I feel like Malaysia got better and better with each city that we visited. Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, and then Penang gave us unique experiences that we loved and will honestly remember forever.
Our first day in Penang started off as a travel day, and we took a later flight from Melaka into George Town. I know early mornings can’t always be avoided when you travel (especially when you’re looking for good flight deals or train fares), but I love when we’re able to take our time packing up, grab breakfast, and then move on to our next location.
We packed our backpacks as soon as we woke up, and then walked over to The Daily Fix Cafe for two plates of their famous Pandan Pancakes. It was one of the cutest cafes I’ve ever visited, and the pancakes paired perfectly with Caleb’s banana oat smoothie, and my pineapple + passionfruit smoothie.
After breakfast, we waited back at our hotel for a few hours, and then made our very first Uber transaction to get to the airport. We had been taking the metro and taxis for the majority of our trip, but discovered that Uber was a much cheaper option, and we didn’t have to worry about being overcharged or scammed because all transactions are done online through your credit card (and drivers can’t change the rate that they give you).
(If you haven’t signed up for Uber yet, use this link to get money off of your first ride!)
Also, if you’re looking for a great place to stay in Melaka, we’d highly recommend Hotel Puri! Their service was great, our room was clean and very comfortable, and it was really close to a lot of fun sites. Not to mention the details of this place:
The Penang airport was nice and small (with like maybe 2 gates max), so we had zero trouble getting our boarding passes and finding our gate. Our flight was smooth and uneventful (hallelujah), and once we landed in George Town, our next objective was to get to our hotel. We took another Uber, but this time it was a bit more difficult to connect with our driver because of the spotty airport wi-fi.
Thankfully we were able to find our ride at the busy airport terminal, and our friendly driver chatted with us about the city until he dropped us off at our next hotel: the Eastern & Oriental (E&O).
Since our trip to Taiwan, we’ve made it a goal of ours to book at least one night at an upscale hotel. In Taipei, we booked a night at the Grand Hotel, and in George Town, we did the same at the E&O.
I’ll be sharing a full review of the E&O in our next post, so stay tuned for that! Overall, the hotel was extremely beautiful, very well-maintained, and my only regret is that we couldn’t afford to stay more than one night.
We spent some time soaking up our gorgeous room, had a few snacks that they left for us, and then went out a few hours later to do some exploring.
The only meal that we had up until this point was breakfast at the Daily Fix Cafe, so we were pretty hungry. One thing we loved about Malaysia was that there was no shortage of places to find delicious food, and George Town was no exception.
Our first stop of the night was at George Town’s well-known Line Clear, where we ordered a big plate of Nasi Kandar: rice that’s paired with a variety of different curries and sides. We had absolutely no clue what we were doing, and once the chef caught wind of that, he just started piling stuff on our plate.
From Line Clear, we continued on our food journey by searching out one specific dish that we wanted to try after seeing Mark Wiens visit George Town: Rojak.
Rojak is basically a mix of different fruits and vegetables with a sweet (and sometimes spicy) sauce made of palm sugar doused on top. There are apparently different versions of the sauce that’s put on top, and unfortunately, the one we got wasn’t very good.
To help get the taste of the rojak out of our mouths, we found a stall selling another dish that we had been looking for: Char Kway Teow.
It looked a lot like Pad Thai, but was much more subtle and smoky (and still absolutely delicious).
Wrapping up our first day in George Town:
After we finished eating dinner, we needed something sweet…so naturally, we decided to get a durian….no big deal.
It was actually our very first time trying durian, and because of its bad reputation and strong smell, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we liked it! Durian was one of our biggest food bucket list items, and we really wanted to see what the negative hype was about. I’ll be writing a separate post on our durian experience, but you can also watch our reaction to the fruit below!
By the time we finished eating, it started raining pretty heavily, so we rushed back to our hotel room and settled in for the night.
First Impressions of George Town:
Just from the short amount of time that we spent in George Town on this first day, we both had a feeling that we were really going to enjoy our last few days in Malaysia.
I can’t speak for the rest of Penang, but George Town is an incredibly walkable city, there is TONS of street art, and the food options are every foodie’s dream.
These are the kinds of cities that I dream of: moving forward, full of life and artistic expression, but also keeping culture and history preserved, and honoring its importance.
We spent three days in George Town, and I’m so excited to share more about our time there!