From street art & street food to ultimate relaxation
In this article I will tell you guys about two amazing islands on the west coast of Northern Malaysia. After my fully planned month in China I was very ready to just go with the flow and see what would cross my path. So before I arrived in Kuala Lumpur I didn’t even google Malaysia once. Maybe that’s weird, but I actually really like traveling like that because everything you do is a complete (and very often overwhelming) surprise which makes it even more enjoyable. And my experience during other travels is that you get the best tips for things to do, see and eat from your hostel buddies and other people you meet during your trip. This happened as well when I was chilling in my hostel in Kuala Lumpur where I decided to go to the Cameron Highlands (which I will tell you about in another article) and after two nights there to go to Penang Island which is only a 5 hour bus and short ferry trip away from the Cameron Highlands.
The minute I arrived at Penang Island I loved the vibe of this island. You arrive in the city George Town which looks very British colonial (read: beautiful architecture). George Town is famous for her Street Art and Street Food (heaven) and those two will make you stay as long as possible already. I stayed in Tipsy Tiger Hostel in George Town which I absolutely loved because it’s such an amazing place to meet new people. They have a really comfy lounge place where you can relax during the day (and recover from your hangover created the night before) and every night there are some (drinking) activities and free drinks (gin and tonics!): fun guaranteed. If you want a night off that’s not a problem too, because they take the party to a bar around midnight. And definitely don’t forget to try the free breakfast at least once, because it’s yum (hell yeah for the fresh fruits)!
Street Art & Street Food
I can tell you a lot about the amazing street art in George Town, but it’s always better just to show you! Make sure to pick up a map (your hostel will have them probably otherwise they can draw one for you) which show you a walking route which shows you most of the famous street art.
Penang Island is famous for their street food too. You can even find maps which will show you all the best places to find (local) foods. Besides typical Malaysian food you will find a lot of Chinese influenced foods too. But if you’re craving for some western food, there is plenty too (confession: I had the best Italian pasta one night when I was on Penang Island). One night when I was in Penang there was a little food festival where I enjoyed some fresh made chicken satay and some beer while enjoying the fire works. There are also plenty of food courts where you can eat whatever you’d prefer (for me it was a lot of Indian curries and garlic nan). Malaysian people love everything with Durian (smelly) fruit also known as “King Fruit”, so you will find a lot of Durian derived foods, which was not for me (can’t handle the smell – can you?).
Beaches & Penang National Park
There is not really a nice beach close to George Town, so if you have the chance to rent a scooter (for almost nothing), do it so you can go and explore the island! There are some beautiful white-sandy-blue-water-beaches where you can relax and take a dive in the warm water. Even just scooting around the island is an amazing thing to do. You will see so much, can stop everywhere and you will absolutely love the breeze of the wind during the drive (the weather can be very hot)! I also went with a group to the Penang National Park in the Northern part of the island where we took a little boat trip to Turtle Island where we visited the Turtle Rescue Sanctuary. After that we did a hike through the jungle back to the entrance of the National Park. Be prepared of the cheeky little and very (VERY) curious monkeys here!
After (too?) many nights partying on Penang island (I stayed longer in Tipsy Tiger than planned) it was time to relax for me! Langkawi is the island above Penang island and you can go there with just one simple ferry trip. Make sure to book your ferry ticket in advance because they sell out quite quickly! Another reason I chose to go to this Island was also that it is an easy way to enter Thailand from here, which was my plan after Malaysia. I stayed in the cutest hostel you can imagine; they even have three adorable cows and it’s in the middle of some beautiful nature. The name of the hostel is Honey Badger Hut. The first warning one of the workers of the hostel gave me was that King Cobra snakes live on this island so that you should watch out when you were walking in the dark (oh-my-god!).
A beautiful ten minute walk will take you to one of the amazing beaches of Langkawi island. You can imagine what my first day was like: my first day on this beautiful island I spent completely doing nothing on the whitest beach I have ever been on. There is a food court close to this beach (and the hostel) where you can have all kinds of dinner every night while enjoying a movie on a big screen (love an outdoor cinema). I found a spot here where I had one of the best cakes I ever tasted (and I tasted A LOT, because #eatallthefood). The cake was made with pandan leaves and it was so smooth and sweet, absolutely the best! If you somehow end up at this food court make sure to find this heavenly cake! Another must on this cute little island is to enjoy as much sunsets as possible. I saw the most amazing sunsets so far in my life on this island. The sky just kept changing and getting more beautiful every minute.
Even though Langkawi is not the biggest island, the best way to get around here is by scooter or by car. I rented a green little car (called the Green Monster) with two German friends so we could discover the island a bit more than just the beautiful beaches and amazing food. We paid 80 ringgit (16 euros) for the whole day! We started our trip with a little hike to one of the many waterfalls of Langkawi Island (right picture below): the seven wells waterfall. I absolutely loved this place. You could just relax on the rocks (read: nap) or even climb to the waterfall and have a little back massage whilst sitting in the waterfall. While walking back to the car we found a little restaurant where we had some Malaysian noodles. What I love about Asia is that you walk into a little cafe or restaurant expecting not so yummy food which probably will give you a food poisoning and then it ends up in of your favourite places to eat in that area!
We continued our trip to the highest peak of the island by taking a cable car to the top. At the entrance of the cable car you’ll feel like being in a misplaced attraction park, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the trip to the top and of course the view there is worth it! The signs taught us this is one of the oldest rock formations in Southeast Asia and is over 550 million years old! After we took the cable car back to the crazy attraction park I tried one of the yummiest foods in Malaysia: deep fried banana with cheese sauce and parmesan cheese. Say hello to high cholesterol but also hello to mentally satisfied 10/10 (#noregrets). We took our green little monster to another waterfall (left picture above) where we took another refreshing dive and enjoyed seeing the wild monkeys. We ended our day and our time on this amazing island watching another beautiful sunset on the beach: it truly never gets boring.