Planning a short break – how about Malaysia? Some places are accessible by car and others are just a short flight away. There’s plenty of space, nature walks and adventures, great beaches and historical places to visit. Here’s a trio of first-hand accounts from EL readers and staff.
Gunung Mat Cincang
“Langkawi has something to offer to all kinds of travellers, be it relaxing, exploring or spending time in nature. One of its major attractions is the Langkawi Sky Cab. The ride will take you to the top of Gunung Mat Cincang, the second highest peak in Langkawi, and is totally worth the panoramic views. The crisp air and surreal views at the Sky Bridge are an experience in itself. We weren’t too keen on the Oriental Village below, which has a 3D museum and some other rides.
A highlight of our trip was a mangrove boat tour with Dev’s Adventure Tours. We were impressed by their knowledgeable naturalists. The tour comprised a visit to the bat caves, eagle spotting and a mangrove tour. We came across loads of wildlife, from monitor lizards and vipers to eagles and kites. The tour ended with lunch at a floating restaurant with incredible views. For the more adventurous, the tour company also has kayak tours and jungle treks.
We stayed at Berjaya Langkawi Resort, which was comfortable with amazing hospitality and views. Evenings can be spent at one of the beaches, Pantai Cenang being the one with the most water sports activities. For a quieter spot, head to Pantai Tengah. You can also enjoy sunset dinners on yachts or island-hopping tours.” – Nikita Agarwal, Indian
“Langkawi is a quick hop, skip and jump away – 90 minutes from Changi or 30 minutes from Penang. With cheap flights, it’s an easy and affordable weekend getaway. My friends and I stayed in Pantai Cenang, a bustling strip of hotels and restaurants along the beach. For convenience from the airport and stunning sunset views, it’s a good base, though we found it a little too touristy.
The hike up to Seven Wells isn’t too challenging – most of it is stairs. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views across the jungle to the sea. As the name suggests, there are beautiful rock pools to relax in before heading back down.
Be sure to visit the roving night market for some of the best food around. It’s held at a different location on the island each night, so hunt it down and follow it around throughout your stay!
Hiring a car and escaping the tourist crowd was our best decision. The beach at Tanjung Rhu was a dream: golden sand and crystal blue water, and we virtually had it to ourselves! You’ll also want to set up camp by Scarborough Fish and Chips and enjoy huge plates of delicious food and cold beverages.
– Catherine Maclean, Australian
“We spent four days in Batu Ferringhi in Penang with our kids, ages five and seven. We stayed in a suite at the Parkroyal Penang Resort, an amazing resort on the beach with great amenities including two pools (one had two waterslides!), a splash pad, decent gym and fun kids’ club. The staff were friendly too.
There were many good restaurants and we ate out a lot because the hawker market was close by. The hawker served pizza in the evenings and was great for the kids when they were too tired to try new things. We loved Penang National Park and Kek Lok Si temple. There wasn’t time to visit Penang Hill, which was a shame. We also went to ESCAPE Theme Park and Entopia Butterfly Farm.
I asked the kids what they enjoyed about the trip and they said that they liked everything! The theme park and butterfly park were at the top of the list, as well as the hotel pool. We found Penang an incredibly easy place to take kids. There’s loads to do to entertain the whole family and it was easy to find food that young ones would eat. My daughter found a tie-dye rainbow dress that she loved and spent the rest of the trip searching for a matching dress for me, finding one on our last night. It’s not the most comfortable dress but she was insanely happy!”
– Emma Morrell, British
“We booked an Airbnb for our stay in Batu Ferringhi as there were five of us travelling. It’s easy to call a taxi or Uber from the airport so don’t bother with expensive transfers – we were suckered into that! The area has a charming “faded resort” feel about it. There were a lot of older people while we were there, and plenty of Western food places and bars on offer. You must go to the Spice Garden and its Thai restaurant – try the rice coloured with butterfly pea. The walk to Monkey Beach is also great for the kids, but don’t forget your water bottles!
The buses are generally clean, cheap and easy to use, though they sometimes don’t turn up! It takes around 45 minutes to an hour on the local bus to get to Georgetown. We loved Georgetown and its lovely street art. The China House has art installations, yummy cakes and an indie vibe. Every Sunday, there’s a pop-up market in Hin Bus Depot with lots of local arts, crafts and food.”
– Danielle Rossetti, Australian
“My husband and I visited Malacca via overnight bus from Singapore (six hours). We stayed at 1825 Gallery Hotel in the heart of the city and by the river, with easy accessibility to everything. We visited various museums including The Stadthuys and the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum, offering insights into the lives of the Chinese immigrants who settled with the Malays. Another highlight was the Melaka Straits Mosque, with spectacular views at sunset. The popular Jonker Street Night Market is another good spot – great for bargain buys and delicious local food. For panoramic views, visit the Sky Tower and Taming Sari Tower.
Malacca is home to one of the oldest churches in Malaysia, St Paul’s Church, which is not to be missed. You can also visit the famous Harmony Street to witness the peaceful coexistence of Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist temples and a mosque. We also spent an evening on the Melaka River Cruise and enjoyed a trishaw ride.
Finally, don’t miss local delicacies like cendol and laksa. Restaurants we visited include the Discovery Cafe, Geographer Cafe and Sid’s Pub. The highlight was authentic Peranakan food at Nancy’s Kitchen.”
– Nikita Agarwal, Indian