Tips for Cycling in Malaysia

Tips for a successful bike tour in Malaysia

Every country has differences in the culture which can pose various challenges to bike tourists, but that usually aren’t evident until after some time. Hopefully these tips can help other cyclists so that they are prepared when they roll across the border.

Having spent 7 years living in Malaysia, I have travelled extensively over most of the country. Cycling is a huge sport in Malaysia with many cycling groups eager to invite tourists along on their rides and for a meal afterwards.

Tip #1

Currency

  •  The Malaysian ringgit trades for approximately 4-1 with the US dollar and 5-1 with the Euro

Tip #2

It’s best to use Grab rather than taxis

  • Malaysian taxis are notorious for overcharging their passengers and rarely want to use the meter.
  • Grab is a much cheaper, faster, and safer alternative
  • I’ve even put my bike in a grab when the tire exploded.

Tip #3

Careful for the sewer grates

  • After a lot of complains by cycling clubs around Kuala Lumpur, many of the grates have been fixed so that the slots in them are horizontal and wheels do not get stuck in them.
  • This is not always the case, so be careful.

Tip #4

Best beaches and islands to visit (in my opinion)

  • Redang Island (East coast – nicest island in Peninsula)
  • Perhentian Islands (East coast – near Kota Bharu)
  • Kapas Islands (East coast – near Kuala Terengganu)
  • Langkawi Island (West coast – north)
  • Cherating beach (East coast – near Kuantan)
  • Tioman Island (East coast – near Mersing)
  • Pangkor Island (West coast – near Lumut)

Tip #5

Best places I’ve cycled in Malaysia.

  • East coast Malaysia from the Thai border of Rantau Panjang  to Kota Bharu all the way down to Johor Bharu along the coast.
  • Circumnavigating Langkawi (66km) and Penang (80km)
  • Cycling Hwy. 4 over the mountains from Gerik to Tanah Merah
  • Port Dixon to Malacca (80km)

Tip #6

While there are many wonderful foods in Malaysia, these are some of my favourites after living there for 7 years.

  • Nasi lemak: coconut steamed rice with cucumber, anchovies and fish or chicken
  • Curry mee: coconut based curry soup with chicken, tofu, bean sprouts, chilli and noodles.
  • Banana leaf: Rice with Indian picked vegetable sides and chicken, mutton or fish sides
  • Chicken tandoori: Indian style tandoori chicken, often eaten with naan bread.
  • Roti canai: Indian style flatbread which can be ordered plain, with egg, chocolate, milk, etc.
  • Mee goreng: fried Chinese noodles with egg, chicken, vegetables, etc.
  • Char Kueh Teow: Best Chinese food in Malaysia. Includes kueh teow noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, cockels, Chinese sausage, eggs, bean sprouts and chives
  • Fish head curry: Enough said. Absolutely delicious

Tip #7

Connect with the local cycling groups. These are the ones I have cycled with.

  • KL Area: Bukit Jelutong Cycling Club (BJCC)
  • KL Area: South Puchong Cycling Club (SPCC)
  • KL Area: Pedaholics Cycling Club (PCC)
  • KL Area: EZ Riders
  • Kota Bharu: PHK Cycling Team

Tip #8

Free places to sleep

  • Buddhist temples and Thai temples in the north of the country.
  • Mosques will quite often accommodate people as well

Tip #9

Learn basic Malay

  • Satu (1), dua (2), tiga (3), empat (4), lima (5), enam (6), tujuh (7), lapan (8), sembilan (9), sepuluh (10)
  • Terimah kasih (thank you)
  • Boleh (may I)
  • Ya (yes), tidak (no)
  • Selamat pagi (good morning), selamat tengah hari (good afternoon), selamat petang (good evening), selamat malam (good night)
  • Makan (eat), makanan (food)

Tip #10

Beautiful country with wonderful people

  •  After Singapore, Malaysia is the next most developed country in SE Asia, although this is mostly only noticeable in the bigger cities such as those on the east coast.
  • Much less expensive than Singapore. An excellent place for a few days rest, good food, bars, clubs, hotels, etc.
About the Author
Traveller. Cyclist. Expat. Over 15 years experience living abroad in six different countries. I've travelled to over 40+ countries and met countless travellers, cyclists, and other expats. As a passionate cyclist I've had opportunities to bike tour in some truly amazing places. While definitely not an expert at bike touring, I'm passionate about sharing bike touring stories and helping others learn hacks, tricks, and techniques to improve their touring experience. I look forward to you joining me on this journey of learning about and becoming a better bike tourist.

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