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Malaysia forum

SE Asia Trip in 2018...Help with Malaysia

Posted by Chadster152 on 16/9/2016 at 22:16

Hey there! I'm planning a long trip (4-5 months) to Southeast Asia starting in 2018 with a friend of mine. We're planning on flying out of San Francisco, CA, and traveling to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, then flying back to SF. I'm currently mapping out a route and I'm having some trouble with Malaysia. So far I have a plan of us coming up from Singapore to Johor Bahru, then to Malacca (Malaka?), then to Seremban, then to Kuala Lumpur...and that's where the indecision starts. Should we head to the East coast from KL and see the Cameron Highlands and Perhentian Islands (and what else?) or should we stick to the West coast and see Penang and Langkawi (and what else?)?

Thanks in advance!


#1 Chadster152 has been a member since 14/9/2016. Posts: 3

Posted by Bridgequeen on 16/9/2016 at 22:42

Personally I really liked Penang, was not so keen on Melacca, thought a couple of days was enough and I love Langkawi . I would also recommend including Borneo.

My itinerary was: Kuching, (Nice sleepy town and side trips to national park and orang utans, Sandakan for Kitibanga River for 2 nights - nice experience - I booked this through the hostel I stayed in in Sandakan in advance, (Harbourside Backpackers) and they were brilliant with the arrangements and it transpired that I paid less than other people there, then Penang, Melacca and through KL (did not stop there ) for Langkawi. I am not into hiking but I know people who also rave about Kota Kinabulu. All these places are featured on this site. As for Langkawi I stay in Pentai Tengah/Cenang. I know a number of people who have been and stayed at resorts elsewhere who are not keen on the place - horses for courses I guess. I flew between everywhere with Air Asia, dirt cheap if you book in advance.

#2 Bridgequeen has been a member since 29/7/2013. Location: Earth. Posts: 55

Posted by antoniamitchell on 17/9/2016 at 02:55

Hi Chad.

The big question is what time of year you're going. Peninsular Malaysia (as well as Thailand) gets monsoon on east and west coasts at different times of year. If you're in the monsoon time for the East coast, you might find the perenthians a bit of a damp squib, plus issues with the ferry due to rough seas.

Your two options both include one beach resort island and one other place - those other places (penang and Cameron highlands) are very different, so based upon your research, you may decide one sounds more "you" than the other.

You could, of course, do both (assuming you have time without overloading your itenerary). I took the ferry from langkawi to Penang (only a couple of hours), and then a bus from there to Cameron highlands (about 6 hrs if memory serves).

Have a great trip

#3 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 566

Posted by gecktrek on 17/9/2016 at 03:40

hey, while the perhentians is a stunning place, my understanding is the ferries/hotels stop/close between the end of oct and feb...

#4 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 171

Posted by Chadster152 on 17/9/2016 at 06:08

@antoniamitchell -

The time frame is still up in the air, as I want to try to go for the best all around weather for the entirety of the trip. I do realize however that with 6 countries over 4-5 months, I wont be able to avoid bad weather entirely. What 5 month period would you recommend for the best weather for the countries listed?


#5 Chadster152 has been a member since 14/9/2016. Posts: 3

Posted by Chadster152 on 17/9/2016 at 06:21

@Bridgequeen -

I decided we should skip Borneo for budget and time constraints. It is a place I definitely want to go, but the amount of time for how I want to experience it just wont fit into this trip.

#6 Chadster152 has been a member since 14/9/2016. Posts: 3

Posted by antoniamitchell on 17/9/2016 at 16:57

Hi Chad,

There's no one "best" time, unfortunately, because the different areas of the different countries all have different weather patterns.

* As discussed, the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia gets monsoon from Nov to Feb (so not the best time if you want to visit the Perenthians!) but the west coast gets more rain in the summer and early Autumn, especially September and October (so not the best time for a beach holiday in Langkawi, either).

* The most reliable months for weather across much of the region (for Cambodia and Thailand - except the East Coast of the Peninsular) is normally winter, but that's also the busiest time with foreign tourists, meaning more crowds and higher prices.

* Meanwhile Southern Vietnam is also nice in winter, but Northern Vietnam will be very cold (so would require a completely different wardrobe).

* And Indonesia has completely different weather patterns to the other places you listed (and different weather patterns for the different islands, so the best time for Bali is not the best time for Sumatra).

So it's always a compromise - there's no one right answer!

Your best bet is to do some research on general weather patterns, then decide what's the best compromise that suits you, keeping in mind what you like to do (are you a beach bum or more of a city type? Do you want to do a lot of activities that are weather dependent, like watersports and hiking, or are you willing to accept more rain to get less crowds? etc.).

Click on each country at the top of this website, and you'll see a link to weather, which will give an overview of what to expect at different times of the year for that country.

That said, don't get too hung up on weather. You won't be able to have perfect weather the entire trip, but that doesn't really matter. The temples, the night markets, the smells and sights in general - they're all still there in the rain.

Good luck!

#7 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 566

Posted by OutdoorWanderer on 22/10/2016 at 09:56


Time and cash constraints should not force you to skip Borneo. It's only a two hour flight from the Peninsula and AirAsia sells the tickets for USD 30-40, round trip. You'll spend that much taking a bus up from Singapore. Kuching, Mulu, and Kota Kinabalu are all worth visiting. It's truly the best part of Malaysia.

If you are forced to stay on the Peninsula, aim for Penang. It's a nice walkable city, but also has a beachy-side and national park. Buses and trains go there on a regular schedule.

Johor Bahru, Melaka , and Seremban are more in the skip pile. Melaka sounds amazing in guidebooks, but most folks find that they are bored after 2-3 hours. The night market is decent, but you can find better in Malaysia. It's really kitschy, cheesy and over-touristy. The "historic" part of town is a giant red church and a few rocks behind traffic cones. The trishaws are decorated with Tweety and Bugs Bunny and blare hip hop.

Tioman, Perehentians, and Redang are nice in the right season (March to Oct), but are worth skipping Nov-Feb. They close the ferries, so many days, you can't even get there. This side of Malaysia is also harder to get to, unless you are going to rent a car.

KL is a good jumping off point due to the cheap flights. However, it's an hour into the city from the airport and the train or a taxi will cost you. Use Uber, if you come to the city. You can certainly find good food in the city, but it you are looking for tourist attractions or sights to see, there really isn't much to recommend. It's a functional city and not a bad spot to live, but we always take visitors out of town.

Good luck!

#8 OutdoorWanderer has been a member since 22/10/2016. Posts: 2

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