Top 3 best bicycle routes in Malaysia
Malaysia is absolute to be recommended as a cycling country. There are some awesome routes to explore. This page offers you a glimpse of the beauty of the country.
Penang: Air Itam - Balik Pulau
Visitors to Penang can enjoy some of the best bicycle routes in Malaysia close to a city center.
It all starts in Air Itam, which you might want to visit anyway because it is home to one of Penang's most famous temples: Kek Lok Si. Few tourist realize that behind the Kek Lok Si the jungle is still ruling this part of the island.
Take the road that swindles behind the temple. It ends at the Air Itam Dam but the story is far from over. You can cycle all the way across the island through small asphalt and cement roads to Balik Pulau, which is now more than a dozen km away.
On the way, at the top where there is a resting place, you can make a short detour to visit the Ngoh Han Hill temple. The temple itself is not that much of interest but the scenery from the temple is spectacular. On clear days you have a brilliant view over 25% of Penang with views to Balik Pulau and further to Pulau Betong. Few people know it, fewer ever visit. Get your bike and take a morning, you will find this one of the best things to do on bicycle in Penang.
More about this beautiful trail here which included both the trail to Air Itam Dam, Ngoh Han Hill Temple and Balik Pulau plus the way back into George Towbn.
Penang - Kulim - Taiping
Ask a local how he travels, heck even cycles from Penang to Taiping and he'll tell you he'd rather take the car on the highway or he/she takes the trunk road through Parit Buntar and Bagan Serai. Few realize there is an excellent road to explore that gives you slightly more km's (about 10 or so) to do but offers far better cycling options.
It starts in Penang and follows a small path out to Bukit Mertajam. From there you can visit the St. Anne's Church and a graveyard on the west side of the Kulim Hills (absolutely worth to do so). After Kulim the road continues either to Malang (long way) or direction Serdang before reaching Selama.
Again there are several excellent options but if you don't mind camping, take the road east for several km's. There's a waterfall where you can camp out.
After Selama you have several choices to reach Taiping, each with their own charm. You can check the details here and here. Here you find more about Penang to Taiping.
The East West Highway
The East-West Highway is a great road to cycle. It crosses the hills that separates the east and the west coast at the lowest point. Yet, you will have to climb up to over 1100 meters. In this part of the world that can be quite cold on rainy days.
The road starts in Gerik and leads to Jeli after which it becomes mostly a flat ride further to Kota Bahru.
The construction of the East-West Highway started in 1969 and was only completed in 1982. For the next 7 years it was still under military control but nowadays it's open to all traffic.
The highway is in total 167 km long but it's the stretch from Gerik to Jeli that is the most interesting. It can be done in a day as it is only 70km. Be prepared for some long climbs but you will be rewarded with some awesome decendings.
Not everywhere you will have spectacular views but in general it's a cool ride. There isn't a whole lot of traffic which makes it very pleasant cycling.
Accommodation can be found in Jeli, Tasik Temenggor at the lake side and in Gerik so it's not necessary to do the whole 70km in one jump. Further, at the highest point, you can camp. There's a restaurant and shops for water and other refreshments.
If you are lucky, you might see elephants resting in the morning using the warm asphalt to warm up. Tigers are reported in the northern jungle but there is no attack reported in recent years. It's perfectly save to cycle (cars are the more dangerous thing to worry about and there are not a lot on the highway anyway.
Although the highway is never far from Thailand, there is no border crossing on the road. The nearest border crossings are Betong, 50 km north of Gerik and 2 crossings in Kelantan, further east (Bukit Bunga, a few km from Jeli and Rantau Panjiang a bit further north east.
If you come from Kota Bahru, there are 3 options to continue: Baling/Betong, Kuala Kangsar and direct to Kulim via a new and very quiet highway that ends at Road #67, just 12 km west of Baling for the direction Penang. This stretch from Gerik to the connection with #67 is equally spectacular to cycle and equally quiet.
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Worst cycling roads in Malaysia
Sometimes you have no choice, you havew to cycle some horrible roads, here are my top 3 worst roads to cycle in the country.
Cycling up to the Air Itam Dam
This is a great bike ride in Penang. It starts at the Kek Lok Si temple and from there the road (mostly in good condition) swindles up to the dam. After the dam, you can continue to Ngoh Han Hill Temple and Balik Pulau. Highly recommended!
A week adventure on the bike in Perak
Not many people consider spending a week in Perak. That's really too bad as there is more than enough to explore. Think of the heritage in the cities, many waterfalls (over 100!) and beautiful small kampongs to mention only a few of the surprises you will find on your way.
Penang to Taiping
There is a great road to cycle from Penang to Taiping from where you can continue to either kuala Kangsar and Ipoh or Pangkor. The road leads from Penang to Kulim and through the plantations yo Selama. From there it's another 50km or so to Taiping, a highly recommended bicycle route!