After my 2 months Indonesia itinerary, it was time for a Malaysia itinerary of several weeks. Above all, the country is a bit more prosperous than many other countries in Southeast Asia. It’s therefore also slightly more expensive, but Malaysia still certainly is a budget destination!
Malaysia consists of two parts, namely West Malaysia (the peninsula bordering Thailand and Singapore) and East Malaysia (the partial part of Borneo), both of which are separated by the South China Sea. In this article I share my complete travel itinerary for West Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur ➤ Taman Negara ➤ Cameron Highlands ➤ Ipoh ➤ Pulau Pangkor ➤ Penang ➤ Langkawi ➤ Kuala Lumpur
Did you know that you can also easily travel to and from Singapore by bus? It takes about 5 hours by bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and tickets can be easily arranged online.
You can start your Malaysia itinerary in different places, but Kuala Lumpur is the most common city. There are a lot of different international flights to and from Kuala Lumpur. In addition, the bus connection between other Malaysian cities is also excellent.
Here you can read more about 14 great sights in Kuala Lumpur.
After the bustle and chaos of the city, it’s time for nature and tranquility in Taman Negara. This national park has an area of almost 4,500 km² and it’s considered one of the oldest deciduous rainforests in the world, estimated to be more than 130 million years old.
For the Taman Negara National Park you need a permit that you can purchase on arrival for 1 RM. You also pay 5 RM for your camera.
The national park is perfect for hikes. You can easily make short hikes in a day without a guide, because the routes are clearly indicated. If you want to see more of the park and nature, a two-day hike with a guide is definitely recommended! A two-day hike costs about 230 RM.
You can walk on your own to the Canopy Walk. For these suspension bridges you pay 5 RM entrance. It’s certainly fun to visit, but it’s not very special either. Make sure to visit the Canopy Walk before 10:00 to be ahead of most tour groups.
Doing a night tour is a lot of fun in the national park. You then leave with a group around 8:30 PM and walk around for an hour. I spotted scorpions, different spiders and snakes, among other things. A night tour costs around 25 RM.
When you travel to Taman Negara national park, you will stay in the village of Kuala Tahan. The choice of accommodations in Kuala Tahan is fairly limited. After all, it is a small village. Prices are between € 10 – € 30 for a double room. From Kuala Tahan you take a boat for 1 RM to the entrance of the national park across the river.
How to get there: To reach the village of Kuala Tahan, you can book a bus-boat-bus combination ticket. This is possible with HAN Travel or NKS Travel.
From the tropical heat to the highlands. In Cameron Highlands it is a bit more chilly than in most areas in Malaysia, around 25 ° C. This area is located at an altitude of 1500 meters, making it the highest region in the mainland.
The Cameron Highlands are best known for the extensive tea plantations on the rolling hills. Be sure to rent a scooter and drive around to visit these plantations. For example, Cameron Valley Tea Plantation 1 and 2 are one of the best known. Both have a beautiful view from the cafe. If you also want to walk down between the plantations, you pay a small amount of 3 RM.
In addition, the BOH tea estate and BOH Sungai Palas tea are also very beautiful. The road to the BOH tea estate is already beautiful and on the way you will also pass very photogenic tea plantations. Both locations are closed on Mondays.
In addition to all those beautiful tea plantations, there are also many strawberry farms in the Cameron Highlands. The climate is very suitable for growing strawberries. The two best known are the Big Red Strawberry farm and Raju’s Hill Strawberry farm. You can walk around and pick strawberries for a certain amount of money. In addition, they offer dozens of snacks, desserts and drinks with strawberries in the cafes. Quite funny, but certainly not special.
The Mossy Forest is also a popular attraction in the area. Previously, a walk through this forest was completely free, but since 2019 an entrance fee of 30 RM per person is requested. A big difference if you ask me. Without a guide you cannot walk very far yourself. It’s not recommended to drive there with a normal rental car because the road is not in the best condition. So get dropped off with a 4×4 or book a tour.
When you travel to Cameron Highlands, you will stay in the town of Tanah Rata. I did not like the town very much and before I traveled there I did not know what the best place to stay was. Recommendations include Traveller Bunker (hostel) and Father’s Guesthouse.
How to get there: Cameron Highlands can be reached from Taman Negara with a bus-boat-bus combination ticket. The area is also easy to reach from Kuala Lumpur. The bus from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands takes about 3.5 – 4 hours and costs 38 RM.
Ipoh is Malaysia’s third largest city and was previously often used as a stopover. Nowadays, more and more travelers stay in Ipoh for a few days. Rightly so, because the center has a number of photogenic streets and the city is known for its delicious food. There are many Malaysian, Chinese and Indian influences.
The artist who decorated the streets in George Town Penang has also painted walls in Ipoh. You can find the Mural Arts Lane here and here. If you walk around here you will probably also see the famous hanging umbrellas above the street, which you’ll also find in George Town.
Ipoh is the right place to eat tasty and cheap food. Recommended are Sri Aryaa Bhavan (Indian), Yee Fatt Dry Curry Noodles (Chinese), Greentown Dimsum Café and at Kannaa’s Banana Leaf Bamboo Masala Briyani you can eat, as the name suggests, traditional bamboo cooked Masala Briyani. It can also be fun to walk the Gerbang Malam Nightmarket in the evening.
In the vicinity of Ipoh there are also plenty of interesting sights, such as the Buntong waterfalls and a number of temples including the Sam Poh Tong Temple and the Kek Lok Tong. Near these temples is also the Cermin lake. To reach this lake you walk through a long cave and there is a chance that you are the only one! It is not possible to swim there. To reach these sights you can take a Grab taxi.
Kellie’s Castle is also fun to visit. However, this attraction is a lot more to the south, so you could visit it on the way to the next destination. I don’t think the castle is worth driving up and down for.
How to get there: From Cameron Highlands it’s about a 2.5 hour bus ride and the ride costs around 20 RM. In addition, it’s also possible to travel directly from Cameron Highlands to Penang for 32 RM. You could do this if you are short on time.
Enough time spent inland, it’s time for sun and beaches on Pulau Pangkor! This island has an area of 18 km² and is a popular destination for Malaysians on weekends.
It is highly recommended to rent a scooter and drive around the island on your own. You can visit temples and visit beaches. And perhaps one of the most special sights is the many wild hornbills that you can even feed in certain places!
You can read everything about Pulau Pangkor here.
How to get there: To reach Pangkor, first take the bus to the harbor town of Lumut. Then you can buy a return boat ticket for 14 RM to Pangkor.
Penang is located in the northwest of the country and is a very popular destination during a Malaysia itinerary. The city of George Town is also considered to be the food capital of Malaysia.
One of my favorite eateries is Ee Beng Vegetarian Food where you can choose from a buffet with dozens of different dishes. In addition, the Indian Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant is also highly recommended!
In addition to good food, the city is known for the murals spread throughout the city. It’s recommended to take a day out for a city walk and to spot all these paintings. Some are small or not at eye level, so look around. As far as I am concerned, it makes for a very nice experience to discover a city.
Due to the many Chinese and Indian influences on the island, several temples are also spread throughout the city and outside the city. A popular Hindi temple in the center is the Sri Mahamariamman. In addition, the Chinese Kek Lok Si Temple next to the Penang Hill is highly recommended.
It is also fun to rent a motorbike and drive around the island. There are a number of great beaches, such as in the northwest of Penang, same as the Penang National park.
George Town has an incredible choice of accommodations. For example, you can often stay in an airbnb in George Town for a great price. For example, I stayed two nights in an airbnb in one of the skyscrapers with an infinity pool and gym. Really awesome! But there are also plenty of hostels. A nice location to stay in the area is at Love Lane.
How to get there: From Lumut take the bus to Butterworth for about 17 RM to 23 RM. Then you can take the public ferry for only 1.20 RM to Penang.
The island of Langkawi is located entirely in the northwestern part of Malaysia, near the border with Thailand.
Langkawi has a number of very nice beaches. Pantai Cenang is perhaps one of the most popular, but the quieter nearby Pantai Tengah is also recommended. All the way to the northeast you will find the beautiful Tanjung Rhu Beach.
Also try driving around with a rented motorbike (or Grab taxi if you prefer) to the northwest of the island. Here you will find the famous Langkawi Sky Bridge, but also a number of waterfalls. For example, the Seven Wells Waterfall is nearby, but the gigantic Temurun Waterfall is also very cool. Combine the latter with Pasir Tengkorak Beach.
Langkawi is quite large and there are several places to stay. The city where the boat moors is Kuah Town, but I don’t recommend staying here, because there are no beaches nearby. The best thing is to stay at Pantai Cenang beach. There is enough choice here in accommodations in different price ranges and you will find several beaches.
How to get there: The route from Penang to Langkawi can be done directly by boat, but it’s much cheaper to take the bus from Butterworth and then the boat from Kuala Perlis for 18 RM. Book these tickets in advance on weekends and during public holidays! From Langkawi you could also travel to Thailand (for example to Koh Lipe), but Langkawi also has an airport from where you can fly to other destinations in Asia. In addition, it’s also possible to drive back to Kuala Lumpur by bus.
Alternative Malaysia itinerary
As you can see, this Malaysia itinerary is mainly focused on the west coast. Simply because there are more popular destinations on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean the east coast isn’t interesting. On the contrary! There are a number of beautiful islands on the east coast.
The most famous are the Perhentians, the ultimate diving destination in the north-east of Malaysia. Pulau Tioman in the south-east is also a true paradise. And how about Pulau Rawa that isn’t far away.
Do you prefer to travel more on the east coast? Then your itinerary through Malaysia could look like this:
Kuala Lumpur ➤ Taman Negara ➤ Cameron Highlands ➤ Perhentians ➤ Penang ➤ Langkawi ➤ Kuala Lumpur ➤ Tioman
Best time to travel this Malaysia itinerary
In addition, I immediately arrive at the best travel time for Malaysia. This isn’t as easy to describe as you might think. The east and west coasts each have a different rainy season, hence the above alternative itinerary for east Malaysia.
The best travel time for eastern Malaysia is approximately from March – October. Outside of these months, the weather is very bad and most islands close.
The best time to travel to western Malaysia is approximately November – March. The rainy season here is a lot less intense than in the east and the west remains easily accessible all year round.
Transport in Malaysia
Public transport in Malaysia is well organized. The most common mode of transport is by bus. Bus tickets are available on site at the bus station, but accommodations often also offer tickets (for a slightly higher price, of course). In addition, it’s very easy to book online bus tickets yourself. For this you can visit the websites BusOnlineTicket or Easybook, but also via 12GoAsia.
Many travelers in Malaysia choose to rent a car. The roads in Malaysia are generally in good condition and the traffic chaos is not too bad (with the exception of Kuala Lumpur). Keep in mind that people drive on the left side of the road.
You can rent a car at the airport. Due to the toll roads, it’s necessary to purchase a “Touch n Go” card. You can do this at the airport. Tolls cost about 3 RM at a time and the cards are easy to load at supermarkets.
For shorter distances, a taxi such as Grab is highly recommended. The rides are generally very cheap and the Grab taxis can be ordered almost all over the country.
Costs and budget Malaysia itinerary
Malaysia is slightly more expensive compared to its neighbors (with the exception of Singapore). It’s one of the most expensive countries in Southeast Asia, but still it’s quite cheap.
Mainly the accommodations cost more than in other Southeast Asian countries. A basic double room costs on average 50 RM – 120 RM (€ 10 – € 24).
But the prices for street food are certainly comparable to the neighboring countries. This is dirt cheap! The food courts such as Hawker Centers are highly recommended for cheap and tasty food. Street food costs on average between 3 RM – 10 RM (€ 0.60 – € 2) and for this you often get a good meal.
You can often eat something in the many shopping malls, although the price is often slightly higher here. You will find huge supermarkets here where you can buy everything. In addition, these shopping malls offer enough entertainment for a number of hours, such as a bowling alley, cinema and an arcade hall. Definitely fun to visit!
Think of a daily budget for Malaysia around € 20 – € 35 per person. This, of course, completely depends on how you travel, but as you can see it can be quite cheap!