What I Wish I Knew Before Travelling Malaysia Solo

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Malaysia is my favourite country in Southeast Asia. I spent three weeks there the first time I visited Malaysia solo and absolutely feel in love with the country.

Three weeks wasn’t enough for me, and I knew before I even left Malaysia that I would be back.

Even though my solo trip to Malaysia was amazing, there are still a few things I wish I knew before visiting Malaysia solo that would have made my trip go a little bit smoother.

I’m going to share everything I wish I knew before visiting Malaysia alone as well as some of the things I’m so glad I did on my solo trip to Malaysia.

Hopefully by the end of this article you’ll have a better idea on what to expect from your solo trip to Malaysia and that you’ll be excited to explore one of my favourite countries I’ve ever been to.

Ipoh Cave Temple Elephant Statue

Kuala Lumpur has an Amazing Metro System

If you’ve done any travelling in Southeast Asia, you know that most cities don’t have a metro system. Some cities like Manila and Bangkok have a small metro system, but it’s not nearly developed enough to get you everywhere you want to go.

Kuala Lumpur has the best metro system in all of Southeast Asia. Yes it’s even better than the one in Singapore!

You’re able to get everywhere you need to go easily, quickly, and cheaply.

I was blown away by the metro system in Kuala Lumpur. I honestly didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. Without looking into the metro system and how robust it was, I took a Grab from the airport because I thought taking the metro would be a long, tedious process.

It wouldn’t have been, and I spent a lot of money on a Grab that I didn’t need to spend. There is a fast train that goes from the airport directly to KL Sentral and the main bus terminal.

It’s quick, affordable, and truly the best way to get from the airport to wherever you’re staying in Kuala Lumpur.

I didn’t need to take a Grab anywhere during my week in Kuala Lumpur. I got everywhere I needed to go using the metro. That doesn’t sound like a huge accomplishment, but it is in Southeast Asia where metros aren’t a common thing. You normally have to walk, take a Grab, or a public bus.

I loved being able to jump on the metro whenever I wanted and go wherever I needed to go. It was so convenient. I’m a sucker for a good metro ride.

Book your KLIA Ekspres Airport Train ticket in advance to save time and money

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

Install an Esim Before You Arrive in Malaysia

I swear by esims. I use an esim everywhere I travel and can’t imagine travelling without one. They’re so convenient and easy to use. Plus it saves you time picking up a physical sim card at the airport.

I used an esim when in Malaysia, and it made my trip so much easier. I was able to Google the best restaurants in the area when I was hungry, use GoogleMaps, and keep in touch with my friends and family back home.

Plus it made finding my way out of the metro station to wherever I wanted to go easier. Many metro stations in Kuala Lumpur open up into a mall, and it can be tricky to figure out exactly where you want to go.

What I didn’t know at the time of my trip to Malaysia is that you can install an esim on your phone before you arrive in that country.

Installing Your Esim Before Entering Malaysia

I was pretty new to using esims at the time, so I’d find wifi at the airport and install an esim in the airport. It was quite the process, and there were times (like in Bangkok) where I couldn’t connect to wifi in the airport and wasn’t able to install an esim to call a Grab from the airport to my hotel.

If you’re using an esim for your solo trip to Malaysia (which I highly recommend you do), be sure to install it on your phone before you arrive in Malaysia.

I normally install my esim when I’m in the airport lounge before I board my flight to the new country I’m visiting. That way I’m able to use the esim for the country I’m already in for as long as possible.

Once you have the esim installed, it will automatically connect when you arrive in Malaysia and turn on your data. You’ll be able to use it while you’re in line at immigration waiting to get into the country. That’s always nice since the immigration lines can be long, and you have nobody to talk to and pass the time with when visiting Malaysia solo.

So, to recap:

  • An esim is the best way to get data when travelling abroad
  • Install your esim before you arrive in Malaysia

Ipoh Cave Temple Garden

Get Outside Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the most famous city in Malaysia because of the PETRONAS Towers. They’re Malaysia’s most recognizable landmark and one of the big draws for people visiting Malaysia.

The PETRONAS Towers are absolutely breathtaking and blew me away. Same with everything else in Kuala Lumpur, but there is more to see in Malaysia than just the PETRONAS Towers and Kuala Lumpur.

What I liked most about Malaysia is that every city I visited was so different from the rest. They all had their own unique personality and offered something a bit different.

I visited four cities on my first solo trip to Malaysia, and they were all super unique.

  • Kuala Lumpur is a modern, bustling city that never seems to sleep
  • Malacca was one of the most important port cities in the region for many years and is loaded with history and charm
  • Ipoh is home to Malaysia’s famous cave temples. It’s a quiet city, but it packs a punch when it comes to natural attractions
  • Georgetown is in Northern Malaysia. It still feels highly British and same of the most interesting historical, colonial sites in Malaysia. It’s also home to some of the best street art in the world

Oftentimes when you visit multiple cities in the same country, they start to feel similar. That isn’t the case in Malaysia.

Each city feels like a completely new adventure. I only went to four cities on my first time travelling Malaysia alone, but I was able to get a taste of different sides and personalities of the country.

If you’re planning a trip to Malaysia, promise me you will get outside Kuala Lumpur and explore different parts of Malaysia. Even if it’s just a day trip to Malacca.

top tip

Get the best view of the PETRONAS Towers by taking the KL Night Bus Tour.

Petronas Towers at Night

Consider Visiting Borneo

My biggest regret when travelling Malaysia solo the first time was not visiting Borneo. I felt like it was too complicated to get to and that it wasn’t worth the effort.

I think since I was travelling overland everywhere else in Malaysia, I felt like flying to Borneo was too out of the way and inconvenient.

In Ipoh, a met a couple at one of the cave temples, and they started telling me about their time in Borneo and how amazing it was.

I really regretted not visiting Borneo and knew that next time I was in Malaysia that I had to visit the island.

The main draw of Borneo is being able to see the orangutans. There is a reserve on Borneo that takes care of the primates, and you’re able to view the animals during their feeding times. The orangutans live freely, and it isn’t a zoo. It’s their natural habitat that has been preserved, and the feeding helps them get enough food and helps with rehabilitating injured animals.

If you’re visiting Malaysia, don’t be intimidated by having to fly to Borneo. If seeing primates in the wild is a dream of yours, it’s worth the effort. That’s the biggest thing I wish I knew before visiting Malaysia solo and my only regret from my trip to Malaysia.

Malaysia is Safe

The most common question I got when telling friends and family that I was travelling to Malaysia alone was is Malaysia safe.

Everybody seemed worried that Malaysia wasn’t a safe country. I’m not sure if it’s because they didn’t know anybody else who had visited Malaysia or because of preconceived ideas about what travelling in a Muslim-majority country as a solo female traveller is like.

I’m very happy to report that Malaysia is an incredibly safe country.

There was not a single moment I felt unsafe during my time in Malaysia. I felt completely comfortable walking alone at night and taking public transportation.

That being said, I have heard many black women say that they experienced racism while travelling in Malaysia. If you’re a person of colour, my experience as a white woman of always feeling safe may not be the same for you.

Here is a list of the most prominent and respected black travel bloggers. Hopefully you’ll find better information about whether travelling Malaysia as a black solo traveller is a safe and positive experience.

Melacca Straight

Malaysia is Affordable

Malaysia is one of the richest and highly developed countries in Southeast Asia. I thought this would mean that Malaysia was significantly more expensive than other countries in the region.

That wasn’t the case in my experience. Malaysia was extremely affordable. Especially when you get outside Kuala Lumpur.

Food, transportation, and tourist attractions were all very affordable. I honestly found that Malaysia was way more affordable than Cambodia, which really surprised me.

If you’re thinking of maybe not visiting Malaysia solo because you’re worried about the expense, you don’t have to be. It’s very easy to travel Malaysia on a budget. I found it to be similar prices to Thailand.

The tourist attractions are what surprised me. I thought they would be super expensive, but they weren’t.

Major tourist attractions like KL Tower and the PETRONAS Towers were surprisingly affordable. Way more affordable than similar activities anywhere else in the world.

Many tourist attractions outside of Kuala Lumpur were actually free. I was shocked that there wasn’t an entry fee to visit the cave temples in Ipoh. It was one of the best experiences of my life and was completely free!

Malaysia Doesn’t Feel like a Muslim-Majority Country

Malaysia is predominately a Muslim country. I highly recommend you visit the National Museum of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur if you want to learn how Malaysia became a Muslim country. It’s a very interesting story.

Even though Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country, it doesn’t feel like one. Sometimes when you travel to a Muslim-majority country as a solo female traveller, you feel a little out of place.

That isn’t the case in Malaysia. Everybody is just going about your business, and you don’t feel like you’re intruding in any spaces you shouldn’t be.

In fact, if I didn’t know that Malaysia was a Muslim-majority country before I visited Malaysia solo, I wouldn’t have been able to guess.

If you’re worried about visiting Malaysia as a solo female traveller because you’re not Muslim and don’t know if you’ll be welcome, don’t be. There aren’t any strict unwritten cultural rules you need to be aware of.

Just be kind, respectful, and go about your normal business. Travelling Malaysia alone is like travelling anywhere else in the world alone.

Cat street art Georgetown Malaysia

Internet Safety is Important

You rely on public wifi networks when you travel. Even if you use an esim or get a physical sim, you still use public wifi at your hotel or in the airport. This puts you at high risk of having your private online data stolen.

Even if the wifi network has a password, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Anybody with access to that password can access your public information if they want to. Including your banking information.

Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to go through the hassle of cancelling banking cards while abroad because you didn’t use a public wifi network safely.

The only way to stay safe while using public wifi networks is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts an invisible forcefield around your devices that makes using public wifi networks as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

It is one of the easiest ways you can stay safe while travelling. I always say that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your personal online information with a VPN.

NordVPN

My Favourite VPN

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my many years of travel. Most of them are awful to be honest.

VPNs are notorious for slowing down your internet speed, and you can really feel it with most VPNs. I used to turn off my VPN and put my online information at risk of being stolen just because the VPN was slowing down my internet speed so much.

All that changed when I started using NordVPN.

NordVPN is the fastest VPN on the market, and you can really feel the difference between it and other VPN providers.

I’ve been using NordVPN since 2018 and have never once felt a slowdown in my internet speed. It’s been so nice to know that I can rely on NordVPN to keep my online information safe while not slowing me down when I’m trying to write blogs or edit videos.

The best part about NordVPN is how affordable it is. A two-year subscription costs less per month than a single Starbuck’s latte.

It’s a super small price to pay of piece of mind you get knowing your personal and private online information is safe and secure from prying eyes.

The Food in Malaysia is Amazing

Malaysia is home to three ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. The three ethnic groups have a long history of working together.

This not only means you can find delicious authentic food from each of the three ethnic groups but also that there is amazing fusion food.

Make sure to try Malaysian food (like their national dish nasi lemak) even if you have no idea what it is and have never heard of it before. You won’t regret it!

If you want to experience Malaysian food that you know will be good, consider taking a food tour in Kuala Lumpur. They take you to all the best spots and give you a sample of the best Malaysian food.

Also, even if you don’t love Indian food, make sure to try it in Malaysia. Especially when you get outside Kuala Lumpur. It’s amazing and some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had in my life.

Ipoh Cave Temple golden Buddha

Conclusion

Travelling Malaysia solo was one of the best travel experiences of my life. I absolutely adore Malaysia and hope it will become a more popular tourist destination in the future.

Malaysia is one of the easiest countries to travel in. It has an amazing public transportation system, English is widely spoken, there are unique tourist attractions, and it’s affordable.

There is no reason not to travel to Malaysia alone. It’s an unforgettable experience you won’t forget.

If you were looking for a sign to pull the trigger and book your solo trip to Malaysia, this is it!

What I Wish I Knew Before Travelling Malaysia SoloWhat I Wish I Knew Before Travelling Malaysia SoloWhat I Wish I Knew Before Travelling Malaysia Solo
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