Genting Highlands More than a Decade Later | Malaysia


Malaysia is a memorable country for me because it was where I took my first international trip—and my foremost airplane flight. Yes, I was a late bloomer in terms of air travel, only able to afford it after entering the corporate world.

The scenic cable car ride to Genting Highlands

Imagine my amazement at stepping foot on foreign soil for the first time. Kuala Lumpur was my destination along with my older brother. Even though I was already fond of traveling having been a member of the UST Mountaineering Club in college and an avid beach goer, this trip to Malaysia was what I could point out as the catalyst for kickstarting my wanderlust.

With fellow members of the media invited by Cebu Pacific and Tourism Malaysia

I have fond memories of exploring every nook and cranny of Kuala Lumpur, to the point that when we returned to our hotel, my feet would almost feel sore. Tired and fulfilled, we’d go over the next day to satisfy our curiosities by walking miles and miles between buses and train rides.

Another group photo

One of the bus rides we took was to this hilltop attraction called Genting Highlands. It was also where I had my first cable car ride. See, that trip back in 2007 was a series of firsts for myself; thus, when I was given another chance to visit Genting Highlands a decade and a half later, it falls into that winning in life kind of special moment.

From 2007 to 2022

15 years is a long time, and much has changed in my life on the road since my first journey to Malaysia. The experience stoked my wanderlust, and I have since traveled throughout Asia to places like India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Taiwan, and nearly every Southeast Asian country. I also became a travel journalist, publishing over a hundred and fifty stories in print while maintaining this travel blog.

And another one

If I had to write a book about traveling life, the chapter about Malaysia and Genting Highlands would definitely make the first few pages.

The Return to Genting Highlands

Almost couple of hours after leaving Ibis Hotel in KL, we finally made our way along a snaking, ascending road towards the peak of Mount Ulu Kali in the Titiwangsa Mountains, where the hilltop resort town of Genting Highlands is perched.

One of the many thrilling rides at Genting Highlands

I began to feel the cool weather as I touched the glass of our bus, and outside, I could make out the formation of a thickening fog over the verdant forest on the mountainside. A wave of anticipation similar to the one I remember experiencing fifteen years ago started to wash over me.

There are hundreds of dining options including popular ones like Din Tai Fung

“What does it look like now?” I pondered. Being one of Malaysia's most popular tourist destinations, Genting Highlands is likely much more developed now than it was a decade ago, so I was prepared to either see familiar sights or be amazed by the changes.

Kate Alvarez
Group lunch

Silly me to even expect to see almost the same things as I did back in 2007. As soon as we walked onto our separate gondolas, I couldn't help but note the breathtaking expansion of the Genting Highlands.

Aside from rides, there are also interactive museums and themed attractions from Hollywood films

While I quickly noticed the familiar giant malls and the 7,351-room First World Hotel, I was stunned to see a bunch of other outdoor attractions spread out on the hilltop. 

On specific spots, a live performance is held at certain times of the day

We hastily strolled into Genting SkyWorlds as soon as we reached the main gondola station.  Once known as 20th Century Fox World Malaysia, a theme park planned by 20th Century Fox inspired by movies, it canceled its license agreement. It was then renamed Genting SkyWorlds. There are nine different themed worlds, including Andromeda Base, Rio, Robots Rivet Town, Central Park, Eagle Mountain, Epic, Ice Age, Liberty Lane, and Studio Plaza.

You would need a day or two to try out all the rides

Adjacent to the SkyWorlds is Malaysia's highest shopping mall, the appropriately called SkyAvenue, which is 1,800 meters above sea level. You may find a variety of retail and dining options here, including a mock Malaysian Food Street lined with hawker stalls serving local cuisines and the Skytropolis Funland's Indoor Theme Park, where kids can choose from over 20 fun rides.

4D Independence Day Defiance

The whole morning lasting to early afternoon not only made me quickly reach my 10,000 step-quota, I also had a blast on the only amusement park ride we took, the 4D Independence Day Defiance, which reminded me of the equally fun Harry Potter 4D ride at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, that I took in 2016.

Chin Swee Cave Temple

On our skycable ride back, we passed by the Chin Swee Cave Temple. The late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, the founder of the Genting Group, donated a 28-acre parcel of rocky wooded land for the construction of this Taoist temple, which is in the most scenic area in the Genting Highlands. It was built in memory of Reverend Master Chin Swee, a Buddhist monk from the Fujian province known for his prodigious powers to fend off bad spirits and call down rain.

Covered with fog, it appears like a scene from a dream

As we got to our tour bus to take us back to Kuala Lumpur,  I took one more look at the Genting Highlands, which remains visible from the other side of the mountain. Despite the fog gradually concealing its tip, I could see the lights shining clearly against the gloomy sky. I remember that day back in 2007, when I told my older brother, “I wanted to do this again,"  not literally referring to visiting mountaintop theme parks but rather the act of traveling over and over again.

In a full circle, I returned to the Genting Highlands, able to do exactly that. I'm not done yet. The wanderlust continues.