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From City Streets to Coastal Retreats: A Family Travel Guide to Malaysia (2024)

As Singaporeans who have had the opportunity to cross the border into Malaysia on various occasions, the proximity of our neighbouring nation has given us a great appreciation for the variety of experiences it provides. Malaysia, with its rich blend of cultures, feels like an extension of our own background, instilling a sense of familiarity that makes each visit memorable.

Malaysia is more than just a country thanks to its warm welcome and shared history. So, if you’re planning a trip there, you’ve found the right guide! Below, we have compiled the ultimate guide for your next holiday spot, Malaysia.

Best time to visit

Due to its geographical shape and location, Malaysia has a tropical monsoon climate. We have visited Malaysia and can vouch to its tremendous diversity throughout the year. If you prefer outdoor activities and soaking up the sun, the dry season, which runs from May to September, is ideal for visiting the magnificent beaches and lush forests without worrying about rain. However, if you want to explore Malaysia’s rich cultural tapestry and witness stunning festivities like Thaipusam or Chinese New Year, organising your trip between January and February will be a wonderful experience, despite the occasional showers.

Getting around Malaysia

malaysia mrt family travel
Malaysia MRT – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

When you’re traveling around cities or between different places in Malaysia, you have a few transportation choices. One option is using Grab for getting rides easily and affordably. Another good option is using public transportation like trains, buses, or light rail. Public transport is cheaper and lets you experience more of the local vibe. If you prefer more freedom, you can rent a car. This lets you go where you want when you want, but make sure you know the local driving rules first. So, whether you prefer convenience, budget-friendly options, or flexibility, Malaysia has transportation choices to suit your needs.

Top Destinations 

Kuala Lumpur

petronas twin tower malaysia family travel
Petronas Twin Tower, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

When you visit Malaysia, your initial destination is typically Kuala Lumpur, which houses the country’s primary airport (KLIA). This vibrant capital city features a bustling metropolitan landscape studded with prominent structures such as the Petronas Twin Towers, as well as a variety of shopping centres.


george town malaysia family travel
George Town, Penang, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

If your home country offers flights to Penang, another international airport in Malaysia, then you definitely shouldn’t miss exploring this state. Penang, often known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” entices travellers with its UNESCO-listed George Town, a colourful blend of Chinese, Malay, and Indian cultures, as well as its delectable street food and colonial-era architecture.


langkawi malaysia family travel
Langkawi, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

With its allure stemming from pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and a plethora of exhilarating water sports, Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands, stands as a beacon for both nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies alike.

Honestly, there are still many more sites to visit in Malaysia, but these three provide a glimpse into the country’s complex beauty, enticing visitors with its unique allure and diverse experiences. Below is the sample itinerary we provide for you to freely follow in case you and your family or friends are visiting Malaysia soon!

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Kuala Lumpur

klcc malaysia travel guide
KLCC Park, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

Once you arrive at KLIA, head straight to your hotel to check in. It’s best to fly in early to make things smoother. Just make sure your hotel allows early check-in. Once you’re settled, you can grab breakfast or lunch, depending on the time, or head straight to the famous Petronas Twin Towers. Take a leisurely stroll in the beautiful KLCC Park and soak in the lively atmosphere of the city. Explore the vibrant streets of Bukit Bintang, where you’ll find plenty of delicious food and shopping options. Don’t forget to try the amazing Malaysian street food at Jalan Alor!

Day 2

batu caves malaysia travel guide
Batu Caves, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

On your second day, dive into Malaysian culture with visits to the impressive Batu Caves, the historic Merdeka Square, and the towering Menara Kuala Lumpur. Whether you’re admiring Islamic art or learning about the country’s history at the National Museum, each experience will be enriching.

Day 3

On your third day in KL, explore the diverse neighborhoods. Start in Brickfields, or Little India, for colourful streets and delicious food. Then, head to Chinatown for bustling markets and street eats. Visit the Sri Mahamariamman Temple and Central Market for unique finds. Wind down with a stroll along the KL River of Life or a Malaysian massage at a spa. It’s a perfect way to end your time before heading to Penang.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more relaxed day to recharge before heading to Penang, consider spending the day at leisure with your companion. This is actually great if you plan on taking a flight to Penang after checking outl. Just take advantage of the amenities offered at your hotel, whether it’s lounging by the pool, indulging in a spa treatment, or simply enjoying a lazy breakfast in bed. Use this time to catch up on rest, bond with your travel partner, and reflect on your experiences in Kuala Lumpur so far. You can also take a leisurely stroll around the nearby neighborhood, discovering hidden gems and cosy cafes, or perhaps engage in some light shopping for souvenirs or essentials for your upcoming journey.

Day 4: Penang

Next, head to Penang from Kuala Lumpur. You can take a flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Penang International Airport, which is the quickest option, taking around an hour. We highly recommend taking an early flight so that you have time to stroll around after leaving your luggage at the hotel lobby.

Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic train ride from KL Sentral Station to Butterworth Station, followed by a ferry ride to George Town, Penang. This journey takes a bit longer but offers beautiful views along the way.

kek lok si temple malaysia travel guide
Kek Lok Si Temple, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

If you arrive early, here is our suggestion: Upon arrival in Penang, check into your accommodation (if they allow early check-in) and freshen up. Otherwise, simply store your luggage at the lobby. Then, start your exploration of George Town by wandering through its lively streets adorned with colourful buildings and rich history. Spend the day discovering the fascinating street art that decorates many walls throughout the city. You can also indulge in Penang’s renowned food scene by trying a variety of flavours from local eateries and street vendors. Don’t miss out on iconic dishes like Penang laksa, char kway teow, and nasi kandar! Also visit the tranquil Kek Lok Si Temple to experience its peaceful atmosphere and admire its intricate architecture and beautiful gardens.

penang hill malaysia travel guide
View from Penang Hill, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

In the afternoon, make your way to Penang Hill to enjoy panoramic views of the island and beyond. Take a leisurely stroll or ride the funicular train to the top for the best vantage points. And then, end your day by exploring the bustling markets of Little India and Chinatown, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant sights, sounds, and smells of Malaysian culture.

pinang piranakan mansion malaysia travel guide
Pinang Piranakan Mansion, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

Day 5

Begin your second day in Penang with a hearty breakfast featuring local delights such as roti canai or dim sum. Continue exploring George Town, perhaps revisiting some favorite spots or discovering new hidden gems. Take a leisurely stroll through the city’s historic neighborhoods, soaking in the unique blend of architectural styles and cultural influences.

Visit any attractions you may have missed on the first day, such as the Penang Peranakan Mansion or the Pinang Peranakan Museum, to learn more about the island’s heritage. Alternatively, you can also spend some time browsing the shops and boutiques that line the streets, picking up souvenirs or gifts to take home.

Day 6

For a more relaxed third day, we highly recommend taking a break from intense sightseeing and enjoying a leisurely day with your companions. Start your day with a relaxed morning, perhaps indulging in a late breakfast at a cosy cafĂ©, where you can savour delicious treats and chat over steaming cups of coffee. As the day unfolds, spend the afternoon indulging in activities like afternoon high tea or sipping cocktails by the beach, soaking in the laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Take this opportunity to simply hang out, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company without any rush or agenda! In the evening, explore the local nightlife options, whether it’s a beachside bar offering refreshing drinks and live music, or a lively street market bustling with energy and excitement.

Day 7

Finally, on your fourth day, it’s time to bid farewell to Penang as you prepare to depart for Langkawi. Make sure to check out of your accommodation and gather your belongings. Depending on your mode of transportation, plan your journey to the ferry terminal or airport accordingly. Once you’re ready, bid farewell to Penang and head to the next leg of your adventure!

Day 7: Langkawi

Finally, to reach Langkawi from Penang, you have a few transportation options. One way is to take a ferry from George Town to Langkawi, which offers a scenic journey across the Andaman Sea. The ferry ride takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the type of ferry you choose.

Alternatively, you can fly from Penang International Airport to Langkawi International Airport, which is the quickest option, with a flight duration of approximately 45 minutes.

pantai cenang malaysia travel guide
Pantai Cenang, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

Upon arrival in Langkawi, take some time to settle into your accommodation and freshen up. Then head out to explore the beautiful beaches and clear waters of the island. Spend the day island hopping, visiting different islands and exploring hidden coves. You can also partake in thrilling water sports such as snorkeling or jet skiing to make the most of your time on the water.

In the afternoon, relax on the golden sands of Pantai Cenang, one of the most popular beaches on the island. Enjoy the sun, sea, and sand as you unwind and take in the serene surroundings. As the day comes to a close, consider watching the sunset from a picturesque spot on the beach or from a viewpoint overlooking the ocean.

langkawi skybridge malaysia travel guide
Langkawi Skybridge, Malaysia – Family Travel Guide (Image Source: Unsplash)

Day 8

Start your second day in Langkawi with a visit to the Langkawi Sky Bridge, where you can marvel at the breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and turquoise waters below. Take your time to explore the bridge and snap some photos of the stunning scenery. After visiting the Sky Bridge, continue your exploration of Langkawi’s natural beauty by taking a leisurely stroll along the coastline or through the lush rainforest.

Alternatively, you can spend the day relaxing on the beach, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the tranquil atmosphere. In the evening, consider taking a peaceful sunset cruise around the island, where you can unwind and reflect on the amazing experiences you’ve had during your time in Langkawi.

Day 9

As your Langkawi trip wraps up, think about making the most of your last day. When you check out of your hotel, you can leave your bags there if your flight isn’t until later.

Consider joining a calm sunset cruise around the island. Sit back and relax as you sail along the coast, watching the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky with beautiful colours. Take some time to think back on the amazing memories you’ve made exploring Langkawi’s beaches and landscapes.

After the cruise, grab your bags and head to the airport for your flight home. Ending your Langkawi adventure with a serene sunset cruise will leave you with lasting memories of this tropical paradise.

Best Hotels & Resorts for Family Travel in Malaysia

Of course, Malaysia has plenty of hotels and resorts, especially if you’re traveling to different cities or islands. But if you’re bringing your family along, we want to help you find the best places to stay. So, we’ve put together a list of the top hotels and resorts in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur

1. Le MĂ©ridien Suite, Le MĂ©ridien Putrajaya

Le Méridien Putrajaya – Best Hotel for Family Travel in Malaysia

A serene and elegant escape near Kuala Lumpur 

If you are seeking a refreshing escape from the bustling streets of Kuala Lumpur, unwind and relax with the picturesque view of Malaysia’s Intelligent Garden City by staying at a Le Méridien Suite at  Le Méridien Putrajaya. This tastefully designed suite exudes an inviting fusion of comfort and sophistication, complemented by an array of inspiring amenities. With an eye-catching contemporary flair, the hotel suite effortlessly marries timeless European style with an artful local Malaysian perspective, creating an ambience that resonates with both modernity and heritage.  Furthermore, the suite looks out to either a stunning golf course or the expansive IOI City Mall – the largest shopping mall in entire Asia. However, if you are looking for the best views while staying at Le Méridien Putrajaya, their outdoor swimming pool is also pretty great.

2. Le MĂ©ridien Suite, Le MĂ©ridien Kuala Lumpur

Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur – Best Hotel for Family Travel in Malaysia

At Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur, every moment promises a stylish retreat. However, if you are truly looking for the most luxurious experience, their signature Le Méridien Suite is the place to be. Stepping into this hotel suite unveils an opulent symphony of amenities, ranging from marble-clad bathrooms, spacious and plush beds,  a dedicated workspace, a generously stocked minibar, smart TVs – it has all the thoughtful details that epitomise your luxurious escape in Kuala Lumpur. 

The true highlight of staying at a Le Méridien Suite is that the suite comes with captivating vistas of either the serene gardens or the vibrant cityscape, adding to its luxurious charm.  We got to experience the panoramic spectacle of the city from our suite ourselves, and the sight was nothing short of majestic, revealing a Kuala Lumpur we never quite imagined from this perspective. So captivating was the view that even our local friends from KL could not help but wonder if we had already returned to Singapore.

3. The Ritz-Carlton 

The Ritz-Carlton – Best Hotel for Family Travel in Malaysia

Unparalleled luxury

The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, is renowned for its exquisite collection of hotel suites that epitomise luxury and comfort. Nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, this iconic establishment offers an array of meticulously designed suites, each catering to the diverse needs of discerning travellers. From the opulent Executive Suites, tailored to seamlessly blend work and relaxation, to the palatial Presidential and Royal Suites, where grandeur knows no bounds, guests are invited to indulge in a world of refined elegance. These suites feature expansive living areas, sumptuous bedrooms, and lavish amenities, crafting a haven of tranquillity amidst the bustling cityscape.

4. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

The St. Regis – Best Hotel for Family Travel in Malaysia

Combines comfort and elegance

The suite rooms at The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur redefine luxury with thoughtful touches that cater to both comfort and elegance. Each suite boasts separate walk-in wardrobes for him and her, ensuring ample space for belongings. The inclusion of distinct bathrooms for each adds a layer of privacy and convenience to the stay. For those residing in the Presidential and Royal Suites, an outdoor terrace offers a personal retreat with breathtaking views, a perfect escape within the city. Whether overlooking the serene Lake Gardens or the dynamic KL City Skyline, the vistas are truly exceptional.

Read our full article here >


1. Eastern & Oriental Hotel

Eastern & Oriental Hotel – Best Hotel for Family Travel in Malaysia

The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is the epitome of Penang’s rich colonial past and is a tourist attraction in itself. Built in 1885, staying in this hotel will make you feel like you’ve gone back in a time with the elaborate European architecture found throughout the hotel. The elegant furnishings are accompanied by equally top-class facilities, like its Spa Center, Fitness Center, retail shops, swimming pool and 5 dining options. Located right by the Andaman Sea, guests will end their jam-packed days with peace and relaxation. Nearby landmarks include Fort Cornwallies, Penang State Museum and City Hall, and it is also walking distance to many restaurants and shops.

2. Flamingo Hotel By The Beach

Flamingo Hotel by the Beach – Best Resorts for Family Travel in Malaysia

If you choose to stay in Tanjung Bungah, we recommend staying in the Flamingo By The Beach. Rooms are equipped with comfortable furnishings and modern amenities, as well as private balconies with stunning views of the sea. Other facilities include an in-house restaurant, fitness center, outdoor pool, as well as the convenience of a 24-hour front desk and room service. It is located near all the worthy attractions in the area like the Floating Mosque and Penang Water Sports Center.

3. Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa

Shangri-La Rasa Sayang – Best Resorts for Family Travel in Malaysia

This resort is without a doubt one of our favorite hotels in Batu Ferringhi. This beachfront oasis is a feast for the eyes and for the soul. Rooms are complete elegance with its Minangkabau-styled furnishings and modern amenities. The more luxurious ones are found in the Rasa Wing, where guests can enjoy a soaking tub on their private balcony and access to the exclusive Rasa Lounge for high tea and cocktails. Either way, you won’t mind staying indoors because of all the fun and relaxing things to do, like trying out 5 different restaurants and bars, lounging by the pool surrounded by tropical gardens and enjoying the Health Club, The Spa, a golf course, a tennis court and volleyball court by the sea. The hotel also offers free shuttle services to George Town.

Read our full article here > 


1. Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa

Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa – Best Resorts for Family Travel in Malaysia

Seaside resort infused with traditional Malaysian charm

Experience the best of both worlds at The Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa in Langkawi, Malaysia. Whether you love the peacefulness of gardens or prefer lounging on the sandy Cenang beach, this resort has something for you. The rooms and suites are spacious and have been recently renovated for your comfort!

For families, the Garden Rooms are perfect. They’re spacious and close to the swimming pools, making family time easy and enjoyable. If you want a sea view, the Island View Rooms are also recommended. They offer beautiful views and easy access to pools and amenities, great for a getaway with family or friends.

Read our full review > 

2. Rainforest Pool Villa,The Datai Langkawi 

The Datai Langkawi – Best Resorts for Family Travel in Malaysia

Situated in the heart of a tropical rainforest, The Datai Langkawi allows guests to truly escape nature. This 5-star luxury resort offers plenty of rooms, each with a different view, but what we are recommending is the Rainforest Pool Villa. The said villa is raised on stilts and is approximately 175 square metres in size, with a 10-metre pool by an extended deck and an outdoor living area with sun loungers. And with the completely luxurious amenities (i.e., king-sized bed dressed in Egyptian cotton, minibar, etc.) on the inside, the villa is actually ideal for a couple of honeymooners.  

A bit of forewarning, though: the resort is set in a 10 million-year-old rainforest. So, do not be surprised if you spot some Dusky langurs, Tokay geckos and Sunda colugos during your stay. Aside from that, the resort also boasts a private footpath leading to Datai Bay’s idyllic white-sand beach, where you can go sailing onboard the Nasa Pelangi or just chill out with an incredible view while sipping signature cocktails.

3. Imperial Villa, Four Seasons Resort Langkawi

Four Seasons Resort – Best Resorts for Family Travel in Malaysia

To those who are travelling with the entire squad or family, the Imperial Villa of Four Seasons Resort Langkawi is the best match for your needs. Luxuriously grand and spacious, this beachfront villa consists of five bedrooms and five full marble bathrooms fitted with beautifully crafted Moorish and Malay artefacts. On top of that, the villa comes with two private pools and a breezy cabana facing the Andaman Sea, so every guest can enjoy jungle-clad island panoramas while staying refreshed in their personal space. Afterwards, everyone can meet up at the villa’s spacious outdoor terrace for a family barbecue night under the stars, with delicious dishes specially prepared by talented Four Season chefs. 

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All in all, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi each offer their own special experiences. From the busy city life of Kuala Lumpur to the rich history of Penang and the peaceful beaches of Langkawi, there’s something for everyone. So, don’t miss out on exploring these unique destinations and enjoying all they have to offer. Whether you prefer city adventures, cultural discoveries, or relaxing by the beach, Malaysia has it all. Happy exploring!