They say an original is worth more than a copy. Maybe in life. But if you’re planning a trip through Malaysia, being a copycat pays off more. It can save you time and unnecessary hassle. What do I mean? There’s a beaten path, that people usually follow when travelling in Malaysia. Why do they follow it? Because it’s a good one. It gives you the opportunity to visit everything that’s the best in Malaysia: from big cities towered over by skyscrapers, to tea plantations, colonial towns full of street art and beautiful beaches. If you have more time you can of course modify it. But if 2 weeks is all you’ve got, follow my Malaysia itinerary to experience everything that this incredibly diverse country has to offer.
If you want to know when is the best time to visit Malaysia, what’s the weather like, how to get around, what’s the currency and all this useful info you’ll need, head to my: “Useful Malaysia travel tips you should know before you go” blog post.
Day 1-3: Kuala Lumpur
Since all the international flights usually head to the capital of the country, you will most likely start your Malaysia itinerary in Kuala Lumpur. And you should. Especially if it’s your first time in Asia.
Kuala Lumpur provides a perfect balance between “west” and “east”. Being a modern metropolis full of impressive skyscrapers with the symbol of Malaysia – Petronas Towers looming over the city, fancy bars and restaurants and huge shopping malls, it’s also a cradle of culture and tradition. Beautiful Hindu and Buddhist temples, fascinating mosques, historic buildings, lively Chinatown and Little India, multicultural street markets and food markets – I promise, you won’t be bored. But apart from being a concrete jungle, there are a few places in Kuala Lumpur where you can feel like you’re in a real jungle. Vast park areas full of lush nature and numerous animals provide a great escape from the city hustle.
I could honestly stay in KL for a month, but 3 days was enough time to enjoy every aspect of the city.
Where to stay:
The number of hotels and Airbnbs in KL is infinite. Depending on your budget you can choose what suits you the best. But…to have the full KL experience I highly recommend booking a place with an infinity pool and a view of the towers. As luxurious as it sounds, it’s not that expensive. I stayed in The Face Suites, part hotel, part private residences. I booked one of the private apartments via Airbnb. It was an amazing air-conditioned apartment and had access to the infinity pool on the top floor.
KL has a very well developed transportation system, but to be honest I never used it. Having only 3 days in this amazing city and usually looking for a much needed escape from the heat, I only took Grabs (Asian Uber). They’re cheap and fast.
Day 4-5: Cameron Highlands
After spending a few days in the bustling city, now it’s the time to visit one of the most beautiful regions in Malaysia – Cameron Highlands. What hides behind this mysterious name? A paradise…a tea paradise! It’s a place where the views are breath-taking, temperatures are actually comfortable for humans (read: lower than in KL), and the smell of tea hovers in the air. You go there for one reason and one reason only: to admire the endless hills planted with tea bushes and try some of the best tea(s) in the world. Ok, so those are two reasons. And I could name a few more, but visiting a tea plantation where you can just stare forever at the infinite greenery of tea fields will definitely be a highlight of your visit.
I read horror stories about the route from KL to the Cameron Highlands. The main point was, that the road was so bumpy and curvy that people…well, vomit all over the bus. This might lead you to thinking about taking a more tummy-friendly route consisting of 2 buses, a train and a bus…ohh so complicated. The second part of the route is a bit hilly and curvy, that’s true, but take a travel sickness pill if you need it, book your seat at the front of the bus and you should be fine.
So here’s how to do it the easiest way: book your bus ticket on EasyBook (I recommend Unititi Express – super comfy buses with WiFi), go to TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan), pick up your ticket at one of the counters and in 4 hours you’re there.
Where to stay:
A good base is the town of Tanah Rata or Brinchang. These are not the most fascinating places, but there you will find what you need: accommodation and food. And local travel agencies to book your sunrise tea plantation tour. Again, the type of accommodation depends on you and your needs: you can stay in the luxurious Cameron Highlands Resort, or popular among backpackers: Orchid Heaven. I stayed in something in between: Century Pines Resort and was super happy with my choice.
This is the one thing that was difficult in Cameron Highlands. There’s almost no public transport. So you either:
– hire a taxi (for minimum 3 h). The taxi driver takes you wherever you want to go and waits for you.
– use a shuttle bus, but the schedule is irregular and usually faces delays.
– rent a motorcycle – this solution is for the brave ones.
– or you walk, but the distances are not that short.
As magical as Cameron Highlands are, 2-3 days is enough time to explore them. If you want to do some hiking – stay longer, but if you’re there mainly for tea plantations you’ll wrap them up in 2 days and you’ll be ready to continue with your Malaysia itinerary.
Day 6-9: Penang
And by Penang I mean George Town. Because this is where you should stay. George Town is not only the capital of Penang and a UNESCO Heritage Site, It’s most importantly the capital of street art and street food (yes, I consider this to be more important). A mixture of colonial and traditional architectural styles, boutique cafés, interactive street art and a thriving community of artists, poets and bohemians…George Town has it’s own unique atmosphere. It’s also the place where you can eat the best laksa (traditional Malaysian soup) and the smell of durian (super stinky fruit) is the most intense.
Apart from being on the lookout for the coolest street art in George Town, there are a few other places worth visiting in Penang, like: Penang Hill or Monkey Beach, but again, 3 days is enough time to see it all and continue with your Malaysia itinerary.
Yes…by bus again. And during this journey even I took a travel sickness pill. Getting out of Cameron Highlands was more turbulent than getting there, for me at least. Plus, the bus driver was speeding like crazy.
But getting there in general is also easy. Again, go on EasyBook website, book your tickets (there are fewer buses from CH to Penang, than from KL to CH, so buy them earlier), hop on the bus and pray for your driver to keep to the speed limit. Kidding. He will. Make sure to get tickets to Butterworth. From there you will take a 20 min ferry, which will take you straight into George Town. The whole journey takes about 4-5 hours.
Where to stay:
To have a genuine George Town experience, choose one the colonial style hotels. There are a few to choose from: ranging from more expensive to reasonably priced. We stayed at: Spices Hotel. It was alright, apart from the room being kind of small and the air conditioning being loud.
In George Town you obviously walk. It’s the best way of seeing the city and hunting down all the amazing pieces of street art. To get to all the suburban areas of George Town the easiest way is with…yes: Grab. I can’t recommend it enough. There’s also public transport: Rapid Penang buses, but again, being there only 3 days, using Grab is the best option.
Day 10-14: Langkawi
Let’s start with:
because there is one thing I have to mention. It’s the mistake I made when travelling from Penang to Langkawi. This mistake was: taking a boat! DO NOT take a boat (ferry) when you’re heading there. It’s not even a ferry where you can sit outdoors and enjoy the lovely ride. It’s a speedboat where you’re trapped inside with 100 other people and the only thing you can smell is the suffocating stink of gasoline.
Plane tickets from Penang to Langkawi are actually not that much more expensive (especially if you book them in advance) and the journey will be faster and 100% more pleasant.
Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands situated around 100 km west from mainland Malaysia. And archipelago means: the beach time you were waiting for. Wide sandy beaches, palm trees, coconuts, swimming in the ocean, water sports, beach bars – Langkawi is perfect for those who like beaching all day. But if you’re like me, and the maximum time you can spend laying on the beach is 20 min., Langkawi also provides other attractions: the spectacular Langkawi Sky Bridge, impressive waterfalls, island hopping – both beach and nature lovers won’t be disappointed. There’s only one BUT. Being Malaysia’s most popular holiday getaway, Langkawi is kind of commercialized. Huge resorts and hotels, lots of shops and stands selling touristy tat, chains like Pizza Hut and McDonald’s…if you’re looking for a wild, tropical experience, Langkawi is not the place.
3-4 days is more than enough to have a proper beachy rest and sightsee the island. Unless you’re in a need for a proper, long chillax, then forget about your Malaysia itinerary and chill away my friend.
Where to stay:
This again depends on your budget and needs. Maybe even more on your needs. If you want to relax, but also visit the island and enjoy cocktails in beach bars in the evening, I highly recommend booking a place in the south western part of the island: Pantai Cenang. There is plenty of choice there, from hostels and medium priced boutique hotels to luxurious, beachfront resorts or secluded villas. If you want to treat yourself and spend your time mainly on the beach, book the Four Seasons Resort situated in the north of the island. I stayed in the family run Villa Molek , it was lovely and would definitely choose this place again.
One word: Grab. Many tourists also use taxi buses, which are quite reliable. There’s also the possibility of renting a car, or even better, a motorbike.
And this is it!
Your 2 weeks in Malaysia are well planned. Now all you have to do is take a plane and go back to Kuala Lumpur or to your next destination. I promise, that this Malaysia itinerary will allow you to experience the best of the best of Malaysia.
If you have more time, you can enrich your Malaysia itinerary and also visit: Malacca – one of Malaysia’s most historic cities, where Portuguese, Dutch and British influence is reflected in the architecture and the whole atmosphere of this colourful city; and Perhentian Islands – more wild and green than Langkawi, it’s a real tropical paradise, perfect for an escape from the hustle and bustle.
Don’t forget about Singapore!
Being in short proximity to Malaysia and having many options of transportation (a plane, a train or a bus) travellers usually combine those 2 countries adding a few more days to their Malaysia itinerary. I did.
And don’t forget to prepare for your trip! Read my “Useful Malaysia travel tips you should know before you go” blog post.
And of you have any questions: hit me up on Instagram.
Pin for later!