The west coast of Malaysia is too urban and developed. The roads are overcrowded and full of trucks. They drive aggressively and the roads are often without a shoulder. We planned to ride up the East Coast but we ran out of time. Mr. Pumpy recommends this ride. The East offers stricter Islam, better scenery, and poorer but quieter roads. Melaka, the Cameron Highlands and Penang were great. It is a place to go point to point like the back packers on busses. Connecting the dots on a bike was poor riding. The cycling highlight was the Cameron Highlands. Friendly people and delicious food.
How we rate this trip
They’ve discovered that motorcycle lanes (used by bikes also) make the roads far safer so they are building the new roads including the Expressways with separate motorcycle lanes. Also, sometimes there are wide shoulders. As it stands, its unpredictable when you will have these lanes so they will simply end and leave you on the busy roads.
The western side is the populated side of the peninsula. There’s plenty of traffic and lots of trucks. Even the lesser roads carried a lot of traffic.
Hot and humid. It rained almost everyday but for only part of the day. Torential downpours, then over. These kept the air quality much better. The Cameron Highlands were actually too cold for us. Jackets etc.
Generally, in March they were fickle but light. Mostly it seemed that they were from the northeast. They changed day to day, hour to hour and especially if a thunderstorm blew in.
Endless Palm oil plantations became boring. We seldom saw the sea. The coastal plain offers little. The scenic highlight was the Cameron Highlands both up and down.
So many speak English but so few are even remotely knowledgeable about their area. “How far?”, was answered with huge variations. One says 1K, the next 10Ks. At 32Ks away from the airport, we were told, “5 minutes on a bike”.
Road Safety: 2
Either you are very secure in a separate lane or dealing with the busy roads in the traffic. The 2-lane roads are wide but still you are in harms way especially with the big vehicles. We had lanes 40% of the time.
General Safety: 8
We were seldom worried. Even the cities were safe to walk in at night. We never encountered anyone who had any problems.
Great Malay food at cheap prices. The accommodation was adequate but has risen in price recently. Beer, wine and other drinks including water is fairly expensive by Asian standards.
Bottled water is always available. A large variety of cold drinks are available at the connivance stores (7-11’s) Beer and wine are available especially at the Chinese stores but it is expensive.
There’s Chinese, Indian and Malay. We mostly ate tasty and fresh Malay curries and loved them. Its very influenced by India. Very good Indian and Chinese food is also available.
Even the smaller cities had descent places to stay. There is almost always a range from budget to quality and in between. A mid range hotel would cost from $20 – $30US.
Very friendly and welcoming. They would try very hard to help us with information. Their intentions were great but often they really couldn’t relate to what we were trying to find. We were surprised by this friendliness and openness.
The Malays, the Chinese and the Indians make up this cultural stew. Very interesting. They keep their identity but they live with each other. The colonial and Chinese parts of Penang and Melaka were of great interest. We saw more of China in China town in Melaka than in most of China. Melaka is a highlight.
Very little of interest except in Penang and Melaka. Usually the small cities were simple concrete wastelands.