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.
“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 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