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Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000


Tripoto.com
Duration: 15 Days
Expenditure 150000
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 1/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 2/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 3/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 4/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 5/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 6/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 7/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 8/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 9/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 10/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 11/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 12/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 13/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 14/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 15/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 16/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 17/19 by Vipul Mehta
Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 18/19 by Vipul Mehta

This little post is dedicated to my recent endeavor on the occasion of my first wedding anniversary in Malaysia ‘Truly Asia’. So, let’s begin!

As the title suggests, the trip was for 2 weeks (15 days), it was the two of us with our backpacks, and all we had in mind was to be present to all the experiences the beautiful touristy country of Malaysia had to offer us. And the best part was that because it was a backpacking journey, we decided to keep the trip ‘open’, and out of 15 days, we booked hotels only for the first two and the last two days. And that made all the difference!

First, let me put some light on the path we took. Thanks to Mahima who after a thorough research came up with this particular route which I have come to believe was absolutely perfect for a 15 day journey.

Our route looked like this: Kuala Lumpur >> Cameron Highlands >> Perhentian Islands >> Penang (Georgetown) >> Langkawi >> New Delhi (also shown on the map).

Photos of Malaysia | 15 Days | 1 Couple | Rs 150,000 19/19 by Vipul Mehta

Since we covered a lot of ground in these two weeks, this post is structured in the form of destinations we went to, followed by things to do and things to avoid when you yourself travel to this beautiful country.

Before we begin, I want to share something about the expenses. For this trip, we had to pay 15.3 Indian Rupees for 1 Malaysian Ringgit (RM). We converted almost Rs 77000 to get RM 5000. So I had RM 5000 as cash before leaving for Malaysia, and the goal to consume this amount only and to not convert any further cash for the rest of the journey. Also, my idea for an ideal hotel budget was RM 100 per night and we looked for the places to stay in this range itself. Eventually we did succeed in achieving our monetary goal.

DAY 1

Destination 1: Kuala Lumpur (Apr 15-17)

The Flight: We left New Delhi on 14 April via ‘Air Asia’ flight which left around midnight. The good part about this particular airliner is, it is cheap. The bad part, the flight is too crowded with no in-flight entertainment system and little seating space which makes it slightly (read highly) uncomfortable to sit for 5 hours at one single position. It was like a GoAir or Indigo (actually much worse) except for a longer duration flight. Word of caution: Book Air Asia if you are really tight on budget. Else I would recommend Malaysia Airlines or some other slightly ‘premium’ carrier. (P.S. I never knew this about Air Asia while booking).

Place to stay: Tune Hotels, Downtown

Stay Price: Rs 1500 per night (paid in India before leaving)

We arrived KL on the morning of 15 April. The good part is I belong to a worldwide community called Toastmasters, and the great part is KL itself has more than 100 Toastmasters clubs. Hence the moment we landed on the KLIA2 Airport, one of the Toastmasters who I have been in touch with for attending a meeting was already there waiting for us. It was wonderfully kind and generous of him to do so. Malaysian hospitality by a British immigrant Toastmaster!

After attending the meeting, we went to our hotel. Tune Hotel is like Oyo Rooms except that the rooms are somewhat smaller than Oyo. But with all the amenities and a good brand name it’s great for a budget hotel.

Things to do:

I have lived in almost all major cities of India. But when I began roaming around KL, I realized none of the places I have lived compare even an inch bit to the grandeur in appearance and the openness in culture that this city represents. We were awed with the high-rise buildings, the visits across the city from the monorail, the Petronas twin towers, the beautifully decorated cars, the dresses of the women of the city, the free KL bus, the evening rain, the people playing music on the streets for money, and a lot lot more.

While in KL, we went to the following places (all of these are definitely Do’s):

a. Batu Caves

b. Bukit Bintang – you will be awe-inspired by the gala of the place!

c. Street Food opposite Bukit Bintang – heaven for foodies

d. The Petronas Twin Towers – you will keep walking in a shopping mall without realizing when you are underneath the Petronas twinTowers! We didn’t go all the way up to the deck. Personally speaking I didn’t find it worth to spend RM 85 for the view.

e. KL City Gallery – You will come across a beautiful city museum with a lights show of entire KL. For RM5, this place is totally worth it.

f. I Love KL – Right next to KL city gallery. Definitely the right place to get yourself clicked!

g. Chinatown – This place is famous in KL for its Sarojini Nagar type low cost street shopping.

h. Little India – If you are from India, do pay a visit and enjoy some inexpensive South Indian food. You can also buy stuff which is part Indian from the Malaysian Indian kirana stores.

Food:

Speaking of food, for all the vegetarians in the house, Malaysia has their own special version of vegetarian dish which is available almost everywhere in the country. It’s called Roti Canai (pronounced as roti-chanai). Roti Canai is nothing but plain naan served with dal. For a tasty, stomach filling inexpensive dish, this is a safe vegetarian option for those who do not indulge in other foods.

Right next to the Tune hotel where we stayed is this place called ‘Pak Punjab’ which serves authentic north-Indian food. Yes, that means paratha, chholey, dal, naan and what not. With tasty food, reasonable prices and hospitable staff, I would recommend this place if you want to taste good north Indian food (believe me you do get craving for ghar ka khana (home food) while away from home).

Yet another delicious Malaysian cuisine which I want everyone to taste is the ‘Teh Tarik’ or local Malaysian tea. It has a very different taste which you will never have tasted before. Not only is it unique, it’s delicious as well. We made sure we drink ‘Teh Tarik’ every single day while we were there!

Transport:

KL has a beautiful train system which was rather complicated for us as newcomers. The monorail connects with the main metro lines (the city has 3 of them). But the good part is, Uber is everywhere! And so is Grab car, which is the Ola of Malaysia (rather south-east Asia). If you have Uber app, no worries. People driving their awesome personal cars will pick you up and drop you to the place of your choice. Alternatively you can also download the ‘Grab’ app for more options.

For outstation travel, Malaysia has impeccable roads and an excellent bus service which operates everyday to almost all important destinations across the country. You can book the bus in advance if you are the cautious kinds else you can also go to the bus station and get the tickets at the counter.

So after two days of fun, frolic and masti (enjoyment) in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, we took the bus from the KL bus station and moved to our next destination – Cameron Highlands.

DAY 3

Destination 2 – Cameron Highlands (Apr 17-18)

The climate of KL is humid, pretty much like Mumbai or any other city in India located near the Sea. The climate is not very humid but it’s not cold either. This is where the Cameron Highlands assume importance.

Located about four hours from KL, with cold climate and temperatures going to 10 degrees, this place is no different from our Himachal Pradesh, or even Lonavala for that matter. Located on the hills, the Cameron Highlands were the weekend getaway for the British once upon a time. Now it’s a tourist place.

The place you get down at is Tanah Rata. It’s a small town which is situated on two sides of the highway with shops, eateries, and hotels on both sides. It looked like a beautiful Mall road of our local hill stations.

Where we stayed: Twin Pines Guest House, Tanah Rata

Room type: Attic Room

Budget: RM 30 per night (for two people)

By far this was the cheapest option we came across when it comes to stay. Upon landing at Tanah Rata, we headed towards the Twin Pines guest house. It had good reviews on the internet and now we know why. This place has small size attic rooms on its first floor – fit for those who are either traveling on budget or who are adventurers. We are both! So we booked the attic room which has two mattresses on the ground, and a small triangular roof shaped attic up above. The bathrooms are separate on the ground floor and the room is by no means a luxury but it is fun to spend one night there and experience the thrill of staying at some place unique.

Things to do:

In the town of Tanah Rata, there is little to do itself. But if you take a shared taxi tour to the nearby places, they show you the beauty of the place. We booked a shared Land Rover for RM 50 per person and the next morning, at 8am we were ready for our tour! The following are the places our driver-cum-guide took us to (definitely the Do’s):

a. The BOH Tea Plantation – BOH tea company of Malaysia is like our own TATA tea. Established in the early 1900s, this tea plantation is HUGE. Once you enter the tea farms, tea farms are all you see wherever your eyes can see. The good part is the driver also acts as your tour guide and explains everything about the place in great detail. At the end of the road is the BOH tea factory and the tea café which is where you can have a sip of the lovely BOH tea, sit and relax while enjoying the weather and the view, and also buy some tea for your way back home.

b. Raju Strawberry Farm – Having Indian name and Bangladeshi origins, Raju Strawberry Farm has made a name for itself in the place. The place provides paid tours inside the strawberry plantation where you can pluck your own strawberries but these are usually expensive. Best is to enjoy strawberry shake and strawberry muffins at the cafeteria. P.S. By default food item at this strawberry farm café be it muffins or cakes or shakes, contains strawberries.

c. The Mossy Forest – The mossy forest got its name from the moss that sticks on the trees. The guide takes us to a walk on the stairway built to take you inside the forest. The key attraction of the forest is the pitcher plants which you can spot at multiple locations across the walk.

d. Butterfly Farm – There’s a butterfly farm as well but it costs extra so we decided to skip it.

Food:

Kumar Restaurant is one of the most famous South Indian places to eat. It has cheap veg & non-veg food options which are delicious too! Definitely a Do. Another Do is Sri Brinchang which is right next to Kumar. The ones who like North Indian food can eat at Singh Chapati while the city dwellers can always enjoy the free wifi at Starbucks.

Transport:

Bicycles are available on rent to roam around the place. So are motorbikes at inexpensive prices.

At this point on 18 April after enjoying the scenic beauty of Cameron Highlands, we had two options. Our next destination was Perhentian Islands which are a good 8 hour journey from Cameron. Either we could spend another night at Cameron and go the next day. There are mini-vans available for RM 125 which take you to Cameron to Perhentian Islands. Or we could take the night bus via the nearby city of Ipoh and spend the night on the bus and reach the islands in the morning itself. We decided on the latter, packed our bags and went straight to the Tanah Rata bus depot for the next connecting bus towards Perhentian Islands. And so we spent the night of 18 on the road and in the morning were on our way to the mesmerizing Perhentian Islands.

Bonus Tip: Take direct bus from Cameron Highlands to Ipoh Bus Stand and then from Ipoh Bus Stand to this place called ‘Kuala Besut’. This is where the ferry to Perhentian runs. Don’t take bus from Ipoh to any other connecting place. If you do, at 4 in the morning the bus will drop you at the bus stand and you will be stranded in the middle of nowhere unnecessarily looking for cabs.

DAY 5

Destination 3 – Perhentian Islands (Apr 19-21)

On the morning of 19 April we landed at the Kuala Besut bus station. Upon reaching the bus station, this guy was selling us ferry tickets to Perhentian (pronounced as per-hen-tian and not per-hen-shian). Price: Two way return ticket for RM 35 per person, with no fixed return date, you can return on any day you want.

The Perhentian Islands are a collection of majorly two islands – small and big. The small island is where you need to be. That’s because the small island is where all the fun is. Further, on the small island there are three beaches. Interestingly two of them are opposite to each other (located on both sides of the neck of the small island). Out of these two, Long Beach is where you need to be. We accidentally landed up at the Long Beach and upon visiting the other one, realized that luck was on our side. It is a white sand beach with clear untouched waters, a pretty view of the big island in front and good beach shacks with great food and enjoyment in the evening.

Place to stay:

Upon reaching at the small island at 8am, I began house hunting on the beach, saw all major places to stay with a comparison of their prices. One key thing about the chalets at this island is, at most of the places there is no electricity till about 7pm. The electricity is available only from 7pm to morning 8am or so. There is no or little grid connectivity to these remote islands, hence no electricity in the day.

At a few places where there is electricity for 24 hours, I chose D’Rock. The place is a little pricey but has beautiful sea facing huts with balcony for you to enjoy the sea view during the day.

Budget: RM 150 per night (prices change as per season)

Things to do:

a. Snorkeling Trip: Out of everything else at Perhentian, this is the one I would recommend a 100 per cent. The islands are famous for their clear waters and snorkeling in these clear waters give you a scintillating view of the marine life and the corals living underneath. You will end up seeing beautiful fish, strange fish, sea cucumbers, nemos, turtles and even sharks. Even if you have never done snorkeling, do give it a shot. With RM 50 per person as the price, this trip is totally worth it.

b. Fire Show at Night: At the long beach there is one specific shack where there goes a fire show every night. Hard to miss if you are taking a walk on the beach under the stars.

c. Scuba: If you are the adventurous kinds, you can try out scuba as well. Price we paid: RM 200 per person.

d. Walk to the other beach: Do take a walk to the other beach. It’s rare to come across a place where you can see sunrise on one beach and sunset on another!

Word of caution: The sun at the long beach is sharp, very sharp. In fact the sharpest I have ever come across in my beach experience across India and now Malaysia. So much so that by the time we came back from Perhentian Islands, we had become four shades darker. Do keep your strongest SPFs if you are going out during the day, and hope that they work!

Perhentian Islands are the most beautiful islands of Malaysia and there is a reason these islands are full of foreign travelers on weekdays and local people on the weekends. As per me, a trip to Malaysia is complete only when you visit the serene beauty of the Perhentian islands.

After spending two nights at Perhentian, on 21 we resumed our journey back to Kuala Besut towards the western part of Malaysia – the island of Penang.

We took the night bus from Kuala Besut bus station to Penang bus station. Bus price: RM 50 per person.

DAY 8

Destination 4 – Penang (Georgetown) (Apr 22-25)

In the morning of 22 April, at 6am, the bus dropped us at Penang bus station. Penang is a separate island away from the mainland Malaysia connected via a bridge built on the sea. Like most of Malaysia, Penang is as developed a place as mainland Malaysia is.

The highlight of Penang state is its capital city of Georgetown, which is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Which means there are thousand places in this beautiful city which you can cherish and click pictures. I’m finding it hard to write this part of the text as Penang is such a beautiful place that the more you see, the less you realize you have seen. This was by far the most important highlight of our trip from the point of view of roaming around and seeing the places (as you will soon find out).

Place to stay:

Firstly, I had to find out a place to stay. This, as it happens, was a challenge. This was mainly because we landed the place on a weekend, that too an extended weekend. And a lot of people visit Georgetown on an extended weekend. After checking a few hotels and guest houses, we came across this place called Charlie’s Hotel in Little India, Georgetown. This was our dwelling for 22-23 April.

Room rent: RM 100 per room per night

On 24 we moved to another place as we thought it best to see a different place to live in. After figuring out a few places, we decided on Hotel Georgetown as our dwelling for 24-25 April. Although the room rental is same (roughly RM 100 per night), there were a lot of other more beautiful places for us to stay which we missed.

Other places to stay:

Unlike other places in Malaysia, Georgetown has a lot of beautiful places to stay where a lot of visitors come and which are very near the ‘party’ places of the town. Hence it deserves a special piece. All the places I have mentioned below are near RM 100 per room per night (you may experience some movement in prices due to seasonal variations). So here goes:

a. Red Inn Court – very near Little India, great place to stay

b. Red Inn Heritage – Situated right on the Lovelane (the second most happening land of Georgetown), another great place to stay

c. Ten other places located on Lovelane

d. Thousand other places located on Lebuh Chulia!

This brings us to the things to do in Georgetown in particular and Penang in general.

Things to do:

a. Lebuh Chulia: There is no other place in Georgetown as happening as this in the night. Lebuh means Lane, Chulia is the name of the lane. Lebuh Chulia is by far the heart of Georgetown after the sunset. Almost all the pubs and eateries open around 7pm and the party goes on till 5 in the morning. My recommendation to anyone going there for a few days – stay near Lebuh Chulia and enjoy the nightlife of the town!

b. Street Art of Georgetown: In Georgetown, street art is everywhere! And this is what makes the city special. And this is what also makes it the UNESCO World Heritage site. What Lebuh Chulia is in the night, the Street Art is in the day. Upon entering the town, every hotel will give you the street art map. Hiding behind the walls of normal houses, hotels and cafes, you would never realize when one strikes you unaware! Most of them are beautiful and very expressive. This is the reason why travelers from across the world come visit the colorful city of Georgetown. You can hire a rickshaw, rent a bicycle, rent an electric bike or a motorcycle, all options are open.

c. Upside Down Museum: Beautifully constructed, this museum is a great place to forget oneself and experience the ulta-pulta (upside down) pieces of a home created by the people of Malaysia. The moment you enter, there are employees who would be ready to take your phone and click your pictures and videos. With a ticket price of RM 27 per person, this is a good place to visit.

d. The Blue Mansion: Blue Mansion is the legacy of the Chinese billionaire Cheong Fatt Tze. Constructed in the early 1900s, the mansion is blue in color from the outside, carries a legacy of the rags to riches story of the man who built it. The mansion is open only for guided tours at a ticket of RM 17 per person. For the historically inclined or if you want to visit a 100 year old mansion, this is the place to be.

e. The Chocolate and Coffee Museum: Right next to the Blue Mansion is the Chocolate and coffee Museum. This one has no entry fee, is more like a tour of how the chocolate processing is done by this particular company and then there are all these 100s of chocolate tasting and purchasing options available. Go if you are a chocolate lover and want to buy some authentic Malaysian chocolate!

f. Fort Cornwallis: This is an old fort built by the British a few hundred years ago. Although it was built by Captain Francis Light, it is named after Charles Cornwallis who was the Governor-General of Bengal. Useless piece of trivia. Anyway. It carries a hefty entry fee of RM 20 per person which, for this piece of walls and grass ground is not worth. Go only if you have extra cash on your hand, else the sea view is as good from the adjoining marine drive (not the literal name) where you can always go for free.

g. The Jetties: The jetties (all belonging to some or the other Chinese clans) were built 50+ years ago for business. These days they have become more touristy than business like. No entry fee, hence go and visit and buy some souvenirs if you feel like.

h. Hean Boo Thean Temple: Surprisingly, this beautiful temple is nowhere mentioned on the maps of Georgetown. We got to know about this temple accidently while talking to some fellow travelers. Upon visiting this temple, I was glad they mentioned this to us. The temple is close to the jetties, located away from the main road. After going for more than a mile into the small streets of Georgetown we found this beautiful temple located right on the sea. On one side beautiful sea breeze is flowing in and on the other there’s this enchanting music that is playing consistently in the Mandarin language (my best guess). One highlight of this temple is the dark God of Hell. There is a separate section in the temple for the God of Hell. Guess what’s there as offering. Alcohol, cigarettes and money (real and fake Hell currency). We were amazed to see this side of the temple. A great place to sit and relax in the serenity of the Gods of the land and the water at the same time. Definitely recommended.

i. Snake Temple: Speaking of temples, how can I forget this one! Located in the mainland Penang, around 10km from Georgetown, this amazing temple is known for, as the name suggests, snakes. Although this is nothing like an Indian temple with snakes. It’s a Chinese temple and you find species of Vipers lying on the tables or even sleeping on the walls. The temple people say they don’t hurt anyone. But the highlight of the temple is this Snake Museum maintained by a Chinese snake lover. He has traveled across the world and bought these amazing snakes and has kept them in custody for safekeeping and for showing to people. For the first time in life I saw full grown pythons which were meters in length, some golden some grey some of other colors. There is 150 year old turtle also. The legends say that the old turtle and python brings good luck and makes your wishes come true if you touch their entire body. I also saw venomous cobras and even a species of our very own Nagaraja.

j. Gurney Plaza: About 20 minutes drive from mainland Georgetown towards Penang is this amazing shopping mall called Gurney Plaza. If you’re thinking ugh.. shopping mall.. big deal. Well, think again. Gurney Plaza exhibits the grandeur of Bukit Bintang region of KL city, has all the names of the brands one can hope for, is located right next to the sea and is a marvel to look upon. For us, if that was not all, the time we reached there, Penang International Food Festival was going on at the lawns of Gurney Plaza. Which means an opportunity to taste all the delicacies of Malaysian cuisine. A magician was doing magic tricks for children at the entrance of the mall. And the cherry on the cake was when as we were walking in the corridors of the mall we accidentally bumped into the Penang Fashion Week with all the beautiful and handsome Asian models doing their walks on the ramp. That was a huge surprise for me! Who knows you may get surprised in a similar manner on your journey.

k. Gurney Drive: The Gurney Plaza mall, as the name suggests is located on Gurney Drive. Gurney Drive, with sea on one side and beautifully lit buildings, malls and offices on the other, is much similar to our marine drive of Mumbai. The breeze was so very similar; I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic of my days in the Maximum City.

l. Batu Ferringhi Beach: Another highlight of Penang is the Batu Ferringhi beach and the night market on the beach road which opens every day from 7pm to midnight. The beach is famous for its water sports, and the market for its cheap clothes and souvenirs. Collections after collections of Georgetown street art fridge magnets, bags, t-shirts, key chains and what not is available at the night market. Do check it out. You may also come across some amazing places to have a date while on the road! ;)

m. Kek Lok Si Temple: It is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and one of the commonly visited places in Penang. Do pay a visit, it’d be worth it. Also, this area is heavily populated by Chinese migrants and hence you won’t find anything vegetarian to eat in and around the temple premises. Go tummy full or carry something with you if you’re going there.

n. Penang Hill: The Penang Hill is famous for its view, both from above and from gondola type train ride which takes one from checkout point to the top of the hill. It carried a ticket price of RM 30 per person and, weighing the pros and cons, we skipped the ride. Ultimately its gondola after all, that too not very steep. We get better gondolas in own country. And there’s one in Langkawi we well, which for us was yet to come. But more on that later.

Phew… Those were 14 beautiful places we saw (technically we saw 13 but you get the idea) and admired in the beautiful island of Penang. Penang as a state has a beauty of its own and claims to have been the only state which is governed by the opposition party. The political scenario of Malaysia, as I came to know from the people, is very interesting but sadly is out of scope of this particular travelogue (since it’s a travelogue).

One last thing before we move further, the best way to travel in Georgetown city and in Penang state otherwise, as we figured out, is by renting a motorcycle. All you need is the Indian driving license (no international driving license required for renting a motorcycle). The 24 hour rent is RM30 and gearless bikes are available in plenty on the famous Lebuh Chulia in Georgetown. Depending on the time of the year, you can see the options and get the rates from 2-3 vendors and select the best bike available. Fuel doesn’t cost much in Malaysia since it’s an oil producing country and the converted rate when we went was Rs 34 per liter.

Anyhow… so after spending four days in the picturesque island of Penang, we took the morning ferry to our last destination - Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah, Malaysia.

Ferry price: RM 70 per person one way. Ferry duration: 2.5-3 hours. Ferry type: Air Conditioned, flight-like seating arrangement with a television showing latest English films for entertainment.

DAY 12

Destination 5 – Langkawi Island (Apr 26-Apr 30)

Our ferry to Langkawi reached around 12 noon and while on the way we could see all these beautiful small sized islands popping out from the vast Andaman Sea. The rains made the scene even more catching for the eye.

A quick search on Wiki will tell that Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands located in the Andaman Sea around 30km from the coast of northwestern Malaysia. Langkawi Island is the largest and the most populated island of all. Geography aside, Langkawi is pretty much similar to our Goa. The duty-free cheap liquor, the chilled out people, the nightlife on the beaches, the midnight markets, and the scenic roads in the daytime, all were signs of a relaxed bunch of folks who are on a perpetual state of ‘high’.

The arrival in Langkawi via ferry is on the main Eagle Point Jetty. The moment you come out of the ferry, all the bike and car rental people start approaching you. We inquired both about bike and car rental prices. Bike rental costs RM 30 for 24 hours, and automatic transmission (AT) hatchback car was available at RM 60 for 24 hours. Having had a dearth of AT cars in India, it was a great opportunity for me to try out one and there was no way I was going to miss it! And I realized it was a great decision.

As in Penang, even in Langkawi nobody asked for international driving license and I got the car on rent on my Indian driving license only. Although I’m not sure if it was absolutely legal, I had no reason to question the judgment of the service provider as I am a tourist.

Before moving further let me state why getting the car was a great decision (as opposed to a bike) and I would suggest you do the same in Langkawi (but not in Penang). Langkawi is a big island. The places are relatively far from each other. The main Cenang beach is almost 10km from the Skywalk which is equally far from the black sand beach and so on. And there is no public transport. Only official cabs are available which are quite expensive. Uber and Grab are there but only sparingly. And riding a bike on such long distances could be really uncomfortable. Plus the car rental is not very high. Point being, rented car is best!

Okay, now let’s zoom in to the island of Langkawi.

Places to stay:

a. Hotel Geopark Inn, Kuah: Broadly speaking, there are two major attraction areas in Langkawi – Kuah and Cenang. While Kuah has more of a city-like experience, Cenang offers a beach-like feel. It is in fact for this reason Cenang Beach is the most famous one and this is where most people land up in. And in this region there are hundreds of cheap and expensive dorms, rooms, chalets, and hotels available. But, this is not where we went to. We made our first destination in the town of Kuah. This particular hotel is a 3 star property, is good and comfortable, not a luxury by any means but totally worth the rental of RM 100 per room per night. We did not particularly stay in Cenang since we didn’t have the time. If you choose to live in Cenang, do let me know how was the experience!

b. Tanjung Rhu Resort: The last two days of our journey were reserved for this amazingly beautiful five-star resort on the Tanjung Rhu beach. The resort only has suite rooms, has two different swimming pools, a private beach to boast of, an amazing view of the adjoining islands from the beach, and a lot more. When the tide is low, which happened for both evenings we were there, people walk down from the beach to the island in front for fishing or for fun. And before the sunset they simply walk back! I have never seen such pristine beach with an amazingly picturesque island view. If you have the money, definitely go and spend a few nights there. You will be amazed by the beauty of it, will relax and spend your days in the spa, the pool, the Jacuzzi, the café, or simply enjoying the view of the beach and the islands, while your nights will be spent having dinners in the restaurants, playing pool or just relaxing in your suite. Luckily we found a great deal online and booked two nights for Rs 11,000 for the beautiful suite (we booked this in advance before going). One last bit, while you’re there, do try the Malaysian massage. It is relaxing to the core.

Things to do:

a. The Skywalk: By far the key highlight of Langkawi is the Skywalk. It is a gondola ride, an engineering marvel built at the heart of the Geopark which takes you all the way up the mountain from where you can see lots of Langkawi islands, along with beauties of it. The moment the gondola took off and left the land, the entire atmosphere became insanely silent. It was as if all the sounds of the surroundings have somehow been vacuumed away into oblivion. The forest was utterly peaceful with marginal voices of the dwellers of the jungle. It was only humans who were disturbing the peace of the place with their conversations which once stopped one hears and enters in the realm of serenity. The first half of the gondola ride is this 42 degrees curved slope towards the hill top. The second half which was really breathtaking was the subsequent horizontal gondola ride toward the adjoining mountain. And from there we go to the Skybridge. It is a long cantilever bridge supported by just one pillar at the center and adjoining cables connected to the edges. It is thrilling to walk, look down, and even to run on the bridge. If you want to see the bridge, watch the final scene of SRK’s Don with Boman Irani and Arjun Rampal. The shoot of the climax of the film happened on the Skywalk and the Skybridge.

b. The Skywalk – other attractions: Included in the ticket of the Skywalk are other attractions such as Skydome, T-Rex adventure, 7D etc. DO NOT miss Skydome at any cost. The way the dome is designed gives you a real-time feeling of sitting in a roller coaster which no 7-D or any other substitute can provide. While sitting on the seat, without any 3-D glasses or anything, just looking at the screen in front, I knew I was not on a roller coaster but my body and my mind totally failed the knowing and reacted as if I was actually going through the experience of sitting on one. It is definitely a must visit when going to Skywalk. Total ticket combo price was around RM 75 per person. Another piece of trivia: Avoid the Time Tunnel, it’s just stupid. There is neither Time nor a Tunnel. Unless you have kids between 3-5 years of age, it’s a total waste of time and money. The cost of the Time Tunnel itself was RM 27 per person which is really high for the stupid experience they provide. Everything else at the Skywalk is totally worth a visit.

c. Oriental Village: Next to Skywalk in the same compound is the Oriental Village from where you can do shopping of souvenirs, clothes et al.

d. Underwater World, Langkawi: Underwater world is an aquamarine park located on the Cenang Beach road. It is a zoo for sea animals and has tons of varieties of fish ranging from seals, to penguins, to sea birds, to stingrays, to nemos, to sharks, to strangely looking octopuses, to the first phytoplankton. The ticket is around RM 50 per person and the place is definitely worth the money. Another highlight of the park is the fish feeding time. There are specific times of the day when the divers enter the water to feed the fish. These are the times to visit the park as you will be amazed with the way the fish are fed and the experience it provides as an observer.

e. Cenang Beach: Since we did not stay on the Cenang beach, for us the beach was more of a visit during the night. We sat on one of the shacks where the owners have put bean bags on the sand for guests to sit on, had lit candles for adding romance in the air, and there was a fire show going on with amateur fire players doing their craft for the audience. One piece of trivia, after visiting almost the entire Malaysia before entering Langkawi, we found the food to be most expensive in Langkawi, especially in the Cenang beach area. Liquor is cheap as it’s a duty-free island but food is on the pricy side. We had to search for places where we could get some good south-Indian vegetarian food which doesn’t dent our pockets too much.

f. The Black Sand Beach: The black sand beach is a flat beach with sand which is black in color. But the highlight of the beach is the view of the islands in the sea which can be seen while sitting on the beach. I was awe-inspired to see islands popping out in front of me while I was walking on the beach. It’s a one of a kind experience.

g. The Kilim Geoforest Ride: From the Tanjung Rhu beach, we hired a private boat who took us to the mangrove forest areas of the Kilim Geoforest. In the ride we came across Eagles, fish farms, mangroves, yachts, the backwaters, and most importantly the serene beauty of the Kilim Geofrest Park. Looking at that place gave me a feeling that till the time we have all this greenery preserved on such remote places of the plant, global warming and climate change are not the treats we should worry too much about. The ride cost RM 180 per person, which is on pricier side but definitely one you should consider.

After spending four days at Langkawi, we finally marched back home by taking a cab from the Tanjung Rhu resort to the Langkawi Airport. From Langkawi Airport we had our first flight to KL Airport and then after a few hours wait our flight back home to New Delhi T3.

Which brings me to the conclusion of this rather long description of our two weeks stay at the beautiful country of Malaysia! But then, there are so many places to see and to go to and so many memories to create that even 15 days is too little a time to actually visit the entire of Malaysia. Nonetheless, being a predominantly Muslim country, although you will find a lot of women wearing the traditional Muslim Hijab, at the same time you will also find a lot of them working at fuel pumps, at ticket counters, at the airports and bus stations, at shops, at the metro, at beaches and in the countryside, engaging themselves into means of livelihood even at odd hours of the day. The environment is open and safe for both sexes to work and coexist and to add value to the country’s development and to their own emancipation.

All in all, if you are planning a trip with your family or your partner, Malaysia is definitely the place to be!

You’ll love it, my promise!

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