Saturday, 31 May 2014

Genting Highlands: Getting there, renovations

Genting Highlands is under the same company, Resorts World, as Sentosa in Singapore. Genting used to be a popular destination among locals and tourists because the higher altitude makes the climate much more comfortable. It is breezy and not humid like in Kuala Lumpur. I use the past tense for "used to be popular" because it is undergoing major construction tearing down the outdoor theme park to re-build a new one with 20th Century Fox so tourism has been affected.

Genting Highlands
Getting to Genting Highlands
To get to Genting from Kuala Lumpur (KL), go to KL Sentral station to buy bus tickets. The ticket booth is a bit hard to find. It is on the second level so go up the escalator, turn left and walk straight. The booth should be on your right hand side. The bus takes you to the base of Genting and you have to take either a) a cable car or b) a free shuttle bus to the hotel area. When we went the cable car was down for its monthly maintenance so we bought the bus ticket excluding the cable car price. It cost RM8.60 for roundtrip from KL to Genting.

The ride from KL Sentral to Genting was 50 minutes in a comfortable air-conditioned and clean bus. The shuttle bus up to the hotel took about 20 minutes because it went slowly up the winding road.

KL Sentral; source: www.skyscrapercity.com
What to do at Genting
The old main highlight of Genting was the outdoor theme park but it was already closed and demolished since 2013. We stayed at the First World Hotel which is connected to the Indoor Theme Park. It is one of the largest hotels in the world with over 2000 rooms! The lobby was large with rows of chairs like at a bus terminal. The rooms are small but clean and had everything we needed except WiFi. That was a major downer that there was no WiFi in the room so we had to go to a restaurant to use it.

First World Hotel behind the theme park construction
Since there was no Outdoor Theme Park and it was raining outside (when we went) there were not much options left except to eat, walk around the First World Plaza, bowl, and look at the Indoor Theme Park. We did not go to SnowWorld because it did not interest us since I come from a country that snows. We also didn't go on any Indoor Theme Park rides because they were catered for kids and didn't gamble at the popular Genting Casino just because I don't gamble. But those are all available options.

Indoor Theme Park
There were a lot of dining options from food courts to restaurants at Genting. Prices were higher than in KL but affordable options are available. Bowling was inexpensive (RM3.60 per game during certain time) and pretty fun! First World Plaza is the shopping mall under the First World Hotel but there are only a limited number of shops.

Food places by the First World Plaza
There are shuttle buses that take you to other parts of Genting Highlands like the Chin Swee Temple (didn't go because it was raining) and Awana Hotel. However the shuttle bus times are not very frequent.

Shuttle bus schedule to Chin Swee Temple

Lastly...
Genting Highlands is very affordable to go to from KL now because hotel prices have dropped with the closing of the Outdoor Theme Park and buses are cheap. So it is worthwhile to go to but not for long periods. I was there for one full day and left the next morning. At the end of my full day I already did not know what to do because there is only so much entertainment in the indoor space. As well many things were not organized well at Genting and lacked the efficiency of another Resorts World place, Sentosa, that I was used to.

For example, the shuttle bus down to the base of the highlands to take the bus back to KL does not have a set schedule. When we asked the information desk, their reply was simply that we would have to wait in line, get on the bus, wait until the bus is full for the driver to start the vehicle. This vagueness is horrible for trying to get on the bus towards KL on time because we had already bought our tickets.

In the end we left the hotel 1.5 hours before the scheduled KL bus time to find the shuttle bus queue (which not all staff knew), queue for awhile (many tour groups ahead of us), and make the ride down. Leaving the hotel 1.5 hours beforehand for a normally 20 minute shuttle bus ride only left us with 5 minutes until the KL bus departed! This rushing could have been avoided if there was proper scheduling.

In general going to Genting can still be fun as long as you are aware of their organization problems!

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