If you’re spending time in Kuala Lumpur and would like to escape the heat and humidity of the bustling capital for a couple of days, it’s a good plan to head for the hills, where the weather becomes cooler the further you climb.
It should take just over an hour to reach Genting Highlands by road, depending on traffic and time of travel. Your main port of call for visiting the top attractions in the area is likely to be the Awana Skyway, and when you finally reach this gateway to the high life, you’ll find yourself flying through the mists, with a gentle breeze caressing the trees, above a lush green carpet of grasses and ferns, verging on rainforest territory.
Rain does indeed come with the territory, so if you’ve just left Kuala Lumpur clad only in a tee shirt and shorts, be prepared for sudden showers. An umbrella, raincoat and sturdy shoes won’t go amiss if you want to make the most of exploring this area.
Before heading to that hill-top gondola ride, make the Batu Caves your first stop on the route. The site can be reached by a minor detour from central Kuala Lumpur to Genting. Here, you will be rewarded with the spectacular sight of a golden Buddha guarding a flight of candy-striped steps up to a temple cave hidden in the rock face.
On approach to the statue, you’re likely to encounter a few monkeys fighting and bickering over scraps of food, before making their escape to the top of one of the temple buildings to eat their snack in peace. Show more respect for this sacred site than these cheeky monkeys do, by taking off your shoes and leaving them at the entrance when you set off to explore the temple buildings filled with ornate carvings.
After leaving the temple and continuing onwards and upwards, expect to feel the temperature drop and the air freshen. When you reach the Awana Skyway, you will find the Awana Station at mid-hill and the Sky Avenue Station at the peak. With the same ticket, you can stop off at the Chin Swee Station in between.
The magnificent Chin Swee Caves Temple is laid out on an even grander scale than the Batu Caves. Here, you will find winding pathways climbing up the hillside, a pagoda, and temples packed with colourful friezes and statues. There are 17 attractions marked on the map, and it would be ambitious to visit them all, especially if your time here is limited. Instead, simply cherry-pick the ones that take your fancy.
The Chin Swee temple itself is at be top of the list, closely followed by the Buddha Temple and impressive Buddha statue, which is 15 metres in height. Climbing to the top of the pagoda affords a good overview of the site. The waterfall and Bridge of Fairies are intriguing, and worth a detour, if they capture your imagination, but caution is advised before visiting the Chambers of Hell, unless you have a strong stomach for upsetting scenes of violence and torture.
Visitors to the temple are well-catered for in terms of souvenir shops, snack bars and restaurants. Chin Swee Vegetarian Cuisine, located in the Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong Hall, is a pleasant and spacious place to eat, with scenic views and plenty of tables, and serves a selection of dishes, including rice and noodle dishes, dim sum, custard buns, and local specialities.
Alternatively, you may wish to make your way up to Resorts World Genting, at the top of the Awana Skyway, for eating, shopping and leisure facilities. The Skytropolis indoor theme park has rides for younger children, while the Skyworlds Theme Park holds more appeal for families with older children. Here, you can glimpse the future at Andromeda Base, the site of a “Galactic adventure” which has the feel of a sci-fi film set, or step back in time into a pre-historic world themed around the Ice Age film franchise, featuring Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger. Central Square is the place to go for a bite to eat, where options on offer include Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips or pizza and pasta at the Italian trattoria.
If you still have time to spare during your stay, you might consider a trip to the Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm. A special variety of the fruit is cultivated here, meaning that delicious strawberries; red, ripe and ready-to eat, can be grown all year round. Enjoy!
Genting Highlands Hotels and Where to Stay
Places to stay in the Genting Highlands resort include the Geo Hotel, a high-rise tower block in a central location. The Swiss Garden Hotel and Residences are in a brutalist building of rooms and apartments, which is in a convenient location, but has the disadvantage that both residents and hotel guests are packed into the slow and overcrowded lifts. The AYU Awana is a relatively new hotel with a poolside lounge and a restaurant serving smokehouse & grill specialities.
Thank you to Angela Lord for this guide.