From the buzzing metropolitan capital of Kuala Lumpur, through the jungle treks of Borneo, to the pristine beaches of Langkawi, Malaysia will draw you in with its diversity. Several months wouldn’t be enough to see it all, but with this seven-day itinerary you can at least get a taste of the many sides of Malaysia to whet your appetite.

Malaysia Itinerary Summary

This itinerary is designed to take in the different sides of Malaysia, discovering the history and culture of this enthralling nation with time to relax on the beach.

Begin your trip to Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, the lively capital city. Then travel to the west coast islands of Penang and Langkawi, for the old-world charm of George Town and the stretches of sandy beach near the resort town of Pantai Cenang.

What Our Week In Malaysia Looks Like

  • Kuala Lumpur – 2 days
  • Penang – 2 days
  • Langkawi – 2 days
  • Kuala Lumpur – 1 day

Why This Itinerary?

  • You’ll get a taste of Malaysia’s street-food scene in Kuala Lumpur and George Town.
  • There’s in-built downtime on the beaches of Langkawi.
  • Choose between fast, cheap flights to destinations or scenic train journeys.
  • Return to Kuala Lumpur before your flight home to hit the bargain shopping malls.

Place #1: Kuala Lumpur

Most international flights land in Kuala Lumpur, and this is normally the first stop for travellers.

The Malaysian capital is a thriving hub of bars, restaurants and street food stalls. There’s enough to do in Kuala Lumpur to keep you busy for the entire week, but you can cover the unmissable sights in two days.

What To Do In Kuala Lumpur

Stroll through the serene KLCC Park at the foot of the Petronas Towers. Make your way up to the 88th floor of the towers, once the tallest buildings in the world, for panoramic views of the capital.

For a taste of the local food scene, head to Jalan Alor. Also known as Satay Street, this road is lined with street food stalls billowing steam and serving satay straight from the grill. End the night on Changkat, a street lined with cocktail bars and pubs.

Just 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station, the Batu Caves are the perfect day trip from Kuala Lumpur. These ancient caves attract devotees from across the world. Inside, you’ll find a 100-year-old temple decorated with statues and idols.

Where To Stay In Kuala Lumpur

The shopping district of Bukit Bintang is the perfect choice to stay in the capital. Shopping, nightlife and some of Malaysia’s finest street food are all within walking distance. Boutique hotels, brand name hotels and serviced apartments provide a wealth of choice. Lanson Place Bukit Celon Serviced Apartments are a great choice in the area.

Rooms at Lanson Place Bukit Celon Serviced Apartments start from US$70 and can be booked through Agoda.

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How To Get To Kuala Lumpur: International flights land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Air Asia and other budget airlines land at the LCCT, a bus ride from the city centre.
How Long To Stay: You could spend anything up to a week in this thriving city, but 2 days is perfect to recover from jetlag and see the major sights.
How To Get Around: The RapidKL Monorail links major districts like KL Central and Bukit Bintang. There are also taxis and Uber for late-night lifts.

Place #2: George Town, Penang

George Town is Malaysia’s second largest city and is UNESCO-protected. Wooden shop fronts and narrow streets give the centre an old-world feel.

What To Do In George Town

Refresh yourself with a coffee from one of the many artisan cafés, like Space Bar Coffee in the historic centre. Caffeine is an art form in this city. Re-fueled, wander streets filled with age-old shophouses, temples and mosques.

For some authentic Penang fare, head to New Lane Hawker Centre for dinner, where the full array of the island’s street food is on offer from hawker stalls.

Discover the flora and fauna of the island with a trip to Penang Hill. Take the Penang Hill Railway from the foot of the hill and you’ll be rewarded with fresh air and views all the way to Langkawi on a clear day. Or, hike from the entrance to Penang Botanic Gardens.

Where To Stay In George Town

Hidden behind the shop fronts of the old quarter is a wide variety of boutique hotels and guesthouses. Most have an on-site coffee shop to wake you up in the morning. Rooms at Spices Hotel come with wooden shutters, canopy beds and whispers of times gone by.

Book at Spices Hotel from US$60 through Agoda.

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How To Get To George Town: Trains run from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth, connecting with frequent ferries to George Town. The entire journey takes around 5 hours. Air Asia offers short, budget flights between Kuala Lumpur and Penang Airport, which is a 30-minute taxi ride from George Town.
How Long To Stay: 2-3 days is ideal to experience the George Town vibe.
How To Get Around: There is a bus network connecting most of George Town. A government effort has been made to make the streets bike-friendly, and renting a bike can be an enjoyable way to experience the city. Uber and Grab both operate across George Town.

Place #3: Langkawi

Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands, and the perfect introduction to Malaysia’s pristine beaches. Home to rich rainforest and calm, clear shores, take a breather at the end of your Malaysia trip on Langkawi’s main island.

What To Do On Langkawi

Chill out on Pantai Tengah, an idyllic sweep of sand lapped by crystal shallows. Those craving an adrenaline rush can spend time jet-skiing or parasailing. 

As the sun sets over the ocean, rippling the sea pink and orange, the bars and restaurants in the buzzing town of Pantai Cenang spark to life. Sip cocktails at D’Reef at The Cliff for the best sunset views over the water.

Discover Langkawi’s wild side with a trip into the jungle. Many tour companies offer organised jungle treks from Pantai Cenang, where you can spot geckos, monkeys and monitor lizards, and swim in natural swimming pools.

Where To Stay On Langkawi

The thriving beach town of Pantai Cenang is the perfect base to experience Langkawi. Beach bars and restaurants line the sand, and during the day there’s a laid-back vibe. There are plenty of resort hotels to choose from, for all budgets. Telaga Terrace Boutique Resort has excellent value rooms and is within easy walking distance of the beach.

Book rooms at Telaga Terrace Boutique Resort from US$65 through Agoda

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How To Get To Langkawi: A ferry runs between Penang and Langkawi, taking 10 hours. A 35-minute Air Asia flight between Penang Airport and Langkawi Airport is the easiest option.
How Long To Stay: Beach bums could spend an entire week lounging on the white sands of Langkawi. Staying for 2-3 days is the perfect breather before heading back to the bustle of the capital.
How To Get Around: Buses travel the length and breadth of the island if you want to hop between towns and beaches. Local taxis and Uber are also available.

Place #4: Kuala Lumpur

It’s best to head back to Kuala Lumpur a day before your long-haul flight departs.

If your flight home is early in the morning, save time and hassle by staying in a hotel near the airport. There are budget options with swimming pools and rooftop bars to while away the hours before your flight home.

Throw yourself into the hustle and bustle of Bukit Bintang, the major shopping district in Kuala Lumpur. The streets are packed with shopping malls selling everything from bikinis to bumbags, and you can stock up on souvenirs before heading home.

What If I Have More Time?

Consider heading up north to the Perhentian Islands, where world-class scuba diving and stunning beaches await.

Or spend some time in the Cameron Highlands, trekking through tea plantations and staying in an eco-lodge.

Final Tips Before Going To Malaysia

  • Pack light, especially if you are using budget airlines to hop between destinations. A week of travelling should only require hand-luggage, saving you time and money when it comes to flights.
  • Insect repellent is essential, especially if you are kayaking through the mangrove swamps or trekking through the jungle on Langkawi.
  • Avoid the west coast of Malaysia in March and April, when the westerly monsoon season hits.