Having travelled around Malaysia visiting family friends and seeing the sights this summer, here are my top tips for each city that I experienced:
-If you are looking for cheap yet comfortable accommodation, look no further than the Anggun Boutique Hotel located in the heart of KL. This boutique hotel and wellness cafe comes with in-house his and hers massage parlours upstairs, a hotel kitten and noodles for breakfast. It also had the best Indian food I’ve ever tasted in the unassuming little street cafe next door. I had always maintained that I wasn’t a fan of curry until I tried their incredibly soft, homemade Naan and Roti with Dips. The meals were just a couple of pence! The location was great being next door to China Town and the main bar district of KL, yet far enough not to be surrounded by noise.
-Don’t forget to wear mosquito spray. Especially at night and in the rooms. If you are a phone addict then buy a Malaysian sim – only 6 pounds for a sim + huge amounts of data on the pay as you go model I bought from Digi Sim.
-must try Laksa, the famous, creamy curried noodle dish.
-Use the tunnels above the roads to quickly and safely walk around the city
-Visit KL Towers and give yourself vertigo whilst standing on glass platforms above the city. There are many different types of ticket available – the slightly higher priced version is worth it for the glass observation deck and quiet, open air views however if possible I would skip paying for the additional parts of the package. This includes the: ‘F1 racing experience’ (akin to 5 long minutes on your brothers most boring playstation game), ‘6D movie ride’ (what even is a 6D movie? Whatever it is, this was not it), the Aquarium (very small and you’ll see enough fish in glass boxes just walking around the streets / restaurants) and the Petting Zoo (a bunny with a lop sided head and a ground hog with a skin condition…).
-A flamboyant city with attitude – ‘don’t mess with Melaka’ seemingly being the mantra of choice. Enjoy the view of all the colourful, decorated disco bikes
-Visit the busy Jonker Street for lively, bustling markets selling all sorts of foods and trinkets
-Stop by the temples and light some incense sticks or join in with the monks’ prayers
-Catch the sunset ferry in the evening
-try sweet shaved ice desserts and the notoriously disgusting (in the marmite sense of the word) durian fruit.
-eat at The Fat Bee Cafe by the pier – order their delicious homemade cakes, creamy coffees and tasty noodles. The interiors were very kitsch, reminiscent of an Asian Shoreditch.
GEORGE TOWN, PENANG
-Instead of taking a taxi, catch the ferry from Butterworth straight over to George Town – for less than 20p. Probably the cheapest mode of transport in the world.
-Visit some of the spas and salons and try out their Asian hair treatments (the Yuko system smoothing treatments or advanced scalp treatments are highly recommended)
-Go shopping and buy some Malaysian books / magazines (many are in English)
-Have dinner at the Hawker stalls where food is a pound a meal so you can try everything.
-Visit Little India for street food and dancing, there was a festival on when we arrived.
-Pop into Malaysia’s first Food Museum, which tells you a little about the famous dishes using 3D sculptures and models. It’s mostly one giant photoshoot where you will be encouraged to have your photo taken with almost every item of food in the building. If only the props were edible.
-Absolutely must visit the 3D coffee cafe – Coffee On The Table, located just down the road from the food museum. Too cute to eat!
-Rent a scooter, it is only about 3 pounds to fill it with petrol and costs about 10 pounds a day. It allows you to see so much of the island and find quieter beaches.
-If you need internet there is a Cyber Cafe at the Berjaya Hotel, in the Games Room. They also have pools by the beach and open air dining.
–Casa Del Mar has the best beach front dinners, opt for fresh seafood and juicy cocktails – they even provided mosquito spray on the tables
-Watch a fire show whilst enjoying Shisha or if you catch a storm in the early stages, see an impressive fork lightening display over the ocean without getting wet…
-Another great beach front bar / restaurant is Thirstday Bar, located just behind the Orchid Seafood restaurant (they share a kitchen). The bar plates were excellent value for money and you can enjoy sunset views over the ocean whilst sipping on cocktails.
-Great places to go out afterwards include Nest Bar, which were even offering a shuttle service at the time or Sunba / Retro Bar.
-I highly recommend staying at Temple Tree Boutique Hotel, a beautiful secluded set of rustic houses with the most welcoming staff we encountered. It is also home to a few rescue cats and the sister hotel, Bon Ton, next door houses rescue dogs. One morning during a 5 minute down pour I heard a panicked meow at our window, where a lovely little white cat was begging to come in and share breakfast with us. Every evening a breakfast of homemade cake, breads, milk, juices and fruits is left in the fridge.
-If you lie by the pool, the staff occasionally come to surprise you with complimentary tropical fruits platters and ice water. The food in the restaurant here was also delicious.
-Visit the Choco Cafe for plenty of free tasters, they also sell traditional teas and coffees (including Durian coffee, which when doused in sugar and cream, actually wasn’t too bad in spite of my aversion to the fruit).
-Don’t feed the monkeys at the side of the road, they are pests so the locals will not thank you for doing this
-sweet Asian pastry / breads in the local bakeries – the softest you will ever taste.
-Take a SkyCab Langkawi ride up to the oldest part of SE Asia. I did this on my 25th birthday for views over 550 million years of rock and jungle. Made me feel young again.
We flew with Turkish Air which stopped over in Istanbul, however it was an amazing price (350 return) and had excellent food and service – even despite the fact that we were not flying through Istanbul at the best of times. The flight back was cancelled during the Turkish Military Coup however the airline wasted no time in accommodating us at a 5* hotel with complimentary lunch and dinner, as well as a new flight home the next day.