With only five days in Malaysia, focusing on one to two destinations is best. Travelers interested in urban adventures can sample street food in Kuala Lumpur and take a boat tour of UNESCO-listed Melaka. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot orangutans and more on Kinabatangan River safaris in Malaysian Borneo, while beach lovers can snorkel at Lankayan Island. Those looking for variety should head to Kuching, where they'll visit historical sites, learn about Bidayuh culture, and see endemic species at Bako National Park.

Itinerary #1: Kuala Lumpur Urban Retreat

For those keen on exploring Malaysia's dynamic capital, this urban retreat has you focusing your time in Kuala Lumpur with some day trips outside the city. You'll dive into the capital's rich history with a guided tour through the traditional Malay village of Kampung Baru and visits to significant sites, such as Masjid Jamek. Then, learn about Hinduism at the Batu Caves pilgrimage site, cruise Melaka by boat, and taste multicultural cuisine on a day trip north to Ipoh. The balance of historical sites, culinary experiences, and culture makes this an excellent option for first-time visitors. 

A monkey on a colorful rooftop at the Batu Caves
Visit the temples at Batu Caves
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Afternoon Walking Tour Kuala Lumpur
Day 2 Batu Caves & City Tour, Visit the Petronas Twin Towers Kuala Lumpur
Day 3 Day Trip to UNESCO-Listed Melaka  Kuala Lumpur
Day 4 Day Trip to Ipoh: Culture & Cuisine Kuala Lumpur
Day 5 Depart Kuala Lumpur  

See the traditional side of Kuala Lumpur on a guided walking tour of Kampung Baru village. Here, you'll find artfully crafted wooden homes and have a chance to sample local specialties, such as satay (chicken skewers seasoned with spices) and kuih-muih (colorful Malaysian desserts). After a good night's rest, your driver will bring you to Batu Caves to see the bright colors of the Hindu pilgrimage site nestled inside. Then, visit the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and admire its Moorish architecture, stop by Kuala Lumpur's oldest mosque, Masjid Jamek, and, finally, end the evening with a view from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

Take a day trip to the UNESCO-listed city of Melaka, where you'll taste street food in Chinatown, then visit the red-colored Christ Church, the ruins of A Famosa fortress, and the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum. Cruise the Melaka River, passing murals and historical landmarks, including Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, before returning to Kuala Lumpur. Head to Ipoh and taste some of the best Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisines on a culinary excursion, then tour the city sites, including the Ipoh Railway Station. Check out the Gua Tempurung cave system before one last dinner in Kuala Lumpur. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Malaysia Getaway: Melaka & Kuala Lumpur

Adding a second overnight to the itinerary, this getaway is an excellent choice for history buffs and visitors interested in urban adventures in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, with the addition of a day trip to Kuala Selangor. You'll learn about local history, architecture, and multicultural influences on walking tours in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka and have a chance to visit (and taste your way around!) Chinatown in both cities before enjoying a seafood dinner and a river cruise among fireflies in Kuala Selangor.

Kuala Lumpur
Ride the elevator up the iconic Petronas Towers for views over Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital city
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Transfer to Melaka Melaka
Day 2 Melaka Walking City Tour  Melaka
Day 3 Transfer to Kuala Lumpur, Walking City Tour Kuala Lumpur
Day 4 Kuala Selangor Fireflies Cruise & Dinner Kuala Lumpur
Day 5 Depart Kuala Lumpur  

On arrival in Kuala Lumpur, your driver will transfer you to Melaka. Here, you'll visit historical landmarks like the 16th-century A Famosa fortress, St. Paul's Church, and the 17th-century Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia. You'll also have a chance to cruise the Melaka River by boat and do a little souvenir shopping and street food tasting on the famous Jonker Street in Chinatown night market—what Melaka is known for. Your driver will bring you back to Kuala Lumpur on Day 3 for a walking tour of some of the city's cultural heritage sites and popular spots.

Check out the colorful murals on Sultan Street, then peruse the stalls at the Rust Market bazaar before learning about the history of Chinese immigration—and sampling the cuisine!—on Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. On your final full day, your driver will take you west to the coastal town of Kuala Selangor, where you'll see the famous silvery lutung monkeys at Melawati Hill, visit Altingsburg Lighthouse, and indulge in a fresh seafood dinner. Then, celebrate your journey with an evening riverboat cruise as fireflies light up the night sky around you. Learn more

Plan your trip to Malaysia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Itinerary #3: Malaysian Borneo's Heritage & Nature in Kuching

Experience a blend of East Malaysia's culture, nature, and historical sites with this Borneo-focused itinerary. You'll explore Kuching on a riverboat cruise, observe orangutans in Semenggoh Nature Reserve, learn about Bidayuh culture at the Annah Rais Longhouse, admire the limestone formations and serene setting of the Wind and Fairy Caves, and round out your trip with a visit to Bako National Park where you'll find diverse ecosystems and endemic wildlife. 

A Sarawak hornbill in flight
Spot Sarawak hornbills and other birds in Malaysia
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kuching, Kuching River Cruise Kuching
Day 2 Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Annah Rais Bidayuh Village Kuching
Day 3 Venture into the Wind & Fairy Caves Kuching
Day 4 Day Trip to Bako National Park Kuching
Day 5 Depart Kuching  

Upon arriving to Kuching in eastern Borneo, you'll waste no time and head out to see the city's landmarks and architecture, including the Brooke Dockyard and the Kuching State Mosque, on a riverboat cruise along the Sarawak River. The next day, observe orangutans and learn about the conservation efforts of the friendly species at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve. After lunch, you'll meet the Bidayuh people and witness their daily activities and cultural traditions at the Annah Rais Longhouse, a traditional wooden structure housing multiple families.

Venture into the Wind & Fairy Caves on Day 3, where you can admire these impressive caves' stalactites, stalagmites, and other limestone formations. Spend your final full day at Bako National Park. This natural sanctuary is home to diverse landscapes that include rainforests, mangroves, waterfalls, and secluded beaches, along with unique wildlife like proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, wild boars, and over 275 bird species. On the morning of your last day, you'll have time for last-minute souvenir shopping and one last Malay meal before departure. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Wildlife & Islands of Borneo

This trip to Malaysian Borneo is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts eager to pair a jungle retreat with an island getaway. Stay at an ecolodge in Kinabatangan, where you'll participate in jungle hikes as well as bird-watching and orangutan-spotting canoe rides. Then, head to Lankayan Island for beach time and snorkeling with sea turtles and other marine life.

See orangutans in the wild in Borneo
ee orangutans in the wild in East Malaysia's Borneo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sandakan, Boat Trip to River Lodge Kinabatangan
Day 2 Kinabatangan River Cruise & Forest Walk Kinabatangan
Day 3 Transfer to Lankayan Island, Optional Activities Lankayan Island
Day 4 Morning Snorkel Tour, Free Afternoon on Lankayan Lankayan Island
Day 5 Return to Sandakan, Orangutan Conservation Tour, Depart  

Your journey begins in Sandakan in East Malaysia with a boat trip to the eco-friendly Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the Kinabatangan River, Malaysia's second longest. Here, you'll spend two days immersed in nature—cruising the river, bird-watching and searching for orangutans and other wildlife, and hiking in the rainforest. Enjoy a riverside dinner and a presentation by a local naturalist before returning to Sandakan for the second part of your trip.

Back in Sandakan, board a speedboat north to Lankayan Island, where you'll check into your overwater bungalow at the island's only resort. Enjoy walking around the island, swimming, or sunbathing on the beach before indulging in a seafood dinner. Day 4 is dedicated to water activities: spend the morning on a snorkeling excursion, swimming with marine life, followed by kayaking or paddleboarding after lunch. On your final day, you'll return to Sandakan and visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to observe and learn about the plight of orangutans and Borneo sun bears before your driver transfers you to the airport for your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Discover Borneo's Wildlife & the Hidden Kinabatangan River

Discover Borneo's nature and wildlife with this itinerary. You'll visit historic landmarks on a heritage trail walk in Sandakan before meeting orangutans at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Center. Next, you'll head to a riverside resort and see pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys during multiple river safaris. Your adventure ends with a guided jungle trek through Sandakan Rainforest Discovery. Given the variety of wildlife encounters and the natural setting along the Kinabatangan River, this trip is also a fantastic choice for wildlife photographers and outdoorsy, animal-loving families. 

Aerial view of Kinabatangan River
Cruise along East Malaysia's Kinabatangan River by boat
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sandakan, Sandakan City Tour Sandakan
Day 2 Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, Transfer to Kinabatangan & River Safari Kinabatangan
Day 3 Kinabatangan River Sunrise & Sunset Safaris Kinabatangan
Day 4 Return to Sandakan, Sandakan Rainforest Discovery Kinabatangan
Day 5 Depart Sandakan  

Get acquainted with Sandakan on a guided walk along the Sandakan Heritage Trail, a pathway linking the area's historical sites, including Sandakan Memorial Park and the Buli Sim Sim Water Village, known for its stilt houses. Day 2 will be spent at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, where you'll see these endangered primates in the rehabilitation environment before taking a boat ride along the Kinabatangan River to reach your resort. After check-in, enjoy a wildlife cruise and scan the wetland habitat for macaques, proboscis monkeys, and various bird species, including large hornbills and raptors.

After dinner, stroll along the boardwalks with a guide, searching for nocturnal creatures and insects. The next day, you'll go on sunrise and sunset safaris, observing playful pygmy elephants and experiencing the mesmerizing sight of fireflies illuminating the trees along the river. You'll also have the chance to visit a local village and learn about their culture and customs. Finally, return to Sandakan, where you'll take a guided hike at the Sandakan Discovery Rainforest, home to orangutans, pygmy elephants, and numerous tropical birds. Learn more

More Great 5-Day Malaysia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Malaysia? Check out these other five-day Malaysia itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.


Map of 5 Days in Malaysia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 5 Days in Malaysia - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas