Tailor-Made Holiday

Self Drive - the Malaysian Peninsula

16 days

from £2,395pp (excluding flights)

A self-drive itinerary to Malaysia will naturally route south to north, taking in the main highlights of the Peninsular. From the south, Malacca, with its colonial history, Kuala Lumpur - the vibrant capital and further north the coastline and hill resorts of Cameron Highlands with its Straits Chinese influences. Slow the pace with a final stop at one of the many beach resorts on Penang or Langkawi. 

  • Trishaw to Macalister street for skewers of fish and spring roll pancakes whilst in Penang
  • Wander around the shuttered Chinese shop houses of Malacca
  • The east coast of Malaysia is one long tropical sandy beach, waiting to be explored
  • Go off the beaten track and travel through ancient jungle on the east to west Highway 

What do you need to know about this self-drive holiday to Malaysia

Malaysians drive on the left hand side of the road at manageable speeds. The road network in Malaysia is modern and to the nervous foreigner is a dream compared to other Asian countries. Malaysia is untrammelled by bullock carts and wandering cattle, which often make neighbouring countries harder to navigate.

Driving in the big cities, such as Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown can be quite hectic, but outside of these cities the roads are relatively quiet. The efficient North – South Expressway runs the length of the country. The country is safe and organised. We recommend collecting the car after a visit to the vibrant capital.  

Malaysia has it all – unspoiled beaches, culture, wildlife and nature. The joy of driving is you can choose where to stop, and where to eat. Be something of a novelty on road side stalls. Take time and hone your photography skills as you pass through paddy fields and ancient jungle. Feel free to bid farewell to your vehicle from time to time to visit islands on the east coast, such as the car free island of Perhentian.  Malayasia has a relative absence of car crime when leaving vehicles unattended.

Here at Steppes we highly rate the rugged, deserted coastline of the east, lapped by the South China Sea, peppered with islands that make up protected marine parks.  With its evident strong Muslim influence, Malay traditions and local artistry on show at the road sides of sleepy fishing kampongs, the two coastlines are miles apart, not just literally.

Smaller islands, such as Penang, being 70km in circumference can be circumnavigated.  Tea plantations in Cameron Highlands offer stunning scenery. Visit one of the pristine rainforests on this peninsula. Belum is one of the oldest rainforests in the world and home to incredible wildlife and the largest concentration of hornbills anywhere on earth. 

Where will I stay on this self-drive holiday to Malaysia

Ranging from eco-tourism homestays in local kampongs (villages) to five star resorts, and everything in between, this self-drive holiday covers all the spectrums and experiences on offer in one trip.

When best to visit Malaysia

Ideally avoid the rainy season when planning a self drive holiday. The East Coast Peninsula has rainfall between October and February with many islands inaccessible by public boat at this time.  The west coast is best avoided April, May, and again in October and November. March can be considered between seasons on both coast lines. British summer holidays fit perfectly with this destination and makes an ideal family holiday.


For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 2395 £ 800
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Economy flight between Colombo and Male


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Kuala Lumpur overnight

Day 2

Night Tour of Kuala Lumpur
In the early evening transfer to visit the livelier parts of the city such as the open air bazaar of Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur Tower, Independence Square and the Petronas Twin Towers before sitting down to dinner at a recommended local restaurant.

You will be staying at Shangri La Traders Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Collection of Hire Car at Airport
Return to the airport to pick up your hire car for your self drive holiday. In Malaysia they drive on the left and are courteous. You will be assisted today at collection.

Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca (Road Journey)

Today drive to Malacca.

Private Full Day Tour of Malacca
The cities strategic location led to an economic boom, great enough to cause nations to fight for ruling rights. It is through 600 years of various European influences that gave birth to a unique heritage, customs and lifestyle of the local folks. Malacca was also the state where Malaysia's declaration of Independence was held. The tour highlights St Peter's Church, Porta De Santiago and the ruins of St Paul's Church, Dutch Administration office, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple & Jonker Street. Lunch and entrance fees are included.

You will be staying at The Majestic, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Drive from Malacca to Cameron Highlands (Road Journey)

Malacca to Cameron Highlands is 3.5 hrs driving time

Cameron Highlands Highlights
This fascinating tour will cover most of the highlights of the highlands. We will begin by cruising through the green carpets of BOH plantation - the pioneer of the growers in Malaysia. Founded in 1929 by John Archibald Russell, a Scottish, this vast estate is still owned and managed by the family till today. After the guided tour to the tea factory, our next visit will be the main revenue earner of the Cameron Highlands - the flower and vegetable farming. Here, one will not only see the various types of flowers and vegetables but also the methods used by the industrious local farming community. After that, we will visit local market where most of the local produce can be found.

You will be staying at Cameron Highlands Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Drive from Cameron Highlands to Belum (Road Journey)

You will be staying at Belum Rainforest Resort, Half board

Day 6

Time at Leisure

You will be staying at Belum Rainforest Resort, Half board

Day 7

Drive from Belum to Penang (Road Journey)

Today we leave this magnificent natural paradise to travel overland to the heritage city of Penang,

You will be staying at The Blue Mansion, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

City Orientation Tour
The largely Chinese city is packed with colonial architecture, shophouses and a maze of narrow lanes and boulevards. The tour takes in Fort Cornwallis, the landing site of the British in 1786, visiting the Clan Jetties and Weld Quay. Pitt Street, known as ‘The Street of Harmony’ with churches, Chinese temples, mosques and Hindu temples built almost side by side.

You will be staying at The Blue Mansion, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Drive from George Town Penang to Kota Bharu (Road Journey)

Today you drive from west to east coast on the highway - a drive of approximately 5 hours

You will be staying at Pasir Belanda, Full board

Day 10

Activities at Pasir Belanda
Activities available during a stay at Pasir Belanda include

- Cooking Classes

-Batik Workshop

-Cycling Tours

-Kite decoration workshop

-Boating alng the Keladi river

-Country Tour

You will be staying at Pasir Belanda, Full board

Day 11

Drive from Kota Bharu to Perhentian Besar (Road Journey)

Park the car at a private car port today and board the ferry to Perhentian Islands

You will be staying at Perhentian Island Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Day at Leisure for Diving
Perhentian is renowned for both its diving and snorkelling.

You will be staying at Perhentian Island Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Drive from Perhentian Besar to Kuala Terengganu (Road Journey)

Today the drive to Kuala Terengganu is approximately three hours

You will be staying at Terrapuri Heritage Village, Bed & Breakfast

You will be staying at Tanjong Jara Resort, Bed & Breakfast

Day 14

Activities whilst at Terrupuri
During a stay at Terrupuri the following activities can be organised -

-Fire Fly Tour

-Cycle around Mangkuk Village

You will be staying at Tanjong Jara Resort, Bed & Breakfast

You will be staying at Terrapuri Heritage Village, Bed & Breakfast

Day 15

Fly Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur

Fly Kuala Lumpur to London


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Cameron Highlands Resort

Cameron Highlands Resort

Set amidst tea plantations and rolling hills, this boutique hideaway promises all the splendour, romance and nostalgia of Cameron Highlands’ grand colonial heritage....

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Shangri La Traders Hotel

Shangri La Traders Hotel

The Traders Hotel is a contemporary city centre hotel , just opposite the Petronas Twin Towers....

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Tanjong Jara Resort

Tanjong Jara Resort

This small and beautifully restored resort is styled on a typical 17th century Malay palace....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Malaysia

Clare Higginson, Travel Expert

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Deborah Brock-Doyle, Travel Expert

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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Holiday Ideas in Malaysia

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