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Trip Report

A 7 days journey of food and mountains in Malaysia

A weeklong trip eating through the streets of Penang and climbing the highest free-standing mountain in Southeast Asia in Sabah.

nam@laugh travel eat
by nam@laugh travel eatAbout Me:Nam Cheah is a third culture millennial who spent half her life in Hong Kong and the other half in the UK. With a passion for travel, hikes, food, and puns, she documents her travel on her suitably named blog: Laugh, Travel, Eat. When she’... read more

AsiaMalaysia7 days / April 2019

Highs & Lows

Watching the sunrise atop Mount Kinabalu, Sabah

The food in Sabah, though good, doesn't compare to Penang

Itinerary Overview

Splitting your time in Malaysia on the cultural gem Penang and the wild Sabah.

The first 2D2N is spent in Penang eating and sight seeing, before the rest of the 5D5N is spent island hopping in Sabah as well as hiking Mount Kinabalu!

  • 2 Nights: George Town
    For the best food in Malaysia and
  • 2 Nights: Kota Kinabalu
    Sightsee in the capital of Sabah state and enjoy its beautiful beaches
  • 1 Night: Sabah
    A cultural visit before heading high up to acclimatize and enjoy the highland of Sabah before hiking Mount Kinabalu
  • 1 Night: Mount Kinabalu
    Climb the highest free standing mountain in Southeast Asia
  • 1 Night: Kota Kinabalu
    A convenient last night in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    If time permits, I would also visit the Poring Hotspring in Sabah or add a day trip to Langkawi.

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    We ended up taking too long to descend Mount Kinabalu and missed dinner.

  • How was the food?

    The food in Penang was fantastic, I've recommended the best restaurants in the itinerary.

  • Packing tips?

    Bring thermals for Mount Kinabalu as well as sturdy hiking gears as it is a technical hike and cold on the top.

  • Transportation Tips?

    Download the Grab app which is the Uber of Southeast Asia and an affordable way to get around Malaysia.

  • Booking details?

    Pre-book Mount Kinabalu hike months in advance as it has limited spots per day - I went with Sutera Santuary.


  • Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Center A modern hotel located close to the Jesselton Point, Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Center is a 20 minutes walk to most attractions and easy to get Grab pick up, too. The rooms are small but with great layout and very functional.

  • Sutera Sanctuary Lodge - I stayed with my friends at the Nepenthes Villa is a comfortable villa

  • Stay at the Panalaban Base Camp where you will be allocated accommodation on arrival. We stayed in a dorm room, but you can also request twin rooms (with extra cost PRIOR to the hike)

  • Dock In Dock In is a great choice for those who want to stay close to the airport since it’s only 10 minutes away. Similarly, it’s also only 10 minutes’ drive away from the city. It is a modern hostel situated by the main road and I’m particularly impressed with the shared bathroom and shower facilities. Each floor has a separate female and male shower area and bathrooms and they are both spacious and clean.