Road trips are a great way that Malaysians can tour our beloved nation. Plus with the weakening of the Ringgit, we will definitely feel the pinch if we were to travel overseas. Driving around some of our scenic local spots is certainly more cost-friendly than flying half way across the world and also cures a sense of wanderlust.
Here are 7 must-have Malaysian road trips for thrifty travellers who do not want to skimp on the experience. Each destination is known for their food, culture, sights and sounds, which are impossible to list here, but you’re welcome—because with this list, you now have a place to start!
1. Kuala Lumpur – Kampar – Ipoh – Taiping
Kampar is a quiet town known for its rich tin reserves. The food that are a must-try while making your stopover here is the famous Kampar Chee Cheong Fun from Restaurant Wing Lok Yuen, and the economical array of food from Medan Selera Kampar.
You can also spend some time to visit the place which houses the history of Kampar and that is none other than Kinta Tin Mining Museum. Best of all, a trip to the museum is free of charge and also provides visitors with a colourful background about tin mining.
After that stop in Kampar, you can drive on ahead to Ipoh where the famous Canning Garden Chee Cheong Fun resides at Ipoh Central Cafe. Some of the other must-try meals at Ipoh are the nasi lemak from Medan Selera Stadium Ipoh, and Nasi Vanggey from Restaurant Nasi Vanggey. If it’s a hot sunny day, you will definitely need to try the ais kepal, a yummy flavoured ball of ice at Bits and Bobs in Kong Heng Square.
Kellie’s Castle and Gua Tempurung also make great stops, be it for photo ops or to test your adrenaline.
Next in Taiping, you should try a bowl of cendol from Ansari Famous Cendol and special rice noodles in Restaurant Kakak.
Taiping is also known as a place that’s suited for families, especially with the Taiping Lake Gardens being located here. There is also the Taiping Night Safari which provides educational value and fun whilst mingling with wildlife. Perfect way to end the day.
Distance travelled: Approx. 205km.
2. Kuala Lumpur – Bukit Tinggi – Fraser’s Hill
If you want a road trip that travels up to higher altitudes, then this is the one for you. First stop is Bukit Tinggi, where Colmar Tropicale is located. Colmar Tropicale is a French styled area with several hotels, restaurants and shops. The backdrop of the French village makes a beautiful backdrop for photos. There is also a Japanese village with a botanic garden and a rabbit park.
Moving upwards to Fraser’s Hill, there will be more nature-based activities such as archery and horse-riding in The Paddock. There are also several trails to explore by foot, like the Bishop Trail, Hemmant Trail, and Jeriau Waterfall.
Distance travelled: Approx. 144km
3. Alor Setar – George Town – Batu Ferringhi
Penang is popular for their famous hawker food. Remember to sample some char kuey teow (notable ones are in Khoon Hiang Cafe, Lorong Selamat, Mei Le Hwa, and Kimberley Street), Penang cendol (famous ones are in Lebuh Keng Kwee, and Macalister Lane), and asam laksa from Air Itam Market Food Court.
Other local favourites are the apom manis at Kedai Kopi New Cathay, nasi kandar at Nasi Kandar Beratur (yes, many people do queue here for their food), and pasembur, a Malaysian-Indian salad like a rojak that can be found at Hussain Pasembur and Gerai No. 9 at Gurney Drive.
For a walk through history, you can visit the Camera Museum in George Town. And for those who are more adventurous, there’s Escape Adventureplay, an outdoor adventure park that has various physical challenges of different difficulties to suit everyone.
To enjoy the sea breeze and ocean views, next stop would be Batu Ferringhi. Here you can take a stroll by the beach or through the night market which is popular for street food. Everyone here typically speaks in Hokkien, so if you’re about to order something, just remember the key word, “kam sia” which stands for thank you, and it would bring you a long way.
Distance travelled: Approx. 134 km.
4. Seremban – Malacca – Johor
Malacca is perhaps one of the most historically intact locations in Malaysia and this is why tourists flock to this history-rich place. You can also opt to put your swim suit on and head over to the A’ Famosa Water Theme Park, it is after all the cheaper option in comparison to other water parks such as Sunway Lagoon.
Malaccans would be the first to recommend their mouthwatering delicacies inclusive of the seafood from the Portuguese Settlement Malacca restaurant and the Klebang Coconut Shake. Other meals to sample would be the wide array of food from Jonker 88, and cheese naan from Pak Putra Tandoori and Naan Restaurant.
Johor Bahru is an ideal location for travellers who are looking to enjoy some theme park adventure such as Legoland, Hello Kitty Land, Little Big Club and Angry Birds Activity Park. Instead of spending the money to travel to overseas attractions such as Disneyland, these local attractions are good alternatives.
Those who prefer to take a more scenic route can opt to tour around the heritage district which comes to life with its rustic old shop houses. On the other hand, The Hutan Bandar Recreational Park and Pulai Waterfall will be a treat to nature lovers.
Some of the must-try food while at JB is the signature paper wrapped chicken at Restaurant Teck Sing and the sup tulang at Restaurant ZZ Sup Tulang. Both these places won’t break the bank but they will certainly pack a punch of flavour.
Distance travelled: 293 km.
5. Kuala Lumpur – Sekinchan – Kuala Selangor
Mention scenic paddy fields and Sekinchan would probably pop into Malaysians’ minds. Many have dropped by Sekinchan to host their bridal shoots and there is a good reason for that. Vast open spaces dotted with bright green paddy makes for a photoshoot one would definitely remember.
Life here is slow paced so pay a visit to the Fisherman’s Wharf. For meals, seafood is the delicacy to sample here and Cha Po Tion Restaurant is one of the more well known ones.
When one is at Kuala Selangor, fireflies are the experience not to be forgotten, and this can easily be done at Firefly Park Resort. Other than that, tourists can also visit Bukit Melawati to enjoy the view amidst a bunch of friendly monkeys.
Some of the must-try meals at Kuala Selangor are the famous Aroma Ikan Bakar and Cendol Bakar Kuala Selangor. It’s clear that grilled is the way to go at Kuala Selangor, but for those looking for a lighter meal, they can try sampling the seafood from Restaurant Makanan Laut Bagan.
Distance travelled: Approx. 68 km.
6. Sibu – Bintulu – Miri
Bintulu is where nature comes to vivid life and locals have sites like Similajau National Park, Tanjung Batu Beach and Taman Tumbina, which are home to plenty of reptiles. Whilst in Bintulu, one must try out the belachan, a spicy shrimp paste and cincaluk (shrimp that has been fermented).
The reason shrimp seems to be a local staple here is because fishing is one of their main activities, which anglers at heart can participate in at fishing spots like Sungai Sebiew.
Miri is where some of East Malaysia’s gems can be found. There’s a myriad of national parks to view from Gunung Mulu National Park and Niah National Park to the indescribable beauty that is Loagan Bunut National Park. For beach goers, there is also the Tusan Cliff Beach.
Whilst at Miri, don’t forget to sample the north Indian food at Khan’s Taj Restaurant, and the lalapan (raw vegetable dish) from Restaurant Muara Lalapan.
Distance travelled: Approx. 414 km
7. Kota Kinabalu – Kundasang – Ranau
Kundasang is akin to Malaysia’s version of New Zealand. Cows graze in the fields against a blue sky backdrop and it tends to get rather chilly here as well, so it’s best to pack along a sweater.
At Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, dairy products such as yogurt and ice cream are their bestsellers. Alternatively, there are plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits being sold by the side of the highway by local farmers, for those looking to grab some road trip snacks.
At Ranau, some of the things to do are to visit the UNESCO world heritage site of Kinabalu Park which is worth the hike for its spellbinding glimpse of Mount Kinabalu itself. Other attractions are the Poring Hot Spring and the Sungai Moroli Fish Massage at Kampung Luanti Baru.
For meals, some of Ranau’s best places to grab a bite are right at Sabah Tea Garden’s restaurant itself which serves meals specially prepared with tea, and that is an experience like no other!
Distance travelled: Approx. 129km
Travelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures and road trips are one way that we can kill two birds with one stone, for they are more cost effective and they also help friends and families bond together over the long hours spent on the road.
However, the most important aspect is always to prioritise safety on the road. The last thing you’d want for your road trip is a car that breaks down or that doesn’t have enough leg room (which is horrible if you’re travelling with a group of family or friends). So keep this in mind as you plan for your travels—you’ll need to have a vehicle that is safe, spacious, fuel-efficient, and high in performance. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to have one that looks stylish too.
The Honda City is a vehicle which gets points for being all of the above and is an ideal choice for road trip junkies. We all know that when it comes to road trips, other than food expenses, another hefty expense would be the cost of fuel. With the Honda City ECON mode, drivers can enjoy smooth driving with improved fuel efficiency. Now that’s a way to add more kilometres into your drive and lower the total expenditure.
After all, if you’re looking to go long distance, it is wise to choose a vehicle that can keep up with you.