Malaysia 2015: Formula1 Tickets Onsale Now

After scoring the deal of the century on flights and the Formula1 dates being announced I’ve been waiting for Sepang Circuit to put them on-sale.


 So how are those Formula1 plans?

When Sepang Circuit slipped the tickets on-sale last Monday I quickly secured some Topaz (Upper level, back straight) Grandstand tickets at an exceptionally good value 50% discount.  For me this was an essential part of the trip plan as my travel insurance includes event cancellation and changes in its cover.  Now if the Formula1 race is cancelled, postponed or moved I have some insurance to deal with it.

This has also meant that I’ve started feeling more comfortable about locking in the side-trips to LegoLand (yes I know I’ve been before) and for something different a couple of nights in Penang.

LegoLand Side Trip

LegoLand is located down in Southern Peninsular Malaysia and a short distance from Singapore.  So after a few days in Kuala Lumpur I’ll board my flight to Johor Bahru and spend 4-nights checking things out in a bit more detail.  Flights were cheap, I initially tried searching using a few different engines like Zuji, Bravofly, Expedia and the trusty Skyscanner only to realise that sometimes making an effort to check directly with airlines pays off.  Onto the Malaysia Airlines website I went!

So for 120RM I had return flights from KUL to JHB, including checked and carry on luggage.  Even the normally competitive AirAsia couldn’t match that!

Welcome to LegoLand
Welcome to LegoLand

I’ve yet to book the accommodation for this side-trip.  Naturally I’ll be resorting to my favoured standby of but this time will also add LastMinute, Expedia and a few others into the mix.  Heck it may be time to forget my aversion to bad spelling at check out!

Penang Side Trip

The planning for my trip to Penang was a little different.  With only a couple of nights “spare” in the itinerary and a desire to go somewhere different I hit up the usual suspects (ZujiBravoflyExpediaSkyscanner)  and once again settled on going direct with a twist.

Yes readers, I booked a flight on a smart phone via an airlines app!  It was with Malaysia Airline again, and amazingly for the same 120RM Return that I was already paying to fly KUL to JHB.  The MHMobile App worked very well right down to scanning my Credit Card!

MHMobile App
Flights to Penang via MHMobile App

A small “glitch” was having to populate all of my details into the App, I would have thought these would be imported from the profile I have with Malaysia Airlines Enrich Frequent Flyer Program.  Still it’s not too hard to set put details in and make bookings.

To push the boat out in experience even further I used the App to book corresponding accommodation in Penang!

All done while enjoying a coffee with a work colleague!

Where or rather what next?

The world of travel has come a long way in just a few short years and as I’ve now locked in some 6 nights outside of Kuala Lumpur it’s time to hit TripAdvisor and start to get some more ideas on what to do with the remaining 4 nights in KL.





Review: Legoland Malaysia; A day trip from Kuala Lumpur

As part of my trip to the Malaysian round of the Formula1 this year (2014) I took a side-trip from Kuala Lumpur to Legoland Malaysia.

See interestingly enough while the Malaysian capital city is where you’d expect to find an international theme park Legoland Malaysia is actually located in the south of peninsular Malaysia in Johor Bahru – a mere skip across from Singapore.  That’s where things start to make sense as here the park can leverage the attractions of Singapore and it’s Asia “Hub” status while enjoying the benefits of being in Malaysia.

Getting There:

I started my journey early, very early as I was booked on the first flight from the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and getting to the airport involved either throwing myself at the mercy of the local taxis for the whole journey or making use of the RM12.50 KLIA Ekspress/Bus combination to get from KL Sentral station to LCCT.   As KLIA2 is now open this journey has increased in cost (to RM35) but is now a direct sub-30 minute ride.

As I said it was early, so I ended up catching a taxi from near my hotel using the MyTeksi App to estimate the fare before haggling with the driver over the “actual” fare to be charged.  We settled on a price and within 15 minutes I was at KL Sentral buying my ticket through to LCCT.

Once I’d negotiated the mayhem that was LCCT I was on my AirAsia flight to Johor Bahru, Senai  International Airport.

Welcome to Legoland!

I arrived after a reasonably long Taxi ride with a driver who was more than happy to talk MH370 conspiracy theories, social and political development news and provide some good tour-guide style information about the Iskander state.  Back home in Australia Taxi conversation is always something I never go much for however I find Malaysian Taxi drivers to be very interesting and the issues after a lot more real than the “first world problems” that plague Australia.


After having my pre-purchased ticket scanned at the gate the park was mine – at least it felt that way, the first Tuesday in April 2014 wasn’t a big day for the guest count and I think at any one time I ended up seeing maybe 20 people.

The Attractions

Legoland Malaysia has a combination of child-friendly rides, Lego themed curiosities and of course the Mini-Lands which highlight the creativity and skills of the builders and the versatility of the blocks.

My first stop was the LegoLand Boating School ride.  To be fair this is not a ride targeted at thrill seekers, yet unlike some many rides of this type it actually has a very real level of “control”.  Yes you really do drive the boat and you can actually set your own course!

It’s a relaxing sort of ride and set the tone for the day where I’d just escape from adult reality and immerse myself in Lego.

After the nautical interlude I moved onto the Mini-Lands – here the Lego builders have created scenes from throughout Asia with some amazing detail.

From walking loops through the Mini-Lands I relaxed on-board the Legoland Express to get a “train tour” of the park.  The Express is not a full loop of the park, it mostly circles the Mini-land zone and while it was nice to sit down for around 10 minutes it wouldn’t be worth queuing up for the loop on a busy day.  Watch the video to see what I mean:

I did do a few more of the rides, in fact every ride where I didn’t need to borrow a small child OR where my 185cm put my outside the rides acceptable height parameters.  As the park was quiet it was actually possible to re-ride some of the coasters etc multiple times without leaving my seat!  Although, on one I had to get out, join the end of the queue and get back into a different car – no big deal and both the ride attendants seemed to see the funny side of it.

So was it really worth it?

Legoland Malaysia isn’t the largest theme park, nor is it the best for adult entertainment, however it is 100% successful at bringing the whimsy and fun to all comers.  As an adult I was able to enjoy the rides, take in the breathtaking skill of the parks builders and appreciate the cleanliness and professionalism of the parks attendants.  The park my have been virtually empty but everyone was doing there best to ensure the patrons had a great experience.

I didn’t see any unhappy children around the park, instead they were caught in that magic world of creativity and wonder.  The babbling of voices and excited squeals told the story at the rides and games throughout the park.

I’m not sure I’d want to whirlwind trip from KL like I did with a child or two, but it is entirely doable and by midnight I was back in my hotel in KL with photos and a silly grin on my face!



Malaysia 2015: Commitment Made!

After having a great time in Malaysia for the Formula1 in 2014 I was immediately keen to consider doing the same in 2015.  It’s no secret I like the country and find it pretty easy to get about.

So when cheap flights started appearing on Skyscanner I was starting to get a twitchy desire to book early and hope to the heck that the Formula1 calendar would stick to the “normal” late March date for the Malaysia F1 race and Sepang International Circuit.

In 2014 I spent about AUD720 on flights from my home-base in Australia to Kuala Lumpur using a combination of AirAsiaX and Virgin Australia.  The price crept up thanks to the me adding the Plaza Premium Lounge at the LCCT Terminal on departure from KL.  I also had to add in the shuttle between Sydney International and Domestic terminals.   I also up-specced my AirAsiaX ticket into the “Quiet Zone”.

So when flights started coming available via SkyScanners network of suppliers for around AUD630 including luggage, meals and all connections in Australia lets just say “Woohoo”.

Flying Malaysia Airline System (MAS)?

You bet, after air disasters there’s traditionally a massive cut in the cost of ticket prices as the airline affected struggles to attract customers back.  We’ve flown with Malaysia Airline before in 2012 on one of the their older Boeing 747s and survived.  I’m confident in 2015 the Boeing 777-200 will be an equally safe option.

Aren’t you taking a risk with the F1 dates?

Life without risk isn’t living.  Well not quite but when just about every Formula1 race held in Malaysia has been on either of the last two weekends in March, two weeks after the Australian F1 race it’s hard to not see a pattern.  I’ll be there for both those weekends but am confident the race will be on the 29th of March 2015.

Some reassurance comes when many of the ticket and event tour companies agree with my “guess”.

So there we have it, now to wait for the F1 calendar to be confirmed (probably December), then snap up some tickets for the Race via Sepang Circuit while they’re fresh (and discounted).

Last step organise the accommodation and a side trip or two.  I’d love to spend more time down in Johor and as my only trip towards northern Malaysia was to Bota Kanan Terrapin Center I would like to go up to Ipoh and spend a few days exploring.

We shall see how things go!

F1 on a Shoestring – What Went Down!

We are heading for a month since I wrote my last entry, at the time I was just 7 days away from departing for Malaysia onboard AirAsias A330 for the 2014 Malaysian GP.

Well considering part of the goal was to travel light I ended up taking   just an iPhone 4S, a Kindle and the Panasonic TZ40 to capture the moments of the trip.

So first lets answer the question of accommodation; I stayed at The Victory Exclusive in Bukit Bintang.  Rather than write yet another review here’s what I said on TripAdvisor.  In summary though – the room had no windows a comfortable bed and was generally clean and functional and for the price I’m not complaining.

As with my previous visits Malaysia had me captivated with the pace of development and the friendliness of the people.  In Australia we often like to think of our country as being “multicultural” – and for a anglo-dominated 1st world country that may be the case – but Malaysia seems to incorporate a greater mix of cultures, languages and lifestyles with a ease that I don’t feel back home.

For me this trip was all about trying to have a good time without simply throwing money at the experience.  So I grabbed a Touch’n’Go MyPass and got around like a local on the Trains, Buses and Monorail.  The added advantage was the massive cost saving compared to taxis, in 10 days I went through about 70RM (about AUD25) on the card and was on some form of mass-transit at least once!   I can’t speak highly enough of the convenience of the system and wholeheartedly recommend any traveller to Malaysia pick one up as soon as they can.



F1 on a Shoestring – A bed for the (10) nights

With my budget drained by picking up options on airfares and the travel insurance I was now in the difficult position of trying to make the accommodation fit.

As I knew I’d be travelling with minimal luggage and only staying a short time I wouldn’t need the largest room, but I did want my own room, and own bathroom.  At 39 years of age I don’t think I need to do hostel style anymore.

So I hit – we’ve been using it with moderate success to get good deals and to be honest the aggregators always have some sting in their tail – whether it is pricing only the cheapest night in the date range, forgetting about the taxes and fees or worst still having the links swapped in bait & switch fashion.

I’m familiar the “Golden Triangle” and Bit Bintang so that’s where I focussed attention.

My Search was delivering a good mix of results, and in the end after a lot of reading I settled on a choice between 3 places, chosen for their price, the reviews on and on TripAdvisor and the pictures.

The finalists were;

  • Hotel Al Jafs which offers a great price and fair reviews.  The advantage here was being basically a hundred or so metres from where we’d stayed previously in Kuala Lumpur, within stumbling distance of Paper + Toast for the morning brew and great light meals.
  • Sky Hotel Bukit Bintang, again the price was great, moreso for the stated size of the rooms and there were some stunning discounts on offer.  Location wise it’s basically on the same block as the Low Yat Plaza of electronics and gadgets – a plus – but also a wallet risking minus.
  • Victory Exclusive, buried in the Fahrenheit88 complex the key attributes are location nestled amongst malls and food courts and price that approached the upper end of my budget (I needed a good discount to get over the line).

I’ve made my booking – missing out on some of the deeper discounting – and choosing a room spec which will hopefully offer a little more comfort than the base level.

I killed my budget though.  AUD652.50 spent.

For now I won’t say where – you can do the reading about each of the three candidates and when I check-in I’ll put up some reviews of the space then.

In my next post I’ll write a bit about all the things I’m going to do in the 7 days I won’t be at Sepang Circuit!

F1 on a Shoestring – Making it happen

In my last post I outlined the plan – attend the 2014 Malaysian Formula1 for an all-in cost of AUD 1500 from my home in Canberra Australia.

Key to this was getting some killer airfares – I needed to book 4 legs at least, either in a single booking or a cluster of bookings linked together by myself.

Turning to any of the regular travel aggregators gets some decent joined rates; Helloworld (formerly Bestflights) shows pricing of around AUD1000 and that’s pretty good, but I knew I could do better.

In the end I settled on using AirAsia and making a booking with my choice of service level, carry-on luggage only to KL, 20kg Return luggage, a seat in the Quiet Zone of my choice and so on.  Total spent including all fees – AUD425.  The problem is this flight left from Sydney meaning either two 3 hour drives from Canberra or a linking flight.

Turning to Virgin Australia and lining up matching flight times put me a further AUD247.70 down but I now had dates of travel locked in.

Its all getting very real now

With flights locked in on the cheapest virtually non-refundable, non-changeable fares this trip was going to happen.  I’d previously sketched out a rough budget while looking at airfares and now it was getting tight…

Description Estimate
Flights (SYD – KUL) $ 368.00
Flights (CBR – SYD) $ 240.00
Accomodation $ 650.00
Travel Insurance $ 90.00
F1 Ticket $ 250.00
Totals: $ 1,598.00

OK in reality the budget crept a bit when I added in the base cost of the AirAsia flights and the real (no discount) internal flights.  But at this point I was still allowing myself a generous 3 star accommodation budget and a pretty good range of ticket options for the F1.

Working a bit backwards I contacted our usual travel insurer for a quote – it came back a bit higher than expected, but not much, and a chunk of the increase was selecting the “no excess” option.  Always worthwhile when travelling and while my Credit Card offers complimentary insurance a dedicated policy is always much more generous.

Time to get serious and book some more stuff, with the flights already over budget I was hoping to downgrade costs a bit, so hitting the Sepang Circuit website I started the arduous choice of selecting my F1 tickets.

Sepang Circuit ticket prices are some of the better prices – and buying direct from the circuit online cut out some of the costs that other ticket sellers impose including mandatory postage of tickets.  Not to mention it’s not like the racetrack is a fraudulent operator!

In the end I’ve settled for a covered grandstand on the back straight – it was basically the best combination of allocated seat – I’ve grabbed one right on the railing so should have a great clear view.  It was cheap, at a smidge over AUD195 for the three days.

There is a bonus with booking through Sepang Circuit – that is the inclusion of tickets to the post-race party (Calvin Harris in 2014) and other things.

So now I had flights, insurance, and an F1 ticket and nowhere to sleep!

There’s about AUD600 to spend

F1 on a shoestring – Planning

This year I’m attending the Formula1 at Malaysia, and I’m doing it “cheap”.

I’ve never been to an F1 race before and despite being in Malaysia at the same time as the 2012 race I never quite made it down to Sepang Circuit to have a look.  This year I’m making a dedicated trip, on a budget.

The Budget:

The budget was “open” to interpretation as I’m always a sucker for toxic option syndrome, but to meet all the initial costs upfront from cash reserves and limit myself from up-speccing accommodation etc I elected to cap fixed costs of airfares, accommodation and F1 ticket at AUD1500.


I started out in January with a very simple plan, book some fares on the worlds best low-cost carrier and use the dates of the cheapest fares to determine the duration of the trip.  I wanted some time on the ground to visit some attractions as well as relax and generally “have a break”.

Canberra is not an international travel hub so my flight costs had to get blown out by the duopoly that is the Australian domestic airline industry.

F1 tickets for Malaysia are cheap, there’s no other way to put it and this was the most flexible part of my budget, I could spend next to nothing for a walking paddock pass or extend into Grandstand seats from around AUD100.

Accommodation was going to be part of the make-or-break equation, I knew spending AUD100-AUD150 a night would deliver a good room in a international hotel chain, but it would also significantly dent my meagre budget.  Thankfully Kuala Lumpur has a myriad of options and really the trick was seeing how much was left after the airlines took their share.

So the plan was:

1. Book flights to Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) – ensure domestic flights could be matched up and book those too.

2. Lock in F1 ticket booking.

3. Decide on any side-trips, book Kuala Lumpur accommodation.

4. Do stuff I forgot to do first… (Like Travel Insurance)