building as there is a cemetery near there.
Jen Hotel in Joho
Another great hotel close to Hello Kitty and Lego Land. It had a gym and pool.
We were lucky enough to have relatives and friends who drove us to places. So I cannot really comment on how public transport is. I do suggest to hire a vehicle but then again driving there was very scary.
Places to see
We went to too many places to really details and list out. Basically we travelled from Penang (north of Malaysia) all the way to Johor (south of Malaysia). We saw Buddist Templates, Blue Mansions, Murals, 3D Museum, Batman, Twin Towers and the list goes on. Here’s a few pictures to give you a glimpse of what we saw.
And yes I did try the durian – not a big fan.
I hope you will enjoy Malaysia as much as we did and a big shout out to our relatives for their time and effort to meet us and take us around.
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I recently took a 2 1/2 week family holiday to Malaysia (my wife’s hometown) and wanted to share some of my travelling tips so that I could use them for next time. Contents1 Credit Card Complimentary Travel Insurance2 Travel Insurance Direct3 Credit Card for Free International Purchases4 Passport5 Register with Smart Traveller6 Mobile Offline Maps7 Local […]read more