Long-distance trains in Malaysia can rarely match road transport in terms of speed, but state operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad KTMB (http://www.ktmb.com.my) provides relatively inexpensive and generally reliable services around Peninsular Malaysia but not Sabah/Sarawak in Borneo. The main western line connects Butterworth near Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru, while the eastern line runs through Gua Musang and the Taman Negara National Park to Kota Bharu, near the Thai border and the Perhentian Islands.
The pride of KTMB's fleet is the ETS Electric Train Service from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, running modern air-conditioned trains 10x/daily at 140 km/h with a travel time of just over 2 hours. The rest of the network, though, is mostly single-track, with slow diesel locos and all too frequent breakdowns and delays. First and second class are air-con, third class has fans instead. For sleeper trains, KTMB's epitome of luxury is Premier Night Deluxe ADNFD - between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur only featuring individual cabins containing two berths and a private shower/toilet unit. More economical are the Superior Night ADNS sleeper cars, which have upper and lower berths along each side, each bunk having a solid partition at each end and a side curtain for privacy. The carriages shake and rattle quite a bit but are comfortable and clean.
The Jungle Railway is the apt description for the eastern line between Tumpat close to the Thai border and Gemas, including stops at Gua Musang, Kuala Lipis, Jerantut for Taman Negara National Park and Wakaf Bahru for Kota Bharu and the Perhentian Islands. The original "Jungle Train" is the slow daytime service which stops at every station every 15-20 min or so. It's 3rd class only, meaning no air-con and no reservations, and some stops may be lengthy as it's a single line and all other trains have priority - hence the "Jungle Train" waits in side loops along the way so that oncoming or overtaking trains can pass. Tourists may use this service to travel to Some find it to be a fascinating and stunningly scenic ride; others feel there's not much to see when you're in the jungle. Eastern line night trains for which reservations are possible and recommended also have 2nd class berths and seats, and some have 1st class sleepers too.
Tickets can be booked and even printed online at KTMB's site. Enquiries and reservations can be made by phone at KTMB's call centres, â +60 3 2267-1200 Malaysia or , â +65 6222-5165 Singapore.
In East Malaysia, the only railway line is run by Jabatan Kereta Api Negeri Sabah JKNS (http://www.sabah.gov.my/r...), running from Tanjung Aru near Kota Kinabalu to the town of Tenom.
Largely thanks to budget carrier AirAsia (http://www.airasia.com), Malaysia is crisscrossed by a web of affordable flights with advertised "promotional" prices starting at RM9 for flights booked well in advance. Flying is the only practical option for traveling between peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, as well as reaching some of the more remote outposts of Borneo. State carrier Malaysia Airlines (http://www.malaysiaairlin...) also has competitive fares which now offers equal or even lower priced tickets if booked in advance through the internet, with sustaining class of hospitality. And their offshoot Firefly (http://www.fireflyz.com.my/) has a handy network radiating out of Penang previously, has also began operating from the Subang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport.
Berjaya Air (http://berjaya-air.com) also flies small Dash-7 turboprops from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to its own airports on the resort islands of Pangkor, Redang and Tioman. Prices are steep from RM214 plus fees one way, but this is by far the fastest and more comfortable way of reaching any of these.
In Sabah and Sarawak, MASWings (http://www.maswings.com.my), operates turboprop services linking interior communities, including those in the Kelabit Highlands, with coastal cities. MASWings took over the rural air services network from FlyAsian Express on October 1, 2007, which in turn took the service over from Malaysia Airlines 14 months before that.
Report Bad Drivers
Bus drivers especially on more "rural" routes sometimes drive carelessly, speed like maniacs, overtake on blind corners, etc. The vast majority of journeys are problem-free but some horrific accidents attributed to reckless driving have, however, led to a crackdown and a nationwide hotline and SMS number for reporting these drivers/vehicles have been set up. These numbers are conveniently pasted on the back of every single large vehicle in the country.
The cheapest way to travel in Malaysia is by bus. All towns of any size have a bus terminal offering connections to other parts of the country. There are many companies of varying degrees of dependability, but two of the largest and more reliable are Transnasional and NICE/Plusliner . 24-seater "luxury" buses are recommended for long-distance travel.
If travelling on holidays or even over the weekend, it is advisable to reserve your seats in advance. Note that air conditioning on some buses can be extremely cold so don't forget to bring a good sweater, pants and socks, especially for overnight journeys on luxury buses!