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The Malay Peninsula | Highlights of Malaysia

Discover the rich and varied heritage of the Malay Peninsula from the vibrant capital Kuala Lumpur and well-preserved World Heritage Sites of Penang and Melaka to the picturesque Cameron Highlands

A 2-week West Malaysia heritage tour

Experience Malaysia’s vibrant mix of cultures and spectacular scenery; discover its rich, diverse historical heritage and sample some of the most varied cuisine Southeast Asia has to offer, on our 13-day West Malaysia tour, The Malay Peninsula.

We’ll explore the capital Kuala Lumpur with its eclectic mix of ultra-modern and British Victorian-period architecture and the fascinating street life of Chinatown as well as visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Melaka (former Malacca) and George Town (capital of Penang Island). From there, we’ll head to Ipoh – considered by some to be one of the country’s ‘best-kept secrets’. We’ll check out some of the town’s well-preserved architectural heritage and its famous street art, as well as the region’s most spectacular cave temples, Sam Poh Tong. Last and, last but not least, we’ll visit Ipoh’s most iconic site – the extraordinary Kellie’s Castle – a haunted Scottish castle in the Malaysian jungle!

After Ipoh, we continue into the mountainous interior and on to the cool weather, lush scenery, exotic flora and fauna and celebrated tea plantations of the old hill station, Cameron Highlands, before returning overland to complete our Malaysia tour in Kuala Lumpur.

For anyone pushed for time a shorter, 8-day Kuala Lumpur to Penang version is available while a choice of island extensions is on offer for either tour. These reflect seasonal climatic variations from coast to coast meaning the spectacular tropical island of Langkawi is recommended from October through to March with the coral reef and turquoise water-fringed Perhentians being our suggestion for the March to September period. (Penang has an international airport, while the Perhentians are served by Kota Bharu Airport with regular connections for the short hop to KL.)

Our West Malaysia tour: a look at off-the-beaten-track and famous sites of this fascinating and surprisingly still little-known region.

Includes:Meals: B x 12, L x 2, D x 6

Note that further info, related articles and plenty more photos can be found at the Malay Peninsula page of our travel blog.

Malaysia

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

What to see and do in Kuala Lumpur

Day 1 - Kuala Lumpur - arrival and Chinatown walk

Arrival in KL and check-in to our hotel close to the capital’s bustling Chinatown. Some time to relax, recover from your jet lag or explore the area’s lively street markets before a late afternoon introductory Chinatown walking tour and a local-style welcome dinner.

Overnight: Kuala Lumpur Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

Chinatown street art

Day 2 - Kuala Lumpur - Batu Caves and city sights

Leaving the city centre we’ll travel by train to the northern edge of KL and the famous and highly revered Batu Caves. From here we return to the historic centre for a walking tour taking in the old central mosque and the fabulous Victorian-era architecture of Merdeka Square. An evening walking tour of Kampung Baru introduces you to some of the array of local street food on offer as well as providing some spectacular views of the city’s iconic Petronas Towers.

Overnight: Kuala Lumpur Transport: Train, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

Malacca back street

Day 3 - On to World Heritage Malacca

Early morning departure for the old port of Melaka (former Malacca) with an orientation tour of some of the town’s sights by traditional rickshaw. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town displays Portuguese, Dutch and British influences and we’ll allow you time in the late afternoon and evening to explore at your leisure.

Overnight: Melaka Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Malaysia, George Town Chinatown

Day 4 - North to Penang - A west coast train ride

Morning return to KL where we’ll catch the train north up the Peninsula to Butterworth. Late afternoon arrival, transfer by ferry to Penang Island and check in to our hotel in World Heritage George Town’s historic jetty district. Evening at leisure or an optional guided visit to the town’s famous New Lane street market to graze on the bewildering selection of offerings

Overnight: George Town Transport: Minibus, Train, Boat,  Meals: B, 

West Malaysia Tour

Day 5 - George Town - history and heritage walk

Penang’s capital George Town reveals a bewildering mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures; Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu religions. Our walking tour of this well-preserved town takes in exotic temples, Chinese architecture, colourful Little India and impressive British colonial-period buildings. The afternoon is free to explore the fascinating and friendly town at your leisure, check out the local markets or museums while an optional visit to the historic Cheong Fatt Tse ‘blue mansion’ can be arranged.

Overnight: George Town Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Penang Hill railway

Day 6 - Penang Hill - cable car up and hike down

Visit Penang Hill with its Victorian-era funicular railway, graceful villas and spectacular views and hike down the lush jungle-clad slopes to the island’s picturesque Botanical Gardens.

Overnight: George Town Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk,  Meals: B, 

The Malay Peninsula

Day 7 - George Town - spice garden tour and cookery class

A culinary morning with a visit to the lush Tropical Spice Garden for a guided tour of the garden’s large variety of local spices and herbs followed by a hands-on Malay cookery lesson. Short afternoon hike to unspoilt Monkey Beach in nearby Penang National Park

Overnight: George Town Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

West Malaysia tour

Day 8 - Sam Poh Tong Temple and Ipoh Town

Late morning drive to Ipoh with a stop at Sam Poh Tong – the area’s most spectacular and picturesque temple sites. Originally founded on the back of its 19th-century tin mining industry today the town is renowned for its cuisine, rich architectural heritage and street art.

Overnight: Ipoh Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

The Malay Peninisula, Malaysia tour

Day 9 - Ipoh, walking tour and Kellie's Castle

Head out to what is perhaps Ipoh’s most iconic site – Kellie’s Castle. Begun a century ago by a Scottish plantation owner, he died before work could be completed and is today thought by locals to haunt the corridors and towers of his unfinished, extraordinary gothic folly. A stop on the way back to town affords a look at the unusual Kinglong Valley limestone rock formations as well as its famous coffee shop. Afternoon walking tour to check out some of Ipoh’s street art as well as the town’s well-preserved Chinese architecture and colonial-period buildings.

Overnight: Ipoh Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Limestone cave formations

Day 10 - Tempurung Cave and on to the Cameron Highlands

Leaving Ipoh our first stop will be the impressive limestone cave system of Tempurung where pathways have been constructed inside the main cavern allowing us to appreciate the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. From here we continue onwards and upwards to today’s destination, the former hill station of the Cameron Highlands. Late afternoon orientation tour of the town followed by a chance to sample the town’s culinary speciality – a ‘steamboat’ dinner.

Overnight: Cameron Highlands Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

The Malay Peninsula, Cameron Highlands

Day 11 - The Cameron Highlands

The site was chosen by the British due to its cool mountain climate and today the area is best known for its extensive tea plantations and strawberry farms as well as its rich and varied flora and fauna. Our day’s itinerary follows these threads with a morning forest hike up Coral Hill followed by a tea plantation visit with an optional Malay-style afternoon tea. In the afternoon we’ll continue to the unusual and highly eclectic Time Tunnel Museum which highlights different periods of the region’s history.

Overnight: Cameron Highlands Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

What to see and do in Kuala Lumpur

Day 12 - Return to KL

Return drive to KL with some time in the afternoon to relax or perhaps do some last-minute souvenir shopping in Chinatown before our evening farewell dinner.

Overnight: Kuala Lumpur Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, D, 

Malaysia Family Tour

Day 13 - Kuala Lumpur and departure

Our tour finishes at check-out time with a transfer at your leisure to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. If you have any days to spare then we can drop you at the domestic terminal for a flight to either Langkawi, (Oct to March) or Kota Bharu for the Perhentian Islands (March to Sept.) for some quality island and beach time.

Airport transfers are included for those booking the flight option

Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Malaysia, monitor lizard

Just a few of the many highlights

Culturally rich and amazingly diverse with Indian, Chinese and Malay influences plus Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial heritage. Equally rich in flora and fauna and home to some of the planet's oldest rainforest.

  • Vibrant KL; the street-life of colourful Chinatown, classic Victorian architecture and the iconic, ultra-modern Petronas Towers
  • Explore World Heritage George Town; British colonial heritage, Little India and Chinese clan houses
  • The serene and scenic old hill-station, Cameron Highlands with it's fantastic flora and fauna, tea plantations and stunning landscapes
  • Visit the historic old Portuguese and Dutch port, and now UNESCO-listed, of Melaka (former Malacca)
  • Penang Island where we'll ride the famous cable car, hike through dense rainforest and visit the lush botanical gardens
  • Sample the local delicacies and street food of what is undoubtedly Southeast Asia's most varied and richest cuisine

Air Departures (UK) *From

  • 22 June 24 2,225 GBP
  • 21 July 24 2,225 GBP
  • 24 August 24 2,225 GBP
  • 21 September 24 2,225 GBP
  • 19 October 24 2,275 GBP
  • 23 November 24 2,275 GBP
  • 14 December 24 2,375 GBP
  • 11 January 25 2,325 GBP
  • 8 February 25 2,325 GBP
  • 8 March 25 2,325 GBP
  • 29 March 25 2,325 GBP

Land Departures

  • 23 June 24 1,725 GBP
  • 22 July 24 1,725 GBP
  • 25 August 24 1,725 GBP
  • 22 September 24 1,725 GBP
  • 20 October 24 1,775 GBP
  • 24 November 24 1,775 GBP
  • 15 December 24 1,775 GBP
  • 12 January 25 1,825 GBP
  • 9 February 25 1,825 GBP
  • 9 March 25 1,825 GBP
  • 30 March 25 1,825 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*As fares are fluctuating wildly at present all ‘with flight’ prices are approximate.

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Kuala Lumpur.

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Tiang Jing Kuala Lumpur

Tiang Jing Kuala Lumpur view

  • Lovingly-designed, boutique-style, heritage hotel
  • Great location in the heart of KL's Chinatown
  • In-house cafe/coffee shop and restaurant
Rosa Malacca

Rosa Malacca view

  • Carefully-designed and decorated boutique-style hotel
  • Well appointed rooms and particularly helpful staff
  • Quiet location a short walk from the historic centre
Royale Chulan Penang

Royale Chulan, Penang view

  • Great location in the heart of World Heritage George Town
  • Well-appointed with in-house bar, restaurant, spa and pool
  • Comfy 4* rooms with modern amenties and heritage-style decor
M Boutique Ipoh

M Boutique Ipoh view

  • Carefully-designed and decorated boutique-style hotel
  • Friendly helpful staff
  • Connecting cafe/coffee shop/restaurant
Malaysia, Frangipani, Langkawi

The Frangipani Langkawi view

  • Beach-front setting in a quiet and secluded bay
  • Facilities include a spa, 3 pools and beach bar and grill
  • Genuine eco-friendly and responsible tourism practices
Perhentian Island Resort

Perhentian Island Resort view

  • Individual chalets in a tropical garden
  • Beachfront location on scenic Coral Bay
  • Jungle hiking and reef snorkelling from the resort

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Please note that the Malaysian government has seen fit to introduce a Malaysia Digital Arrival Card, (MDAC), system as of 1st January 2024. This form needs to be submitted online at least 3 days prior to arrival. (We would expect a few possible teething problems so we’d say it’s best to save proof of submission such as a photo or screenshot of the submitted form just in case.)

We apologise for the inconvenience incurred but will bite our tongues and refrain from further comment.

Finally, also note that you may come across references to a daily ‘tourism tax’ of 10 RM, payable by visitors to Malaysia, but this has already been included in the cost of your tour and will be paid by your tour leader.

Visas: No visa in advance is required. A free 60-day visa is issued on arrival at any international airport. As usual, a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of arrival and at least 1 blank page in your passport is required.

The standard arrival and exit point for this tour is Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Meals: Breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Your tour leader will usually order a selection of dishes, local-style, while a number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.

With its kaleidoscopic population, Malaysian cuisine is one of the most varied and richest anywhere on the planet and includes all the various, regional Indian and Chinese dishes, the unique Chinese/Malay Nonya cuisine as well as traditional Malay food alongside Thai and Indonesian influences. Dishes are generally mild with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on offer.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination. 

Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any, including trekking, can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested. 

Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog.

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