Cycling the west coast of Malaysia
How to cycle the west coast of Malaysia. Is there a good that leads from the Thai border to Singapore and is there anything interesting to see on the way? The answer is of course a full YES! This page will lead you through the main interesting places I think you should visit and gives you a time frame. The journey starts in Hat Yai, Thailand. So that's were we first go.
Hat Yai to the Malaysian border
Hat Yai, despite 50 km or so away from the Malaysian border is the border town with Malaysia. There are several ways into Malaysia.
The first goes straight south to Pandang Besar, the second to Satun from where you can take a ferry to Langkawi and the 3rd one is hardly explored but worth the effort: Yala - Betong. These three ways are further in detail available here:
These pages also inform you how to continue further.
There will always be discussion about the "best" or "most interesting" road to use. What is a truth is that the Padang Besar border is the most used border crossing. Some travel to Satun and hardly anyone takes the Betong border.
If you cross the Padang Besar border you arrive in the smallest state of the country: Perlis. There's not a whole to do here but there's some nice caves and good lakes to have a quiet break. The capital, Kangar has a couple of decent hotels and is only 38 km from the border so you're able to cycle Hat Yai to Kangar in a day.
Kangar can be an interesting starting point to enter Kedah. If you are going south you will go anyway soon into Kedah because the state capital Alor Setar is not far, about 40 km or so.
You could take a detour to visit Lake Pedu which is quite far and has no accommodation. However, if Lake Pedu is what you would like to explore, why not cross the Malaysian border at Durian Burung and stay a night in Kuala Nerang (one hotel in town). There isn't any accommodation at the lake but it's good camping. And from the lake you can easily reach Baling from where you can go back to Penang or continue south to Kuala Kangsar.
Most cyclists I met went straight to Alor Setar and took the boat to Langkawi at Kuala Kedah. An occasional cyclist continues directly to Butterworth/Penang.
Should you visit Langkawi, you can bring your bike on the ferry to Langkawi from both Kuala Kedah and Satun and you can take the bike on the ferry to Penang too. There is also a boat from Kuala Perlis, closer to Kangar.
Do not dismiss the road from Alor Setar to Butterworth but forget the main trunk road.
Penang is most likely your next stop. At this moment, if you're going straight without any stops, you're 3 days in the country (Hat Yai - Kangar (or Alor Setar) - Penang. You can cycle Alor Setar - Penang in a day, it's 100km. The interesting road leads WEST of Gunung Jerai and passes the Bujang Valley, a temple complex 500 years older than Angkor where artwork has been found that rivals Angkor, Borobudur and other later civilizations in south east Asia.
Here are the details of this road that is hardly longer than taking the trunk road.
Penang to Taiping
AGain there are several alternatives to cycle to Pangkor. Most cyclists seem to take the trunk road which leads to Parit Buntar, Bagan Serai and Taiping but there is an excellent alternative. It leads to Kulim and from there to Selama and further to Taiping. It's about 12 km longer than the trunk road so it's worth to explore that road.
In Selama there is a homestay but there's also a waterfall nearby where you can camp.
Here are the roads in detail described. They all lead to Pangkor island, which is anyway you would want to visit before going further south. The alternative, cycling to Ipoh and from there cycling south will eventually bring you on busy relatively small roads through the hills to Kuala Lumpur.
Regardless the road you take, expect 2-3 days cycling from Penang to Pangkor except if you are Superman, you can do the 190 km in one single day.
Before going to Pangkor you can consider to spend some time in Perak state. There's enough to explore to keep you busy for a week.
One thing you can do is to visit Kuala Kangsar, 30 km or so east of Taiping. The Royal former capital of Perak has the most beautiful Mosque of the country and the Perak Museum is worth a visit too.
You can continue to Ipoh and from there via small roads to Pangkor. In case you don't want to visit Pangkor, take the small roads to Teluk Intan. You will find all the details you need on my Perak Adventure Tour page.
Pangkor to Klang/Kuala Lumpur
Pangkor can also be a starting point to explore some of Perak. You could cycle in a day to Ipoh, just 70km away with a short flyby visit to Papan. And from Ipoh, visiting the Sam po Caves to Kellie's Castle and further to Teluk Intan. It's all described here.
But you can also directly cycle south to teluk Intan before taking the trunk road (no alternative) to Klang. If Kuala Lumpur is your next stop, I would recommend to keep following the direction to Kuala Selangor which leads via smaller (and for a while more quiet) roads into KL city center. Cycling from Klang to KL will be unpleasant on big highways.
Klang - Port Dickson - Malacca - Muar - Pontian
Unfortunately after Klang there are not a whole lot of alternative options. I would recommend to use the road to Banting and follow the coast line. The alternative leads to KLIA and further to Serembam. If you are on the way to Singapore, it's a long extra amount of kilometers and much goes on highways and busy roads.
You can easily do Klang - Port Dickson in a day and add another day to Malacca.
Your next stop might be Muar but if you feel good, just continue to Pontian Kecil. There's some hotels including one near the "beach", which is more a mud beach than a sand beach.
I do recommend to stay here before you continue to Johor Bahru and Singapore as after Pekan Nanas you will start cycling on highways again. It won;t be too busy (at least it wasn't when I did it) but it's not the best part of the journey.
How long will I need to complete a bicycle ride from the Thai border to Singapore?
This can be the shortest schedule you can use to cycle Thailand-Singapore:
Hat Yai - Alor Setar - Butterworth (no stop in Penang) - Taiping - Pangkor - Teluk Intan - Klang - Port Dickson - Malacca - Pontian Kecil - Singapore. That makes 10 days. You won't stay at Langkawi nor see Penang or Kuala Lumpur. You will cycle 100-120 km a day. Is it the best way? Not for me, but this is the minimum.
However, if you are interested in spending more quality time, spend it in Langkawi and Penang, spend a week in Perak and a couple of days in Malacca. Personally I would give Kuala Lumpur a miss.
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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!