Road Trip Itinerary Across Western Malaysia and Singapore
1760 kilometers (1095 miles) in total
Tags: Travel guide, Long Trip, Malaysia, Singapore, Asia
The majority of Malaysia is often overlooked by tourists visiting South East Asia, as most international visitors just focus on Kuala Lumpur. In reality, there are lots of beautiful destinations scattered all over the country that are worth a visit.
This travel guide focuses mainly on the Western part of Malaysia. Begin by exploring the fascinating city-state of Singapore, a modern country just below the southern tip of Malaysia. Then, cross the bridge to enter Malaysia and continue to Kuala Lumpur with a stop in the historic port town of Malacca.
Later, drive up the steep mountain roads until you reach Cameron Highlands. Taste the delicious locally-grown tea and strawberries before continuing north to the island of Penang, where you can spend the evening sunbathing on a sandy beach.
On your way back to Singapore, make a stop at Mersing and take the ferry to Tioman Island.
As the trip is over 1500 kilometers in total, Rentalmoose highly recommends making four overnight stops at the very least, plus an extra night in Singapore before beginning the trip and an optional night off the coast of Mersing if you decide to stop there.
In order to truly explore each location, spend at least two nights in every city.
As the region is close to the equator, the tropical weather is warm and humid all year round. The dry season (March to August) sees a lower amount of rainfall. However, tourists should expect rain and thunderstorms multiple times a week even during the dry season.
Some of the attractions along this journey can’t be accessed by plane, and the freedom to change your route as you go can only be achieved with a car. What’s more, Malaysian highways are mostly modern and well-maintained, and the tolls are affordable.
Numerous rental companies offer car rentals out to Malaysia. Browse through available options via Rentalmoose.
For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car. Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.
You will need to pass through several paid highway segments along this trip. The pricing is reasonable, as all highway tolls, Penang bridge toll, and border crossings cost below 130 Ringgit (27.5 EUR) in total.
Tolls can either be paid by cash or credit card, some booths accept prepaid Touch ‘N Go cards too. For tourists and short-term visitors, it is the most convenient to pay by cash or card directly at each booth.
Absolutely! In Malaysia, tourists can use their domestic license as long as it’s in English (or if it was issued in one of ten ASEAN member countries) and it has a photograph.
If your domestic license is not in English, an International Driving Permit is required. Click here to learn all you need to know about International Driving Permits.
The same rules apply for tourists in Singapore. Keep in mind that both nations have left-hand side traffic.
Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Malaysia road trip!
Welcome to Singapore, an intriguing, diverse country south of Malaysia. The country is known for being a major business hub in Asia, as well as its ultra-modern architecture and delicious cuisine.
As public transportation in Singapore is very well-developed, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car the day you set off to Malaysia.
As Singapore is a very multicultural city, you can experience an authentic part of various Asian cultures around the city.
For starters, head to Chinatown. The colorful streets are lined with all sorts of small shops and delicious restaurants.
Admire the monumental Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, situated between colonial buildings and tall skyscrapers, or visit the local wet market opposite of the temple.
Singapore is essentially a paradise for foodies, as the country is the melting pot of Asian cultures. Budget-friendly, authentic eateries (hawker centers) can be found all across the island. No matter which hawker center you pick, you will end up eating delicious meals.
When in Chinatown, try the Liao Fan Hawker Chan, the world’s first Michelin-star hawker ever.
Rentalmoose order tip: You can’t go wrong with chicken rice, a local specialty.
Get a break from the busy city at Gardens By The Bay, a sci-fi-like park by Marina Bay Sands. The majority of the park can be accessed for free, however visitors need to purchase tickets to come inside the two large glass domes.
Don’t miss the magical light show at the Supertree Grove, which takes place every evening at 7:45 PM and 8:45 PM.
When the night falls, enjoy the best panoramic view of the city from 1-Altitude. The trendy rooftop bar offers unbeatable views, delicious drinks, and an elegant vibe.
Admission costs below SG$50 (32 euro) and includes 2 welcome drinks.
An aerial view of Suntec and Rochor seen from The Singapore Flyer.
Craving a delicious meal in the middle of the night? Head to Lau Pa Sat, one of the best hawkers open 24 hours a day. Right outside the building is the famous Satay Street. Every day from 7 PM onwards, tens of satay (freshly grilled meat/seafood skewers) stalls start serving food on the street. Rentalmoose’s favorite is the satay stall #7.
Luxury-seekers will be happy to see the wide selection of prestigious hotels in Singapore. One thing’s for sure: you can’t go wrong with The Fullerton Hotel.
This elegant 5-star hotel sits at the heart of Marina Bay and has been a crucial part of the country’s history. Classy rooms and suites with amazing views of the city, exquisite restaurants, and luxurious amenities make The Fullerton one of the best picks in town.
Breaking the bank is easy when traveling in Singapore. A moderately-priced, 3-star alternative near the heart of the city is YWCA Fort Canning. The hotel offers cozy air-conditioned rooms and suites, as well as an outdoor swimming pool for guests to cool down in after a scorching day.
Singapore is absolute heaven for foodies! The photo was taken at Chuen Chuen in Bugis, one of my personal favorites in the country.
Next on your Malaysia road trip: Malacca, 2 hours 30 minutes 27 Ringgit highway toll (5.7 EUR)
Cross the causeway and enter Malaysia, a true gem situated on the western coast of Malaysia. The border can get crowded, so it is recommended to cross it early in the morning. The current border fees can be found here.
Then, hop on the AH2 until you reach the historical town of Malacca. The highway toll until Malacca costs 20.34 Ringgit (4.2 euros) as of March 2020.
Malacca’s rich history is deeply reflected in the city’s attractions and sightseeing opportunities.
The remains of A’Famosa highlight Melacca’s historical significance. The fortress, built in the 1500s by the Portuguese, was a part of Portugal’s network of ports linking the country with China. The ruins can be explored free of charge.
Next, stroll around the area until you reach Christ Church, a beautiful red-brick structure built by the Dutch in the mid-1700s. Admire the building’s well-preserved facade or head indoors for one of the regular services in either English or Chinese.
Jonker Street, the city’s Chinatown, is located across the road from Christ Church. Visit the area during a weekend evening to experience the busy night market. Shop at some of the exotic stores or grab a bite from one of the appetizing stalls.
Once you get hungry, visit Nancy’s Kitchen. One of the best eateries in the city is located in the heart of vivid Jonker Street. The restaurant specializes in Peranakan cuisine, originally invented by early Chinese migrants who settled throughout Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Nancy’s Kitchen offers cooking classes, too.
Indulge yourself in the city’s historic vibe and stay at The Majestic Malacca, a refined 5-star hotel located in a riverside 1920s mansion. The hotel offers classy rooms and suites, along with a wide array of facilities and a convenient location near the heart of Malacca.
Travelers on a tighter budget can still opt for luxury at the Eco Tree Hotel. The 3-star hotel features well-equipped rooms and suites as well as a modern rooftop sky deck where guests can enjoy a relaxing swim in the pool, order a snack at the bar or simply admire the panoramic views.
Next on your Malaysia road trip: Kuala Lumpur, 1 hour 30 minutes 20 Ringgit toll (4.2 EUR)
Leave Malacca and hop back on the AH2 highway. Prepare around 20 Ringgit (4.2 euros) for the highway tolls. In around an hour, the city’s monumental skyscrapers should emerge on the horizon. Welcome to the vibrant capital of Malaysia!
Head to downtown KL and visit the massive Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin structures. The 452 meter high towers are hard to miss and have become a symbol of modern Malaysia.
Visit the observation deck (Rentalmoose knows a better observation point in KL, keep on reading to find out!), go for a shopping spree at the Suria KLCC mall located on the lower levels, or relax in the park directly in front of the spectacular towers.
In order to get the best view of the city, visit the KL Tower. There is an open-roof sky deck atop the tower, over 300 meters above the ground! If the weather is bad, enjoy the panoramic view from the enclosed observation deck at the structure’s top floor.
The view from the KL tower is rather overwhelming.
Batu Caves can’t be missed when in Kuala Lumpur. The famous tourist attraction is located less than 20 minutes away from the city center. The world-famous flights of stairs, guarded by a massive Hindu God statue, lead up to the mysterious natural caves.
Admission costs below 20 Ringgit (4.2 EUR) per person.
Visit The Row for a trendy, modern dining experience. Various restaurants and cafes are lined in a row of renovated heritage houses minutes away from the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
Rentalmoose order tip: Don’t know which eatery to pick? Walk inside Limapulo: Baba Can Cook, and try their incredible Laksa, a local specialty.
Sophisticated travelers should consider checking into the Grand Hyatt, a prestigious 5-star hotel near the Petronas Towers. The hotel offers elegant rooms and suites with a panoramic view of the city, as well as countless facilities and top-notch service.
Bintang Warisan is a cozy, colonial hotel in the Bukit Bintang district. The hotel is made up of over 100 neutral-tone rooms and offers exceptional service and a stylish colonial coffee house.
A car park is available for hotel guests.
Next on your Malaysia road trip: Cameron Highlands, 3 hours 30 minutes
Leave Kuala Lumpur and head north up into the highlands. The twisty roads will take you to Cameron Highlands, a picturesque region famous for its tea plantations and strawberry farms.
Developed during the British colonial period, Cameron Highlands used to be the getaway for Brits in Malaysia throughout the 20th century.
As the area is high above sea level, the climate is more moderate than in the rest of the country, with the temperature averaging in the low 20s centigrade.
Begin by visiting one of the many tea plantations in the region. Afterall, tea is exactly what made this part of the country famous.
Head over to the Boh plantation, specifically the Sungei Palas Tea Garden. Taste the locally-grown Boh tea while enjoying panoramic views of the plantations. Guests can also opt for a factory tour or purchase tea from the gift shop.
Admission is free of charge.
Once you’ve had enough of the local tea, proceed to Raju Hil Strawberry Farm, where you can taste fresh strawberries, try a slice of strawberry cake or drink freshly-squeezed strawberry juice. You can even go out on the farm and pluck your own fruit!
On the evening of every weekend, the streets of Golden Hills host the busy Night Market. The stalls sell all kinds of products, from locally-picked crops and vegetables through to souvenirs and t-shirts. Delicious food is available too, of course!
The night market opens as early as 4 PM and lasts nearly till midnight. However, bad weather can affect the hours.
Even if the weather is less than ideal, the plantations look stunning.
Experience the colonial vibe at The Lakehouse, a beautiful 4-star hotel. The Tudor-style hotel-transformed country house offers colonial-style rooms and suites and amazing service. Unique amenities include complimentary jungle trekking activities and a scenic lake-view terrace.
Century Pines Resort is a more affordable, yet high-standard alternative in Cameron Highlands. The 4-star hotel features classy rooms with balconies, elegant common areas, a spa and fitness centers and a wide array of activities.
Next on your Malaysia road trip: Penang, 3 hours 30 minutes 16 Ringgit toll (3.4 EUR)
Drive down one last twisty mountain road and come back to lower ground. Jump back on the AH2 highway and head north until the Simpang Pulai toll booth.
Cross the monumental Penang bridge (7 Ringgit toll, around 1.5 euro) and enter Georgetown, the main city on this island.
Dive into the heart of Georgetown and head inside China House Penang, an authentic group of restaurants and cafes located in 3 renovated heritage buildings.
The 14 eateries all have one thing in common- every single one of them serves outright deliciousness. Enjoy a cup of Kopi (local coffee), a slice of cake or lunch.
Open daily between 9 AM to 1 AM.
Did you know that Penang is home to one of the largest Buddhist temples in all of South East Asia? Explore Kek Lok Si Temple, an absolute must-see in Penang.
The monumental temple complex is constructed in a mix of Asian styles, making it a colorful symbol of the region’s cultural diversity.
Local food courts may not look very appealing, but I can assure you the food served there is incredible!
Get a break from the busy city and stroll around the Tropical Spice Garden, a harmonious escape in the northern tip of the island. Enjoy a guided tour in the gardens, learn all about the local flora and fauna or take part in one of the regular cooking classes.
Surely, every traveler will enjoy a beach day after hours on the road. Drive up to the north-western part of the island, until you reach Batu Ferringhi.
The little town is Penang’s best beach resort, with luxurious beachfront hotels and a beautiful beach. Cool down in the sea, sunbathe or enjoy a drink in one of the bars. Adventure junkies can rent a jet ski or go parasailing if they dare.
Picking the right hotel in Penang can be a challenge, depending on whether you’re looking to stay along the busy streets of Georgetown or at a peaceful beachfront resort.
If you’d prefer staying near the heart of Georgetown, book a night at the classy Eastern and Oriental. The 5-star 19th-century hotel offers elegant, well-equipped rooms and suites and luxurious facilities, such as a spa, an outdoor pool, and a gallery where guests can discover the region’s rich history.
A cheaper alternative with an equally convenient location is the Magazine Vista Hotel. The chic 4-star hotel is located in a renovated historic building and features spacious suites at an affordable price.
Looking for a beachfront resort on the island of Penang? Rentalmoose recommends checking in at The Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La. The 4-star resort offers chic rooms and suites, a wide selection of facilities for the whole family and of course, a sandy beach.
The hotel is located at Batu Ferringhi, the island’s best beach resort.
Next on your Malaysia road trip: Mersing, 7 hours 50 Ringgit toll (10.5 EUR)
Photography by David Russo.
On the long drive back to Singapore, Rentalmoose recommends making a slight detour and heading to Mersing. Prepare around 50 Ringgit (10.6 Euro) for the AH2 highway tolls. The town itself is not particularly exciting, but it serves as a great base for island hopping.
Park your car at the Mersing Harbour (a fenced and guarded car park is available for around RM20 [4.2 EUR] per day) and take a ferry to one of the stunning islands in the region.
The most popular, Tioman Island, is an absolute paradise for snorkeling fans and divers. The island’s turquoise waters and secluded beaches make it one of the best escapes in the region.
If you’re not planning to spend the night, or simply prefer to stay on the mainland, drive to Air Papan Beach. The sandy beach is favored by locals and is less touristy than the islands, yet equally beautiful. Go for a swim in the sea or enjoy the afternoon wandering around the white sand.
Next on your Malaysia road trip: Singapore, 2 hours 10 minutes 7 Ringgit border toll (1.4 EUR)
For maximum comfort, drop off your car directly before departing Singapore at Singapore Changi Airport. Rental companies that allow trips to Malaysia can be found via Rentalmoose.
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