As you all know, this was the first destination after my huge scooter accident and spending two weeks in the hospital in Bangkok recovering. I wanted to go somewhere I could relax, take it easy and fully recover (I wasn't allowed to and also physically couldn't walk very much) for a while. And Malaysia was just the perfect place for me to do so.
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Stunning view from the top of Penang Hill, definitely worth a day trip
All together I spent 2,5 months in this beautiful country and not once was I bored or wanted to leave! Let me tell you why I love Malaysia so much, what makes it special, and some of my favourite spots that you definitely must visit on a trip to Malaysia. Probably the main reasons why I love it here so much are the people (they are extremely friendly and will seriously help you with everything and anything), the language (English is widely spoken and you can actually have a conversation with people and ask for things), and most of all how multicultural Malaysia is! I have never been to a country before, where there are so many religions being practised, yet everyone supporting and respecting one another. In Penang for example, my fist destination within Malaysia, there is a Mosque, a Chinese Temple, and a Hindu Temple just within a block away from each other. No one is treated differently from the others based on their religion, and everyone lives peacefully next to one another. Can you believe that?! Well I barely didn't until it became more and more clear that this is one BIG thing that really defines Malaysia as a country and the people within it. Foreigners/Travellers are widely respected and I have felt welcomed by a friendly face pretty much everywhere I went to.
Penang being my first destination, I wasn't sure what to expect, but fell in love with it straight away! And even now, after having travelled most of the counrty, it is still one of my favourite places (in tie with Pangkor a beautiful little island that most people skip or don't even know about - keep reading to find out more about this amazing place!). Georgetown, the main city within Penang, is the place you will want to be and stay at for a few days while exploring the city itself and the rest of the island. Love Lane is where everything is happening, all the bars and live music will start playing in the evenings and definitely a great place to find somewhere to stay for the night. My first Hostel, Reggae Penang on Love Lane was a great and social hostel where I met a lot of cool people (with some of them I even travelled for a week), and nice rooms with aircon and a pod like bed in a 4 bed dorm, for about 30 RM per night including breakfast. A great deal, although the nights can be very loud from all the music on the streets, which means you either have to be a heavy partier (the music stops around 3am) or a heavy sleeper. Or like me, move to a different hostel just a few minutes down the main road and stay there. The Frame Guesthouse is a few ringit more, at 38 RM per night, but definitely worth the price. A nice environment with very clean rooms and showers, great wifi throughout the whole hostel, and a lot quieter for a good night's sleep. It also includes breakfast with fresh fruits and the delicious Kaya, a must try bread spread made from coconut! A few lounge places to watch TV, hang out, do some work, or just meet more people - can only recommend staying in this very centrally located hostel. From there everything else is close and within walking distance. The Kapitan Keling Mosque, the Sri Maha Mariamma Temple, and the Kuan Yin Teng Temple are just down the road and the three places of worship I was talking about earlier. Just amazing to see! Stroll through little India from there and make your way to the Chew Jetty (a little town built on the water) and through the street art down town area. My recommendation here is 'GET LOST'! This area is my favourite, there are so many amazing street art pieces scattered along the walls, many art galleries and studios to have a look through, and so many little quirky shops. The harbor area is also nice to stroll along and watch the local fishermen fish and eat in the Esplanade Food Court surrounded by other locals. The food in Penang is good ANYWHERE, seriously! In the evening around Love Lane there are a few Hawker Stalls to try all the different local foods, any of the stalls set up through little India are great, and all of the food courts I have been to are just delicious as well. Eat as much as you can and try as many different local specialities as possible, that's what it is all about here! For day trips take the local bus to Penang Hill (about one hour drive) and either take the lift up (unfortunately this is a bit pricy set at 30 RM) or hike up the mountain to the top. The view from there will leave you stunned - it is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth the money. The food court at the top offers very good local food for fair prices. Once you are back down, make sure to take the time to walk to the Kek Lok Si Temple, one of the biggest Chinese Temples in Malaysia, beautifully set on top of a small hill. Here you also have a great view and a fun temple to explore! Another day trip can be out to the beach, Batu Ferringhi, by local bus which also takes about one hour and costs roughly 2,80 RM. From there the National Park is not too much further (jump on the same bus again) and inform yourself at the front office of the National Park which hike to take. There are a few different routes and the hike through the jungle here is absolutely amazing! If you are too lazy to walk back, then take one of the little boats that will happily drive you back for 10-20 RM at the end of the day (depending on your haggling skills). Recommended stay: 4-5 Nights/Days
Next destination for me was Langkawi. A very touristy island that I was meant to stay on for about two or three weeks to fully recover from the accident. Well guess what - I ended up staying for four weeks! Langkawi is not necessarily about the beaches, as Cenang Beach is very crowded, used as a highway for cars to drive their boats and jet skies around and full of banana boats and loud noises. I found a nice secluded area further along the beach, at the very tip (this is totally an insider tip - right in front of the Mertus Pelangi Beach Resort there is a strip of beach that almost looks like it belongs to the Resort, but is actually public and barely anyone there!). Langkawi is all about the people, at least for me! The Hostel I stayed at, Rainbow Lodge, is great value for money and a very social place, where I met so many locals and fellow travellers that just wouldn't let me leave. A great place to socialise, hang around in one of the many hammocks, or chill and eat at the delicious cafe right beside it! The location is great, set back from the main road, which means it is quiet and quite idyllic with the palm trees and greenery around it. Dorm beds are separated by two walls and a curtain which allows for more privacy and the feeling of having your "own room" for only 18 RM a night. Fan rooms with a double bed and a patio with hammock start at 45 RM. One of the things I really enjoyed doing while here was renting a scooter, which you can also rent cheaply from the Rainbow Lodge, and driving around the Island. I did not drive myself and was wetting my pants the whole way still extremely scared from the very recent accident, but somehow felt like I needed to challenge my fears and get back on it! Skull Beach is a beautiful calm beach at the North side of the Island, and the Temurun Waterfalls close by are amazing and great to go to for a swim! The different viewpoints around the island are great for spectacular sunsets and monkeys will greet you along the way. Another great tour is the Island Hopping, which is cheap at only 30 RM for a four hour tour around the surrounding islands and more secluded beaches! Fun boatride, eagle feeding over the water, and great for cool swims! The food on Langkawi is a bit more expensive then in Penang or other places, but there are still a few very good eating choices. The Happy Happy Cenang Chinese Restaurant on the main road is one of my favourites and everyone I have spoken to about it completely agrees. Very good beancurd dished, which is ideal for vegetarians, and many other vegetable dishes to choose from. Prices are roughly between 10-15 RM for a full plate, which can be easily shared between two people. The Night Market on Thursday nights is an absolute MUST! So many amazing foods to choose from (however unfortunately not many vegetarian dishes, but try the fried noodles from the lovely auntie and her son for only 2 RM per portion) and the Apom Balek!! That is one of the best I had in the whole country and will definitely make you come back for more! For some action in the evening, try one of the many cocktails at Kalut and sit in a bean bag on the beach to watch their impressive fire show every night, or hang out at the Kasbah for a relaxed card game with friends, chilled Bob Marley music in the background and a cheap delicious Mojito! Recommended stay: 3-4 Days, depending on how much time you want to spend at the beach relaxing
From Langkawi I made my way to Ipoh, a very small and unfortunately also a bit dodgy place. I would recommend skipping it and taking the bus to Ipoh, Amanjaya Station for 90 RM from Langkawi (including pickup from the hostel, ferry ticket and the bus to Ipoh), and get another bus from Amanjaya Station to the Cameron Highlands straight away. If you are still interested and really want to go to Ipoh, get another local bus from Amanjaya for a few RM into the city centre and walk to Abby By The River. A great cheap Hostel with good beds and curtains for more privacy, attached bathroom, and including breakfast which you can enjoy from the amazing roof top terrace with a stunning view over the area. And that for only 25 RM per night. The downtown area, around Market Street, is nice to stroll around and has similarities to Georgetown, which is amazing! It is a nice old area with a lot of funky street art and nice little shops. The Ipoh railway station is a beautiful old building worth checking out and on the way back make sure to walk through Little India for a treat of delicious food. If you are a solo female traveller, like me, then don't go far in the evenings after the sun has gone down. This is when it gets dodgy. Pretty much everything is closed down for some reason after it gets dark. I was stalked by a guy a few times and literally stared down wherever I went to (while wearing very appropriate long jeans and a light sweater to make sure everything was covered) and often followed or honked at and creepily chatted up. Ipoh is not very touristy and very small, which is probably why it can get very dodgy at night, so just be aware. Recommended stay: 1 Day, more than enough time to explore everything
The Cameron Highlands - what a beautiful place! This is a MUST! In the middle of Malaysia, high up in the mountains, the bus will drop you off at Tanah Rata and you will instantly feel the climate change! Bring a sweater, knitted socks and some jeans, you will need it, it is coooooold! The Guesthouse and Hostel I stayed at, Father's Guesthouse, is great! Very social with amazingly friendly staff, who will help you out with any information on routes, hikes, and tours. The 10 bed dorm is nicer than you think, and you will actually get a good night's sleep. Many sofas throughout the spacious place and sitting areas to hang out after a tiring day of hiking just makes it perfect! A great place to meet some people to do the hikes with, don't go alone! Although the Cameron Highlands seem safe, alone as a female you will get a lot of unwanted attention, honks and people chatting you up. Avoiding that by going in a group also makes it safer in case something happens along one of the hikes (like tripping over one of the so many branches or roots along the way). The hikes and views are beautiful, but make sure not to miss the Tea Plantations! The Cameron Valley Tea House 1 is the easiest to get to, where you can wander around the plantation for free and you will be stunned by the spectacular view! The foodcourt just around the corner from Father's Guesthouse (on the way to the main road) is great to take a pack lunch on your hike. The food is cheap and delicious! For dinner I can only recommend Restoran Kumar with amazing Indian food and a lot of vegetarian options to choose from, for great prices! Recommended stay: 2-3 Days, depending on how many hikes you want to do
This is part one of my 2,5 month trip through Malaysia. Make sure to stay tuned and watch out for the second part coming soon! If you have any more questions about any of the places I mentioned, or need any more advice, please get in touch, I am happy to help and recommend a few more things! If you liked the article and want to read more, make sure to like my Facebook Page with updates of future articles and places to visit! Please share, like and recommend!
The Kek Lok Si Temple overlooking the city of Georgetown
Streets of Georgetown to wander through and get lost in
Street Art in Georgetown
Batu Ferringhi Beach in Penang
The amazing view and greenery surrounding Rainbow Lodge in Langkawi
Stunning Sunset from Cenang Beach on Langkawi
Fun trip to the beautiful Temurun Waterfalls, drizzling down from the top
The artsy downtown area in Ipoh, Chinatown
Spectacular view from the top of a mountain hike in the Cameron Highlands
Amazing view over the Tea Plantations in the Cameron Highlands
Loving how beautiful the Tea Plantations in the Cameron Highlands are, so worth the trip!