Backpacking Malaysia: Where To Base Yourself

Malaysia is a beautiful country with plenty to see and do. There’s Borneo, of course, with ts jungle and orangutans. And the peninsula is chock-full of incredible experiences. But, whenever you are backpacking, it’s always good to have a few places you can base yourself.

The bigger cities can provide a comfortable respite from all the trekking and hostels, if only to get a good sleep, shower, and freshen up. However, you don’t want to get too comfortable. And, wherever you are in the world there will always be cities that might be a little too westernized for your liking. So, if you are planning a backpacking trip to Malaysia, here are some ideas of the best places you can stay.

The Malaysian capital is an obvious starting point. It’s a clean, modern city with plenty to see and do – and ideal for your first few weeks of travel. As you can imagine, you can access most parts of the country with ease, with transport routes easy to navigate. When you first arrive in Malaysia, it’s worth spending some time here, as long as you are prepared to go beyond Chinatown. There’s some stunning architecture to explore, and you are only a few miles away from places like the Batu Caves.


The itinerary when you reach the northern region of Penang should go something like this. 1. Check out budget hotel in Penang, book in, drop off bags. 2. Find nearest street food stall, eat. It’s that simple. Penang is one of the world’s finest cities for fusion street food, and you’ll find something delicious on every corner. Not only that, but it’s the perfect location to see a lot more of what Malaysia has to offer. It has a beach, islands, and many base themselves here to access the many awesome trekking experiences that are nearby.


If you are planning to see Borneo, Kuching is the best place to stay. Put simply; it gives you the best of both worlds. It’s a cosmopolitan city that mixes the ancient and modern. And, of course, it’s close to the amazing jungle trails that can reveal some of the world’s greatest natural marvels. There’s lots of watersports available, such as scuba diving, too.  However, given Kuching is in the south of the region, make sure you take time out to explore the northern state of Sabah. It’s here that you will find the iconic Orang Utan in their natural environment.

Kuala Terengganu

If you want to check out the east coast of Malaysia, make sure you drop into Kuala Terengganu. It’s right on the coast and gives you easy access to a wide variety of different places. While Kuala Terengganu won’t be on most people’s bucket lists, it’s a lovely place to base yourself and stop off for essentials. One thing to bear in mind is that there is a large Muslim population here, so try to avoid offending locals and keep yourself respectable.

We’d love to hear from you if you have experience of traveling in Malaysia. Where did you base yourself, and have we missed any essential places? Let us know in the comments section below!

Comments are closed.