Incredible landscapes, wildlife, food and culture, Malaysia is a destination that everyone should have on their travel bucket list. And while it might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re thinking about a family vacation, it can be a wonderful place to visit for all ages, and definitely one to think about. As always, when you’re travelling as a family there are some extra considerations to bear in mind, here’s what you need to know when you’re planning a family getaway to Malaysia!
Rent a home from home
When you’re travelling as a family, instead of renting a single hotel room for your stay it can often make more sense to find a ‘home from home.’ Whether it’s a villa, cottages or an apartment, you have more space to move around and it can make things much easier as well as more enjoyable for children. You can self cater meaning you can cook things you know your family will eat at the times you usually have meals, instead of having to stick to the dishes and times offered by the hotel restaurant. Plus, it often works out cheaper too, and there are plenty of options if you want to rent a house in Malaysia for while you’re away. Maybe this is a longer trip, and you want to make sure your kids stay in a routine, or perhaps you’re a larger family and it’s cheaper and easier than renting out multiple hotel rooms. Either way when you’re travelling as a family, it’s often worth renting a home from home so this is something to look into.
Hire a car
Public transport in Malaysia is reliable and inexpensive, but as parents we know that getting around on buses and trains with kids can be tricky. With little ones, they’re in a pram or pushchair that needs to be folded down, and is bulky and awkward- particularly during busier times. With kids that are walking by themselves, they can run around and make life stressful where you’re having to constantly keep an eye on them. And on top of this, you have tons of bags and other items you need to bring with you when you have little people. Avoid the stress, and rent a car instead. Each morning you can load it up with everything you need, and get to your destination of choice with no messing around. If you want to enjoy some road trips as part of your Malaysian adventures, there are plenty of incredible routes you could take allowing you to see and experience lots of new things. But even if you only hire a car for practical purposes of getting around, grabbing groceries if you’re self catering and making everything quicker, it’s something to consider when you’re away with the family. Something to bear in mind however, that as with most places in the world, the transport system is subject to becoming extremely busy during public holidays. As well as Christmas and new year, you have Chinese new year and a number of Muslim festivals so you might want to check the calendar before booking. If you do plan on driving, be prepared to experience busier traffic and jams.
Choose a safe destination
Malaysia in general is a safe country, and in most places violent crimes are uncommon. Because most of the people in the country can speak English well, it makes communicating easy, with English being the second language. While there are sometimes robberies, pickpocketing and other kinds of crime, it’s no worse than most other places you would visit in the world. There are no current wars going on, or instances of major political instability which put tourists at risk. However there is an exception to this, and according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, it’s advised to avoid travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau unless it’s essential. Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Malacca and Taman Negara are just a few of Malaysia’s top destinations and all are considered to be safe- most tourists will have a trouble free visit but it’s important to remain vigilant. Another thing to be aware of is that there is evidence of ongoing Zika virus transmission in Malaysia. Pregnant travellers should postpone travel, and be sure to take anti mosquito bite precautions. Travel to many countries will require vaccinations, and this is true of Malaysia. Most people are generally covered by four jabs against Tetanus and Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. However, for those who will be trekking or staying for longer periods, consider protection against other diseases such as Rabies and Hepatitis B. If you’re a frequent traveller you’ll already know what this involves, but it’s always worth doing your research so you and your family can travel in the safest possible way.
Think about the weather
If you’re travelling with young children, you might want to avoid certain times of year to get the most from your trip. While it’s hot and humid year round, the west and east coast will experience different wet seasons. On the east coast, it’s between November and February that you’ll see most of the wet weather, which is when the west coast will be dry and sunny. Then on the flip side, the wettest months on the west coast are April to October, which are the driest months on the east coast. It makes sense to think about what the weather will be like at the time of year you want to visit in the location you have in mind. You might not mind scorching temperatures but it could be an issue for kids. Beach resorts and other activities are also closed at certain times of the year so this is something you’ll need to look after. Time it right for your location, and you can experience a warm, dry trip.
Look for things to do
As a singleton or group of young adults in Malaysia, you can of course go hiking and trekking, you can experience the nightlife and go shopping in incredible destinations like Kuala Lumpur shopping pavilion and markets. But when you have children, you of course need to find things to do that they will enjoy as well. Thankfully, there are lots of family friendly activities that you can all enjoy to get the most out of your trip. There are nature reserves and wildlife tours geared towards little ones. There’s dive training and watersports, summer camps, gardens to explore, water parks and much more. Then of course you have stunning beaches which make for a great day out, there are spectacular green spaces where you can throw a frisbee, have a picnic or hire bikes! There are theme parks, zoos and other animal experiences, there’s more to see and do than you’d ever manage in one trip so it’s definitely not one to rule out because you’re travelling with children. There are plenty of activities and attractions to captivate young minds which make it an incredible family destination.
Enjoy the food
Food and travel go hand in hand, and while you’re away it’s nice to indulge a little as well as use it as an opportunity to learn more about a culture. Great food is something you can all enjoy as a family, and even if you’re self catering there will be no shortage of fantastic, fresh ingredients from local markets and stores. You could treat yourself to the odd restaurant meal and enjoy tasty delicacies being sold by food vendors.The majority of Malaysia’s population can roughly be divided among three major ethnic groups- Malays, Chinese and Indians, and the ingredients and cooking styles reflect the multiethnic makeup. Food is flavourful, spice and heat feature heavily but there are lots of milder dishes too if that’s not your kind of thing. Rice, coconut and soy are ingredients that are widely used, and you can find plenty of delicious curries, noodle dishes and fresh vegetables. There are lots of kid-friendly and family places to eat, or if you’re renting a house you could experiment with your own dishes based on Malaysian recipes. Food brings everyone together, and can be a wonderful element to your trip!
Perhaps Malaysia was a destination you had on your bucket list as a young adult, but since having children it’s one that you’ve ruled out. If so, it’s time to think again as it can make an excellent family getaway. Just bear in mind current safety advice, and be sure to do your research so you’re getting the best weather conditions. And from there, you can all have an amazing Asian adventure!
Have you been to Malaysia as a family? If so, would you recommend it to anyone thinking of going, and what advice would you give them?