My original plan was to only spend 3 or 4 weeks in Malaysia, but it’s so easy to love the country. It was actually difficult not to be tempted and extend my stay for a few more weeks. Here is my 5 week itinerary – maybe it will come in helpful if you’re planning a trip there.
The idea of this post is to give an overview of Malaysia and what there is to see there as I feel sometimes it may be overlooked as a major tourism destination.
If you’re thinking of heading here, be sure not to miss out on Sipadan, easily one of the best diving spots in the world. Check out this great website for much more information on the incredible Sipadan island.
Langkawi (4 days):
I began my trip up north in Langkawi, having departed from Singapore that morning and connecting via Kuala Lumpur. Langkawi is good for a backpacker but I think it’s a better destination if you’re traveling as a family. I feel the place is certainly catering for the couple/family tourist. That being said, it’s easy to spend a decent amount of time just chilling on the beaches.
Penang (3 days):
Another island which I felt is much more catered to the backpacking scene. My plan was to spend a decent amount of time in the sea on the eastern side of Malaysia so I didn’t bother too much about going to the beaches here. Instead, I spend most of my time in Georgetown, eating my way through the city and searching for all the incredible street art.
You can read about my time in Georgetown here.
Cameron Highlands (4 days):
I based myself in the town of Tanah Rata, possibly the biggest tourist town in the Cameron Highlands, but it is still tiny and and serves as an amazing base from which to explore the nearby attractions and head out on a number of hikes. It’s easy to spend a long time in the Highlands. I spent my time exploring tea plantations, eating too many strawberries and hiking along the numerous trails around the town.
You can read more about the Cameron Highlands here.
Kuala Lumpur (3 days):
It’s Kuala Lumpur – you need to see it. It’s definitely one of the big modern cities that still has maintained it’s eastern routes. Singapore is clinical in parts but I felt KL knew exactly where its cultural routes were.
Read more about my time in KL here.
Melaka (2 days):
Melaka, 2 hours south from KL, is a decent spot for a day or 2. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would and as a result, only spent one night there, as opposed to a much longer stay that I had planned.
Perhentian Islands (7 days):
Easily one of my Malaysian highlights. You can stay on either the big or small island. I chose to stay on Perhentian Kecil (‘small island’). It’s one of the most beautiful islands I’ve stayed on – everything you’d expect from a tropical island – dense jungle, crystal clear water, perfect snorkelling. I loved it.
You can read more about my stay here.
Malaysian Borneo (Sabah):
From Peninsular Malaysia, I made my way across to Borneo. There are dozens of flights everyday to Tawau or Kota Kinabalu which are very well-priced.
Semporna (1 day):
There is nothing nice about Semporna. It is a transit hub to get to Mabul and Sipadan Island and that’s really the only reason you should stay there.
Mabul Island (4 days):
Mabul and nearby Sipadan are snorkelling hotspots, with some of the worlds best diving to be found in these waters. It’s easy to come for a day and then spend a week. The range of accommodation is huge, from cheap bungalows to fancy resorts, so you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Read more about my time on Mabul here.
Check out this website if you’re looking for more information about the resorts around Sipadan and Mabul islands
Sandakan and Sepilok (1 day):
Home to some of the most rare animals that Borneo has to offer, from Orang Utans to Sun Bears and Proboscis Monkeys. It’s easy to get here from Kota Kinabalu on a R200 return flight on Air Asia. You can see all there is to see in a day.
You can read more about it here.
Mount Kinabalu (2 days):
An epic mountain to climb! You can choose between a 2D1N ascent or a 3D2N ascent, but it’s far more popular to choose the former. It’s a tough climb and and even tougher descent (if your knees were as cooperative as mine!). Certainly a highlight of my Bornean stint and I’d recommend it to anyone.
You can see my photoblog here.
Kota Kinabalu (5 days):
First off – you do not need 5 nights here. I chose to stay this long to give my legs a chance to recover after the mountain and also to give me some time to explore the neighbouring countryside, rivers and jungles. KK (as it is referred to) is a big city – much bigger than I anticipated. That being said, the tourist stretch is very walkable and you’ll be spoilt for choice with day trips. You can snorkel there on some of the islands but I believe they are totally overcrowded and can be a little unpleasant.
I hope this post helps a little. If you have any questions, give me a shout!