Updated post: 17/08/2019 | August 2019
When I visited Malaysia, my expectations were not set high. For one, it did not feature on the so-called Banana Pancake trail around Asia. Surely, there must be a reason for this? But, having travelled through the other countries of this region over the years, it was an itch that was crying out to be scratched. I’m nothing if not a completist.
The only problem was I didn’t know what a perfect two weeks in Malaysia would look like. Therefore, I asked a local. Approaching a Malaysian colleague for her thoughts, she looked slightly sheepish and confessed “ I haven’t travelled outside of Kuala Lumpur. When you get back can you please let me know how it went so I will know where to go in future?” So it was back to guidebooks and online forums.
As the weather favoured peninsular Malaysia in February / March, I started off by bagging a keenly priced flight to Kuala Lumpur. The places that I selected worked well from a logistic, getting from A to B point of view, and also showcased a small part of this diverse & distinctive country in two weeks.
Here’s how I put together a perfect 14-day Malaysia itinerary for a solo traveller on a midrange budget. Costs quoted reflect the prices in February 2017.
A 14-day Malaysia itinerary for the solo traveller
Day 1: Kuala Lumpur (overnight stay)
How I travelled there
- Overnight flight from London (LHR) with the excellent QATAR airways via Doha, arriving in the evening.
What I did
Recovered from a long flight from London!
Where I stayed
- Sama Sama Hotel KLIA. Joined to the main terminal building by a covered footbridge, this is a great choice for pre- or post- flight.
- Cost per night MYR 409 (£76).
Day 2 & 3: Melaka
Why visit Melaka?
For its beautifully preserved historic centre, with a kaleidoscope of architectural styles, the lively Jonker Walk weekend night market and psychedelic trishaws.
What we see today is thanks to Melaka’s rich history. One of the oldest cities on the Straits of Malacca, the city started life as a fishing village founded by a Sumatran Hindu prince in the 14th Century. Over the subsequent six centuries, it passed through the hands of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British before gaining independence in 1946.
Awarded Unesco World Heritage status in 2008, Melaka’s historic centre is a jumble of restored Chinese shophouses nestled between Portuguese, British and Dutch buildings. Although it can be ridiculously busy, particularly at weekends, visiting here is an unmissable experience.
How to get to Melaka
- I travelled by bus directly from Kuala Lumpur airport. A one-way ticket cost MYR 24 (£4). The journey took around two hours. Buses also depart from Kuala Lumpur’s chaotic central bus station.
- You can book a ticket in advance through EasyBook
How to get around Melaka
- Melaka’s compact size makes it easily walkable. However, if you are feeling weary why not take a ride on one of the city’s psychedelic trishaws? Agree on a price before setting off.
- If you are feeling particularly brave you can hire a bike.
Where to stay in Melaka
- I stayed at Jonker Boutique Hotel. A great location on Jonker Street but I feel that its description as a “luxury boutique hotel” is overstating its charms.
- It cost MYR 228 (£42) per night.
Day 4 & 5: Kuala Lumpur
Why visit Kuala Lumpur?
To gaze up at the Petronas Towers, go bird-watching in KL Bird Park, admire colonial buildings of Merdeka Square and wonder at the objects in the Islamic Arts Museum.
The cultural diversity of this 21st Century metropolis is striking. Ethnic Malays, Chinese prospectors, British colonial rulers and Indian immigrants have all left their mark on Kuala Lumpur. It’s all about contrast. Hindu temples and mosques rub shoulders with gleaming shopping malls, the 21st-century cathedrals of consumerism. Cafes offering foam-topped lattés and wi-fi sit cheek-to-jowl with streetside hawker stalls.
How to get to Kuala Lumpur
- I travelled from Melaka by bus to the central bus station and then picked up the metro system to my hotel.
How to get around Kuala Lumpur
- Thanks to its integrated transport system, it is easy to get around Kuala Lumpur. The city’s trains and buses connect through the central station, KL Sentral.
- Although you can buy single tickets at machines and counters, if you are in the city for a few days it may be worth your while getting a Touch & Go card. Similar to London’s Oyster Card, this allows you to travel around Kuala Lumpur with ease and you also benefit from lower prices.
- Further information on using Kuala Lumpur’s public transport here.
- Taxis are also a good option and are plentiful and relatively cheap
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- I stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel, which is one of my favourite hotels ever. Its faultless customer service sets them a notch above the rest.
- I paid a daily rate of MYR 672 (£125) for a Horizon Club Executive King room. This included day-long access to the Club Lounge which offered fantastic evening cocktails and afternoon tea. Well worth splashing the cash!
Day 6 – 9: George Town, Penang
Why visit Penang?
For its diverse cultural mix, a vibrant street art scene and fantastic food. A visit to George Town’s clan houses should be at the top of anyone’s 14-day Malaysia itinerary.
This vibrant city is quintessential Asia mixed with tropical beaches. And similar to Kuala Lumpur, its cultural diversity is intoxicating. The UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town has romantically dilapidated Chinese shopfronts rubbing shoulders with British colonial buildings and Hindu temples. Add to this a burgeoning street art scene and some of the best food you will ever have, Penang is unmissable.
How to get to Penang
- I caught a train from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth station. It was then a short hop across the bridge by bus
- The train ticket cost MYR 79 (£15) and I booked it online with the confusingly named Busonlineticket.com
- Penang’s airport is 18km south of George Town.
- George Town is also served by long-distance buses.
How to get around Penang
- As Penang’s sights are close together, it is easy to get around on foot.
Where to stay in Penang
- Another opportunity to splurge. I stayed at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. This historic, all-suite property offers complimentary evening cocktails and all-day tea and coffee.
- I paid a daily rate of MYR 712 (£133)
Day 10 – 13: Langkawi
Why visit Langkawi?
To kick-back on a perfect white sand beach. After all this travelling around, you deserve some relaxation. Enough said.
How to get to Langkawi
- I took the ferry from Penang. This cost MYR 70 (£13) and the journey took around an hour and a half.
- Langkawi also has an international airport located in the west of the island
How to get around Langkawi
- As Langkawi does not have public transport, a taxi is your best bet. Hiring a motorcycle is another option.
Where to stay on Langkawi
- I stayed at the Berjaya Langkawi Resort. Hotels on Langkawi can carry a hefty price tag. This hotel offered the best value for the quality of accommodation.
- I paid a daily rate of MYR 704 (£131)
Day 14: Kuala Lumpur
Why visit Kuala Lumpur (again)?
A pre-return flight stay and to take in the sights I missed at the start of the trip.
How I travelled there
- I flew from Langkawi to KL with Malaysia Airlines
- A one-way ticket cost MYR 94 (£17)
Where I stayed
- Shangri-La Hotel as before.
Final thoughts on this 14-day Malaysia itinerary
My view is that Malaysia is often wrongly overlooked. Although it lacks the big-hitting tourist attractions of other South East Asian countries, such as Thailand, it does have an enticing mix of city life, colonial towns and beach bliss. Add to this an intriguing cultural diversity, welcoming people and fantastic food and you have the perfect recipe for a great trip.
I loved every stop on my 2-week Malaysia itinerary and the country is easy to explore as a solo traveller.