If you can help it, don’t go to the centre of KL on a bike, or try to leave it on a bike. The airport is quite far out to the south, so if you do fly in stay near the airport and avoid KL. We stayed in the centre of KL for bike repair reasons plus naivety.
When we left we went from the Bukit Bintang area and headed West/Southwest in the direction of Klang. There was a nice bike lane through the Sentral/Brickfields area and by the river.
The problems start around Mid Valley City. It’s a major junction, and there’s no provision at all for slower vehicles. All the roads are multi-lane, and it’s almost impossible to turn right across traffic (driving is on the left) so it involves picking your way around. This isn’t easy either, because this junction is on several levels of bridges and flyovers, crossing a river, train lines and expressways, so you don’t just have to get the direction right, you have to get the level you’re on right. Eventually we somehow got onto a bridge which joined highway 2 heading West. This then becomes a road which is 5 lanes in each direction. Continuing in the right direction requires moving across traffic into the righthand lanes, which would be suicide on a bike. We took the slip road off to the left at this point (on to Jalan Kerinchi Kiri), looped round and rejoined the main road after the junction (where the University KL Gateway station is.) As we were about to rejoin Highway 2, there were blue signs for a moped lane, which is completely separate from the road and allows you to safely follow this route all the way to Klang, at which point there are options of smaller roads heading north or south.
Up until about Teluk Intan we rode on nice small rural roads, which were in great condition, very quiet and gave us the opportunity to see lots of wildlife – monkeys, otter, lots of tropical birds. North of that the deltas and huge rivers tend to funnel you onto main roads to use the bridges. We tried to stay on smaller roads and use ferry crossings instead, but both times we did so the boats weren’t running. There were also flood warnings further north, and after we nearly got caught out on one barely passable section, we stuck to more main roads.
Budget hotels are in the £9 to £15 range. They were kind of clean and fine for passing through. Obviously they are basic, and older ones can be run-down (things like loose tiles, exposed wiring, sometimes mould, holes in the plaster,) but often in decent locations. They are often noisy. Malaysia is late to bed, late to rise, so if it is noisy it is going to be like that well into the early hours. Cheap hotels usually have a very small entrance with the rest of the ground floor taken up by other businesses, so getting your bike indoors usually means carrying it up flights of stairs. In our experience, these hotels always had: Air con, own bathroom, towels, telly, double or twin bed with sheets/duvet or blanket/pillows, sit down toilet plus water hose, at least a cold shower, thermos flask (with boiled water available in the lobby.) Usually: A kettle, hot shower. The thermos and hot water, or kettle, are great for instant noodles which saves money on food. Our bikes were always kept in the hotel, usually in the lobby or in a storeroom. We never asked to take the bikes into the room, but this was offered a couple of times.
Malaysia is late to bed and late to rise. Shops never opened until at least 9am, and often not until 11am. We get up early and leave early, so we often got drinks the night before, or used petrol stations (which do have earlier hours) to get drinks from. Most of the food stalls and roadside restaurants weren’t open until the evening, so while Malaysia is great for food, it doesn’t suit hungry cyclists who like early starts. Food was much cheaper than we were expecting. A plate of chicken rice plus a drink came to around £2 per person, eating at simple outdoor places. Beer is not served at these places. If you do want a beer then Chinese run places are your best bet.
It was really, really difficult to walk anywhere, even short distances in towns. There were often no paths or crossings.
Tap water in Malaysia is kind of safe to drink: It is safe on leaving the treatment plants, but its passage through the pipes to your tap might make it dodgy. Boiling the tap water eliminates any risk.
Blog post for Malaysia: