Transport in Malaysia
Updated 2022-05-19 13:35

How to travel from one place to another is a key question if you are thinking of moving to Malaysia. Getting around Malaysia is very easy thanks to a wide variety of transport network that suit different needs and budgets. If you have the budget to buy a car, it can be a worthwhile investment, especially if you have a family or pets.

It should be noted that as of the date this article was updated (March 2022), tourists still do not have the right to travel to Malaysia due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that health measures remain very strict. The government could reopen the borders in April 2022 and ease restrictions on tourist travel, but this decision remains in abeyance for the time being. Find out about the arrangements in place and the health regulations in force before making the decision to travel or settle in Malaysia.

By car

The initial cost of buying a car in Malaysia can be quite high, but petrol is very cheap, and it can be a very cost-effective way to travel if you are traveling with family. The car is a convenient way to move around freely, without having to respect schedules and without ending up in travel centers. Count around 32,930 euros for the purchase of a new VW Golf-type car. If you have an international driving license, renting a car in Malaysia is also a viable option if you need a vehicle temporarily or for vacation. The most economical rentals are around 13 euros per day and more than 100 euros per day for the most expensive ones.

However, if you are not ready to drive in Malaysia, there are plenty of other ways to travel from city to city in Malaysia or to remote areas. Most transportation options in the country are comfortable and relatively affordable, and some may be more convenient than driving, depending on how far your destination is.

By plane

Normally, there is a variety of budget airlines making Malaysia a good lift-off base if you like to travel. There are several local and regional routes, and if you book your flights in advance or get a good deal, it can be very cost-effective and convenient to travel by air.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has obviously had a negative impact on the service to the Malaysian destination and on flights in and out of Malaysia. The Malaysian authorities have set up a ticket quota on certain destinations deemed to be at risk. In August 2021, Captain Izham Ismail, Group CEO of Malaysia Airlines, announced that he expects the domestic flight rate to return to pre-pandemic rates by the end of 2022, while that should be the case for long-haul flights, in 2023.

Air Asia is a Malaysian company that serves many destinations around the world and in the country at very low fares. Expect simple, minimal comfort, but the low rates are worth it. Firefly (a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines), JetStar Airways and Tigerair are other low-cost airlines to keep in mind when comparing fares to your destination of choice.

If price is not a criterion, then Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines are undoubtedly the two most comfortable airlines in the region. If you're a frequent flyer and have a liking for these airlines, it's worth signing up for their loyalty programs which will offer you benefits on partner airlines.

By bus

Malaysia has a well-developed bus network that covers local routes and short routes. They connect all major areas with each other. Cityliner is the largest private bus operator in Malaysia. It connects urban and rural areas with a fleet of over 700 buses, with timetables to facilitate suburban workers and daily needs.

Local buses stop at many bus stops all along their routes during the day. On the other hand, long-distance buses operate fairly frequently from major bus stations. Comfortable, air-conditioned InterCity buses are often considered a better alternative to the train.

It is possible to connect with Singapore from Malaysia by bus. This line had been cut due to the pandemic but was opened again in January 2022 for vaccinated individuals.

By train

The main railway operator in Malaysia is Keretapi Tanah Melayu Nerhad (KTMB). There are daily trains heading to the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and connecting Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang to southern Thailand and Bangkok. These destinations remain subject to the decisions of the Malaysian authorities regarding the risks associated with the Covid-19 epidemic. These trains, however, are known to be very slow. Traveling the total route of 1984 km takes up to 48 hours, but these train prices are low.

There is also a Jungle Line that operates along the east coast of the peninsula from Johor Bahru to Tempat. Travelers taking this train can get off at Wakaf Bahru and take a taxi to Khota Bhary, where you can catch a bus or another train to Thailand. The scenery on this route is amazing as it takes you through the jungle and palm plantations.

Sheets and cushions will be provided if you are traveling at night. The seats convert into a sleeping couch and allow for a fairly comfortable night's sleep.

Railways in Malaysia are being modernized, and a new generation of trains called the Electric Train Service (ETS) has been launched. These electric trains run at up to 160 km per hour, and the ETS Silver trains provide regular service between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, while the sharp-nosed ETS Gold and Platinum trains operate between KL, Ipoh, Butterworth and Padang Besar.

Train operations in Malaysia had been halted during the Movement Control Order (MCO), the nationwide lockdown linked to Covid-19. They have since resumed on certain destinations. We invite you to consult our article on the changes related to Covid-19 in Malaysia.

By taxi

Taxis in Malaysia are a convenient way to get around your neighborhood, although more expensive than the local bus. Ask your driver to turn on the meter when you take a taxi or be sure to negotiate before the ride if there is no meter, as some drivers may be tempted to charge foreigners a higher fare. Uber is now available in Malaysia, in most urban areas.

Long-distance taxis are a good option if you are four passengers, but fares are higher than other modes of transport. You can arrange a chauffeured transfer through a local agency or hotel, or if you meet a taxi driver you like, it's worth asking for his business card so you can contact him when you need his services.

By bike and motorbike

It is possible to rent or buy a bicycle or motorbike in Malaysia. It can be an enjoyable activity and mode of transport in remote and less developed areas. On the other hand, in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru, you should remain particularly vigilant because the traffic in these cities can make driving difficult, and Malaysian motorists are notorious for not always following traffic laws or drive carefully.

Riding a motorbike is quite common in Malaysia but is considered quite dangerous. You can find bike and motorbike rental agencies across the country, especially in tourist areas. You will need to present an international driving license to drive a motorcycle.

Useful links:


Keretapi Tanah Melayu - National Railway Company

Malaysian Motorcycle Getaways

Bus companies:

Konsortium Transnasional Berhad






Malaysia Airlines

MA Swings


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.