Are you looking for a Malaysia short getaway?
One of the best perks of living in Malaysia is the insane amount of public holidays on offer (like who’s complaining!). Here’s a handy list of long weekends for you to plan your next city escape.
WWB Writer Suraj, shares best Malaysia short getaways below:
- Janda Baik
- Kuala Sepetang
- Batang Kali
- Hulu Langat
- Pulau Carey
- Bukit Tinggi
- Kuala Kubu Bharu
- Fraser’s Hill
- Genting Highlands
- Taman Negara
- Belum Rainforest
- Pulau Langkawi
- Pulau Kapas
- Pulau Tioman
- Pulau Perhentian
- Pulau Redang
- Kuala Selangor
- Ulu Yam, Batang Kali
- Pulau Carey
If you’re planning to visit Malaysia soon and have a couple of days free in your itinerary, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to Malaysia’s best short getaways.
I’ve picked 3 of my favorite short getaways in Malaysia and went into additional detail.
If you’d like to know more about them or the rest of these relaxing getaways, drop me a message in the comments below.
Some of the links on here are affiliate links, and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. I hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.
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What Is A Malaysia Short Getaway?
I’m thinking trips of about two to three nights tops.
If it’s more than a 2-hour drive, there’s probably a more convenient bus or flight you can take. The whole idea is spending less time getting there and more time THERE, relaxing and being one with nature.
So if it’s a short weekend getaway in Malaysia you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
Where Is Malaysia And Why Choose Short Getaways In Malaysia?
Well, if you’re not living in Malaysia already, what’s your excuse?
It’s the place to be if you’re looking for good food, great sights, and better vibes outside the hustle and bustle of city life. If you’re looking for a short escape in Malaysia, you’ve come to the right place.
Yoo, hoo! Quick question. Do you want to maximise your trip and eat at all the good places? Sounds like you need to plan ahead O_O
But planning for a trip takes AGES! How an earth are you going to remember everything and organise it all? You just want to focus on eating all good food and admiring the sights on your short getaway in Malaysia, amirite?
OK – problem solved with this super super savvy Essential Travel Planner. There is an accomodation detail and research sheet, best places to stay, eat ,see, what to pack and outfit and activities checklists .. just to name a few!
1. Janda Baik
Probably the most popular Malaysia short getaway from Kuala Lumpur in recent times, Janda Baik has it all. Whether it’s a relaxing couple of days or a fun-filled weekend packed with activities, this little town on the foothills of Genting Highlands has something for everyone.
Quite oddly-named Janda Baik, which loosely translates to ‘Good Divorcee/Widow,’ this little village was given its name by The Sultan of Pahang in the 1930s.
He was apparently taken by the story of a divorced wife of the village chief. She initially left the village but later returned, much to the surprise and pleasure of the village folk.
It is a popular garden wedding destination and great for team-building retreats. It has also upped its game recently with quite a few chic and trendy spots to cater to the younger crowd. So if it’s ‘one for the gram’ you’re after, head down to Janda Baik this weekend.
The best way to get to this Malaysia short getaway is to drive.
What To Do?
- Sungai Benus – A mainstay on any trip to Janda Baik. This gorgeous river with crystal clear water is perfect for a nice cooling dip or a picnic by its banks. Riverside gazebos are available for rental at RM20 (USD5)/day. Campsites are available per slot at RM50 (USD12).
To get a real feel of the village and all its glory, check out the Janda Baik Discovery Walk around the river area.
- Hiking – A popular trek is the Ulu Tampit or Lata Tampit waterfalls. Guided tours are available and cost RM70-RM120 (USD18-USD30) per person, depending on the size of your group. Some packages include waterfall abseiling as well.
It takes about 40 minutes to reach the 7-tier waterfall at the summit.
Do note that bookings ahead of time are required as you will need a permit from the local forestry department for this hike.
Gear up with Columbia Womens Newton Ridge Hiking Boots for long treks and hikes
Paintball – If you have the squad down with you, this will make for the perfect short weekend getaway in Malaysia. Two courses are available, one for beginners and another ‘jungle-warfare’ themed course, ideal for elite paintballers. The team at S.W.A.T is experienced and welcoming, with several packages on offer.
Best Malaysia short getaway for those who want a bit of action!
- Fig Farm – Visit Fig Malaysia, a 1.2Ha farm close to Pulau Santap and home to the region’s largest fig production. With an estimated output of 40kg a day, this farm has more than 300 species of figs.
Tours are available on weekends, and the gift shop offers fig-based products, including juice, jam, and even coffee. Delicious and juicy fresh figs are up for grabs, as well as tiny fig trees.
A healthy Malaysia short getaway eh?
What To Eat?
- The Pineyard – A charming pinewood cabin amid tall pine trees, lush greenery, and a clear pond. If that isn’t reason enough to visit, the food isn’t all that bad either. Try their all-day breakfast specials and their delightful dessert options. The homemade rum and raisin ice cream is the pick of the bunch.
- A Little Farm on the Hill – If you’re looking for a truly memorable dining experience, then look no further. With an exquisite farm-to-table concept menu, you will be blown away by the delicate flavors and textures of organic produce grown all around you as you dine in.
If organic farming and sustainable living is your thing, do check out their exciting workshops and classes. Also popular for events and group retreats. All reservations require booking in advance, and there’s a pretty long waiting list.
- Lemang To’Ki – Enjoy lemang and rendang guilt-free all year round (and not just during Hari Raya/ Eid) at this lovely little roadside stall.
Even though it’s often frequented by royalty, celebrities and can be quite packed on weekends, the quality of food remains top-notch, as is the service. It is reasonably priced too.
The favourites here include Lemang, glutinous rice, and coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaves and stuffed into bamboo poles. These are then charred over an open charcoal and wood flame until it’s all soft and smoky. The flavour combination is immense—a must-try when in Malaysia.
It pairs perfectly with rendang, a traditional Malay preparation of meat or chicken that’s simply sublime. Other dishes on offer include traditionally roasted chicken and duck and a freshwater fish called patin cooked in a rather unique way using Tempoyak, or fermented durian.
On your Malaysia short getaway, you will never go hungry!
- Garden View Restaurant – Enjoying your food with a view seems to be a common theme when dining here in Janda Baik. Their specials include steamed freshwater prawns, ginger chicken noodles, and homemade tofu.
Enjoy fresh vegetables and fruit from their very own farms, with bananas, their signature mountain ginger, leafy greens, and even durians on sale.
Where To Stay?
- Chengal Hill Retreat – This lovely kampung-style retreat offers the calm and serenity that anyone living in the city would crave, perfect for a short getaway from Kuala Lumpur.
The rooms on offer include a dormitory-type room that can accommodate up to nine people. Also, a water chalet, two riverside chalets, and three units of the crowd-favourite,
Apachi (pictured below), dome-shaped units on stilts.
The Apachi units cost RM250 (USD62) a night.
Enjoy the simple pleasures of village life and the great outdoors while chilling at the pavilion overlooking the fish pond. Paddleboard or swim in the natural pool, go cycling or even try your hand at archery.
- Embun Luxury Villas – The name says it all. If you’re looking for a luxurious Malaysia short getaway, you’ve found the right place. Ideal for a private or family celebration, these villas offer you the best amenities, service, and food money can buy.
With room rates starting from RM989 (USD247) a night, get ready to be pampered and waited-on like royalty.
The perfect Malaysia short getaway for those who want a bit of luxury!
- Happi Village – Built with a whole lot of passion and purpose, you can see how much thought went into the design and ethos of this lovely secluded oasis. Like many others in the area, sustainable living and care for the environment are taken quite seriously here.
A perfect place to unwind and disconnect, the slow Wi-Fi is a plus in this regard. Be sure to pack your insect-repellent and trekking shoes as you wouldn’t want to miss out on their beautiful surroundings.
Visit the fig and passionfruit farms or the nearby waterfalls. Rooms from RM350 (USD88) a night on weekdays.
Another favorite among city folk when it comes to an ideal Malaysia short getaway. 100km north of Klang Valley, this tiny fishing village was previously known for its paddy fields and fresh seafood.
It awoke from slumber after its beaches were featured in a popular Hong Kong TVB drama, Outbound Love (单恋双城) recently.
A famous treehouse that was featured in the drama made the news when it recently burnt down.
As pretty and picturesque as it is, most KL-ites that make the trip usually don’t spend the night. It could be considered a decent weekend getaway in Malaysia, but most tourists make it a day trip.
If you plan on visiting nearby Kuala Selangor and the Sky Mirror (which I recommend), then do spend the night.
Ideally, drive. It takes about an hour and a half. A taxi to Sekinchan could cost up to RM200 (USD50) depending on where in KL you’re travelling from. Driving is once again recommended as public transport, and e-hailing rides aren’t as reliable in small towns like these.
If you insist on public transport, there are buses from Pudu Sentral in KL to Sabak Bernam that stop in Sekinchan.
What To Do?
Paddy Fields – Hailed as the ‘Rice Bowl of Selangor,’ you’ll find that the paddy fields are indeed the main attraction here. Get your cameras and phones out for some of the best shots of lush green fields with a clear blue sky as a backdrop.
If you plan to visit in the evening, the sun colors the field gold. This is the perfect Malaysia short getaway if you need some good pics for the gram’!
Before you head off on your Malaysia short getaway in Sekinchan , do take note of the annual paddy plantation schedule before planning your trip to Sekinchan.
- Redang Beach – Conveniently located close to the famous seafood restaurants in Bagan, this secluded beach is perfect for a post-meal stroll.
Don’t forget to stop by the Sekinchan Wishing Tree. Make a wish (and a donation) at the nearby temple, and you’ll get a red ribbon attached to a coin. Throw your coin as high up as possible as legend has it; the higher it goes, the better the chances of your wish coming true.
Most importantly, keep your wish a secret on this Malaysia short getaway trip.
- Sky Mirror – If you’re spending the night in Sekinchan, be sure to wake up early the next morning and drive about half an hour to Kuala Selangor. Here, join one of the tours (which you’d need to have booked well in advance).
You will need a guide to take you out on a boat to this hidden island (Sasaran beach) that is completely submerged during low tide. This creates the amazing illusion that is, the Sky Mirror.
Tours are open only twice a month, during the full moon and the new moon when the tides are low.
See the sky meet the sea at Sasaran beach, located 1.74 nautical miles off the coast in the Straits of Malacca. Get your cameras ready for a thrilling photoshoot. Be sure to wear bright colors for best results.
Tickets for an adult Malaysian citizen cost RM80 (USD20) and RM60 (USD15) for children.
What To Eat?
- Kim Kee Restaurant – While you’ll find many similar seafood restaurants on the same street by the Sekinchan river, this truly stands out as one of the best. Ask for the specials and the catch of the day. Signature dishes include the Crab Vermicelli.
Sekinchan Cafe N16 – For a truly unique dining experience, check out this refurbished public bus with breathtaking views of the paddy fields. It offers light snacks and desserts, with coffee, soft drinks, and sake.
Seating is by booking only with a minimum spend of RM30 (USD7) for a table of 2. It is located next to the Padi Box Hotel Homestay.
You can take some really cool pics on your Malaysia short getaway in Sekinchan.
- Mango King – Cool down with a mango smoothie or shake after a hot day out and about. Juicy fresh mangoes blended with crushed ice, and a hint of sour plum most definitely hits the spot. They also sell fresh mangoes and guava along with other mango-inspired dishes like rojak and even laksa.
- Ninja Private Kitchen – If curated dining is your thing, you’re certainly in for a treat here. Frequented by local and foreign celebrities alike, they’ve also been featured in David Rocco’s Dolce South East Asia on the National Geographic Channel.
Famed photographer Zung Heng has opened up his home kitchen to guests yearning for authentic Teochew seafood dishes with recipes carried down from his forefathers.
For RM150 (USD37) per head, with a minimum seating of 6, you can always call ahead
and curate the menu to your taste. Signature dishes include the stuffed squid and steamed mantis prawns.
Where To Stay?
- Padi Box Hotel Homestay – A container converted into a hotel. Pretty sure whoever’s behind it has something to do with the bus sitting on a container just next door. Idyllic rooms with many gram-worthy spots and beautiful views of the surrounding paddy fields. Room rates from RM150 (USD37) a night.
- MyKampungBoy Homestay – A beautifully designed, village-themed 3-bedroom condominium, In house facilities include a swimming pool and gym. Close to all the main attractions with a very helpful and accommodating host.
- The One Boutique Hotel – A relatively new hotel with all the common amenities and services you can expect of a 3-star hotel. Conveniently located at the heart of Sekinchan town, just across the police station, close to the popular seafood restaurants. Room rates from RM100 (USD25) a night.
3. Kuala Sepetang
This last getaway on our list is probably a better short getaway near Penang rather than Kuala Lumpur. If you are planning a short vacation in Malaysia, however, this will suit you perfectly.
Previously known as Port Weld, this was the last stop of the Taiping-Port Weld railway line that opened in 1885, the first in Malaya.
All that remains now in the heart of the town is the old railway station sign. It’s written in English, Malay (in Jawi script), Tamil, and Mandarin, highlighting the presence of Malaysia’s cultural diversity for more than two centuries.
Set on the estuary of the Sepetang and the Sangga Besar rivers, get ready for a truly unique coastal retreat without spending any time at the beach. Intrigued much? Explore the mangrove ecosystem and get up close and personal with the local fishing community.
The local charcoal industry thrives on sustainable mangrove wood. On average, 1000 hectares of local mangroves are cut every year to produce coal, with an equal amount replanted in a cycle that takes 30 years.
The fastest way to Kuala Sepetang from KL or Penang is by car. From KL, it’s 300km northbound on the PLUS highway and will take three and a half hours. Probably not the best option if you’re looking for a short getaway near KL.
It is, however, just under 100km south of Penang and about an hour’s drive.
A train from KL Sentral to Taiping will cost RM48-62 (USD12-15). It takes three and a half hours.
What To Do?
- Boat tours – If it’s your first time here, this has to be on top of your to-do list when visiting Kuala Sepetang. While there are many tour operators, I would recommend Kuala Sepetang Eco-Tourism for their experienced and friendly guides.
Standard tours will cost around RM30 (USD7) per person for a boat of at least six people. It takes about a couple of hours to head out into the coastal mangrove areas, visit the floating fish farm and stop for a little eagle-watching.
Some tours include eagle-feeding, where your guide/boatman will fling pieces of chicken skin out into the sea for you to get the perfect shot of one of these majestic birds up close. It’s neither encouraged nor sustainable to the ecosystem, but it’s popular and should be acknowledged.
You’re free to customize your tour should you have enough in your group. Highly recommended is the sunrise tour for spotting dolphins. The coastal waters are home to Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins.
At dusk, take a boat out to see the fireflies. These luminous bugs call mangrove swamps their home, and this is one of the very few spots in the country you can view them in all their majesty. Another would be in Kuala Selangor (which I should’ve mentioned above. Oops!)
- Matang Mangrove Reserve – If you’re keen to know more about mangroves and don’t want to get your feet dirty, this is for you. Learn about the delicate ecosystem and how the people of Kuala Sepetang depend on it.
Popular for school field trips and as a short getaway in Malaysia for a family. There’s
nothing better than getting up close and personal when learning about nature.
Activities include a 1.5km tour of the swamps on a boardwalk, finding mangrove seedlings (Wellington boots provided), and planting seedlings. You can also visit the local charcoal factory to check out how mangrove wood is turned into coal. Entrance to the reserve costs RM15 (USD4).
- Sangga Island – take a 30-minute boat ride to Kuala Sangga, the main settlement on this remote island, known for being off the grid (literally) and with no running water. The picturesque village is solar-powered, and its villagers collect rainwater for daily use.
The locals, mostly Chinese fishermen, and merchants live rather prosperously over a
single row of houses along the coast. Visit the many temples and the much-revered St Anne’s Chapel that reminds tourists of the islanders’ once-strong Catholic roots.
Enjoy a beverage on the island’s only Kopitiam that offers drinks made from, you
guessed it, rainwater!
Where To Eat?
- Restoran Tepi Sungai – Enjoy fresh seafood with a view at this quaint restaurant. Located on the first floor of the docks, witness the spectacular sunset while feasting on the day’s catch. Favorites include the mantis prawn and the deep-fried mini crabs.
- Mee Udang Port Weld – Salleh – Prawn noodles cooked to perfection by Mr. Salleh and his family since 1956. The thick broth rich in flavor is only just outdone by the large and succulent prawns it comes with. A large bowl goes for RM20 (USD4) and is mighty satisfying.
- Ah Dai Curry Mee – On to more noodles. If it’s something a little spicier you’re craving, this will be perfect for a late lunch. Open only from 3 pm to 7 pm, this tiny, disheveled stall is conveniently located right across the street from the old Port Weld Railway signage.
Enjoy a bowl of noodles soaked in a creamy curry broth, topped with tofu puffs,
beansprouts, sliced fish cakes, and prawns. Also, check out their crispy fried prawn
Where To Stay?
- Happy 8 Retreat – A relatively new and artsy boutique hotel with well-decorated interiors and conveniently located in the town center. The restaurant on the first floor serves halal seafood dishes and is fairly popular. You won’t miss the building. It has a huge eagle head built into its facade.
- KS Homestay – A delightful tiny apartment with a spectacular view overlooking the estuary. Experience local hospitality at its best, perfect for any Malaysia short getaway. Room rates are fromRM110 (USD27) per night.
- Sepetang Inn – For an affordable stay with a local touch, check this inn out. It’s located next to a swiftlet house, so you’ll have to make do with the sound. Most patrons, however, find that it adds to the charm—room rates from RM100 (USD25) per night.
4. Batang Kali
Well known as a transit point on the way to Genting Highlands, this little town on the outskirts of KL has a lot to offer for the keen traveler. About an hour’s drive away, it is also reachable via train. Alight at Batang Kali on the KTM Komuter from KL Sentral. One-way tickets cost RM13 (USD3).
Visit the beautiful and peaceful Sakya Monastery and Siamese Temple or pack a picnic basket, and head to the Batang Kali Waterfalls. If you’re looking for a rather unique off-road experience, check out 4×4 Ulu Tamu Off-Road Adventure.
Orchid lovers, be sure to visit the country’s largest orchid farm at The World of Phalaenopsis.
Try out the local delicacy, Loh Mee, a Hokkien noodle-dish in a thick, starchy gravy, best enjoyed with pickled chilies. Though you’ll find many restaurants in the town serving it, check out Shang Kee Restaurant for authentic flavours.
5. Hulu Langat
A mere 33km away from KL city, this is probably the most convenient short Malaysian weekend getaway. Tropical orchards, exciting hiking trails, and even a glamping park; this quaint little town in the suburbs has much more than meets the eye.
Visit the Lepoh Waterfalls, known for its smooth rock formations that serve as a natural slide into the lagoons below.
End your day with a hearty meal at Teratak Ikan Bakar Sri Murni, where baked freshwater fish of any kind is the pick of the menu.
If Thai food is what you fancy, check out Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant that has you sitting in little huts on a lake while your food arrives by boat.
Spend the night at Hammocks by the River, a fun and chic glamping spot popular with city folk.
6. Pulau Carey
This ‘island’ located just south of Port Klang is a little over an hour’s drive from the heart of KL.
It’s separated from the mainland by a short bridge across the River Langat.
Your first stop awaits you as soon as you cross the bridge; Kang Guan Seafood Restaurant offers local favorites fresh from the sea. Try the meehoon (vermicelli) with lala (clams), stir-fried ginger crabs, or the deep-fried prawns.
You could even bring along your fishing rod and have a go by the river while waiting for your lunch.
The island is home to an aboriginal tribe known as Mah Meri. Visit the Mah Meri Cultural Village, which charges an entrance fee starting from RM20 (USD5). Take a tour of the village or the nearby palm oil plantations. Be sure to check out their unique wood carvings, especially the face masks.
On your way back, visit the nearby Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple, a beautiful Chinese Buddhist temple with a large and peaceful complex. It comprises the main shrine that houses a giant Buddha statue, a teahouse, a calligraphy hall, an art gallery, and a vegetarian restaurant.
7. Bukit Tinggi
Inspired by the town of the same name in Alsace, France, Colmar Tropicale is undoubtedly a sight to behold. Set in the Berjaya Hills at about 2700ft above sea-level, this quaint French village will take you on a journey back in time (and halfway around the world). Enjoy the cool crisp air with delightful pastries from La Boulangerie.
Teleport (or you could take the shuttle bus) to the nearby Japanese village and rent a Kimono. Visit the Japanese Tea House for a course on ancient Japanese tea preparation techniques.
Animal lovers, be sure to check out the nearby Rabbit Farm or go horseback riding at Horse Trail Rides. Adventure buffs can try out the longest Flying Fox zip line in South East Asia at over 1km at Colmar Adventure Park.
8. Kuala Kubu Bharu
Fondly known as KKB, this is a popular stopover on the way to Fraser’s Hill. The tiny town is about an hour away from KL by car, but you could also get there by train.
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, take a hike up to Bukit Kutu (Kutu Hill) and enjoy beautiful views from the top. Better yet, endure five river-crossings to chill at the Chilling Waterfalls. Also, visit the nearby fish sanctuary.
Don’t forget to pay Teng Wun Bakery and Confectionery a visit and grab a couple of their famous kaya (coconut jam) puffs.
If you’re planning to stay the night, check out Hotel Sahara for a budget stay with no frills.
You’ll find amazing views of the Selangor River Dam just outside the town, on your way to Fraser’s Hill.
9. Fraser’s Hill
Probably the prettiest and least developed of the hill stations in Malaysia, this tiny hamlet is perched at about 1500m above sea level and is an hour and a half away from KL.
The entire village is centered around a market square with a tiny clock tower, surrounded by quaint colonial-era cottages. Enjoy a walk around the town and get to know the history behind the buildings with the Fraser’s Hill Heritage Trail.
Take in a game of golf at the picturesque 9-hole Royal Fraser’s Hill Golf Club, one of the oldest courses in the country. Noobs like myself would prefer the carefree Pitch n Putt version or Mini Golf, which would cost you RM9 (USD2) per person for a half an hour game.
Famous among birdwatchers for its many interesting bird species, the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race involves participants racing to identify as many birds as they can within 24 hours.
Alternatively, hike up to the gorgeous Jeriau Waterfall. There’s a well-laid-out path, and you’ll reach the falls within minutes.
End your evening at Ye Old Smokehouse for a delicious spot of cream tea with scones and sandwiches.
10. Genting Highlands
Often regarded as the Las Vegas of Malaysia, this is the closest and most accessible Hill Resort to KL city. Less than an hour away up the windy roads, you could even jump into the famous cable car gondolas up to the summit. For an added thrill, take the glass-floored ones for RM21 (USD5) one way.
Though it’s famous for housing the only casino in the country, there’s much more to Gentings than the slots.
The outdoor theme park has been closed for renovation recently but is rumoured to open with rides and attractions that will rival Singapore’s Universal Studios and Tokyo Disneyland.
Be sure to stop by the Chin Swee Caves Temple. A large Taoist temple with one of the largest statues of Buddha around with hillside views unlike any you’ve ever seen.
The last thing you’d expect to come across in Malaysia is snow, but if you’re keen on sub-zero temperatures, check out Snow World for everything from toboggan slides to building your own snowmen. Tickets start at RM45 (USD9).
Finally, on your way back, a visit to the nearby Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is a must. You’re able to engage with orphaned, young elephants in their natural environment as they’re rehabilitated for release into the wild.
11. Taman Negara
Malaysia’s premier National Park. Kuala Tahan is the main entry point and serves as a base for the nearby canopy walkway, river trips, and treks through the jungle to the top of Mount Tahan, the tallest in Peninsula Malaysia.
The park is home to tigers, macaques, and birdlife, as well as the enormous rafflesia plant.
Caving enthusiasts can check out Gua Telinga for a half-day trip or Gua Kepayang Besar for a full day’s trek.
For a unique dining experience, check out Wan’s Floating Restaurant in Kuala Tahan for tasty local delights.
12. Belum Rainforest
The Belum Temenggor forest reserve is located in Perak and stretches into southern Thailand. It forms the last and largest contiguous block of natural forest in Peninsular Malaysia at over 300,000 hectares.
The tropical rainforest is thought to be more than 130 million years old, making it one of the world’s oldest rainforests. Tasik Temenggor is the vast lake located in the reserve and within it lie many small ‘islands, including Pulau Banding, home to the enchanting Belum Rainforest Resort.
Activities at the resort include bird watching (hornbills, to be precise), rafflesia spotting tours, hiking up to Sg Kooi Waterfalls, and fishing.
The ancient capital of Malay civilization, Malacca was a well-developed center of trade and shipping way before Kuala Lumpur was even inhabited. Founded around 1400 by Parameswara, an exiled Hindu Prince from nearby Sumatra, the tiny port city flourished as a Malay-Muslim sultanate for centuries.
Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial rule soon followed, along with settlements by Chinese, Arab and Indian merchants. Their influence is invariably evident in the local Peranakan culture, food, and architecture.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2008, Malacca has enjoyed an urban renaissance and status as one of Malaysia’s most alluring tourist destinations.
About 145km south of KL, it’s easily accessible by car via the PLUS highway. Buses are also available from the TBS station in KL for about RM10 (USD2.50) one way.
Start your day with a walking tour of the old city. Start at the beautiful flower-filled gardens and villas of the Portuguese quarter and make your way to the Chinese quarter’s bright and colorful buildings. Finish at the Stadhuys, the country’s oldest standing Dutch building, now converted into the Melaka History and Ethnography Museum.
Visit the Porta de Santiago, the sole surviving gateway to the once majestic A Famosa fort, built by the Portuguese in 1511.
Make your way to Christ Church on Jalan Gereja (Church Street). This bright red church with a white cross was built by the Dutch and houses handmade pews and decorative plaques dating back to the 16th century.
On the base of St Paul’s Hill, you’ll find the Melaka Sultanate Palace, a brilliantly constructed replica of Sultan Mansur Shah’s 15th-century palace. Expertly crafted using traditional techniques without nails and featuring a copper and zinc roof.
Every Friday and Saturday evening, make your way to the Jonker Street night market. You’ll find everything from souvenirs to delicious street food, with live music and pop-up bars throughout.
The food capital of Malaysia, the Pearl of the Orient, is Malaysia’s only Island state. About 360km north of KL, Penang is easily accessible by air.
The island’s capital city of Georgetown is home to amazing street art and the best street food in the country.
Take the train up to Penang Hill. You could hike it but won’t find a train ride like this anywhere else. A standard two-way ticket costs RM12 (USD 3) for locals. The summit offers spectacular views of the island.
Be sure to check out the Habitat Penang Hill while you’re up there. Get up close and personal with nature with the canopy walk, and do try out the zipline.
Other must-visit spots include:
You’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for good food on the island. My top picks include:
- Mee Goreng (fried noodles) at either Hameed Pata or Bangkok Lane. Do tell me which of the two you prefer.
- Char Kway Teow (wok-fried flat noodles) at either Siam Road or Presgrave Street Duck Egg CKT. I’m partial to the former. Wok Hei (charcoal fumes) all the way!
- Assam Laksa – (noodles in a rich, sour fish-based broth) at Ayer Itam
- Nasi Kandar (mixed rice with curries and veg) at Hameediyah.
Quite similar in style and vibe to Malacca, boutique hotels would be the way to go when spending the night in Penang. Top picks include:
15. Pulau Langkawi
We travel further north for our last stop on the west coast of the Peninsula. Langkawi is probably the best known and most developed of Malaysia’s island resorts.
With a multitude of luxury and budget accommodation as well as a top-notch International Airport, the duty-free island is a hub for local and international holidaymakers looking for the ultimate tropical beach getaway.
With loads to do and see, here are my must-dos when in Langkawi:
- Sky Bridge and Cable Car (SkyCab) – simply indescribable views from the top aboard the world’s steepest cable car. Tickets from RM33 (USD8).
- Cenang Beach – the most popular tourist beach strewn with beach bars, buskers, and the best food on the island.
- Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells) Waterfalls
- Sunset River Cruise
- Island Hopping – the pick of the lot would be Pulau Dayang Bunting (the island of the pregnant maiden). Make your way inland to a gorgeous fresh-water lagoon for a dip.
As mentioned above, the best food options on the island are found close to Cenang beach. The wide variety of delicious local and international cuisine is a testament to the tourists that visit from all over the world. My favorites include:
- India Palace – for outstanding North Indian cuisine.
- Haroo Haroo – for surprisingly authentic Korean food.
- Yellow Cafe – Cocktails by the jug and thin-crust pizzas with seating by the beach.
- Kak Yan Nasi Campur – A little further away in Ulu Melaka but most definitely worth the trip. The closest you’ll get to homemade Malay cuisine.
Get beach-ready with this Tankini Top with Shorts. It’s stretchy, comfortable and breathable
Luxury stays in Langkawi are aplenty. These are the finest all-inclusive resorts with private beaches on the island.
- The Danna
- The Datai
- The St Regis
- Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa – luxury digs on the main strip at Cenang Beach. The best of both worlds, perhaps.
- The Ritz-Carlton
The best budget stays include:
Langkawi is the perfect Malaysia short getaway for those who want a beach holiday, but don’t want to travel too far from KL.
This laid-back beach town on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia often doesn’t get the attention (and hoards of tourists) as its neighbouring beaches and islands. Best accessed from KL by flight to the nearby city of Kuantan.
Besides the obvious Cherating beach, which could very well be the only place you need to be during your visit, there are a few additional spots and attractions to check out:
- Cherating Turtle Sanctuary
- Cherating River Cruise
- Surfing & windsurfing at either Kamsurf or Cheratingpoint
The most popular hotel/resort in Cherating would have to be Club Med. With all-inclusive packages from RM1000 (USD250), this would be an Malaysia short getaway that is full of luxury.
Among the fun activities available include rock climbing, archery, tennis, trapeze classes, sailing, bocce ball, and excursions catered to your liking.
17. Pulau Kapas
This lovely drop of paradise in the South China Sea is accessed via speed boat from Marang jetty.
This is a Malaysia short getaway perfect for those craving the sand, sea and sun.
Fly or take a bus from KL to Kuala Terengganu and make your way to Marang via taxi. The speed boat takes about 15minutes to cover the 6km to get to the island and costs around RM40 (USD8) per person.
The best time to visit is from March to October. Try to avoid weekends or school holidays, and you’ll have the entire island to yourself. There are no ATMs on the island, so have some cash handy.
There isn’t a whole lot to do besides snorkeling, diving, and chilling by the beach. Totally my kind of getaway!
Rent a kayak for RM20 (USD5) an hour and make your way around the island and check out all its stunning beaches.
The snorkeling experience isn’t as commercialized as you’d see on other islands. Parrotfish (Nemo), rays, and even coral sharks approach the brightly colored coral reefs.
There aren’t many choices when it comes to accommodation. Kapas Beach Chalets are recommended, specifically KBC2, a more recently-built block with better rooms. Also, check out Qimi Chalet and Kappas Turtle Valley.
18. Pulau Tioman
Further south on the east coast, this duty-free island is located 32 nautical miles off the mainland. Connected through Mersing in Johor and Tanjung Gemuk in Pahang via ferry, Ferries from Mersing cost RM35 (USD 8) one way and take about 2 hours.
Tioman and its surroundings have been gazetted as a marine park and is popular for diving enthusiasts from around the world. Diving season is from March to June.
Besides diving, snorkeling, and probably some jungle trekking, there’s not a whole lot else to do. As booze is cheap, you’ll find a good number of tourists just chilling by the beach bars.
It’s a Malaysia short getaway for those who just want to chill.
There are four main areas or beaches on the island:
- Air Batang (ABC) in the North West of the island. You’ll find several cheap chalets with a few beach bars. Perfect for backpackers on a budget. Check out Restu Chalets if you plan to stay here.
- Salang – similar to ABC but without any bars. The Puteri Salang Inn is a popular choice.
- Tekek on the West coast is probably the main village in Tioman. It even has a tiny airport and the only ATM on the island. Cheers Chalet is recommended if you plan to stay here.
- Juara on the east coast is popular with couples and families. Hotels like Permata Beach Chalet and the Barat Tioman Beach Resort offer more luxurious rooms with a good variety of dining options and easy access to the stunning Juara beach.
The island is open all year round, unlike neighboring islands (like Perhentian) that close for the monsoon. This, of course, is perfect for surfers who flock to Juara beach for the best waves of the South China Sea,
19. Pulau Perhentian
Another gem on the east coast, make the Perhentian islands, Besar (large) and Kecil (small), your next Malaysia short getaway. The best time to visit would be in the dry months of March to September.
The easiest way to get there is by taking a flight out of KL to Kota Bharu and then a taxi to Kuala Besut jetty.
Alternatively, you could get a bus directly from KL to Kuala Besut that takes about 8 hours and costs RM35 (USD8). A return ferry ticket from Kuala Besut to the islands costs RM70 (USD 17).
Blessed with white sandy beaches and a clear, emerald coastline, there aren’t many island resorts on Earth that can match what Perhentian has to offer.
For the best diving spots and guides, choose either Panorama or Turtle Bay. PADI Scuba courses are available, as well as special trips out to famed diving spots like the Sugar wreck (wreckage of a cargo ship loaded with sugar that sank in 2000) and the Pasir Tani wreck (A US landing craft used for Vietnamese boat people which sank while being towed in 1976).
If diving isn’t your thing, a full-day snorkelling trip costs around RM50 (USD12) and is well worth it.
The popular beaches on Pulau Kecil are Long Beach, which is a haven for backpackers. Party it up here. It’s a lot quieter out at Coral Bay and Romantic beach.
Most beaches on Pulau Besar belong to resorts except Turtle Beach in the north, perfect for spotting sea turtles.
The best resorts in Pulau Perhentian Besar include:
This is a Malaysia short getaway for those who crave beach life.
The accommodation options on Pulau Perhentian Kecil are more suited to backpackers and young travelers with affordable hostels and chalets up for grabs. A lovely but slightly pricier option here would be Alunan Resort.
Do bear in mind that electricity is limited to the evening and early morning till around 8 am unless you’re at a resort. WiFi is limited to cafes and hotels. There are no ATMs on the island,
20. Pulau Redang
You’re spoiled for choice on the east coast when it comes to perfect beach getaways. Redang and its surrounding waters have been gazetted as a marine park since 1985 and boast some of the best-kept corals and marine wildlife in the country.
A haven for scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming. Every dive site on the island offers something different to see and experience
Getting your own Mask Fin Snorkel Set Gear will save you rental costs, and since it’s yours, you can use them anytime and every time.
Visit two historic shipwrecks, the H.M.S. Prince of Wales and the H.M.S Repulse were sunk at the beginning of World War II, prior to the Japanese occupation of Malaya.
Accommodation on the island is dominated by three resorts, the 2 Berjaya properties (Berjaya Redang Island Resort and Taaras Beach & Spa Resort) and Laguna Redang Island Resort. They offer full board packages, including flights (for Berjaya) and diving gear.
Access to both Berjaya resorts is by boat from the Shahbandar jetty that takes about 1½ hours or by flight via the chartered Berjaya Air from Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur or Seletar Airport in Singapore.
The Laguna resort is accessed via the Merang Jetty.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on Malaysia’s best short getaways. Which one’s your favourite? Did I miss any out?
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