Aerial view of Malaysian coast

Northern Malaysia's Inlands & Islands

Trip code

Rainforests or beaches? Traditional villages or modern cities? We get it - Northern Malaysia is home to so much diversity, it can be hard to know where to begin. And that’s why we created this trip.

Leading you through the sights, sounds, flora and fauna of Malaysia’s lesser traveled reaches, this all-encompassing overland itinerary can be tailored to suit your preferences to a T. Want more exotic culture? More exotic creatures? Bring us your ideas.


Price based on 3* accommodation
Price based on 4* accommodation
Let us help plan your vacation and make it perfect for you

Key facts

12 days / 11 nights
See architectural wonders and modern street art on a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage-listed George Town
Taste your way through Penang’s vibrant hawker markets on a street food tour
Visit villages on the outskirts of Kuala Kangsar and Kota Bharu, meet the residents and immerse yourself in local life and traditions
Experience life with a Malay family at the rural Suka Suka Homestay – a lakeside retreat set amid forested mountains
Explore the still waters of Lake Chenderoh by kayak
Look out for nocturnal creatures on a trek in into Belum Rainforest by night – and by day, head out on a boat trip in search of the elusive rafflesia flower

Transport in detail

Most journeys will be by private car, with the exception of two boat transfers (to the Perhentian Islands and back).

What's great

This is a trip that combines well-known Northern Malaysian destinations and lesser visited areas – from towns and villages to rainforests and beaches – to show you all the region has to offer

With plenty of guided experiences, you’ll get beneath the surface of the country’s history and culture

Travel is entirely overland, so you’ll travel slowly and see more of the country instead of sitting around in airports

Things to consider

This trip does not include Kuala Lumpur – but it ticks off George Town, which is a similarly vibrant urban center

The Perhentian Islands are best visited from March to October, but we can suggest alternatives

The homestay accommodation in Kuala Kangsar is rustic, but extremely friendly

The rainforest is a magical experience no matter what, but wildlife sightings are never guaranteed

The experience

Day 1-2


Welcome to Penang: an island chock full of markets and hawker stalls. We’re taking you straight into the action – hop on board a beca (the local name for trishaw) with your guide and head for the Red Garden Food Paradise night market. On day two, encounter layers of history and flashes of modernity in the form of World Heritage-listed architectural wonders, traditional craft workshops and contemporary street art on a guided city walking tour. Finish on the city’s spiritual side as you get to grips with the local practice of ancestor worship at the imposing Khoo Kongsi temple, and then down the ‘Street of Harmony’ into Little India. You’ll leave with a taste of all Penang has to offer.

Temple in Penang


Taste an eclectic array of authentic street food dishes at the Red Garden Food Paradise night market

See modern street art and World Heritage-listed architectural wonders on a guided walking tour of George Town

Discover the ancient practice of ancestor worship at the elaborate Khoo Kongsi Chinese clanhouse

Penang skyline

Day 3-4

Kuala Kangsar

Moving inland, it’s on to Kuala Kangsar and then the SukaSuka Lake Retreat homestay, set at the edge of Lake Chenderoh, with its backdrop of forested mountains. We’re whisking you, first by boat and then on foot, to a traditional Malaysian village deep in the countryside. With a guide to act as navigator, translator and general font of local knowledge, wander between wooden stilted houses and drink Teh Tarik (tea and condensed milk, to the rest of us) with the locals. Each evening at SukaSuka, you’re free to enjoy those watery views, kayak the lake or hike to a nearby waterfall. A BBQ and traditional Malay dinner are both ample reward after days spent embracing country life.

Mosque at Kuala Kangsar


Take in Kuala Kangsar’s regal opulence at the spectacular Ubudiah Mosque and Royal Museum

Explore Lake Chenderoh by kayak before settling into the family-run SukaSuka homestay with a barbecue dinner and local games

Wander among stilted houses and drink Teh Tarik as you explore a traditional Malaysian village

Houses near Kuala Kangsar

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day

  • Six lunches: one in Penang; two in the Kuala Kangsar homestay; two in your Belum Rainforest lodge on Banding Island; one in Kota Bharu

  • Five dinners: one street food tour in Penang; two in the Kuala Kangsar homestay; two in your Belum Rainforest lodge

  • One full-day experience: city tour of Penang

  • One half-day experience: city and village tour in Kota Bharu

  • One evening experience: Penang's hawker markets

  • Homestay in Kuala Kangsar, including cultural activities and kayaking on the lake

  • Two night stay on Banding Island in the Belum Rainforest, including jungle activities

  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences

  • All internal transport and accommodation

Day 1:
Car transfer from Penang Airport to City (45 min)

Day 3:
Car transfer from Penang to Kuala Kangsar (2.5 hours)

Day 5:
Car transfer from Kuala Kangsar to Banding Island (1 hour 45 min)

Day 7:
Car transfer from Banding Island to Kota Bharu (3 hours)

Day 8:
Car and boat transfer from Kota Bharu to Perhentian Islands (1 hour 15 min drive & 30 min boat ride)

Day 12:
Boat and car transfer from Perhentian Islands to airport (30 min boat ride & 1 hour 15 min drive)

  • International flights
  • Any necessary visas
  • Any lunches or dinners unless stated
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tipping and personal expenses
  • Tourist taxes and any National Park fees