SE Asia Trip in 2018...Help with Malaysia

Travel Forums Asia SE Asia Trip in 2018...Help with Malaysia

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1. Posted by Chadster152 (Budding Member 2 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Hey there! I'm planning a long trip (4-5 months) to Southeast Asia starting in 2018 with a friend of mine. We're planning on flying out of San Francisco, CA, and traveling to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, then flying back to SF. I'm currently mapping out a route and I'm having some trouble with Malaysia. So far I have a plan of us coming up from Singapore to Johor Bahru, then to Malacca (Malaka?), then to Seremban, then to Kuala Lumpur...and that's where the indecision starts. Should we head to the East coast from KL and see the Cameron Highlands and Perhentian Islands (and what else?) or should we stick to the West coast and see Penang and Langkawi (and what else?)?

Thanks in advance!


2. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1277 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

You might be able to accomplish all that you want with regard to Malaysia. I took a look at your map; and it shows you flying from SFO to DPS. There is no nonstop flight on that route. You'll have to go through gateway cities, such as Singapore, to get to Denpasar, Bali. So check with Web sites such as and to find the flights that suit you best. Flights in Southeast Asia are extensive and reasonable; as are bus and rail connections. So you don't have to limit yourself, unless time and money are major factors.

3. Posted by Chadster152 (Budding Member 2 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

@berner256 - thanks for the reply. The flight I'm looking at has a 1.75 hour layover in Hong Kong. I'm trying to decide if I want to go to the east or west coast of Malaysia after KL...I'm kinda leaning towards west coast. As far as transportation while I'm there, I want to take trains and buses where cheap and possible, and flights where necessary.


4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1277 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

You still can visit both sides of the Malay Peninsula, if you want. That means plotting an itinerary to allow you to do that. Be inventive. Check all the flight options as previously recommended. Do yourself a favor and sign up to receive e-mails from AirAsia, which has an extensive network of flights. Like Southwest Airlines in the U.S., it only sells tickets online. I've purchased several with my U.S. credit card; and did so last year, when I flew in April from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar for US$106. I used Bali as a base to travel to Flores to visit Mount Kelimutu; and Labuan Bajo, the jumping off point to visit Rinca and Komodo islands. I also used Denpasar to travel to Timor-Leste, or East Timor, before hopping on a short flight to Darwin, Australia.

There are several methods you can employ to potentially save money on flights. For example, tickets sold on Singapore Airlines' U.S. Web site sometimes are more expensive than if booked on the airline's other Web links. For example, I saved money last year by booking a one-way ticket from Perth to Singapore to Beijing on the carrier's Australian link. Before doing so, I checked with a Singapore Airlines agent in the U.S. to see if that were OK; and he said, yes; other people do it. Of course, the online purchase, with my U.S. credit card, was priced in Australian dollars. But I still saved a significant sum.

You have plenty of time to prepare for your trip. So do the research; and consider all options. Best of luck in your planning!

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Sep-2016, at 16:57 by berner256 ]

5. Posted by Letstorque (Budding Member 5 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!


I think you should know that although Cameron Highlands is in state of Pahang( which is in the East Coast of the peninsular), it is easier to reach from west coast (Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh)

I've seen some travellers trying to reach Cameron Highlands by bus from Tioman Island (in the state of Pahang) via Kuantan, end up need to take bus all the way to Kuala Lumpur. Then to Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highland is on the other side of the state of Pahang (across the main mountain range). Bordering the state of Perak, which mean Ipoh is the nearest city

6. Posted by Sarah.M (Budding Member 10 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!


While I haven't been to the West coast, I can recommend the East Coast. Penang is a fun city, very artsy and lots of street murals. The food is delicious as well. Langkawi is beautiful, though if you want to explore the island you'll likely need to rent a motorbike or a car.

As the user above mentioned it is easy enough to reach Cameron Highlands from the west coast. When I went, we hired a taxi and made a day trip out of it from KL, but you could stay overnight. You could still include it in your trip.

If you like caves, you can stop over in Ipoh (between KL and Penang) and visit the Gua Tempurung cave. It's outside the city but we managed to make it there with a bus and a kilometer or two of walking. They do different tours and it's reasonably priced too. I read an article not too long ago saying that Ipoh was an interesting city to visit as well, though we didn't spend too much time exploring ourselves.

Have a great trip,

7. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1277 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Excellent insights from Letstorque and Sarah.M.

8. Posted by Letstorque (Budding Member 5 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

4 northern states used to be part of the Siam Empire (which is now Thailand).
So you can see more similarities, especially local cuisines and attitude of local population, with Thailand in these 4 states : Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Melaka (Malacca) and Pulau Pinang (Penang) are earliest British colonies.
More deep-rooted European influences here.
In Penang, British-influenced architecture is the main attraction. Other than street foods of course.
Malacca was colonialised by Portugese and Dutch before British, and before that is the capital of Melaka Empire 500 years ago.

If you want to see architectural buildings aged more than 200 years old, only Penang and Malacca worth visiting.

9. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2015 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

In my opinion, travelers to Malaysia should not miss Borneo. 2 years ago I was in Penang, KL and Kuching. I was disappointed in both Penang and KL, but fell in love with Kuching (Sarawak on Borneo Is.).

10. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1440 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

I'm with Daawgon on that one - Borneo is superb! Bako National Park near Kuching is a favourite (silver leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, pit vipers, scorpions and more), Mulu National Park (but that needs a flight from Miri), Brunei (just for another country!), Mt Kinabalu, Sepilok and the Kinabatangan river for orang utans. Definitely my favourite part of Malaysia. :)