I am an education consultant and I am working on my Ph.D. in Comparative Philosophy. Lived in Southeast Asia four years and Southern India four years. Now I divide my time between Southern India, Hawai'i, Kentucky and Cambodia. I speak Malay, Khmer, Tamil and read Sanskrit.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
You'll be able to find them everywhere, but there are a few I'd highlight. The Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang is one of the best in the country. You can get a taxi from Georgetown for less than 40RM or you can take a bus that will bring you to the bottom of the hill. There is also a lot of temples to be seen on the Heritage Trail, a walking trail through Georgetown. It is interesting--there is a Kuan Yin temple and then the Hainan Temple, which is quite famous. Both of these are smaller temples. In Kuala Lumpur, the Thean Hou Temple is notable in Taman Persiaran Desa. There is also the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Bricksfield. In Malacca, the Cheng Hoon Teng temple is also worth checking out. It is not as large as the Kek Kok Si Temple. The cave temples in Ipoh are also something really interesting to see. You can take a bus from the central bus station or a private car. There are several of them, one of which has a botanical garden on the other side of a hill that a cave goes through. Going up the rickety wooden stairs in some of them can be a bit spooky as well as the old scaffolding. These are some of the most impressive temples in Malaysia--and incidentally, Ipoh has some of the best Hindu temples as well if you want to see some excellent examples of Dravidian architecture without going to India or Sri Lanka. about 10 years ago
Vietnam is safe as long as you take normal precautions, although don't wear flashy jewelry, and be aware of bag snatchers and pick pockets who are very active. I had dinner last night with a man who literally had his necklace cut off his neck in HCMC without him being aware until afterward. My wife got her gold necklace yanked off of her neck last year while we were waiting in traffic about a year ago. My pocket was picked about four months later. about 10 years ago
Michael is right--the Cameron Highlands are the closest place, and they are too far for a day trip. You can easily book a bus there--it is a very winding road, so if you get motion sickness, pack some dramamine or take ginger pills. I suggest you go past Ringlet and stay at Tanah Rata--it can be a charming break from KL. about 10 years ago
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