Cycling in Malaysia was not the most exciting experience for us. Scenery was not the most stunning, food was not the most delicious, local people were lukewarm and the roads were not inspiring. When we found ourselves far away from the tourist crowds, all the cheap accommodations were gone too. Even we stayed on the east coast where it is supposed to be cheaper than the west coast, the price for a budget hotel room was shockingly expensive. Traveling in Malaysia is a family activity, most accommodation facilities are designed for families with kids. For Muslim couples you have to show your marriage certificate in order to get a room, so sex motels are unheard of. Only in big towns can you find budget hotels. It is apparent that local economy suffers from the lack of tourists as many small businesses were abandoned.
- exotic animal sighting, most of the time in the form of roadkill;
- gorgeous beaches, free of people and garbage;
- at Lake Kenyir, the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia, we had the entire campsite to ourselves, and it was free;
- there are still some lush tropical forests to be found, despite the expansion of palm tree plantations.
When you see signs for Homestays, you probably expect staying with locals at an affordable price. There are plenty of homestays in Malaysia, but they are something different than what you would expect. Malaysian homestays are fully furnished houses for either short or long term rent. With kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, the price starts from 100 Ringgit. Not ideal for budget cyclists, who usually travel as a pack of 2 or less.
Resorts and chalets are the best bet for cheap rooms. Again, resorts and chalets in Malaysia are different from what you would expect. Most of the time less swanky than their western counterparts, resorts and chalets mainly target familys and if you are lucky, they might have a small room for 2 people at a lower price. But still, rooms are much more expensive than Thailand.
In towns that have Chinese population, hotels run by Chinese are great – clean, functional and cheap.
Rice or roti canai with sausy chicken, fish or beef as topping are very common for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is usually less than 5 Ringgit for a serving. Along the coast you can find deep fried seafood at a very reasonable price. There are a lot of hamburger stalls, selling spicy chicken or beef hamburgers. A standard hamburger costs 2 Ringgit, great for a snack.
Alcoholic beverages are banned in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, and you will have a hard time finding a beer in non-touristy towns. Even if you are lucky enough to find a beer in a Chinese restaurant or a 7/11 in a big city, be prepared to pay a high sin tax. Fresh coconuts are a better deal if you feel like splurging.
Mostly flat along the coast, the inland can be quite hilly though.
Hot and humid. The temperature is a bit over 30 Celsius degrees but the humidity makes it feel like 40. It does get cooler during the night in the mountains, but it gets warm quickly after sunrise. In Thailand we got up early (5am) to get some milage in before it got hot, but this trick didn’t work in Malaysia.
- March 17th: 10km Bike Ride from Satun to Tammalang Port, Boat Ride from Tammalang Port to Langkawi then to Kuala Perlis, 46km bike ride from Kuala Perlis to Alor Star, Followed by Overnight Bus Ride to Kota Bharu
- April 1st: Kota Tinngi to Johor Bahru - 41 km; Ferry to Batam Centre, Indonesia; Batam to Sekupang Ferry Terminal - 21.3 km