Posted by TerroirTravel on 25/9/2016 at 04:36
As the title says, I am a solo female traveler that has spent some time in SE Asia already, but not Malaysia, so I was hoping that you could help me narrow some things down.
I'm looking to arrive around November, and my US passport allows me 90 days. I don't want to hop and jump to 50 places, and would ideally like to find a chill town to stay in (rent a flat?) for a month or so of that time.
Things I like: good local food, spice! Sometimes being able to buy a bottle of wine instead of the watery lager. Easy walks and strolls (broke my ankle in March, still getting my strength and balance back). So, jungle trekking, not so much, snorkeling- yes! One of my favorite Cambodian towns I visited was Kampot, if that gives you an idea. Being near water would be nice. I can speak English and French. Don't know if that helps...
Things I don't like: full moon parties, rowdy backpackers, a "scene", and would like to limit the big cities, although a few days here and there would be fine if the food is good.
Thoughts? Thank you!
(Also, if this is just the wrong time of year to go to Malaysia, please feel free to straighten me out!)
#1 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76
Posted by Bungkus on 25/9/2016 at 22:46 TF writer
Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Sabah may fit the bill, although nothing like Kampot. It’s a small city, and can seem busy at times, but is easy to walk around. KK wins on the food stakes — excellent local night markets and seafood galore. A group of islands 20 mins from town are your tropical cliché, beautiful and good snorkelling. If staying longterm consider the Tanjung Aru area — a beachside suburb about 15 mins south of the city centre, popular with expats. You’ll find wine in many bars and restaurants too — it’s surprisingly cosmopolitan. November is wet season, but (usually) doesn't rain all day.
Kuching in Sarawak is another option, I haven’t been there for a few years, but has the wonderful Bako National park nearby (easy walks not big treks), and the city is more laid-back than KK. Good food and wine and near the sea — but no snorkelling.
#2 Bungkus has been a member since 28/8/2015. Posts: 16
Posted by SBE on 26/9/2016 at 02:37
Georgetown is famous for its food and should have nice weather in November. You can wander around the world heritage streets or hop on a bus to visit other parts of the island but there's no decent snorkeling on Penang AFAIK.
#3 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055
Posted by amnicoll on 26/9/2016 at 06:23
I am not so sure about the wine - I am sure it is available but not so sure about quality. You could always try Guinness for a change!
kampot I agree is nice but it is still fairly touristy - I would on this basis second Georgetown but places like Ipoh, Malaca and Kuantan might be worth a look or with far less tourist infrastructure some of the places on the jungle railway
french is unlikely to help but English is widely spoken
#4 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976
Posted by zairinwn on 26/9/2016 at 07:57
Try the island Langkawi- got a good range of food, accommodation for all sorts of travellers.Although an island but it fairly represents Malaysia in a nutshell and its surrounded by water :) hence good beaches and fairly ok snorkelling spots.
Penang is another good option,staying at Georgetown with its ample good food. Kuantan in Pahang is another place worth considering...need more details feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gladly assist you..
#5 zairinwn has been a member since 26/9/2016. Posts: 2
Posted by antoniamitchell on 26/9/2016 at 08:31
I was thinking some place like Kuantan too - a provincial town, large enough for a few amenities, but still not a big city, and very few tourists.
You're also an easy bus ride away from places like Cherating , a tiny town with a turtle sanctuary and firefly boat tours in the swamp. Although as it's East Coast monsoon season in November, Cherating will get a bunch of surfing backpackers, simply because there's a break there during the monsoon.
(That's another thing to consider, the weather. There won't be good snorkling on the East Coast because of the monsoon).
Georgetown is great in many ways, but it's also very touristy, which doesn't sound like it's really your cup of tea, for your longer-term chill out plan. It's still worth seeing, in my opinion (and the food is excellent, plus you'll have no trouble finding wine there I suspect, as there are plenty of expats and tourists), but might not be the ideal place for you to chill for a long period. However elsewhere on Penang, away from the food tourists of Georgetown and the package tourists of Batu F, might be more to your liking.
For snorkling at that time of year, you'd be looking at the West Coast, so I'd guess Langkawi could be a good bet. (Caveat - I don't snorkle so I don't actually know what the snorkling is like there, just the likely weather). It's quite touristy in some areas (as a resort island) but quieter away from the main beach. It's pretty expensive for Malaysia, though (dunno what your budget is like) and there's no public transport there, so you're reliant on taxis or renting a bike to get around (the bike might not be so good with your ankle). But it would certainly be a nice place to visit for a bit.
Hope that helps, Terroir. Have a great trip!
#6 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 566
Posted by TerroirTravel on 27/9/2016 at 07:04
These are all interesting suggestions- I think I'm getting it!
I like the ideas of the East Coast, mostly because of the weather, monsoon seasons can make me a little nuts, so Georgetown and Langkawi look good for 1-2 week stays. And the Sarawak spots look very promising, and something I hadn't considered. KK looks almost perfect for me, except for maybe the rains.
What do you know of Palau Pangkor? Is it just resorts? Too small?
I also rode a bike the other day for the first time since injuring my ankle- It felt like a good thing!
Thank you all so much!
#7 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76
Posted by amnicoll on 28/9/2016 at 05:23
when I was there is was idyllic (back in the early 80s) but from what I hear now it is resorts and resorts
You have time so you can always check it out - I quite liked Ipoh at the time
#8 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976
Posted by zairinwn on 29/9/2016 at 04:42
Pangkor is ok..self sustain island but imagine a smaller version of Langkawi.Good spots for snorkelling though..
#9 zairinwn has been a member since 26/9/2016. Posts: 2
Posted by TerroirTravel on 15/10/2016 at 02:09
Due to an awesome 2 month housesit in southern Italy, I'm delaying Malaysia to January. Does any of the above advice change by pushing back a couple of months?
#10 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76
Posted by OutdoorWanderer on 22/10/2016 at 09:34
I am an expat living in KL. Borneo is my favorite place to visit. Kuching is a very laid back town. There are enough tourists to keep restaurants open, but it's not overwhelmed with backpackers. There are lots of little spots to visit in the area with some short hikes, caves, and various animal sanctuaries. The town is fairly walkable. Paradesa Borneo runs great bike tours. One of their guides is also female.
If you just want a nice spot to walk and great food, Penang is the best option. However, there are more tourists in Penang. That said, most of the tourists stay near the water and the town is much larger. You can also take a bus/taxi out of the small city area and there is a national park on the beach side (Batu Ferringhi). You can easily get to Taiping or Ipoh for the day.
Langkawi is mostly large resorts or backpacker hostels. Most folks only use Kota Kinabalu as a jumping off point to hike Mount Kinabalu. Skip everything south of KL (Malacca and Johor Bahru).
Also, be warned, Chinese New Year is at the end of January. The dragon/lion dances and lanterns are cool. However, tourists invade, especially in Penang.
#11 OutdoorWanderer has been a member since 22/10/2016. Posts: 2
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