Kl to Penang Roadtrip Itinerary

Penang is one of the most popular destinations in Malaysia for tourists because of its rich cultural history and amazing cuisine. Kuala Lumpur to Penang is a popular travel route for most road trippers and bike riders, as well as the intercity road infrastructure in Malaysia, which is world-class and offers an amazing driving experience.

Why road tripping is a great way to explore Malaysia?

I have travelled several times from Kuala Lumpur to Penang exploring some amazing destinations along the way. The one thing I love about Malaysian roads is the quality of service and well-maintained service areas along all major interstate routes.


The rest area offers food courts with quality local food at reasonable prices. Some stopovers also have KFC and McDonald's along with other International fast-food chains. In addition, there are also prayer rooms for travellers and clean and well-maintained toilets. 

The Intercity freeway network follows the same standards and signage as in the Western world. If you are a passionate driver like myself, I suggest renting a car  and planning your road trip. This way you will be able to take detours along the way and explore some other interesting towns and cities. 

The seven-day itinerary from Kuala Lumpur to Penang is broken down into the following legs

  • Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh
  • Ipoh to Cameron Highlands
  • Ipoh to Lumut - Pangkor Island
  • Lumut to Penang Island

What is the total driving distance from Kuala Lumpur to Penang?

The journey between Kuala Lumpur and Penang spans approximately 360 km, a pleasant 4.5-hour drive that allows for leisurely stopovers if you wish to savour the scenery. My coastal route took me from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, Ipoh to Lumut, and finally, Lumut to Penang, totalling 460 km.

While the drive along the two-way country roads may extend your travel time slightly, the picturesque views make it a worthwhile adventure compared to the main intercity motorways.

driving from kl to penang

A fruit shop in the rest area along the E2 Highway from Kuala Lumpur to Penang

If you plan to self-drive, check the best car rental rates at KLIA1 or KLIA2. Long-term rentals are quite cheap and come with full insurance. Make sure to buy a Touch-n-Go Card from Petronas Service Station or any 7-Eleven branch in the city. Alternatively, the card can also be purchased from LRT stations across the city. 

My second preference when it comes to travel intercity in Malaysia is by bus. BTS Terminal is the main bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur connecting KL with all major cities in mainland Malaysia. Check Bus Tickets Online.

If you are flying into KLIA2 a connecting flight can be booked using AirAsia or Firefly to Penang. The local flights are quite affordable in Malaysia. Obtain the best prices online by booking in advance. 

What is a suggested Itinerary for driving from Kuala Lumpur to Penang?

First Two Nights - Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh - Pangkor, and Penang

For the first stop on my journey, I chose to make a detour to Ipoh, situated approximately 190 km from Kuala Lumpur City. Ipoh boasts a vibrant cultural heritage, once serving as the hub of tin mining in the early 20th century and experiencing notable economic prosperity. The city centre's picturesque layout and the striking architecture of its administrative buildings and railway station offer a glimpse into Ipoh's storied past.

ipoh perak

Lately, the city has experienced a surge in the service industry and has earned a reputation as the culinary hub of Perak. A quick day trip from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh is a convenient way to discover this vibrant destination.

During my stay at Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites , I found the perfect location near the heart of the city. At night, Greentown comes alive with bustling street food stalls, top-notch restaurants, and charming cafes. For a lively dining experience, head to Healy's Mac Irish Pub where live bands entertain guests on weekend nights. The energetic atmosphere of the area continues well into the late hours of the night.

ipoh perak

The next day I planned a trip to Lost World of Tambun, a Sunway resort with fun-packed activities for the entire family. I highly recommend this theme park if you are travelling with children. Lost World of Tambun has a waterpark with a massive water generator, hot spas, an animal kingdom, and rides for children. 


Book your tickets online to get the best rates as the weekends are very busy attracting large crowds to this amazing theme park. At lunchtime, we decided to Enjoy Indian food and headed to a popular restaurant Sri Ananda Bhawan Restaurant. The restaurant specializes in savoury north and south Indian cuisine. The spicy meat dishes and grilled food are a must-try if you enjoy Indian food.

Read more on my website:  Trip to Ipoh and Lost World of Tambun


pangkor island

Another popular attraction in Ipoh is cave temples built into karst formations on the hills around Ipoh. I visited some beautiful cave temples, including Sam Poh Tong and Perak Tong Cave. Both of these temples have beautiful statues of Buddha in various postures.

The temples are carved into various caves and have beautiful frescoes, Buddhist deities, and mythical creatures. A 352-step stair leads to an amazing vantage point commanding amazing views of the valley.

Read more about my visit to the Lost World of Tambun on the website


lost world of tambun

One night in Cameron Highlands Malaysia

Cameron Highlands is a great location to explore for a day trip from Ipoh. The hill resort is home to tea plantations and strawberry farms. The cooler temperatures make this resort very popular with visitors where you can enjoy some outdoor activities.

We started early in the morning and enjoyed the twist and turn on the road to Tanah Rata which is the centre of activity in Cameron Highlands. A visit to Bharat Tea Plantation and Strawberry Farms was the highlight of the day. I plan to spend a longer period and Cameron Highland when I plan my next trip to Ipoh. 

cameron highlands

In Ipoh, we enjoyed visiting Kelly's Castle which is located a 30-minute drive from Ipoh. This apparently "haunted castle" was owned by a plantation owner in the 1920s who built it in the style of British Castles. The castles borrow architectural design from Moorish and Tamilvanan Indian architectural motifs.

The Malaysian government stepped in to preserve this historical monument which exchanged several hands after the owner left for Scotland and it was sold over to a British-based trading company. 

2-Nights in Pangkor -Travelling from Ipoh to Lumut and Pangkor

Our next leg of the journey extended from Ipoh to Lumut which is a reasonable 1-hour road trip on the two-way country road. This enjoyable road trip takes you down the laid-back towns of Perak. The area has had some development in recent years with Petronas University which attracts students from around the world. 

pangkor island perak

We planned a one-night stay at Double Tree Hilton Resort in Lumut  which was formerly known as Swiss Garden Resort in Damai Laut. The beautiful resort has its own private beach and spice gardens along with a golf course.

I highly recommend this location for a family holiday as there are many amazing beach sports and activities organized by the resort. 

Swiss Garden Resort at Damai Laut
Swiss Garden Resort at Damai Laut
Lumut Pangkor Island
Swiss Garden Resort at Damai Laut

A day trip to Pangkor Island is a must-do experience as Pangkor is home to water sports and amazing Island adventures including trekking and bird watching. A 15-minute ferry ride costing RM 10 will drop you at the Pangkor Jetty where you can use local transport to reach different parts of the Island.

The resorts can be rented for a day as the private beaches and shacks are available along the beach which is managed by these resorts. 

If you plan to travel to Pangkor Island from KLIA2,  book your transport online with Viator. 

The famous five-star luxury resort Pangkor Laut is also located on a private Island and offers an unmatched Island Holiday experience!!!

Read more about my stay at Double Tree Hilton Resort in Lumut

How long is the drive from Pangkor Island to Penang Island?

The driving distance between the two destinations of Lumut and Penand is 180 km. We started early and took E32 to E1 heading out to Penang. The Penang Bridge is the longest in Malaysia connecting mainland Malaysia with Penang Island. 

We booked Evergreen Laurel Hotel  on Gurney Drive overlooking the amazing views of the ocean. The Gurney Drive is a more modern part of Penang with many great shopping centres, night markets, and 5-star Hotels. 

The recent development along Gurney Drive towards Batu Ferringhi offers plenty of serviced apartment-style accommodation for long-term stays in Penang. The options are endless as Penang is ranked as one of the top tourist destinations in Malaysia.

3-Nights stay in Georgetown Penang

Our culinary adventure began with a visit to the trendy eateries along Armenian Street in Penang. Known for its delectable dishes like Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Mee Goreng, and Laksa, Penang is a food lover's paradise. A trip to Penang is incomplete without indulging in Peranakan cuisine, and my lunch reservation at "Little Nyonya Kitchen" on Noorudin Alley did not disappoint. This charming family-owned restaurant, now in its third generation, serves up authentic flavours of Penang.

Taking inspiration from the legendary Anthony Bourdain, I made my way to "Line Clear" Nasi Kandar Restaurant on Penang Road, conveniently located near the historic Eastern & Oriental Hotel. For a more upscale dining experience, Sarkies Restaurant at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel offers a delightful dinner buffet featuring a tantalizing mix of local and continental dishes.

gurney drive penang

Other amazing places we explored in the next two included clan jetties, Fort Cornwallis, and Penang Hill. I loved the amazing view of the Island from the top of Penang Hill as well as the Kotmar Building. These locations are must-visits if you seeking some Instagram moments in Penang. 

Batu Ferringhi is a popular coast area in Penang popular for its trendy beach-styled resort including Hard Rock Hotel and Double Tree Hilton which offers quality accommodation and amazing holiday packages.

Read more about Batu Ferringhi on my website

georgetown penang architecture

Three nights in Penang are enough to explore the amazing colonial history of the Island, visit some interesting museums, and indulge in amazing foodie adventures.  Georgetown is a UNESCO-declared heritage city with well-preserved buildings from the last century.

The rich Peranakan culture can be seen in the architecture, design, furniture, and food of Penang. A visit to Peranakan Mansion was a very enjoyable experience and I highly recommend taking local tours in Penang . 

Read more on my website: Exploring Batu Ferringhi and Georgetown Penang

Explore Penang in your private Charter Vehicle



A 7-Day Travel Itinerary from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Included 2 nights in Ipoh, one night in Pangkor, one night in CameronHighlands, and three nights in Penang. This road trip takes you down some amazing places in Perak and Penang Island. 

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