10 days in Malaysia is the perfect length of time to experience the highlights of this Southeast Asian nation, or at least the highlights of Peninsula Malaysia. This country is so diverse and there are so many great places to visit in Malaysia that you will want to return time after time to explore everything there is to see here.
Our 10-day Malaysia itinerary will take you from Malaysia’s multicultural capital, along the western coast to the diverse city of Malacca, into the cool mountains of the Cameron Highlands and then north to the islands of Penang and Langkawi. If you have more than 10 days in Malaysia, then once you get back to Kuala Lumpur, you can even fly off to explore Malaysian Borneo.
The Best Time to Visit Malaysia
Malaysia’s location is close to the equator which ensures that the country experiences warm temperatures all year round. This is very much a tropical area though, so along with hot days, you can expect high levels of humidity and rainfall almost any time of the year. When visiting the west coast, it’s best to travel outside of the monsoon season. Monsoon season is generally expected between May and November, and you can expect frequent downpours during this time of the year. The dry season is between December and April, and the weather tends to be cooler, less humid and a lot less rainy. On the east coast of Malaysia and in Borneo, monsoon season is reversed in comparison to the west coast.
Check flights to Malaysia from the USA (starts at $393) and UK (starts at £342)
How to Get Around Malaysia
Peninsula Malaysia is very well connected, and there are excellent flight, train and road connections across the country. Kuala Lumpur acts as the transport hub and you can fly almost anywhere in the world from the busy international airport and all across Malaysia on the domestic network.
Recommendation: Use Bookaway to easily compare and book bus, ferry or train tickets in Malaysia.
From KL there are bus connections to all the major cities, as well as fast, regular and comfortable trains. Public transport is cheap and efficient, and it makes for an easy way to navigate the country, even with limited time. The longest journey you might need to undertake on this 10-day Malaysia itinerary is from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi, a journey which by bus and boat would take around nine hours, or just one hour when flying.
Accommodation in Malaysia
No matter your travel budget, Malaysia has plenty of accommodations. You’ll have your pick of everything from a luxury hotel to a cheap hostel as long as you book early enough, especially during high season. Depending on what type of accommodation you’re looking for, there’s a website that will lead you to the perfect place.
If you are on a budget and prefer to stay in hostels, check out Hostelworld for the best prices. For hotels take a look at Booking.com or Hotels.com. These sites continuously offer the cheapest rates on the web and have great customer service.
Airbnb is another great option, especially in KL where there are many nice luxury condos and aparthotels – some of them even cheaper than your regular ol’ hotel. If you’d like to try Airbnb, make sure to use our coupon code to get $50 off your first booking.
The Perfect 10-Day Malaysia Itinerary
Our 10-day Malaysia itinerary is designed for those visiting the country for the first time and for those who are looking to take in the highlights. There’s so much diversity in Malaysia that it’s impossible to see everything in such a short time frame, but this route will give you the best feel for the country’s best attractions. Starting in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll experience the best of the west coast and the Cameron Highlands, with enough time in each destination to enjoy the sites and to not feel rushed. Remember though, once you’ve seen the west coast, there’s still the east and there’s Malaysian Borneo to discover too.
However, before we get to our Malaysia itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
SafetyWing offers travel insurance for only about $10 a week, making it a no-brainer to get. You can get a quick, non-binding quote below:
SafetyWing is, of course, not the only option available. Two other popular alternatives are World Nomads and Heymondo.
Now that we’ve got that important trip essential addressed, let’s jump right into the best places to visit in Malaysia in 10 days.
Day 1: Kuala Lumpur
Start your 10-day Malaysia itinerary by exploring the best of Kuala Lumpur’s attractions. This is the Malaysian capital, and it’s where you are likely to start and end your journey if you are flying in and out of the country. The modern city has still managed to retain a sense of mixed colonial and Asian heritage, and it’s a wonderful place to begin to understand just what Malaysia is really all about.
Begin your journey by visiting the modern heart of the city, KLCC – Kuala Lumpur City Centre – where you can find the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Buy a ticket to the top of the viewing platform for incredible vistas over the city’s skyline. Explore the modern malls and in the evening head to Jalan Alor, one of the city’s most bustling night markets where you can enjoy a taste of Malaysian food.
Best Places to Stay in Kuala Lumpur:
Mandarin Oriental KL • Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur • Paper Plane Hostel
Day 2: Kuala Lumpur
Spend your second day in Kuala Lumpur, this time exploring the city’s heritage rather than its modern attractions. Begin with a visit to the National Museum, then walk through the busy streets of Chinatown, shop at the stalls in the Central Market and then take a look at the colonial architecture of Merdeka Square.
In the afternoon, catch a train from KL Sentral out of the city center and towards the Batu Caves. Hundreds of colorful steps lead to the cavernous entrance to this deep cave complex that while beautiful in itself, is made even more intriguing by the Hindu shrines and statues that have turned this into a place of worship too. For more information, take a look at our guide to visiting the Batu Caves.
Further reading: 3-Days in Kuala Lumpur: The Perfect Kuala Lumpur Itinerary
Day 3: Malacca
On day 3, make the two-hour journey to the coastal city of Malacca. This is one of Malaysia’s most historic cities, and here you can trace the evolution of Malacca from a small fishing village, to a Portuguese, Dutch, then British trading port. Explore the old ruined churches and forts before spending the afternoon wandering through the UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers many of the old streets of the city, including the famous Jonker Street.
Spend the evening along the river, take a cruise and then sit back at one of the many restaurants overlooking the water to enjoy some of the local Malaccan specialties.
Best Places to Stay in Malacca:
Imperial Heritage Hotel Melaka • Hatten Hotel Melaka • The Pines Melaka Hotel
Day 4-5: Cameron Highlands
Early on your 4th day in Malaysia, make the journey north towards the Cameron Highlands. This is a stunning area of natural beauty that, due to its higher elevation, is always much cooler than the coast. It makes for a wonderful escape from the humidity and gives you the chance to see the unique mixture of colonial British and authentic Malay culture that’s found here.
Spend the next two days hiking through the jungle, climbing mountains and visiting tea plantations and strawberry farms.
Best Places to Stay in Cameron Highlands:
Arundina Cameron Highlands • ATS Cameron Hotel • Casa Loma
Day 6-7: Penang
On day 6, travel from the Cameron Highlands to the island of Penang. This is one of the most diverse and interesting destinations in Malaysia, with a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western cultures merging beautifully to create a unique and historical location.
The diversity of Penang is best represented by the UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses the old streets of Georgetown. Spend your first day walking through ramshackled lanes, chasing down the numerous murals and colorfully designed pieces of street art and gorging on the seemingly endless variety of street food that’s waiting around every corner. Visit the Clan Jetties to see the authentic Chinese culture firsthand and to learn more about the multicultural influences that made Penang the place it is today.
Related: 3-Days in Penang: The Perfect Penang Itinerary
Wake up early on day 7, and spend the morning walking to the top of Penang Hill for expansive views over the island. If you are feeling lazy, you can even take the funicular to the summit. After visiting the hill, use the rest of the morning to travel to Kek Lok Si, which can claim to be one of the largest Buddhist temples in Malaysia. Delve into the Chinese culture before heading back to Georgetown to take the ferry across to the nearby island of Langkawi, a journey of around three hours.
Best Places to Stay in Penang:
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa • Campbell House • Hotel Equatorial Penang
Day 8-9: Langkawi
Langkawi is a tropical, duty-free island that makes the perfect destination to relax and unwind at the end of your packed Malaysia itinerary. This is Malaysia’s most popular holiday getaway, but you will still find that it’s surprisingly relaxed, undeveloped and quiet. Spend your first day enjoying the white sands of Cenang Beach, relax by the ocean, enjoy a few well-earned drinks at the rustic beachside bars and chill out in the sunshine.
Related: 3-Days in Langkawi: The Perfect Langkawi Itinerary
On day 9, you can either spend one last day on the beach doing nothing at all or you can take on a whistle-stop tour of Langkawi because actually, there’s much more here to see than just sand and sea. In the morning, take an island hopping tour around Langkawi, exploring the many spectacular tropical islets and remote beaches found in the area. When you get back, spend the afternoon visiting Langkawi Sky Bridge. A long cable car takes you to the top of one of the island’s tallest peaks, where a long bridge leads out between the mountains. This remarkable feat of engineering offers the best views of Langkawi and as far out to sea as the nearby Thai islands too.
Spend your last evening in Langkawi back at Cenang Beach watching the sunset over the ocean while you enjoy some refreshing drinks.
Best Places to Stay in Langkawi:
The Andaman • Vivanta By Taj • Tubotel Langkawi
Day 10: Kuala Lumpur / Departure
On the final day of your Malaysia itinerary, spend your time traveling back to Kuala Lumpur. From Langkawi, you can either make the journey by boat to the mainland before catching a bus or hop on a train to the capital. However, if you’d rather make the most of your time in the country, you can book a short domestic flight, allowing you to spend the day either relaxing on the beach in Langkawi or revisiting Kuala Lumpur.
Day 11+: Malaysian Borneo
If you have more than 10 days in Malaysia, then from Kuala Lumpur you can fly east to Malaysian Borneo. This is where you can experience the diversity of the rainforest, and it’s a completely unique experience in comparison to the mainland. Fly into Kuching to explore the national parks of Sarawak or fly to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah to journey into the rainforest in search of orangutans, to snorkel off the tropical coastline or to attempt the epic but challenging hike to the summit of the mighty Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest peak.
And there you have it – Malaysia in 10 days! Keep in mind, 10 days in Malaysia is just enough to give you a taste of what Malaysia has to offer. However, if you’re wanting to stay longer in any places on our Malaysia itinerary don’t hesitate, as this is your trip and we are just here to guide you through the best of Malaysia.
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