3 Weeks in Malaysia Itinerary

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Malaysia is one of my favourite destinations in Southeast Asia. Compared to its neighbouring countries, Malaysia is less crowded and offers very different features. In this country, you will be stunned by the massive skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur.

Then you can also hike the highlands of Cameron, where the weather is simply fantastic. Lastly, there are many areas where you can enjoy the beach.

3 weeks in Malaysia is plenty of time. Since so many domestic flights and buses will connect the popular destinations to one another, you don’t have to waste too much time transporting from place to place. Malaysians also speak incredible English. Hence, communicating with the locals will not be a problem.

In this itinerary for Malaysia, I will show you how you can spend 20 days here covering popular destinations without making your itinerary too busy. You will have plenty of time to explore each location and visit many must-see attractions in Malaysia.

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THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO MALAYSIA

4 images - Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves' Stairs, Langkawi Skybridge, and Perhentian Island shoreline - 3 weeks in Malaysia itinerary

Before we dive into the day-to-day things to do, let’s first discuss basic things you should remember before booking your flight. If it’s your first time here, these travel tips will help you prepare and learn about your next holiday destination.

When is the best time to go to

Malaysia’s seasons can vary depending on the region. The West Coast and East Coast have different dry and wet seasons, not to mention the Borneo region of Malaysia (Sabah). The best time time to visit Malaysia depends on where you want to go.

For example, the best time to travel the West Coast is from December to March, and the East Coast is from April to October.

I personally went all over mainland Malaysia from June to July, and the weather couldn’t have been better. I also went during the month of April, only in Kuala Lumpur. It was a little cloudy, but no rain.

To avoid the crowd, go to Malaysia from the end of January until the middle of March. Although Malaysia’s population of 60% is practising Islam, the Christmas season is still one of the busiest times of the year.

First, due to its excellent weather but also because the country observes this time of the year as a public holiday. In comparison, Ramadan is celebrated sometime from March to April.

Are 3 weeks enough for Malaysia

Spending 20 days in Malaysia is an ideal amount of time. Of course, it won’t be sufficient if you want to visit every city and every island. But it’s enough to start with. With three weeks in Malaysia, you can visit 3-4 major cities, go hiking, explore the beaches, and discover cultural sites.

With this much time, you can travel both on mainland Malaysia and the Borneo (Sabah) side of Malaysia. Make sure you have a travel itinerary though, so you can visualise how much time to spend in each place and how to get from point A to point B and not waste your time with unnecessary hassle.

Average cost of 3 weeks in Malaysia

Malaysia is an affordable destination to explore. a budget of $1,200 for 20 days in Malaysia is a good one which will allow you to stay in private rooms, eat out, and travel mostly by air. This is around a $60 per day budget. Most accommodations will cost you $25-$35, and eating out is about $5-$10. The rest will cover transportation and tours.

You can do Malaysia on a $700 to $900 budget for a 20-day trip if you’re on a tight budget. You will stay in hostel dorms, consume affordable but tasty street food, and book a more budget-friendly tour.

For those who want to treat themselves, plan to spend around $2,500, which will house you in luxury hotels and dine you at more excellent restaurants.

These budgets are calculated per person and don’t include your flight to and from Malaysia.

What to pack

It is advised to dress moderately while travelling around Malaysia. Of course, you wear swimsuits at the beach, but remember that you must not go in total nudity.

Make sure to pack a long and lightweight cardigan or jacket to cover your legs and shoulders, especially when visiting religious or sacred places. Some areas will also require women to cover their heads. Hence, a lightweight scarf is something you should pack.

Check our what to pack article for a 3-week trip. We also have a summer packing list that might be helpful.

How to get around

Getting around Malaysia is relatively easy. Kuala Lumpur has buses and metro rails that go around the city. There are also ride-hailing apps that you can download and use. In contrast, many bus companies can take you from one city to another.

Flying domestically is also easy. It’s affordable, and pretty much all tourist destinations have an airport. So let’s say you want to hit all the top cities, you can fly from KL to Penang or Langkawi, or even Sabah (Kinabalu).

Unlike other parts of Southeast Asia, you can use your IDP (International Driver’s Permit) in Malaysia or your international driver’s license without converting it to a local one. You can rent a car here and drive on your own, but remember that the Malaysian driving side is on the left side (just like the UK, AU, and NZ).

Visa

Malaysia offers free visas to nearly everyone for 12-90 days except for some countries in Africa, South Asia, and China. Travellers with a passport from China and most of South Asia will have to apply for an evisa valid for three months for a maximum stay of 30 days.

Package tours

For people who prefer a hassle-free trip and would rather have someone make the arrangements for you, you should look into package tours. This is the kind of service where you book the tour and the tour host will arrange accommodation, activities, food, guides, and even porters to make your trip convenient.

Other travel tips

One last thing you should remember is that alcoholic drinks are legal and can be obtained anywhere in the country. However, it’s costly. When it comes to arranging your booking, here is a list of websites and tools I use when travelling to book accommodations, tours, and more.

MUST-SEE PLACES IN MALAYSIA (pinned map)

Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google

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3 WEEKS IN MALAYSIA ITINERARY

You can spend 21 days in Malaysia and be able to visit Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Penang, Langkawi, and Perhentian Islands. You might have to track back in some areas to get to the next destination, but that’s fine, I will walk you through it.

Day-to-day overview

  • Day 1: Arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. You can use the bus shuttle as a budget option or book a private transfer for comfort and to save time to get to your hotel in downtown KL. If you arrive early, get a local sim card with data.
  • Day 2: Explore Kuala Lumpur’s top attractions; perhaps book a city tour including Batu Caves
  • Day 3: Day trip to Genting Highlands or Port Klang.
  • Day 4: Travel from KL to Cameron Highlands by bus, you can fly to Ipoh then a van or bus to Cameron Highlands
  • Day 5: Travel around Cameron Highlands, visit tea plantations
  • Day 6: Hike around Cameron Highlands
  • Day 7: Get from Cameron Highlands to Penang by bus, takes around 4-5 hours
  • Day 8-9: Spend time discovering Penang street art and food
  • Day 10: Go to the beach
  • Day 11: Transfer from Penang to Langkawi by boat or plane, travel time is 40 minutes to 3 hours
  • Day 12: Rent a motorbike and go to Langkawi SkyBridge
  • Day 13: Book a mangrove or boat tour
  • Day 14: Do paragliding and explore downtown Kuah
  • Day 15: Travel from Langkawi to Perhentian Islands by plane and bus, then transfer to a ferry. Fly to Kota Bharu or Kuala Terengganu, then a bus or minivan to Besut, then a ferry to the islands
  • Day 16: Relax on the beach
  • Day 17: Sign up for snorkelling, boat tour, or diving
  • Day 18: Enjoy the islands
  • Day 19: Travel from Perhentian Islands back to KL or where you’re catching your flight home, souvenir shopping
  • Day 20: Flight home

Kuala Lumpur for 4 days

2 images - a golden statue behind it is a tall colourful stair and petronas twin towers - 3-Weeks in Malaysia Itinerary

Kuala Lumpur is most likely where you will land. Some people love this city, some don’t, and I totally understand. The bustling city, skyscrapers, and hot and humid weather are not a great combination.

However, there are many things to see and explore in Kuala Lumpur. Besides, while you are here, you can gather yourself, buy items you might need, and finalise your next destination.

The best way to get to the city is from the airport by taxi or booking a car. If you are on a budget, you may also use the airport shuttle bus, which you can book at the arrival area. You can skip Cameron Highlands and book a day trip from Kuala Lumpur.

Things to see in Kuala Lumpur

Accommodations in Kuala Lumpur

Cameron Highlands for 3 days

2 images - a hanging bridge with trees around, green fields - 3-Weeks in Malaysia Itinerary

You can drive your own car or take the bus from Kuala Lumpur. It’s about a 3-hour drive to Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur. This region is famous for its cooler weather, massive green areas, and lots of outdoor activities you can do, such as hiking.

Simply put, Cameron Highlands is the opposite of Kuala Lumpur. A visit here will give you a glimpse of Malaysia’s tropical forest.

Things to see in Cameron Highlands for 3 days

  • Jungle Trail 1 (Gunung Brinchang)
  • Mossy Forest
  • Tringkap Hiking Trail
  • Lavender Farm
  • Strawberry picking at Kampung Taman Sedia
  • Boh Tea Estate Habu
  • Day trip to Taman Negara
  • Tanjung Tualang Tin Dredge No. 5
  • Lata Merkor or Geruntum Falls

Accommodations in Cameron Highlands for 3 days

Penang for 4 days

2 images - food in a stick and two children smiling as a wall painting - 3-Weeks in Malaysia Itinerary

You can reach Penang by bus from Cameron Highlands, which is about 250 km (155 mi) or a 3.5-hour drive. Penang is an island west of Malaysia connected by the Jambatan Pulau Pinang and the Second Penang Bridge. You can also get to the island by taking a short ferry ride from Butterworth.

3 weeks in Malaysia is incomplete without visiting this island. Penang is well-liked for its unique 3D street art, delicious food scene, diverse culture, and incredible place for a dip. Although an island, Penang has low-rise buildings and a lot of greenery and hiking trails.

Things to see in Penang

Accommodations in Penang

Langkawi for 4 days

Langkawi is an island north of Penang, right at the border of Thailand. Getting to Langkawi is quite fun, well, unless you get seasick. You will arrive on a duty-free island by taking a 3-hour ferry or a 35-minute flight. This means that compared to other places in Langkawi, it is a little cheaper.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: You can’t take the ferry from Langkawi to Penang (and vice versa) anymore. The service has stopped since the pandemic and still unsure when it will be back in operation. The best choice is to book a flight between these two islands.

You can make your transportation from the airport to your accommodation if you book a private airport transfer or use ride-hailing apps. There will also be taxis if you prefer that.

Things to see in Langkawi

Accommodations in Langkawi

2 images - winding bridge over trees and white sand beach - 3-Weeks in Malaysia Itinerary

Perhentian Islands for 5 days

Relaxing on Malaysia’s most beautiful beach is a great way to end your 3 weeks in Malaysia vacation. Perhentian Islands are located on the west-east side of Malaysia near Kelantan. It’s your dream crystal clear water, fine white sand beaches, and serenity. Even though these groups of islands are undeniably stunning, not many tourists get to reach this area.

To reach this magnificent location, you will have to travel back to Penang (or Kuala Lumpur), where you can take a direct flight to Kota Bharu (which is Kelantan). From the airport, take a taxi that will take you to Kuala Besut. From here, you will take a ferry to the islands.

You can also fly to Kuala Terengganu, take a taxi to Kuala Besut, and then take a ferry to the islands.

Things to see in Perhentian Islands

  • Scuba Diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Jungle Trekking
  • Turtle Beach – you can simply take a look or volunteer at the sanctuary
  • PIR Beach
  • Adam and Eve Beach
  • Terengganu Marine Park
  •  Tupai Beach Bar

Accommodations in Perhentian Islands

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN MALAYSIA

You should spend your 3-week holiday in Malaysia for many reasons, but what makes it worth the visit is how welcoming the locals are and how easy it is to travel around. You can easily hop from one place to another.

Whether you like cities with high-speed trains and tall buildings or are looking into spending time on the beach and hiking, Malaysia has something to offer you.

I hope that you found this itinerary for 3 weeks in Malaysia helpful. Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget to pack some sunscreen!

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Malaysia offers a captivating mix of bustling cities, colonial architecture, diverse cultures, lush rainforests, and stunning islands. Enjoy its vibrant street food, wildlife-rich national parks, and the blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences. via @threeweektraveller