Arrive at Kuala Lumpur Airport (Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's capital city). Check into Avillion Port Dickson Beach Resort, an award winning resort that fuses traditional architecture with contemporary luxuries. Rest and relax at this beach resort outside historic Port Dickson to get ready for upcoming adventures.
Fly from KL airport to Padang, West Sumatra (Indonesia). A hotel limo will pick us up at the airport for a gorgeous ride up into the Mingangkabau Highlands to its heart city of Bukit Tinggi. Along the way, enjoy the majestic scenery and stop at a waterfall for refreshment. Check into the beautiful Hills Hotel, our base for the next three days (four nights). Tonight enjoy a delicious dinner and an entertaining culture show.
The Minangkabau people of this area are highly cultured matrilineal Moslems (their family trees are traced through the female side), and so this area is a veritable oasis of peace and sanity. The scenery is breathtaking. Although Sumatra straddles the equator, its elevation creates the perfect temperature, and its volcanic soil nurtures a botanical heaven.
We tour the town of Bukit Tinggi's historical sights and the wonderful Minangkau Highlands by minibus and on foot. See the Harau Valley, Sianok Canyon and the cultural museum in the town of Padang Panjang. Stop at local home craft centers to marvel at their skilled embroidery, silver work and weaving with golden thread.
Travel by minibus to Batu Sangkar. At the main market we hire horse carriages for the ride to the newly restored palace and museum at Pagaruyung. Your first view of this building will be a moment you will never forget. It is a stunningly grand example of Minang architecture complete with rice storage barns and garden.
After a last long early morning look at Bukit Tinggi we take the minibus back down the scenic mountains to the airport for our flight to Kuching, Sarawak. Check into Hotel Riverside in the center of town. There will be time to stroll along the river walk and see the old city before dinner.
After breakfast, we proceed to the Semenggoh Wildlife Center to see "the wild men of Borneo", the Orang Utan, literally translated in the local language as "person of the jungle". The center cares for thousands of endangered mammals, birds and reptiles from dozens of different species. It hosts one of the most successful Orang Utan rehabilitation programs in the world. We will be there for feeding time and be able to observe the Orang Utans up close! Afterwards we will visit a pottery factory, see a crocodile show, a Land Dayak House, and nearby museum.
After breakfast visit the Sunday Market (Tamu) and see the freshest of the fresh things to eat. Food you have never seen before! A city tour follows with lunch and a visit to the famous living museum, Sarawak Cultural Village. At the Sarawak Cultural Village we get a glimpse into Sarawak's ethnic diversity, culture and handicrafts. Sarawak is rich in history and culture. the varied population comprises local ethnic groups called Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, and Melanau, plus the Malays, Chinese and Indians all living together in harmony for more than a century.
Fly to Mt. Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Check into the Royal Mulu Resort, which has just been renovated by Marriott Hotels. Designed in the style of ethnic longhouses, Royal Mulu Resort was built on wooden stilts, three meters above the ground. Linked by a series of wooden walkways, the Resort stands on the banks of the Melinau River, in the midst of breathtaking natural splendor. Make yourself at home in luxury to the hypnotic and relaxing lull of the jungle.
After breakfast proceed to Camp 1 for a day of exploration in the lush virgin jungle boating, hiking and swimming. There is nothing more refreshing than a swim in a tropical river!
After breakfast take a walk down the boardwalk to reach Deer Cave and Lang Cave. Explore the caves and surrounding jungle with a picnic in ultimate serenity. If we're lucky, we will witness an amazing phenomenon. What appears as giant moving clouds in the sky are actually simultaneous exchanges of a great swarm of bats exiting and birds entering the caves. This phenomenon happens twice a day-once at dawn and once in the late afternoon.
Breakfast is at the resort. Then we hop into a longboat down the river to visit Batu Bungah, a Penan settlement where we observe tribal life and see local crafts being made. The river journey continues to Wind & Clearwater Caves. We'll have a picnic lunch at the Clearwater summer huts after we enjoy a swim at Clearwater Spring. Return via longboat to dinner at the hotel. The next day will be a free day to choose your leisure activity.
Alas, early check out of the hotel. Next is another longboat ride down the Melanau and Baram Rivers to Marudi, the frontier town for the people of the Baram area known as the Orang Ulu, literally "people of the interior". Along the riverbanks down to Marudi are the homes of many Orang Ulu and Land Dayaks known as longhouses. They are surrounded by farms which include banana and papaya trees and fronted by their own river docks. After a walk around Marudi and lunch we take a speedboat to Kuala Belait, where the Baram River flows into the South China Sea. We then proceed by minibus to Brunei for sightseeing in its capital city. Stroll around the water village, have dinner, and depart by plane for Singapore. Your arrival at Singapore's Changi Airport will be the most efficient airport experience of your life. Your luggage will be waiting for you when you get there to pick it up! Drive along the beautifully landscaped East Coast Parkway to the Hotel Traders at the top of Orchard Road in the center of the shopping district. Relax by the pool, then head to dinner at the Singapore Polo Club. After dinner we'll watch a polo match.
This morning we visit Singapore's magnificent Botanical Gardens, a dynamic and living monument to the foresight of the founding fathers of Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist, established the first botanical and experimental garden in 1822. His aim was to introduce the cultivation of economic crops such as cocoa and nutmeg to the island. Later its director, Henry Ridley, successfully propagated rubber trees and invented a method to harvest commercial quantities of latex. At first when he introduced the concept of rubber tapping he was referred to as "Mad Ridley", but he eventually became known as the hero of the Malayan economy. Presently the gardens are a tropical jungle in harmony with history, culture and art! To see is to believe!
After lunch we can relax back at our beautiful hotel or visit a local museum. Tonight is a fascinating Night Safari. Hop onboard the tram and come up-close to lions, tigers, rhinoceros, tapirs, deer and more! We see these nocturnal creatures frolicking in the cool evening temperatures and putting on a real show for us.
Today is an unforgettable visit to the Jurong Bird Park. Better than you can imagine a bird park to be, there is non-stop fabulous feeding and shows of every kind of your feathered friends! Enjoy a collection of more than 8,000 birds from 600 species, offering an experience that is Rachel's favorite attraction in Singapore. We arrive early to hand feed the small tropical birds. The Bird of Prey Show is like no other on earth! After lunch we can enjoy a swim back at the hotel or visit another Singapore museum. Tonight we stop at Raffle's Hotel for a famous Singapore Sling.
One of Singapore's most graceful landmarks and more legend than hotel, this luxury Singapore hotel celebrates a tradition of unwavering service excellence spanning more than 120 years. Immortalized in the novels of Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, its colonial-styled architecture and lush tropical gardens exude an atmosphere of timeless elegance. Dinner at the historic Clark Quay includes a bumboat ride before your meal.
Today is another memorable day at the amazing Singapore Zoo. The zoo is always abuzz with activity! New births, themed events galore and refreshed animal exhibits are but some of the things that happen year round - the zoo is a constant hive of happenings, and we want you to be a part of it. It hosts the largest reproducing orang utan population in the world, supplying most of the orang utans in zoos around the world. Next we head for the causeway to enter into Malaysia. Check into the Thistle Inn of Johor Baru, take a swim, and then enjoy a relaxing evening with a cultural show and Malay dinner.
On the Johor Royal Museum Tour see three centuries of royal souvenirs and family history within the walls of the palace where the Malaysian royalty lived. Known as the Grand Palace and Royal Sultan Abu Bakar Museum, the museum is located in the northern wings of the Grand Palace, or Is-tana Besar, of the sultan. The palace was built in 1866 and is a grand example of Anglo-Malay architecture. We will also visit the Handicraft Center & Rotary Project, then enjoy a delicious dinner of the freshest seafood.
After breakfast take a guided city tour of Johor, which includes temples and a kampong house, Johor Lama. For lunch we go to a South Indian restaurant. Afternoon will be for a swim and siesta or optional batik shopping. After dinner we go to the Night Market.
After checking out of our hotel, we take a scenic drive along the old coastal road to the state of Negri Sembilan. Many Minangkabau people have migrated here. Visit the museum in the capital city of Seremban and have a tasty Malay lunch. We continue our exploration in the afternoon and tonight enjoy a dinner of regional Malaysian specialties.
Today we see the many sights of historic Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old town sits on a centuries old trade route which was conquered by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and then the British. It features Dutch style buildings called Stadthuys, which are painted to resemble the marble of Rotterdam. Nestled among the many ancient sights of Malacca is the oldest Taoist Temple in Southeast Asia, dating back to the 1400s. The town is also the cultural home of the Straits-born Chinese who are known for some of the best cuisine in the world. We'll try some of this wonderful Peranakan food for lunch. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel at Port Dickson. After a final dinner together we enjoy our last tropical sunset on the beach.
Check out of our hotel and head for the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for the flight home.
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Asia Malaysia Indonesia Singapore Local Culture Cultural Journey National Parks