This question is pretty high on the list of questions newcomers to KL ask: where to go on a quick getaway from KL? We have put together a list of our favourite weekend trips with kids from KL. In this first post, will list those that you can get to in 3 hours by car – obviously traffic permitting.
1. Port Dickson – Best resorts
What Port Dickson loses in scenery, it gains in proximity to KL. Only 90 minutes away, it is a great short getaway – or even a day at the beach. We think the best place to stay in Port Dickson is the Avillion, which offers a variety of rooms. They also have family packages worth checking out. Perks for kids are a pool with a slide, kids’ activities and a possibility to feed rabbits and chickens every morning. During school holidays (local and Singaporean) the place is heaving, but quiet can be found at the beach furthest away from the resort. Talking about the beach, it is clean from rubbish and fine for sand castles, but the sea is considered out-of-bounds by many.
Voted as one of the best Port Dickson resorts by Tripadvisor, Thistle is a good second choice. It fits the formula for a “family friendly Asian beach resort” with enough to keep young ones occupied in the kiddie pool while the adults lounge around within a safe distance. Play room for under 5s? Check (and loaded with LEGOs). Afternoon activities for older kids? Check. Game room, movie room with bean bags, ping-pong table & outdoor sports all available. A wide array of dishes at the restaurant buffet and clean rooms. Along with friendly staff and lots of open space, Thistle is a fair weekend treat, although it is starting to show its age. The big draw for us, however, was the beach bar/cafe which allowed the adults to sip on sunset cocktails or afternoon coffees while watching the children happily play in the sand.
2. Pangkor Island and Pangkor Laut
It takes about three hours to drive to Lumut, where you can take either the public ferry or your hotel’s boat to Pangkor Island. The beaches are beautiful despite the island lying in the murky Malacca Straits. Now that the good value Pangkor Island Resort is under renovation for the next two years, we have unfortunately no recommendation for accommodation on Pangkor – if you do, please share, there are many options to choose from. Tiger Rock has been recommended by friends with extra mention of yummy food.
Next door on a private island is the Pangkor Laut resort, run by the ever classy YTL group. The YTL hotels offer a good value residents’ package that includes all meals – that are generally very good. Small children stay and eat for free.
Kids are not allowed in the water villas or the Spa village. The hill villas offer great views but due to lots of stairs are not very convenient with pushchairs or lazy walkers, so Garden villas may be the most convenient for families with little ones. They are also the closest to the pool and the main restaurants.
The beach is on the opposite side of the island from the main resort (you get there by shuttle car) and is very picturesque. Rubbish floating in with the tide may be an issue but the beach is kept very clean. There is a restaurant on the beach and the sun loungers are nestled in the shade. As in all YTL hotels, the service is top-notch and staff is very attentive to kids. Read our full review of this lovely resort here.
3. The Dusun
Just over an hour away, in a forest reserve in Seremban, the Dusun is like a secret hideaway in the jungle. The swimming pools make sure you can while away a day or two listening to the sounds of the forest. There is a waterfall nearby but you might get sucked dry by the mosquitoes before you get there.
There are different cottages to stay in, and especially the newest ones are tastefully decorated. The older chalets are pretty rustic and our friends who stayed in one of them with a baby complained of mosquitoes and creepy crawlies – hardly surprising since the huts don’t have walls! We ordered a Malaysian barbecue dinner and it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in Malaysia, enjoyed at sunset on the patio by the pool.
Club Med is a resort group that understands how parents “need a holiday from the holiday.” A 3-hour drive from KL is Club Med Cherating where our 3 kids (under 7) enjoyed the Petit & Mini Clubs so much that my husband and I practically had to force them to have some fun with US. How could they not when they were greeted each morning by a big “hurrah!” just for turning up? And of course, the myriad of activities that allowed them some creativity and independence within safe confines. In the meantime, we were among parents and swinging singles sipping the signature mocktail in the Adults-only zen space, a shuttle-ride away from the busy and buzzy main pool and bar.
Club Med Cherating comes with a hefty price tag for a resort that has been around awhile, we thought it was excellent value – but we know many friends have been a bit disappointed on more recent visits. Full-board, free flow on alcoholic beverages, a good buffet selection, enthusiastic service from the hardworking “G.O.’s” who ensure that guests are entertained throughout the day (and may even politely ask you if they could join your table for lunch or dinner), well-rested parents and, best of all, happy, happy kids.
If you are looking for something more low-key, have a look at our posts on beach breaks in Cherating here and here. The new chalets of Tanjung Inn smack on the beach are a good option for a simple weekend on the beach, and river cruises and turtle sanctuary make for a nice break from playing in the sand.
*Hyatt Regent Kuantan is currently closed for renovations. Please check with the hotel when they reopen.
The nearest point on the East Coast for KLites, the stretch starting from Kuantan up to Cherating has wide beaches and waves good for newbie surfers. The Hyatt Regency is not quite the five-star resort it maybe once was, but it is quite adequate for a one-nighter away from hazy KL. It has two swimming pools, a few dining options (and a lot of fast food joints just outside) and of course the beach is fantastic. When we stayed the hotel seemed to suffer from chronic problems that made all the surfaces in the rooms drip with condensation but hey, it’s the beach we came for.
If you are looking for something else than a beach holiday, give Ipoh a chance. Small town famous for its food (where in Malaysia isn’t?). It is also one of the few places in Malaysia that is well connected by rail, the ETS train service from KL that takes about 2,5 hours. Kids will enjoy the murals on the streets of Ipoh and there is a vibrant café scene. What do in Ipoh with kids? Check our picks here. We stayed at The Haven, a resort with spacious apartments on the outskirts of Ipoh.
If you drive, do a quick stopover at Kelly’s castle, ruins of an old manor house or rather a castle built by a Scottish planter for his wife in true Taj Mahal style. It is pretty much in ruins but makes a good back drop for photos and ghost stories. There are also many cave temples around Ipoh to explore.
Highlight for kids in Ipoh must be the Lost World of Tambun, water park, an amusement park and more. It is set against beautiful scenery and is not as daunting as many of the mega theme parks. In the second part of our favourite getaways we list the ones that require a bit more sitting in the car – but are definitely worth it!
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