Our 2 week Malaysia itinerary – Malaysia Holiday Ideas

Visiting Malaysia and planning a trip to different places can be quite a challenge! From Kuala Lumpur and Borneo, to the islands in the east and west and the cultural mainland, there’s a lot to see and do. Visit for a beach holiday, see the Orang-utans in deep jungles or stop by the traditional villages of Malacca. Your itinerary will much depend on what you want from your trip. Most people visit Malaysia for 2 weeks, so we’d recommend picking 2 or 3 places that are relatively easy to navigate between.

You should ask yourself the following questions when deciding on your itinerary:

 

When am I visiting?

Being near the equator, Malaysia has a very hot climate year-round, however it does experience typical tropical rainy seasons and the best months to visit depend on where you’re staying.

Central Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Malacca) – Kuala Lumpur is very close to the equator and temperatures range from 30-32 degrees throughout the year. You can visit this area at any time but expect to see short, tropical rainfall showers frequently.

East coast (Perhentian Islands) – Two clear seasons are apparent on the east coast: rain and dry season. The best time to visit is between April and October. The monsoon season from November to February will bring strong winds and rain.

North-west coast (Penang, Langkawi) – Penang and the north-east has a much more moderate climate but temperatures can range from 22 degrees to 30+ degrees. The best but busiest time to visit is December to February, with the wettest months being September to November.

Borneo – Borneo is a completely separate area of the country and surrounded by thick jungle terrain. Weather is hot and humid year-round but the best/driest time to visit is between March and October.

Visit Langkawi

 

What do you want from your Malaysia holiday?

Beaches – The most popular and highly regarded beach areas of Malaysia are the Perhentian Islands in the east and Langkawi Island to the north-west. You’ll also find nice beaches in Penang and on Tioman Island.

Culture – Rich culture is prevalent throughout the country. The top places to visit include Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands and Georgetown (Penang).

Adventure – If you’re looking for off-the-beaten track adventures, check out Taman Nagara Nature Park to the east, Borneo jungle trips, the central Cameron Highlands and the area surrounding Taiping.

We’d recommend picking multiple destinations but do take into account travel time between places. You don’t want to spend lots of time travelling when you’re only visiting for 2 weeks!

Perhentian Islands

 

What we decided on:

We wanted a Malaysia experience that was rich in culture, food tasting and beach relaxation whilst also experiencing Kuala Lumpur city life. We travelled in December, which was an ideal time to visit most places in the country with an expectation of good weather. Unlike many of our trips, we wanted this holiday to be slower paced, giving us a chance to relax and enjoy each destination thoroughly before moving on. It was a holiday after all!

Overall, our 13-day itinerary gave us a good experience of the world renowned Penang Island, city centre sights of Kuala Lumpur and plenty of relaxation time on the beaches of Batu Ferringhi and Langkawi. We very much wanted to see Borneo but due to the distance between Penang and Borneo, it would have been a rushed 2-week holiday to see both destinations in addition to everything else. Feel free to include it in your itinerary if you’re visiting for longer.

 

Our itinerary – 13 nights in total:

Kuala Lumpur – 3 nights

Batu Ferringhi (Penang) – 4 nights

Georgetown (Penang) – 3 nights

Langkawi Island – 2 nights

Kuala Lumpur – 1 night

 

<fly into Kuala Lumpur>

 

Kuala Lumpur – 3 nights

Kuala LumpurKuala Lumpur is the thriving capital of Malaysia and one of the cheapest metropolitan cities we’ve ever visited. It is home to luxury high-rise hotels, a busy business district and a plethora of giant shopping malls, parks and cultural sites. KL is well worth visiting and you can get a good experience of the city in only 2-3 days.

As most visitors fly into Malaysia as their first stop on a holiday, it’s almost always the first or last point on an itinerary and the perfect welcome to this colourful country. Unlike Bangkok and similar South-east Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur didn’t have a rough and ready feel and was very much a modernised hub, similar to Singapore but far cheaper.

As luxury hotels are so cheap in Kuala Lumpur, you can spend your short stay in the city in a top-class hotel, getting over your jet lag by the pool after exploring the main city sites. In line with the rest of Malaysia, KL is a great place for traditional Malaysian food; both street food and elegant restaurants. Top attractions include Batu Caves – an impressive cave carved from the rock face, the Petronas Twin Towers and plenty of towers, sky-bars, shopping malls and parks.

View our Kuala Lumpur 3 day itinerary here for recommendations on how to spend your short stay in the city.

Our highlights:

  • The Jalan Alor street food district was our first introduction to Malaysian food and we fell in love. You have to eat here!
  • The shopping malls of Kuala Lumpur are impressive and very close together. Get lost in a retail world of every shop you could think of, both western and Asian. The food courts and snack options are also very cool.
  • It’s all up in the air in KL. Head to the observation deck of the Menara Tower, Skybridge of the Petronas Towers or a hotel sky-bar for the best views of the city.

 

Where we stayed: Shangri-La Hotel – the Shangri-La is world famous for its luxurious facilities and elegant décor. We only paid £70 per night for our stay here! The downtown Bukit Bintag area is the best place to stay for easy access to the main attractions.

 

<Flight to Penang Airport and an onward transfer to Batu Ferringhi>

 

Batu Ferringhi (Penang) – 4 nights

Malaysia itinerary - Batu Ferringhi

Penang is one of the most visited areas of Malaysia, world famous for its food and colonial city of Georgetown. Batu Ferringhi offers a more relaxing experience from the busy city so we opted for 4 days of sea and sun on the coastline before visiting Georgetown.

Batu Ferringhi is the beach strip on the north of Penang Island. It’s only a 1 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur and another 40 minute drive from the airport by taxi. Although it’s a small area, it’s packed with a strip of top-class hotels and there are plenty of things to do nearby.

It’s a typical South-east Asia beach resort but without all of the parties and heavy tourist culture of Thailand. It’s quiet during the day but it comes alive at night as host to a vibrant night market that stretches along the length of the resort. Spend your days relaxing on the beach or by the pool, visiting a spa, enjoying a cocktail by the pool bar or exploring the nearby Butterfly Garden, Adventure Park or Penang National Park, which is a short drive down the road. On a night-time you can indulge at one of the many restaurants or street food vendors, shop at the night market or enjoy a few drinks by beach. We loved Long Beach Street Food Court (similar to Jalan Alor) and Andrews Kampung – the pineapple rice was to die for. View our top 15 things to do in Batu Ferringhi here. **insert link**

The Batu Ferringhi beach isn’t anything to shout about and you’ll find better in Langkawi, however the cheap but excellent hotels, attractions, relaxed nature and easy-to-get-to location make it a perfect destination for your Malaysia itinerary. 4-5 days is perfect for seeing Batu Ferringhi and you might get bored with a prolonged holiday at the resort.

Our highlights:

  • Penang National Park was a definite must-see for us. Trek through the jungle to reach a hidden beach or catch a boat straight there.
  • Due to the vast amount of nearby attractions, Batu Ferringhi makes an excellent family holiday destination, although couples will be at home too!
  • We experienced hot, blue skies weather in December and this can be expected year-round. The climate is tropical so expect short downpours of rain and then clear skies and sun.

 

Where we stayed: Lone Pine Hotel. This quiet and stunningly pretty hotel was located in the heart of Batu Ferringhi. It’s small and perfect for couples and families. The Shangri-La Rasa Sayang hotel is another excellent option.

 

<private transfer or bus to Georgetown>

 

Georgetown (Penang) – 3 nights

Malaysia itinerary - Georgetown

Many people visit Malaysia just for the legendary UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown. It’s the colourful, multi-cultural capital of Penang Island, full of character, culture and charm. It’s a sightseeing city and best explored within 3 days; anything less and there’s a good chance you’ll miss some of the top things to see and do.

Georgetown’s colonial streets can be explored by foot, bike or by Tuk Tuk. Discover a unique combination of Chinese, Indian and Colonial European (Georgetown was colonised by the British) buildings. This might not sound too different from any other city you’ve been to, but what makes Georgetown so special is the small-town vibe and eclectic street art murals on every corner. The town centre is thriving with independent shops and vendors, and coffee shops serving up Asian coffee and Malaysia’s favourite sweet tea – Teh Telak.

What we liked about Georgetown was the relaxed and quiet environment to enjoy the sites, a vast difference from other South-east Asia cities and towns. Spend your day sightseeing, retire to your nice colonial themed hotel by the waterfront and head out on a night-time for delicious street food and entertainment. There are also a number of nice restaurants if you fancy a more glamourous evening.

There’s countless things to see in the city centre, all within walking distance of each other. Plan your sightseeing on a map in advance so you don’t miss anything! We also recommend taking a local bus to the nearby town of Air Itam to see the Kek Lok Si Temple, a towering mountain that’s home to shrines, temples and monuments. Many tourists actually miss this and it’s well worth the short bus trip.

Our highlights:

  • Georgetown was the most interesting and cultural destination on our itinerary and we’re sure you’ll agree on arrival.
  • The street art of Georgetown was amazing! See how many of the famous murals you can find and take the ‘street art challenge’.
  • After relaxing in Batu Ferringhi for 4 days we were eager for something more active and Georgetown provides enough to keep you busy for your entire stay. See as many sites as you can or simply relax and take in the pretty colours and ambience of the city.

 

Where we stayed: Le Dream Boutique Hotel. This small boutique hotel has an excellent location and a nice roof terrace where you can enjoy a drink in a hot tub or watch a nightly ‘open-air’ movies. It’s extremely cheap and has leading reviews for hotels in the area.

 

<ferry or flight from Georgetown to Langkawi Island>

 

Langkawi Island – 2 nights

Malaysia itinerary - Langkawi

We were tempted to stay in Penang as we loved it so much but heard so many good things about the beaches of Langkawi Island that we decided to catch the short flight over. Langkawi is a much quieter and less developed area compared to Penang but the beaches were far nicer than Batu Ferringhi. It was the perfect place to wind down after a busy 3 days of sightseeing in Georgetown, ready for the long flight home and return to work.

Langkawi is the place to go for lounging in the sun and enjoying a nice hotel near the beach rather than indulging in lots of activities, but there is an excellent nature park accessible that’s by cable car, where you’ll find beautiful waterfalls and views of the vast greenery of the island.

Relax by the pool or on the beach, try some water sports or enjoy a massage in an eco-lodge. On an evening, there’s a night market that has the usual gifts and accessories you’d expect to find and a number of beach bars with a ‘hippie’ vibe. The nightlife on Langkawi is actually very good and being so close to Thailand, it attracts a young crowd of backpackers. Couples and families are also at home on Langkawi, although we do recommend visiting for no longer than our recommended 2 – 3 days if you have kids as they may get bored.

Our highlights:

  • Langkawi is all about the untouched and quiet beaches. They’re the best we saw in the country.
  • Nightlife in Langkawi was un-expectedly good compared to the quiet atmosphere during the day. Think ‘chilled reggae/hippie’ vibe.
  • Take some time away from the beach to visit Kilim Karst Geopark. Kayak through the narrow streams, check out the local wildlife and experience great views of the island and its jungle terrain.

Where we stayed: Vivanta by Taj Rabak Island. Our hotel was on a secluded area of the island and it was very peaceful and relaxing, with its eco/natural décor and private beach. One thing to note is that Langkawi hotels are considerably more expensive than elsewhere in Malaysia.

 

<Flight back to Kuala Lumpur>

 

Kuala Lumpur – 1 night

Kuala Lumpur 2

We had an early morning flight home from Kuala Lumpur so decided to return the day before for a spot of last minute shopping and any sites we missed the first time around. Being our last night, we upgraded to a suite in the Traders Hotel, overlooking the Petronas Twin Towers. We dined in a nice restaurant on the upper floors of the hotel and had cocktails by the pool at 10pm in the hotel’s famous SkyBar. This was quite a contrast from our initial visit to the city where we enjoyed street food in Jalan Alor and shopped in the busy markets.

Use your last day to do as you wish and catch up on any missed sites. The shopping in KL is quite cheap and you diverse so we’d recommend picking up a lot of your gifts and personal purchases on your last day to save carrying them around on your travels.

 

<Fly home>

 

Malaysia was honestly one of the best places we’ve ever visited and remains in the top 3 on our travel list. Our itinerary was packed with sightseeing and amazing food, but it also gave us a chance to relax in luxury hotels and enjoy the beauty of the country’s parks, beaches and mountains. We definitely plan on returning to see the eastern islands, Cameron Highlands and Borneo.

Use our itinerary as a base for your own holiday planning and feel free to ask us any questions in the comments section below!

 

Some excellent alternative itineraries:

 

East and west beach relaxation:

Kuala Lumpur – 2 nights

Perhentian Islands – 6 nights

Penang (Georgetown) – 2 nights

Langkawi Island – 3 nights

 

Borneo and Penang (13 nights):

Kuala Lumpur – 2 days

Borneo – 6 days

Penang (Georgetown) – 4 days

Kuala Lumpur – 1 day

 

Cultural towns, cities and countryside (12 nights):

Malacca – 3 days

Kuala Lumpur – 2 days

Cameron Highlands – 2 days

Penang (Georgetown) – 4 days

Kuala Lumpur – 1 day

 


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