There are many ways you can get more bang for your buck on holidays – and one of the best ways is to use one flight journey to see two destinations. Asia is a popular holiday spot that’s right next door, a great spot to mix in a bit of shopping with your beach time, or some big city adventure with that relaxation. While Thailand is a definite favourite, Malaysia is just as intriguing, an up-and-coming destination that touts both bustle and bliss. We’ve put together a few sample itineraries of the kind of combos you could explore on your next getaway to these fascinating corners of Asia - but of course, you could pick’n’mix any combo you like!
Heading to Phuket? Stop in Bangkok!
Phuket is hands down the most popular – and the biggest – island in Thailand. Beautiful beaches sandwiched by tropical palms and crystal clear waters provide the ultimate patch of sand for down time, whether it’s a secluded spot you’ve discovered on your own or a stretch of sand that meets your resort. Get out and explore the incredible world beneath the water’s surface, where stunning coral reefs and marine life await, or head inland to discover the lush tropical jungle interior. If you’re looking to really let your hair down, party-central Patong always guarantees a wild night out, from over-the-top entertainment to music-riddled bars. Wherever you go though, this is an island, so the beach is never far away and you’ll always have at least a few specks of sand clinging to your toes.
While Phuket City has a touch of culture to it, you really need to explore the capital, Bangkok, to witness the epitome of Thai life. Considering a flight change in Bangkok is pretty much guaranteed en route to Phuket, you may as well jump off to explore this jam-packed metropolis of traffic, food, shopping and history. Amongst the sea of neon lights and modern skyscrapers you’ll discover ancient temples and traditional village houses, and amongst the swarm of markets and multi-level shopping centres you’ll no doubt bag a handful of bargains. Take a traditional long tail boat ride through the floating markets, sip cocktails on a fancy rooftop bar and admire the royal palaces, temples, shrines and Buddhas. It’s easy to get a piece of it all on a holiday to Thailand!
Another great Bangkok combo: Koh Samui.
Going to Langkawi? Drop by Kuala Lumpur!
Langkawi is a tropical (and duty free) paradise that’s quickly gaining popularity on travellers’ radars. An archipelago of 99 islands on the west coast of Malaysia, the waters are incredibly clear, the beaches some of the nation’s best, and the interior a beautiful mix of jungle-clad hills and lush paddy fields. A mecca for keen divers, the Straits of Malacca are home to dive sites offering a dizzying array of marine life species and hard and soft colourful corals. Even non-divers can get a glimpse at Underwater World Langkawi, on the main island of Pulau Langkawi. Here you’ll also discover waterfalls, freshwater rock pools and hot springs, as well as fabulous panoramic views from the island’s tallest mountain, Gunung Raya. Another sure highlight is the SkyCab cable car ride to the top of Machinchang Mountain, where the SkyBridge awaits suspended above the leafy canopy.
If you’re looking for some fabulous shopping while you’re in Malaysia, you can’t look past the capital Kuala Lumpur (KL). But first, be sure to browse the duty free bargains of Langkawi – from alcohol and chocolate to handicrafts and fashions. While the duty-free exemptions don’t extend to cosmopolitan KL, this is still where you’ll find the biggest range, from bustling local markets to shiny modern shopping malls. But KL is also a fascinating city for its cultural diversity, quite different to its fellow Asian counterparts. A fascinating fusion of influences, here you’ll discover historic mosques, Hindu shrines and Buddhist temples amongst the colonial architecture, glitzy skyscrapers and traditional houses. This metropolis is also home to one of the tallest buildings in the world. Aside from its man-made creations, nature lives on here too in the pretty patches of greenery that pop up around the city and thrive on the outskirts.
Other great Kuala Lumpur combos: Kota Kinabalu or Penang.