Malaysia is such an amazing country I hope you will get the time to visit for longer. But I understand, sometimes we just need to go for a Visa run or squeeze a quick trip between others. Malaysia has a lot of history, delicious food and nature.
I chose Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh because they are not far from each other and have been strongly recommended by locals. Whether you’re a city person or all about nature, I’ve got you covered. I’ll try to go with as much detail as possible for a stress-free and exciting 5 days itinerary in Malaysia! Let’s go!
Day 1 – Kuala Lumpur
Reach the city from the airport
Take the train from the airport to Kuala Lumpur Sentral (train station in Kuala Lumpur). You can get the tickets at the airport or online here, the cost is about £10 and it takes 30 minutes. The train is called KLIA Ekspres and it’s super clean!
Just so you know right now, wearing face masks on every transport is mandatory, so just keep that in mind when you’re on the train or before leaving so you won’t need to buy a face mask at the airport.
Check-in at your hotel. I stayed at this amazing hotel called Alila Bangsar. The reason why I chose this hotel is that it’s close to the Sentral Station where I would need to go to the airport and reach Ipoh. I actually walked from the train station to the hotel but you can take the MRT (overground train) or get a “Grab” (taxi).
Explore China Town
Once you settle in, get ready for the first adventure in Kuala Lumpur which is China Town. There is a lot to explore in this neighbourhood. The street art is breathtaking, there is a big local market too and beautiful historical buildings. If you have some time I would recommend visiting Thean Hou Temple, it’s not only absolutely stunning but it also gives a lot of peace.
After spending most of your afternoon in Chinatown, go back to your hotel for a quick shower and head out to explore KL by night. I’m not a big fan of big cities but I found the KL skyline absolutely magical at night, it’s nothing like London or New York because of the different shapes of the buildings. If you don’t want to miss it you should definitely go on a Hop-on Hop-off bus. I know it’s touristy but it’s cool and you get to experience the city at night. It’s also lovely warm weather all year around so being on a roof-less bus at night will be breezy and enjoyable!
Day 2 – Kuala Lumpur
Ok, this is the day where you are going to sweat a lot, walk and fully explore the city. So wear a light outfit and comfy shoes because today you’re on the go!
Get wowed by the Twin Towers!
Start from the Petronas Towers (or Twin Towers). You can see them from the Saloma Bridge which connects the districts of Kampung Baru and Kuala Lumpur City Centre. You can go to the top of the Twin Towers and see the amazing view over the city or enjoy some air conditioning inside the shopping centre in the Twin Towers before going to the next top.
Visit the unmissable Batu Caves TEMPLE
The next stop is Batu Caves and it’s the reason why you are wearing your light trainers and outfit right now. Please bear in mind there will be monkeys here, so make sure to leave your backpack in the car or at your hotel if you don’t want any problems. The Batu Caves are incredible, I can’t describe how big that statue was behind me or how climbing those colourful steps killed me, you have to do it yourself!
Before getting to the stairs, there is a temple right at the bottom of the stairs and it’s called “Sri Alarmel Mangai Samedha Sri Venkatajalapathi Temple“. You will love the colours and statues inside, and you can even get a blessing from the Pujari (Hindu priest). Remember to wear something that covers your knees before entering the temple and the same for the stairs and cave.
Climb the Batu Caves stairs!
Right, let’s go back to the stairs. Accessing the stairs, temples and everything at Batu caves is free so after visiting the temple, put the shoes back on and start climbing the stairs! Climbing the stairs is not the only tough experience, you also have monkeys looking for tourists with plastic bottles. My advice is to look straight at where you are going and they won’t bother you at all.
As soon as you reach the top and enter the cave, well, it’s hard to describe because it’s the most unique experience I’ve ever had! The caves are really tall and there will be chickens (not sure why), Hindu music playing and amazing architecture. The acoustic is very interesting and the cave it’s huge (not at all what I expected!). So is it worth it to climb the stairs? Absolutely YES!
If you don’t have a car and want to optimise your time, I would strongly recommend this Airbnb experience where you can fit everything in one day including what I suggested for day 1! The tour guide is amazing, funny and highly knowledgeable!
Day 3 – Train to Ipoh And Full Immersion In Nature
Right, we are back on the road! Make sure to book the train ticket to Ipoh in advance. You might struggle if there are school holidays or national holidays on the way! This is the website to book your train ticket or you can buy it at the train station (KL Sentral). It will take about 2h30 to get to Ipoh if you book the ETS Platinum ticket (which is the fastest train) and it costs £7. Again, the train is really nice and clean!
Once you get to the station, get a Grab (taxi) to your hotel, I stayed at one called The Haven All Suite Resort. It’s a 20 min car from Ipoh town centre but it’s totally immersed in nature and it’s absolutely stunning!! It’s also the perfect base if you want to visit cave temples and lakes!
Once you settle in, get ready to get out! We are visiting Gua Kek Look Tong which is an amazing cave temple not really known yet by tourists! The temple is beautiful but the setting is even better. Just behind the temple, there is a huge park with 2 lakes and it even includes a reflexology path which you could walk barefoot! I had a lot of fun here on my own and I couldn’t believe it was free of charge!
If you still have some energy after the caves I would suggest visiting the Mirror Lake or Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village where you can go for hikes, rent a bike and have an amazing time out!
Day 4 – Ipoh OLD TOWN
The second day in Ipoh is going to be in the Old Town. I could just suggest going for a walk around but I have to say this Airbnb experience was fantastic and I would really recommend it: Historical heritage walk around Ipoh. Sunny will take you around the old town, and give you a deep dive into the history (which is really far from what I knew) and local culture. He will also tell you the best places to eat and hidden gems!
After the cultural experience, I would take some time to come back to the places I liked the most or explore all the suggested places to eat around town. The architecture of the town is very fascinating, especially around Market Lane and Concubine Lane.
My favourite cafe was A Jie Cafe which is a bit of a walk from the Old Town (consider getting a Grab), it’s a local cafe suggested by a local friend. I haven’t seen any tourists there but just a lovely community cafe serving amazing traditional food and tea. The waitresses were lovely and treated me like I was their family!
Day 5 – Train to the airport Or Extra Trip
On day 5 I would head to the airport because it takes some time to get there from Ipoh. The route would be: a train back to KL again and then another train from KL to the airport.
If you are not rushing to the airport then I would suggest spending at least a day at Cameron Highlands visiting tea plantations. There are different guided tours available on Viator which you can pick based on how long time you have available!
What else to visit if you have a few more days
If you have a couple more days left I would head to Penang or come head back to KL and visit Malacca. Again, I can see quite a few tours on Viator which would pick you up from KL and take you to Malacca for a day.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and get the chance to visit Malaysia on your own or company. Where possible, I would suggest spending as much as you can in only one place rather than changing towns every day so you get to experience each place to the fullest. I feel like every time I have a busy schedule, time goes very quickly and I’m always thinking about the next thing to do rather than enjoying the moment.
A quick reminder to pack light, especially for a short trip like this one! Read this blog post on how to pack in a smart way and you’re good to go!
Ciao for now,
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