1. Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands (3 days)
Seeking a weekend away with cooler climes? Then look no further than the wonderful Cameron Highlands. Just three hours away via the AH2 Highway, Cameron Highlands is one of Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations. Its elevation over 1,000m above sea level creates a very crisp and refreshing environment. The area is best known for its tea plantations, flower and vegetable farms, wild animals and scenic lakes. Spend your weekend visiting attractions such as the Bharat Tea plantation, take the kids to see the insects at the Butterfly Garden, and pick your own strawberries at Raaju’s Hill Strawberry Farm. The more adventurous types can strap on their walking shoes and explore the forests by foot on the region’s many hiking trails.
Highlights: Tea estates, Nature, Hiking
Distance: 208km, 3 hours
Where to stay in Cameron Highlands: Cameron Highlands Resort
Rooms start from: RM641
Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Best time to visit Cameron Highlands: February–April, when the temperatures aren’t too high and the rainy season has passed.
Enjoy the green hill and cooler climes at one of the tea plantations at the Cameron Highlands. Photo credit: Bryn Pinzgauer / Flickr
2. Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Penang and Georgetown (3 days)
Drive four hours north from Kuala Lumpur on the AH2 highway, and head towards the island of Penang, west of Malaysia. While you’re on this route, stop by at the famous Batu caves, a range of geographically stunning natural caves reached by scaling 272 steps. Continue the journey towards Penang, by crossing over a 13.5km bridge from mainland to the island. Explore the colonial architecture of UNESCO World Heritage Site Georgetown, a place also famous for its vibrant street food. Georgetown’s art scene is flourishing, whether it’s a trendy new gallery or street art painted throughout the alleyways and hidden corners – perfect for a family photo opportunity! Once you’re tired of the bustling town, take a trip to Monkey Beach to soak up some rays and cool off in the sea.
Highlights: Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Street food, Beaches
Distance: 355km, 4 hours
Where to stay in Penang & Georgetown: Hotel Penaga, Georgetown
Rooms start from: RM340
Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Best time to visit Penang & Georgetown: May–October, avoiding the high tourist season of December–January.
Wander around the colourful streets of Georgetown in Penang. Photo credit: Phalinn Ooi / Flickr
3. Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca and Tioman Islands (5 days)
This 5-day itinerary gives you both a taste of culture and beach life, at two of Malaysia’s hottest travel destinations.
3a. Kuala Lumpur to Malacca (144km, 2 hours)
A couple of hours drive south of Kuala Lumpur on the AH2 highway, is the historical city of Malacca, formerly one of Southeast Asia’s largest trading ports, it’s now a place steeped with culture and is, like Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Malacca’s past, influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule, makes for interesting architectural sites. Learn about the Peranakan culture, which started when Chinese traders came to live in Malaysia, at the Baba and Nyonya Peranakan Museum. Don’t miss the buzzy Jonker Street Night Market on the weekends, where you can tuck into tasty treats and pick up local crafts.
Where to stay in Malacca: The Majestic Malacca Hotel
Rooms start from: RM457
3b. Malacca to Tioman Islands (239km, 3–4 hours)
After a couple of nights soaking up the culture of the city, drive a few hours east towards the port of Mersing taking the AH2 and 50 highways. Leave your car here and take a ferry over to the tropical Tioman Island. This idyllic holiday destination is best known for its many white coral reefs, abundant colourful fish and sea life that can be enjoyed while snorkelling. If land activities are more your thing, Tioman has several jungle treks through its dense forests where you can explore rivers and waterfalls.
Where to stay in Tioman Islands: Berjaya Tioman Resort
Rooms start from: RM350
Highlights: Baba and Nyonya Peranakan Museum, Weekend Night Market, Snorkelling, Jungle Treks.
Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Best time to visit Malacca & Tioman Islands: April–July, avoiding the monsoon season at Tioman Island.
Spend your days lounging under a palm tree or snorkelling in the blue sea on Tioman Island. Photo credit: Peter Gronemann / Flickr
4. Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Pangkor Island, Penang and Langkawi (8 days)
This three-stop trip is all about discovering Malaysia’s best islands, covering a large part of the country’s stunning west coast.
4a. Kuala Lumpur to Pangkor Island (228km, 4 hours)
The first destination on your itinerary is Pangkor island, a few hours north of Kuala Lumpur on the E5 and 5 highway. To break the journey up, stop off at the Sungai Klah Hot Springs half way on your route. Once you’re near Pangkor Island, leave your car on the mainland and take a short ferry over. Beach lovers will be delighted with the choice on offer here. Head to Coral Bay, the loveliest beach on the west coast with clear turquoise water. Other activities include visiting an authentic Malay fishing village and enjoying your fill of fresh local seafood.
Where to stay in Pangkor Island: Pangkor Laut Resort
Rooms start from: RM1,003
4b. Pangkor Island to Penang & Langkawi (200km, 3–4 hours)
Continue on your journey a few hours north to Penang on the A101 and AH2 highway. If you’ve had enough beach time, base yourself in Georgetown, where you can enjoy learning about its rich heritage and admire the unique architecture. Take a street food tour to experience the best cuisine the town has to offer. Then spend a few days on the idyllic island of Langkawi; leave your car at Kuala Perlis and take a short ferry ride. Days on the island will be spent beach hopping, swimming in waterfalls and kayaking in the mangroves. To get a taste of local life, head to one of the daily night markets to sample the delicious street food on offer.
Where to stay in Penang: Eastern & Oriental Hotel
Rooms start from: RM584
Highlights: Beautiful beaches, Seafood, Culture and Waterfalls
Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
Best time to visit Penang: January–February and June–September to avoid the rainy months.
Spend a few days living on stilts over the sea on Pangkor Island. Photo Credit: Phalinn Ooi / Flickr
5. Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Tanjung Jara, Perhentian Islands, Taman Negara National Park, and back (10 days)
This 10-day itinerary packs in some of the best experiences in Malaysia, from beaches to crystal clear snorkelling, wildlife and nature.
5a. Kuala Lumpur to Tanjung Jara (373km, 4 hours)
The first stop on the journey is Tanjung Jara beach on the east coast of Malaysia, near Dungun, a four-hour drive on the E8 highway. Time your visit between May and September to see green turtles nest and lay their eggs, and experience the release of new hatchlings into the sea. Diving and snorkelling around this area is also superb.
Where to stay in Tanjung Jara: Tanjong Jara Resort
Rooms start from: RM750
5b. Tanjung Jara to Perhentian Islands (200km, 3 hours)
Next stop, continue your drive north to Kuala Besut on the E8 and 3 highway. From here you can hop on a ferry over to the picture-perfect Perhentian Islands. The beautiful blue seas are often seen in magazines, noted for their unbelievably clear water and pure white sands, framed by coconut palms. Fill your days up with swimming, snorkelling amongst the corals, and hopping around the cluster of islands.
Where to stay in Perhentian Islands: Perhentian Island Resort
Rooms start from: RM510
5c. Perhentian Islands to Taman Negara National Park (503km, 6 hours)
Continue your journey to Taman Negara National Park in central Malaysia via the E8 highway. The largest national park in the country, it’s well known for its lush rainforest and wildlife. To see the park at its best, take on the Canopy Walk, and stroll across the 530m long, 25m high suspension bridge. From here you can see the rich rainforest flora and fauna. Kids will love the Night Walking Safaris, a guided trek where you can see nocturnal animals and plants such as glow-in-the-dark fungus and snakes.
Where to stay in Taman Negara National Park: Mutiara Taman Negara
Rooms start from: RM342
5d. Taman Negara National Park to Kuala Lumpur (246km, 3 hours)
Finally head back to Kuala Lumpur via the E8 highway, just a few hours south from Taman Negara National Park.
Where to stay in KL: The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Rooms start from: RM461
Highlights: Turtle watching, Snorkelling, Beaches, Jungle trekking.
Duration: 10 days, 9 nights
Best time to visit Tanjung Jara, Perhentian Islands & Taman Negara National Park: May–September to see the turtles hatch.
If you’re lucky, you can see baby turtles being born at Tanjung Jara. Photo credit: wwf.org.uk
Inspired to explore all corners of Malaysia? Head to Skyscanner today and check out the best flights, hotels and car rental deals! For easy browsing and booking on the go, check out our free mobile app too.
- 10 cheapest long weekend getaways that stretch your ringgit
- How to use Skyscanner to find cheap flights for your travels
- The best of Langkawi under RM300 for a family vacation
- 5 forgotten Malaysian island getaways
- 6 best hotels in Penang that are family-friendly
Originally published on 12 February 2016 and updated in May 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.