Our Malaysia and Singapore Itinerary: One Big Loop | What to see in Malaysia | What to see in Singapore | Travel in Malaysia | Travel in Singapore #travel #travelblog #southeastasia #asia

Our Malaysia and Singapore Itinerary: One Big Loop

What’s that sound? It’s the low-pitched whoooosh of my sanity seeping out of my brain.

Want to drive yourself absolutely mental? Great! I have this awesome itinerary you should try. It’s called: “Three Weeks in Malaysia and Singapore: One Big Loop.” It’s great fun and you should try and replicate it. What’s that? Oh, you have kids? Two kids under four? Then you should definitely give it a go. It’s great fun!


No seriously, we had an absolute blast on our three-week Malaysia and Singapore adventure. We really did. But 11 flights in 18 days was just too much for our poor children. It wasn’t even the flying that was the problem, it was having a different room to sleep in every few nights. Waking up to different food. Trying to get their bearings in different cities.

If it was me and the hubby this itinerary would have been a blast – in fact, we would have crammed more in. So this post isn’t about telling you not to try this kind of itinerary. But it is a cautionary tale if you have littles in tow. We learned the hard way to slow it down and give them some time and space to adjust and, y’know… be kids. Let our #parentingfail be your insight.

Current COVID-19 situation (as of May 2022)

Fully vaccinated travellers can enter Malaysia without quarantine or testing. See Malaysia’s MySafeTravel site and Australia’s Smartraveller for more details.

Likewise, fully vaccinated travellers can enter Singapore without quarantine or testing, provided they haven’t been in destinations Singapore considers high risk. Find out more about Singapore’s Safe Travel Framework.


Why did we do it the way we did?

CASH! We had a tonne of frequent flyer points and were open with our destination (to a point). We needed something in Asia, which was as far as our points would take all four of us… and we needed to go in July. Peak season! We also had a maximum of three weeks. We could get seats in and out of Penang, but with Qantas reward seats, only certain destinations let you open-jaw (fly into one city and out of another). So we had to fly in AND out of Penang which meant, you guessed it… One. Big. Loop.


Like I said, had it been just me and Mr. Winter we would have gone crazy and crammed even more in. But this itinerary with tots was maybe a little too ambitious.

That being said, we made some beautiful family memories and Malaysia and Singapore are two of the best places you could possibly travel with kids. So here it is, our three-week Malaysia and Singapore itinerary – and what we would keep and change. I can see your head shaking at me already.

Penang: Part One (three nights)

We got in late to Penang and then there was drama with our transfer. We were exhausted, but Mister Three learnt his first travel lesson: shit always goes wrong. He started to stress, poor little love, but it was an awesome opportunity to talk about problem-solving. Trust me, this (sanctimonious) patience I demonstrated here wore out pretty quickly. I wish it didn’t.

Our first morning was pretty cruisy and we found a little hawker centre to eat in, and the kids experienced their first-ever hawker centre noodle breakfast. So far so good! Over the next two days, we ate a lot – usually Indian for lunch and hawker centres for dinner. The kids did pretty well with the food: we’re no stranger to Malaysian and Indian cuisine at home, but the heat put them off their food a bit. They drank their weight in apple juice though and our attitude in that kind of weather is, whatever gets the fluids and electrolytes in, we’re good with. (And here’s my Penang food guide.)

Speaking of heat, having come from the middle of winter our kids were Not. Keen. They demanded to be carried around like this:

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One morning, spurred on by brochures from the lobby, we decided to head to Entopia. Suuuuuper cool place by the way! But on the way we drove right past the Hard Rock, where we’d be staying at the end of the trip. How we didn’t see this on the maps we were carefully consulting I’ll never know. Something so small, but anal-retentive uber-planner that I am, I can’t believe we made such an inefficient itinerary. But we live and learn, and this information will come in super handy when I post a full wrap up of Penang for you. Our mistakes will make your trip better (or that’s the idea anyway). The life of a travel blogger, I guess!

From the streets of George Town to hillside temples, Penang is a brilliant destination for history buffs. If you want to know more here’s my Penang for History Buffs guide.

Langkawi (three nights)

I think Langkawi was the absolute highlight of our trip. We tried to cram so much into our three weeks but the pace of our Langkawi stop was what we actually needed: just completely chill. We hired a car from the airport and drove the 40 minutes to our accommodation at The Andaman in Datai Bay. Read the review, this setting was absolutely stunning.

Three nights was the perfect amount of time to see what we wanted to see, but extending this portion of our trip would have been ideal to really, truly feel like we had downtime. Plus, I can guarantee if you stay at The Andaman you’ll just never want to leave.

Here’s our detailed Langkawi wrap-up, and if you want some more inspiration check out these Langkawi hotels.

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I’ve wanted to try stand-up paddleboarding for AGES. It finally happened… I got up twice, wiped out twice, smashed my foot and it was all over ??‍♀️ But onwards and upwards, just searching for the next opportunity to give it a go! . If you want to know more about The Andaman, click the link in my bio . . . . #femmetravel #wearetravelgirls #sheisnotlost #ladiesgoneglobal #shedarestotravel #lifewelltravelled #femaletravelbloggers #southeastasia #wanderlusting #ladieslovetravel #girldiscoverers #travelism #travelist #traveltagged #abmlifeisbeautiful #seasia #malaysiatrulyasia #naturallylangkawi #theandaman #dataibay #speechlessplaces #abmlifeiscolorful #wetravelgirls #darlingescapes #standuppaddleboarding #adventuregirls #ontheblog #malaysia2018 #luxurytraveller #andamanlangkawi

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Kuala Lumpur (three nights)

What made the KL part super special for us was that we met up with two of our best mates (who also happen to be the boys’ godparents). Not only did we have two extra grown-ups in the party now (stopping us from falling asleep at 7pm or abandoning our kids in an airport), the boys got to spend extended quality time with special people they don’t always get to see often.

We booked an apartment right in KLCC which was great for exploring. Menara KL (the Skytower) was an easy walk away as were plenty of eating spots and, of course, the Petronas Twin Towers. There was a 7/11 at the entrance to our building too. Bukit Bintang was a short Grab ride away, making the Jalan Alor food experience and a bunch of shopping super convenient. The hop-on-hop-off bus stop was right on the corner. Tick tick tick.

Here’s the full wrap up of our three days in Kuala Lumpur

Singapore (four nights)

I really would have liked to make more of our time in Singapore, but by this stage, the kids were just exhausted. We also had a flight change on our last day which meant a short flight back to Penang in the afternoon became a whole day in transit. The flow-on effect was missing out on a morning’s exploration.

We still managed to do some really cool stuff, like take the kids to Sentosa. Mister Three got to ride the luge for the first time, and he was awesome! As a treat for looking after Mister One, who was too small for the luge, I got to choose the evening’s activities: truffle fries and a jug of Sangria at Tanjong Beach Club (bloody delicious). Those who know me know I adore beach clubs (like these ones in Bali). Tanjong Beach Club is surreal: you can swim in the infinity pool and look out at the huge container ships coming into port. Sounds super random, but my Dad works down at the port at home so it’s a setting I’ve always loved.

Of the other two days, we spent one at the Zoo/River Safari and the other resting up a bit and doing a spot of shopping. Our first night’s dinner was at Newton Circus, the third at Piedra Negra in Haji Lane (OMG AMAZING!) and the last night, we grabbed Foodpanda (Singapore’s version of Uber Eats) to our apartment and ate Ho Fun and Chilli Crab and drank a tower of Tiger Beer (yes, yes we did).

So no, I didn’t get my Instagram shots of the Marina Bay Sands, but we ate bloody good food and got to hang out in what I think is one of the most under-rated cities on the planet.

Here’s our detailed itinerary complete with food and accommodation recommendations.

Penang: Part Two (three nights)

By this stage, we were pretty much dead. Cue the Hard Rock Hotel for some good vibes. You can read my review of the Hard Rock here but hiring a poolside cabana for the day and swimming, loading up on beer and nachos, and generally enjoying each other’s company was just what we needed.

We still did a fair bit of exploring from here. Mostly, though, it was about recharging before our long journey home. Just spending that time with each other. Watching the sunset over Batu Ferringhi beach, letting the kids just go nuts on the water playground… that’s what memories are made of.

Honestly, though, I am trying to write this bit and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. By now my face was all puffy and I could barely see from the bags on my eyes. And my one big regret is not hitting the Rock Spa.

What would I change?

I would try to incorporate Melaka. I know I know, more on the itinerary?! But this gorgeous-looking Portuguese port town has been on my must-see list for over a decade… And I still haven’t made it.

That said, I would also try to reduce the run-around. It was just so busy with such little kids. So if I was being brutal, perhaps I would skip Singapore altogether and try to do it as a separate trip.

We spent the most time in Penang (six nights total). While some people might think this is too long, I think it was perfect. We thoroughly explored George Town (though there’s still other activities and sites I would have liked to explore) and got to relax in Batu Ferringhi. And we also saw quite a lot of the island when visiting more out-of-the-way sites.

It probably would have been better to have that time in one big block rather than split over two three-night stays. That said we were working with the crazy Qantas reward seat rules so we did what we could. If, say, you were flying Singapore Airlines long-haul, it’d be fine. You’d fly via Singapore into Penang, then Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore would be the final stop, allowing you to fly straight out. If we could have done that (it’s what we were trying to achieve) it would have saved a great deal of hassle (and at least three flights!)

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Travel puts you at a moment in time, where you are small but part of history. The history of this temple, Kek Lok Si, is rich and intriguing, and I stood here for just a few minutes of that history (along with a bunch of other tourists). But I like to think that I’m now part of its history too, and it’s definitely now part of mine. . . . . #kekloksi #visitpenang #malaysiatrulyasia #visitmalaysia #exploremalaysia #femmetravel #wearetravelgirls #sheisnotlost #ladiesgoneglobal #lifewelltravelled #wanderlusting #ladieslovetravel #girldiscoverers #travelism #travelist #traveltagged #femaletravelbloggers #abmlifeisbeautiful #southeastasia #speechlessplaces #abmlifeiscolorful #wetravelgirls #restlessandroaming #seasia #darlingmovement #globelletravels #penangisland #travelpenang #asiatravel #exploreasia

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What would I keep?

There’s no activity we did that we would necessarily scrap. I guess I’d keep most of the day-to-day as it is (with some rearranging maybe). The system we had seemed to work fairly well. Where possible, get out early in the morning and come back to the hotel for a nap and maybe a swim. Then head out late afternoon for activities and dinner. Where this wasn’t possible, we tried to time longer drives for the middle of the day, so the kids could nap on the way. That worked well too.

Having our friends meet us was amazing. Obviously, this isn’t going to always be possible. But it broke up the trip, helped us enjoy a little bit more grown-up conversation… And made some important memories for the kids.

Room service and Foodpanda were a godsend. Some nights the kids were just too overstimulated and being able to order in gave them the opportunity to relax. Sure, it meant I had to forego some fancy restaurants I wanted to try, but would I have enjoyed the experience with the kids anyway? Probably not. Instead, sitting on the bed eating dinner and having a laugh with my family will always be a treasured memory of mine, and I think it will be for the kids too.

The last word

This trip was super full on and probably not something I’d repeat in a hurry. But I’m so proud of our little family for doing it. We learnt so much about each other: our likes, our dislikes, our limits. We started to fully understand our eldest child’s need for space and routine, and our youngest child’s need for social interaction. The kids got to spend three whole, uninterrupted weeks with their Dad… And I got to spend that time with my husband.

Next time, I won’t cheap out. I’ll try to book more sensible flights. And I’ll try to extend each stop to give everyone time to relax and adjust.

But all in all, we had an experience we’ll never forget, and we learnt about the world. And that’s exactly why we keep travelling.

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Our three-week Malaysia and Singapore Itinerary | Malaysia With Kids | Singapore With Kids | Traveling With Kids #travel | Penang, Malaysia | Langkawi, Malaysia | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Singapore #asia #southeastasia #malaysia #singapore

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    1. Thanks Ashley! So true, I always figure it’ll be a while before I’m back (if at all) so may as well make the most of it!

  1. wow! my feet hurt just imagining all the walking you did in those short few weeks! you had a jam packed schedule, but still sounds like you had a great trip. making memories is the most important part of a vacation, it makes all the craziness worth it. x

    mich / simplymich.com

  2. I’ve heard so many great stories about Malaysia and Singapore! Your pictures are absolutely stunning! I’d love to visit these places sometime 🙂 My to go list just gets longer and longer!
    xoxo Annaleid

  3. Oh!! Everything sounds amazing!! We spent the last New Years Eve in Langkawi. We did one night in KL, then we spent one week in Langkawi, back to KL for 3 days and to Singapore for another 3 days. It as such an amazing trip!

    1. Thanks Esther! Langkawi for Ney Year’s, I couldn’t think of any better way to ring in the New Year! Your itinerary sounds a bit like mine!

  4. While I was reading your post, my thought was: “THERE IS LUGE IN SINGAPORE?????” 😀 😀 We tried it in New Zealand and loved it – but I never knew we have it in Singapore! Thanks for the tip. Great itinerary!
    P.S. To be honest, we were a little disappointed about Melaka – it wasn’t as charming/special as we expected (I know, we shouldn’t have expectations!). But of course, next time you should see it for yourself – maybe you’ll love it. Otherwise I would recommend Hoi An in Vietnam 🙂

    1. Thanks Zenja! Yes there’s definitely an awesome luge in Singapore, on Sentosa Island. My adrenaline junkie Kiwi husband says it’s smaller than both the Queenstown and Rotorua options in NZ, but still great. Thanks for your input on Melaka. I do agree about Hoi An – that place is truly special!

  5. I loved reading about your adventure! I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing all parents out there the importance of doing the things they love after having kids. It saddens me how people tend to stop travelling after they become parents and I can’t thank you enough for making it clear that it’s perfectly do-able to travel with kids and offer them the most precious memories along the way!

    1. Ahhh Maria I’m going to cry haha! Thank you for making my day. This itinerary nearly killed me with a 3.5 and 1.5 but I also think it’s so important for *them* to see the world. And yes, so grateful for all the wonderful memories.

  6. You are right about staying in places longer to really relax. It’s hard when you want to go to loads of places though!

    We’re travelling to Malaysia and Singapore but have no idea where to go. Never heard of Langkawi, so we’ll be sure to check that out!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes!!! I think we’ll maybe take it a bit slower the next couple of trips and when the boys are a bit older we can really ramp up the action again. They are 3.5 and 1.5 so I think I forgot just how little they are, whoops! I’m busy working on a whole bunch of individual posts on Singapore and Malaysia so hopefully I’ll have those up really soon to give you a few ideas 🙂

  7. oh it looks incredible! I was just once in Malaysia, cause I had a layover for 12 hours in Kuala Lumpur. I enjoyed but couldn’t find good food as a vegetarian. So when it comes to fill my stomach up, it defines my experience as good or bad. So, I wasn’t that lucky to turn it into a good experience. I should have had more time…

    1. Thanks Gonca! Malaysia (and Singapore too) often have great vegetarian options because of the multicultural influences… usually Little India is a good bet. But yes, might be a bit hard with only 12 hours to orient yourself!

  8. Oh my gosh- that is a crazy itinerary with young children. Your kids are total troopers!!! Glad you got to see and enjoy so much, it sounds like they enjoyed it to!!

  9. Wow you guys are one adventurous family!
    I was just thinking about planning a trip to Singapore and was wondering if a day trip would be long enough but I think I’ll plan a longer trip now! Thanks 🙂

    1. Haha thanks Brittany! I’m a firm believer in doing what you can in the time available but yes, if you could extend your stay you certainly wouldn’t be bored or disappointed!

  10. ooooft, I’m exhausted just reading this- sounds like it was amazing trip though. The joys of the ol’ qantas reward seat system (sometimes more trouble than they are worth) . I really enjoyed your writing style by the way honest and informative – Keep up the good work!

  11. Thanks for sharing the itinerary. We didn’t visit Malaysia before, cause Singapore was our first out of the country and mainly time constraint. But it is doable.

  12. What an amazing three weeks of travel. I think I would gain 20lbs with all of that wonderful food you experienced. Such a great adventure for your family. Can’t wait to hear about your next one.

    1. Thanks Alison! It wasn’t quite 20lb, but definitely over 10lb haha. I have my final exam tomorrow then I’ll be pumping out some more blog posts 🙂

  13. Sounds like an amazing trip. Melaka is worth a visit so save that for next time 🙂 Kudos for taking kids with you on this trip!

    1. I know I’ve always wanted to go it’s just one of those things that’s just never quite worked out, you know? Maybe next time if I’m kid-free haha

  14. wooooow!!! i totally love all of your blog! and this post is an amazing guide, this is such a good itinerary!!!!i am going to asia on december i will use some of your tips!

    and i hope you can take a look at my blog http://www.travelsurlaroute.com, i have amazing travel guides as well!!! that can be useful!

  15. Langkawi was my favorite part, but all looks like an awesome trip. Maybe it was too much too fast, but it was spectacular. I hope you can make it to Melaka soon!

  16. First off, you are hilarious. Second, this is such a great guide and itinerary! I love that you’ve included what you would have done differently… because Lord knows trips are never perfect. I don’t have kids yet, but maybe I’ll attempt this with some someday. Awesome post!

    1. Haha thanks so much Danielle! Life’s too short to be too serious. And yes trips are never perfect… especially when you have the luck that I do!

  17. This looks like the ultimate itinerary for Malaysia and Singapore really. We visited both earlier this year and did some of the same things, but we didn’t make it to Penang and Langkawi, which we hugely regret. This gives us some inspiration to put that right next time!

  18. That’s a very detailed itinerary! How did you Langkawi comparing to other beach destinations? Some of my friends told that it’s a bit overrated…

    1. Thanks Inna! Depends where you are. Pantai Cenang isn’t that nice a beach but I think the same is true for anywhere that has a built-up tourist area on the coast. We stayed at the Andaman in Datai Bay and the beach was incredible – a rainforest that was millions of years old that jutted straight out into the sea. It was glorious!

  19. Since I became a mother, I have adjusted my flights’ habits on my kids need. It’s more expensive but, I agree with you I can’t save money and ignore your children’ needs.

  20. I loved to read this since I did the same trip already twice – but added more stops, probably because I did not have two small kids in tow 😉 And I did it – being my eco-friendly self – by bus.

    1. Thanks Renata! Yes we initially wanted to do train/bus/ferry but with the kids it wasn’t really feasible. If it was just us adults that’s definitely what we would have done

  21. Langkawi is certainly a beautiful island and Cenang Beach was our favourite a few years ago. It used to be such a sleepy island but now it’s seeing a lot of tourism which is good for the locals but they need to slow it down before it becomes over-commercialised.

    1. Yes I did see a little bit of forest burnoff and that made me so sad. I think that’s why we lived Datai Bay so much, it’s very untouched and The Andaman has a lot of environmental initiatives and opportunities for guests to learn about the environment

  22. What an amazing trip you and your family had!! Trips spent with the family are amazing and its good to know you learned more about each other as a family. But with all that walking, I bet the kids were always lagging behind or asking you to stop.

  23. Wow it’s a crazy itinerary especially with children but looks like so much fun. This is great for families traveling around in a short period of time who wants to see so many at the same time.

  24. You have shared a wonderful itinerary for Malaysia and Singapore. As I am looking for these destinations in upcoming winters, I would surely refer to your post. Langkawi really looks a calm and peaceful place to chill out. Also, I would love to include Portuguese town of Melaka in my itinerary.

  25. This is one part of the world I haven’t seen that much of (except for Singapore). I’d really like to see more of Malaysia. Langkawi looks spectacular. Thanks for a very useful post.

    1. Thanks Paul! Yes, I’ve been to this part of the world a few times (it’s often a stopover from my home in Australia to elsewhere in the world). I think I would visit Langkawi in particular many times over in the future, it’s just amazing

  26. This is a really great and practical itinerary! Pinning this for when the time comes for me to plan my own trip 🙂

  27. This reminds me of our trip Malaysia and Bali. We did KL, Melaka, Penang and Langkawi in 10 days. We were traveling with our toddler and he loved all the flying we did.

  28. This is a great insight and I am thankful to the writer. I need a suggestion over the honeymoon trip in January 2020. How about Malaysia+Singapore+Dubai vs Turkey+Dubai?? Which one will be more suitable in Winters? Please advise.


    1. Hi! At that time of year, for me Singapore and Malaysia win hands down (but I prefer the warm weather). Dubai is manageable any time of year depending on how you feel about the heat, but I enjoy Dubai best in the warm weather too. Singapore and Malaysia are always warm. All options will give you the opportunity to indulge in some honeymoon luxury, but Malaysia will give you some wonderful opportunities to relax. The Datai in Langkawi is amazing for honeymoons (as are most of the resorts really), and Pangkor Laut has some cool properties if you want something quiet. But without knowing more about whether you want to just relax or to be out and about, or what kind of budget you have, it’s hard to give more information. I’d be happy to provide more details if you want to get in touch by email or social media – awinterescape on instagram or hello@awinterescape.com 🙂

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