1. Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara National Park
Set off from Kuala Lumpur and head for Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia’s largest national park and one of its oldest. About 3.5 hours from KL, the route is close to 250 kilometres and includes some of Malaysia’s top tourist attractions. Drop by the Elephant Sanctuary Kuala Gandah, a rehabilitation centre for elephants. With more than 300 wild elephants within their grounds, there’s no place better to interact with the gentle giants and learn more about conservation efforts in Malaysia. Finally, drive straight towards Taman Negara and spend the rest of your weekend observing the abundance of flora and fauna within the park, or enjoying activities such as fishing, bird watching, jungle trekking.
2. Kuala Lumpur to Belum Forest Reserve
About 5 hours north from KL on the North-South Expressway, you’ll find a natural paradise – the Belum Forest Reserve. A hotbed of wildlife and plants, it houses many of the world’s most endangered species, including the Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan tiger, Asiatic elephant and the white-handed gibbon. On the drive northwards, take a detour to the Cameron Highlands for some cool highland air to break up the lengthy ride. An extremely popular tourist destination, the Cameron Highlands also boasts idyllic tea plantations, butterfly and bee farms, strawberry plantations and rolling green hills, which are guaranteed to soothe your soul.
3. Cameron Highlands to Penang
Alternatively, you could make a pit stop at the blissful Cameron Highlands, stay the night and continue the next leg of your trip northwards to Penang instead. On the way to the gastronomic paradise, stop by Ipoh for some of the city’s famous rice noodles, and take a look at the mysterious Kellie’s Castle, an unfinished mansion well known for ghosts and secret rooms. When you’ve had your fill of Ipoh hor fun, continue on up to Penang, one of Malaysia’s most famous cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On top of being renowned for its amazing architecture, Penang is also known for its one-of-a-kind local foods that are intensely flavoured and highly memorable.
4. Johor Bahru to Malacca
For those starting at the southern end of the Malaysian Peninsula, how about a drive up to Malacca instead? Not only will you get a chance to visit the Historic State – a culturally rich city classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences – you’ll also pass by the Tropical Village Mini-World Theme Park along the way. Situated just outside Johor, this excellent Theme Park contains miniature versions of famous landmarks around the world, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Great Wall of China and the Sphinx, for a unique global experience like no other.
5. Johor Bahru to Desaru
If sun, sand and sea are what you’re after, drive eastwards for a relaxing beach vacation on Malaysia’s East Coast. Desaru, a coastal resort area, boasts some of the country’s best beaches and is only about 1.5 hours by car from Johor Bahru. Bask in the sun along the 20km of sandy coast and swim in the clear blue waters, but keep your car close by so you can make quick jaunts to nearby Kota Tinggi for waterfalls, clear rock pools and fireflies. Also readily accessible is Ostrich Wonderland – an ostrich farm that houses more than 100 ostriches – and the Desaru Fruit Farm, a popular choice for those with young children.
- 19 family vacation ideas for school holidays
- 6 hotel pools for a perfect staycation
- 10 best road trips for beaches in Malaysia
- 5 forgotten Malaysian island getaways
- 6 best hotels in Penang that are family-friendly
Feeling inspired to take a drive? Book cheap flights, hotels and car rental via Skyscanner today, or download our free mobile app for easy browsing and booking on the go.
Originally published on 23 Aug 2016 and updated in August 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.