You’d be forgiven for thinking Malaysia has been visited to death, since it’s just over the Causeway. But there’s really a myriad of things to do in Malaysia if you know where to look. It does have some hidden treasures, and the expanse of the country offers quite a range of holiday experiences. Invest a little more than a weekend getaway and you can have quite an adventure-filled Malaysian itinerary.
Malaysia is a country rich in heritage buildings, ancient landmarks and colonial structures. Even today, you can still see the imprints of British, Dutch and Portuguese forces left behind in forts, museums, churches and towers across the country. Malacca never gets old because of such a wide array of food choices and all of them being delectable. Borneo is a good base to channel some jungle survival instincts. Perhentian Island offers stunning beachscapes and colourful marine life. Ipoh has lots of cultural riches, Penang home of of the nyonya culture, Kota Kinabalu to challenge yourself, and that’s not even to mention the low-key islands and kampungs worth exploring off the beaten track.
Here are some routes in Malaysia to inspire your own trip.
When you’re ready to take the leap and get down to booking your own journey, use the buttons below to check out the latest flight prices and hotels loved by other travellers. Then book your ideal trip, your way. No fixed routes! Stay as long as you want in each city, fly where you want, choose only hotels in your budget, and stay close to the attractions you’re most interested in. Let’s go!
Foodie Trail –13 days – Malaysia Itinerary –
What does Malacca, KL, Ipoh and Penang have in common? That’s right, sedap-gila food! Join us as we take you on a food hunt through some of Malaysia’s favourite food spots, starting from Malacca!
1) Malacca – 3 days
From vibrant markets to fruit farms, don’t miss exploring Malacca’s hidden food streets. Start your food journey with a bus journey or drive from Singapore to Malacca. Jonker Street is the first place to hit for Malacca’s traditional gastronomy. If you are here on Friday and Saturdays nights, find everything from tasty treats to cheap keepsakes at the night market.
Drive from Malacca to Port Dickson
2) Port Dickson – Half day
Take a day trip to Port Dickson, a 2-hour drive from Malacca. As a town on Malaysia’s west coast, Port Dickson has numerous beaches worth visiting, such as Pantai Cahaya Negeri, Tanjung Tuan Beach and Saujana Beach. Other historical sites to visit include Lukut Museum and Fort and Wan Loong Chinese Temple.
Take a bus from Port Dickson to Kuala Lumpur
3) Kuala Lumpur – 3 days
Just under 2 hours away from Port Dickson, a bus will take you to the metropolitan city. Kuala Lumpur’s food offerings are predominantly influenced by Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. They run the whole gamut from street food to, much recently, Instagrammable cafes. Local dishes can be characterised by spices and ingredients such as coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime, tamarind, and ginger.
Take a taxi from Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves
4) Batu Caves – Half day
While you’re in KL, take a short detour to Batu Caves, situated only 13km from KL. Batu Caves is home to Hindu shrine, and you can find a couple of temples in the surrounding natural caverns. To get to the main temple, you have to climb the notorious 272 steps.
Take a train from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh
5) Ipoh – 3 days
From KL Sentral Station, take a KTM train to Ipoh. Ipoh is no doubt associated with excellent street food, and this includes bean sprout chicken, white coffee and chee cheong fun.
While at Ipoh, a 1-hour drive will transport you to Kuala Kangsar, home to traditional crafts such as keris-making and pottery-making. Here you’ll find numerous mosques and museums. Take a sneak peek at how the Perak Prince used to live.
North-west of Ipoh lies a quiet town, Taiping. While it looks unassuming, Taiping offers gorgeous views from the Lake Gardens and Maxwell Hill. While you’re here, have a taste of the local seafood at one of the restaurants by the river at Kuala Sepetang.
Take a train or car from Ipoh to Penang
6) Penang – 3 days
Whether by train or car, you can arrive at Penang in 2 hours. Long regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, visitors of Penang are by no coincidence food lovers of the region. Gurney Drive is a popular seafront promenade within George Town, Penang, Malaysia. The road is also one of Penang’s most popular tourist destinations, famous for the street cuisine sold from food stalls located along the seafront.
With George Town being accorded a listing as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Penang combines modernity with a traditional, old world charm. Long regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, visitors of Penang are by no coincidence food lovers of the region.
Here, fly home from Penang’s International Airport.
Wild Borneo –16 days – Malaysia Itinerary
You don’t have to be Bear Grylls to explore Borneo. This underexplored part of Malaysia is a wonderful destination rich with adventure, good food and tribal culture. Start your journey in Kuching, with a 4 hour flight via KL.
1) Kuching – 1 day
Kuching is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Find your bearings around Kuching after landing at Kuching International Airport. A good mix of culture and history in the churches, mosques, and temples, as well as markets for fresh produce and handicraft finds, the city has much to offer, and even more so beyond.
Drive from Kuching to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
2) Semenggoh Wildlife Centre – 1 day
Located 24 kilometres from the centre of Kuching, this orangutan rehabilitation centre trains orphaned or rescued orangutans to survive in the wild. Stroll along the marked trail and if you coincide with their feeding times, you may get a chance to feed these orangutans.
Drive from Kuching to Bako
3) Bako – 1 day
Rise early and take a short drive from Kuching to Bako, Sarawak’s oldest national park, this area of well-preserved coastal forest is a world on its own. Home to waterfalls, monkeys, birds, monitor lizards and various types of vegetation, there is always something new to discover. Bako is one of the best places in Sarawak to see wildlife in a natural setting.
Take a bus from Kuching and transfer to Lubok Antu
Take a boat from Lubok Antu to Batang Ai
4) Batang Ai – 1 day
It’s a little bit of a hassle to get to Batang Ai, but totally worth it. Take a 3.5-hour bus from Kuching to Sri Aman and then change for another bus on a 2-hour journey to Lubok Antu. From Lubok Antu, hire a boat to Batang Ai National Park. The Batang Ai area is where you can find some of the oldest Iban settlements in Sarawak. Cruise through the river and visit traditional Iban longhouse communities, such as Nanga Sumpa, in a day trip to Batang Ai from Bako. You might want to consider being part of a tour to get to Batang Ai.
5) Gunung Mulu National Park – 3 days
Take a one-hour plane from the nearest airport, Sibu, to Miri and conquer the next national park. Your forest adventure never ends! For the nature-lovers, take a three-day trek out to Gunung Mulu National Park. Set out to search for a cave that leads to the Garden of Eden, a hidden valley and waterfall encased by dramatic limestone pinnacles.
6) Bario Highlands – 1 day
From Miri, a small plane will take you to Bario. With only a population of 800, Bario is the gateway to the Kelabit highlands. Small villages make up the Bario area and longhouses dot the highlands. You can go kayaking or roam in one of the many treks from here.
7) Kota Kinabalu – 3 days
Fly to Kota Kinabalu from Bario airport. Many come to Kota Kinabalu simply to conquer Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain. The mountain’s base also acts as a good day trip, with a range of activities to keep you occupied.
An hour’s drive away, you will arrive at Poring Hot Spring. Known for its therapeutic hot sulphur spring, there are both indoor and outdoor baths for you to soak your tired bodies in. The little ones are also not left out, as they have a dedicated pool for kids.
8) Sandakan – 3 days
Head east on a domestic flight to Sandakan. Sandakan is a city in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the northeast coast of Borneo. Tourists and researchers come to watch the orang utans up close in their natural habitat at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
Step into the natural habitat of Sabah’s longest rivers, the Kinabatangan River. Wildlife-lovers can expect to see the 10 primate species that are native to Borneo that have set up their home base here, such as orangutans and big-nosed proboscis monkeys. You can purchase a tour that may include accommodation, meals, river cruises and trekking.
Sandakan is also known for the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, where you can find the endangered Proboscis Monkey all in one place, up close in action.
Take a bus from Sandakan to Lahad Datu
9) Lahad Datu – 1 day
East of Sabah, Lahad Datu is surrounded by various cocoa and oil palm plantations. This requires a 2-hour bus ride from Sandakan. As a little coastal town, apart from its fish market, dry goods market and some dilapidated buildings, there is little else to keep you here for long. Most who pass through Lahad Datu are travellers visiting Tabin Wildlife Park and the Danum Valley.
If you’re looking for activities to do, about 2 hours away sits the Gomantong Caves. The Gomantong Caves comprises of Simud Hitam (Black Cave) and Simud Putih (White Cave). The caves are historically known for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are harvested for bird’s nest soup between February and August.
Drive from Lahad Datu to Danum Valley
10) Danum Valley – 1 day
A little over two hours by car from Lahad Datu, Danum Valley is an established rainforest used primarily for conservation, research, education, and habitat restoration training purposes. With over 500 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians living in the relatively untouched forest, Danum Valley is a mecca for naturalists.
Visiting tourists can keep themselves occupied with a myriad of activities, such as jungle treks, swimming in the river, animal-spotting and bird-watching. Night jungle tour hikes and excursions to nearby logging sites and timber mills are also available upon request.
To return, take a flight back to Lahad Datu via Malaysia Airlines, and then to Kota Kinabalu, before taking your international flight back to Singapore.
East Coast Explorer
East Coast Explorer – 7 days – Malaysia Itinerary
Hit the East Coast with a bang. Apart from the pretty coastal lines (duh), you’ll also explore some of the most gorgeous islands that borders the East. Best part? They aren’t overly populated or heavily commercialised, unlike Gili islands. Rumour has it that the waters and underwater life is almost as vibrant as Maldives!
Take a bus from Singapore to Kuantan
1) Kuantan – 1 day
An affordable but time-consuming way to get from Singapore to Kuantan is tao take a 8-hour bus for $10-$30. Alternatively, you can take a flight from Singapore to Kuantan which will get you there in 1 hour. The beginning of Malaysia’s east coast beach strip that extends all the way to Kota Bharu, Kuantan is the capital city of the Pahang state of Peninsular Malaysia. Kuantan’s highlight is the beach at Teluk Cempedak and for its Sungai Pandan Waterfall. To keep your kids entertained, dedicate a full day to Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC), a water theme park resort that is by far one of the largest in Malaysia.
To keep your day fueled, try Kuantan’s famous keropok (fish crackers), salted fish and ikan bakar (grilled fish).
Take a bus from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu
2) Kuala Terengganu – 1 day
Take a bus down to Kuala Terengganu from Kuantan. While Kuala Terengganu is not spared from development and modernisation, remnants of the town’s past are still in place. One such place is the Terengganu Chinatown, which is characterized by rows of old chinese buildings and Chinese cuisines in the small but cozy restaurants.
Stop by Pasar Besar (Big Bazaar) and the shop around the market forknick-knackss. In the evening, take a short boat trip from Kuala Terengganu jetty to the fisherman village of Seberang Takir for only RM1. If you’re feeling cultured, you can visit the State Museum where you can find Malaysia’s largest producer of batik.
Drive from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Besut
3) Kuala Besut – Half day
En route to the Perhentian Islands, stop at Kuala Besut, a 2-hour drive away from Kuala Terengganu. Travellers hardly spend more than half a day here, and it’s usually a stop to the Perhentian Islands. Various shopping and nightlife options are still available for those who spend a night here.
Take a ferry from Kuala Besut Jetty to Perhentian Islands
4) Perhentian Islands – 3 days
Today, take a ferry from Kuala Besut Jetty to the Perhentian Islands, for a return price of RM70. The two main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar (“Big Perhentian Island”) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (“Small Perhentian Island”). Considered one of the best diving spots in the world, you can even get certified in diving here. Apart from island-hopping, sunrises and sunsets by the ocean are pretty dope too.
Nearby islands include Lang Tengah, Pulau Redang and Pulau Kapas, which are popular for snorkelling and scuba diving. They can be reachable via Marang Jetty or from the Perhentian Islands.
Take a bus from Kuala Besut to Kota Bharu
5) Kota Bharu – 1 day
Capital of the state of Kelantan, Kota Bharu serves as the main gateway to and from the Perhentian Islands. From Kuala Besut, there is a direct local bus service for RM6 that transports you to Kota Bharu in under 2 hours. Main attractions of Kota Bharu include islamic museums, traditional markets and mosques.
Taste of Malaysia
Taste of Malaysia – 13 days – Malaysia Itinerary
Looking for the best of Malaysia in 2 weeks? This is the itinerary for you. Start from Kuala Lumpur and cruise between cities, farms and old towns for a taste of what Malaysia truly is like, past and present. While you’re on this trip, local delicacies is of course part of getting a truly immersive experience too.
1) Kuala Lumpur – 3 days
Only a 1.5 hour plane ride away from Singapore, expect a modern, cosmopolitan city in the capital city of Malaysia. With the iconic Petronas Towers dominating the skyline, it’s one of the most photographed spots in Kuala Lumpur. Put your haggling skills to the test at Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown district at Petaling street. Further from the city lies Batu Caves, a unique Hindu temple that lies within a cave.
Take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara
2) Taman Negara – 2 days
Hop on the NKS Shuttle bus for a 6-hour journey to Taman Negara, and step into this oldest rainforest in the world. At 130 million years old, exploring Taman Negara National Park is as much an adventure as it is educational. Experience walking on the world’s longest canopy walkway 45 metres high, visit the aborigine village and learn the local culture, trek under the dense and rich rainforest canopy, climb the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia and even do caving, camping, or fishing here.
Tour options are popular to explore the rainforest, but you can equally get an adventure exploring it on your own!
Drive from Taman Negara to Cameron Highlands
3) Cameron Highlands – 3 day
A 5-hour drive away from Taman Negara, atop a hill, sits Cameron Highlands. From jungle trekking to farm-hopping, the Cameron Highlands are the perfect combination of relaxation and sightseeing. It’s hard not to, with the cool climates that Cameron Highlands are known for. Tea plantation, strawberry farms, bee farms and flower gardens are made possible thanks to the climate. Catch a sunrise at Mount Brinchang for an unforgettable view of nature’s best.
Drive from Cameron Highlands to Ipoh
4) Ipoh – 3 days
Experience an old-world charm at Ipoh through a 2-hour drive from Cameron Highlands. Primarily known for its culture and cuisine, Ipoh appears to be going through a revival thanks to the recent sprouting of hotels, cafes, museums and street art in the historic center. There are murals by Ernest Zacharevic and local artists like Eric Lai across the city.
Flanked by a colorful medley of various restaurants and shops, “Concubine Lane” around Kong Heng Square is a popular spot among youngsters. The Old Town has no shortage of quaint shophouses, while Perak Tong has one of the most spectacular interiors decorated with colorful murals of deities. Other attractions include the century-old Railway Station and the iconic old Town Hall across the road.
Local cuisine is no foreign to every traveller. Ipoh Hor Fun, Ipoh White Coffee, Ipoh Chee Cheong Fun and Nga choy kay are some of the local food delicacies you can’t miss while you’re there! Larut Matang Food Court is a good place to start, with a variety of food choices you can choose from.
25 minutes away lies Gopeng, where activities like caving and whitewater rafting are offered. Lost World water theme park is also closeby to Ipoh – a perfect day out for travellers with kids!
Take a train from Ipoh to Lumut, transfer by ferry to Pangkor Island
5) Pangkor Island – 2 days
After exploring almost every kind of terrain of Malaysia, nothing beats winding down on a resort island, away from the maddening crowd. From Ipoh, take a train to Lumut. Then arrive at Pangkor Island by ferry. Rent a scooter to get around the island. This mountainous islands offer plenty of water activities to keep you occupied. You can also climb up Pangkor Hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding waters.
After getting enough of Vitamin C, travel back the same way to Ipoh, where the nearest international airport is, and take a 1.5 hour flight back home.