Of all the immigration lines at the airports we have been to, KUL was the worst. Getting through their immigration was a nightmare – huge lines with absolutely no discipline – cutting lines were rampant - security personnel added to the chaos by creating new lines impromptu. We landed around 4PM and it took us more than two hours to get past immigration. Asia Famous Tours and Travels representative was at the airport. As the following day was a holiday (Malaysia Day September 16, 2011), traffic was heavy all the way to Genting. All said and done, it was past 9PM by the time we reached our hotel in Genting. We checked out the convenience store at the gas-station we stopped en route – it was well stocked but unlike Thailand, liquor including beer and wine are not available at general grocery stores. The driver also stopped at the cable car ticket counter (Genting Skyway Complex at Gohtong Jaya) to purchase tickets – he was unsure whether the tickets could be used the next day but it said on the tickets they were valid for three days. The package only promised one-way tickets but we were able to use the round-trip tickets both ways – our guess is that although the agency purchases two-way tickets, they are unaware of the three-day window – pretty lame but good for their clients! The itinerary also had a photo stop for Batu caves on the way to Genting – we mentioned that to the driver who said we were too late and asked us to contact the emergency contact number from Genting.
First World Hotel is the world’s largest hotel with 6118 rooms in two 28 floor towers (Tower 1 and Tower 2). Understanding the lay-of-the-land can help immensely for everything can be a bit chaotic: The First World Hotel complex consists of two other large facilities - the First World Plaza which hosts the indoor theme park, casinos, restaurants, and a huge shopping mall and the Genting International Convention Center with a walkway connecting them with the First World Hotel main towers and other hotels (Genting Hotel, Highlands Hotel, and Resort Hotel). Across from the Resort Hotel are two other hotels: Theme Park Hotel and Theme Park Hotel – Valley Wing. At the front of the First World Complex is the Outdoor Theme Park with a lake. Casinos at the Genting First World Hotel are open through the night and so it was easy to exchange money inside the casino (2.99 to a dollar - Mayband counter) – the conversion rate was OK but not outstanding. The huge food court at the indoor theme park in the First World Plaza is open only till 10 PM. The few other restaurants that were open were all in winding-down mode. We headed to the McDonald's, across the street (use the indoor walkway as opposed to walking across the main street). There are no general stores inside the facility although there is a Watson’s pharmacy store that stocks basic stuff. Rooms in the First World Hotel are fairly basic, typical of standard rooms in other large casino towns such as Las Vegas and Reno.
Breakfast for First World Hotel clients is served at the restaurant in Level 8 (Tower 2). It is more like a huge college cafeteria. We were there early (around 7AM) but it was already packed – choices were aplenty and we went with Malaysian specialties mostly – variety dumplings, pad Thai, etc. The vegetarian restaurant on the other side was practically empty. The bell counter was fairly busy around 8AM taking us about 20 minutes to check-in baggage. Checking out using the check-out kiosk was a breeze, though. Our pickup from the hotel was for 5:30 PM and so we had the whole day in front of us. Below are the highlights of our day at Genting Highlands:
- Genting Sky Train cable car ride (5 Ringgits one-way): The Sky Train is at the Highlands hotel building, which is a bit of a walk (indoors through elevators in the walkway). Each car accommodates 3-4 people on both sides. Cars go by continuously and visitors hop-on as soon as they reach the front of the line. The ride is ~15 minutes one way with great views of the canopy of the rainforest below. Apparently the area is devoid of animals because of the electric fencing around the private acreage.
- Indoor-Outdoor theme park (56 Ringgits for Adults online – counter pricing higher): The tour company supplied us full-day tickets for the indoor-outdoor theme park. We exchanged them for wrist bands at the ticket counter in the indoor theme park. We did a train roller coaster ride in the indoor theme park and also checked out the Robots-Mars 4D show – both are suitable for children below 10 although adults can accompany. In the outdoor theme park, we went for a rollercoaster ride and pedal boating. Lines at the park were generally OK – never had to wait for more than 15 minutes. The outdoor theme park rides close when there is rain and reopen 15-30 minutes after the rain stops.
- Awana Skyway (3 Ringgits one-way) and Chin Swee Temple: Awana Skyway has a larger cable car that comes around once every 15 minutes or so and goes to the Chin Swee Temple complex. There is also a free shuttle roughly every half hour from the Highlands hotel and we availed of that option on our return trip. Chin Swee Temple complex is impressive with thirteen levels. The 10th level has a hotel lobby and the deity is at level 7. There are several Buddha statues and smaller temples around the area. The main structure visible from the Highlands hotel is what is called the Million Buddha Tower (pagoda) with ten levels.
- Lunch and Snacks: Lunch was at the Pizza hut at the First World Plaza – large pepperoni and water for around 40 Ringgits. We also tried several local snacks later in the day at the food court – fried durian (three for 5 Ringgits), manjo pastry, taro grass jelly, etc. The kids went for ice-cream at Baskin Robbins and we went with coffee to wind-up our day.
Asia Famous Tours and Travels service was the only disappointment for the day as our driver showed up 90 minutes late after a few phone calls to their emergency number. Their services were generally unprofessional, making us wait for long periods throughout our three days in Malaysia. Even with that, the trip was thoroughly enjoyable.
Last Updated: 10/2012.
Last Updated: 10/2012.