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10 Picturesque Road Trips In Malaysia For The Perfect Weekend Escape

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Aishah  •  Apr 07, 2018

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[Updated 14 December 2020] One of the best ways to see what a country has to offer is by going on a road trip and the same can be said of this beloved country of ours - Malaysia! It's a great opportunity for some bonding time with your precious ones and we're sure that the time you spend on the road is sure to create a lasting memory ☺️ Read on as we present a list of weekend road trips to satiate that burning wanderlust of yours without the need to travel far and away! Note: Our list predominantly consists of road trip routes that start from KL, but we've also included some that start from other cities like Ipoh, Penang and Kota Bharu. If you're looking for something more than a weekend trip, you can also add on any of these routes if you're coming from KL! Do note that the driving time indicated denotes the time taken to drive the direct route from the start destination to the end destination, but if you're making pit stops along the way to explore some of the attractions we've highlighted below, do allocate for extra time 🙂 From KL
1. Kuala Lumpur - Seremban - Melaka (3 hours 45 minutes)
 The first rule of thumb when it comes to a road trip is to ditch the highway. So take the road less travel along the Peninsular coastline for a few memorable pit stops as you journey to Melaka. First agenda of the trip is to have Negeri Sembilan's delicacies of lemak cili padi and gulai tempoyak for lunch at Seremban. Most Malay eateries at Seremban will have these dishes (and other scrumptious local eats) though, if you're looking for recommendations, try Leha World or Restoran Selera Nogori. From Seremban, continue towards Port Dickson instead of taking the highway. You will be pleasantly greeted by the gorgeous sea view as you wind your way down to Melaka. And if you're in no hurry, hit the break at any part of the beach and just enjoy nature's offerings! Steeped in history at every corner of the town, Melaka has aplenty historical attractions - the A'Famosa Fort, the Stadhuys, St Paul's Church, and the many, many museums across the city. And of course, no Malaysian town is complete without its own must-try food and delicacies and our Melaka food guide is here to help!  There's so much to do and eat in Melaka that we recommend spending your weekend here! And we've got you all covered for that adventure with this itinerary. You can also check out our best list of things to do in Melaka to help you get started.
2. Kuala Lumpur - Cameron Highlands (3 hours)
Looking for an escape somewhere in the highlands? Then make your way to the popular Cameron Highlands in Pahang for a cool getaway. Along the way, make a pit-stop at the bustling Tapah rest area along the highway. Browse the large varieties of fruit that are often sold here, depending on the season, from guava and jambu air (rose apple) to rambutan, mangosteen and more. Once you reach Cameron Highlands, bask in the cooler air as you visit its many popular attractions.  Visit the Boh Tea Plantation for a fantastic view of the rolling hills while you sip on a cup of tea. Stop by one of several strawberry farms to pick and eat the delicious fruit, or go to the Cameron Lavender Garden to see the beautiful purple flowers or even indulge in some lavender desserts. Staying overnight in Cameron Highlands? Check out this list of scenic accommodations in Cameron Highlands for the perfect stay!
3. Kuala Lumpur - Temerloh - Kuantan (3 hours 15 minutes)
 It's time to head east to the beach town of Kuantan, a popular getaway spot for families, friends and couples alike. Only about a 3-hour drive, it makes perfect sense to stop by Temerloh (the town right at the centre of Peninsular Malaysia!) along the way. Here, you can indulge in one of their famous culinary offerings - tempoyak ikan patin! Head to Kancil Raja Patin for a taste of the deliciously fatty patin fish (often dubbed the local version of salmon) cooked in a spicy gravy made with fermented durian. Once in Kuantan, take it easy as you relax in this capital city of Pahang. Stroll along the popular Teluk Cempedak beach and bask in the atmosphere, or stop buy one of the many keropok lekor-producing stalls by the roadside to buy freshly-made keropok to bring home. For those looking for some other scenic nature spots, head to Sungai Pandan Waterfalls (also called Panching Waterfalls) to take a cool dip in the waters.
4. Kuala Lumpur - Bukit Tinggi (1 hour)
 For a brief respite away from the hustle and bustle of city life, head to Bukit Tinggi - a picturesque hidden gem tucked away high up in the Pahang mountains. Along the way, make a stop at the small peaceful village known as Janda Baik. It is another famous getaway from the big city, where you can indulge in a riverside picnic amidst the soothing sounds of rushing water and tranquil greenery 😌  Once you've arrived at Bukit Tinggi, we recommend visiting the Japanese Village first as it closes in the evening at 5pm. Take a stroll around the scenic garden and have a taste of Japanese culture by donning a kimono and participating in a Japanese tea ceremony!  No trip to Bukit Tinggi is complete without a visit to Colmar Tropicale - a French-themed town inspired by the real-life French village of Colmar in Alsace, France. This gorgeous town is full of instagram-worthy shots so get that camera ready! You can also opt to spend the night at one of the many lodgings here. If you do choose to stay the night, spend a bit of time at Fraser's Hill the next day on your way back to KL. This quaint town retains its old-world charm from the colonial era with its English-styled bungalows and landscape akin to the English countryside. One of the must-take picture spots is the iconic clock tower! If you have more time to spare and are feeling up for an adventure, explore one of the many nature paths at the Hill such as the Pine Tree Trail and the Bishop Trail 😎 
5. Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Selangor - Sekinchan (1 hour 45 minutes)
Many will head to Sekinchan directly from KL but why not take a short breather at the small historic town of Kuala Selangor first? Take the tram or walk up Bukit Melawati, and be greeted by the lovely panoramic view of the Selangor coastline. A fort back in the late 18th and 19th century due to its high altitude, a few remnants of the past can be found around the hill such as fort walls, palace ground, a lighthouse and cannons. Visit the small yet informative (and free!) museum there to learn more about its history! If you come in the late afternoon, you can catch the sunset with some of the famous furry residents of Melawati Hill - monkeys! You can also choose to drive for 15 minutes and go firefly-watching at Kampung Kuantan before continuing on your journey to Sekinchan, which is an hour's drive from there.  Once you've arrived at Sekinchan, there are many options of attractions you can choose from! We personally enjoyed the 3D Art Gallery and Pantai Redang ☺️ But you can also choose to visit a Paddy Processing factory and the fishing village of Sungai Burong. Spend a night at Sekinchan while you're here! I would personally recommend Padi Box as you can wake up to a magnificent view of expansive green paddy fields against the beautiful blue sky. A treat to the eyes and for the heart, ride a bicycle around the area and take a few snapshots and selfies with the paddy fields.
6. Kuala Lumpur - Teluk Intan - Ipoh (3 hours 45 minutes)
As you make your way to Ipoh, take the Sungkai exit for a quick pit stop at Teluk Intan - a quiet town with a few charms of its own! The Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan is a must-visit here. With a long history dated back to the 19th century, it was once a Japanese watchtower during World War 2 which then turned into a water storage structure before being deemed unusable due to the slight tilting from the water pressure. Now it has been transformed into a tourist attraction!  Go for lunch at one of the local's favourites such as Nasi Kandar Krishnan or M. Gulam Rasul for a plate of Nasi Kandar. Once you're done, it's full speed ahead to the town of Ipoh! Ipoh is now a famous weekend getaway spot, and rightly so. With its seamless blend of cultures and history, charming townscape, and laid-back vibe - it is an ideal destination for a short getaway 😍  There is a little bit of everything for every type of traveller here in Ipoh. A history-buff? Then Concubine Lane, Birch Memorial Tower and Kellie's Castle are among the places to go. For fans of art, look out for the many street arts scattered around town. If it is an adventure you seek, then head on over to Gunung Lang and Tempurung Cave for that much-needed adrenaline rush!   As for you foodies, fret not for we've listed out all the best and must-go eateries in Ipoh just for you right here! So eat to your heart's (and tummy) content with all these local delights!
7. KL - Johor Bahru (4 hours)
 For a road trip that is more family and kids-friendly, head south to JB! A fun-filled and awesome adventure awaits you and your little ones at Legoland, Malaysia's first international theme park. Go on Lego-themed rides, have fun with the many interactive games, and get wet and dirty at their water park. Spend a night there so you can have even more awesome family time at  the Angry Birds Activity Park nearby 🤗  You can easily make pit-stops along the way in Seremban and Melaka en route to Johor (see the point above!), but if you want to head straight to Johor, that'll leave you more time to explore the offerings in some of Johor's notable towns. Stop by Muar to have some yummy Mee Bandung, or head to Batu Pahat to browse for ceramics. Stop by Johor Premium Outlets for a spot of shopping before heading into Johor Bahru town! Continue the fun even after the sun sets by visiting Danga Bay! This waterfront not only boasts a lovely sea view but also features an outdoor theme park. Rides include a merry-go-round, spinning teacups, and bumper cars. If you're still not sure what to do, just check out our many JB articles to help you have a perfect getaway 😉 From Ipoh
8. Ipoh - Taiping - Penang (3 hours 30 minutes)
 If you're headed to Penang from Ipoh, there are quite a number of scenic stops you can make. The first is Kuala Kangsar. Kuala Kangsar is called the royal town of Perak (as the state's royal seat is located here) and befitting of its title, palaces are some of its main attractions! Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of Istana Kenangan and be in awe of the palace-turned-museum Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery. Continuing up north, Taiping plays host to the sublime and gorgeous Lake Gardens, the first public garden in then-Malaya. Built on top of an abandoned tin mine, the lush greenery combined with the languid vibe known to Taiping is sure to soothe both body and soul 😌  While you're there, don't miss out on Taiping's famous treat - cendol!  Some claim that Ansari Cendol is the best in town while others argue that Bismillah Cendol is better. Our solution? Try both and judge it for yourself 😜 Our last pit stop before heading straight to Penang is the coastal town of Kuala Sepetang. Take a nature walk at Matang Mangrove Forest, say hello to the 131 years old Port Weld Train Station Sign, visit the Khay Hor Charcoal Factory, and most importantly, have a taste of Kuala Sepetang's yummy offering - prawn noodles!    A strong presence of cultures and traditions can be seen in every nook of this town, in particular at Georgetown Old Town. Penang also boasts a world-class street art scene and is home to many beautiful parks such as the Penang Botanic Gardens, Penang National Park and Penang Avatar Secret Garden! No trip to Penang is complete without sampling their many scrumptious delicacies - it is, after all, Malaysia's unofficial food capital! Curry mee, nasi kandar, mee sotong, char kuey teow, Penang assam laksa, the list goes on and on. There's so many but we've rounded up the best for you right here. From Penang
9. Penang - Alor Setar - Perlis (2 hours 30 minutes)
image The drive to Perlis is definitely not a dull one, especially when you can pause for a breather or two at the state capital of Kedah, Alor Setar! Known as the Rice Bowl of Malaysia, the scenic view of golden paddy fields will frame this road trip of yours 😍 Check out how rice is made and processed at the Paddy Museum, do your prayer at the wondrous Zahir Mosque (pictured above), and learn about Kedah royalties at Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Gallery! For lunch, try laksa utara (the Northern version of laksa) at Laksa Ikan Sekoq . Pair it with a bowl of cooling cendol pulut, another specialty of the eatery! Contrary to what you might expect, Perlis has lots to offer especially if you're a nature enthusiast. Wonders of nature in the likes of caves and forest abound. Do some cave exploration at Kelam Cave or Wang Burma Cave, and bask in the glory of nature at Perlis State Park! From Kota Bharu
10. Kota Bharu - Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terengganu (3 hours 55 minutes)
A living heritage of Malaysia, Kota Bharu (or fondly refer to as KB by the locals) is a good base for exploring Kelantan. Amongst the main reasons people flock to KB are for their rich and colourful culture, superb local cuisine, and the friendly vibe of a small yet lively town! Here, Siti Khadijah Market is a must go. With plenty of items for sale from clothes to food to everything in between, you'll be spoilt for choice. This is also a food haven spot if you're searching for cheap eats such as nasi dagang, nasi kerabu, and laksa 😋  Instead of using the expressway as you journey to Terengganu, use Jalan Pantai for a more scenic ride of the Peninsular coastline. If you have ample time, head to Tasik Kenyir - the largest manmade lake in Southeast Asia. Take a break here and enjoy the gorgeous panorama ☺️ If you have time, stay overnight - you can even rent a houseboat that sails along the lake!   Once you've arrived at Kuala Terengganu, take the chance to perform your prayer at the majestic Crystal Mosque - a floating mosque made of steel, glass and crystal! Then you're off to exploring all that Kuala Terengganu has to offer - the Islamic Heritage Park, Batu Buruk beach, Terengganu State Museum, Bukit Puteri and Dungun Night Market.  Don't leave this town without having a meal of Terengganu's famous delicacy - nasi dagang. A much-loved breakfast dish among the locals, it is sold pretty much in every eatery. We personally recommend Sudut Selera Kak Pah or Nasi Dagang Kak Jah for an authentic taste of this dish 😋 Road trips may take a longer time for us to get to our destination but it's so much for fun and eye-opening! Besides, as the saying goes, it is the journey - not the destination that matters 😎