How to Spend Two Weeks in Malaysia

Antique windows at Junker walk, Maleka, Malaysia
Antique windows at Junker walk, Maleka, Malaysia | © Igor Plotnikov/Shutterstock
Lu Yin Wai

Take the stress out of planning an itinerary by following our thoughtful guide to getting the best out of Malaysia’s sights, sounds, and tastes.

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Day 1: Arrive in Kuala Lumpur

It’s a one-hour train or taxi ride from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the city centre. Book a cab at the registration booth before leaving the arrival gate. Avoid getting one at the airport’s exit as the drivers will overcharge you.

Enjoy dinner at Jalan Alor street, where you can savour an array of local delicacies such as satay and seafood dishes. To enjoy the night life in Kuala Lumpur, we recommend drinking cocktails with the magnificent view of Petronas Twin Towers at Coppersmith. Have a good night’s rest as there’ll be plenty of exploring to do in the next few days.

Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Day 2: Explore the iconic sites in Kuala Lumpur

Wake up early in the morning to visit KL Tower, to avoid the tropical heat later in the day. If you can afford to buy tickets to go up to the observation deck (RM52/$13 for adults and RM31/$7 for children), for amazing views of the city. Book in advance as tickets sell out quickly.

KL Tower, Kuala Lumpur

Visit Masjid Jamek and Dataran Merdeka. The oldest mosque Masjid Jamek has three domes surrounding the prayer hall. Dataran Merdeka is used for major events, such as celebrating Malaysia’s National Day. Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Royal Selangor Club’s divine architecture is near Dataran Merdeka. Learn about how Malaya gained its independence and became Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.

Masjid Jamek Mosque, Kuala Lumpur

Take a 30-minute walk to the Lake Gardens, a large-scale recreational park home to Orchid Garden, Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, Butterfly Park Kuala Lumpur, and Deer Park Kuala Lumpur. The Orchid Garden has more than 800 species of orchids for you to take photos of. Visit the National Monument of Kuala Lumpur, a memorial to the soldiers who fought for the country’s independence.

Orchid Garden in Lake Gardens

Day 3: Climb your way up in Batu Caves and shop in Pavilion & Suria KLCC

Take the KTM Komuter Train to Batu Caves at KL Sentral. The return ticket is RM4/$1. Once you reach the Batu Caves station, you will see the Batu Caves at the other side of the station. These limestone caves are at the centre of Malaysia’s celebrated Thaipusam festival and are sacred to Hindus.

Lord Murugan statue in front of Batu Caves

Head back to the city centre and relax at Pavilion and Suria KLCC, the two of the most popular shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. These are connected with a walkway that takes about 30 minutes to cross. Visit the KLCC Park later in the day for enchanting night-time views of the Petronas Towers.

Night view of Petronas Twin Towers

Day 4: Explore the old streets of Kuala Lumpur

Take the train to Pasar Seni to discover old KL, including Petaling Street, known as ‘Chee Cheong Kai’ (Starch Factory Street in Cantonese), from its days as a site for the production of tapioca flour. Make your way to the Central Market to shop for handcrafted souvenirs.

Central Market in Kuala Lumpur

Visit the Kuan Ti Temple (Taoist) and Sri Mahamariamman Temple (Hindu) along Jalan Tun H S Lee. Each has detailed carvings that tell stories of their respective deities and religions. You may see devotees doing their daily prayers.

Kuan Ti Temple

Fill up your tummy with delicious food and drinks at the local cafés along the old streets, some of which used to be brothels. Each café has its own menu specialties, distinct interior, and vibrant atmosphere. Try Merchant’s Lane, Chocha Foodstore, and Leaf & Co. Café. If you feel that the night is still young, head down to PS150 to enjoy their unique cocktails based on different historical eras of Indochina.

PS150’s bar, Contemporary Era

Day 5: Cycle around and food-hunting in Melaka

Melaka is one of Malaysia’s UNESCO Heritage Sites, home to the Peranakan culture and amazing historical architecture. Hop on either the KKKL Express or Transnasional at the KL Bus Terminal which’ll get you to Melaka in about two hours. The ticket prices ranges from RM10–RM13 ($2.20–$4).

Check in at your accommodation and rent bicycles there, or at a rental spot in town, and cycle around town to discover the traditional shophouses and mural arts.

Hit the restaurants and cafés afterwards to savour the famed Peranakan cuisine. Try some nyonya laksa (a noodle soup) and kuih-muih (a rice-based sweet snack). Beat the tropical heat by having cendol (an iced dessert) and make sure to stop at a satay celup restaurant to dip your skewered meats and vegetables into the spicy peanut sauce. Relax at the Daily Fix Café, where they serve mouthwatering pandan and gula Melaka pancakes with coffee. Head down to the Jonker Street Night Market filled with street food, souvenirs, and live entertainment.

Jonker Street Night Market, Melaka, Malaysia

Day 6: Explore the historical sites in Melaka

Learn about Melaka’s history and cultural heritage, starting with the ruin of the Portugese fortress, A Famosa, before climbing up St. Paul’s Hill to see St. Paul’s Church and a breathtaking view of the coast. Walk down to admire the maroon-coloured structures at Red Square (Dutch Square). Find out how it became a wondrous coastal town at the Maritime Museum. Visit the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum to for more on Peranakan culture, followed by a look at the detailed architecture of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. After your exploration, take a bus back to Kuala Lumpur and have a good rest before the stage of your adventure.

A Famosa, on the way to St Paul’s Hill and St Paul’s Church

Day 7: Hike through the trails of Cameron Highlands

Time to relax with the cooling weather and lush greenery of the Cameron Highlands. Take the early morning bus, CS Travel SVIP, which takes about five hours to go through the mountains. Your adventure begins by hiking along the nature trails (13 in total), where you can see wondrous sights along the away. Start with one of the trails in Tanah Rata, before exploring the Mossy Forest with its cool temperatures and thick fog.

Fog rolling through the Cameron Highlands

Day 8: Visit farms, plantations, and towns

Discover how tea leaves are picked and processed at the BOH Tea Estate, followed by enjoying local teas with cakes & pastries at the café. Revel in the fields of flowers at Lavender Farm. Pick delicious strawberries to take home and enjoy afternoon tea with an array of strawberry delicacies. Complete your day with a hot steamboat at Jin Jin Steamboat Restaurant, or visit the Brinchang Night Market for some street food.

Food stall at night market in Brinchang, Malaysia

Day 9: Stopover in Ipoh for lunch before reaching Penang

Have lunch in Ipoh, known for their bean-sprout chicken and Ipoh white coffee, during the five-hour bus journey from Cameron Highlands to Penang run by either Unititi Express, GT Express or CS Travel (RM32/$8 per person). Spend about an hour taking pictures of murals at Mural Art’s Lane, including work by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, before catching the bus for an evening arrival at Penang. Savour the Penang delicacies (such as char kway teow, Penang asam laksa, cendol, and prawn mee) at Gurney Drive, a popular street food destination.

Overgrown colonial buildings in Ipoh, Malaysia

Day 10: Experience arts and culture in George Town

Explore George Town’s beautiful streets filled with colonial and traditional shophouses and artistic murals painted by local and international artists. Take the guided walking tours to learn about Penang’s history.

Visit the Chew Jetty, part of the Clan Jetties – home to the descendants of Chinese immigrants since the 19th century. Return to the streets of George Town to enjoy a meal at ChinaHouse, Awesome Canteen or Mugshot Café.

Chew Jetty in Penang

Day 11: Visit Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang National Park

Located in Air Itam, Kek Lok Si Temple is one of the largest temples in Southeast Asia. Admire the detailed carvings, murals, and sculptures on the interior and exterior of the temple including the Kek Lok Si Pagoda.

Kek Lok Si Temple interior garden

Penang National Park, the smallest national park in Malaysia, connects to Monkey Beach, Teluk Kampi, and Kerachut Beach. Hike through the trails in Penang National Park, which takes about an hour to reach, and admire the breathtaking wildlife in the rainforest before hitting one of the beaches.

One of the beaches connected on Penang National Park

Day 12: Discover beautiful nature and vibrant culture in Kuching

Take a two-hour morning flight from Penang to Kuching costing about RM264/$66 one way. Explore the city of Kuching and enjoy Sarawak cuisine including Sarawak laksa (a spicy noodle soup) and kolo mee (a dry noodle dish). Take a bus to Sarawak Cultural Village to experience the region’s ethnic diversity through handicrafts and live performances. Explore the rocky cliffs, rainforest views, and secluded beaches at the Bako National Park, the oldest park in Sarawak. Have an enjoyable night out at the Kuching Waterfront on the south bank of Sarawak River.

Sarawak River under the evening sun in Kuching, Sarawak

Day 13: Explore historical sites and savour delicious seafood in Kota Kinabalu

Your final stop will be in Kota Kinabalu after taking a one-and-a-half-hour flight from Kuching. Visit the marvellous Kota Kinabalu City Mosque which is surrounded by the turquoise lagoon. Stand by the Atkinson Clock Tower, the oldest structure in Sabah State, which looks across the city. Honour the warriors who defended Sabah during World War II by visiting the historical Petagas War Memorial. Complete your day by chowing down on mouthwatering seafood at Kota Kinabalu’s Night Food Market and/or Sinsuran Night Market.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

Day 14: Leaving the country

For cheaper option, take a two-and-a-half-hour night flight from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur. If you do happen to have three or four more days to spare in Malaysia, visiting Kinabalu Park, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, and Semporna would make a great coda to this itinerary.

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