Places to see: Far East


Ultimate Experience: if you want to get your PADI qualification there are few better places than Thailand. Not only is the diving is superb, it’s far cheaper than the UK or Australia. 

Great Journey: Take the Oriental Express from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and experience the refined opulence of a bygone era. 

Where to go for Adventure: for something a little different, head to the forests and mountains around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in northern Thailand for some great trekking and rafting. 

Water Paradise: The Andaman coast around Phi Phi is a wonderland of great snorkelling and diving, with dramatic limestone karsts rising from the aquamarine waters. 

Shopping: you’ll find busy markets everywhere but one of the best is Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market. 

Dates for the Diary: Thailand has countless events throughout the year. Highlights are the King’s Birthday (5 December) when the whole country joins in with a simultaneous singing of ‘Praise the King’ and Songkran, the Thai New Year, (13- 15 April) which sees everyone take to the streets to soak each other with water. 

Best for the Kids: Dusit Zoo in Bangkok is one of the best zoos in South East Asia. For kids, it will be a welcome respite from the Thai capital’s innumerable sights. 

Best for Couples: Thailand has some incredible hotels in stunning settings. Find an island hideaway and escape the world with that special someone. 

Splash Out: it’s actually quite hard to splash out in Thailand. The costs are so low that even the finest five star hotels are inexpensive. 


Ultimate Experience: see sunrise from the top of Malaysian Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu, one of the highest mountains in South East Asia. It is a challenging climb but the reward is more than worth the effort.

Best Beaches: Malaysia has amazing beaches all along its coast, but some of the best can be found in Langkawi and along the quieter east coast.

Where to go for Adventure: the Taman Negara National Park is one of the planet’s oldest tropical rainforests – and one of the most dramatic. It is home to countless species of wildlife and has spectacular caves, waterfalls and mountains.

Water Paradise: Malaysia’s coastline is nothing short of stunning. The island of Redang off the east coast is less visited and offers great diving.

Shopping: Kuala Lumpur has a great combination of traditional markets and modern shopping malls. You’ll find some real bargains whatever you’re after.

Dates for the Diary: the Hindu festival of Thaipusam results in more than a million celebrants congregating at the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur (February). The KL festival is a month-long collection of event and performances that takes place across the city (July)

Best for the Kids: children and adults alike will be in awe of Borneo’s wildlife. At the Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary you can get up-close to the magnificent ‘people of the forest.

Best for Couples: Pangkor Laut Resort is a privately-owned island where peace and tranquillity reigns supreme. The Malay-style villas offer the perfect romantic retreat.

Splash out: the 5* Datai Langkawi sits on one of Langkawi’s finest beaches, surrounded by tropical rainforest. The stunning villa accommodation is the ideal complement to the setting.

Live like a local: the villagers of the tea plantations in the Central Highlands allow a fascinating glimpse into traditional life.


Kuala Lumpur, the country’s showpiece, is a city of skyscrapers, contrasting vividly with historic Malacca, the ancient heart of the Malay culture. Old colonial hill resorts offer refuge from summer heat, while exotic Penang Island offers a heady mix of traditional culture and resort fun. Beyond peninsular Malaysia, yet more delights await on the stunning Langkawi islands and with the unique tribal cultures of Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia’s provinces on Borneo. 

Year-round sunshine, superb scenery and a relaxed atmosphere ensure Malaysia’s continued reputation as a first-class beach destination. Recent promotions of the country as a shopping paradise and eco-tourism centre will doubtless draw many more people to discover the fabulous diversity of this beautiful country.

The Batu Caves lie a few miles to the north of the city. These large natural caves, reached by 272 steps, house the Hindu shrine of Lord Subramaniam. Nearby is the Museum Cave, a fascinating display of brightly coloured statues and murals from Hindu mythology. Templar Park, 22km (14 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, is a well-preserved tract of primary rainforest, which is rich in scenic beauty. Jungle paths, swimming lagoons and waterfalls all lie within the park boundaries. Malaysia’s latest agricultural park, located at Cherakah in Shah Alam, Selangor, has a large playing area with facilities for skateboarders and rollerskaters. The Forestry Research Institute, 15km northwest of KL, is a genuine example of ecotourism in that it is a stretch of jungle that has been protected and is now being used to study how this unique eco-system works. The centre also looks at ways of sustainable development and at ways of protecting this environment. There are a number of low eco impact trails that visitors can explore. 
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