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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 and bus services. That said, public transport outside of this area can be limited, leading many expats to opt to drive instead.
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.
Kuala Lumpur has an extensive city rail system consisting of five rapid transit lines, two commuter rail lines and two airport rail links. The LRT is the most reliable form of public transport in KL. It does, however, get very crowded, especially at rush hour.
Trains in KL 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 Singapore and Thailand.
Ferries connect various points in Peninsular Malaysia with Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. A number of luxury cruise liners also have routes from nearby countries to and from Malaysia.
Taxis in Malaysia
Taxis operate in most Malaysian cities, but can be expensive compared to other transport options. Most have meters, but drivers do not always use them, so it's sometimes 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.
Air travel in Malaysia
It is relatively cost-effective to fly in Malaysia and owing to the remote nature of some destinations within the country, flying is often the best, and sometimes only, option. Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the country's main international airport. 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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