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3 destinations for a weekend escapade from KL

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If you find yourself staring at travel photos during weekdays and wishing you could take a short break to relax and rejuvenate, then road trips are a great way to reinvigorate yourself while soaking up the experiences of travelling to different parts of Malaysia. Driving around some of the country’s scenic local spots is certainly more wallet-friendly than flying around the region, and it also can cure your sense of wanderlust. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many KL-based expats spend most of their time in the city, where there are tons to see and do, but there is much more to Malaysia than just Kuala Lumpur. Escape the capital and explore one or more of these popular weekend getaway destinations. Each place is known for its food, culture, sights and sounds, unique attractions, and much more.

1. Kuala Lumpur to Melaka

Photo credit: NavinTar / Shutterstock.com
Photo credit: NavinTar / Shutterstock.com

If it is culture and history that you are after, Melaka should be at the top our list for a quick road trip destination. Located some 144 kilometres south of Kuala Lumpur, a drive to Melaka via the North-South Expressway takes approximately two hours. It’s a relatively no-fuss drive between the two cities, although the final push from the highway into the city centre can be arduous due to the many traffic lights along the main roads.

However, for the more adventurous, there is an alternate route in the form of the old trunk road system. Melaka is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site and has fascinating architecture from previous British, Portuguese, and Dutch colonists, along with local Chinese and Malay buildings too.

Many of the main historical attractions and landmarks are found within the heritage area, which is definitely a place where you will want to visit on your road trip.With such a rich history, Melaka is also a wonderful place to pick up antiques as souvenirs of your trip. Since it is so close to Kuala Lumpur, it is a suitable day trip, but you could easily spend several days exploring Melaka.

2. Kuala Lumpur to Penang

armenian-street-penang
Photo credit: Elena Ermakova / Shutterstock.com

Penang Island is a major attraction for both tourists and locals alike due to its legendary status as the holy ground for all things Malaysian food-related, and believe it or not, you can get to the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ in just over three hours. The main points of interest are in the city of George Town, where the daily business is run out of fascinating little shophouses (the shop is on the street level, the owner or a resident lives on the floor above), as it has for decades.

While wandering through Penang’s melting pot of mosques, Hindu temples, and incense-filled Chinese shrines, you will have the opportunity to see incredible structures like the Kek Lok Si Temple and Fort Cornwallis. The culinary scene and the nightlife scene are both vibrant, and you can find laid-back local bars as well as big nightclubs full of expats or tourists on vacation. Though Penang is an island, the only beaches of much note are found in popular Batu Ferringhi on the north coast. However, as Penang has sealed its reputation as Malaysia’s food capital, this is perhaps a better reason to visit!While you are there, sample some char kuey teow, Penang cendol, and Asam Laksa. The bustling small city of Ipoh lies just past the midway point and makes an excellent stopover of its own.

3. Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands

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This mountainous region comprised of three small towns is refreshingly cool with a bit of altitude. Popular these days among weekenders looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Cameron Highlands is a former hill station where the colonialists sought refuge from the lowland heat and humidity. The Tudor-styled buildings here and there create a setting that quite resembles the English countryside while boutique hotels such as The Lakehouse and The Smokehouse offer the charm of bygone days. The area is also full of tea plantations that thrive at the high elevation, offering stunning views of the valley, surrounded by crisp, cool air.

Other than tea, Cameron Highlands is also popular for its abundant strawberries and fresh produce. Visit the farms and pick your own strawberries, and bring some farm-fresh veggies back with you, too. Expect the drive to take about three hours from Kuala Lumpur.

This article was originally published in The Expat magazine (September 2016) which is available online or in print via a free subscription.

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