Singapore and the East Coast of Malaysia

After exploring Singapore for a few days, we started bicycle touring Malaysia’s east coast. We had mixed experiences in Malaysia’s east – at times the traffic was horrendous, particularly on the southern end of the peninsula, but we also found some peaceful beach roads in the northern state of Terengganu.

If you missed our first post on Malaysia, you can find it here.

Our Cycling Route

bicycle touring malaysia's east coast map
Map of our route along Malaysia’s east coast.

Download the GPX track of our tour of Malaysia's East Coast. NOTE: This is not a polished route and is intended for research and planning purposes only.


Cycling in Singapore was a stark contrast to Malaysia – there were many bike paths and we were separated from traffic most of the way into the city. There was quite a bit of construction going on when we were there, which led to some detours and reroutes, but they were all well signed.

bicycle touring singapore
Bike path on our way into Singapore.

Singapore is a very modern city, with lots of futuristic architecture and high-end shopping malls. While lodging can be quite expensive, there are several famous hawker food centers where you can find fantastic meals at an affordable price.

We visited Tian Tian Chicken and Rice at the Maxwell Food Center, which has been awarded a Michelin star. It was delicious, unsurprisingly, and there was a long line of people waiting to try the renowned dish. However, there was another chicken and rice stall further down the row, and we felt kind of bad because there was no one eating there and it was probably just as good (or at least close).

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The Michelin rated Tian Tian Chicken Rice.
tian tian chicken rice
The famous chicken rice. It looks simple but it was very delicious!
singapore hawker food center
Amazing hawker food in Singapore. Prices immediately shot up when we crossed over from Johor, but at least the hawker stalls were still cheap and plentiful.
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Bowl of Lor Mee from the hawker stall, about $2.18 per serving. Very hearty and filling.
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Futuristic skyscraper in Singapore.
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We went to the free light show at the Supertree Grove.

Singapore to Kuala Rompin (4 days, 148 miles)

Riding out of Johor Bahru after leaving Singapore was incredibly hectic, and we ended up on some pretty busy and terrifying roads. The drivers gave us as much room as possible, but it was honestly some of the most nerve-wracking riding we’ve done due to the high speeds of the vehicles.

We were mostly on Highway 3 for this section due to the lack of a good alternative. It was probably our least favorite section of riding in Malaysia, and the traffic was particularly bad because we were there during the Diwali holiday week. There was often a decent shoulder, but it would occasionally disappear at random times.

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Traffic nightmare leaving Johor.

Late October is a transitional period in terms of the monsoon, and we got stuck in heavy afternoon downpours pretty often. We saw some wild flash floods in the palm plantations and along the road. Luckily there were frequent shelters on the side of the road to take breaks from the rain when we needed to.

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Typical Malaysian restaurant setup. Buffet style food in the corner but you can also order dishes a la carte.

Kuala Rompin to Chukai (3 days, 122 miles)

We continued along Highway 3 until shortly after Pekan, where we were able to take some detours off the main road. Unfortunately, the beach road we took was also very busy as it was a lively and accessible waterfront area with lots of restaurants and shops. As we got further north, there were some nicer beach roads through small villages that didn’t have as much traffic.

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Sleepy cat outside the restaurant where we ate a breakfast of Roti Telur.
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Skittish group of water buffalo.
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Small shop with lots of snacks, etc.
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Chicken chop with rice, about $3.50 each for dinner. Jenny is scoping a cat under the table.
The cat under the table (now in a chair).


Kuantan is the capital of the state of Pahang, and we took a rest day here to check out the city (Jenny was also feeling a bit under the weather). We walked around a nice pedestrian area with lots of street art, and there were a bunch of girls dressed up in saris and getting their photos taken for Diwali.

We tried out a Thai restaurant one night for dinner and got absolutely destroyed by the spice level of the Tom Yum soup. It was actually our first time having Tom Yum and we didn’t realize how spicy it was going to be, and we both had sore throats so were coughing and crying throughout our meal. We got quite a lot of looks from other diners.

Pedestrian walkway over the road in Kuantan. Malaysia generally wasn’t very pedestrian friendly, but sometimes there would be overpasses for foot traffic.

Chukai to Kenyir Lake (3 days, 133 miles)

Traffic mellowed out considerably during this section, and we were able to find nice beach roads that were a welcome respite from the hectic riding we’d been doing.

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Nice beach front in Kuala Dungun.

Kuala Dungun and Beach Riding

Some of our favorite riding on the east coast was between Kuala Dungun and Kuala Terrengganu. We found some quiet roads through small beach villages lined with coconut trees that had sweeping views of the ocean. One afternoon we stopped for lunch at a pavilion on the beach, and there was a very vocal cat that sat with us while we ate. It seemed to just be lounging in the shade, listening to the waves and waiting for someone to come by and provide some food scraps.

Walking back from dinner in Kuala Dungun.
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Village beach riding among the coconut trees.
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Cat friend wanted our lunch very badly.
Scenic beach cow.
bicycle touring malaysia east coast
We were riding across Malaysia in the lead up to a national election, so there were campaign flags all over the place.
bicycle touring east coast of malaysia
Malaysia is 63.5% Muslim and there are mosques everywhere. The call to prayer became a consistent presence in our lives.

Kuala Terengganu

Despite being the capital of the state of Terengganu, we found KT to have a pretty laid-back, sleepy vibe. It was still a fun city to visit, with a night market along the waterfront and several street art alleys to discover. We were craving some Western breakfast by this point in our trip and found a nice little cafe with great pancakes topped with ice cream.

Beginning to Cross the Central Mountains

From KT, we turned west to cross the Malay Peninsula and eventually make it over to Georgetown, Penang. There were very few hotels in the initial stretch and we thought we’d have to camp, but we wound up finding a basic guesthouse right on Kenyir Lake. There weren’t any restaurants around, so we cooked some instant noodles on our stove on the balcony.

Traffic decreased significantly once we turned up into the mountains, and we were immediately happy with our route decision. Even though we had a lot of climbing ahead of us, we were excited to experience the mountains of Malaysia!

Video from Our Ride Along Malaysia’s East Coast

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4 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring Malaysia: Part 2”

  1. Sweating is unfortunately an inconvenience of cycling.
    You guys seems to be wearing the same cycling tops every consecutive days. I have been in Malaysia last Nov/Dec 2022, and I know about hot & humid weather. I presume you wash & dry your cycling wear every day at the hotel?

      1. Before you guys toured Malaysia, you were bicycle touring in Europe. Do you still carry your warm weather gear you wore in Europe in your panniers in Malaysia, or do you stash it some place as you no longer need to use it in hot & humid weather in Malaysia?

        1. We are still carrying all of our cold weather gear, even though we really didn’t need it in Malaysia. It was kind of annoying to have all that stuff with us, but we didn’t have a good option for stashing it somewhere. We started using our sleeping bags and warmer clothes when we were in the mountains of Laos, so it did come in handy eventually.

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