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Genting Highlands

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Asia : Southeast Asia : Malaysia : East Coast : Pahang : Genting Highlands
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Scale model of Genting Highlands

Genting Highlands [1] — pronounced ghen-ting with a hard "G" — is in Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia.

Understand

Officially known as Resorts World Genting and a self-proclaimed City of Entertainment, Genting is Malaysia's low-budget, family-friendly, sanitized attempt at Las Vegas. The primary draw is that Genting is the only place where you can gamble legally in Malaysia, but there's also a theme park to keep the kids amused. The resort offers six hotels with 10,000 rooms, over 50 fun rides, 170 dining and shopping outlets, shows, business convention facilities and entertainment options. As a plus, being located up in the highlands means it's cooler than the steamy lowlands. Genting attracted 19.2 million visitors in 2008.

But before you get too excited, tone down your expectations a bit. Genting is cheap and tacky, and not in a good way: nearly everything is overpriced and a bit run-down and since 2010 it is also facing competition from neighbouring Singapore's two new Intergrated Resorts with Casinos at Resort World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Those of an environmentally conscious disposition may want to skip the Genting Highlands altogether, as the sight of vast concrete structures and day-glo coloured theme park rides set in the forested highlands could be positively traumatic.

Orientation

Orienting yourself in Genting is simultaneously easy and difficult. There are no "streets" of any kind; instead, all the gigantic buildings are connected with a vast warren of linkways, underground tunnels and escalators, all filled with enough signage to stop you from getting lost. Figuring out the fastest route from A to B is not always easy though, because the signage is designed to lead you into the hotels and their casinos!

Climate

Located at an altitude of 1800 m (5900 ft), temperatures in Genting are a good 5-10°C lower than in Kuala Lumpur, generally staying in the 15-25°C range. On a clear day, there are stunning views down into the valley — but when it's raining in Kuala Lumpur, Genting is swathed in rolling clouds and visibility drops to zero. Thanks to the walkway system, you almost never need to venture outside, but hotel rooms are unheated and can get chilly at night.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport is in Kuala Lumpur. Skybus [2] used to run direct buses, but seems to have stopped; the fastest way is thus to KL Sentral by train (28 min) and then connecting to the bus from there. Alternatively, if you're feeling flush after hitting a jackpot in the casino, Sabah Air (tel. +60 3 62578604) will be happy to charter a helicopter for you (30 min).

By bus

Genting Skyway on a misty day

There are frequent buses operated by Go Genting Express Bus from various points in Kuala Lumpur (first bus at 8AM or 8:30AM), including the Puduraya bus terminal (every 30 min), KL Sentral train station (half-hourly and hourly), Hentian Pasarakyat (hourly) and Gombak (half-hourly and hourly). There are also less comfortable buses from Pekeliling Bus Station to Genting Highlands (every 20 to 30 mins, first bus at 7AM). Booking in advance is advisable as services can sell out, especially on weekends.

All buses take around one hour and cost around RM 5 one way, with most terminating at the bus terminal beside the Skyway cable car base station, from where it's an 11-minute ride up to the summit of Genting (RM 5 one-way; the top cable station is in the Highlands Hotel). You have to wait more than 45 min for the next cable car. It is slightly cheaper to buy a combined bus and cable car ticket, costing less than RM 10. Buses departing at 8PM and 9PM on Fri, Sat and Sun head directly to the First World Bus Terminal, making it unnecessary to take the cable car up. The buses that depart at 9PM, 10PM and 11PM on Fri, Sat and Sun for KL Sentral from Genting leave from the First World Bus Terminal, making it unnecessary to take the cable car down. A direct non stop bus departs from Genting to KLCC, the last bus departing at 8PM ( RM 35 one-way; travel time 2 hrs, reservation available at bus counter no:3 )

You may also consider buying the so-called Go Genting Golden Package (valid for one day only; RM 47, (RM 4 more on national public holdiays) from the Genting ticket office on the second level of KL Sentral. This package includes the return bus journey (same day only) between KL (KL Sentral and three other points of departure) and Genting bus terminal, the return cable car ride (same day only) and buffet lunch at the Coffee Terrace or Outdoor Theme Park day pass. You have to decide on what time you want to return from Genting when you purchase the package.

Transtar [3] operates one daily superluxury "Solitaire" bus direct from Singapore (S$87/77 one-way from/to Singapore). Other companies running direct buses include Five Star Tours, Grassland, Konsortium and Easibook.

By car and taxi

Genting can be reached by car from Kuala Lumpur in about 1 hr on the Karak Highway. An executive taxi from the centre of Kuala Lumpur to Genting costs RM150-RM200 whilst a regular taxi from the centre of KL to Genting costs around RM60-RM70.

Get around

All hotels in Genting (except Awana) are connected by sheltered walkways and escalators, so you never actually need to go outside. The entire complex is, theoretically, wheelchair accessible.

See & Do

Casinos

The dimly lit, surreal kitsch of the First World Plaza indoor theme park-cum-shopping mall

Let's face it: if you aren't into theme park rides, the only thing to do in Genting is gamble. All casinos are open 24 hrs, although you must be over 21 and, if Malaysian, not Muslim to enter. A notional but widely ignored dress code applies, prohibiting T-shirts, shorts and sandals, and while there are theoretical non-smoking zones here and there, all casinos are wreathed in dense smoke. One final difference to Vegas: not only are there no cocktail waitresses, but you can't even buy a drink inside.

Table games of choice are roulette, baccarat and Chinese games such as tai sai and pai gow, with poker barely registering. There are also countless slot machines, but they all require signing up with Genting's WorldCard [4] system if you want to withdraw any winnings.

  • Monte Carlo Casino, Genting/Highlands Hotel. This is easily the largest of the casinos and you'll probably find your vice of choice in here somewhere — they even have a few video poker machines. Visitors with foreign passports are allowed to enter the "International Room" VIP zone if they agree to sign up to WorldCard.
  • Hollywood Casino, Genting/Highlands Hotel.
  • StarWorld Casino, First World Hotel.

No bags are allowed inside, but lockers are available (RM 3), as well as a manned deposit point for more valuable goods like laptops. Photography inside the casinos is strictly prohibited.

Entertainment

  • Arena of Stars, [5]. Hosts concerts and shows most weekends, but most feature B-grade Chinese pop stars or Western artists well past their prime.
  • First World Plaza, Malaysia's self-proclaimed highest shopping mall, this is an ungainly mix of indoor theme park and low-rent shopping mall with replicas of random landmarks from around the world, all covered with a giant metal roof that makes the entire place seem dark and dingy.
  • First World Cineplex, Times Square, First World Plaza. Two small cinemas.
  • Genting International Convention Centre (GICC). Convention center with various halls capable of hosting events, concerts and performances for up to 2,000 people.

Theme parks

  • Genting Outdoor Theme Park, [6]. Features numerous rides typical of an amusement park, mostly suitable for children. Day pass RM 38 (off-peak), RM 44 (peak); express-lane RM 57 (off-peak), RM 66 (peak). You may use the Go Genting Golden Package (see above 'Get in by bus') to obtain a day pass.
  • First World Indoor Theme Park, (located in the First World Plaza). Features numerous rides. Day pass 26 RM (off-peak), 30 RM (peak). This day pass does not cover Signature Attractions such as Ripley's Museum (RM 30), Snow World (RM17), Genting Sky Venture (simulated sky diving) (RM 50), etc.
  • A combined day pass for the outdoor and indoor theme parks cost RM 51 (off-peak) and RM 59 (peak)

Nearby attractions

  • Chin Swee Caves Temple
  • Cradle Rock
  • Genting Sempah Welcome Arch
  • Genting Strawberry Farm
  • Kilometre 7 Nursery
  • Highlands Mushroom Farm
  • Highlands Vegetable Farm
  • Highlands Daylily Farm
  • The Visitors' Galleria
  • Genting Strawberry Leisure Farms (Mushroom Farm in the same location)

Buy

  • First World Plaza, in First World Hotel, [7]. The First World Plaza has got to be the coolest, if not the highest shopping destination in Malaysia. It carries over 90 labels with F&B outlets and attractions for all ages!

Eat

Food in Genting is generally overpriced and mediocre. Local, Western and fast food are available, but prices are often twice or more what the same meal would cost in Kuala Lumpur. Most restaurants are halal to cater for the large number of Muslim visitors.

Budget

There are a number of fast food chains like McDonald, Burger King, KFC, and Marrybrown. All these restaurants charge about 50% higher than what they charge elsewhere in Malaysia. Try Marybrown's Nasi Lemak meal as breakfast: one piece of chicken, a hot tea/coffee, and other Nasi Lemak condiments for RM ~10.

  • Penang Food Village, (Theme Park Hotel). would be unremarkable anywhere else in Malaysia, but in Genting it's a notch above the competition: prices are reasonable (most remain under RM10), there are no crowds or clouds of smoke, and the food is tasty. Try the lor mee (noodles in black gravy). The spicy prawn noodle soup and the Penang Fried Kway Teow are not to be missed.The prawn noodles are nice too.

Herbal soup near Genting Skyway- It's just a small shop selling herbal soup from RM8.80++. You can add rice for RM2++. Tasty soup and affordable price. One of the cheaper food options in Genting.

Mid-range

There are some decent Chinese restaurants like the Causeway Bay (FW Plaza Second floor) and Shanghai 10 (FW Plaza Main Atrium). They serve good food and a meal for 3 (1 main course, side dish and a drink per pax) should not cost you more than RM 60.

  • Coffee Terrace, Genting Hotel. Newly renovated restaurant with an international buffet in plush settings, with many chefs cooking on-the-spot upon your orders. It serves 6 different cuisines - Local, Nonya, Chinese, Japanese, Western and Indian. Recommendations include Penang Fried Kway Teow, Chicken Rice, Indian Naan, Japanese Sashimi (really fresh) and Medium-well beef steak. Breakfast (5:30AM-10:30AM) RM 35 nett, lunch (12noon-2:30PM) RM 55 nett, dinner (5PM-9:30PM) RM 65 nett. Children pay half price for all meals. The Go Genting Golden Package (see above, 'Get in by bus') may be used to cover the cost of a buffet lunch here.

Splurge

  • The Olive, (Genting Hotel). Genting's signature award-winning restaurant, located in the hotel lobby, attractively done in a very modern style. Very expensive, but if you're going to splurge, you might as well go whole hog and try the Wagyu steak, flown in directly from Japan.

Drink

Nightlife in Genting is very limited. There are four (4) bars of any description in the entire complex, three of them (Safari, Cloud 9, All Sports) in the lower level of the Genting Hotel and one (Patio) on the second floor of the First World Hotel.

  • Safari, Genting Hotel (lower level). Tropical jungle theme, spinning R&B.
  • Cloud 9, Genting Hotel (lower level). A more relaxing lounge.
  • All Sports Bar
  • Patio Bar & Lounge

There are several cafes around such as Starbucks Coffee and Coffee Beans & Tea Leaf available in the First World Hotel.

Sleep

With 10,000 rooms to choose from, there are usually plenty of beds at Genting. On weekdays in the off-season, rooms can be very cheap indeed (under RM 20), but demand is highly seasonal and the hotels fill up fast in November and December. Note that all rooms are unheated and can thus get chilly at night!

All hotels are run by Genting and share the same reservations center, reachable online or by phone at +60 3 27181118.

  • First World Hotel, [8]. Catering towards the masses and the budget conscious, this three-star monolith with gaudy exterior paint is (by some measures) the biggest hotel in the entire world, with 6,118 rooms in two towers. And you aren't likely to forget it: check-in queues often stretch over an hour, room numbers have five digits and the enormous First World Cafe's breakfast buffet has all the charm of a reform school cafeteria. Standard/deluxe rooms are spartan but clean. The main selling point is the price: while rack rate is RM 240, advance booking weekday promotions go for as little as RM 20.
  • Genting Hotel, [9]. One of the earliest to open in the Highlands, this 5-star hotel offers a wide range of entertainment and recreational facilities such as heated indoor swimming pool, 10 restaurants (including the award-winning, The Olive), and a large karaoke center. Rates from RM 235 nett (low season).
  • Highlands Hotel, [10]. This 5-star hotel is supposed to be furnished as a Scottish castle with dark oak panels and low lighting. 932 rooms, open to invited high rollers and Genting WorldCard Silver and above only.
  • Resort Hotel, [11]. The Resort is a four-star hotel adjacent to the Genting Hotel with its own section of the Casino and three F&B outlets. Standard low season rates from RM 160 nett.
  • Theme Park Hotel, [12]. A French-themed castle-village-hotel notionally modeled on the 16th-century village of Colmar in Alsace, France, complete with drawbridge. It ranks as a 3 star hotel, with affordable yet comfy rooms.

Outside Genting

There is cheaper accommodation available a couple km down the slope from the cable car base station, such as Hotel Seri Malaysia.

  • Goh Tong Hall Residence, beside the Chin Swee Temple [13] - 110 rooms, all rooms with attached shower; off-peak single/double RM 50, triple RM 70; peak single/double RM 110, triple RM 130.

Contact

Both Genting Hotel and First World Plaza have Internet cafes. There is also a post office on the lower level of Genting Hotel.

Get out

Kuala Lumpur - the capital of Malaysia, just 45 minutes away
Fraser's Hill - another nearby hill resort located on the same mountain range as Genting
Kuala Gandah - home to a famous elephant sanctuary
Bentong - a town in Pahang, just an hour's drive away
Kuantan - seat of the state of Pahang, about three hours away



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