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Travelling around Malaysia

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How to travel from one place to another is a key consideration if you're thinking about moving to Malaysia. Travelling in Malaysia is very easy, thanks to a wide variety of transport to suit different needs and budgets. If you can afford to buy a car, it may be a worthwhile investment, particularly if you have a family or pets.

Car

The initial cost of purchasing a car in Malaysia can quite high, but petrol is very cheap and it could make exploring your surrounding area more affordable if you have a family. It is also a convenient way to travel at your own leisure, without having to fit in with timetables and get to travel hubs. If you have an international driver's licence, it's also a viable option to rent a car if you just need it for sporadic use or holidays.

However, if driving in Malaysia isn't really something you're keen to do, then there are lots of other ways to travel from one city to another in Malaysia or to remote regions. Most transport options in the country are comfortable and relatively affordable, and some can be more convenient than driving, depending on the distance.

Airplanes

A variety of low-cost air carriers make Malaysia a great base if you like to travel. There are several local and regional routes, and if you book flights in advance or get a good deal, it can be very affordable and convenient to travel by air.

AirAsia is a Malaysian-owned airline that flies to many destinations across the world and in-country at budget prices. Expect no-frills and minimal comfort, but the cheap fares arguably make up for it. Firefly, JetStar Airways and Tigerair are other low-cost aviation companies to bear in mind when comparing flights to your chosen destination.

If money is no object, then Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines are arguably two of the most comfortable carriers in the region. If you're a frequent flyer and have a particular penchant for either of these airlines, it's worth signing up with one of their reward programmes, which will also offer you benefits on airlines that are part of the relevant alliance.

Buses

Malaysia has a well-developed bus network that covers short local routes, and connects all major areas to each other. Cityliner is the largest private stage bus operator in Malaysia. It connects rural and urban areas with a fleet of over 700 buses, with trips scheduled to meet local commuter and daily needs.

Local buses stop at bus stops along various routes throughout the day, while long-distance buses run relatively frequently from the main bus stations, and the air-conditioned and comfortable InterCity coaches are often considered to be a better alternative to the train.

Trains

There are daily-scheduled trains that head up the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and link Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang to southern Thailand and Bangkok. The whole route of 1,233 miles takes up to 48 hours, and although train fares are low, it is known for being very slow.

There is also a “Jungle Line”, which runs along the east coast of the peninsular from Johor Bahru to Tempat. Travellers taking this train can disembark at Wakaf Bahru and take a short taxi to Khota Bharu, where you can then take a bus or another train into Thailand. The scenery on this route is remarkable, as it travels through jungle and palm plantations.

You will be provided with bed sheets and pillows on trains if you're travelling overnight. The seats transform into sleeper beds, and they make for a relatively comfortable night's sleep.

Malaysian railways are being modernised, and a new generation of trains has appeared called the Electric Train Service (ETS). These electric trains run at up to 100 miles per hour, and the ETS Silver trains operate a regular service between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, while the pointy-nosed ETS Gold and Platinum trains operate between KL, Ipoh, Butterworth and Padang Besar.

Taxis

Taxis are a convenient way of travelling around your area and, although more expensive than hopping on a local bus, they are more convenient and still reasonably priced. Just ask the driver to set the meter running when you get in or be sure to negotiate beforehand if there isn't a meter, as some drivers may be tempted to charge foreigners a higher fixed price. Uber has also reached Malaysia and is available in most urban areas.

Long-distance taxis are a good option if you have four passengers, but expect rates to be higher than other modes of transport. You can coordinate the vehicle and driver via a local tour company or hotel, or if you ever meet a taxi driver who you like, it's worth asking for their business card so that you can hire them when you need their services.

Bicycle or motorcycle

It is possible to buy or rent a bicycle or motorcyle in Malaysia, and this could be an enjoyable pastime and mode of transport in more remote or less built-up areas. However, in the big cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru, it is important to remain particularly vigilant, as traffic in these areas can be difficult to navigate and Malaysian motorists are notorious for not always following traffic rules or practising considerate driving conduct.

Riding a motorcycle is quite common in Malaysia but is considered to be quite dangerous. You can find bicycle and motorcycle rental agencies across the country, especially in tourist areas, and you will need an international driver's licence to rent a motorcycle.

 Useful links:

Keretapi TanahMelayu - National Railway Company www.ktmb.com.my
Malaysian Motorcycle Getaways

Bus companies:
Konsortium Transnasional Berhad
Transnasional
Nice
Aeroline
Supernice

Airline companies:
Malaysia Airlines
MA Swings
Firefly
Air Asia
Berjaya Air

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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