Malaysia travel with a rented car fmr Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara and Perhentian islands

MALAYSIA | 10 days road trip with a rented car and beach holiday

Katja MALAYSIA | BORNEO Leave a Comment

After having a really fantastic time on BORNEO, we landed in KUALA LUMPUR and had another 10 days to explore the MALAYSIAN PENINSULA. We decided to RENT A CAR and drive as much as it was possible, we did have to take a few BOAT rides though. The road took us from the capital to the historical city of MELACCA and further on to TAMAN NEGARA NP, where we spend a few days in the RAINFOREST. Afterwards it was (finally) time to hit the BEACH at CHERATING. We drove the whole way along the coast up to the town of BESUT, where we hopped on a fast boat to PERHENTIAN ISLANDS, to relax at the end of the trip.

When: August 2005

Visited: Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Taman Negara, Cherating, Pulau Perhentian, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bahru

How: with a rented car, boats

Stayed in: guesthouses and small hotels



In KL we WALKED a lot, but also used TAXIS. With a RENTED CAR we made a great part of the whole trip, but we had to leave it outside Taman Negara NP, we took a smaller WOODEN BOAT, which took us to the heart of the national park. To get to Perhentian island we took a FAST BOAT and in order to save time we also booked a DOMESTIC FLIGHT from Kota Bharu to KL on our way back home. If you choose to travel with PUBLIC TRANSPORT there are enough BUS and TRAIN connections, for the most comfort you can organize a driver with a car.

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DRIVING with the car was mostly okay, because most of the roads were really nice, but it did get a but stressful in the centre of KL, because of all the traffic jams and heavy traffic. Our rented SUBARU seemed not to have the best tyres, so when it was raining we had to go slower in the curves, but we made it all the way without any bigger problems.

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In KL we stayed at a bigger HOTEL just in the centre, which was a bit more expensive, but hey, sometimes it´s worth it. In Taman Negara we rented a small WOODEN COTTAGE with our own little terrace which was just perfect – we stayed in something similar also on Perhentian island, just at the beach, which was even nicer. In all the other places we stayed in SMALLER HOTELS. Prices are a bit higher, considering the fact you are in Asia, but all together you can still travel for a reasonable price.


MALAYSIAN CUISINE is a reflection of an interesting MULTIETHNIC MIX that is present in the country since the colonial times and became even bigger with modern day migrations. This results in food tastes which resemble CHINESE, INDIAN, MALAY, there are even EUROPEAN influences. You will find similar food in Indonesia and Singapore, with SATAY, CHICKEN RICE and SAMBAL presenting national dishes in all three countries. Other than those, you can enjoy fresh tropical FRUITS and amazing FISH, spicy aromatic CURRY, rice & noodles and all sorts of meat dishes. Since you are in a Muslim country, don´t expect them to have beer everywhere, sometimes water will just have to do it for the dinner time. STREET FOOD is quick, cheap and tasty, so if you are on a budget this might be your best option.

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KUALA LUMPUR | modern – traditional capital of Malaysia

The first thing we did is we went up the KL TOWER (also known as Menara KL) to get one of the BEST VIEWS on the city from above. We went inside the biggest MOSQUE and visited an impressive ISLAM MUSEUM, besides walking to all the other important city buildings listed in our guidebook. We also went into the famous LAKE GARDENS and BIRD PARK, which was not so bad, because the birds were not in cages but still, not really my thing + the entry fee was quite high.

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Since we were not to many Asian cities before our trip to Malaysia we were very keen on going to the CHINATOWN, where we had (again) really good food and have done some shopping.


SHOPPING in KL was at the time really interesting, especially because all the little technical devices were really much cheaper than in Europe. I believe nowadays there is not such a difference anymore, but back then I remember walking out of the store with a big smile on my face after purchasing an USB stick and several SD cards. And, what I found really nice, I found many flip-flops in my size. I have 40, which is hard to find across Asia.


MALACCA | interesting colonial town with impressive Portuguese architecture

Malacca has a big HISTORICAL BACKGROUND with a very important COLONISATION PERIOD which left the city and the state some landmarks still seen today, such as a fort, churches and other buildings. Malacca was also a very important STRATEGICAL PORT. Portuguese and British influence is basically seen everywhere and the city is really different than any other usual Asian city.

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RICKSHAWS are a big deal here and it seems like the drivers are competing who´s has more shiny colourful stuff and flags on it.

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You can find great ANTIQUE stuff in Malacca and it really is a pleasure to just wander the streets and walk in a GALLERY or a shop here and there. Even though it is a big city, it´s not as hectic and busy as KL.

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On our way to the most known national park in Peninsular Malaysia. The last views on the houses, mosques and good paved roads, before we emerged INTO THE RAINFOREST.

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TAMAN NEGARA NATIONAL PARK | rainforests, wild nature, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and rish wildlife

THE WAY TO THE PARK was already a little adventure on its own! Many hours on a small wooden boat with a HEAVY STORM above us. No need to say we were wet to our underwear and so were our bags. We were given these yellow plastic things and they really smelled horrible, but it was better than nothing. I believe our clothes were WET FOR DAYS, since nothing really dries in the RAINFOREST.

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This NATIONAL PARK enclosures an area which is ONE OF THE OLDEST RAINFORESTS IN THE WORLD, just after the Australian Daintree rainforest, both are estimated to be between 130 and 180 million years old. The park has been developed into one of the best ECOTOURISM destinations in this part of the world – it is home to many rare animals and plants, there are many activities, such as CANOPY WALKWAYS to observe the jungle life from up-close, CAVES and places you can swim or do WATER SPORTS on rivers, night JUNGLE WALKS and BIRD WATCHING walk.

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When I look at this picture now, I can´t believe we were actually SWIMMING in this water. Actually we were jumping inside, climbed back up on sliding rocks (yes, I fell once) and jumped right back in. At the time it felt extremely refreshing and exciting, now it feels more like a dumb idea.


ORANG ASLI are the INDIGINEUS PEOPLE of the Peninsular Malaysia. Officially there are 18 TRIBES which differ based on the language and customs. In Malay language, Orang asli literally means “original people”. We visited some of the small VILLAGES and were excited to see how they live.

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Without a doubt, the most amazing LIANA I have ever seen. Liana is any kind of long-stemmed, woody vines which uses other trees as a vertical support to climb up to the tree canopy in order to catch some sunlight.


Just like on Borneo, we found many different INSECTS and small animals also in the Malaysian peninsula rainforests. We were really focused on spotting new ones and we had much to see. My favourites were the butterflies in every possible colour and pattern. You can also go on many different special GUIDED WALKS, where a guide will search, find and explain about certain little creatures.

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CHERATING | short beachside break

The BEACH! Finally. We were on the road for a couple of weeks already and we were all the times close to the coastline but never really had the time to go for a SWIM. On Borneo we intentionally missed the seaside and the beaches although we heard they were amazing, but there is never time for everything, right. So, we saved the best for last and had a taste of it in CHERATING, where we also did lots of shopping, it seemed they had lots of little SHOPS & GALLERIES with handmade things.

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This was just a short stop and we were soon back on the road, to our final destination on this trip, the PERHENTIAN ISLANDS. The last chance to observe the landscape along the coast as we were driving north. It was really interesting to see how some houses were really modern (although still built in traditional architectural style) and then right next to them people were living in small wooden huts.

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PULAU PERHENTIAN | paradise islands and one of the best beach destinations in Asia

The 1 HOUR BOAT RIDE to the island went by quickly and soon we had our feet wet and were carrying our stuff to our little BEACH COTTAGE. There are two islands which belong under the name Perhentian islands, one is a bit BIGGER and a SMALLER ONE. No matter which of those, you can relax and enjoy the perfect beach holidays on both of them. There were NO BIG HOTELS where we were, just a DIVING SCHOOL and our little resort with beach side cottages, lots of palm trees, a restaurant and a pear for the boats. A great way to spend the last few days of the trip.

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Empty beach and a “private palm tree”, a good book and a cold beer on a hot sunny day. What could you possibly wish more. Oh yeah maybe an extra sarong on the sun so that you rest in the sun a bit after coming out of the sea. PARADISE.

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Eventually all things come to an end and so did this Asian adventure. I have to say I was more impressed by BORNEO than by the Malaysian peninsula, but if we had not visited Borneo just before visiting the peninsula I might feel different about it. In any case there is much to see in Malaysia. We deliberately missed the TEA PLANTATIONS at CAMORN HIGHLANDS because our time was running out and we have seen tea plantation already in Sri Lanka and India. Nonetheless, KL is impressive and the RAINFORESTS are amazing, not to mention the BEACH. There are also many direct flights to KL from Europe, so it´s quite convenient. I would say it´s a great country for a first time travel to Asia also!


Malaysia road trip with rented car from Kuala Lumpur Malacca Taman Negara and Perhentian island

Malaysia in 10 days with rented car from Kuala Lumpur Malacca Taman Negara Vherating Pulau Perhentian

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