I spent 2 weeks in Malaysia in 2015 and that wasn’t nearly enough time to explore this beautiful country! Malaysia is a mix of cultures, languages and food and a very interesting place to visit.
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Malaysia 2 week itinerary
Besides the variety in culture, delicious food, friendly people and beautiful nature there is another reason I would love to return to Malaysia. That reason being the effortless way of getting around!
Note: I spent another two weeks in Malaysia in 2017. Be sure to check out my Perhentian Island guide as well.
Maybe I was lucky, but all my trips from A to B in Malaysia were smooth, even if I hadn’t planned anything beforehand. This makes Malaysia a very comfortable country to travel.
Also, buses are new (compared to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos that is, not compared to Singapore) and leave on schedule even if there are only a few people in the bus (a major difference with other Southeast Asian countries).
And flights are really cheap! I paid only €15 for a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi, including checked luggage! Plus, I booked this flight just one day before departure, cheap last minutes are possible after all.
So how can you travel from:
- Singapore to Tioman
- Tioman to Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi
- Langkawi to Thailand
In the map below you can find the itinerary, our accommodation and all the highlights of our 14 day Malaysia trip. If you want to know more about the costs of this trip, check my budget breakdown infographic for Malaysia.
Malaysia travel itinerary: map
Summary of our 2 week Malaysia itinerary
- Day 1: Singapore to Mersing
- Day 2: Mersing to Tioman
- Day 3-5: Tioman Island
- Day 6: Tioman to Kuala Lumpur
- Day 7-9: Kuala Lumpur
- Day 10: Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi
- Day 11-12: Langkawi
- Day 13-14: Langkawi to Koh Tao (Thailand)
Things to know when visiting Malaysia
- The currency in Malaysia is the Malaysian ringgit, abbreviated as MYR. 1 USD is approximately 4 MYR and €1 is approximately 4,5 MYR. Of course exchange rates change every day, check out the live market rate here.
- While ATM’s are widely available in cities (and don’t charge withdrawal fees!), they can be difficult to find (or non-existent) on smaller islands or in tiny villages. Be sure to bring enough money with you when visiting those more off the beaten track destinations, you don’t want to get stuck without any cash.
- Malaysia is a Muslim country, alcohol is expensive and isn’t available everywhere.
- You can buy cheap beers on Tioman and Langkawi, as these are duty-free islands.
Day 1: how to get from Singapore to Mersing
I started my trip in Malaysia in the South, Johor Bahru to be exact, after spending 4 days in Singapore. It was quite a difference coming from westernized Singapore to the rather conservative southeast of Malaysia.
The first thing I did was change into a more conservative outfit. Not that I was wearing something scandalous, but I felt more comfortable in a long-sleeved shirt and pants than my homemade infinity dress.
How to get from Singapore to Malaysia
The journey from Singapore was very smooth; first I took the metro to Kranji station, where I got on the SBS170 bus. The bus took me to the border where I got out, walked through the border, got a stamp for Malaysia and hopped on the SBS170 bus again. Remember to keep your bus ticket, you can use it all the way to Larkin bus terminal in Johor Bahru!
At the Larkin bus terminal I bought a ticket for a Transnasional bus to Mersing and made the most of my waiting time by eating delicious Malaysian food for the first time. With a full stomach I boarded the bus to Mersing.
Another smooth journey, the bus was so much newer than I had become used to in Southeast Asia! And it left on time as well! Also, the road in Malaysia seemed to be in a much better condition than the other Southeast Asia countries we had traveled.
I was soon soundly asleep, quite unique for me as I almost never manage to fall asleep in a bus. Before I knew it we had arrived in Mersing. I found the hotel I had pre-booked online without any problems and quickly fell asleep.
Where to stay in Mersing
I stayed Mersing Hotel only for one night which was more than enough. On the plus side: it’s close to the jetty and cheap. On the downside: the room is very basic room without a shared bathroom (squat toilet, no toilet paper).
Overall it was okay as we arrived late and left early so only needed an bed to sleep a couple of hours. Nevertheless, I definitely wouldn’t go there for a longer stay. I stayed in much better hotels in Southeast Asia for a similar price so there must be better options available in Mersing as well.
Paid price per night: 42MYR (€10,50/$12)
Agoda rating: 7,2
Day 2: How to travel from Mersing to Tioman
The next day we took a jetty to Tioman, a process involving several steps…
How to get to Tioman Island?
- Step 1: go to the pier in Mersing where you look for the Bluewater sign and buy your single way ticket for 35RM. It is possible to purchase a return ticket (which will cost you another 35RM) if you want to be absolutely sure not to get stuck on Tioman island (because imagine how horrible that would be). You will have to let Bluewater know which day you want to return to the mainland, however, dates can be adjusted if you change your mind. Just ask your accommodation on Tioman to call the jetty office. Anyway, buying your ticket is just step 1.
- Step 2: register at a different booth where you write down which village you’ll be disembarking, your name, nationality and birth date on the passenger list. Probably in case the boat sinks…
- Step 3: go to yet another booth where you get your boarding pass. Makes total sense right? Anyway, once upon Tioman, all this ‘hassle’ quickly fades away as you are awed by the amazing surroundings and you cannot imagine problems exist in the world.
Important note: departure times of the jetty are dependent upon the tide. The schedule can usually be found online.
Another important note: we were on Tioman from Monday to Friday. and the island was pretty much deserted during our visit. Apparently this changes during the weekend, when hordes of people from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur flock to the island for an easy getaway from the city.
I can imagine it might be smart to book your jetty ticket and accommodation in advance if you stay at Tioman in the weekend. However, I cannot say from personal experience if this is absolutely necessary. I recommend going there during the week anyway, who doesn’t like some peace and quiet. Particularly on this gorgeous island!
Day 3-5: Tioman Island
Tioman truly is a tropical paradise, with monkeys crossing the ‘main street’ of the village and giant lizards lurking in the river. I loved Tioman, we went scuba diving and all the dives were amazing, I saw a shark, a giant moray eel and a turtle all in one dive!
Where to stay on Tioman Island
Ella’s Place in Salang: in Salang we found a simple little bungalow at Ella’s Place, located at the northern end of the beautiful beach. No warm shower, but since Tioman is a warm and tropical island that is not an issue at all. It’s actually quite nice to cool of;-). Basic but clean. And a beautiful view!
Paid price per night: 75MYR (€18,75/$21)
Not on Agoda, not on the internet in general, at least, I couldn’t find it.
Bamboo Hill in Air Batang (ABC): after two days in Salang we hopped on a boat to the other bay, to the village Air Batang, also known as ABC. We were very lucky to be able to stay at the very popular (and often fully booked) Bamboo Hill. A lovely bungalow and another great view…
We had monkeys peeking into our room and a cat who carried up her three tiny young to protect them from the lizards:-). Really great accommodation!
Paid price per night: 100MYR (€25/$28,50)
Not on Agoda but you can book this great place by sending an email to email@example.com.
When to visit Tioman Island?
Similar to the Perhentian Islands (and other islands on the East Coast of Malaysia) Tioman is not a year-round destination. Monsoon season closes of the island for tourists between November and February. We visited in May (2015) when the weather was splendid. Underwater visibility was great as well. And, as mentioned above, during weekdays it was very quiet on the island, which was perfect for us!
Day 6: how to get from Tioman to Kuala Lumpur
Having spent 4 wonderful days on Tioman, I arrived back in Mersing on Friday afternoon and soon discovered the bus I had intended to take to Kuala Lumpur was full. Not a problem, it turned out there was a bus to Kluang leaving in 20 minutes. I had seen on the map there was a train station in Kluang, so I could either catch a train there or hope for a bus to take me to KL.
Together with some fellow travelers (I think there were 5 of us on the bus in total) we left for Kluang, there we asked if there was a bus leaving for KL and we were in luck: the next one was bound to leave in 20 minutes! Again the five of us turned out to be the only passengers on the bus, I was very surprised they didn’t throw us out and cancelled it…
A smooth 4-hour ride to the big BTS terminal (Bandar Tasik Selatan) in Kuala Lumpur where I arrived just in time to catch the last KLIA train heading to Sentral. The last part of the journey was a short taxi ride to our hotel.
It was one of the smoothest journeys of our entire trip, without having planned anything it just worked out perfectly!
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
The Lantern Hotel was one of my favorite hotels of our trip, it was brand new, very clean, nice shower and comfy bed. My favorite thing about the hotel was that they served free coffee. And I mean the good coffee, like actual proper cappuccino!
The staff was very helpful and accommodating, they gave us some great advice about Skybar options and were genuinely interested in further improving the hotel, which had just opened. When we had to leave around 6am to catch a flight they served us breakfast in the early morning. Speaking of breakfast, it was delicious!
The hotel is located in Chinatown so we could walk to many sightseeing places and for those sites further away we took the metro at the close by metro station. Highly recommended!
Paid price per night: 100MYR (€25/$28,50)
Agoda rating: 7,8
Update July 2017: I returned to Malaysia in April 2017 and stayed at the Lantern Hotel again. Unfortunately the coffee is no longer free. Breakfast is still included but isn’t as extensive as it used to be. On the other hand, prices are slightly lower too and I still feel it’s a nice place to stay in Kuala Lumpur.
Day 7-9: Kuala Lumpur
One of the things I love about Malaysia is its diversity and a great example of this is Kuala Lumpur. Home to 1.67 million people: 44% of the people living in KL are Malay, 43% are Chinese, 10% is Indian and the rest of the population comes from all around the world. Isn’t that awesome!
We stayed in the middle of the chaotic labyrinth called Chinatown. There were vendors everywhere, selling all kinds of food and fake designer goods like bags, sunglasses and watches.
Of course we had to check out KLCC during out stay in Kuala Lumpur. KLCC is one of the more expensive districts and home to a lot of shopping malls and… the famous PETRONAS towers.
A great place to admire the PETRONAS is from the Sky bar of the Traders hotel (located across the towers). From the bar we had an amazing view over the city! My advice is to visit just before sunset. That way you can slowly see the sun fade away and darkness fall. The towers look pretty by day and by night!
After spending three days in Kuala Lumpur we jetted off to Langkawi.
When to visit Kuala Lumpur?
Kuala Lumpur is a great destination year-round, however, if you want to avoid rain as much as possible you want to plan your visit between May and July.
March is generally the hottest month in Malaysia, but there are lots of air conditioned malls in KL where you can cool off if the heats becomes too much to handle.
Day 10: how to get from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi
I have to say, besides Singapore, Kuala Lumpur definitely has the best transportation from the city center to the airport. The KLIA train is fast and comfortable and arrives right at the airport, very convenient!
The 1-hour flight was ridiculously cheap and probably my best short flight ever! The plane was brand new and each seat had a USB charger and a small TV. The seats were comfortable and offered just a little bit more space that your regular short-distance planes. Thank you Malindo Air!
Day 11-12: Langkawi
Langkawi was great as well, read more about my trip to this beautiful island in my Langkawi guide.
For more Langkawi travel inspiration, check out this post about things to do on Langkawi with kids.
Where to stay on Langkawi
Rasa Senang Chalet: at Langkawi we stayed one night at Rasa Senang Chalet, which was ok but not great. The room smelled really strongly of chemicals, I think from cleaning.
While the staff was friendly, they didn’t really seem to care when we asked them if they could do something about the smell. The Wi-Fi is terrible, no reception in our room and barely any at the reception.
On the plus side, the location is good. The hotel is in the center of Pantai Cenang and other than the smell, the room was fine. Nevertheless, we choose to stay at NR Langkawi Motel for the next two nights.
Paid price per night: 100MYR (€25/€$8,50)
NR Langkawi Motel: NR Langkawi Motel was great! The owner is very welcoming and friendly. The room is large, clean and comfortable. The best thing? There is a little porch where I could put the hammock I bought in Hoi An and had been carrying around for two months…
The hotel is located a bit further away from Pantai Cenang. But we had a scooter so that wasn’t a problem.
Paid price per night: 100MYR (€25/$28,50)
Agoda rating: 8,3
When to visit Langkawi?
January until March is peak season on Langkawi as these are generally the driest months. However, we visited in May and had very good weather as well. As an added bonus: accommodation prices are much lower compared to peak season and the island is less crowded.
Looking for more tropical islands to visit? Check out my Southeast Asia island guide!
Day 13-14: how to get from Langkawi to Koh Tao (Thailand)
Completely chilled out thanks to the relaxed island vibe I set off for a loooooooong journey from Langkawi to Koh Tao in Thailand. Altogether the trip consisted of no less than 10 legs!
First I took a taxi from our hotel in Pantai Cenang to Kuah. Then a boat from Kuah to Kuala Perlis. A bus ride from Kuala Perlis to Changlun. Another taxi from Changlun to the Malaysian-Thai border. A minivan to Hat Yai Railway Station. A train from Hat Yai to Surat Thani train station. A bus from Surat Thani train station to Lomprayah office in Surat Thani. A bus from Lomprayah office in Surat Thani to Donsak pier. And finally a boat from Donsak pier to Koh Tao…
Total travel time: 32-hours!
I have to admit this included a (short) night of sleep at Queen hotel at Surat Thani train station. But no complaining, I got there and travel is as much about the journey as it is about the destination!
Bottom line: Malaysia was great and I would love to go back! Looking for more reasons to visit Malaysia? Interested in my trip itinerary? Download it below!
Have you been to Malaysia?
Which places should I visit on my next Malaysia trip?
This post has been updated in February 2019.