10 underrated road trip destinations in Malaysia from Singapore with scenic natural wonders, delicious eats & more

by Kaye Yeo

As Singaporeans, many of us are no strangers to weekend getaways to popular destinations like Johor Bahru and Cameron Highlands. But why not shake things up with these 10 hidden gems that have long been overshadowed by the likes of Penang and Malacca, and try going on these road trips in Malaysia that will offer you a different experience?

From delicious food to stunning natural sights, there’ll be plenty to see and do at each and every one of these exciting destinations! 

1. Muar, Johor

Photo: @esther.gohh/instagram

First up on the list is every foodie’s favourite, the Royal City of Johor, Muar

The name Glutton Street alone is bound to pique your interest. As the oldest culinary attraction in Muar, this street is known for its otak otak, fried oysters, pork satay, and more. 

The deep, aromatic flavours of Sai Kee’s 434 coffee is also something you can’t miss. ZZ Satay Warisan also offers incredible satay for breakfast — it feels as though everyone in this city is crazy about food.

road trips malaysia
Photo: @limdonald/instagram

For those looking to have a taste of the city’s history and culture, how about going down the Muar Cultural Walk where rows and rows of murals make for Instagram-worthy photos? At night, the street becomes even busier with attractive performances, cultural shows and street vendors.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 2 hours 15 minutes

2. Kuala Rompin, Pahang

road trips malaysia
Photo: @tourismmalaysiade/instagram

Kuala Rompin is a nature retreat with an all-in-one package. Being so close to the river, sea and rainforests, you can visit friendly Orang Asli villages, gorge on the freshest seafood, admire the picturesque “mirror” Lanjut Beach and marvel at the ethereal blue lake, Tasik Biru.

road trips malaysia
Photo: @ericsonblack/instagram

Most notably, it is located right at the borders of Malaysia’s second largest national park, the Endau-Rompin National Park. It is home to some of the oldest rainforests in the world, as well as majestic waterfalls, serving as the perfect place for urbanites looking to immerse themselves in nature.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 2 hour 45 minutes

3. Bentong, Pahang

road trips malaysia
Photo: @lovetravelswenn/instagram

Rather than Genting, how about visiting its underrated neighbour that has hot springs, a stunning waterfall and serene forest retreats? The Bentong Hot Springs, Chamang Waterfall, Kechara Forest Retreat and Lentang Forest Recreational Park is your go-to for a relaxing trip.

If you happen to be there on Saturday, check out Bentong Walk, a night market in a historic district featuring live performances and captivating art.

road trips malaysia
Photo: Colmar Tropicale

Surprisingly, Bentong also has a Japanese Village that has kimonos for rent, a teahouse and Tatami Spa!

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 4 hours 50 minutes

4. Sekinchan, Selangor

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Photo: @juliayong/instagram

Sekinchan can fulfil all your dreams of feeling like a drama protagonist — run through the endless paddy fields with the blue sky at the back and listen to the sound of the rice plants rustling in the wind.

But make sure to visit before the harvesting seasons, ideally during mid-March to May and during mid-September to November, or else you won’t be seeing lush green fields but empty barren ones instead.

road trips malaysia
Photo: @stevenchow1988/instagram

Don’t forget to make a wish at the Sekinchan Wishing Tree, or chill at the Pantai Redang Beach before touring the Bagan Fishing Village for some tasty seafood.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 5 hours 20 minutes

5. Kuala Selangor, Selangor

road trips malaysia
Photo: @johntan_jt via @imagesofmalaysia/instagram

Road trips in Malaysia can’t do without the dreamy Kuala Selangor. This seaside town is best appreciated at night, when you can go hunting for fireflies and watch them light up the night sky. It is also only at night when you can witness the mesmerising “Blue Tears” as Selangor River glows in splendid blue hues.

Photo: @skymirrormalaysia/instagram

The magic continues with Sky Mirror where shallow waters become a reflective surface, mirroring the sky and creating illusions of walking on water.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 5 hours

6. Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor

road trips malaysia
Photo: @hazmirhamid/instagram

Locals call it the KKB, but please do not mistake this town for a certain crude local slang. Kuala Kubu Bharu is a popular weekend spot that is known for outdoor activities and adventure amongst Kuala Lumpur locals.

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Photo: Wesley Ng/google images

Boasting incredible views of rolling hills and waters from the summit of Bukit Kutu and at the Sungai Selangor Dam, it offers an ideal escape from the bustling cities. Nature-lovers looking for some exercise can take on one of the many waterfall hiking trails at Kuala Kubu Bharu, like the Lata Medang Waterfall and Chilling Waterfall trails.

If lazing around in the sun sounds like a better option, picnic at Taman Tasik Millennium and enjoy views of the lake and hills in comfort.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 5 hours 10 minutes

7. Sungai Lembing, Pahang

road trips malaysia
Photo: @nszk_/instagram

Sungai Lembing is an old tin mining town that has turned into a haven for outdoor and nature enthusiasts. Like Kuala Kubu Bharu, Sungai Lembing is also home to beautiful waterfalls and panoramic sights — they literally have Bukit Panorama and Sunrise Hill, titular hills that live up to their very names.

Photo: @sungailembingrecreation via @tourismpahang/instagram

The Rainbow Waterfall and Berkelah Waterfalls (it has seven tiers!) are definitely not to be missed, as well as this hidden Hindu cave temple with a gigantic nine metre long Buddha statue in Gua Charas, tucked away in a grand limestone massif more than 400 million years old.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 5 hours 30 minutes

8. Gopeng, Perak

Photo: @guatempurungextreme/instagram

Also a former tin mining town, Gopeng has caves that have spelunking enthusiasts lining up at their doorstep. Similar to Gua Charas, Gua Tempurung is also around 400 million years old, although it is one of the longest caves in Malaysia with three enormous chambers and impressive stalactites and stalagmites.

Photo: @Zhan Hui Teh/flickr

Want something brighter on your itinerary? Why not pay a visit to Cameron Highlands’ cousin, the Gaharu Tea Valley? It’s less misty, and you can get a clear view of the majestic mountains and verdant tea plantations.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 5 hours 51 minutes

9. Taiping, Perak 

Photo: @myakzmn/instagram

Taiping is constantly overshadowed by Ipoh even though it is the second largest city in Perak. Rich with colonial history and architecture, it’s the perfect destination for history buffs. They have the oldest museum (Perak Museum), the oldest hill resort (Bukit Larut), the oldest zoo in Malaysia (Taiping Zoo) and markets that date back hundreds of years ago.

Photo: @raydventure/instagram

Another of their most famous attractions is the Taiping Lake Gardens, which is Malaysia’s first park! 

Not to mention, Taiping is only an hour away from a spectacular waterfall, the Lata Titi Dua, also known as Air Terjun Sungai Tebing Tinggi (don’t get it confused with Lata Tebing Tinggi which is also in northern Perak). Road trips in Malaysia

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 6 hours 52 minutes

10. Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu 

road trips malaysia
Photo: @Morten Guttorm/flickr

While this destination might be the furthest, it undoubtedly is the most rewarding, with unparalleled scenic views and unique island hopping opportunities. The allure of road trips in Malaysia lies in being able to see sights that can’t be found in Singapore. Drive along Federal Road 3 which traces the coastline, offering you incredible coastal views throughout the entirety of your road trip.

You’ll be spoilt for choice no matter whether you’re exploring the city or the outdoors. Enter the iconic Crystal Mosque located at the Islamic Heritage Park, which is made out of steel, glass and of course, crystals. Browse through exotic ingredients at the Central Market and learn about the Chinese community at Teck Soon Cultural House.

road trips malaysia
Photo: @wswstraveller/instagram

You can take the ferry out to various islands like Redang Island with its white sandy beaches, snorkel at the Perhentian Islands, or explore the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia, Kenyir Lake.

???? From Johor Bahru checkpoint: 7 hours

Embark on a new flight-free experience and start packing for these road trips across Malaysia!

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