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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 and varied historical heritage and sample some of the best 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 and Little India 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 – certainly one of the country’s best-kept secrets – and often considered by locals as the nation’s culinary capital. We’ll also check out the town’s fabulous, well-preserved architectural heritage and its famous street art, as well as some of the region’s spectacular cave temples. Last but not least we’ll visit Ipoh’s most iconic site – the unique Kellie’s Castle – a “Haunted Scottish castle in the Malaysian Jungle”!

After Ipoh, we head into the mountainous interior and on to the lush scenery, exotic flora and fauna and celebrated tea plantations, (and of course tea shops) of the delightful old hill-station, the Cameron Highlands, before returning overland to 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.

Malaysia

Itinerary

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

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Day 1 - Kuala Lumpur - arrival and tour by night

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

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

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Day 2 - Kuala Lumpur - City sights, Batu Caves, street food tour

Morning walking tour of some of the highly varied sites of the fascinating Malaysian capital including Little India and the fabulous Victorian-era architecture of Merdeka Square followed by a visit to the famous Batu Caves. An evening walking tour of Kampung Baru introduces you to the fantastic array of local street food on offer.

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

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Day 3 - On to World Heritage Malacca

Early morning departure for the old port of Melaka (former Malacca) with a traditional-style orientation tour by rickshaw. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town displays Portuguese, Dutch and British influences and we’ll allow you time to explore at your leisure before a late afternoon boat trip up the Malacca River to discover the old Malay district of Morton Village.

Overnight: Melaka Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, D, 

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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 to Penang Island and check in to our hotel in World Heritage George Town’s historic jetty district. Evening at leisure to perhaps check out the famous hawker street-food market?

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

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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 clan houses, colourful Little India and impressive British colonial-period architecture.  The afternoon is free to explore the fascinating and friendly town at your leisure and check out the local markets, museums or vibrant street-life.

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

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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. Guided evening visit to one of the town’s famous street markets to graze on the bewildering selection of offerings.

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

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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 bewildering array of local spices and herbs they grow followed by a hands-on Malay cookery lesson. Afternoon at leisure with options of being dropped at Batu Ferringhi for some beach time or a hike to unspoilt Pantai Aceh in nearby Penang National Park.

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

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Day 8 - Sam Poh Tong Temple and Ipoh Town

Morning drive to Ipoh. Originally founded on the back of its 19th-century tin mining industry today the town is renowned for its cuisine, its rich architectural heritage and, unusually, its spectacular street art!  The region is also famous for caves and after time for a wander, we’ll head out to Sam Poh Tong – one of the most spectacular and picturesque temple sites.

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

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

Walking tour to check out some of the street art as well as the town’s well-preserved Chinese architecture and impressive stock of colonial-period buildings. In the afternoon we’ll head out 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 gothic folly.

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

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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.

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

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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 as well as its rich and varied flora and fauna. Our day’s itinerary follows these threads with a morning boardwalk hike through a misty moss and orchid forest and an afternoon plantation visit. (Not forgetting the opportunity to sample Malay-style afternoon tea at one of the Highland’s famous tea shops.)

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

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Day 12 - Time Tunnel Museum and afternoon return to KL

Visit the impressive ‘Time Tunnel Museum’ which highlights different periods of Malaysia’s history and the different cultures that compose its ethnic mix including the region’s earliest inhabitants, the Orang Asli. From here we continue the short return drive to KL with some time to relax or perhaps some last-minute souvenir shopping before our evening farewell dinner.

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

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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

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)

  • 17 December 20 2,235 GBP
  • 14 January 21 1,985 GBP
  • 11 February 21 1,985 GBP
  • 11 March 21 1,945 GBP
  • 31 March 21 1,945 GBP
  • 29 April 21 1,945 GBP
  • 27 May 21 1,945 GBP
  • 24 June 21 1,945 GBP
  • 29 July 21 2,185 GBP
  • 26 August 21 1,945 GBP
  • 23 September 21 1,945 GBP
  • 21 October 21 1,945 GBP
  • 18 November 21 1,985 GBP
  • 22 December 21 2,235 GBP

Land Departures

  • 18 December 20 1,485 GBP
  • 15 January 21 1,435 GBP
  • 12 February 21 1,435 GBP
  • 12 March 21 1,395 GBP
  • 1 April 21 1,395 GBP
  • 30 April 21 1,395 GBP
  • 28 May 21 1,395 GBP
  • 25 June 21 1,395 GBP
  • 30 July 21 1,435 GBP
  • 27 August 21 1,395 GBP
  • 24 September 21 1,395 GBP
  • 22 October 21 1,395 GBP
  • 19 November 21 1,435 GBP
  • 23 December 21 1,485 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*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...

The Blanc Boutique Hotel, Malacca view

  • Located in the heart of UNESCO-listed Malacca's Chinatown
  • A small, cosy and low-key boutique-style hotel
  • A refurbished heritage building on Jonker Street

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

Bala’s Chalet, Cameron Highlands view

  • Mock Tudor-style inn - kind of Home Counties in the tropics
  • Converted, family-run former colonial-period boarding school
  • Great mountain views from their picturesque garden

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 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

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. 

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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