Travelled in: October 2018
A couple of years ago I did a stopover in Kuala Lumpur, I really didn’t like the city and unfortunately it put me off going back to Malaysia. Last year I really just needed to get away, so decided to do some solo travelling. Malaysia kept coming up as a good destination to travel solo so I decided to give it a second chance. I’m so glad I did as Malaysia completely exceeded all of my expectations…
I spent just under two weeks travelling around Malaysia and it was amazing. Malaysia is so easy to travel and I felt so safe by myself. Pretty much everybody in Malaysia speaks English, so there were never any language barriers. It is really clean, the food is amazing and the traveler vibe was super chilled and sociable. I won’t lie and say it was the most spectacularly beautiful Asian country I have ever visited, but I did really love it and rate it highly as a solo travel destination.
Malaysia has a lot to offer, culture, food and scenery and I didn’t even get to see half of it…
Getting to and around Malaysia…
So I technically didn’t arrive directly in to Malaysia. I flew in to Singapore with British Airways. As always I used my trusty Avios points and booked £300 return flights. Read my tips on how to collect Avios points and get cheap flights here!
From Singapore I booked a bus to Melaka which cost $29 SGD. I booked my bus a few days before I wanted to travel using www.easybook.com. The journey from Singapore to Melaka is around 5 hrs. When you cross the border you will need to go through immigration which can make the journey a bit longer. The bus departed from Singapore’s Bugis station and arrived at The Rio Hotel in Melaka. I would recommend getting dropped here rather than Melaka Central if you are staying around the Jonker St Area. Malaysia is super easy to travel around by bus. There are bus routes that go all over the country. The buses are really comfortable and reliable and the roads are really good.
For shorter distances I would also recommend you download Grab. Grab is a car service a bit like UBER, except you pay the driver in cash at the end of your journey. It is really cheap and easy to use.
Internal Flights are also possible throughout Malaysia, the countries biggest airports can be found in Penang, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur.
My Malaysia Itinerary…
I stayed at Ringos Foyer Guest House in Melaka for 3 nights. It was a great hostel run pretty much by volunteers. The vibe is super chilled and very sociable. It definitely wasn’t the cleanest or most comfortable place to stay, however it was cheap and had a really nice atmosphere. I paid £5 per night for a bed in the main 22 bed dorm. There is a roof top chill area which is a great spot to meet other travelers.
Melaka is a really lovely little city. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it reminded me a lot of Hoi An in Vietnam. There is a river running through the city which is lined with street art. The city itself has loads of history with both Dutch and Portuguese influence.
Some of my Melaka recommendations would be…
Jonker Street is one of the the main attractions in Melaka. It is a bustling street filled with shops, restaurants and hotels. It’s the weekend when it really comes alive with the famous Jonker Street Market. The market offers loads of food and shopping stands and there is even karaoke which is a great source of entertainment. Whilst you’re here I recommend checking out Melaka coconut house… You can find this place right in the middle of Jonker Street and they do the best fresh coconut shakes!
The local delicacy in Melaka is chicken rice balls, a very basic, but tasty dish of chicken with some sticky rice balls. Most restaurants in the city sell this dish, you will see it advertised in all the store fronts.
Walk the heritage trail. One thing you will notice about Melaka is the diverse culture, there is a strong Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese influence. There are mosques, churches and temples and an array of languages spoken. The heritage trail will take you on a journey around all of the key sites, if you don’t fancy doing it on foot, you can always hire a trishaw for a day.
Melaka Straits Mosque is a bit outside the main city center, but it is definitely worth a visit, especially at sunset. If you stay at Ringos Foyer they have a bike tour which will take you here most evenings, on route you will also see some of Melakas famous street art.
From Melaka I booked another bus to Penang (Georgetown). The journey was supposed to take 7 hours, but half way up the motorway the bus broke down and instead took almost 10!
When I finally did arrive in Georgetown I checked in to Tipsy Tiger Hostel for 3 nights. From the bus station it was a 15 minute drive and cost around 35 MYR in a normal taxi, however a GRAB would be cheaper.
Tipsy Tiger is renowned for being party hostel. I originally came on this trip to relax, but I also wanted to meet people. This was the only hostel I had heard was really sociable in Georgetown. It definitely lived up to its reputation… Every Night guests get an hour of free drinks, there is a nightly beer pong tournament (good luck trying to win though as the owner of the hostel plays and wins everyday) and usually a bar crawl. If you do want a quiet one though the music has to switch off at 11.30pm and everyone moves on to another bar. I wouldn’t stay here if you just want to chill out, but the bar and social environment makes this hostel a really good place to meet people!
Georgetown was one of my favourite places in Malaysia. Some of the best things to see and do here are…
Take a walk down the Clan Jetties. There are 6 jetties in total, there used to be 7, but one was unfortunately burnt down. The jetties are a waterfront society home to various Chinese clans. Each jetty has a mix of homes, shops, temples and eateries, all of them have great views over the water. You can find the jetties a short wall away from Penang Ferry Terminal.
Little India is well worth a visit in Georgetown. You’re senses will be going wild, with amazing colourful stores, mouthwatering restaurants and traditional music. One of the best Indian meals I have ever eaten was at Kapitan, I highly recommend you check this place out, you can get an absolute feast for about £3!
Georgetown is also home to some super cool street art. It’s spread around the city, so can be quite hard to find, but there is a great map showing the locations of the most popular ones here!
Take the bus to Penang Taman Negara National Park for a bit of jungle hiking and beautiful secluded beaches. To get here take the 101 bus from Komtar bus terminal right to the end of the route. The journey takes around 50 minutes. I would recommend doing the hike all the way to turtle beach, then arranging for a boat to take you back. It takes about an hour and is quite intense, but well worth it for this beach at the end. There is also a turtle sanctuary here, unfortunately by the time we got to the beach it was shut.
Visit the Kek Lok Si Temple. Take the 306 bus to Air Itam to check out the most impressive and largest buddhist temple in Malaysia. The temple is impressive particularly the statue of Kuan Yin on the highest level. The views from here are also pretty cool.
To reach my final stop I took the ferry from Penang to Langkawi which cost 70 MYR one way. From the ferry port I took a GRAB to Pantai Cenang where I checked in to Langkawi Dormitorio for 4 nights.
Langkawi Dormitorio was probably one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in, mainly because of a guy called Jeff. Jeff is a local that works here and he is one memorable guy and a lot of fun! The hostels itself is also lovely, really clean, sociable and comfortable.
I wasn’t expecting anything amazing from Langkawi I just wanted a beach to chill on, but I was so surprised by how much I liked it! It is such a chilled island as it isn’t too overdeveloped (yet). The beach was actually one of the cleanest I’ve seen in Asia, and the sunsets were insane! I recommend watching the sunset from Thirstdays bar.
One thing I hated about Langkawi was the food. Everywhere else in Malaysia the food was amazing, so much choice and really cheap, but Langkawis food scene was really disappointing. Most of the restaurants I came across were huge tourist traps, super expensive, rubbish service and bad food. I did find a couple of good spots…
One being the amazing noodle stand outside Langkawi Dormitorio, just ask Jeff to point you in the right direction for some mouth wateringly good noodles. I was also recommended Selera Lubuk Buaya, which is a locals fave about a 10 minute walk from Pantai Cenang beach. The food here was the best I ate in Langkawi and really reasonably priced. Don’t expect great service though as this place is so busy you could be waiting over an hour for your food.
Langkawi night market is also a good place to get a really cheap meal. The markets are on every night across the island, in a different location each day. I highly recommend you find the stand with the mango shakes, OMG they were the best thing I have ever tasted and I went back every night to get one.
The most popular thing to do in Langkawi is to take a ride on the cable cars and walk the skybridge. It was a bit overcast and very windy on the day I did this, but the views were still incredible.
On my last night I decided I wanted some luxury so I checked in to The Smith House, which is located 5 minutes from the airport. I was flying back to Singapore the next day and chilling around this pool was the perfect way to end the trip.
I couldn’t recommend Malaysia more as a destination for solo travellers. My trip was short, so there is still so much more for me to see. Next time I would love to hit up the Cameron Highlands and take a trip over to the Perhentian and Tioman islands.