There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (for which I am deeply grateful) at no additional cost to you.
For many people, a holiday in Malaysia or Indonesia is one of those bucket list trips that you dream about all your life and hope to one day cross off. Malaysia and Indonesia are found in Southeast Asia and are well-known for their absolutely stunning beaches, thick rainforests, fascinating history and architecture, the mix of cultures, and of course their bustling modern cities that border colonial buildings. In other words, there’s a whole lot to see and do on a trip to Malaysia or Indonesia.
So, what happens if you only have time for a short trip to Malaysia or Indonesia? How can you make the absolute most of your trip despite the lack of time? Not to worry, as we’ve got some travelers’ tips that are sure to prove helpful.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
Decide What Style of Vacation You Want to Have
A good place to start is by giving thought to the style of vacation you want to have. Do you want it to be filled with sightseeing and exploring? Do you want a city-based holiday such as a stay in Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta?
Or maybe you’re thinking more of a relaxing and serene getaway, in which case Bali, Penang or Langkawi would be perfect.
Choosing your style of vacation will, in fact, help you create your itinerary, even if that itinerary includes nothing but lazing on the beach for a couple of days.
You might also like: Unusual things to do in Bali by a local
Make a Must-See List
For some people, sightseeing and attractions will be the main reason for their visit to Malaysia or Indonesia. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to make a must-see list and then figure out how you can schedule as many of those items per day.
Try to group them based on location, as this will save you time and hassle where transportation is concerned.
You can also base your hotel accommodations on what you want to see and do, picking a location that is close to all the items on your list.
Some of the popular things to see and do in Malaysia include visiting the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a visit to Malacca or Melaka, which is dubbed as the most interesting architecture in Malaysia, a visit to Taman Negara National Park with the longest rope walkway in the whole world, and the Batu Caves.
Recommended: Where to go during a long trip in Malaysia?
In Indonesia, you’ll also be spoilt for choice. There are many wonderful places to visit in Indonesia, but at the top of our bucket list is the Komodo National Park, where you can learn more about these majestic (and terrifying!) creatures, the idyllic Gili Islands, the Banda Islands, the Tanjung Putting National Park, and Tana Toraja.
Day Tours and Excursions Can Be Great Inclusions
If you want to do a little sightseeing but don’t want to waste your time trying to get around and navigate, then a guided day tour or an excursion through an operator can be a great idea.
In Malaysia, day tours are perfect if you want to visit the main attractions in the company of a guide. Make Kuala Lumpur your base and take some trips out of the city to visit the country’s most scenic attractions. Why not book a guided excursion to the Batu Caves?
The Batu Caves are only 13 km outside of Kuala Lumpur, but once inside these spectacular limestone caverns, you’ll feel as if you are on another planet. There are Hindu Shrines and a huge statue of Lord Murgan.
Be prepared to climb lots of stairs, so this attraction is not suitable for anyone with mobility problems.
The Genting Highlands is a casino resort in the mountains. Take a ride on the longest cable car in Asia. It provides an excellent vantage point to enjoy the mountain scenery.
Once you arrive at the resort, there is an amazing theme park as well as ample opportunities to play casino games.
Malacca is well worth your time. This beautiful and charming UNESCO World Heritage Site is very different from Kuala Lumpur. Instead, it’s a curious mix of Dutch, Portuguese, and Malaysian heritage. Admire the pink Colonial buildings, shop in the market, and sample the local cuisine.
Indonesia has lots to offer. Many people head straight to Bali, and who can blame them? This lovely holiday island is perfect for a relaxing vacation. You can make Bali your base and take trips from the island.
Take, for example, Duck Ferries, which offers ferries from Bali to Gili Trawangan, Air, or Meno. These ferries are comfortable, fast, affordable, and makes getting to your destination a breeze. It’s perfect for those on a time crunch who don’t want to waste time waiting around.
Duck Ferries uses small high-speed crafts and larger fast boats that are extremely safe, fast, and powerful. Because it is such a smooth ride, it does sell out fast, so be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as possible.
Now, maybe it’s not a boat ride you’re after, and if that’s the case, there are such things as walking tours, bus tours, private tours, and more that you can look into and are available by a number of locally-based tour-operators. Book a snorkeling tour and explore the amazing coral reefs and picture-perfect lagoons.
Once you have had your fill of Bali, book a trip to the Candi Borobudur UNESCO World Heritage Site on Java. It is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world, with an impressive 504 Buddhist statues. The best time to visit this amazing place is early in the morning, just as the sun rises.
The Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh is representative of the sumptuous grandeur of Sumatran history. Definitely one for your Instagram account!
Consider Returning Again at Some Point
If you find that a few days just isn’t enough in Malaysia or Indonesia, rather than put stress on yourself and rush around, maybe make a plan to return someday when you have more time to visit and explore. You can use this initial visit as a chance to learn what areas interest you the most for your future holiday.