From Penang

12 Asian Destinations for First-time Solo Backpackers

In 2012, I traveled solo for the first time in my life.

I still remember how scared I was before the trip. With only a small backpack, a Neil Gaiman book, a thousand dollars, and a will to get out of my comfort zone, I boarded the plane to Bangkok. As I was checking in, there were no butterflies in my belly, only a great fear that I might find myself unfit for the travel lifestyle and come running back home earlier than planned.

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Peninsular Malaysia: Sample 1-Week Itinerary

We never intended to tour around Malaysia that month. Our original destination was Siem ReapCambodia but an unfortunate event forced us to drop the idea. Our connecting flights were in Kuala Lumpur so we figured, Why not explore Malaysia instead? So just a couple of days before the trip, we found ourselves rummaging through the Internet for travel ideas. After a night-long research, we listed down the destinations we wished to visit and most of them are located near the West Coast. Our initial list had five cities but, wait, that was too many stops for a 6-day trip! Since I had been to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur in separate occasions, they got the cut. We settled for three destinations — Langkawi, Penang, and Cameron Highlands.

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12 Hours in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

When I was planning this Malaysia trip, the only thing that I was sure of was that I wanted to set foot on George Town, Penang. But as I read more about other places in West Malaysia, particularly Cameron Highlands and Langkawi, the shorter my Penang time got. At the start of the trip, Penang was reduced to a “connecting stop” and my stay was narrowed down to half a day. I would still spend a night in George Town but I would have to leave the next day for another destination. It was a mistake. As soon as we stepped on its soil, it dawned on us that 12 hours won’t be enough to truly experience the city.

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