The most popular – travel blogs in Malaysia

Most popular blogs – travel blogs in Malaysia:

The most popular blogs I have written over the past six years are travel blogs in Malaysia. About Penang, Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur, and travel by plane, train bus and car.

travel blogs in Malaysia

The blogs are ordered in the number of views, from the highest down. The top 14. These statistics are from my original Tropicalexpat blog. I have also updated and published some on my new Tropicalexpat site:

Penang to Langkawi by air, ferry; car, bus and/or train and ferry

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by plane, train, bus and car

Kuala Lumpur Sentral Train Station to Malacca by bus – AKA Circling Malaysia by rail (mostly) 2/4

A trip from Penang to Langkawi by car and ferry

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by night train – AKA Circling Malaysia by rail (mostly) 1/4

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by bus

From Penang to Singapore by train

Learning to drive and getting a driving licence in Penang

Malaysia’s Jungle Line; (Malacca to) Gemas to Kota Baru by train; AKA Circling Malaysia by rail (mostly) 3/4 ; late 2017 update

A trip from Penang to Langkawi by bus and ferry – mid-2014

Our trip to Langkawi mid-2014

Langkawi – some observations from my latest visit. And could I retire here?

Driving from Penang to Kuala Lumpur (KL)

Road trip to southern Thailand – driving one’s car from Penang to Songkhla – and parts north

And over the past 12 months – travel blogs in Malaysia again:

Malaysia’s Jungle Line; (Malacca to) Gemas to Kota Baru by train; AKA Circling Malaysia by rail (mostly) 3/4 ; late 2017 update

Penang to Langkawi by air, ferry; car, bus and/or train and ferry

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by plane, train, bus and car

A trip from Penang to Langkawi by car and ferry

Cleaning my air-con

Visiting Pangkor Island – 10 best things to do

A six day road trip around Malaysia – 1/6

Perhentian Jungle Trek

Road Trip – Penang to the east coast of Malaysia by car

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by bus

Learning to drive and getting a driving licence in Penang

A trip from Penang to Langkawi by bus and ferry – mid-2014

Driving from Penang to Kuala Lumpur (KL)

Malaysian Airlines mobile phone check-in and boarding works

So again – travel blogs in Malaysia. The past 12 months is similar to the longer term trend. But recently there is also more interest in Pangkor Island and the Perhentian Islands.


Langkawi or Pangkor Island?

Nippah Bay

one of the beaches on Pangkor Island

If you are in Penang, Langkawi is kind of north, and Pangkor Island kind of south.  So as far as the weather goes – rainy season or not – they have the same pattern.

In theory Langkawi is quicker to get to, but in practice they seem to take a similar time to reach.

If you were to choose one to visit, which would it be? So here are what I consider the good and bad points of both.

  • Langkawi is more accessible, being able to travel there by direct ferry, car /  bus + ferry, or short flight from Penang.
  • Langkawi is more international so caters to a broader range of tastes – for food, spas etc.
  • Langkawi can be visited on the way to Thailand – e.g. Ko Lipe.
  • Langkawi has a marina
  • Langkawi has much more things to do than Pangkor
  • Langkawi has a bigger range of accommodation from homestays to very expensive resorts
  • And, of course, Langkawi is duty-free. Alcohol and even car rental is cheaper.

As for the bad points:

  • Excepting for the impact of duty-free goods, Langkawi is generally more expensive.
  • And, apart from expensive resorts, there are no bars or restaurants on the beach – with the exception of Scarborough Fish and Chips.
  • There can be jellyfish in the sea

As for Pangkor:

  • Pangkor Island is more relaxed
  • It is easier to find food when you want it
  • Pangkor is small and very easy to get around – by taxi, hire car, motorbike or bicycle
  • The ferry from Lumut on the mainland is cheap – RM10 return
  • The ferry is quite frequent
  • There are restaurants and bars on the beach
  • These restaurants and bars are reasonably priced
  • The beaches are nicer and I haven’t seen any jellyfish

As for the bad points:

  • Transport there is only by car / bus then ferry.  Berjaya Air used to fly there from KL  – but I am not sure if they still do.
  • Often Malay restaurants don’t sell beer – but they sometimes suggest you buy it at the convenience store and bring it to the restaurant
  • Being quite a Malay island girls might feel uncomfortable in a bikini on the beach – so will either go to a more secluded spot or stay with a few other girls in bikinis
  • There is not so much to do
  • The standard of accommodation is generally not high

You can have an enjoyable holiday on either – or if you have time – both.





unfinished blogs – no. 17 – The best of Peninsular Malaysia in one trip

I’ve been writing this blog for three years this month, and have accumulated many partially written blogs that remain unpublished. I may as well just publish them as is, and if I ever feel inspired to finish any, do so later.

I really should finish this particular blog sometime.

October 22nd, 2014


Include round Malaysia trip last October, plus KL, Pankor Is, Penang, Langkawi, Perhentian

It’s easy enough to do a circle of Malaysia by car, but if you don’t go out to some islands you miss the best parts, which means you will have to either access the ports by public transportation, leave your rental car unused for your time on the island or in some cases fly there.

If you take your own car, then you have to return to it – you can’t leave it and catch a train further, without returning to pick up your car.  So mixed mode is difficult.

Mixed mode: KUL – LGW- PEN by plane, car via Kuala Besar & to Perhentian, other islands? – s-e nr Singapore

By car

By train

By plane


My favourite trips in Malaysia (from Penang)

Sitting here right now gazing out at the grey skies and the drizzle, I am thinking of my favourite trips in Malaysia. And of what I have yet to do and see. I won’t bother with more photos as there are plenty in the links. After six years here this is what I think.

the beach

the beach

By far and away my favourite place is the Perhentian Islands.  The beaches are lovely, the sunsets can be stunning, and the snorkelling great.

Then comes Sabah – particularly a jungle tour to cruise the river and see proboscis monkeys.

After this, Langkawi, which we have visited many times.

Next would be a couple of nights in Malacca.  I don’t think there is so much to do or see, but the very centre is nice, and staying near the river is pleasant.

Then, a train trip – the quality of the rolling stock and service is very low, but it’s still fun, especially if it is the first time.  It could be the jungle line up to Khota Bharu from Gemas by day, or simply Penang to KL.

The next would probably be a few nights in KL – staying in a first class hotel.  First Class hotels in KL used to be very good value, but perhaps less so now.  Still, as long as you don’t really intend to get around by car much, as the traffic is terrible, based in a nice hotel near the monorail allows you see to a few fun things and eat some nice food.

Then the Bird Park in Butterworthor in KL, which is bigger but I don’t like as much – to see hornbills.

I also quite like a couple of nights in Ipoh. There are a few things to see nearby,

And an early start from Ipoh to Pangkor Island allows you to spend the day there without spending a night – seeing as the hotels there are pretty bad.

Then there is Penang itself – Little India in George Town, Penang Hill – walking up is better than the funicular if you have the energy and start at dawn – before the heat, Spice Gardens…

A nice drive is also from Penang over to Kota Baru. I’ve done this by car and by bus.

And what I have yet to do – while I have circled Malaysia by train I haven’t by car – I want to see more of the east coast beaches.  Then there are a few east coast islands to see – Tioman Island etc.

What I had expected to be able to do, and can’t is to spend time in the jungle and to camp. Mosquitoes and other biting insects are the main problem, with heat and humidity secondary.  Locals think you are crazy if you want to camp, and they are right.  It is unlikely you’ll get malaria or dengue, but the more mosquito bites you get, the greater the chance.  So stay in hotels, wear long sleeves and trousers at dawn/dusk and where mosquitoes are – but generally, stay away from places where mosquitoes are.

I’ll report back when there is something to add to the list.


Our trip to Langkawi mid-2014

Over  the years we have flown to Langkawi, and driven to Kuala Perlis and then caught the ferry to Langkawi.  For our fourth trip there we decided to try the bus.  I have already blogged about the bus / ferry trip for this holiday, so I will take it from our disembarkation at the ferry terminal in Langkawi.


We arrived around 1.15PM, ignored most of the touts for rental cars and all of them for accommodation, but one tout seemed OK, so we went with him to his nearby office and rented a car from him.  This was a small orange Perodua Viva automatic – Mrs Tropical Expat’s requirement.  It was RM10 extra for the automatic, so it cost RM60 per day – 24 hours. The car was a bit battered but seemed OK for Langkawi. As usual I took multiple photos to attest to the dents already on the car.

Perodua Viva

Viv the Perodua Viva – it looked OK, but turned out not to be

We struck out for the roughly half hour drive to Cenang, stopping off firstly to buy petrol as rental cars are always empty, and then stopping on the way again to see the Big Sea Cucumber Oil Bottle, and indeed buy some product.

big bottle

big bottle

And we checked in to the NR Motel on the Pantai Tengah Road, actually staying in the same room we did last time.

Langkawi 2014 and the Paleo diet – part II – OR – Economical eating in Langkawi

And how did it work out?  Not as planned.

The two restaurants I was looking forward to patronising, on the Pantai Tengah road, closed a few months ago: the Lebanese (Mona) and the Mexican restaurants. Although they appeared still to be open when I checked on the Internet.  Mona will open in another location in a few months, I heard. But very disappointing.

So, the meals we had:

Day 1 dinner: Mexican Restaurant on Pantai Cenang.

Day 2 breakfast: Leftover dinner from the night before. Coffee

Day 2 lunch: Fish and chips at Scarborough Fish ‘n Chips

Day 2 dinner: Fruit and chicken from the night market and chicken and crisps we’d brought with us

Day 3 breakfast: Fruit and chicken from the night market and some coffee

Day 3 lunch: Not so hungry. So, chocolate.

Day 3 dinner: Chicken Kebab from the Istanbul restaurant

Day 4 breakfast: Leftover food we still had and fruit from a local shop

Day 4 lunch: KFC – (it was very hot and it seemed the coolest place in Kuala Perlis while waiting for the bus)

The Mexican restaurant was nice, but expensive. One dish shared between two would have been sufficient.

on the road through Cenang

on the road through Cenang

Happy Hour is good

Happy Hour is good

20140616 (107) (Copy)

This was good, but cost over RM30

Scarborough Fish ‘n Chips was good as ever – I have previously written about it.

good for lunch

good for lunch

right next to the beach

right next to the beach

food menu

food menu

drinks menu

drinks menu

Serving was plentiful and it tasted good

Serving was plentiful and it tasted good

There is a night market every night in some part of Langkawi.  They are marked on the tourist map.  These are useful for getting food to eat there, or take away. And it’s cheap there.  Go there earlyish and leave before dark as you don’t really want to be driving in the dark due to roaming black buffaloes.



mangosteens and rambutans

mangosteens and rambutans

A piece of chicken (Ayam) for RM2 - and it was delicious

A piece of chicken (Ayam) for RM2 – and it was delicious

Istanbul Restaurant was overpriced and the food average.

pricey, poor choice, small volume and average quality.  Cost RM19 for a small chicken Kebab.  In Berlin for the same price you get a kebab you can save half of for breakfast.

pricey, poor choice, small volume and average quality. Cost RM19 for a small chicken Kebab. In Berlin for the same price you get a kebab you can save half of for breakfast.

My latest formula for successful and economical eating in Langkawi.

  • Rent transport – preferably a car. You’ll need it to get to markets and around in general.
  • Stay somewhere that has a fridge to keep food and your beer cold. And a kettle so you can make coffee. Take coffee.
  • Visit a duty-free store and stock up on beer / wine / spirits – whatever it is you drink – soon after you arrive.  You really only find these stores in Kuah Town, Cenang and Oriental Village.
  • When you go out take some drinks with you in the car as you normally won’t find alcoholic beverages outside of these places
  • Check blogs for other people’s ideas on restaurants.
  • Go to markets to eat and / or to take away the fruit and food you want.
  • Keep an eye out for restaurants that might be of interest to you.
  • Take advantage of Happy Hour
  • Order a smaller number of dish(es) and share – or take away leftovers, as…
  • Breakfast offerings are poor unless you stay in an expensive hotel which provides breakfast, so you want to have bought something in preparation
  • Eat at least one meal at Scarborough Fish ‘n Chips – after a swim at Tanjung Rhu beach is ideal, as you can shower at Scarborough before your lunch