A carefree journey along the coastline with plenty of sun, sand and sea
With international borders still closed, it’s the ideal time for a great Malaysian road trip – one that begins right at your doorstep. Or, if you aren’t up for quite so much driving and want to start closer to the finish, just take one of Malaysia Airlines’ newly reinstated domestic flights to your starting point, and pick up a rental car from there.
Avis Malaysia, an international car rental brand, is a great option for road trip rentals. It has a comprehensive fleet of modern automobiles that caters to diverse needs. Whether you’re after an SUV that can withstand rough terrain and fit large families or a sleek saloon for a solo trip, Avis Malaysia has you covered. You can rent a vehicle for the weekend or choose from daily, weekly and monthly rental packages. At your request, the delivery and collection of your Avis vehicle may also be arranged for maximum convenience.
Visit any of its 16 outlets in Malaysia, which include branches at Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Senai International Airport, Menara Zurich in Johor Bahru, Pengerang in Johor Bahru, downtown Malacca, and its head office at Glenmarie Industrial Park in Shah Alam.
This one, from Johor Bahru to KL, starts slow, with coastal roads and traditional snacks, and delivers doses of culture in Malacca and Carey Island, before kicking into full throttle when you reach the capital. Be sure to schedule long stops along the way to rest up and leave time for multiple meals, especially in the foodie haven of Malacca. (For seven other road trip ideas, click here.)
Total distance: approximately 365km
Suggested duration: 2 days, 1 night
Perfect for: Food lovers, café hoppers
Before you hit the road
It’s just 215km from JB to Malacca, making for a breezy 2.5-hour drive with several interesting pitstops along the way. Before getting behind the wheel, stop over at AladdinTi Malaysia. Inspired by the Disney classic, the Arabian-themed, Muslim-friendly café specialises in bubble tea. With two outlets in Johor Bahru (one at Aladdin Dream Hotel, a popular destination designed with a touch of nostalgia), its signature offerings include the fiery milk tea (brown sugar creamy milk tea with pearls), taro milk tea (brown sugar yam milk with pearls) and Crunchylicious smoothies with hazelnut chocolate. Couples embarking on a honeymoon road trip can try the Lovers Set, which features two separate drinks in a single, compartmentalised cup. Pair your bubble tea with snacks such as popcorn chicken and fries, or try the kaya waffles for brunch.
Pitstops along the way
One of the first stops should be Pekan Nanas, or Pineapple Town, just 30 minutes away, to pick up some juicy road snacks. From there, Batu Pahat and Muar both have plenty of old-time coffee shops where you can perk up with a cup of traditional kopi.
After about two and a half hours on the road, you’ll arrive in Malacca. Head to Jonker Street, the centre of the action and a must-visit with its numerous stalls, coffee shops and restaurants. Tuck into classically Malaccan food like satay celup (a variation of the satay that’s dunked and cooked in hot peanut gravy) or chicken rice balls.
Pick up some tasty keepsakes to take home from San Shu Gong, Jonker Street’s old-school confectionery store with a siren-red façade. The flaky Tambun Peah biscuits with green-bean filling are a must-try, and make a great teatime set with the Lao Qian White Coffee and Milk Tea series, instant blends that boast familiar and comforting flavours. Another highlight is Tan Kim Hock’s dodol, a toffee-like delicacy made with coconut milk and glutinous rice flour. For something spicy, grab a jar of the La Mei Chilli Padi Sauce for at-home steamboat gatherings.
When you’re ready to call it a night, head to the glittering Hatten City mixed development, where the 272-room DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka is directly linked to Elements Shopping Mall. More importantly, it’s a quick drive from Malacca’s must-dos, including the Unesco World Heritage site of Old Melaka and the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum. Each room comes with an LED TV and luxurious bathroom amenities, and larger families can combine up to four adjacent rooms. While the children run free at the Kid’s Club, unwind at the outdoor pool or have a drink at Axis Lounge. For dinner, sit al fresco at Tosca Trattoria Italiana, which also has great sunset views.
When it’s time for the adventure to continue, forego the highway from Malacca to KL in favour of the old coastal roads. It will take you a few extra hours, but it’s a much more scenic and interesting drive.
After about one and a half hours on Route 5, you’ll reach Port Dickson, where you can stay overnight at one of the many beach resorts. If you prefer something quieter, head to Carey Island, about an hour outside KL. Here you can learn about the ancient culture of the Mah Meri indigenous community before digging into a seafood feast at one of the town’s fantastic restaurants.
The final stretch
Following another hour on the road, you’ll arrive in the capital city, most likely ready to find something to eat. KL too isn’t short of cool dining spots, from independent coffee roasters to mod-Asian restaurants. Swing by Chinatown, which is now reinvigorated with some of the city’s most exciting new bars and cafes or, for some barbecued cuts, book a spot at Stone Nine.
Situated along Jalan Klang Lama, this is the place to be if you’re a fan of steamboat or hot pot. Here, you’ll get to feast in a fine-dining setting, complete with personal pots, artful plating and the freshest ingredients such as premium beef from New Zealand and Australia. Start by choosing from a range of soup bases, including kimchi soup, tom yum soup and spicy miso dashi, before selecting from a mouth-watering menu of more than 15 types of meat and seafood. Must-tries include the Kingfisher Nest (homemade three-flavoured meatballs), the winter melon nori soup and the A5-graded Wagyu beef from Japan. Coupled with inviting interiors dominated by warm, oak furnishings, this Japanese joint promises a dining experience that impresses in more ways than one.
Finish off the adventure with a luxury stay at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, which features 662 luxurious rooms and suites. While landmarks such as Menara Kuala Lumpur and the KL Upside Down House are just a five-minute stroll away, stay in to feast on gourmet Cantonese at Shang Palace, followed by a nightcap at the Manhattan-style Arthur’s Bar & Grill. For a more rejuvenating evening, the Spa at Shangri-La provides bespoke facial treatments and detox massages, a great way to wrap up the adventure. Sign up for its Staycation Package, available till 31 December 2020, to enjoy daily breakfast for two adults and two children, early check-in and late check-out privileges, complimentary weekend family activities such as cooking classes and arts workshops, as well as a maximum of one extra bed per room for the Executive Room and Horizon Executive Room, subject to availability.
With thanks to our partners AladdinTi Malaysia, San Shu Gong, DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka, Stone Nine, Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur