17 May Self driving Malaysia Holiday
We spent a night in Singapore before heading over to Johor to visit Legoland. As we would already be over the border we decided to do a self driving Malaysia holiday.
Self Driving Malaysia itinerary
After coming over from Singapore and staying near Legoland we picked up the car rental at Senai International Airport, Johor. We then drove:
- Johor to Regalia Suites in Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh
- We drove around Ipoh to visit outside areas.
- Ipoh to Melaka
- Melaka to Johor
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Car rental in Malaysia
We rented our car online through Europcar. After choosing a sedan model we then added on an extra driver and a child seat. Rather than navigate the city we chose to do pick-up and drop off at Senai International Airport in Johor. At the desk, we handed over our passports and international drivers license, signed the paperwork and then waited outside for the car to be brought around.
Our rental car was a Proton and we checked it over to note any damage. The attendant gave us a quick rundown and fitted the child seat, which I was pleased to see had a 5 point safety harness. After putting our luggage in the boot and typing the address into google maps on my phone, we were on our way to Kuala Lumpur!
Want to see what cars you can rent in Malaysia? Click here to find out!
We mostly drove on expressways in Malaysia, which are well maintained. The road is divided with barriers and there is either three or four lanes for each side.
There are times when the roads can be confusing because they switch and you feel like you’re driving on the wrong side of the road. When exiting KL, Tim had to make a turn onto the right-hand side of the road and follow it around to get on to the expressway. There are lots of one-way roads which can add to the confusion. While I was driving around Ipoh I panicked thinking I had turned onto the wrong side of the road when actually a car had cut the corner and came onto my side.
You just need to watch the traffic and look for signs indicating the direction.
Malaysia road Tolls
The expressways are tolled and you will need a touch n go card. Someone on Instagram told me to go to the left with the trucks at the toll gate. Tim drove into the second from the left behind trucks but the worker at the gate wouldn’t sell us a card or let us pay cash. Tim had to walk over to the far left and buy the card, holding up the traffic. Then on our way back we went to the far left and I asked if we could top the card up and this time was told I needed to go to the second from the left! If you have time before driving, pick up a touch n go card at a store.
We tried a few places to load money on and were told that their system wasn’t working. We stopped along the way and Tim topped the card up at the service station/ rest stop.
The tolls were more expensive than we had anticipated. When you drive through it shows you on a screen the cost and what you have left.
If you have searched about driving in Malaysia you have probably come across lots of warnings about the crazy drivers. We did but we didn’t let it put us off. I read an article that said Malaysian drivers aim is to come first and they were right it does feel like you are playing a game.
The speed limit on the expressways is 110 km/h. When there is two lanes of traffic it basically means left is for slow drivers and right is for “get outta my way!”. It can become exhausting to constantly change lanes. You think ok I will just stay out of their way and sit in the left lane but, then you come to a halt behind a slow car or truck. You pull out to the right lane to overtake the slow vehicle, no one is there. Then all of a sudden, a car comes speeding up behind you. If you don’t get out of their way quick enough, they start flashing their lights and coming close enough to touch.
There are a lot of old trucks on the road so they move pretty slow. When there are three lanes it works a little better as the trucks stay to the left, cars doing the speed limit in the centre and fast movers in the right. It doesn’t always work quite like that though.
Getting Fuel in Malaysia
Getting fuel was easy. After pulling up to the pump we were met by an attendant who filled up the car, then we paid them so there is no need to get out of the car. This only works for cash. It cost us 80 Malaysian ringgit to fill the car, significantly cheaper than back home in Australia.
Our first parking experience was at the Regalia Suites in Kl where we had an apartment booked through Airbnb. It’s a massive building complex so is quite confusing when visiting for the first time. Tim managed to find a spot to pull into although it wasn’t a proper park. After finally meeting the guest officer, we were given a pass to park underground. There were designated spots for visitors and a security guard instructed Tim where to go. We didn’t use the car in KL only driving it again on our way out.
In Ipoh we parked in a spot outside the hotel. We drove into town once but didn’t have to pay for parking as it was a public holiday. The cave temples had large free parking spaces, except one but we were able to park in a nearby temples space.
In Melaka we parked the car in the hotels parking lot and left it there until we moved on.
Flat tyre on our Malaysia rental car
When leaving our hotel in Ipoh Tim noticed one tyre looked a little flat. I pulled over up the road so he could check. Yep, it was flat. Tim set about putting the spare wheel on, unloading all our luggage. A couple stopped and helped us. The only problem was the spare was only a temporary and we had to drive to Melaka and then back to Johor on it. After too long trying to decide we eventually took it to a tyre shop and they repaired the punctured tyre. It cost us a whole 8RM, we gave them 10RM! Although, when leaving Melaka we found it was flat again. so, back on with the spare to return the car in Johor.
We liked having a car because it meant we didn’t have to worry about bus schedules when getting between places. It felt a bit of a waste in KL as we extended our stay and left the car parked for 3 nights. It was definitely useful to have a car in Ipoh as we drove to places outside the city centre. Our youngest son was able to nap easily in his car seat while we drove between cities.
Read our full Singapore and Malaysia itinerary.