Since I already have a more detailed post on South-east Asia, I will only add some Malaysia specific tips here. The good news is that there are lots of airlines flying here so you have plenty of choices no matter which alliance you participate in. You can get a full list of airlines flying to KUL (KLIA) on Wikipedia. The first step is to identify which airlines that participate in one of the 3 alliances serve the airport in question. You can do this by looking the airport up in Wikipedia and making a note of which airlines fly there and cross referencing with my guides on Star Alliance, OneWorld Alliance and SkyTeam. Since this list is so long, I will only put a snippet here to give you an idea.
You don’t necessarily need miles to get to Malaysia, especially if you are already in Asia or even Australia. Air Asia is an excellent low-cost carrier (LCC) which has a huge network of flights around Asia. They usually have good sales on so it pays to check with them before spending your miles. Here’s some examples.
KUL’s KLIA airport is easy to navigate with everything well signposted. There are some interesting shops downstairs near the bus kiosks as well as a food court.
If Kuala Lumpur is your first destination, you have a choice of buses, trains or taxis to get downtown. But if you are headed elsewhere in Malaysia, you can usually get a bus direct to your final destination. Here are some bus schedules showing departures to our final destination – Taiping. SInce our Air Asia flight from Surat Thani got in around 4pm, the soonest we could get away was that 17:30 Starmart bus. Although you can book buses online, there is no need to unless possibly during public holidays. Just go to the bus kiosk downstairs and they will sell you a ticket on the next available bus.
Malaysia buses are an excellent way to get around peninsular Malaysia. They are timely and very comfortable. They pick up at a specific bay which will be on your ticket just outside the airport at both KLIA 1 and KLIA 2.
The seats rival domestic business class on Australian or USA based airlines with an even better recline. Surprisingly it was half empty – good for us, maybe not so good for the bus company! If it had been full, I wouldn’t have used the recline so much as I would have been in the lap of the person behind me. Since we were pretty tired already, I had no problem dozing off before we reached Taiping, thankfully the driver woke us up when we got there!
There are probably locally based blogs for these areas which would cover how to earn miles from credit card sign up bonuses so what I will do here is create a reference for the major airlines so you can see who partners with what bank, then Google for a local blog that tracks special offers on these cards. No matter which country you live in, always check with American Express as they have the Membership Rewards program available in most countries but the partners vary widely.
A good rule of thumb no matter where you live is to sign up for your local airline’s program (preferably one in Star Alliance or One World) to get credit card miles and any possible points from everyday living such as shopping, phone, internet, petrol, insurance, etc. While you are looking at the credit card pages I linked below, always check for any other “everyday” promos.
Then join the 5 main programs I recommend for eco-tourists as I will be concentrating on these when I post special promos. These programs have the best redemption levels to places where people usually want to go birding and offer the best promos throughout the year.
Asians will have a lot of choices as it seems that the main Asian based airlines have partners not only in all Asian countries but some have partners in Australia and the USA as well. The links below will take you to the airline’s credit card page. Also check on FlyerTalk in the airline’s forum as people will usually post any new signup bonuses there. This blogger specifically caters to Indians with mileage earning credit cards and he would be more familiar with that market.