Kuala Lumpur to Thailand

Blog South-East Asia -Kuala Lumpur to Thailand. Written on: 10-12-2023

Overview day 382 - 396

19 November - 3 December 2023


Km’s Cycled







Kuala Lumpur tot Thailand fietsRoute
Kuala Lumpur – Bentong – Mentakab – Jerantut – Kuala Tahan – Kuala – Tembeling – Kuala Lipis – Camping spot – Tanah Ratah – Ipoh – Lenggong – Gerik – Betong (Thailand)

Back in KL

In Kuala Lumpur we are reunited with our bikes after 10 days in Borneo. We stay another 2 nights with our incredibly hospitable warm-showers hosts and then cycle on. Kuala Lumpur itself is quite impressive with many skyscrapers and in some places more flyovers than we can count. But Kuala Lumpur is not very walk- or cycle friendly and we don’t really find it very interesting. So back to the jungle; on to Taman Negara National Park. We immediately face a tough climb and after 10 days of not cycling, our legs have to wake up again.

Taman Negara

The following days we don’t climb anymore, but the landscape continues to roll. Up and down, up and down, up and down, which is actually much more tiring than a steep climb. We are therefore happy when we are already at Taman Negara after 4 days of cycling. Since we have spent a lot of money on jungle tours in Borneo not so long ago, we decide to discover Taman Negara a bit on our own. There are a number of paths through the park where you can go without a guide. It’s not much, but it still provides a few hours of entertainment. There is also a very nice canopy walkway that we would love to walk. It closes at 15:00, so on our first day we are already too late. The second day is a Friday, and then the canopy walk is closed. We leave again on Saturday morning. So no canopy walk for us.

Warm-showers adresje
Another very nice warm-showers
The only right spot.
The going is smooth

Patience is a virtue

Taman Negara might be a bit disappointing for us if we compare it to Borneo. But we don’t do much in the national park. No tours and no guide who can tell us about the plants, animals and the park itself, so we can’t really make a judgment. It is still nice to walk through the jungle and we see 2 snakes. On Friday we make one last desperate attempt to spot a tapir at a salt lick, but after 2 hours of waiting patiently in the hide-out, we haven’t seen a bird fly by. The sun is starting to set, so that also means that the park’s closing time has arrived.

Back with the boat

On Saturday morning we leave the same way back as we came, only this time we don’t cycle along the river but we sail on it. Our bikes are in the front of the boat and we whizz over the water. It’s rainy, cloudy and chilly. In the boat, we put on our coats. After a few hours of sailing, we unload our gear and get back on our bikes. They did not make it through the boat trip completely undamaged. When people want to help us carry the bicycles,  with all good intentions, often times they don’t really help. We really prefer to load/carry our bicycles ourselves.

Blauwe varens Taman Negara
Blue ferns
Taman Negara schimmels
Fungi - Taman Negara
Taman Negara slang
Taman Negara jungle
Taman Negara jungle walk
well-meant help

They are absolutely not used to cycling here and often when people want to ‘help’, they mainly work against the bikes. The front tire is pulled, causing it to rotate. Ditto when people pull our bike forward with one hand on the handlebars (that’s not going to work). Bikes are lifted and the whole front fork starts to take on a life of its own, you have to be careful not to smash your light against your frame. This time, Isabelle’s bike slips on the edge of the boat and the key bends. Fortunately, it doesn’t break off, but still, it remains a weak spot now. The bicycle bell does not survive the tour either. Little things thankfully, but they could have been prevented.

Fiets op de boot
Taking the bicycle on the boat
Fietsen in de boot
Bikes in the boat
Boottocht Taman Negara
View from the boat


The next few days we will climb again, really climb, to the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands. I don’t think the name “High-Lands” has been thought about very long, for those who didn’t realize it yet: this piece of land is a lot higher. The first two days on the bike it is like everywhere in Malaysia. Everywhere we can go for something to eat and drink. If we spend more than 5 euros together for lunch or our second breakfast, it was an expensive meal. Every 5Km there are restaurants to be found. One serves very good food, the other just good food.

Often there is a choice between, rice, rice, rice, rice and noodles. It happens more than once that we eat a plate of rice 4 times a day. Not always because we order it ourselves, but also because it is regularly offered. Then, with a bit of reluctance, we sit down at 10 o’clock in the morning to spoon up our second half kilo of rice with sambal. With the cup of coffee of course that we had ordered. But we can’t bring ourselves to turn it down. If it’s offered to us by the friendly people around us, we have to accept. By the way, we can really use those extra calories. They are already burned after a few hours of cycling. But we digress a bit. Back to the Cameron Highlands.

Because for the first time in Asia we cycle on a route without a town, village or restaurant. Fortunately, we still have our tent and stove with us. They come in handy now. That night we pitch our tent in a bus shelter. This keeps our tent nice and dry.

Kamperen Maleisië
Pitcher plant
Jungle fog
Thee plantage Cameron Highlands
Camerog Highlands sign
Thee plantage

The shortest tour ever

The next day it is as usual and after a last steep climb, we drink a cup of tea with a view of the tea plantations. At the Cameron Highlands we also take a nice jungle walk and visit the tea factory. A free tour starts every half hour, and we are curious what they have to say. Punctually at 09:30 the tour starts with a short explanation of the 5 steps of the tea-making process and then we can enter the factory. A U-shaped footpath has been constructed. Factory in, look at the machines, factory out again. We are back at the starting point at 09:37. Our tour lasted exactly 7 whole minutes, which must be a record!

Welcome to the kingdom of Thailand

With Kuala-Lumpur, Taman Negara and the Cameron-Highlands, we have been on the “tourist highway” of Malaysia for a while now. Georgetown and Langkawi are also part of that and literally EVERYONE we speak to goes there after the Cameron-Highlands. It works for us like salt on snails. We decide to skip Langkawi and go to Thailand via a less visited route. No sooner said than done. 4 days later we cross the border. We are warmly welcomed by someone who is shouting at the border: ‘Welcome to the kingdom of Thailand’! No idea if this is his regular job, or if it was an impulsive action, but we hope so. Imagine being welcomed by a screaming man at every border, that would be fantastic!

Our plans

We get 30 days ‘free’ but that won’t be enough. So one of the first things we have to arrange is to extend our visa. However, that shouldn’t be a problem. We spend two nights in Betong, just across the border, to arrange some practical matters. SIM cards, withdrawing money, taking passport photos for our visa and to learn how to order coffee in Thai (very important). And then we can get started! On to Chiang Mai, about 2000Km away.

Muddy road

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