Malaysia is best known for its diverse melting pot of cultures, with Malays, Chinese and Indians making up the majority of the ethnic groups that inhabit the country. It is no wonder that the blend of cultures have led to creating one of the best cuisines and so unique to that region in the world, such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Curry Laksa and Roti Canai. Enjoy this tale of pure indulgence featuring the very best food and relaxation spots along Malaysia’s east coast, capital and most historical town.
Visit the East Coast
The east coast of the Malay Peninsula is best known for its beauteous beaches, traditional fishing villages and marine wildlife.
Stay at Tanjong Jara Resort
After a 13-hour flight, we were unprepared for a five-hour car journey across the country, especially through bouts of torrential rain. However, once we reached Tanjong Jara Resort, the sun emerged without a cloud in the sky and we were immediately greeted with a refreshing iced-Roselle tea before being shown to our rooms.
The Serambi Room is a 55 square-metre room featuring a verandah overlooking the lush tropical gardens leading to the glistening South China Sea. Inspired by the grandeur of 17th century Malay palaces, it featured rich mahogany furniture, including a quadratic wooden element on the ceiling and partitioned luxurious day bed with voile curtains for even more privacy, perfect for enjoying with a book after a day in the sun or for a pre-dinner nap.
The resort prides itself on offering an experience surrounded by Malay culture with the Kampong Sucimurni market which allowed guests to participate in local traditions such as Bamboo Dance, Batik Painting and Congkak. The highlight, of course, were the food stalls featuring local delicacies such as teh tarik, a technique ‘pulling’ tea from different containers – the result a deliciously creamy and frothy tea, apam balik, fluffy pancakes with the option of chocolate, peanuts or corn.
Relax at the Spa
The award-winning spa is the perfect remedy to a 20-hour journey. The Asam Roselle Body Treatment began by sitting in the tranquil garden wearing a traditional Malaysian sarong, with flowers embellished in my hair. Rosna, my therapist, handed me a bowl of warm water filled with Roselle flowers and said, “make a wish” before I poured the water over my head.
I was led to a treatment room where my Asam massage began. Rosna’s long kneading strokes infused with their signature blend of Roselle, ginger, nutmeg, galangal and karoteno oils were heavenly. Before I knew it, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder that it was now time for the Roselle Cream Scrub, which left my skin feeling smooth and exfoliated.
Dine on the Beach
Experience ‘Bakar Ikan Bawah Pasir’ the age-old East Coast tradition of sand cooking. As we walked towards our table in the middle of the beach, illuminated by candles and a blanket of stars, the smoky aromas of fresh seafood wrapped in banana leaves buried in sand and coconut husks over a charcoal fire, were present and arousing our appetites.
The menu included a delectable and tender South China Sea Lobster cooked in turmeric and garlic, Sand Baked Red Snapper with steamed glutinous rice in coconut milk, charred vegetables and sweetcorn, finished with a delightful mango and tapioca pearl pudding served in a young coconut.
It was a perfect meal listening to the resort’s naturalist’s guide, Captain Mok’s captivating tales of his adventures in the army – one mission which led to him spending six months in the jungle with one of Malaysia’s indigenous tribes, accompanied by the serene sound of the crashing waves.
Visit the Capital
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and rivals any modern bustling city of the world, with gleaming skyscrapers, a diverse melting pot of cultures and of course, incredible cuisines.
Stay at The Ritz-Carlton
Set in the heart of the city, The Ritz-Carlton offered an indulging sojourn, like no other. The One Bedroom Suite was 730 square feet, including a spacious living area, impressive bedroom partitioned by a wall with a mirror and dresser on one side and king-sized bed on the other, and offered excellent views of the city. The crown jewel of this contemporary palatial residence was the luxurious white marble bathroom, complete with a bathtub and shower, filled with Asprey toiletries.
Relax at the Spa
The spa at The Ritz-Carlton provided a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city and the Sensory Sound Bath was the ultimate treatment for the stresses of everyday life. The dark treatment room was illuminated by iridescent lights beaming around the room, the therapy beds were on the floor, which I would later learn, was to allow the calming vibrations emanate through the specially designed floor.
The treatment began with a full-body deep tissue massage, using warmed stones and essential-oil infused compresses, it was exquisite. This was followed by a relaxing Indian head massage, where I drifted off to the sounds of the Symphonic Gong. I emerged rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.
Dine at the Library
The Library was a slick and modern with onyx shelves filled with an extensive collection of books, from film and theatre to art and travel, and classified by colour, brings a wonderful fine dining experience to the reputable Ritz-Carlton. Chef Wai Look Chow’s quarterly seasonal menu offers contemporary international and Asian cuisine. We enjoyed the freshest ingredients from Japan, including delectable Somen noodles topped with sear urchin and herring caviar, perfectly seared Hokkaido Scallops, flavourful Brittany Turbot, finished with a perfect Choux Au.
Visit the World Heritage City of Melaka
Malacca, possesses a fascinating history and was known as the international trade centre in the East, attracting traders from the Middle East, Africa, China, India before being taken over by the Portuguese in 1511. This has created the city’s captivating charm, immersed in a rich tapestry of multicultural influences that is reflected in its architecture, diverse lifestyles and eclectic cuisine today.
Stay at The Majestic
The alluring 1920’s colonial mansion was originally built by Chinese tycoon, Leong Long Man, as his private residence, where he imported Victorian tiles and stained glass windows, which remain in today’s beautifully restored property.
An additional 54 rooms were created in the backdrop of the property in 2006. Each Deluxe Room was the perfect blend of luxury, tradition and modernity with an opulent open-planned bathroom featuring a modern shower, clawfoot bathtub, monochrome marble tiles on the floor and bedroom’s warm timber floors and teak four-poster bed, the two rooms separated by wooden sliding doors for privacy.
Explore the historical city of Malacca
Walking through the streets of Malacca, feels as if you are being transported back in time, with quaint dilapidated buildings with classic cars parked in front, churches that date back to the 17th century and the oldest Chinese temple built by 700 monks in 1773. Wander along the river and become enchanted with the murals painted on the riverfront buildings, such as several depictions of modern-day Malay women or a traditional Malay warrior about to draw his sword against a backdrop of a palace.
Enjoy a tipple in the oldest bar in Malacca, Sin Hiap Hin, spanning four generations over 100 years, serving locally made liqueurs such as lychee wine and listening to tales of the colourful history of the city. For those who prefer something without alcohol, miniature watermelons were prepared by carving a hole and blended and voila, the freshest watermelon juice in the world.
The Spa at The Majestic
The spa experience began in the relaxation room with a Melakka fruit tea on the Traditional Peranakan Chinese day beds bathed in muted sunlight, before my therapist, Radita, escorted me though one of the cream and mint green saloon doors for my pre-spa treatment, inspired by the elaborate and colourful 12-day Peranakan Wedding Ceremony. The soothing hair care ritual consisted of a gentle hair wash with shampoo and conditioned with olive oils before being rinsed with lime and flower water and concluded with a glorious head massage.
The Malay massage uses long kneading strokes, with a focus on pressure points paired with oils infused with special local ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, onion and citronella, to invigorate circulation. As soon as Radita began, I felt all the tension in my body melt away.
Dine at The Mansion
The Gin Pairing Dinner at The Mansion offered a contemporary interpretation of Kristang cuisine, a blend of Portugese and Malaccan cultures, paired with specially crafted gin cocktails. It was a remarkable blend of east meets west with both dishes and cocktails using local ingredients such as pandan leaves, sambal and blue pea flowers paired perfectly with more western ingredients, such as lamb, pomme parisienne and semolina.
Malaysia’s exceptional melting pot of cultures makes this country one of the best foodie places in the world to explore and indulge in.