Malaysia has five international airports -- at Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu, and Kuching, although international flights come into some domestic airports -- and 15 domestic airports, including Kota Bharu, Kuantan, and Kuala Terengganu. Specific airport information is listed for each city.
A passenger service charge, or airport departure tax, is incorporated in all ticket prices and depends upon the airport from which you depart: RM6 to RM20 for domestic flights and RM25 to RM51 for international flights.
Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) flies to six continents. I have found Malaysia Airlines service to be of a very good standard. From within Malaysia, you can contact them at tel. 1300/883-000.
AirAsia (www.airasia.com; in KL tel. 03/2171-9333) is a low-cost carrier that flies long-haul flights to KL from Australia and the U.K., plus shorter flights from countries throughout the region, some with direct flights to Penang, Kota Kinabalu, or Kuching. Another regional low-cost carrier to consider is Tiger Airways (www.tigerairways.com.sg; in KL tel. 03/7849-4608, in Singapore tel. 65/680-TIGER [6808-4437]), which connects Singapore to KL, Penang, and Sararwak.
From Singapore -- In mid-2010, Singapore and Malaysia announced that the Singapore railway station for Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM) rail services to Malaysia will move to the Woodlands rail checkpoint, in the north of Singapore, commencing July 1, 2011. At press time, there were no details available, except that a bus connection will be offered from the nearest MRT station to the Woodlands station. KTM operates trains that connect cities along the west coast of Malaysia with Singapore to the south and Thailand to the north. Trains to Kuala Lumpur depart daily, for fares from S$34 to S$68. The trip takes around 7 hours on an ekspres train (avoid the 10pm mail train if you want to reach there before your next birthday). Kuala Lumpur's KL Sentral railway station (tel. 03/2267-1200) is a 10-minute taxi ride from the center of town and is connected to the Putra LRT, KL Monorail city public transportation trains, and the Express Rail Link (ERL) to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
From Thailand -- KTM's international service departs from the Hua Lamphong Railway Station (tel. 662/220-4444) in Bangkok, in partnership with the State Railway of Thailand, with operations to Hua Hin, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Hat Yai in Thailand's southern peninsula. The final stop in Malaysia is at Butterworth, near Penang, so passage to KL will require you to catch a connecting train onward. The daily service departs at 2:45pm and takes approximately 20 hours from Bangkok to Butterworth. There is no first- or third-class service on this train, only air-conditioned second class; an upper berth goes for about US$37, and lower is US$40. The latter is roomier
For a romantic journey from Thailand, the Eastern & Orient Express (E&O; www.orient-express.com) operates a route between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, or Singapore. Traveling in the luxurious style for which the Orient Express is renowned, you'll finish the journey in about 42 hours. A double-occupancy Pullman cabin is priced at S$3,500 per person, with State and Presidential Suites also available. Fares include meals on the train plus tours along the way. Overseas reservations for the E&O Express can be made through travel agents or by booking online at www.orient-express.com. From Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, contact the E&O office in Singapore at tel. 65/6395-0678.
From Singapore, there are many bus routes to Malaysia. If you want to travel on land, I personally prefer the bus over the train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Executive coaches operated by Aeroline (in Singapore tel. 65/6258-8800) have huge seats that recline, serve a box lunch on board, and show movies. Seven buses depart daily from HarbourFront Centre at 1 Maritime Sq. for the 5-hour trip (adults S$49 one-way, S$98 round-trip; children S$38 one-way, S$76 round-trip).
Buses to Johor Bahru can be picked up at the Ban Sen terminal at the corner of Queen and Arab streets (tel. 65/6292-8149; S$2.40 one-way). Grassland Express (5001 Beach Rd., Golden Mile Complex; tel. 65/6293-1166) has daily morning buses to Melaka for S$22 one-way on weekdays and S$30 one-way on weekends.
From Thailand, you can find buses from Bangkok or Hat Yai (in the southern part of the country) heading for Malaysia. I don't recommend the bus trip from Bangkok, which is very far -- take the train. From Hat Yai, many buses leave regularly to northern Malaysian destinations, particularly Butterworth (Penang). Also be warned, the U.S. Department of State does not recommend U.S. citizens travel in certain parts of southern Thailand due to terrorist violence near Pattani and Narathiwat.
By Taxi (from Singapore)
From the Johor-Singapore bus terminal at Queen and Arab streets, the Singapore Johor Taxi Operators Association (tel. 65/6296-7054) can drive you to Johor Bahru for S$40.
Major international car-rental agencies operating in Singapore will rent cars that you can take over the causeway to Malaysia, but be prepared to pay a small fortune. They're much cheaper if you rent within the country. At Kuala Lumpur International Airport, find Avis at Counter B-16 at the arrival hall in the main terminal (tel. 03/8776-4540). There's another branch at the international airport in Penang (04/643-9633), or make a booking through www.avis.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.