When you’re planning a round trip through Malaysia, it’s nice to combine this country with other destinations. During our round trip in 2018, we combined Malaysia with Thailand (Koh Lipe), Malaysian Borneo and Singapore. In this post I would like to share with you the route we travelled as an inspiration for your own round trip through Malaysia and its surroundings.
Our time to travel through Malaysia was approximately three weeks (23 days). Before we travelled to Malaysia, we made a global itinerary of the trip, but we didn’t book all accommodations immediately. We booked ourselves a rental car for the first few days, an accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara & Cameron Highlands and we arranged the rest while road tripping. Below you can find the route we travelled eventually.
Kuala Lumpur – two nights
We started our journey in Kuala Lumpur, as international flights arrive here. My boyfriend already was in Kuala Lumpur (he came from China as he had to work first over there) and I arrived from Amsterdam in the afternoon. Two nights were enough to get some rest for the flight and to explore some more of the capital. As we stayed close to the city center, it was easy to walk around the center a bit after arriving. On our full day in Kuala Lumpur, we went by foot and by Grab (a taxi service) around the city to explore more of the highlights.
Taman Negara – two nights
On the third day of our trip, we picked up the rental car and drove in approximately three hours to Taman Negara (one of the world’s oldest rainforests). We booked ourselves a hotel in Kuala Tahan where we stayed two nights. From this small town, you can take a boat (for a small price) towards the other side of the water, where you can enter Taman Negara National Park. On the day of arrival we did a night walk with a guide through the national park. On our full day we went for a hike (Canopy Walkway) and did a boat trip through the national park. Two nights absolutely is the minimum to explore this beautiful park.
Cameron Highlands – two nights
For the Cameron Highlands we also planned two nights. In approximately four hours we drove by rental car towards Tanah Rata, where we had booked a hotel. The Cameron Highlands are well-known for its tea plantations, which are very beautiful. The tea plantations are located in the highlands, so it wouldn’t surprise you when I say that the temperatures are lower compared to other parts in Malaysia.
In my opinion, two nights in the Cameron Highlands is more than enough. You can easily see several tea plantations in a couple of hours. The town of Tanah Rata isn’t that special, so it’s not recommended to spend a lot of time here. If you’re a hiking lover, than the Cameron Highlands is the place to be as it offers many hiking trails. We hiked one trail which was quite intensive, but also beautiful.
Kuala Lumpur – two nights
After the Cameron Highlands, we actually wanted to travel to the Malaysian islands (Penang – Langkawi), but we found out that it wasn’t that easy to drop off our rental car somewhere around there, so we decided to go back to Kuala Lumpur first so we could drop off our car and we could spend some extra time in the capital. After our second stay in Kuala Lumpur, we concluded that two nights was quite long, one night would’ve been enough. We had seen most of the city already, but on the full day we decided to go to the Batu Caves, which wasn’t really our place to be after all. After our visit to the Batu Caves in the morning, it rained very, very hard, so we decided to go to the aquarium. We spend our second time in Kuala Lumpur well, but I’d recommend to book just one night if you need to go back to Kuala Lumpur.
Penang – three nights
From Kuala Lumpur we went by bus (and taxi) to Penang. Although the bus took us ages to get to Butterworth (the driver stopped at places for an hour or so…), we didn’t really mind at the end as of course we were on holiday. From Butterworth (just before the island) we took a taxi and drove towards the hotel at the Northern side of the island. We also wanted to stay one time at a quite luxurious hotel this holiday and at Penang it was time for that: we stayed at the five star hotel PARKROYAL Penang Resort. We looooved it! We booked three nights at the hotel and definitely enjoyed it. One day we went to the city of George Town (I really liked the many wall paintings) and the other full day we had a really relaxing day. Three nights at Penang is perfect!
Langkawi – three nights
After Penang, we went to another Malaysian island, named Langkawi, for three nights. We went by boat and arrived in Kuah after approximately four hours on the water. To be honest, it wasn’t my most pleasant boat trip, but is was ok. Let’s say I was happy when we arrived at Langkawi..
We booked our stay in a beautiful accommodation close to the town of Kampung Lubok Buaya and three nights were great. We rented a scooter, drove to the cable car & Skybridge, went to the evening food market en explored all the beautiful beaches which Langkawi has to offer. Personally, I found this island more beautiful and peaceful compared to Penang. Of course Penang has the big city of George Town, but Langkawi doesn’t have ‘big cities’. Therfore it also is the perfect island to explore by scooter.
Koh Lipe – two nights
From several friends I got the recommendation to go to Koh Lipe during my time in Malaysia, so that’s what we planned. It’s quite easy to go from Malaysia to Thailand (if you have the Dutch nationality; I cannot speak for other nationalities of course): at the ferry terminal check-in you need to show your passport and also by arrival in Thailand / Koh Lipe. You can easily travel to Koh Lipe by boat in approximately three hours.
In the first place, we booked ourselves one night in a beautiful cabin at the beach. However, after one night we enjoyed the island so much (it was sooo relaxing!) that we booked an extra night. Luckily, our room was still available for the second night. Koh Lipe is the ultimate destination for relaxation and offers magnificent beaches and a lively street with small restaurants and shops. It’s a very small island with lots of atmosphere. It’s absolutely recommended to pay a visit to the island when you’re travelling through Malaysia and when you’re at Langkawi.
Langkawi – one night
As we booked ourselves an early morning flight to Kuching (Borneo) for the next day and we went back to Langkawi from Koh Lipe at the end of the afternoon, we needed to book another night at the island, which we didn’t mind at all. As you can understand, we didn’t had much time at Langkawi this night, as we arrived in the evening and left in the morning the next day.
Borneo – three nights
Our next destination was Borneo! We were so excited about these coming days. We booked ourselves an accommodation for three nights just above the city of Kuching and had the time of our lives. This is absolutely a destination where you can easily spend three nights and from which I can say that it’s even better if you can spend another night here. During our three nights, we explored several places: we went to the city of Kuching, to Bako National Park (you cannot miss this national park when travelling to Borneo, it’s magnificent!) and to Semenggoh Nature Reserve. Borneo definitely was one of our highlights of the Malaysian trip so if it’s possible for you and you’re a nature lover, this would absolutely be a recommendation.
Singapore – two nights
And at the end of our round trip we flew from Kuching to Singapore and spent another two nights in this big city. A whole other atmosphere compared to, for example, Kuala Lumpur. Singapore is more developed, but I liked both cities very much.
We stayed in a hotel in the city center, went to the Gardens by the Bay and did some shopping. On our last day, our flight back to Amsterdam was planned for late in the evening, so we still had the whole day in Singapore. I didn’t really like the fact that I’m flying back home in the evening, because I cannot relax as my mind it already busy with checking in etc. However, we spent our day quite well: we went to the cinema and walked around for a bit. We also enjoyed some time at the airport of Singapore.
We really look back at an amazing holiday where we’ve seen such beautiful places! Hopefully this will give you inspiration for planning your own round trip through Malaysia. Do you have other tips or/and must visits? Please let us know in the comment section below!
In this post I focused most on the amount of nights per location during the trip. However, would you like to know more about a specific place or about an accommodation? You can find all our posts on Malaysia / Borneo by clicking here, our posts on Thailand by clicking here and our posts on Singapore by clicking here.