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Public Transport and Big Cities in Malaysia

Are you ready to relocate to Malaysia, a popular expat destination and a great country to live in? To make the most of your expat experience, try to be well-prepared before heading off to Malaysia! InterNations provides you with plenty of advice on visa regulations, safety, transportation, and more.
Outside of the urban centers, Malaysia impresses expats with its breathtaking nature.

Travel by Rail: Lagging Behind

Malaysia has a relatively well-developed infrastructure, although the rural areas are somewhat lagging behind. The Malaysian National Railway Company is called KTM Berhad and offers a relatively comfortable and inexpensive way to travel across the country.

Unfortunately, only two main intercity lines are really fully operational in Peninsular Malaysia: JB Sentral-Kuala Lumpur-Butterworth and Gemas-Wakaf Bharu.

Travel by Plane or Coach: The Most Comfortable Option

Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, about 50 km south of the city, is the place where most international flights arrive and depart. It is served both by Malaysia Airlines and various international airlines.

Inter-city and regional flights are increasingly common, but not necessarily recommended unless you are in a terrible hurry. Especially during holiday seasons, they are often fully booked and can be rather unreliable, due to extreme weather conditions.

The best way to travel overland is by coach. It is the most popular form of transport, and modern, air-conditioned express coaches are available for long journeys. The more exclusive and more expensive option (if you don’t want to drive your own or a hired car) is to take an inter-state taxi. As opposed to the metered city taxis, they operate on fixed tariffs.

Kuala Lumpur: The Place to Be

As the national capital and largest city, Kuala Lumpur naturally attracts most expats coming to work in Malaysia. It is the fastest growing metropolitan region in the country, both in terms of the economy and its population. The city is an important cultural, financial and economic center and has particularly attracted attention as an emerging hub for Islamic finance.

Kuala Lumpur offers high living standards to expats, but it’s not exactly cheap. However, compared to its perennial rivals Singapore and Hong Kong, it is often considered to have a lower overall quality of life — but also a significantly less expensive cost of living.

Johor Bahru: The Ultimate South

Johor Bahru, on the Peninsula’s southernmost tip, is another important industrial and commercial hub. Its economic significance is partly due to its proximity to Singapore: Johor Bahru is connected to the city state via bridge and causeway.

Johor Bahru doesn’t only maintain close economic ties to Singapore, but also owes its high intake of tourists to the neighbor. As a result, it has a highly-developed retail and tourist industry.

George Town: Penang City

Finally there is George Town, the capital of the island and Malaysian state of Penang. Also referred to as Penang City by the locals, George Town has one of the most important ports of Malaysia. It is a significant trading center for rubber and agricultural products.

The population is mainly ethnic Chinese, followed by Malays, but due to the presence of many foreign trading companies, George Town has a relatively high percentage of foreign inhabitants. It is a very livable city, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Adam Malewski

"With all the great information on this site, getting settled in Kuala Lumpur was a piece of cake."

Yasmin Krüger-Darango

"A former business partner recommended InterNations to me when I moved abroad to Malaysia. We still use it to stay in touch."

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