Malaysia won’t leave you speechless…

Malaysia is so much different from its neighbouring countries both on the north and the south. Landing in the dense, smoky urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur can be a massive shock, especially for me as I was coming from over a month spent on the pristine beaches and unspoilt natural beauty of Samoa and Fiji.

Malaysia isn’t beautiful – and this is the first time I say this of any country I’ve visited – sorry my dear Malaysian friends, no personal offence intended!

At the end of my Pacific wandering, I was looking for a place to meet up with my best friend and spend Christmas together. I shall be honest, Malaysia was our choice simply because for both of us (from Samoa and from Italy), it was the cheapest flying option.

Info about Malaysia

60% of the population in Malaysia is Muslim and you will find (and hear) mosques everywhere. But, you can also find temples too. Around 20 % of the population are Buddhist and Hindu.
Malayan is the language of the country and I recommend you learn a few words before heading there. It’s always nice to be able to say hello and thank you wherever you go.

Before heading to Malaysia

Currency

The local currency is Malaysian Ringgit and the current exchange is 1 USD = 4.46 Ringgits. Withdrawing money from  ATMs is easy and Malayan Bank doesn’t charge any commissions for foreign cards.

Safety

Malaysia is very safe. I’ve never felt at risk or in a dangerous situation while there. It’s like this in most of the countries in Southeast Asia I have been to.

How to get there

If you want to get by plane, there are many cheap flights companies coming from the countries around Southeast Asia. Air Asia offers good deals, especially flying to Kuala Lumpur. Check Skyscanner to make sure that you get the best fare if you are coming by plane.

You can also get to Malaysia overland from Thailand and Singapore. From Thailand, you can get there by train or bus.

Visa

Securing a visa for backpacking Malaysia isn’t going to be an issue. Most of the countries have free visa for 30/90 days to visit Malaysia. You just need to hold a passport with at least 6 months left, and you should get your stamp at the airport with no issue.

Weather

The weather in Malaysia is quite unpredictable and different from part to part. Peninsular Malaysia can be wet any time of the year even though the wet season officially lasts from November to March. The dry season is from April to October.

How to get wifi in Malaysia

Getting wifi in Malaysia is easy. You will find wifi almost everywhere. There are many places like malls, shops and bars where you will find wifi. And the connection is really good compared to a lot of countries in Southeast Asia.

Accommodation

Accommodation is very cheap in Malaysia. There are a lot of hostels where you can pay $4-5 for sleeping in a dorm and there are beach cottages for even less!

Below you will find my recommendations as always under the Dream section.

Kuala Lumpur

Initially, exhausted by 14 months of non-stop travelling, I spent almost three weeks in KL hosted by a dear Instagram friend from London who has relocated there with her husband. I lived the great life in her stunning apartment a stone’s throw from the Petronas Towers; I could actually see them while typing away on my Mac in her living room and while swimming from her awesome pool. Valeria totally spoiled me with her scrumptious and healthy lunches and I also managed to get back to the gym in the morning too. It was strange to finally settle back in the old home life and routine after so long on the road. It really felt strange to have a home, even if not mine, even if only for a short time. And it was amazing. Thank you, Vale! <3

The capital of Malaysia is a huge, messy, work-in-progress Asian city. Traffic jams are guaranteed every day and it’s far from being a pedestrian-friendly town. However, being the perfect shopping capital in South East Asia (after its bigger sister and architectural inspiration, Singapore), it’s a place worth a short visit (two or three days are enough).

Things to do in KL:

Petronas Towers and Marini’s on the 57

Sri Temple  

Batu Caves  

Brunch & Work at VCR

Get lost in The Rabbit Hole…. 

For some mysterious reasons, I have no pictures of this place even after spending several awesome nights there…I can’t tell you exactly where it is, but the Alice in Wonderland’s Rabbit Hole is here 🙂
Address: 16, Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Pulau Pangkor

After exploring KL, my best friend and I headed to the ocean for some well-deserved relax and beach time.

– Directions: take a bus from KL to Lumut and then the ferry from there.

 

Georgetown / Penang 

Georgetown is such a well-made cocktail of cultures, religions and history that my friend and I struggled to leave when it was time to catch our ferry north.

 

MUST – DOs in Georgetown: 

Upside Down Museum

Malaysia

Caffeinated break at Wheeler’s Coffee

Malaysia

Wander along Love Lane for some weird encounters…

Malaysia

Eat, Love and Eat. And Repeat 

Thanks to its Malayan, Chinese and Indian communities that gather to this peninsular country many centuries ago, here you can find incredible types of food that will never leave you hungry. Malaysia is truly foodies’ heaven and even the most sophisticated palates are going to find something new and delicious here.

malaysia

Dream at House of Journey

A cute, little hostel with an incredible vibe and staff. Minimal breakfast is included. Wi-Fi is weak but free.
 
Address: Pulau Pinang, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

After spending a few days in this little multicultural town, Fede and I got the ferry  to Langkawi 

Langkawi

Langkawi is the perfect place for relaxing that you can’t miss it when backpacking Malaysia. It’s a cheap place to buy alcohol and devices. And if you think about the usual party places of Thailand, Langkawi is not one of them. It’s a place for you to enjoy the beach during the day, and the quiet peace at night.

Do NOT Dream at Tubotel

I rarely leave bad reviews, but Tubotel really was a massive disappointment. The staff is poorly trained and far from friendly. Facilities are often dirty and despite they have and advertise having wi-fi, it is always turned off for some obscure reasons (even when politely requested…I work online!!!) The location is also inconvenient and next to the airport/port. No beach. We only stayed here because we made our booking at the very last second for NYE and it was one of the very few places available (we now know why!) The only plus of this place was the generous breakfast which was free and delicious.

Malaka

While backpacking Malaysia, Malaka or Malacca must be part of your itinerary. This old colonial town still retains the charm of the Portuguese influence and architecture. I loved this place maybe because it’s totally different from the other places in Malaysia.
friendship

Masjid Selat 

Work from 

Kaya Kaya Cafe

A very lovely cafe that serves excellent coffee and sumptuous meals. WiFi is quite good too.

Kaya Kaya cafe

Dream at 

Ringo’s Foyer Guest House
Address: Jalan Portugis, Kampung Dua, 75200, Malacca

The owner of this hostel is a character and full of life person who will take you to explore the town by bike and he’s always making sure the guests are having fun and are comfortable. The hostel is very nice and clean and in a OK position. I reccomend it ! 🙂

Directions: from Langkawi take the ferry to Kuala Perlis and from there catch an overnight bus to Melaka.

Notes:

1 – I’ve heard the archipelago of the Perhentian Islands is a true paradise. Unfortunately, during my time there they were totally inaccessible due to the rain. Apparently, that it’s the perfect place for relaxing, sunbathing, diving and snorkelling.
2 – Due to time constrictions, I’ve only visited East Malaysia and not the Borneo side which is meant to be stunning. Maybe next time 🙂

Malaysia isn’t beautiful…

…but you fall in love with it.

 
  • C.J. Haughey

    You might not think it’s beautiful, yet some of your photos tell a different story.
    I loved KL, had a great city break there and enjoyed the food so much, although the humidity and rainstorms were brutal. Would love to get to some of these other places, especially the upside-down museum, it looks fun!

    • Thank you C.J, glad you liked the pictures 🙂 and yes, I agree with you, the food all over malaysia is incredible!!

  • Thanks a lot for being so sincere. Many countries or cities are love at second sight. That happened to me with Mindelo, Cape Verde for example. However I really like those pics and the Dim Sum look so tasty 🙂

    • Thank you Paulina! Yes, I try to say things as they are and despite loving my time in Malaysia, it’s not on top of my favourite countries I’ve visited..but maybe you are right..maybe it’ll be love at second sight 🙂

  • Probearoundthe Globe

    Although not the most beautiful, it seems Malaysia has a lot to offer, either as a kick start point to begin SE Asia travels or as you did, to slowly settle back into modern life and society after long travels. Curious now about the Rabbit Hole for sure!

    • Totally agree! it was so nice to stop for a bit without having to pack my rucksack every two days..and yes, Malaysia can actually be a great starting (or ending) point for any trip to SEA

  • Crazy Dutch Abroad

    Love your honesty about Malaysia and I do agree on quite a lot of things although I keep coming back to this country. Penang is really something special, especially the street food. When looking at your food pictures I get hungry, LOL.

    • LOL! I get hungry looking at them too and I just had a massive dinner haha! Penang with Malacca were my favourite places, hands down! 🙂

  • I am very partial to Malaysia as my SO is from there and I think it’s super interesting…but I can see why you think it’s not “beautiful”. Hopefully you’ll get to the Perenthian and to Borneo one day and give it another chance xx

    • hey Sere! Well, it’s not beautiful in the strict meaning of the word…but I found it very fascinating and multicultural for sure. And the food was AMAZING! I will surely be back one day to explore those areas and let you know 🙂

  • I am visiting Malacca next week so it was interesting to read a little about it. I have already been to KL and agree with what you said about it, especially the horrible traffic jams. Your photo of Malacca made it look pretty colourful I can’t wait to walk around taking photos for Instagram!

  • Jan Michael de Guzman

    I have been to Malaysia for over 50 times particularly in KL, Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Redang Island. I learned to love this country and their food. No wonder I keep coming back to this country.
    JM | Man Of Wanders

    • Wow! 50 times!! that’s great, you must be an expert by now! I loved the food, Penang and Malacca too and I know I will be back one day to explore the rest 🙂

  • Marissa Abao

    It’s nice that you were able to stay with a friend in Malaysia. I like your honesty. It’s always a different experience for everyone. Malaysia is one of the good countries to visit in Southeast Asia. I haven’t been there but I would love to visit someday. You mentioned about the price of the hostel and I have become more eager to visit.

    Iza c/o Fill My Passport

    • Thank you! Yes, I totally agree that everyone’s experience is different and I know that my post might be controversial, but i love to share honest post here on this little space of mine 🙂 Hope you get to visit Malaysia and read about your own experience there!

  • I visited Malaysia twice..Loved the visit but do regret of not visiting KL twice. Hopefully this year I can tick off that too, a trip is around the corner soon 😀

  • I’ve never been to Malyasia maybe I’ll add to the itinerary to our next thailand trip! The food looks amazing.
    Cheers,
    Diana

  • Sina Sutter

    Just found a picture of me (trying to) riding a bike hahah

    Malaysia left some important impressions on me. As you say, it is not pretty. Maybe Malaca – I absolutely fell in love with this little city! But the country itself is very different and unique but at the same time you feel great being there.

    Malaca was probably the best place I visited on my own. There is not a lot to do and my 5days there would be too much for many others but the river and the calm atmosphere – you got me dreaming again!

    And I met you there – so another plus point 😉