Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Travel Plans and Accommodation

My first trip to Malaysia starts with a flight out there from Heathrow on Malaysia Airlines on 19 April. I return on 11 May. In terms of plans, I intend to stay in Kuala Lumpur (KL) for 2 nights when I arrive (to get over the inevitable travel fatigue), then do Penang for 17 nights and then a final 2 nights in KL before flying back to the UK. A primary consideration of course is where to stay and in attempt to cut down on as much work as possible while I am there, especially for the first time, arranging accommodation has been a priority.

Hitting KL will both allow me to get over the flight and also to check out the city for a couple of days at least. A key consideration for me is location with cost a secondary consideration. Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) / Golden Triangle seems to be the best area from which to make a base. While I haven't booked yet I plan to stay at either the Melia Hotel or possibly the Grand Millenium. The Melia has been recommended by some MM2H forum users, as has the Millenium. Both are well placed on the Bukit Bintang while it seems that the Millenium is set back somewhat, so is perhaps more quiet. I have experience of the Millenium chain from UAE and find them OK. The Melia is a Sol hotel of which I have no experience.

The two sites I mentioned earlier (see links on right of blog), Agoda and Asia Travel, are both very good in my opinion as they cover a good range of hotels, operate a reward system (where you can used the earned value to contribute to the cost of future bookings) and, importantly, have a fairly comprehensive review facility. Prices I find tend to be very competitive and I found that these sites will often even offer better prices than some of the rates you may get if you ask the hotel direct. If you have the time and inclination it has been suggested that a good rate can be got at the hotel by playing somewhat "hard to get" (e.g. ask to see a room, ask for the best price, walk away, check the internet, return and negotiate more). I am sure this would work well but for the first nights in country at least, it's nice to arrive knowing you have a bed. At the time of writing Agoda had rooms at the Melia at 233 MYR per night and the Millenium at 318 MYR. There are of course countless hotels at all manner of price ranges and it has to be said that the two guide books listed on the right of the blog do not mention these hotels. I will give one of them a try I think, decision time tomorrow.

After 2 nights in KL I will go to Penang for the main bulk of my stay, seeing as Penang seems to be the place that appeals most. As per my previous post I plan to avoid south of Georgetown as a living option purely because of the extent on industrialisation. I've also already touched on where does appeal in Penang and, while I will certainly visit Georgetown (probably often), at the moment it doesn't feature highly on my list of likely places to live. Gurney Drive, Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah are the main areas of interest at the moment with Battu Ferringhi high on the list also. As a result of what I've seen I particularly want to check out the Miami Green apartments there.

Again, Agoda and Asia Travel turn up several hotels some of which I list below with the current prices:

Tanjung Bungah:
  • Flamingo Hotel 4*: 197
  • Copthorne Orchid (TB) 4*: 135

Bathu Ferringhi:
  • Shangri La 5*: 770
  • Golden Sands 4*: 450
  • Lone Pine 5*: 426
  • Park Royal 5*: 358
  • Hilton 4*: 260
  • Bayview Beach 4*: 249

  • Evergreen Laurel 4*: 260

I had planned to check into the Evergreen or G Hotel (both on Gurney) for a couple of nights then maybe look for either a short term rental or serviced apartments. I looked at the Golden View apartments in Tanjung Tokong but I believe this is a bit more out the way and perhaps not so much nearby. They seem OK and were available at 250 MYR per night (off peak). While I was looking on the net I was fortunate enough to be contacted by someone who has an apartment in Miami Green that he was happy to rent out to me for the 17 nights.

So, subject to a couple of final clarifications that is what I suspect I will be going for. It will provide a good comfortable base and will have the added benefit of allowing me to experience the Miami Green apartments, a development that I am particularly interested in. Bulk of the planning out of the way it, will give me time to do some much needed reading prior to the trip when posts will most likely be at least daily. Until then , subject to changes in accommodation plans or me uncovering any snippets worthy of not, the blog may go quiet for a while.

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