Wednesday, November 15, 2017

5 Tips for Travelling to Malaysia with Children

Which country do you frequently travel to? Malaysia is one of my frequently visited countries. No, not for work, those trips were only for leisure purpose! Why should you consider travelling to Malaysia? First, Malaysia is Singapore's neighbour, getting from Singapore to Malaysia is so easy, it is such a breeze to reach many destinations in Malaysia via air, for example, taking Air Asia flight. Second, there are many places in Malaysia that can meet different types of travel purposes, from shopping in dynamic city areas like Kuala Lumpur, to relaxing by the breathtaking seaside like Redang Island, you have a great variety to choose from, depending on your preference. And last but not least, shopping in Malaysia is never a disappointment, the price is so affordable!



So far, we have brought our children to Malaysia two times. Here are our 5 tips for travelling to Malaysia with children.

Tips #1. Things to do with children in Malaysia

Malaysia offers many more places for families with children. Our children's favourite place in Malaysia is LEGOLAND Malaysia, located in Johor Bahru. Some other theme parks include Sunway Lagoon in Selangor, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town in Johor Bahru, Melaka Wonderworld in Malacca, Kidzania in Kuala Lumpur, just to name a few.  



Fans of science and technology? Petrosains, the Discovery Centre in Kuala Lumpur would ignite the science sparks in you and your children! It is an educational place with hands-on interactive exhibits and science shows.

For families that are interested to be immersed in the art and culture, you should visit Penang. Famous street art at George Town provides many fantastic photo-taking opportunities. 

Have little nature lovers? Bring your little ones to Cameron Highlands for the lovely scenery! Before we have children, we visited Cameron Highlands once. It is a beautiful place where we could pick strawberries and visit tea plantation. I am sure the children would like these activities too. Another place for nature lovers that I would recommend is Batu Caves at Kuala Lumpur, it is a spectacular limestone hill. It is said to be around 400 million years old, isn't it amazing?



For sea lovers, islands like Tioman Island and Redang Island on the east coast of Malaysia Peninsular are great for sea sports, or simply chill out by the seaside.  A friend of mine shared with me that another great place is Langkawi. Getting from Singapore to Langkawi takes only 1.5 hour via Air Asia flight, it is a great place for family to have a short getaway.



If you and your children love history, then consider visiting Malacca, which was once a centre of spice trading. Observing the architecture is a great way for the children to appreciate the history of the place. 


Tips #2. Getting to Malaysia fast and cheap

Getting to Malaysia from Singapore is very easy. Other than self-driving or taking coaches, another convenient way is to take a flight. Air Asia flight offers many destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Lankawi, Penang and more! You can get the flight tickets at a reasonable rate. Look out for Air Asia airline promotion for more savings! 


Tips #3. Shopping for the family

Things in Malaysia are so much cheaper than that in Singapore (oh well, I know this is nothing new to you). After saving much money from taking Air Asia flight, you can now spend more on your shopping spree! One of the giant shopping malls in Malaysia that I visited before is Berjaya Times Square at Kuala Lumpur. It is so huge that it even houses an indoor theme park! Another one is Mid Valley Megamall, in addition to shopping, there is also a cinema. Catching a movie there, again, is so much cheaper (ok, ok, I know this is also nothing new to you)!


Tips #4. Teaching moments on understanding and respecting other's culture

Do share with the children that Muslims are prohibited to eat pork. Therefore, do remind the children that it is considered very rude to use the word "pig" on the Muslims. 


Tips #5. Relax and enjoy your trip 

Take things slowly! Relax and do not rush!


Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Traveloka.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Japan Travel with Children - Kyushu - Beppu 別府

Beppu (別府), located in Oita (大分) Prefecture of Kyushu, is famous for hot springs. We took JR train from Hakata to Yufuin, and then to Beppu. Of course, you can take JR train directly from Hakata to Beppu. Upon exiting Beppu Station, we were welcomed by the statue of Kumahachi Aburaya.



It was quite cool in the evening in June, our hands were warmed by the hand hot spring outside Beppu Station.



A lovely manhole cover!



We stayed for two nights at a hot spring hotel called Beppu Nogamihongan Ryokan (べっぷ野上本館), which is about 10 minutes walk from Beppu Station. We paid 9000+ yen (about S$120) per night for the Japanese style room, and I thought it was a steal as we had ever paid S$200 for a Japanese style room in Okinawa!



This hotel has public and private hot springs. We got to enjoy the private hot spring once for free during our stay. There are 3 private hot springs available, we chose  ひのきの半露天湯. So, even though there is bathroom in our room, we did not use it at all!

The female public hot spring was just renovated and re-opened on the day when we arrived! I was so glad to enjoy the brand new hot spring! Pei Pei and I had the entire hot spring to ourselves for quite some time before a Japanese lady came in. We forgot to put the stools back to the original place after bathing, and she was so kind to help us to put them back. She was very friendly and talked to us. Then we realised that she was a staff in the next morning!

image source: https://www.facebook.com/enjoybeppu/

The hotel also offers dinner and breakfast at additional cost, I would consider giving it a try if I ever visit this hotel again, to complete the Japanese ryokan experience. The hotel was undergoing exterior renovation during our stay, but it did not affect us since we went out during day time. There was a machine dispensing coffee, green tea, hojicha and water at the lobby, we could hydrate ourselves after enjoying the hot spring. Overall, we enjoyed our stay there. The only two down sides are, first, smoking was allowed at the lobby, and second, it was located near "red light district", so we didn't venture out of the hotel at night.

Just a few minutes walk from the hotel was the famous Takegawara Hot Spring (竹瓦温泉). We took a we-were-there-photo, but did not have time to experience the hot spring and sand bath there.




From Beppu, it was convenient to get to Sanrio Harmonyland via JR train and bus, as well as to African Safari (アフリカサファリ) via direct bus. There were plenty of lockers just outside Beppu Station, so after we checked out from the hotel, we placed our luggage in the locker before heading to African Safari.

You may have heard of Hells of Beppu, which are 7 spectacular hot springs for viewing, but not for bathing. However, due to time constraint, we gave them a miss.

If I have a chance to visit Beppu again, I would definitely try out the sand bath!


Our Japan (June 2017) Travelogue


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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Japan Travel with Children - Kyushu - Sightseeing Train Aso Boy! あそぼーい!

When I planned our trip to Kyushu (Japan), I showed my children some travel books and websites, and asked them where they wanted to visit. When they saw this photo, they said they wanted to go here - Aso Boy! (あそぼーい!)

source: JR Kyushu

This is a sightseeing train that currently travels between Aso and Beppu. During our visit in June 2017, it travelled along a temporary route between Hakata and Mojiko, because of the damages made to the original route during the earthquakes at Kumamoto in 2016.

In fact, I was more excited than my children when I managed to reserve the tickets at Japan Rail (JR) Ticket Office on the first day we arrived Kyushu. Similar to Yufuin no Mori (ゆふいんの森), Aso Boy! is a popular sightseeing train.




We were given the booth seat like the one we had on Yufuin no Mori (ゆふいんの森).



The journey was 1+ hour, and again, we were hardly seated at our reserved seats. The reason was, the children wanted to play in the ball pool! There was a long queue of children before the ball pool was opened.



Those balls are made of wood, so I can imagine that it can be quite painful to be hit by those wooden balls. A staff was there to remind the children not to throw the wooden balls at others, and most parents there would also remind their children. However, in my honest opinion, this play area is not very suitable for babies and toddlers.

There was a cafe bar next to the ball pool. I sat down at the sofa when my legs were tired.




I could have avoided standing if I had remembered to request for White "Kuro" seats when I made the reservation. Located near the ball pool, the seats are perfect for a parent and a child.



If you like the character Kuro, you would probably take millions of photos on the train, as Kuro was found everywhere!




Not to forget about getting a souvenir card and stamp on it!



Finally I got the children back to our seat, by buying ice-cream! This green tea ice-cream was smooth and delicious!


And yes, the staff would walk around with a big sign board to take photo for the passengers, so remember to get back to your seat!

Do take note that Aso Boy! does not operate every day, so if you are keen to take a ride, check their schedule!


Useful Information

Aso Boy!
Website: https://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/english/train/asoboy.html




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