Welcome to Malaysia – the country in Southeast Asia that is pretty much overshadowed by Thailand, Indonesia & Co. Malaysia is definitely a little insider tip, although we have to admit that things didn’t spark as well between Malaysia and us as we had initially hoped.
Nevertheless, Malaysia is really worth a trip: you’ll find yourself here not only an incredibly exciting mix of cultures, but also lots of attractive cities and towns and beautiful nature. And of course not to forget the great food: Malaysia is a paradise for all those who love street food.
Our itinerary through Malaysia leads once from north to south to the highlights of Peninsular Malaysia. What were we looking for? If possible, no long distances in the bus, lots of relaxation and a bit of adventure. The result is a route from Bangkok through Malaysia to Singapore with a detour to beautiful Sumatra – an extended Malaysia itinerary, so to speak.
1. Itinerary Malaysia: All Stops from Bangkok to Singapore We decided to travel Malaysia from north to south so booked one Open jaw flight from Europe with arrival in Bangkok and departure from Singapore. We can also highly recommend this, because you can integrate two exciting Southeast Asian cities into your route at the same time.
Bangkok Despite all the hustle and bustle, despite all the chaos, traffic and smog: there is no better place to start a Southeast Asia trip. The Thai capital simply has to be seen. So if you’ve never been there, Bangkok is a great place to start your trip.
You can easily spend two weeks in Bangkok without getting bored. We recommend a stay of three to four nights for newcomers. You can visit some of the most important temples such as the royal palace or the Wat Pho with the gigantic reclining Buddha.
Our hotel tip for Bangkok: Tints of Blue Hotel
All our Bangkok travel tips at a glance: Travel reports Bangkok
Recommended stay: 3 -4 nights
Malaysia: George Town (Penang) Let’s continue in Malaysia: Penang is a small island off the mainland of Malaysia, which is connected to it by a bridge. The capital of the island of Penang is George Town – one of the most beautiful cities in Malaysia. With the many colonial buildings, Chinese temples and food stalls, we felt comfortable here from the first moment. We spent our time in George Town exploring the city’s creative and fascinating street art. By the way, it’s worth taking a trip up the cool Penang Hill, provided the air isn’t too hazy (which unfortunately was the case with us). You probably have the best view in the morning.
We stayed overnight in the old town of George Town and that was definitely the right decision. We stayed three nights in our accommodation, the Spices Hotel near the well-known Armenian Street, and felt very comfortable.
Getting to George Town The quickest way to get from Bangkok to Penang is by plane. From Bangkok there are several daily direct connections to Penang.
Originally we had planned to travel to Malaysia by train, we decided but then against it for reasons of time. We’re a little sad that we missed it. Have you ever traveled overland from Thailand to Malaysia? If so, we’d be delighted to hear about your experience – please leave us a comment.
Our hotel tip for George Town: Spices Hotel
Detailed blog article: Tips for George Town on the Penang Island
Recommended Stay: 3 Nights
Malaysia: Perhentian Islands The Perhentian Islands off the east coast of Malaysia are often described as island paradise. But unfortunately something goes wrong in the supposed paradise. We have published our own blog post about this: Honest report on the Perhentian Islands.
As paradisiacal as the Perhentian Islands actually are – unfortunately we have to admit that accommodation here is grossly overpriced and some of the islands (not everywhere) are sadly littered. The Perhentian Islands consist of two islands: Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. We recommend the larger and cozier of the two, Perhentian Besar. Avoid at all costs: Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil.
We therefore only stayed two nights on the Perhentians. That may sound short, but the highlight of the island, namely the snorkeling, is good even with only two nights: snorkeling on the Perhentian Islands.
Arrival to the Perhentian Islands From Penang we took the minibus to Kuala Besut. The journey starts early in the morning (about 5 a.m.), takes about 5 to 6 hours and costs 150 RM per person. Alternatively, you can fly the route: The closest airport to Kuala Besut is Kota Bharu.
In Kuala Besut there are regular boats to the Perhentian Islands. The times seem to be regular to change, ie it is best to check again in advance. Incidentally, when boarding the boat, you announce which of the two islands or which beach you want to go to. The travel time with the speedboat is about 15 until 45 minutes.
In the minibus price (see above) the return ticket for the boat trip is already included. This costs regular 50 RM. In addition, there is the fee for the national park in which the Perhentian Islands are located (30 RM).
Our hotel tip for the Perhentian Islands: Tuna Bay Island Resort
Detailed blog article: Perhentian Islands experiences
Recommended Stay: 3 nights
Malaysia: Cameron Highlands The lush green highlands of Malaysia with the endlessly wide tea plantations is for many the highlight of their trip to Malaysia. To be honest, we still don’t quite know what to make of Cameron Highlands. Yes, the extensive, lush green tea plantations are of course impressive, no question about it. The rest? We are still looking for the right word. whimsical? Bizarre?
Before we knew it, we found ourselves in strawberry, bee and insect farms. Everything is clearly aimed at tourists from Asia. Not to mention the huge hotel bunkers. Dear Cameron Highlands, you guys are kinda weird. We show you more impressions in our detailed blog article: Field report Cameron Highlands.
Arrival to the Cameron Highlands We actually wanted to cover most of the route to the Cameron Highlands with the jungle train. What we didn’t know: Because of a flood in 2014 this did not drive. The route should now be passable again. You can find more information about traveling by train in Malaysia in this blog article: Malaysia Tips.
We had missed the last bus to Cameron Highlands, so we only had the option of taking a Taxi to drive. The driver took us for 220 RM first from Kuala Besut to Gua Musang, unfortunately the nice man didn’t want to drive us any further (“I Ramadan”). In Gua Musang we looked for further transport to the Cameron Highlands and finally found what we were looking for: in a rusting, ancient bus it took about 3.5 hours to 350 RM (during the day 250 RM) to Cameron Highlands.
Our accommodation tip: Heahtitude
Detailed blog article: Cameron Highlights Experiences
Recommended stay: 2-3 nights
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur Malaysia’s capital should of course not be missing from any round trip. KL – as the city is often called – is the economic center of the country. Suddenly you are in a metropolis with skyscrapers and a skyline. The landmark of the city particularly stands out: A visit to the Petronas Towers is a must during any stay in KL.
We stayed in Malaysia’s capital for three nights , among other things to celebrate Kathi’s birthday. In our opinion, you should stay at least that long to get a good overview.
Arrival in Kuala Lumpur Again we didn’t check the bus timetable in advance (damn it!). The result: We found ourselves in a taxi again. About four hours and 220 RM is required to get to Kuala Lumpur from Cameron Highlands. The route is quite curvy up to the Autobahn! By the way, somewhere in the middle of the route there is a nice waterfall where you can relax after the tiring drive.
You prefer the bus ) to take? No problem! However, it is best to find out about the bus connections in good time at the bus station in Tanah Rata.
Our hotel tip for Kuala Lumpur: The RuMa Hotel and Residences
Detailed blog article: Tips for Kuala Lumpur Recommended stay: 3 nights
Malaysia: Melaka From the big city to the cozy small town Melaka. Here you can – especially after a stay in Kuala Lumpur – recharge your batteries. Melaka (actually called Malacca in German) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The colonial city lies on a river and is definitely better known to Asian tourists than to Western tourists. The old town of Melaka is manageable and you can walk to everything.
Since our onward journey to Sumatra was fixed in time, we stayed three nights in Melaka. But two nights are also sufficient. Melaka is quite close to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA1 and KLIA2). Especially if the flight starts earlier, the route is easily done in about 1.5 hours (70 RM).
Getting to Melaka In Kuala Lumpur there is a well organized bus station (TBS), which is just outside of town. From there everyone drives 05-08 Minute buses to Melaka. The journey takes almost two hours and costs only a few euros. In Melaka, the bus stops just outside, it is best to take a taxi from there to the city center.
Our hotel tip for Melaka: The Nest House
Detailed blog article: Travel Tips Melaka
Recommended stay: 2-3 nights
Optional stopover: Bukit Lawang (Indonesia, Sumatra) Sumatra: yes or no? How long had we put off that decision? For weeks! How much we regret not having come here sooner? Very! What may not fit into our itinerary for some, was for us the absolute best way to spend three days off.
Bukit Lawang is called it Place from where you can trek into the jungle to free roaming orangutans. We spent a total of three nights there (two in Bukit Lawang and one in the jungle). If we had to choose again, we would add a fourth night. The moment came too quickly when we had to say goodbye to this nice spot.
Arrival in Bukit Lawang With Air Asia we flew at about 50 Euro from Kuala Lumpur to Medan (Sumatra). Our driver was already waiting there, who took us to Bukit Lawang in about 4 hours. Our accommodation organized the driver for us. Alternatively, you also have the option of taking the public bus (with a change) to get to Bukit Lawang.
Accommodation tip for Bukit Lawang: EcoTravel Cottages Bukit Lawang
Detailed blog article: Jungle trekking to the orangutans
Recommended stay: 3- 4 nights
Singapore The city-state of Singapore , the most modern metropolis in Southeast Asia, was the last stop on our itinerary. As hard as we try, we just can’t get as excited about Singapore as we do about other major cities in Southeast Asia. There’s not really a spark between us and Singapore.
Nevertheless, Singapore is of course impressive and well worth seeing. Singapore is a mega city, a city of superlatives: The highest infinity pool in the world, huge shopping malls and, of course, not to forget the gigantic Supertrees – artificial trees that are attached to a remember sci-fi movie. We would recommend newcomers to stay in the city for three nights.
Getting to Singapore If you are coming from Sumatra like us: There is a direct flight from Medan to Singapore with Jetstar. This cost us about 30 euros per person. Singapore Airport is perfectly connected to the city via the MRT. A ticket into the city is very affordable at just under 2 Singapore dollars.
If you are traveling from Melaka to Singapore, then the bus is recommended. The journey takes about four to five hours.
Hotel tip for Singapore: Wanderlust
Detailed blog article: Singapore Tips
Recommended stay: 3 nights
2. Map: Our Malaysia itinerary from Bangkok to Singapore at a glance To give you a better idea of the exact route, we have marked the individual stops on this map for you. We flew the black, straight lines. The bold blue line was our itinerary through Malaysia by land/boat.
3. More travel reports and summary of our trip to Malaysia All Malaysia items at a glance Travel Guide Malaysia: Practical Tips Our conclusion for anyone planning a similar route: Malaysia is worth seeing, but in the end we somehow missed that certain something . We can’t quite describe what that was exactly. We really liked some places like George Town or Melaka. We found the presence of the many different cultures in Malaysia great: No other country in Southeast Asia is such a fascinating melting pot of different cultures as Malaysia.
6527Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliates Left. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Malaysia? How was your route? We look forward to your comment!