Kuala Lumpur & Borneo

Emma Savage on 26 October 2017
I spent a fantastic week exploring Kuala Lumpur and Borneo recently, here is what I got up to...

Turkish Airlines flew us out from Manchester via Istanbul. The first thing which struck me was the excellent service from the cabin crew. The economy cabin was comfortable and the entertainment onboard was really good - lots of blockbuster movies, and a wide choice of television and music channels.

At Istanbul airport we were invited to enjoy the Turkish Airlines lounge (entry permitted only to business class and above usually). I was struck at the vast scale of the lounge; set over two levels this is a jewel in the chaos of a very busy airport environment, offering a mouthwatering selection of freshly cooked food, soft drink stations all over the lounge, and free flowing wine. It really was the most stunning lounge I have visited and I can understand why it has won so many awards!

Arriving into Kuala Lumpur we were transferred to Traders Hotel (transfer time around 1 hour). A great location looking out at the iconic Petronas Towers is the major selling point here. Don't miss a visit to the Sky Bar at the top of the hotel where a trendy vibe and low lighting gives a chic slant on the evening. My room had a fabulous view of the towers which was a breathtaking sight. You can walk across there in a few minutes to enjoy shopping or even go up to the viewing area.

The second night I spent at Shangri La Kuala Lumpur. I received a very warm welcome, with cold towel and cold drink - perfect after the humidity of the bustling city. My room was bright and comfortable overlooking the city below. Ideally placed for all sightseeing, this hotel is an oasis of calm and tranquility and recommended for those seeking a higher level of luxury.

A city tour of Kuala Lumpur is a must - you'll get to see the main areas of interest in the company of an expert guide. Did you know, Kuala Lumpur means 'confluence of muddy river' as there are two rivers which meet in the centre, by the mosque. I was lucky to have a look inside the mosque during my city tour and was amazed at the intricate detail on the building; do come and have a look during your stay. City tours also take in China Town, Little India and the local markets too.

Next stop on my tour - Borneo, using Air Asia for the flight. What a great airline it is; punctual, clean and efficient - just what you need to get from A to B. Highly recommended.

Borneo produces a large amount of palm oil, but the palm oil tree is not native to Malaysia - you'll see hundreds of acres of this valuable crop as you descend into the airport. Tin and rubber used to be the main export, but palm oil overtook this and is very lucrative. The top markets for palm oil are China, India and Europe.

Borneo is all you'd hope it would be and more. If you love wildlife and nature, you'll not be disappointed. We visited Mount Kinabalu National Park - this is no small park and in fact it is bigger than Singapore! A must see during your visit, there is so much to enjoy here. As well as nature trails, you can enjoy botanical gardens and bird watching. I saw all sorts of flora and fauna; from lizards scampering up trees, to carnivorous pitcher plants. You can stay in the National Park and there are restaurants and facilities on site.

A great excursion during your stay is the Cultural Village, which can be combined with any other half day tour or on its own. See how the tribes-people of Borneo lived (some still do live this way) and learn how they made rice wine, harvested honey and raised their families. It's fascinating and educational too - perfect for families.

Accommodation wise, I stayed two nights at the Shangri La Rasa Ria in a Tower Wing room. I recommend upgrading from the standard Garden Wing if budget permits. Ocean Wing rooms come with stunning ocean views and a huge Jacuzzi on the balcony. The bed was so comfortable and the bathroom was massive. As part of the Ocean Wing, there is a daily free bar in the lobby area, where you can enjoy the daily cocktail or a glass of wine free of charge. There is also a dedicated restaurant in the Ocean Wing (exclusive to those guests in this wing), and this is a big selling point.

Make sure you dine at the onsite Indian restaurant 'Naan'. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal here, it was in fact one of the best curry's I've ever had!

My final stop was back in central Kota Kinabalu at the Shangri La Tanjung Aru. Perfectly positioned to take advantage of city sights yet only a 10 minute speedboat ride away from 3 islands where you can go scuba diving and snorkeling or just chill out. I had a great meal at their onsite grill restaurant Coco Joes. Families will be really happy here as there is a large pool and splash park, with family friendly facilities.

I'd highly recommend a holiday to Borneo and Kuala Lumpur. If I have tempted you, please do get I touch and I can plan your perfect escape!