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Singapore to Malaysia Road Trip Guide: 5D4N West Coast Itinerary

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 31 May, 2023

Malaysia offers everything from high-street shopping, cafe culture, and IG hotspots, to fine dining and world class attractions. Here’s a 5D4N road trip itinerary to savour it all.

Malaysia is a popular tourist destination that has plenty to offer. From breathtaking nature, rich history, vibrant culture and world-class attractions to – of course, delicious and unique cuisine – there’s plenty here to make for a satisfying holiday. 

The trick is to experience as much of Malaysia as possible, and the best way is via a road trip encompassing multiple stops. 

Try this five-day road trip itinerary exploring the best of the Malaysian West Coast.

Related to this topic: Best Travel Insurance Plans With COVID-19 Coverage (2023)


Some notes before we begin

This itinerary doesn’t require you to drive your own car, and we’ve made it so for two reasons. 

One, even though your motor insurance benefits do extend to driving in West Malaysia, you will face a higher degree of hassle and disruption should your vehicle get damaged or stolen. 

With a rental car, well, you simply need to hand over the vehicle and/or police report to the rental company and you can get on with your day. No emotional pain from attachment to your personal vehicle. Also, you can purchase collision damage waiver and loss damage waiver to remain 100% free of any liabilities to the rental company. 

And two, not driving your own car will save you hours on the road. This is because we’ll be starting our West Malaysia road trip by flying into Penang, which takes just a short 90 minutes (vs an eight-hour drive). Even if you factor in the time needed at the airport, you’ll still save around four hours – that’s half a day more of holidaying!

To embark on our road trip proper, once we land, we’ll be renting a car and driving southwards, before returning the vehicle in Johor Bahru and hopping into a cross-border taxi back into Singapore

Related to this topic: Johor Bahru Shopping Guide 2023 – Where to Shop in JB

 

 


Typical costs in West Malaysia

Accommodation

With the exchange rate very much in our favour, holidaying in Malaysia offers some awesome opportunities to spoil ourselves with luxury hotel stays. 

Top-tier hotels like Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt start from around S$300 per night in Kuala Lumpur, which is practically a steal compared to Singapore. 

Just slightly down the luxury scale, you’ll find properties like Hilton, JW Marriott, Sofitel and Shangri-La with rooms starting at around S$150 per night. 

Want to spend even less? There are plenty of other great options from budget hotels, business hotels and boutique hotels to choose from in the S$80 to S$100 range. 

Related to this topic: Which is the Better Way to Travel to Malaysia – Land or Air?


Meals

Meals in Malaysia are highly affordable; a budget of between S$20 to S$30 per pax per day should suit most average travellers. 

Street food, coffee shops and hawker centres are readily found, and offer delicious local meals for around S$5 to $7 pax per person. For more international fare, head for mid-range restaurants, where a three-course meal may be had for around S$12 to S$15 per pax. 

Cafes, meanwhile, will cost you anywhere from S$4 for a cappuccino to perhaps S$10 if you want cake or dessert to go with your beverage. 

As for alcohol, beers cost on average S$5 to S$6 per pint, whereas cocktails go for around S$10 to S$13 per drink, depending on how fancy the establishment you’re drinking at is. 

Related to this topic: Only 5 Minutes to Malaysia: How to Travel By Train to JB (KTM Ticket Prices & Schedule)


Car rental and petrol

Because this is a road trip, car rental and petrol will take up a major portion of your holiday budget.

Renting a car for 5 days in West Malaysia will cost between S$250 to S$400, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Larger 7-seater vehicles will cost between S$450 to S$600. Note that this does not include the cost of petrol (S$0.67 to S$1 per litre). 

Don’t forget to include the cost of your cross-border taxi at the end of your trip; that’ll be around S$60 to S$70 per cab, from Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru.

Related to this topic: Driving to Malaysia? Travel Insurance May Be More Important than You Think

 

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SingSaver's Exclusive MSIG TravelEasy Insurance Promotion: Get up to 40% off and receive up to $40 Grab Voucher when you buy NOW! Valid till 31 March 2024. Also receive an Apple AirTag (worth S$45) with no minimum premium. Valid till 10 March 2024.

 

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5D/4N self-driving itinerary for Malaysian West Coast 

Day 1: Penang

Start your holiday by taking a flight into Penang. We recommend flying in bright and early, so you can spend the rest of the day basking in this gorgeous island city. 

If it’s your first time, try taking a trishaw ride in George Town to get a feel of the city’s character. See if you can spot some of the city’s famous street art and murals as you wend your way through the downtown quarter – or chase them down on foot for some interesting IG shots.

Penang is also famous for its mouthwatering cuisine, so while you’re downtown, hunt around for some of the island’s beloved dishes such as rojak, char kway teow and the inimitable Penang laksa.

You’ll want to save some room for dessert and coffee. A period of gentrification has left George Town with a robust cafe culture that has seen trendy cafes sprouting up all over. Some recommended options are Chinahouse – the OG that started it all; Wheeler’s Cafe – located in the heart of backpacker district Lover’s Lane, and the industrial-chic Gudang Cafe – located right next to some of the city’s best street art. 

Besides street art and cafes, Penang also houses a number of Chinese temples, colonial-era bungalows and quirky themed museums to explore. 

The impressive architecture of the Kek Lok Si Temple renders it a top favourite for worshippers and visitors alike, while the Snake Temple – yes, with live snakes – offers up a decidedly more visceral experience. 

Continue having fun with the strange and kooky with a visit to the one-of-a-kind Penang Ghost Museum, or the interactive Upside Down Museum with its gravity-defying exhibits.

Penang also has a number of fine dining restaurants well worth a visit. Some popular choices include Indochinese kitchen Kabaya Dining Room, complete with traditional nonya decor; Restaurant Blanc Penang and its French haute cuisine, served within the stately Macalister Mansion; Suffolk House Restaurant, housed inside a 200-year old Anglo-Indian garden house cum arts and culture museum; and seaside bar and bistro Beach Blanket Babylon. 

Related to this topic: What to Look for in a Car Insurance When Driving to Malaysia


Day 2: Taiping, Kuala Lumpur

For Day 2, get up bright and early and head southwards to our next stop, the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. But before that, we’ll be making a half-day stopover at Taiping, which is about a 90-min drive away. 

Taiping is overshadowed by the other more touristy locales on the peninsula, which is a pity because this ex-mining town offers an arguably more authentic experience. And, it is also regarded as something of a gastronomic paradise in the region.

Head in to Taiping around brunch or lunch and make a beeline for the Larut Matang Food Court – which houses over 120 food stalls featuring classic Taiping meals. 

Or grab a table at Yut Sun Restaurant to sample their time-honed rendition of Hainanese Chicken Chop – breaded chicken thigh served with peas and potato wedges and topped off with its signature brown sauce. 

After lunch, cool off with sweet and icy cendol, made from palm sugar syrup, coconut milk, rice flour jelly and kidney beans, smothered over by shaved ice. Two of the most famous stalls for this classic dessert are Bismillah Cendol and Ansari Famous Cendol – conveniently located near each other!

If you have time, go for a quick stroll through the iconic Lake Gardens, a former mining site lovingly transformed into a man-made lake and public garden during the British colonial era. Then, hop back into your rental car for a leisurely 3-hour drive to Kuala Lumpur proper. 

You should be pulling into the capital city right around dinnertime. After checking in to your hotel and a quick freshening up, head out for dinner. 

You’ll be spoilt for choice with fine dining establishments from around the world, to popular international franchises, cosy bars and izakayas, lively night markets, coffee shops and hawker centres. 

If you’re unsure, try heading to Alor Street for some yummy street grub and local favourites – consumed al fresco right on the sidewalk.

Related to this topic: Driving to Malaysia in 2023: The Ultimate One-Stop Guide

 

SingSaver's Exclusive MSIG TravelEasy Insurance Promotion: Get up to 40% off and receive up to $40 Grab Voucher when you buy NOW! Valid till 31 March 2024. Also receive an Apple AirTag (worth S$45) with no minimum premium. Valid till 10 March 2024.

 

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SingSaver's Exclusive MSIG TravelEasy Insurance Promotion: Get up to 40% off and receive up to $40 Grab Voucher when you buy NOW! Valid till 31 March 2024. Also receive an Apple AirTag (worth S$45) with no minimum premium. Valid till 10 March 2024.

 

MSIG TravelEasy has been enhanced to provide better travel protection with over 50 benefits and COVID-19 coverage.

 


Day 3: Kuala Lumpur 

Kuala Lumpur is undeniably a shopper’s paradise, and there are more than enough choices for die-hard shopaholics to shop the day away. 

Bukit Bintang is the premier hotspot for glitzy high-street shopping, being home to Pavilion Shopping Mall, The Starhill and Suria KLCC and Berjaya Times Square. 

There are other options in the area too. Berjaya Times Square offers a more mass market, family-oriented shopping and dining experience. Low Yat Plaza offers IT products and electronics gadgets, while over at Sungei Wang Plaza – the city’s oldest shopping centre – you can find everything from furniture to food to fashion.

Another option is Mid-valley in Bangsar. Here, you’ll find the sprawling Mid-valley Megamall and some 400-odd shops to browse – including a massive pet shop featuring some exotic species. The nearby The Gardens Mall provides some upmarket options for a change of pace. 

If shopping isn’t your thing, head out to the Batu Caves to explore its colourful steps and ancient temples housed in natural limestone caves. While you’re in the area, pop by the nearby 99 Wonderland Park for its petting zoo, lifelike dinosaur sculptures and brilliant LED installations. The park only opens after 5pm though so you’ll want to time your visit accordingly.

Related to this topic: 6 Ways To Maximise Your Credit Card Perks and Travel in Style


Day 4: Malacca

Pack up and say goodbye to KL as we’ll be heading over to Malacca. 

The drive will take you around 2.5 to 3 hours, so if you head out after breakfast, you’ll arrive in Malacca just in time for lunch. Alternatively, you can choose to sleep in and grab a bite along the way. 

In any case, you should be arriving in Malacca in the afternoon. Spend the day exploring and taking photos of the city’s historical architecture – which you’ll find aplenty, thanks to its colourful past involving several colonial powers. 

Notable landmarks include Dutch Square (or Red Square), the iconic district where you can find famed colonial structures like the Stadthuys, Christ Church, and the Queen Victoria Fountain – all painted in that signature bordeaux red. 

Other intriguing historic buildings include the Melaka Chinese Mosque – a Muslim mosque festooned with classic Chinese temple architecture; St Paul’s Church – the oldest church in Southeast Asia; and AFamosa – the remains of a Dutch-era fort. 

Besides its rich history and culture, Malacca also offers a variety of other intriguing experiences. 

 

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SingSaver's Exclusive MSIG TravelEasy Insurance Promotion: Get up to 40% off and receive up to $40 Grab Voucher when you buy NOW! Valid till 31 March 2024. Also receive an Apple AirTag (worth S$45) with no minimum premium. Valid till 10 March 2024.

 

MSIG TravelEasy has been enhanced to provide better travel protection with over 50 benefits and COVID-19 coverage.

 

Thrillseekers can head up The Shore Sky Tower to admire the city from glass-bottomed vantage points 43-storeys up; go flyboarding over the water and pretend to be Iron Man; or go swinging through the trees at Skytrex Adventure Park.

If you prefer to enjoy nature in a less hair-raising manner, you can try riding horses over sandy dunes or by the shoreline, or examine oceanic creatures up close at The Shore Oceanarium. 

The city is also known for its vibrant street culture, complete with creative street art and scrumptious local eats. One of the best places to experience both is Jonker Street, where you’ll find a heady mix of night markets, trendy cafes, colourful murals, local handicrafts, museums, temples and shops. 


Day 5: Johor Bahru/Singapore

We’ve come to the last day of our 5-day road trip in Malaysia, so pack up and drive southwards towards Singapore. But there’s one more stop to make before we go home.

From Malacca, drive on down to Johor Bahru – about 2.5 hours away – where you will handover your rental car. That’s the farthest you can go, as you will not be allowed to return your rental in Singapore.

Take the chance to do some last minute shopping or fill up on your favourite Malaysian eats. Then when you’re ready, head over to Larkin Terminal to catch a cross-border taxi back to Singapore.

 

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An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

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