Marina Bay Sands, Singapore – A Very Audacious Architecture!
When it wants to attract attention with ostentatious monuments, Singapore certainly knows how to proceed! Right next to a...
This open jaw itinerary starts in Singapore and crosses the whole Malay Peninsula, to finish in Bangkok, Thailand. I am sharing here this itinerary in this order because it worked well for me; but you can of course plan it the other way around from Bangkok to Singapore.
Just a word about the climate of the Malay Peninsula: there are two main seasons, a dry season and a rainy season. When the eastern coast is dry, the western coast is rainy. For the next half of the year, it’s the other way around.
This itinerary is best attempted between November and April, as it is the dry season on the whole west coast of the peninsula. Penang, Langkawi, Krabi and Phuket will most likely be very sunny.
If you are traveling between April and November, I would suggest to craft an itinerary along the western coast instead. You could for example visit Tioman and Redang islands in Malaysia, and the Koh Samui region in Thailand.
The Itinerary at a Glance
Singapore 3-4 Days
You might be surprised that I put “3-4 days” here. For the non-initiated, it often looks like Singapore is just a bunch of skyscrapers that you have seen in an afternoon. Singapore is much more than that! There are a lot of wonderful places to explore.
I put a conservative “3-4 days” here if you just want to have a good overview of the city-state, but if you have the time you can stay the whole week without having to worry about being bored.
You can find on the map and below a few ideas of places you can visit in Singapore.
Singapore Malacca, Malaysia Bus | 3.5 hours | 250 km / 155 miles
You are now ready to cross the first border of this itinerary. You will soon be visiting Malaysia! I did this route a few times with various operators, and they all offer a similar level of service. I wouldn’t be able to recommend a specific bus company. You can google “bus Singapore to Malacca” and you will be presented with a whole variety of options. You can then choose the one that quits your needs, in terms of pick up location, price and timings.
Singapore is linked to Malaysia by two bridges, in Tuas and Woodlands. Both options are possible but from central Singapore you will probably take the Woodlands one.
You will need to get off the bus at the Singaporean checkpoint before the bridge to get your exit stamp on the passport, and get off again after the bridge at the Malaysian checkpoint to get your passport stamped to enter Malaysia. Of course, the bus will wait for everybody to be back on board before continuing its journey.
After that, you will have about 2.5-3 hours of highway to Malacca.
Malacca, Malaysia 2 Days
Malacca is a very pleasant city full of history that deserves a couple days. Its rich patrimony is the result of successive Portuguese, Dutch and English colonizations; plus influences from its large Chinese population. A walk in Chinatown is a must-do! You will be amazed by the richly decorated temples.
Take the time to have a walk along the Malacca River and visit the Portuguese heritage like the remains of the A Famosa fortress, and the Saint Paul’s Church. As for the Stadthuys, built by the Dutch, it is one of the most famous places in Malacca – and surprising by its Dutch architecture and red walls. The Stadthuys building can found of Dutch Square, also called Red Square.
For an aerial overview of the city, try a fun ride on the Taming Sari Tower.
Malacca Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Bus | 2 hours | 140 km / 86 miles
There are once again various bus companies doing this route with similar level of service and pricing. The journey should take around 2 hours. Chances are that you will arrive at the TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) bus station, in the south of Kuala Lumpur. You can then take the LRT or even KTM trains to downtown (KL Sentral Station).
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2-3 Days
You are now in Malaysia’s capital city! With its mix of modernity, tradition and various architectural influences, Kuala Lumpur totally deserves at least a couple days.
As soon as you arrive, you will be attracted like a magnet to the impressive Petronas Towers, that remained the tallest buildings in the world for a long time. Cross the Suria mall to access the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center) Park, a welcomed oasis of greenery in the heart of the city.
If you like a little jungle walk, follow the trail at Bukit Nanas (Nanas Hill) all the way to the KL Tower. From there, you can enjoy and unbeatable view over the whole of Kuala Lumpur. Don’t miss it! I particularly recommend sunset time.
Want some shopping? Walk along Jalan Sultan Ismail and you will find various modern shopping malls.
For a more traditional atmosphere, you can stroll in the Central Market (try the fish spa experience!), around the pretty Masjid Jamek mosque and in the Little India area.
Escape the busy downtown by visiting the KL Bird Park and the Perdana Gardens, stopping at the National Mosque (Masjid Negara) on the way.
If you feel like taking some time away from the city, take the train from KL Sentral station to the Batu Caves, north of the city. The caves are impressive by their size and have become an interesting religious place.
It is easy to get around Kuala Lumpur with the metro system and the Komuter trains.
Kuala Lumpur Penang, Malaysia Bus | 4 hours | 350 km / 217 miles
Penang is a beautiful island off the western coast of Malaysia. To go to there, you have two options. You can either take a bus or train to Butterworth and then a ferry to Penang, or take a bus from Kuala Lumpur directly to Penang (the island is linked to the main land by two bridges).
I chose this option as I felt it would be more comfortable. Once again, there are various bus companies that will most likely offer you the same level of service. I can recommend a bus service called Nice Coaches – they have nice modern coaches and they leave from the KTM station in downtown Kuala Lumpur, which is really great.
In Penang, you will arrive at the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal, south of Georgetown – the main city on the island. If you don’t feel like paying for a taxi, it is easy to use the cheap local buses. From the bus terminal to Georgetown, take the bus 401. It will take you to the Komtar terminal in Georgetown.
Penang, Malaysia 2-3 Days
You have a few options concerning where to stay in Penang. The island is quite big and there are several towns and beaches you can stay at, such as Batu Ferringhi for example. If you are craving some nice seaside holiday, it would be a good options.
However, I think it is more convenient to stay in Georgetown. You can’t miss the visit of the old town and its historical treasures. Just like Malacca’s Historical Center, the Old Town of Georgetown is in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Beautifully decorated Chinese temples, elegant mosques, colorful shophouses and an enchanting atmosphere are awaiting you as you stroll around the town.
If you are ready for some trekking, spend a day on the trails of the Penang National Park. You can take the bus 101 to the park’s entrance. There are two paths you can choose. One is shorter and easier and follows the northern coast of the park to a lighthouse. The other one crosses the jungle to secluded beaches. That’s the one I chose.
Bear in mind that this is real jungle and the paths can sometimes be uphill and challenging. Don’t go too far if your level of fitness doesn’t allow it! But if you can, the wild beaches and the strange Meromictic Lake will be beautiful rewards. Before leaving, make sure to buy a lunch box and water from the small shop across the road at the park’s entrance.
Penang Langkawi, Malaysia Ferry | 3 hours | 115 km / 71 miles
It is easy to reach Langkawi from Penang by ferry. The trip takes around 3 hours depending on the weather conditions. In Langkawi, you will arrive at the jetty in Kuah, Langkawi’s main city.
Langkawi, Malaysia 4 Days
Langkawi, jewel of the Malaysian state of Kedah, is definitely a highlight of this itinerary. Beyong its large main island, Langkawi is an archipelago of no less than 104 islands. Its karstic scenery is truly spectacular, particularly as seen from the cable car.
You will get off the ferry in Kuah, Langkawi’s main city. Take some time to walk or ask a taxi to take you to the nearby Eagle Square, famous for its big statue of a fishing eagle, symbol of Langkawi.
You can of course choose to stay anywhere on the island but I would recommend staying around the popular Cenang Beach (pronounced “tchenang“) as it is where most touristic activities are located, and most points of interest of Langkawi are easily accessible from there.
To go around, you can rent a car for the length of your stay, or you can rent scooters directly on the spot. I found it to be a really pleasant and fun way to explore the island.
As for things to do and see, the #1 attraction not to miss is definitely the cable car. It the touristy “Oriental Village” (from which u get on the cable car) can feel a little soulless and totally artificial, the views to the wild mountains that you get from the mountain tops are unforgetable. The Sky Bridge is pretty cool too. Try to plan this attraction on the sunniest day of your stay.
Other tours that are worth doing are the one exploring the Kilim Geoforest Park and the Dayang Bunting Island.
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