Cycling through the peninsular of Malaysia can be pretty amazing at times but it does lack the gloss and natural beauty of southern Thailand. There are a lot more highways that you are forced onto and the service road is not nearly as generous. Saying that, the food is a lot more varied and the journey is bound to be more rewarding if you zig zag across the country as opposed to cycle from one end to the other.
The big stand outs for us were the usual tourist haunts, being George Town Penang and Melaka. But not so much for the attractions themselves, but as usual, more for the people we met in those towns.
What we loved the most:
- We cycled a pretty common route along the West coast and as a result, met more cycle tourers in Malaysia than any other country we have been in so far. Great for hints and tips and for talking to people from home again.
- Ringo’s Foyer Guesthouse in Melaka is heaps of fun with Warm Showers host, Howard. It is the perfect combination of privacy and socializing and the short little joy rides after dinner will give you an insight as only a local can. Highly recommend it. (Look for our mural on the rooftop!) We were only going to stay one night and stayed eight!
What felt like a headwind:
- The roads and highways, especially in the north were a little tiresome and there was not always an alternative for quieter roads. The service lane is sometimes quite narrow, or non existent and the trucks and buses have no problem getting quite close to you, or just simply forcing you off the road completely. Not enough to put you off cycling Malaysia, but certainly enough to make sure you wear a helmet!
- We almost toyed with the idea of not going to Kuala Lumpur as we were not confident cycling in. HOWEVER, when you come into Klang from highway 5, you will meet with highway 2 which is a direct 33km four lane freeway into KL. Complete suicide for a cyclist with all the merging traffic, BUT there is an amazing bicycle/motorcycle lane completely separate from the freeway that runs parallel the whole way. It was the easiest, most stress free, safest cycle into a big city we have ever done!!
- Check out China House in Penang for a quiet drink and some live music. The venue has great coffee and cakes and amazing art hanging around the place, very cool, very unique and a great find (thanks to our great host!)
What’s it worth:
- Malaysia is considerably more expensive than Thailand but still relative cheap compared to the rest of the world. At the time of writing this, AU$1 was 3 Malay Ringgit and GBP£1 was 4.3 Malay Ringgit.
- Accommodation doesn’t get much lower than 50 MR, for which you will sometimes get air con. Finding rooms without air con can be a challenge in itself. It is not uncommon for 60 MR to be the cheapest in town. Camping is an option commonly taken by cycle tourers but the word is, locals can be too inquisitive. Fried rice and basics can be about 5 MR but we rarely paid less than 20 MR for a decent meal. We struggled to spend less than 150 MR per day.
|Town||KM's||Nights||Where we slept|
|Kangar||35 (from border)||1||Hotel|
|Batu Ferrengi, Penang||76||3||Friends house|
|China Town, Kuala Lumpur||50||4||Hotel|