Langkawi, Penang & Melaka

General information about Travel around Malaysia

There are many ways to travel round Malaysia and we tried several options, internal flights with Air Asia are incredibly cheap and we have always found them very efficient, there are other low cost airlines but they are our preferred option. Long distance bus travel is very popular and Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) is the main bus station in Kuala Lumpur, it is well organised and easy to use although it is some distance from the centre. It is worth paying a bit more for coaches with less seats therefore more room and also checking review of specific companies.The last way which we used is by train, we took the new Electric Train Service ETC from KL to Butterworth for Penang Island, there is a ferry link to Georgetown or you can take a taxi.

Langkawi

General

Langkawi is a group of around 99 islands but the main one known as Langkawi Island has been a popular holiday destination for many years and there are direct flights from the UK, the island is small about 25km by 25km and the main beach area is Pantai Cenang which has several duty free shops for buying alcohol, cigarettes and chocolate.

We chose a resort at Pantai Tengah, south of the main beach at Pantai Cenang, and were delighted with out choice, this beach area has only recently seen new hotels opening and there was a great choice of places to eat & drink on the main road.

There are many upmarket five star resorts around the north of the island and the island is beautiful to explore. There is no public transport but taxis are cheap especially if you use Grab which is easy once you have downloaded the app.

Hotels

Check out the booking sites such as www.booking.com & www.hotels.com. We chose Camar Resort at Pantai Tengah is a new resort hotel with the longest pool on the island and a beautiful beach front, the accommodation is in two areas overlooking the pool or nearer the beach. We chose the pool area and loved the room, there are a number of bars and restaurants. We loved the area and the choice of places to eat and drink and were delighted we had chosen this over Pantai Cenang.

Restaurants & Bars

All the restaurants below are on the main road Jalan Teluk Baru and are five minutes walk from the Camar Resort.

Arang BBQ & Grill, was without a doubt a favourite for dinner, excellent food and drinks and very pleasant service. There are tables indoors and on the terrace plus a couple close to the road for smokers.

Bobi’s, was a great find at lunchtime, the Malay and oriental dishes we tried were excellent, lots of choice, perhaps too much, and service can be slow but friendly. Met some frequent visitors to the island who were regulars at Bobi’s and said we had made a good choice.

Colonial India, is as the name says an Indian restaurant and we enjoyed the food on the evening we visited, busy and friendly service.

Boat House, very popular Chinese eating place, we thought the food was average but perhaps our choices were not the best as there seemed to be many returning customers.

Grill & Chill, we went one evening as Bobi’s was closed the service was poor, the food average, they seemed to be under pressure as it was Valentines night so perhaps not a fair reflection of normal service.

Melange is a restaurant and bar and the smartest of the places in this area, we enjoyed drinks there a couple of times but the service was incredibly slow and while the food looked good, the review comments reflect the poor service.

BaGua – is a small square outdoor thatched bar run by a great guy called Lan who also owns the Dive Shop nearby. Great place for a beer, a G&T or a cocktail and a chat with the other customers as you sit round Lan’s bar. Loved the place and the chat with Lan and the customers.

Culture

The Langkawi Cable Car & Skybridge are two of the island’s most popular attractions and both are stunning with amazing views of the island. We took a Grab taxi there and then a normal taxi back from the taxi stand, the fare is set depending on the location of your hotel.

Get there early and you shouldn’t need to queue or spend extra on priority tickets. The tickets for the Sky Bridge are sold separately at the top of the cable car & you can add on the small funicular that takes you up & down to the bridge otherwise you have to do a steep jungle trek down and up.

Pantai Cenang Mall is the best place for duty free purchases and is easily reached from Pantai Tengah.

Drink

Alcohol is highly taxed in Malaysia and although there are many bars in the cities tourists frequent most it is worth remembering that it is predominantly Muslim country and in old school Malay restaurants they will probably not sell alcohol although some will let you bring in beer or wine.

That said most cities like KL, Georgetown & Melaka have a wide selection of bars most offering Happy Hour deals up till usually 9pm. Cocktails are very popular as is beer, Anchor being a local beer, Tiger & Carlsberg both readily available. Wine is expensive, even in Duty Free Langkawi, but is available in better bars and more upmarket restaurants.

Penang

General

Penang Island can be reached by ferry from Butterworth on the mainland, you can also take a taxi from Butterworth which goes over one of the two bridges linking the island to the mainland. It also has an airport with international and internal flights.

George Town is the capital of the island and the historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site. The island has beach resort areas such as Batu Ferringhi but we stayed in the historic heart of George Town.

There is a free shuttle bus called CAT which does a circular route of the main sites of George Town from Weld Quay every half hour, very handy for getting around in the heat.

Hotels

We chose Muntri Mews, a small boutique hotel part of the George Town Heritage Hotels Group. We were delighted with our choice, the hotel has been beautifully designed and the service level is excellent. The Mews Café which is part of the hotel is an excellent place for an early evening drink and also for lunch or dinner.

Restaurants & Bars

Tek Sen, 18 Lebuh Carnarvon, is high up on the best places to eat and I can see why. The Chinese food they produce is top notch, be prepared to queue at busy times but they are very organised and you shouldn’t wait long. We went twice and had excellent food on both occasions and service is efficient.

Copper Bar & Restaurant, 88 Lebuh Armenian, was our choice for a special occasion dinner and we had booked in advance. They offer set menus and an a la carte menu which we opted for. The service was excellent and we enjoyed the dishes we had, the wine is pricey even by Malaysia standards but overall it was reasonable for the quality.

Cheang Kee, 433 Chullia Street, specialises in Hot Pots and we shared a wagyu beef one which was very good, this is another popular haunt and closes quite early at night, we had a short wait for a table but definitely worth it.

Bistro Tang, 82 Penang Street, was an accidental find after some sightseeing. It is part of a small hotel and we thought the food and service were excellent.

Red Garden Food Paradise, 20 Leith Street, is a food court with a large selection of small kitchens producing Malay, Chinese and Indian food. Choose a table, order some beer then check out the stalls and order a variety of dishes which they bring to the table. Live music seems to be a fixture on all evenings giving it a fun atmosphere.

Mews Café, 77 Lebuh Muntri, part of the Muntri Mews hotel, we had dinner there one evening and were impressed with the quality of the food, as we stayed at the hotel we knew the service would be good as it was every day at breakfast also that the drinks, cocktails and wine were very good and reasonable priced.

China House, 153-155 Lebuh Pantai, we  had read about this place and popped in for a drink while exploring the amazing Penang street art. We really liked the place, a mix of bar, restaurant, cake shop, venue and gallery. We returned one evening at Happy Hour for wine and sat in the bar area which was fun and the service was excellent.

Mish Mash, 24 Lebuh Muntri, this was our local bar during our stay in George Town and we really enjoyed the bar, very popular with locals and visitors. They do excellent cocktails and also have a food menu which we did not try, it is fair to say that the food gets mixed reviews.

Wheelers Café, 67 Lorong Love, Love Lane, this is the bar street of George Town and really gets going in the evening. Wheelers is more of a café and opens during the day and is popular for brunch as well as lunch & dinner. We popped in a couple of times and ate once, the food was good, the service is however on the slow side.

Love Lane has a wide selection of bars, most of which have long Happy Hours and live music. Which one you choose can depend on is it busy, is there good outside seating, the type of music that evening and the offers. We used Mike’s and Treffpunkt as our two regular haunts but a lot did depend on the live music.

Culture

Pinang Peranakan Mansion, this museum dedicated to the Peranakan heritage, these were early Chinese settlers in Malaysia, the house is beautiful and was the residence of a 19th century Chinese tycoon.

Street Art is a big attraction in Penang, in 2012 the local council hired a Lithuanian artist to create murals around the old part of the city, Muntri Street, Armenian Street and Lebuh Leith have some of the best examples as well as the Chew Jetty. Later steel rod sculpture caricatures were commissioned telling stories of the city’s history. Maps are available to allow you to check out the art works.

Chew Jetty is the best example of the clan jetties where various Chinese clans lived in houses built on stilts into the water.

 A rooftop bar is always an excellent way to see great views and enjoy a cocktail, there are a couple of hotel bar options in Penang, Gravity, Three Sixty & Le Dream are highly rated we went to Top View and although it’s the highest the entrance fee to the various attractions and the uninspiring bar made it a poor choice.

Drink

Alcohol is highly taxed in Malaysia and although there are many bars in the cities tourists frequent most it is worth remembering that it is predominantly Muslim country and in old school Malay restaurants they will probably not sell alcohol although some will let you bring in beer or wine.

That said most cities like KL, Georgetown & Melaka have a wide selection of bars most offering Happy Hour deals up till usually 9pm. Cocktails are very popular as is beer, Anchor being a local beer, Tiger & Carlsberg both readily available. Wine is expensive, even in Duty Free Langkawi, but is available in better bars and more upmarket restaurants.

Melaka

General

We took a bus from KL to Melaka, selecting a company with good reviews and buses with less seats so more comfortable. It was efficient and cheap, there is not a station nearby so train travel is not really an option. The bus station is on the edge of the city and you will need a taxi to get to the historic part but there is a taxi counter which organises them so avoid touts. Getting around the city on foot is easy but you can always use a Grab taxi for longer journies.

Hotels

Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.hotels.com. Look for a hotel in the old part, we stayed in one of the many small hotels which are in heritage buildings along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock , also known as Heeren Street.

Restaurants & Bars

Salut, 94 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng lock, is as you may have guessed a Spanish restaurant, in a beautifully converted building. It is run by a Spanish couple and we were very impressed with the quality of the food and the service. Yes it is a bit more pricey than some offerings nearby but well worth it.

Geographers Café, 83 Jalan Hang Jebat, the famous Jonker Street, this was our favourite place for a drink during our stay in Melaka, great service, a lovely setting and open till late. We ate there a couple of times and the food was fine, not outstanding.

Vintry Wine, 54 Jalan Tokong, is new to Melaka but the wine specialists are well known in Kuala Lumpur. The wine bar is attached to a very smart hotel in the historic part of the city. We had lunch there and loved the food and wine and the service was top notch.

The Stolen Cup, 12 Jalan Hang Jebat, we popped in for a drink one evening and ended up eating there, cool looking place with a decent menu. They specialise in coffees and juices but also sell beer.

Restoran de Lisbon, 18 Medan Portuguese, is at the Portuguese settlement and is one of a number of restaurants but the only one open at lunchtime. It was very quiet when we went but the food was as good as I had heard baked fish, tamarind prawns and okra all excellent.

Melting Pot, 64 Jalan Hang Jebat, gets really mixed reviews, we ate there once and the nonya food we had was good, we also popped in for a drink on a couple of occasions.

Me & Mrs Jones, 3 Jalan Hang Kasturi, is a music bar that opens in the evening, the couple running it are very pleasant unfortunately the night we visited the bar was very quiet.

Reggae On The River, Lorong Hang Jebat, is one of several bars along the riverside. They are all fairly similar except for music choice this one plays of course Reggae, at night it is worth wandering past a few and choosing the best riverside seat to enjoy the passing boats with a couple of chilled beers.

Culture

A boat trip along the river is a must, the boats depart frequently during the day and in the evening and it is a great way to see the city.

The Jonkers Street Market is on Friday, Saturday & Sunday when the street is pedestrianised and a market sets up, the nearby bars and restaurants are particularly lively at the weekends as the market attracts many people.

There are several interesting museums in the city, the two most popular being the Baba & Nonya Heritage Museum and The Straits Jewellery Museum.

Try and visit a roof top bar, we went to Pampas above The Shore shopping mall, pleasant service and good views.

Drink

Alcohol is highly taxed in Malaysia and although there are many bars in the cities tourists frequent most it is worth remembering that it is predominantly Muslim country and in old school Malay restaurants they will probably not sell alcohol although some will let you bring in beer or wine.

That said most cities like KL, Georgetown & Melaka have a wide selection of bars most offering Happy Hour deals up till usually 9pm. Cocktails are very popular as is beer, Anchor being a local beer, Tiger & Carlsberg both readily available. Wine is expensive, even in Duty Free Langkawi, but is available in better bars and more upmarket restaurants.

Weather Forecast

George Town
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Feels like: 37°C
Wind: 8km/h WSW
Humidity: 71%
Pressure: 1011.18mbar
UV index: 11
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Last Visited 2020 & Last Updated 2020