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Why carry an IDP while driving in Malaysia?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Malaysia highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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Top Destinations of Malaysia

Malaysia is a beautiful Southeast Asian country that boasts a variety of tourist destinations for travelers. Here you can find several nature parks that quench your thirst for both adventure and wildlife. If you want to drive to those destinations without getting stopped, bring your international driver’s permit in Malaysia along with your native driver’s licence.

Come and welcome yourself to the Malaysian culture, where the bustling Kuala Lumpur and UNESCO World Heritage sites and historical relics from British colonial times are located.

So, how are these destinations best enjoyed?

These top destinations are best enjoyed when you drive to them. That’s why, aside from bringing your native driver’s licence, you need to carry an International Driving Permit in Malaysia. These permits temporarily serve as the immediate translator of your driver’s licence in case law officers stop you at checkpoints and ask for your information. Now, the next question is “Where to get an international driver’s license in Malaysia?”

Getting an International Driving Permit in Malaysia

First of all, it’s not called an “International Driver’s License” because nobody is authorized to produce them. They are officially called an International Driver’s Permit and you can get them at an authorized office in Malaysia or even online. The International Driver’s Association is an organization that provides an International Driving License (Permit) that’s valid in Malaysia and globally.

This document functions as the primary translation of your local licence. This lets you bid farewell to those miscommunication woes of travelers. So, if you’re planning a road trip in Malaysia, get yourself an international driver's licence.

But what if you lost your IDP in Malaysia or what if it expires?

Renewal is easy. All you need to provide for your renewal before traveling are the following: provide the correct photo size, the complete address and zip code. Pay the right package price and answer all the essential requirements. As for losing your driver's permit in Malaysia, you can immediately order for another driver's permit for free from IDA and have it within 24 hours. All you need to pay for is the shipping costs.

The validity period of your document depends on the package and price you purchased a and your native driver’s licence status.

Now that you’re all set, pack up your bags and get your foreign driver's licence for Malaysia online so you can travel immediately to the following majestic spots.

Petronas Towers

For most people, the Petronas Tower is the first thing that comes to mind when they hear Malaysia. It is one of the tallest twin towers, standing at 452 m high with 88 floors. The tower is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 9 PM, and ticket sales start at 8:30 AM on a first-come-first-serve basis. Their guided tour leads you to the Observation Deck, the Skybridge, and the gift shop.

Taking the bus or other public transport to these locations can be quite an exhaustive wait. So, renting a car would be more ideal. Before traveling, get a driver's licence in Malaysia for foreigners. This is better done in advance for a more liberated exploration of the country.

Driving Directions:

  • Drive to the place via Jalan Hang Tuah.
  • Head east on Jalan Damansara, then continue to Jalan Istana.
  • Take the exit toward Jalan Dewan Bahasa/Jalan Loke Yew/KLCC.
  • Keep right, follow signs for Pusat Bandaraya, and merge onto Jalan Bukit Petating.
  • Then, turn right on Jalan Hang Tuah.
  • Turn left onto Jalan Sultan Ismail. You’ll pass by Hong Leong Bank on your left.

Foreigners are allowed to drive with their permits but only if their native driver’s licence is present. Your document's validity is dependent on your native driver’s licence presence.

George Town

The most famous tourist spot in George Town is the Kek Lok Si Temple. Built back in 1890, it is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, located at the bottom of Air Itam mountain. It is a seven-story pagoda that houses 10,000 Buddha statues and the 36-meter tall statue of Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy. The best time to visit the temple is during the Chinese New Year when the temple is decorated with thousands of beautiful lanterns.

Tourists come to George Town to visit the Kek Lok Si Temple but stay for the place’s street scene. You can find street art anywhere in the town and food stalls to satisfy your street food craving. Street festivals are one of the reasons why tourists love the place. If you want a one-of-a-kind street scene experience, visit the town during the Arts and Cultural George Town Festival in August.

Driving Directions:

  • It takes 3-4 hours to reach George Town from Kuala Lumpur.
  • From Kuala Lumpur, follow Lebuhraya Utara - Selatan/E1 to Lebuhraya Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu/Route 3113 in Gelugor.
  • Continue on Lebuhraya Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu/Route 3113. Then, drive to Jalan Macalister in George Town. Always bring your IDP with you in case you need to present them to the authorities. It only takes two hours or 20 minutes to get an IDP from the International Driver’s Association.

Penang Hill

One of the best unwinding spots in Malaysia that offers the best skyline views is in the state of Penang. Aside from George Town, Penang Hill is one of the top destinations tourists should check out in Penang. Drive to one of the best unwinding spots in Malaysia and ride a funicular for a 2,007-meter-high climb to reach the top of Penang Hill in about five to ten minutes. If you’re planning a driving trip in Malaysia, include Penang Hill on your list.

Enjoy a 360-degree view of the islands in the Skyway. You may also take a nature walk in a 1.6-kilometer trail, which leads to the rainforest and tropical gardens. You can also try the heart-thumping ziplines or trudge along the canopy walk that’s about 40 meters up in the sky. January and February are the best months to visit the Penang Hills, while September and October are the wettest months in Penang.

Driving Directions:

  • From George Town, take Jalan Macalister, Jalan Anson, Jalan Perak, Jalan Macalister and Jalan Residensi to Jalan Sepoy Lines.
  • Turn right onto Jalan Sepoy Lines, then slight right onto Jalan Utama.
  • Continue on Jalan Kebun Bunga/P208.
  • Drive to 230 Jalan Tuanku Yahya Petra in Bukit Bendera until you reach Penang Hill Upper Station.

You don’t need to get a Malaysian driving license to drive in the country. Just bring your permit and native driving license with you. Although the legal driving age in Malaysia is 17 years old, you can’t apply for an IDP unless you’re at least 18 years old.

Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands are a group of small islands, which was once a stopping point for traders traveling around Southeast Asia. The place is famous for its pristine waters, white-sand beaches, and jungle. You can tour each island by taking a water taxi or trek the island’s walking trails. Trekking is highly recommended since you get to trek jungle paths and enjoy the waters’ stunning view.

You can engage in fun water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. You can also join turtle conservation programs on the island and see the area where turtles lay their eggs. You might even get a chance to see them in action. It’s best to visit the island in summer to experience the beach activities and trek the trails. It’s challenging to get to the islands between November and March because of the rough sea conditions.

Driving Directions:

  • To get to the islands, you can drive to Kuala Besut and ride a ferry or motorized boat from there.
  • From Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut, follow E8 to Jalan Kota Bharu-Kuala Terengganu/Laluan Persekutuan 3/Route 3/AH18 in Kuala Terengganu.
  • Continue on Jalan Kota Bharu-Kuala Terengganu/Laluan Persekutuan 3/Route 3/AH18.
  • Then, drive to Jln Kuala Besut/Route 189 in Kampung Kuala Besut, Besut

For a better trip, get an driving license online from IDA and place your entire address, including your zip code. Tourists are not required to take a computer test for a driver's licence in Malaysia if they have their local driver's licence and IDP.

Mount Kinabalu

Standing at 4000 meters high, Mount Kinabalu is one of the safest peaks to climb in the world. You can find Mountain Kinabalu in Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides being a famous destination for climbers, Mount Kinabalu is the home of different plants and animals. There are buses at the transport center in the park that would take you to the mountain.

Only 180 permits are issued every day, so you need to make reservations and hire a guide to trek the mountain. The climb can take two days and one night, so bring enough supplies with you. It’s best to visit the place during the driest months since it’s challenging to trek the mountain in muddy trail paths. Also, plan an overnight stay in Kinabalu Park, so you have enough time to explore the oldest park in Malaysia.

Driving Directions:

  • From Kota Kinabalu, get on Jalan Tuaran Bypass/Jln Tun Hussien Onn/Route 3/A1 from Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen, Jalan Pasir, and Jalan Tuaran.
  • Follow Jln Tun Hussien Onn to Jalan Kinabalu in Kundasang.
  • Drive to Jalan Kinabalu in Kinabalu Park.
  • It takes 2 hours to get to Kinabalu Park from Kota Kinabalu. Remember to bring your IDP with you when driving in Kota Kinabalu. If you don’t know how to apply for an international driving license in Malaysia, you can apply at the International Driver’s Association and get your IDP in 20 minutes.

Sipadan Islands

Sipadan Islands is Malaysia’s only oceanic island and one of the best diving destinations in the world. As a part of the world’s richest marine habitat, you can swim with hammerhead sharks, hawksbill turtles, parrotfishes and enjoy the fantastic view of coral gardens. You can also take a stroll on the white-sand beaches. If you’re not into diving, snorkeling is an alternative activity for you.

You must make reservations ahead of time since the island only allows 120 permits a day. Tourists usually take a day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. However, all visitors must leave the island at 3 PM. Nonetheless, it’s still a destination you should keep on top of your list. The best time to go to the islands is during the dry season from March to October.

Driving Directions:

  • From Kuala Lumpur, you need to book a flight to Tawau.
  • Once you reach Tawau City, head to Semporna Jetty by car.
  • From Tawau airport, take Jalan Airport Baru to Jln Tun Hussien Onn/Route 13/A5.
  • Follow Jln Tun Hussien Onn/Route 13/A5 and SA51 to Jalan Causeway in Pekan Semporna.
  • Then, continue on Jalan Causeway to reach Semporna Jetty. From here, you need to take an hour-long ride on a speed boat to reach Sipadan Island.

When renting a car in Malaysia, a driver's licence and IDP are required in the rental companies. Your document already provides the translation of the essential details in your licence, such as your driver's licence number and name, so there’s no need for a Malaysian driver's license.

Gunung Mulu National Park

Get fascinated with impressive caves and spectacular karst limestone formations in Gulung Mulu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known as the largest passage site and the largest underground chamber in the world. With ceilings over 122 meters tall, Deer Cave is the most visited cave in the Gulung Mulu National Park. Tourists visit the cave because of the stunning view of cascading waterfalls on the rocks and a one-kilometer wide sinkhole.

If you love adventure, you can join the three-day Pinnacles Summit trek, which involves climbing ropes and ladders and an arduous walk in the jungle. If cave-hopping is more appealing to you, wear comfortable shoes. The best time to go is between June to September. You can only get to Gunung Mulu National Park by plane or 12-hour long boat ride between jungles because of its remote location.

Driving Directions:

  • From Mulu Airport, head southwest on Jalan Mulu Airport toward Jalan Mulu National Park.
  • Then, turn left onto Jalan Mulu National Park.

Malaysian drivers drive on the left side, so always remember to keep left on the roads. Don’t forget to bring your IDP with you before you go to Mulu. If you’re applying for an international driving license in Malaysia, it’s best to apply at the International Driver’s Association. You’ll receive your digital copy in 20 minutes after you submit your application.

Pulau Langkawi

On Malaysia’s west coast in the Andaman seas lies an archipelago consisted of 99 islands surrounded by crystal clear waters. Pulau Langkawi is famous for the Langkawi SkyCab. The glass-bottom gondola lifts let you view the pristine waters above while on the 2.2-kilometer trip to the top of Gunung Machinchang mountain. It takes 15 minutes to finish the journey from the base station.

The trip includes a stop in the middle station to get a better overlooking view on a viewing platform. You can also take a nature hike through a trail from the middle station that leads to the jungle. You can also find a pedestrian sky bridge and strike a conversation with the locals. The best months to visit Langkawi is between December to February, when the weather is best.

Driving Directions:

  • From Langkawi International Airport, head southwest then follow Jalan Kuala Muda/Route 115 and Route 114 to Jalan Teluk Yu/Route 113.
  • Continue on Jalan Teluk Yu/Route 113 to reach Langkawi SkyCab. Bring your IDP with you and follow the driving rules in Malaysia to avoid getting in trouble.

Bring your IDP with you and follow the traffic rules in Malaysia to avoid getting in trouble. If you’re from Singapore going to Langkawi, your Singaporean driver's license is valid in Malaysia, so you don’t need an additional document to drive. Any class of Singaporean license is valid in the country.

Cameron Highlands

Aside from being the home of the Rafflesia, the largest individual flower in the world, Cameron Highlands is the largest tea-producing region in the country. You can find several tea estates sitting atop the hills where you can enjoy the overlooking view with a warm cup of tea. The tea estates are one of the remnants of the British colonial times. Aside from the tea shops, people visit Cameron Highlands because of the colder climate.

If you’re not a tea-loving guest, you can head over to the orchards, lavender farms, or the tea plantations for a stroll. Cameron Highlands is only 20 kilometers east of Ipoh and 150 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. Cameron Highlands is one of the top road trip destinations for a driving holiday in Malaysia that you shouldn’t miss.

Driving Directions:

  • From Kuala Lumpur, follow Lebuhraya Utara - Selatan/E1 to Jalan Tapah - Brinchang - Blue Valley - Cameron Highlands/Route 59 in Tapah.
  • Take exit 132-Tapah from Lebuhraya Utara - Selatan/E1.
  • Then, continue onto Jalan Tapah - Brinchang - Blue Valley - Cameron Highlands/Route 59.
  • Continue to follow Route 59 until you reach Cameron Highlands.

For a pleasant experience, bring your driver's license in Malaysia in case authorities need to check. If you’re unsure where and how to apply for a foreign driver's license in Malaysia, you can get your licence from IDA.

Taman Negara

As one of Malaysia’s most famous ecotourism, Taman Negara National Park is the home of the world’s oldest rainforest, where you’ll find different species of plants and animals. The park encompasses three states: Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu. The park served as the land intended to be a protected area covering the three states after Theodore Hubback lobbied the idea to the states’ sultans.

Hike the trails in the 130-million-year-old rainforest and find elephants busking on the muddy banks of winding rivers. Taman Negara offers several wildlife adventures including, camping, trekking, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and rock climbing. The park is crowded between July and September because of the holidays, so it’s best to visit the place around February to October.

Driving Directions:

  • From Kuala Lumpur, you need to drive to Kuala Tembeling to take a boat ride that will take you to Taman Negara.
  • Take Lebuhraya Kuala Lumpur - Gua Musang and E8 to Route 98 in Kampung Paya Keladan, Temerloh.
  • Take exit 819-Temerloh from LPT/E8.
  • Follow Route 98 and Jalan Kuala Tembeling - Kuala Lipis/Route 234 to your destination in Jerantut.
  • The boat ride that will take you to the park costs RM75 (USD 18.40).

If you’re from one of the ASEAN countries, you have the option not to get an IDP as long as your local driver's licence is valid.

Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru is a charming town where both historical and modern infrastructures collide. Once a sleepy fish village, Johor Bahru developed as the second-largest urban area in Malaysia. If you’re up for a historical tour, you can visit the majestic Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque and the Old Chinese Temple standing in the middle of the downtown. Tourists usually stop by Johor Bahru to experience fun rides and arcades in Legoland Malaysia.

Johor Bahru has a wide selection of malls such as City Square, KSL, Angsana, and Komtar that shopaholics would surely enjoy. Food lovers will love the top-rated restaurants and cafes along Jalan Dhoby. The best time to go to Johor Bahru is between June and August when days are less humid.

Driving Directions:

  • From Kuala Lumpur, follow Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E2 to Jalan Bertingkat Skudai/Route 1 in Johor.
  • Take exit 254 from Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E2. Continue on Route 1 to your destination in Larkin Jaya, Johor Bahru.
  • The drive to Johor Bahru takes approximately three to four hours.

If you’re from Singapore going to Johor Bahru, your class 3 driver's licence is valid in the country. If you have a US license, always bring your IDP with you since the US driver's license alone is not recognized in the country.

Malacca/Melaka

Known as a trading powerhouse, Malacca is one of Malaysia’s smallest states, located about 145 km from Kuala Lumpur and 240 km Singapore. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts several charming historical tourist spots such as Christ Church, the Stadthuys, St. Paul’s Hill, Dutch Fort, Portuguese Settlement, and more. The historical tourist spots are remnants of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonization.

Besides a historical tour, you can also visit the immersive Submarine Museum and the kid-friendly Melaka Thousand Tales of Adventures. You can also check out goods and other items at the night market down the Jonker Walk. The best time to go to Malacca is during the dry season from April to October. Malacca is a perfect destination for your driving holiday in Malaysia.

Driving Directions:

  • From Kuala Lumpur, take Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E2 to Lebuh Ayer Keroh/Route 143 in Durian Tunggal.
  • The, take exit 231-Ayer Keroh from Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E2.
  • Continue on Lebuh Ayer Keroh/Route 143 to your destination in Taman Costa Mahkota, Melaka.
  • It’s easy to follow the driving directions in Malaysia because of the excellent network road system. Don’t forget to bring your international driving license to Malaysia.

Most Important Driving Rules

If you’re planning to tour around Malaysia with a rental car, you need to know the set of rules you have to observe while in the country. Some regulations listed below may be unfamiliar to you, so you need to remember the driving rules in Malaysia to avoid getting involved in a road mishap. Before you read on, remember to get an international driving license in Malaysia online and take note that most cars in the country are in the left hand conversion.

Bring your driving license and IDP with you always

Driving without a licence is a serious offense. Anyone caught without a driver's licence and IDP can face severe consequences. It’s essential to bring your driver's licence in Malaysia all the time at a Road Transport Department checkpoint. If caught, you can get imprisoned for three months or fined up to MYR1,000.

For foreigners, this is an important document you need to carry around. If you are wondering where and how to get a driver’s license that’s valid in Malaysia, you may get your IDP online through IDA's website which only takes two hours or even 20 minutes!

You only need to pay an additional $30 fee for an additional price to get this international driving license before traveling to Malaysia.

What if the international driver’s license for Malaysia loses its validity?

If your copy expires or if you ever lose it before traveling, get a licence renewal immediately. How do you renew your international driver's licence in Malaysia? Simply prepare all of your previous requirements and you can have it done for free and pay only the shipping costs.

More answers concerning your driver's licence questions can be found straight from the IDA website. If you need a copy immediately, start filling up the application form. As for how to renew your IDP for Malaysia, you may fill up the renewal form.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited

Drunk driving is one of the primary causes of road fatalities in the world. Malaysia, like other countries, imposes severe punishment on anyone caught driving intoxicated. Alcohol and drugs can impair a driver’s senses and cognition, which affects the driver’s alertness and focus on the road. It’s better to call a cab if you had a drink than risk your and other people’s safety.

Obey the speed limit of the road

Going beyong the speed limit is strictly prohibited. The speed limits are 90 to 110 KpH on highways and 50-70 KpH in towns, which is slower than Western countries. There are multiple cameras and radars installed to monitor the traffic easily. If you get caught overspeeding, you’ll have to pay a hefty fine. Limiting your speed is essential to ensure the road safety of everyone.

Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory

The use of seat belts has been one of the most effective ways to reduce road accident fatalities, so Malaysian authorities strictly enforce this rule. Drivers and passengers must wear their seatbelts while on the road, while children under eight years old should sit in the back on a child seat. Anyone caught violating this rule can face serious consequences. If you don’t want your car driving licence in Malaysia to be suspended, then buckle up while driving.

The use of handheld mobile phones is not allowed

Answering calls or texting while driving is strictly prohibited in Malaysia. It’s one of the significant causes of road accidents worldwide as it divides the driver’s attention on the road. If you need to answer an important call, use a hands-free system for safety.

Driving with an expired driving license is strictly not allowed

You can face severe punishment if caught with an expired driver's licence in Malaysia. An IDP is only a translation of your local driver's licence. So, it’s not a suitable replacement for your expired driver's licence. Your driver's licence should include your name, address, zip code, driver's licence number, vehicle class or type, validation date, picture, and other important information found on your native driver's licence.

You can renew online through IDA's website by following the same process you did when you applied for an IDP. The renewal price for a driver's licence in Malaysia is 30 ringgit, valid for one year, while the price for an IDP is $49.

Planning your travels is quite a serious task. You need to think about how you can budget both money and time so you don’t waste any. A good way to save on both while making your trip worthwhile is exploring the location by renting a car in Malaysia.

Aside from that, tourists who want to use their foreign driver's licence can use them in Malaysia. For as long as your native driver’s licence is valid, your document is also recognized. Your IDP translates your native driver’s licence. It is your ticket to passing through local authorities in no time.

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