Solo Travel in Malaysia
Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Cultural GatG, Foodie GatG, Wildlife GatG
Malaysia is a wonderful country to explore. Malaysian cities are vibrant, cultural and historic and solo travel in Malaysia is easy with the tourism infrastructure. Below is my travel guide on how to travel solo in Malaysia including the best place to stay in Malaysia, best things to do in Malaysia, where to visit in Malaysia as a solo, which tour company to use, and how to get around Malaysia.
Find the best place to travel alone in Malaysia, how to get from the airports, an itinerary of Malaysia, and what to see in Malaysia. All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article to find the best of Malaysia for you.
N.b. For every booking made through this article, I donate money to projects helping vulnerable girls about the globe. Thank you for helping to make a difference to their lives.
- Places To Visit in Malaysia
- Tours in Malaysia
- Where To Stay in Malaysia
- Things To Do in Malaysia Solo
- How To Travel in Malaysia
- Malaysia Itinerary
- Best Time To Go To Malaysia
- Travel Insurance For Malaysia
- Airports in Malaysia
- Travelling Onwards
- How To Be a Conscious Traveller in Malaysia
- Frequently Asked Questions About Malaysia
- Map of Malaysia
- Plan a Trip to Malaysia
- Related Posts
Solo Travel in Malaysia
As a woman travelling solo in Malaysia you shouldn't have any problems travelling to Malaysia. That's why we've given the country 4 out of 5 stars. There is begging in the country so expect people to come onto buses or approach you outside the restaurants.
Is Malaysia safe for solo female travellers? Yes, but as with anywhere be careful at night and also with your belongings in the capital as bag snatching on motorbikes has been known. Being a country with three religions and races it is very cosmopolitan and although you may still be in the minority, the race difference isn’t so obvious so you can mingle in and not feel like an outsider.
Mainland Malaysia is on the backpacker route from Thailand to Singapore. If you want to avoid the travelling route, then the places to go in Malaysia is to head for the hills or the jungle to avoid the other travellers. But you may prefer the comfort of the Malaysia cities and villages rather than remote places like Borneo when travelling solo in Malaysia.
Do I recommend solo female travel Malaysia? Yes! The locals in Kuching even stop you in the street to say “Hello.” Malaysia is a wonderful country to explore independently but if you don't have much time and you want to travel with others, you may feel more comfortable in a group tour to Malaysia instead.
Places To Visit in Malaysia
Malaysia is a land of sweeping coastlines and coral-fringed islands where mountains meet dense rainforests and unspoiled wilderness. It may not have the exhilarating nightlife of Thailand or be as cheap but it is more laid-back and less crowded and is bursting with heritage, culture, islands, beaches and Highlands.
* Before you travel, check what paperwork or visas are required for Malaysia.
Start your trip with Kuala Lumpur solo travel, a top Malaysia holiday destination and one of the top places to visit in Malaysia. It is a beautiful city with a mix of architecture from the Victorian old train station to a mini Opera House. Spending time in the capital is a must, if not just for the sparkling Petronas Towers, one of the popular Kuala Lumpur tourist attractions and a Malaysia must see. At 452 metres high, they were once the tallest towers in the world.
Places to visit in Kuala Lumpur include China Town where the atmosphere is electric, especially at the night markets. The restaurants are some of the cheapest places to eat rice and noodles but you may want to escape the heat and head to one of the shopping centres. Pavilion is an award-winning shopping centre in Bukit Bintang, with plenty of indoor entertainment and its newest addition, the Crystal Fountain at its entrance.
KL also has the largest indoor theme park which you'll find inside the Berjaya Times Square Hotel, but if you prefer something a bit more refined, one of the non touristy things to do in Malaysia is to watch a show at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre.
TIP – If you are planning Kuala Lumpur solo travel for a few nights, consider purchasing the Kuala Lumpur City Pass. See the highlights of Kuala Lumpur with just one pass and receive exclusive discounts at restaurants and retail outlets. * Buy the Kuala Lumpur City Pass here
Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur
If you're wondering where to go in Malaysia for the best view of Kuala Lumpur? The tower observation deck at the Kuala Lumpur Tower has a better view than the Petronas Towers. As well as the city you can also see the Klang Valley and the Genting Highlands. If you need an activity for the evening you may prefer to see the skyline from one of the city's rooftop bars instead: Marini's On 57, or Skybar in the Trader's Hotel are two of our favourites.
If you love temples, other things to see in Kuala Lumpur are Thean How Temple, southwest of the city. Known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven it has six tiers and is one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. The Sez Ya Temple is the oldest Taoist temple in the city and is reachable by the LRT, the Malay rail which runs frequently throughout the city.
Arty and Museum GatGs may like the House Gallery Museum of Ethnic Arts which is located in Central Market. It's a private museum with ethnic artwork and artefacts from Borneo and beyond. The Central Market is designed in a 1930's Art Deco style and is a great place to buy any arty souvenirs with prices usually cheaper than Downtown. The National Museum isn't that big but it does give you a good insight into the country's history.
If you're looking for some nature in Kuala Lumpur, Perdana Botanical Garden is situated on a hill in the city and is a must see in Malaysia to escape the bustle of the city. There are lakefront trails, an orchid garden, fountains and the country's national flower in the hibiscus garden. You could easily spend a couple of hours exploring here.
Day Trips From Kuala Lumpur
From Kuala Lumpur you can take various day trips to Malaysia to places such as the Batu Caves, an important place of worship for Hindus. The limestone cave temples and tallest statue of a Hindu god in Malaysia is only a short train ride away.
If you’re a wildlife GatG, Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is the perfect place to see Asian elephants and learn how rangers rehabilitate and relocate wild elephants. This shelter raises mainly orphaned elephants and you can watch them being fed and bathed whilst learning more about their survival.
A short train ride from KL is the city of Putrajaya known for its 20th century architecture and mosque. The Putra Mosque is a stunning pink mosque as it's made from rose-coloured granite with a pink dome.
Visit the East and you’ll see that Malaysia is no stranger to eco-tourism. The country has been practicing the principles for over two decades and the rugged region of Sarawak in Borneo is one of the world’s most bio-diverse areas. Sarawak has more than 600 species of trees including the beautiful orchids known to Asia. Head to Mulu National Park for the largest limestone caves in the world.
Solo female travel Borneo for the world's third largest island, known for jungle experiences and rugged wilderness. This is the also the destination for wildlife and orangutan lovers. Sarawak has nearly 30 species of large mammals including the proboscis monkey which you can see at Bako National Park or Tunjung Puting National Park (on the Indonesian side of Borneo).
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is the largest Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sarawak. Here you can see orangutans in their natural rainforest habitat. For amphibians, the frog pond at Kubah National Park is famed as “the most beautiful sound in the world.”
For active GatGs, Gunung Mulu National Park is ideal for hiking and caving. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the places to visit in East Malaysia, known for its limestone cliffs and dramatic peaks. Located in the jungle there are various day or multi-day hikes you can do here.
Walk along the Canopy Skywalk or step inside Deer Cave, a huge cave full of bats which dramatically fly from the cave at sunset.
Visit the capital Kuching for colourful cultural performances, stroll along the esplanade or haggle for crafts and souvenirs from the main bazaar. Sarawak Culture Village provides an insight into the Sarawak tribal life or if you prefer to stay overnight with the locals, try a cultural homestay with the local longhouse tribe – known for their welcoming hospitality.
Sabah is home to Mount Kinabalu, the highest point in Southeast Asia at 4000 metres above sea level. Sabah Malaysia is situated in north Borneo. If you're feeling really adventurous you could climb Mount Kinabalu, or just watch the sunset over the Kota Kinabalu waterfront instead.
Islands in Malaysia
The islands are the places to travel alone in Malaysia if you are after sun, sea and plenty of sand and turquoise waters. The coral reefs of the coast of Kota Kinabalu are a magnet for snorkelers. Turtle Island is a breeding ground where you can accompany rangers on their daily turtle routine and swim with the turtles.
The Perhentian islands are some of the best solo travel destinations in Malaysia. For female solo travel Malaysia, these idyllic tropical islands are known for their fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving where you can spot reef sharks, angelfish and other marine life. They are also a solo backpacker Malaysia destination for those combining Malaysia with a Thailand itinerary.
Reachable from Kota Bahru, there are two main islands named Kecil and Besar. Kecil is where you can meet others and enjoy beach parties at night, and Besar is more for people who are looking for a relaxing destination.
Swim with reef sharks off the Perhentian Islands, or just relax on the paradise island of Pankor Laut. Redang is a secret island ideal for divers and snorkelers which is reachable by boat from Kuala Terengganu.
Head North to the Cameron Highlands, five hours North of KL for a cooler climate and tours around tea plantations, honey and strawberry farms and drop in on the giant insects at the Butterfly farm. Tanah Rata is the biggest town here where you can find hiking trails and the night market. If you suffer from travel sickness, beware as half of the journey is uphill with many windy turns.
The Northern region is more developed than other places in the country. Penang is an island linked to the mainland with a China Town, Little India, temples and a water village all within walking distance. Georgetown is the capital of Penang. It is one of the safest cities in Malaysia and safest place in Malaysia. This is the city to come to admire street art and soak up the hipster scene. Its other Malaysia attractions are its temples. There's even a snake temple outside of the city.
Penang has some of the best street food in Malaysia but one of the best things to do in Penang is to dine with a 360 degree view. Book a table at the Three Sixty Revolving Restaurant and Rooftop Bar to get the full experience. Chulia Street is one of the liveliest streets in Penang where you will find budget accommodation and Malay cuisine. If you are here on a Sunday, pay a visit to the Hin Bus Depot market, one of the things to see in Malaysia for handicrafts, and free things to do in Malaysia too.
For the beach, head to Batu Ferringhi, a beach resort where you can find water sports and plenty of seafood, as well as traditional batik clothing in the local shops. For nature, spend time in Penang National Park, where you may be lucky enough to spot a lemur or monkey.
If you prefer somewhere with a little more history for your solo trip Malaysia, try Perlis, the northern gateway to Malaysia with history dating back to 1800. Kedah is the most ancient state in Malaysia with history that dates back even further to the 5th century AD.
A Langkawi solo trip is the ideal place to vacation alone in Malaysia if you just want to lay on an island beach. This tropical gem of coconut trees and powder-fine sand is the perfect setting to relax and chill. The busiest place here is Pantai Cenang where you'll find water sports, luxury hotels and plenty of international and Malay restaurants. You can easily reach Langkawi by boat from Perlis or Penang.
On the east coast you’ll find an atmosphere that is so laidback it’s practically horizontal. It's an oasis of serenity where time virtually stands still.
Taman Negara National Park is the world's oldest tropical rainforest at 130 million years old. This national park is home to a 510 meters long suspension bridge and has plenty of Malaysia activities such as night walks, fishing and river trips. If you don't make it to Borneo on your solo trip in Malaysia, then this national park on the peninsula is one of the best places to go in Malaysia for a jungle experience with both budget and luxury accommodation.
If you prefer somewhere a little more lively, Cherating Beach is Asia’s first Club Med and is lined with hotels and resorts catering for every budget. Terengganu has a sweeping coastline and many homestay villages to sample rural life in Malaysia. Kelantan is more rustic and is known as the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture,’ for its quaint villages and houses on stilts.
The southern region is more for heritage and history lovers. Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage City with 600 years of history. Take a river cruise, or visit the museum. One of the things to do in Malaysia at night is to watch the light and sound show. You may find it a bit touristy and overpriced so avoid it if you're looking for things to do in Malaysia on a budget and spend the night at Jonker Street night market, sampling the cuisine and watching the free entertainment instead.
Visit Negeri Sembilan for unique unswept roof designs synonymous with the Minangkabau culture, or Johor Bahru for historical architecture which is linked by expressway to Singapore. If you love tribes, one of the best places in Malaysia is Orang Asli where you can visit the indigenous inhabitants who still with a traditional blow tube. Just seeing this old tradition is one of the unique things to do in Malaysia.
These are just some of our favourite places for Malaysia solo travel, but there are other places to visit in the country too. To add to your solo trip to Malaysia you could visit: Lata Iskandar for waterfalls, Kuala Kangsar for natural rubber trees, Sam Poh Tong for Buddhist and Chinese cave temples, or Kuantan the capital of Pahang with a bustling township with interesting sites.
From gentle walks and snorkelling to the hair-raising thrills of roller-coaster rides, Malaysia has no shortage of adventures. Solo travel Malaysia for whitewater rafting, fishing, sailing or birdwatching, or choose a four-wheel drive expedition to see why Malaysia is truly Asia.
If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your Malaysia trip or for your entire trip to Malaysia G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most small group tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Gadventures Malaysia tours start from 5 days and include activities such as trekking Mount Kinabalu up to an epic 41 day trip from Bangkok to Kuta. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company. * Check rates and availability for G Adventures Malaysia tours
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people using their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more costly than G Adventures. They organise trips in Malaysia such as a 9 day Borneo hike, bike and kayak, or a 21 day journey through the best of Borneo. Read our Intrepid Travel Reviews
For all their tours to Malaysia, you generally share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
More for the adventurous GatG, Stray is a hop on hop off bus tour offering bus passes around Asia. They also offer trips to Borneo where you can explore the world’s oldest rainforest, get up close and personal to orang-utans, and dive in some of the world’s top dive sites.
If you’re planning on travelling Southeast Asia in two or more months and want the flexibility to go with the flow and meet lots of other travellers, Stray is an ideal choice. If you visit during the peak season you may need to pre-book all sections of your trip before you go. Check the review here.
If you are looking for local Malaysia tours, the following tour companies have been recommended by solo females:
- Borneo Eco Tours – A responsible travel company with community based tourism and tours.
- Picnic With The Penan – An authentic jungle experience venturing into the Penan jungle and villages.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and tours in worldwide destinations including Malaysia. As well as day tours in the capital, they offer Malaysia tours from Kuala Lumpur. Choose from a skip-the-line ticket to the Petronas Twin Towers, a tour to the Batu Caves and Cameron Highlands, or a street food bike tour in Borneo. Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty to book as a solo and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability of the tour in Malaysia that you want to do, then book online. * Check rates and availability: Malaysia day tours
There are plenty of types of accommodation in Malaysia including home stays, cheap Malaysia hotels and luxury Malaysia accommodation. If you are backpacking Malaysia there are hostels throughout the country for the more budget-conscious solo. But as accommodation is such great value here you could treat yourself to a 5-star luxury resort in Langkawi, for example.
If you prefer to stay with locals when you travel to Malaysia, you'll find plenty of local places to stay with Airbnb. All of the accommodations below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement. * Check rates and availability for all accommodation in Malaysia
The Traders Hotel is just fabulous. It offers views of the Petronas Towers (one of the best places to visit in Malaysia) and has plenty to keep you entertained during your stay. You can relax in the open-air Sky Bar, take a steam bath or chill out in the hot tub in the Spa area, or enjoy a variety of Western, Asian and grilled cuisine.
There is a gym with a city view for those wanting to keep their fitness levels up or you can enjoy a walk or morning run in the hotel surroundings. Choose from a deluxe room, a Traders Club room, a suite or deluxe garden view room. You can upgrade to a view of the Twin Towers. * Check rates and availability: Traders Hotel
This simple but friendly hostel is the perfect place for those who want to meet others in Langkawi. They have a communal lounge and darts room and the hostel seems to attract sociable travellers.
The beach is only a 5 minute walk and the town takes approximately 20 minutes or you can rent one of the hostel bikes. It is quirky but it’s great value for money. Choose from a bed in a 4 bed mixed dorm or a double or twin room with shared bathroom. * Check rates and availability: Boxpackers Langkawi
Friendly, quiet and clean, this hotel has a garden and a salt water pool to lounge around at during the day or you can take the free shuttle to the beach or mall. The rooms are clean and quiet and have their own little pation. Inside is a satellite TV to keep you occupied at night, a fridge and a kettle. There is also free drinking water.
The beach is easily walkable and only a 15 minute walk away. It’s a great property to be away from the hustle and bustle if you need some alone time. A good breakfast is included in your room rate. Choose from a superior queen road or a standard or deluxe room. * Check rates and availability: Langkawi Chantique
This friendly Malaysia guest house in Penang is located in the centre of Georgetown. The staff are really helpful and there is a girls-only room for those of us who prefer to share a room with the same gender. There is a restaurant onsite so you don’t have to go far to enjoy some local cuisine. The beach is only a few minutes away too.
The 24 hour front desk is ideal if you are arriving at night. All rooms have their own private bathrooms and come with mini toiletries. Choose from a 4 bedroom female-only dorm, a 6 bed mixed dorm or a double room. * Check rates and availability: Dou Houz Guest House
Penang, Noordin Mews – $$
If you love shopping, this boutique hotel is only 5 minutes from the shopping area of Penang. It’s near to the bus station if you are arriving to or from Penang by bus. Cafes are also nearby so you can enjoy local food on your doorstop or just have a drink at the hotel bar.
This historical building is a peaceful haven from the city of George Town. It has a nice ambience and is the perfect place to unwind with an outdoor swimming pool to cool off from the heat. The rooms have nice decor and come with a TV and a fan or air con.
There is also luggage storage if you decide to take a trip outside of Penang. Choose from a double room or a suite. * Check rates and availability: Noordin Mews
If you are wondering what to do in Malaysia alone, below are my top experiences that you shouldn't miss on your tour of Malaysia:
1. Petronas Towers – The Petronas Towers are the most popular tourist attraction in the city. See the skyline of Kuala Lumpur from the Petronas Towers which offer a breathtaking view of the capital city. * BOOK Petronas Towers tour
2. Private tour to the Batu Caves – One of the other places to see in Malaysia is the Batu Caves. Leave Kuala Lumpur and head north to follow in the footsteps of Hindu pilgrims on a 3.5-hour tour to the Batu Caves. Don’t forget to say hello to the monkeys too. * BOOK Batu Caves tour
3. Snorkeling day trip to Sapi & Manukan Island – Spend a day snorkelling around two of the five islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Get picked up from your accommodation and taken back at the end of the day. There’s also the optional extra to parasail, jet ski or scuba dive. * BOOK Sapi & Manukan Island day trip
4. Langkawi: Geopark eco zipline adventure – For fun things to do in Malaysia, if you love adventure, the Geopark is one of the Malaysia tourist attractions for getting the heart pumping. This is such a unique way to see the oldest rainforest in the world. Zip line your way above the treetops past the waterfall on a Malay adrenalin rush. * BOOK Geopark zip line adventure
How To Travel in Malaysia
Public Transport Malaysia – Malaysian public transportation is good enough to get around the country. Buses are cheap and operate all over Malaysia but even though they do operate on a more relaxed ‘Asia time,’ they are comfortable enough for travelling around Malaysia. Be prepared that some bus journeys can take hours so you may prefer to take one of the night buses to save time. Book your ticket at one of the many local tour companies or download the redBus app.
Getting around Kuala Lumpur – If you enjoy walking you can walk but it will take time as the city isn't small. It's easier to jump on the bus but if you're planning to travel during the peak hours, take the light rail instead as the roads get really busy and the traffic is slow.
How to get around in Penang – If you plan to solo travel Penang by bus and are staying for a week in Penang, you can buy a Rapid Penang Tourist Passport which gives you unlimited travel and costs approximately RM20.
Ferries operate between Langkawi and Penang but avoid using them in the rainy season if you can as the journey can be rough. Air Asia has cheap internal flights and are ideal if want to visit the Malaysia major cities but don’t have much time. Click here for domestic airlines. You could also try the Malaysian railway system such as the express trains that operate from Kuala Lumpur to various destinations in Malaysia and even onto Thailand. Find out more here
If you choose to drive, the West coast is accessible by the north-south Expressway which links the coast roads and all signs are in English. To hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
For some authentic transport around Malaysia, climb aboard the North Borneo Railway. Running between Kota kinabalu and Sabah, this old steam train is one of the best ways of getting around Borneo and experiencing the countryside and landscape on vintage transportation in Malaysia.
If you are travelling Malaysia solo at night in a taxi be prepared to pay 50% on top of the meter price to the drivers. Yellow or blue taxis are more expensive but will save you having to barter for your fare during the day. You may prefer to download an app such as Uber or Grab than take a cab from the street.
There are so many areas of Malaysia that it could take a month to see every single destination in one Malaysia trip. If you only have two or three weeks for your Malaysia solo trip you can still see the highlights of the country. Here are suggestions for an itinerary for Malaysia from a week in Malaysia, to 3 weeks in Malaysia.
Malaysia Itinerary 7 Days:
- Kuala Lumpur (3 nights), Cameron Highlands (2 nights), Ipoh (2 nights)
- Kuala Lumpur (3 nights), Penang (4 nights)
Malaysia Itinerary 10 Days:
- Kuala Lumpur (4 nights), Cameron Highlands (3 nights), Ipoh (3 nights)
- Kuala Lumpur (3 nights), Penang (3 nights), Langkawi (4 nights)
- Kuala Lumpur (3 nights), Penang (3 nights), Cameron Highlands (2 nights), Melaka (2 nights). Travel onto Singapore from Melaka.
Malaysia Itinerary 2 Weeks:
- Kuala Lumpur (3 nights), Ipoh (2 night), Cameron Highlands (2 nights), Penang (3 nights), Langkawi (4 nights).
Malaysia Itinerary 3 Weeks:
- Borneo – Sabah or Sarawak (7 nights), Fly to Kuala Lumpur to begin the two itinerary as above.
Best Time To Go To Malaysia
The Malaysia climate can get really hot and humid so you may prefer to travel Malaysia in the driest season which is January and February. These are also some of the busiest months due to the Chinese New Year. Visit Turtle Islands park between March to September for turtle hatchings.
Rainy season is between September to November which can make any ferry crossings not that enjoyable as the seas can be rougher. If you are travelling to the east coast of the peninsula avoid the monsoon season from November to February for the beaches.
The best time to go to Malaysia are March to June. There is less rain during this time and you avoid the crowds.
This chart shows the average temperature in Malaysia. Below are the maximum temperatures for Kuala Lumpur from January to December.
Travel Insurance For Malaysia
Malaysia is a great destination to visit but it is always recommended to take out travel insurance when you travel solo Malaysia, especially if you are planning to trek or dive.
True Traveller and World Nomads are two insurance companies which can cover travel to Malaysia. True Traveller is available to UK and European residents, and World Nomads is available to over 100 countries worldwide, including the USA and UK. For digital nomads, Safety Wing is a nomad insurance that covers people from all over the world.
All companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional adventure cover.
N.b. World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.