- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Malaysia Guide (PDF)
Malaysia has an extensive transport system. The Klang Valley, which consists of Kuala Lumpur, its surrounding suburbs and adjoining towns and cities, has an integrated public transport system incorporating the Light Rail Transit (LRT), monorail, railway and bus services. Taxis are available in urban centres, and a number of ferries operate between the Malaysian mainland and nearby islands and neighbouring countries.
It is easy to transfer from one mode of public transport to another in Kuala Lumpur with a MyRapid Card. This card can be purchased and money is loaded onto it for bus and rail use. The card gives unlimited travel on the RapidKL buses, LRT lines or KL Monorail and can be loaded for weekly or monthly travel.
Public transport in Malaysia
Malaysia has an affordable and reliable national rail service. Long-distance trains operate around Peninsula Malaysia, with trains running from north to south between the Thai border and Singapore. The main western line connects Butterworth, Ipoh, KL and Johor Bahru with the eastern line that runs through Gua Musang and the Taman Negara National Park to Kota Bharu near the Thai border.
Kuala Lumpur has an extensive city rail system consisting of two Light Rail Transit lines, a monorail line, two commuter rail systems and an airport rail link. The LRT is the most reliable form of public transport in KL. It does, however, get very crowded, especially at rush hour.
Trains in Kuala Lumpur are integrated into the bus system, which makes it easy to transfer from one system to another. It also means that commuters don’t have to pay separate fees when moving from the railway onto a bus route.
There is an extensive and inexpensive bus system running through Malaysia. Most towns have a bus terminal offering connections to other parts of the country, and there are long-distance buses connecting Malaysia to Brunei, Singapore and Thailand.
Ferries connect various points in Peninsula Malaysia with Indonesia, southern Thailand, Brunei and the Philippines. A number of luxury cruise liners also have routes from Singapore and Thailand to Malaysia.
Taxis in Malaysia
Taxis operate in most Malaysian cities, but can be expensive compared to other transport options. Most are unmetered, so it's best to negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in the vehicle. There are also a number of ride-hailing services in Malaysia, whereby travellers can call a taxi to their location immediately using a smartphone application.
Driving in Malaysia
Malaysia has an excellent highway network connecting towns and cities, and joining Malaysia with its neighbours. Although expats living in Kuala Lumpur are able to get by without owning a car, it may be necessary to have a car if living outside of the major urban centres.
Cars in Malaysia drive on the left-hand side of the road. Driving in Malaysian cities can be chaotic and is generally not recommended. Traffic congestion is a constant problem and traffic lights, and the rules of the road, are not always adhered to. Motorcyclists are often the worst culprits for reckless driving.
It is quite simple for expats in possession of a valid international driver’s licence to get a probationary driving licence in Malaysia. Expats will need a number of documents, such as their original driver’s licence, a translated script if it is not in English, a colour photograph, passport, payment and a completed application form. A work permit that is valid for more than three months is also required.
Air travel in Malaysia
It is relatively cost-effective to fly in Malaysia and due to the remote nature of some destinations within the country, flying is often the best, and only, option. Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the country's main international airport. Other important airports in the country include Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Penang and Langkawi. A number of airlines offer regional and international flights to and from Malaysia, including Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and Air Asia.
Are you an expat living in Malaysia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Malaysia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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