Travelling in Malaysia / Singapore.
Malaysia Travel Guide
Malaysia, which celebrated 50 years of independence in 2007, is one of the rising stars of South-East Asian tourism, a nation looking to the future while cherishing the ways of the past. Centuries of trade combined with a vibrant mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and tribal influence have created a mix of peoples and culture that make it a colourful and intriguing place to visit.
Tropical island resorts and endless white, sandy beaches offer a taste of paradise, while beneath warm coral seas, world-class dive sites await exploration. Orang-utans, the oldest rainforest in the world, city skyscrapers and majestic mosques and temples, plus a gorgeous coastline, are enough to tempt even the most jaded visitor. And if that were not enough, Malaysia's culinary credentials are among Asia's finest.
The British were relatively late arrivals to the region in the late 18th century, following Portuguese and later Dutch settlement, but they played a key role following the European wars of the 1790s and, in particular, the defeat of the Netherlands by France in 1795. The Federated Malay States were created in 1895, and remained under British colonial control until the Japanese invasion of 1942.
After Japanese defeat in 1945, the 11 states were once again incorporated as British Protectorates and, in 1948, became the Federation of Malaya. In 1963, the Federation of Malaya merged with Singapore and the former British colonies of Sarawak and Sabah, on north Borneo, to form modern Malaysia. Singapore seceded to become an independent state in its own right in 1965, leaving Malaysia in its present form.
Its convoluted history highlights why Malaysia is so ethnically and culturally diverse. Even better, the magnificent landscape is no less fascinating - dense jungles, soaring peaks and lush tropical rainforests harbour abundant and exotic flora and fauna.
Singapore Travel Guide
Cultural melting pot and dazzling example of the region's economic successes, wealthy Singapore assails the senses of the first time visitor.The former British trading post and colony has carved a unique niche for itself in its two short centuries of existence, nowadays offering a vivid combination of ultra-modern skyscrapers, remnants of tropical rainforest and colourful ethnic urban areas, each with a character very much of their own.
One of the most noticeable features of this tiny but bustling city-state is its cleanliness - indeed, it is sometimes criticised for its many seemingly petty regulations, such as the banning of chewing gum - but crime is virtually unknown, and it is one of the world's safest places to visit.
Despite its rather sanitised reputation, though, Singapore is anything but dull. The visitor is spoilt for choice, for things to see and do, and in terms of vibrant nightlife, its rich cultural mix, and a whole planet's worth of culinary experiences. Singapore is a veritable feast for the senses, a heady mixture of the familiar and the exotic.
It suits all budgets, too, presenting a happy collision of opposites - grand and expensive at the famed Raffles Hotel, but low-key and cheap (but good) in the food markets of Bugis Junction and Clarke Quay.