Drumbrake's Travels

My trip reports

Malaysia and Singapore

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Thorntree report

This was a short 8 day trip covering parts of peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Most of the places I had visited before – only Langkawi was new – and one of the reasons to go was to escape the coldest January in Hong Kong since 1977!

Hong Kong to Penang by Air Asia. Book early or have good timing for the cheapest fares! Taxi counter at the airport meant a taxi was Rm44.7 – I think we had to pay a late night surcharge. We stayed at the  PP island (review) – the main problem is that it is a little bit away from the centre.  Still, a fairly comfortable and cheap hotel.

In Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown, Penang.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Penang base

The next day was spent wandering around enjoying the old parts of Georgetown. If you have time, you could easily spend a couple of days doing this and there are plenty of cafes to relax in. If you are willing to spend more, I’d recommend staying in  Cheong Fatt Tsz Mansion – really a great place to stay.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

The following day we caught the  ferry to Langkawi . The cost was Rm60 (booked online – you have to pick up the tickets beforehand).  Departure was 08:30- you can get there a few minutes beforehand and still be ok. However, it is free seating so for a ‘good’ seat, if you are in a party and want to sit together, then arrive early. There are also some seats outside, which you might want to escape the fierce air-conditioning.  We wore long sleeves and jackets and slept.

The ferry took around 3 hours. Getting out through the only exit is a bit of a scramble – note the ‘good’ seating. Once in the ferry terminal it is easy; another taxi desk to pay for the taxi (Rm24) to Pantai Cenang (around 25 mins) and we are at  The Cabin (review).

The Cabin

This is a nice place and I recommend it. The price is maybe a little high compared to nearby places, and the beach at Pantai Cenang is nice except for the jellyfish. Pantai Cenang is very much a one road resort town where it is very easy to do anything.  We ate at Man restaurant for breakfast / lunch a couple of times  (opposite AB Motel). Cheap, but more importantly very good food and friendly service.   We also ate at a seafood place in the northern end  – not cheap but good.

Beach at Pantai Cenang

Beach at Pantai Cenang

I quite liked Langkawi except for the jellies. It was my first time there and I found it relaxing. beer is also cheap compared to the rest of Malaysia! We left the island by ferry to Kuala Perlis (Rm18, around 1 hour, quite frequent departures). While the ferry from Penang had free seating, this one had numbered seats.  Exit was as chaotic though! At the terminal in Kuala Perlis  it was easy to get a taxi to Arau Train Station where we collected our tickets (Booking Malaysian Trains ). This was surprisingly easy to do, and we had until 2 hours before departure to pick up the tickets.  Recommended.

The journey from Arau to Kuala Lumpur was quite comfortable.  A  short report and pictures are here . There are private compartments if you book early enough and pay more, but I found the standard class sleepers comfortable enough.  The train turns around at Butterworth if you need to sleep in the direct on travel. Food in the buffet was not very inspiring, so bring your own snacks.

Sleeper Carriage

We arrived on time (before 6 am) at the newish KL station. There is free wifi there and pretty good toilets. There was some confusion about where to catch the bus to Melaka (Puduraya is just about re-opened but not yet, so we still went to Bukit Jalil by metro – trains are not frequent early morning). On arrival at Bukit Jalil we were met by a tout who rushed us to a bus leaving at 7am which turned out to be full, but by then we had paid money (Rm13); we finally got the 7:30 am bus (a bit of a wreck but fast). Lesson – avoid the touts unless you can see a seat on the bus!

The bus took 2 hours to Melaka Sentral where we got tickets for the next day for a bus to Singapore Rm 22 (plenty of options; no need to worry about booking online from limited options).  From Sentral, we caught the town bus number 17 (Rm1 – I don’t the price or buses have changed for around 10 years) to the centre where we had a 2minute walk to  hangout@jonker (review). I liked the hotel – friendly staff (we got early check in) and excellent location. The downside is the noise from the doors.


Melaka is one of my favourite places; it has changed quite a lot in recent years – new river walk for example, but also many more tourists – but still keeps it charm. The boats along the river are a little fast for my liking, but the monitor lizards still survive (Monitor lizards in Melacca ). Chicken rice from the place on Jonkers is still very cheap (Rm4) and good, while in other places – Geographer Cafe prices seem to have gone up. Still, there are lots of choices to eat and drink in the town (although beer is not so cheap), and lots of budget accommodation choices.

Monitor Lizards

Melaka to Singapore took 4 hours. It’s a comfortable journey and both immigrations are easy. The  707 bus dropped us at Queen Street bus terminus, which was not as convenient as Lavender where our hotel  AQueen , was located. We got there by subway and walking, although a taxi would have been cheap.

The hotel is nice and at Rm 145 I suppose not so expensive, especially comparing the cost of other places in the city. Remember the tax and surcharges which are often not shown when you book online! Maybe prices are a little cheaper because of the nearby funeral homes – Chinese would be suspicious about that. Nearby is the Lavender Street food court which has cheapish food.

The main new thing we did in Singapore was  The Southern Ridges walk. While it is a very safe ‘countryside’ walk, in the Hong Kong / Singapore style, it is still very pleasant and you have some good views.  The Henderson Waves and Forest Walk are also pretty good, and it gets few visitors compared to nearby Sentosa.

Henderson Waves

Forest Walk

Later that day we caught a bus to Boat Quay, and then walked along the river past Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay before ending up at Marian Bay and Lau Pa Sat food market. Then we continued to China Town (re-opening on the second day of The Rabbit). We walked along Club Street  which seemed to be a nice place when things are open.

Lau Pai Sat

The next morning was spent in Little India – head to the first floor of the Tekka Centre for good views of the wet market, and the Arab Quarter. Getting back to the airport is easy by MRT. To the budget terminal is a shuttle bus every few minutes from the main terminals. Free computers in the terminal for use and comfortable chairs. Then back to Hong Kong by Tiger Airlines.

Tekka Centre, Little India.

Overall an easy and fairly relaxing trip even with 4 places in 8 days. Weather was good – warm and not wet – which was what we needed.


Written by drumbrake

February 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm

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