Transportation in Malaysia

January 5, 2008


In Peninsular Malaysia, the main cities are served by an efficient network of highways and major roads. A good map is necessary if you plan to get behind the wheel to see the country in greater detail. In most cities and big towns, the road network is relatively good, with the exception being the less-developed rural and interior areas. Here, possibly the only way to get around would be by river transportation. A good and reliable train service runs the length of the Peninsula and covers the West and East Coast. The rail network also links up with Singapore and Thailand. Public transportation in the cities include buses, taxis and light railway. The domestic air network is comprehensively served by several local airlines.

By Road
The opening of the North-South Expressway that runs the entire length of the Malaysian Peninsula was considered a quantum leap in transportation infrastructure, effectively linking Major Cities on the west coast.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of driving in some of the big cities, most notably downtown Kuala Lumpur. Traffic is often distressingly congested and the many ongoing construction projects actually hinder the flow of traffic in many areas. In any case, visitors wishing to drive in Malaysia should plan their journey carefully to avoid peak hours and be well-prepared with road maps.

Note: Malaysians drive on the left side of the road. One more thing to watch out for is the large number of motorcyclists on Kuala Lumpur’s streets.

Buses operate in all the Major Cities of Malaysia and are cheap and convenient.

Buses in Kuala Lumpur.Buses in Kuala Lumpur used to have the unsavoury reputation of being unreliable, crowded and dirty but that has changed. Intrakota buses charge a flat rate of 90 sen. These are regular and air-conditioned.

Bus routes converge at several points in the city, namely downtown Kuala Lumpur which includes he entire Chinatown, Central Market and Puduraya area, Chow Kit, which is near the Putra World Trade Centre and the Bukit Bintang commercial district.

The suburbs are easily accessible from the main terminal in town, Klang Bus Station, just opposite Central Market.

The following bus terminals in town have services to the other states:

Pudu Raya: (03) 2070 0145
Buses from here go to most of Peninsular Malaysia. There are also services to Thailand and Singapore.

Putra Bus Terminal: (03) 4043 8984
Buses to the East Coast, especially the states of Kelantan and Terengganu. It is located opposite the Putra World Trade Centre.

Pekeliling Bus Terminal: (03) 4 42 1256
Buses to Pahang and Genting Highlands.

MARA Executive Coaches are the bus version of limousines, equipped with all sorts of business facilities and are extremely comfortable. The headquarters is at the MARA building along Jalan Raja Laut. Tel: (03) 2691 8113

Taxis are white and red. You should always insist the drivers use the meter which is obligatory by law. The flagfall rate is RM2.50.

Note: There is a 50% surcharge for trips between midnight and 6am. There is an additional charge of RM 1 if you call a taxi by phone.

At airports and railway stations, taxi vouchers with pre-set rates are available.

Car Rental
A valid International Driving Licence is required in order to drive in Malaysia. Although the minimum age for driving is 17, most car rental companies insist on a minimum age of at least 21. Many car rental companies have branch offices at airports and railway stations.

Car Rental Companies
Avis Rent a Car Tel: (03) 2142 3500
Bridgeport Rent a Car Sdn Bhd Tel: (03) 7980 7646
Budget Car Rental Tel: (03) 2145 1460
Dynadrive Rent a Car Sdn Bhd Tel: (03) 2148 8877
First Nationwide Car Rental Sdn Bhd Tel: (03) 7728 9788
Hertz Rent a Car Tel: (03) 2148 6433
Mansfield Car Rental Tel: (03) 2142 3333
Wira Car Rental & Tour Sdn Bhd. Tel: (03) 5161 1157
SMAS Rent a Car Tel: (03) 2070 7788
Mayflower Car Rental Tel: (03) 6252 1888
Pacific Rent a Car Tel: (03) 6060 6155

By Rail
Trains in Malaysia are run by Malaysian Railways (KTM) which is owned by the government. Now managed by a private company, its services have been greatly improved. Trains run regularly all the way down to Singapore or up north to Thailand.

For those in search of the ultimate luxury and who can afford it, there’s also the Eastern & Oriental Express, which links Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Within the Peninsula, here are two main rail lines. One is the regular service linking Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Trains leave daily from Bangkok to Butterworth (in Penang), which is an overnight trip. The train then travels to Singapore through Kuala Lumpur. The other service leaves the west coast at Gemas and travels northeast to Kota Bharu. This links up with the Thai railways at the border.

KTM also runs the comfortable KTM Komuter service, which links Kuala Lumpur with some of the neighbouring cities. Most stations have automatic vending machines and take only exact change, so it’s best to go prepared. The lines go all the west to Port Klang and south to Seremban.

For more information on the Komuter service,
please contact (03) 2272 2828.

Last but not least, the first few phases of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system have now been opened. At the moment the routes are only useful for travel within the city but as the separate phases of construction are completed, they should prove to be the ideal solution to the capital’s incessant traffic jams. Prices for the tickets to the LRT are charged according to distance and can be purchased either on a per-trip basis or as a stored-value ticket.

By Sea
There are many small boat services that operate between the various coastal towns and the outlying islands off Johor, Kelantan, Terengganu and Sabah. Within the Peninsula itself, some areas deep within the heart of the interior are accessible only by river boats.

On the international arena, there are four international ports which are points of arrival and departure for international vessels and cruise liners. These are Penang, Klang, Pasir Gudang and Labuan.

Within Malaysian waters, short cruises are becoming increasingly popular with holiday-makers, eg. between Singapore and Langkawi or Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Some cruise companies operating in Malaysia include the following which are located in Kuala Lumpur.

Star Cruise
24th Floor, Wisma Genting, Jalan Sultan Ismail
Tel: (03) 2161 2288

Renaissance Cruise
2nd Floor, 2, Jalan Segambut Tel: (011) 35 49 88

Empress Cruise Lines
Suite 15-03. 15th Floor, Wisma MCA, Jalan Ampang
Tel: (03) 2163 7000

Berjaya Holiday Cruises
Level 3, Pasar Berjaya Office Tower, 12, Jalan Imbi
Tel: (03) 2145 5186

By Air
The primary point of entry into the country today is the newly opened Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. A breathtaking architectural landmark, the airport features state-of-the-art facilities and services bringing a superior standard of service to travellers. Travelling time between Kuala Lumpur and KLIA is approximately 45 mins to 1 hour. The airport is well-linked with modern highway systems from across the country.

The Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang now functions as a local airport for domestic flights operated by private companies. It is an ideal gateway for domestic transfers within Malaysia.

Malaysia’s national carrier is Malaysia Airlines System, also known as MAS. The airline operates flights to all major international destination. Most international airlines have offices in the capital city. Malaysia also has modern airports in most states. A few of these are also international airports.

International Airlines Offices
Aeroflot Russian International Airlines Tel: (03) 2161 0231
Air France Tel: (03) 2072 6952 Fax: (03) 2072 5179
Air India Tel: (03) 2142 0166
Ansett Australia Tel: (03) 2031 9211 Fax: (03) 2031 8433
Asiana Airlines Tel: (03) 2144 2900 Fax: (03) 2148 1357
British Airways Tel: (03) 2072 5797 Fax: (03) 2072 5808
Canadian International Airlines Tel: (03) 2148 8596 Fax: (03) 2072 4769
China Airlines Ltd Tel: (03) 2142 7344
Delta Airlines Inc Tel: (03) 2691 5490
Garuda Indonesian Airways Tel: (03) 2162 2811
Japan Airlines Co Ltd. Tel: (03) 2161 1722 Fax: (03) 2161 8216
Korean Airline Co Ltd. Tel: (03) 2142 8311
Lufthansa German Airlines Tel: (03) 2161 4666 Fax: (03) 2161 3079
Qantas Airways Ltd Tel: (03) 2078 9133
Saudi Arabian Airlines Tel: (03) 2031 0088
Scandinavian Airlines System Tel: (03) 2142 6044 Fax: (03) 2142 6123
Singapore Airlines Ltd Tel: (03) 2692 3122