Because we had both just started a new jobs and were unable to take long leave, my SO surprised me with a short getaway to Malaysia for my birthday.
My birthday falls in end November, which coincides with the beginning for the North-East Monsoon period*. Although the Monsoon season brings more rain, Malaysia sits on the equatorial region and enjoys strong sunshine all year round. *South East Asia faces 2 monsoon seasons a year (info)
Traveling there from Singapore takes about 4 hours of journey by Car and I did not notice any public transport services available. In fact, the resort seems pretty isolated so its recommended that you get there via private transport or by coach (ticketing site).
Our transport to the resort leaves from The Singapore Flyer at 8am so we took a nice cool morning walk from City Hall MRT via the underground link mall, exiting at The Esplanade and continuing along the Singapore river.
As you take this route, you will be able to enjoy sights of a stunning metropolitan city. In the background, harsh skyscrapers of the business district contrast against the soft lights of dawn giving the feeling of a city at rest. Across the river, you will spy one Singapore’s most iconic and luxurious architectural landmarks: Marina Bay Sands and in the Gardens By The Bay, a beautifully designed lush green break from the concrete jungles.
Starting our journey via a Coach:
There are no shops open so early along the way, so if necessary, prepare snacks for the journey beforehand. Although the journey is states as 4-5 hours, do expect some traffic jam at the Tuas Link to enter Malaysia. You will have to go through custom twice, once on Singapore’s side and once on Malaysia’s side. Remember to check your passports expiry date (your passport has to be valid for more than 6 months) before traveling.
There is a convenience store after you exit the Malaysia customs and toilets are available at both customs though its best that you bring tissue paper with you as it is not provided.
Once we crossed the customs (took us about 1.5 hours), the tour bus brought us to have breakfast at a coffeeshop. Food wasn’t fantastic but it filled our stomachs with a proper meal.
Due to delays in the morning (some passengers forgot to bring employment passes for their helper who was traveling along and had to go back to get it), we only arrived at the resort at around 3pm as the driver lost his way as well so I am unable to give you an accurate estimate on how long the journey was.
Arriving at the Resort:
I don’t know if its because I was stuck on the bus for very long but the moment I got off the bus, I felt instantly happy when i heard the sound of waves in a distance.
We entered the cool shade of the Bali styled reception area and proceeded to check-in. The staff that served us was pretty rude and very slow. I got a little irritated so my SO chased me off to the seaside to relax while managed the check-in process.
Here are some pictures of the resort taken on my Olympus Tough TG-3.
With the exception of the reception area, the rest of the resort stretches out into the straits of Malacca in the shape of a Palm Tree. The rooms are located along the “trunk” and “leaves” of the resort and are decorated in a beautiful Modern Balinese style with high wood ceilings matched with understated furnishings and a washroom with beautiful textured stone features.
Because of its isolated location, don’t expect to find shopping malls or fast food around. The resort itself is home to 7 restaurants serving Asian and Western food. They also have an International Buffet which I tried on my Birthday night. But quite frankly, food was not fantastic and very much overpriced.
For cheaper alternatives you can exit the resort turn right and walk along the small road next to the beach. There you will find a coffee shop and seafood eateries. You get to choose your fish and crabs and can tell the chef how to cook it (i.e. with Belachan Chilli, BBQ, Deep fried). I found that most of the seafood don’t look very fresh so we took a long time to find something acceptable and eventually ordered a salted-grilled fish and deep fried squid (Sotong). You cannot miss eating satay in Malaysia and the only satay stall there made really tender and delicious satay.
If you turn left after exiting of the resort, there seems to be a some pop up market stands there. I am not sure if it is only available on weekends but if its open, you can purchase items such as swimwear or floats at a fraction of the price found in the resort’s shop.
Because of its close proximity to KL(about 1-1.5hrs drive), the resort offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from KL city center. There is only one trip per day so my SO and I decided not to go since we wanted to enjoy the resort.
We were spoiled for choice when it came to choosing our activities for our stay. The resort offers many complimentary activities throughout the day. You can join Yoga sessions in the morning by the beach or learn Zumba in the evening.
They also have a private beach where the activities shack is located. There you can try out activities like beach cart sailing and beach speed sailing where there are instructors on hand to help you if necessary.
Depending on weather and tide conditions,there are also water sports that you can try out such as windsurfing, paddle-boarding, canoeing and sailing.
I love it so much I spent an entire day at the beach.
But alas, all good things come to an end. The coach picked us up at 3.30pm for our return trip. The journey home took longer than the journey there because our coach broke down half-way and we had to wait more then 2 hours for a replacement coach. Also, note that on Sundays there are usually huge jams getting out of Malaysia so our ride back actually took 9hours!
Despite the problems we had with the coaches (I’m pretty mad that the tour agency, WTS Travel didn’t even apologize for both incidents.), the resort was a pretty relaxing stay.
But whether, it is worth it or not depends on your expectations. A stay there is on the pricey side but for us, it was pretty worth it considering that we really did engage a lot of their activities that can be quite expensive to do in Singapore.