Want to visit Malaysia but only have time for a short trip? Maybe you’re passing through there on your way to Thailand, or Vietnam or China. Maybe you only have a limited number of days of leave you can get from your work. Whatever your reason, don’t breeze over Malaysia as a mere ‘stop-over destination’, and make the most of your short trip. Here is my suggested itinerary for a short trip in Malaysia.

(PSST: did you know you can book hotels, activities and transport all in one place? Don’t forget to use Trip Advisor to easily plan your trip)

Short trips in Malaysia within Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is becoming one of the major metropolises of South-East Asia. It is full of culture, architecture and fun, and there are so many ways to explore it.

Short sightseeing trip: Petronas Towers & KL Tower

short trip in malaysia, see petronas towers
Petronas Towers

These buildings are the most famous landmarks in Malaysia and they are truly spectacular – gigantic; and can be seen from most places in the city. This is really a must-see on a short trip to Malaysia. They are easy to find and make great backdrops for your pictures. There are many places to go if you really want a good view of the towers. Try these iconic places:

  • Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur City Center

Merdeka Square is a popular spot, most famous for its big flagpole and the newer I <3 KL sign nearby. It’s a good place to hang out, and the bonus is you get a great view of the city’s most iconic buildings as well.

short trip in Malaysia - Merdeka Square
Chilling in Merdeka Square where both Petronas Towers and the KL Tower can be seen
  • Helipad rooftop lounge bar (Heli Lounge)

Have a few drinks and watch the sunset over the city at this unique bar. If you want to know more, you can read a detailed review of the Heli Lounge here.

short trip in Malaysia - hellipad view of petronas tower
view of Petronas Towers from top of Helipad Rooftop Lounge Bar. KL Tower can be observed to the other side.
  • Infinity pool

What better way to spend an evening than relaxing in an infinity pool gazing at a spectacular city skyline? Kuala Lumpur is somewhat known for its abundance of these rooftop infinity pools, and as such a many big hotels and apartment buildings boast them The Regalia Condominium, Chic and FACE Suites are just some examples of places you can go to enjoy this type of view.

Want to make sure you don’t miss out? Book one of these hotels now.

short trip in malaysia - infinity pool in KL
Photo by Azri Suratmin

Short food trip: Chinatown & brickfields (little India)

You might be aware that Kuala Lumpur is an extremely culturally diverse city, with Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures all merging to form the local culture. So it’s no surprise that the food is also extremely diverse. Street food in these two areas (Chinatown & Brickfields) is the norm and you can get really good, really cheap eats.

Short nature trip: Kanching Falls

Kanching Falls (hiking near Kuala Lumpur)

Malaysia is such a lush country, it would be a shame for you to just stay inside the city center, even if you are just in Malaysia for a short trip. If you’re keen to get out of the city a bit and explore the surrounding area, Kanching falls is an awesome place to go to hike, see waterfalls, and spend time with monkeys in the wild.

For more information, check out my experience at Kanching Falls and why I think you should go there.

Short culture trip: Batu Caves

short trip in malaysia suggestion - batu caves

Get a glimpse of the Indian Malaysian lifestyle and culture. You can eat at their buffet restaurant, see the big buddha and climb the steps to the caves where they have created their place of worship. There are also quite a few monkeys hanging around here. Be sure to respect the culture and religious rules when visiting this sacred area.

-> Find somewhere to stay in Kuala Lumpur | More places to go in Kuala Lumpur 

Short Trips in Malaysia from Kuala Lumpur:

If you’re staying more than two days in Malaysia, there is no good reason not to get out of the major city and go and visit one (or some) of the other amazing places in Malaysia. Here are my suggestions that you should be able to fit into your short trip:

Head up to Penang for a day

short trip in Malaysia - day trip to Penang

Penang is beautiful, charming and unique. If you have time to visit only one place during your short trip in Malaysia, my suggestion is Penang. It’s completely different to Kuala Lumpur. The vibe is different, the food is different, there is a seaside and boating culture. It’s an island, and you  can feel that as soon as you arrive there.

There is a lot to see and do there so you could definitely spend more time there, but if you’re just doing a short trip in Malaysia like I was, making a day trip there is totally possible. Check out how I suggest you to spend one day in Penang.

Book a ticket from KL to Penang online. 

Spend a Day in Malacca

day trip to Melacca from Kuala Lumpur - short trip in Malaysia

Malacca is another charming city, and is even closer to Kuala Lumpur than Penang – just a few hours away by bus! Malacca and George Town, Penang are considered a joint UNESCO world heritage site of Malaysia. This gorgeous town is a closer, less touristic version of Penang (although there are still a fair amount of tourists, don’t get me wrong). It has cute heritage buildings, tiled streets, and unique street art. It has a river running through it which makes for a peaceful walk on a sunny day.

All that being said, Malacca is very small and there aren’t as many activities to do as there are in Penang. So if you want to go somewhere beautiful and not feel like you’re missing out on something important by only being on a short trip in Malaysia, Malacca might be your best pick.

Book a ticket from KL to Malacca online. 

->If you’ve got more time in Malaysia, check out the beachy Kapas Island.

Spend a night in Cameron Highlands

short trip in Malaysia - overnight in Cameron Higlands

Cameron Highlands is a little further away from Kuala Lumpur than Malacca. You can’t get there by plane so bus is your best option. Because of this, it only makes sense to go if you can spend at least one night there. You can arrive in the evening, take a rest and then the next day, take a tour through the various interesting places that the Highlands have to offer. You can get a tour booked through most hostels, or you can book in advance. Most of the tours (even “full-day” tours) will be finished by mid-afternoon, which gives you ample time to get on a bus back to Kuala Lumpur by night time.

Check out my guide to catch the bus from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands and back.

-> Organise your trip now! Book your accommodation and tour in the Highlands.

Personally, I only had a very short trip in Malaysia (about one week) but I visited all of these places mentioned and I had a blast. Even if you only have 3-4 days to spend in Malaysia, if you manage your time carefully you will definitely have time to do and see a lot.

So, just go! Even if it just a short trip in Malaysia, it is so worth it!

>> Have you been to Malaysia? Was it just a short trip or did you spend a lot of time there? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Short trip in Malaysia - suggested itinerary

Short trip in Malaysia - suggested itinerary

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  1. I noticed in your pictures you’re showing your shoulders and knees. I was under the impression that I should be quite covered in Malaysia. Did you not find this to be the case? Thank you!

    • Suzie Reply

      Hi Rose,
      Nope, I didn’t find this to be the case at all. While Malaysia has a large muslim population, there’s also a large proportion of people living there who are not muslim, like the Chinese and Malays. I saw many locals walking around wearing shorts, singlets, etc. So don’t worry too much about that!

  2. George Kwan Ho Reply

    Hi. I don’t want to offend you but you’re very mistaken about dress codes in Malaysia. Unfortunately, you contribute to the stereotype of foreigners dressing however they like, no matter local customs. Your shorts are ridiculously short and I’m not sure what psychological need you have to be noticed, but it absolutely wouldn’t not be considered mature or polite by most adult residents. Please try to check your adolescent exhibitionism and consider what might be more appropriate in a different culture.
    Thank you.

    • Suzie Reply

      Hi George. Like I say I have seen many local people dressed in shorts etc while I was there. Its definitely not only foreigners in Malaysia who dress like this. Maybe you should question your own judgemental and ancient attitude and what it is doing to help anything. As a woman, I don’t want to suddenly become oppressed because I’ve stepped into a different country, and as the world changes and progresses over time I’m hoping this won’t be an issue at all.
      Long story short: many Malaysian women do dress according to the weather – and in my opinion, so they should!

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