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Malaysian Road Trip: To KL and Back

Updated on April 3, 2012

In November 2011, my wife and I toured Malaysia, Singapore and Bali in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. These articles describe our trip from Johor Bahru (known locally as JB), on the southern tip of Malaysia, to Kuala Lumpur (KL), and back. We followed an anti-clockwise route from JB to Kuantan to KL, returning to JB through Melaka (also known as Malacca).

Day 1: Johor Bahru to Kuantan, wia Mersing

Day 2: Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur, via Tasik Chini and Batu Caves

Day 3: A Day in Kuala Lumpur

Day 4: Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru, via Melaka

Follow-the-leader through Malaysia
Follow-the-leader through Malaysia

Driving in Malaysia is very different than North America. In Malaysia they drive on the right-hand (wrong) side of the road, there were many more motorbikes than I am used to, and they are very aggressive when merging into traffic. Having said that, it was a lot of fun trying to chase my brother-in-law around the country - him in a luxury vehicle, and me in an under-powered, over-loaded economy car. As any one who has ever had played follow-the-leader in a car will know, it seems like you're always having to travel at hair-raising speeds just to keep up!

Malaysia RoadTrip

show route and directions
A markerjohor bahru -
Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
get directions

B markerKuantan -
Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia
get directions

C markerKuala Lumpur -
Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
get directions

D markerMelaka -
Melaka, Malaysia
get directions

Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru
JB from Taman Merdaka
JB from Taman Merdaka

Day 1: Johor Bahru to Kuantan

We started our four-day race around Malaysia in Johor Bahru, a border town across the causeway from Singapore. Popular with Singaporeans looking for cheaper residences, it has some beautiful buildings, several large malls and a new public park called Taman Merdaka (meaning the Freedom Gardens).

The trip to Kuantan took us through the coastal town of Mersing, a jumping off point for those wanting to visit the Seribuat Archipelego, home of Pulua Tioman, the largest island on Malaysia'a east coast, famed for its soft, sandy beaches, warm waters and coral reef. Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit.

Mersing to Kuantan
Mersing to Kuantan

Kuantan and Teluk Chempedak

The beautiful sandy beach at Teluk Chempedak
The beautiful sandy beach at Teluk Chempedak
Monkeys at Teluk Chempedak
Monkeys at Teluk Chempedak

Kuantan is a busy, commercial town and the main attractions are the beaches, the closest being Teluk Chempedak, or Jackfruit Bay. The sandy beach is beautiful and offers opportunities for swimming and water sports. The north end of the beach leads to a boardwalk over the rocks and adjacent to the forest which is home to a troop of wild monkeys.

Tasik Chini
Tasik Chini
Lotus Blossoms on Tasik Chini
Lotus Blossoms on Tasik Chini

Day 2: Kuatan to Kuala Lumpur via Tasik Chini

On Day 2, we set off from Kuantan, on our way to Kuala Lumpur, via Tasik Chini.

Tasik Chini is a collection of connected lakes, nestled in Malaysia's forested interior and surrounded by hills. In the summer, Tasik Chini is covered in lotus blossoms and is a sight to behold.

The shoreline of Tasik Chini is home to Malaysia's oldest indigenous peoples, the Orang Asli. They live in traditional long houses and still hunt using blowpipes and catapults. I was thrilled to have the chance to try a blowpipe, and was amazed at how accurate it is over quite a long-distance. I'm not sure that I would ever be able to hit a monkey, but I was certainly able to hit a target from 30 feet.


The Orang Asli Tribe: Testing the Blowpipe

Taking aim with an Orang Asli Blowpipe
Taking aim with an Orang Asli Blowpipe
On target!
On target!

On leaving Tasik Chini, we continued our trek across country on roads that grew ever larger as we approached Kuala Lumpur. The scenery is magnificent and literally reaches a highpoint in the Genting Highlands before sweeping down the winding highway into the busy metropolis that is Kuala Lumpur.

Before reaching our hotel, we made one final stop on the northern side of KL at the spectacular Batu Caves.

Batu Caves

Statue of Lord Murugan
Statue of Lord Murugan
Detail at bottom of stairway to Batu Caves
Detail at bottom of stairway to Batu Caves
Monkeys on steps of Batu Caves
Monkeys on steps of Batu Caves

The Batu Caves are a vast set of caverns set high in a range of rugged limestone cliffs just north of KL..

Discovered by American naturalist William Hornaday in 1878, it was converted into a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Murugan, During the annual Thaipusam festival, over a million pilgrims visit the caves.

The entrance to the caves is dominated by the 141 foot high golden statue of Lord Murugan. From here, there are 272 steps leading up to the main Temple or Cathedral Cave, which is 328 feet high and partially lit by shafts of light coming through holes in the cavern roof.

Not surprisingly for this part of the world, the steps and caves are populated by monkeys, adding character and charm to what is already a spectacular site. Before descending the steps out of the caves, we had the opportunity to enjoy sweeping views over KL.

KL from the Batu Caves
KL from the Batu Caves

Thank you for your interest. Here is the second part of our Malaysian Road Trip and some other Romantic Getaway Ideas.

And for those of you with a wedding anniversary this year, here are some Wedding Anniversary Ideas that will help you to celebrate in style!

Happy Travels

Geoff

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    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi geoffclarke, Congrats, you finally came out with this hub, was looking forward to it. I used to live in Kuantan but had never been to Task Chini. I was told it used to be alot better, now it seems to be polluted. If you were to drive another half an hour north of Kuantan, you will find better beaches compared to T. Chempedak. Will wait for the rest of the stories.

    • geoffclarke profile image
      Author

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi greatstuff, thanks for reading my hub. Unfortunately we were strapped for time with only four days to do the whole round trip. This didn't give us much time to explore some of Kuantan's better beaches - maybe next time! I didn't notice any pollution at Tasik Chini but wish we could have been there in lotus blossom season. I included a link to your excellent article on the Thaipusam Celebration at the Batu Caves.

    • Edwin Clark profile image

      Edwin Clark 5 years ago from Thailand by way of New York

      Looks like you've had a great time! I particularly love visiting Malaysia and was in KL last November. I paid a visit to Batu Caves on my way to Genting Highland and enjoyed a good roti at a restaurant near the entrance. Keep on making some wonderful memories!

    • geoffclarke profile image
      Author

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi Edwin - Looks like we were in KL at the same time - maybe you're in my photos! Thanks for reading my hub.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi geoffclarke, sorry for this late reply. Thanks for adding the link to my Thaipusam hub, didn't notice it until you tell me!

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