Car Rental in Malaysia: Top 5 Destinations
Renting a car in Malaysia is up there on our list of unforgettable experiences. Locals and Singaporeans alike are flocking to Southeast Asia’s biggest bird park (Melaka), Legoland Malaysia, and Hello Kitty Land, and the construction of a second terminal at Kuala Lumpur has been a boon for low-cost carriers.
Delve into Malaysian Borneo, from virtually undiscovered Kudat to the exclusive Gaya Island Resort on Pulau Gaya, or take a guided bike tour of Sabah. Here are our favourite car hire destinations in Malaysia:
Kuala Lumpur (or KL, as it is commonly known) is most people’s introduction to Malaysia. The country’s capital is a dazzling place of state-of-the-art high rises, exclusive shopping malls, and plush hotels, but you can still find elements of the city’s colonial past tucked between the cutting-edge constructions.
Kuala Lumpur’s 19th-century city centre, Merdeka Square, features such fine examples of British architecture as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the Royal Selangor Club, and the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. Head south, along Jalan Petaling and the areas nearby to find the vibrant shops and food stalls of Chinatown. You’ll find Little India in the area around the Jamek Mosque, with its distinctive flower stalls, Indian Muslim and Malay traditions and costumes.
Head across the Klang River for Lake Gardens, which is a city sanctuary for birds, butterflies, and other natural attractions. The modern section of Kuala Lumpur is largely confined to the so-called Golden Triangle, between Jalan Ampang, Jalan Tun Razak, and Jalan Imbi. You can’t miss the Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s tallest twin towers.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, George Town and Penang Island are the perfect location for the hire car adventurer. Named after the British King George III, George Town wears its colonial history beautifully, presenting a multicultural mix that is irresistible. Bustling shophouses (shops with living quarters upstairs) still line the narrow streets, and the town’s newer buildings blend well with the preserved historic churches, temples, and mosques mingle with the city’s newer architecture.
Hire a car at Penang Airport and take a trip to Aye Itam village to admire the spectacular views from the Ayer Itam dam, positioned high above the Kek Lok Si temple. More magnificent views lie in store at Muka Head Lighthouse on Penang Island’s north-western cape. Drive to Teluk Bahang jetty, and then opt either for a boat trip to the lighthouse or a trek up the hill.
The capital of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is the liveliest city in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur. It was totally destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II and rebuilt in the 1950s according to a neat grid system. The bustling main street is lined with traditional shophouses, and the vibrant markets sell everything from fish and orchids to baskets and chickens.
Hire a car in Kota Kinabalu, and you have the perfect mode of transport for exploring the lush expanses of Kinabalu National Park. Climbers will be thrilled by the prospect of climbing Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest peak, at 4,095 metres. The prospect of more outdoor activities awaits 145km away in Crocker Range National Park, an exciting location for jungle trekking and camping.
Penang Batu Ferringhi
If you’re in Malaysia to sunbathe, welcome to Batu Ferringhi. A resort district extending along Jalan Batu Ferringhi on the island of Penang, the beach is well served by major hotels, tourist shops and restaurants. You will also find an excellent night market and an art gallery selling everything from jewelry and woodcarvings to pewter and batik paintings.
This is one of Malaysia’s most intensively developed resort districts, so the water quality and the scenery are not as pristine as you might like. Nonetheless, you will still find swathes of white sand framed by palm trees, and if you hire a car in Batu Ferringhi and head further west, you will find the beaches are less touristy. Even better, the hotels offer some exceptional deals, and the food is pretty good too.
Johor Bahru, the capital of Malaysia’s most southerly state, has few attractions of note apart from good food, but it makes a great base for exploring southern Malaysia’s wonderful attractions. The Seribuat Archipelago, for example, is a paradise world of palm-fringed islands, accessible from the fishing village and sea port of Mersing, just 12km from the coast of Johor.. Hire a car at Senai Airport and get ready to discover.
If you enjoy trekking and climbing, you are in the right place. Johor’s highest peak, the 1,276 metre Gunung Ledang, offers views of the Straits of Melaka and the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra. Endau-Rompin National Park, which overlaps the border between the states of Johor and Pahang, also offers excellent hiking through virgin dipterocarp forest. It is also a habitat for several endangered species, including the two-horned Sumatran rhinoceros.