5 Day Budget Trip from Singapore to Malaysia

by Louise Stewart

We are going on a 2.5 week family holiday to visit friends in Singapore with our two teenage girls (aged 15 and 18) in June/July.

We intend to take a five day trip out to Malaysia somewhere but really don`t know where we should go. We are on a budget and the girls would like to have a beach hut to stay in.

I would like to see a bit of the countryside and jungle. Is there any islands that would give us both culture, jungle and sea? (at not too great a cost)?

Hi Louise

June and July is an excellent time to visit the villages, beaches and offshore islands on the east coast of Malaysia.

The weather is mostly sunny and the sea is largely calm.

However, this season also co-incides with the school holidays in Singapore and Malaysia. You should expect a bit of crowding, but you can lessen the impact if you avoid straddling the weekend. A good strategy might be to leave on a Sunday morning, when the crowds are travelling home in the opposite direction.


The most straightforward way to organise your Malaysia trip is to book a package from a travel agent, such as the ones at:

a) People's Park Centre in Chinatown, and

b) Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road.

They invariably run free-and-easy packages to

a) Pulau Tioman
(off Johor state near Singapore)

b) Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang
(off Terengganu state farther from Singapore)

(pulau = island in Malay)

I've gone on a couple of these and, as far as I know, these free-and-easy packages are still reasonably affordable. To keep your budget down, you just have to avoid the high-end luxury resort options.

The accommodation usually takes the form of chalets or huts near the beach, or on it! And each usually comes with an air-con or a fan.

One would normally book these Malaysia tour packages upon arrival in Singapore.

However, you might want to seek your friends' help - to make a preliminary enquiry on your behalf, collect some brochures, or even book the package ahead for you.

Pulau Tioman is very popular with Singaporeans. It is about 5 hours away by bus-and-fast-boat transfer. There are a few nice beaches on the island, opportunities for snorkeling, a couple of nice trails which lead through forests to waterfalls.

It's pretty touristy nowadays, but there are ways to get away from the crowds. If you like alcoholic drinks, you'd be happy to know that they're duty-free on the island.

Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Redang are farther north and will take you about 14 hours by bus-and-boat transfer from Singapore - so be warned! Some people actually fly to Kuala Terengganu to cut down on commuting time.

These two islands are considered two of the most beautiful in Malaysia. Perhentian is generally more popular with backpackers while Redang is more popular with families.

Facilities and activities would be similar to those in Tioman.


If you are feeling more adventurous, you could do a self-drive trip from Singapore to Malaysia, through the east coast states of Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.

This could be very rewarding but you might have to set aside more time, say 7 days, to make it worthwhile.

You'll find all the things you want to do here:

a) villages

b) forest reserves, rivers and waterfalls

c) traditional ship-building

d) traditional craft-making, including kite-making

e) a turtle hatchery (or two)

You'll have to

a) get hold of a good travel guide such Lonely Planet's 'Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei',

b) research thoroughly,

c) have a sense of adventure,

d) and be prepared to make adjustments to your schedule.

The most expensive component of such a self-drive trip to Malaysia could be the car rental. There will be lots of affordable accommodation and food along the way.

Have a think-through and post further questions using the 'Comments' link below.

Gabriel Tan

Click here to post comments.

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