In this second part of best family getaways from KL (first part here) you need to be prepared to charge those Ipads and get on the road early. Travel time is still relative: by the time you would be at KLIA and boarding your flight, you are more than half way to any of these places. These are some of our favourite spots within 5 hours drive from KL:
1. Batu Batu
If my bank account would allow it, I would go to Batu Batu once a month. The beach looks like an ad for Maldives and the little details like children’s annexes with bunk beds in the chalets, reasonably priced babysitting and high quality kids’ meals make it a dream come true for families. All the important things are right as well: food is excellent, service friendly and the approach is to be ecological and sustainable.
It takes about 4,5-5 hours to drive to Mersing from KL. From the jetty Batu Batu is a 20 minute boat ride away. The resort is popular with Singaporean families and tends to get busy on the weekends and holidays. At busy times it may not be to the liking of those without kids. But even then you can walk along the beach and you’ll find a quiet spot. There is a lot of fish by the jetty and they are working on their own turtle conservation project.
Penang could have been included in our first post about short trips from KL as well, since in good traffic you can reach Georgetown in just over 3 hours. If you want to stay at the beach in Batu Ferringhi though, it will add at least half an hour to your travel time.
Penang’s beaches are not the best in Malaysia but it has the tourist infrastructure in place, and a huge variety of hotels to stay in and activities to do. Old Georgetown is great to explore on foot or a trishaw. The street art is worth checking out, as are the Clan jetties by the sea. Kids will enjoy the funicular to Penang Hill and the Spice Garden with giant snakes and ladders in Batu Ferringhi. The Escape park looks fantastic for older kids.
Penang is the food capital of Malaysia and there are countless options for eating out from the famous hawker fare to fine dining. Georgetown seems to be going through a boom of turning old shop houses into boutique hotels and cafés so finding accommodation should be a breeze. Cafés and restaurants open up at breathtaking pace in Georgetown but our favourite is China House with lovely dining and a world class cake selection. Check out our reviews on Muntri Mews and Lone Pine when looking for accommodation and more on Georgetown here.
3. Tanjong Jara, Dungun
Tanjong Jara sits on a long, wide stretch of golden sand. It is part of the YTL group, so the residents’ package is the best deal for those living in Singapore and Malaysia (at the moment starting 799RM++/night/room). Expect the usual YTL standards on a wide, windy beach. The new East Cost Highway cuts the travel time to under 4 hours, making it pretty possible as a weekend trip from KL.
Legoland doesn’t need much introductions. Trip down south may be enjoyable for the juniors only, but maybe add a night or two in Singapore, Batu Batu or the other island resorts off Mersing?
Comfortable buses run to Singapore, and the drive is not too bad, either. There is so much to do in the island-city that it can hardly be covered in a quick getaway – but it’s so close that why not make it a habit? Read our review of the lovely Shangri-La Singapore and great stuff to do with kids here and here.
6. Kapas Island
This tiny island off the East coast is surrounded by a sea just as beautiful as the more famous islands in Malaysia, but the drive to the jetty in Marang takes just about 4,5 hours, followed by a quick boat trip. Accommodation on the island is pretty limited, but we enjoyed our simple beach retreat at Kapas Turtle Valley. More photos here.
7. Perhentian Islands
Slightly over the 5 hour drive and followed by a short boat ride, Perhentian Islands just about works for a long weekend getaway. While the Malaysian islands are not always on par with Thai beach resorts on services (no juice bars, iced cappuccinos or cheap massages), they do have breathtaking beaches and beautiful sealife. Even young kids can try snorkeling and virtually all resorts welcome children. We have explored a few places in the Perhentian Islands and stayed in a new boutique resort and simple cottages – the sea is beautiful everywhere.
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