- How to rent a car?
- Is it easy/safe to drive?
- Tips for renting
- Price for a rental car
- Where to rent a car?
How to rent a car in Malaysia
Although Malaysia’s public transport has improved in recent years, the connections between locations still have their issues. The journeys often take long, include delays, and transportation is known to get crowded. Therefore, many locals, as well as tourists, prefer to travel by car instead. Renting a car in Malaysia allows you to travel without depending on other schedules and is a great way to explore the beautiful country at your own pace.
What do you need to rent a car in Malaysia?
When you rent a car in Malaysia, you’ll need to bring the following documents with you:
- Your driver’s license from your home country
- Your ID (passport)
- A Credit card in your name
- An International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
To be able to rent a car in Malaysia, you’ll have to be at least 23 years old and have had your driver’s license for at least one year. All drivers must provide a valid driver’s license, a passport, and a credit card to make the payment and hold a deposit. Anyone with a valid driver’s license can drive in Malaysia as long as their license is accompanied by a version in English or Malay (International Driver’s Permit). You can arrange an IDP here, which costs only 15 USD.
Rental car insurance in Malaysia
When renting a car in Malaysia, there are many types of insurance offered by your rental agency. Often, one or more of these is already included in the car rental rates, such as a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). This basic insurance should also cover you from paying the excess deductible.
It’s important that you carefully read through your car rental agreement before booking to be absolutely sure. If you want to add additional insurance, make sure to check with your credit card company first whether they do not already cover you. Your credit card company might cover rental car damages associated with accidents, for example.
Tip: Keep all your documents with you in the car when driving: valid driver’s license, ID, registration, and insurance papers. This way, in case the traffic police stop you, you’ll have everything you need to show. Note that your passport must have an entry stamp that is no more than 90 days old.
Roads and signs
Diverse Malaysia is a great country to explore by rental car. It has a high-quality road system with good infrastructure and frequent road signs. In fact, this well-maintained road network is often considered one of the best in Southeast Asia.
In Peninsular Malaysia, you can easily get to every sight due to the good roads. The same goes for both states in Borneo but mainly between the bigger cities. If you want to explore outside these areas, you can expect the roads to be less maintained. There are many one-way streets in cities such as Kuala Lumpur, and though convenient, you can expect more traffic and a longer journey.
Tip: Unless you’re familiar with the roads in the country, make sure you have a good road map or GPS to navigate. Google Maps and Waze App are both great options when driving in Malaysia.
The maximum speed limit on the Malaysian highway (expressway) is 110 km/h. On the roads in the mountains and near residential areas, you can drive a maximum of 90 km/h. And lastly, the maximum speed limit in the cities is 60 km/h. Try to stick to the speed limits, as there are frequently mounted speed cameras on every type of road in Malaysia.
Note: Due to its past as a British colony, another important rule to remember when driving in Malaysia is that you drive on the left-hand side of the road!
You can conveniently pay the tolls with cash or with a prepaid card like Touch ‘n’ Go or SmartTag. Depending on your route, you might have several instances where you pay a toll. Therefore, the easiest way is to have some small cash ready in your car. The booths on the far left side are often cash only, recognizable by the signs Tunai (cash) or Sahaja Tunai (cash only). Otherwise, you can buy the prepaid card at a local grocery shop or gas station for RM 10 and use the Tap ‘n’ Go lanes. To re-upload, you can find specific lanes at the toll booths on selected highways.
Safety of driving in Malaysia
Renting a car in Malaysia and driving through the country is generally safe. Malaysians are considered better drivers than other people from Southeast Asia; however, not all follow the traffic rules. Some merge into lanes or turn without notice, for example. It’s, therefore, important to always look around you when making a maneuver. Other than that, drivers drive relatively calmly, and traffic often runs a little slower.
Asian countries are also known for their many motorcyclists on the road. This is something to keep in mind when renting a car in Malaysia, especially in major cities. Make sure you’re careful with the blind spots around your car and use your signals and mirrors when changing lanes. As long as you stay calm, take your time, and know how to drive in a big city, everything will be fine.
Tip: If you’re involved in an accident, make sure to report it at a local police station as soon as you can. It’s best to be the first person there, so you avoid false accusations and a possible fine upon leaving the country. Your rental agency will help you with this.
Driving on Langkawi
The beautiful archipelago in northern Malaysia, Langkawi, is a must-visit destination when exploring the country. You could easily spend an entire week on the main island, discovering hidden waterfalls, pristine beaches, and lush jungles. Though you can easily travel the island by taxi or motorbike, with a car, you can cover the most ground.
Driving on Langkawi is fairly relaxed, with low traffic volume, especially outside bigger towns. The roads are in fairly good condition, and the same traffic rules apply. As it’s an island, you can drive from end to end within just 30 minutes.
Top tips for renting a car in Malaysia
1. Getting gas
Petrol stations in Malaysia are frequent and easy to find. About every 50 – 100 kilometers, there’s one along the highway, often combined with a large rest point, restrooms, restaurants, and even some shops.
Fueling is either done by yourself or by one of the employees. You can pay with cash at the counter, where you also tell the cashier which pump you’ll use and how much fuel you need. If you’re ever in doubt about what type of fuel your rental car needs, look for the sticker that indicates that. You can typically find this on the car key, dashboard, or fuel door. Petrol costs about RM 2.05 per liter (0.45 USD), which is the most affordable price you’ll find in Southeast Asia.
2. Be mindful when parking
Parking in Malaysia can be quite an adventure, especially in big cities like Kuala Lumpur. In popular areas, you can either park on the street or in a parking lot, which both require payment. The exact rules and price depend on where you are. In Georgetown, Penang, for example, you need to get a voucher to park on the street, but other areas might work with a parking meter instead. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always ask the parking attendants. You can find them near parking lots, and everyone speaks really good English.
Tip: A lot of hotels offer complimentary parking. If you’re traveling through Malaysia, make sure to check this before booking your next hotel. This is super convenient and will ultimately save you some money.
You’ll notice that locals sometimes park wherever they want, but that’s not without the risk of a fine. Try to park your rental car in covered spots so the car doesn’t get too hot, and never leave your windows open – monkeys will get in there and take your belongings!
3. Check the car and your contract
When you pick up your rental car in Malaysia, make sure to do a walk around and check if everything’s there. Try to point out all the existing damages to the rental agent and record them. This is to make sure you don’t get charged for any pre-existing damages. Do the same when you return it, especially if it’s at a drop-off location outside an office.
Make sure to also thoroughly check your rental agreement and see if there are no hidden fees or rules. A mileage limit could be included there, for example, though most rental companies offer unlimited free kilometers.
How much does a car rental in Malaysia cost?
Renting a car in Malaysia is quite affordable, with a daily cost between 14 – 50 USD a day. The price depends on the type of car you want to rent and the duration of your rental. A bigger car or automatic vehicle costs more than a smaller economic car, for example. Renting a vehicle for a longer period usually also decreases the daily price, which particularly applies during the high season. You’ll have the best price per day when you book for at least one week.
Prices are often also the lowest when you pre-book online instead of in a rental office. The further you do this in advance, the cheaper the rental gets. When booking close to the departure date, the prices are often much higher. Note that the price mentioned on the rental car websites is usually not the final price and that you can expect a few extra dollars for booking fees and tax.
Getting the right vehicle
Most rental cars in Malaysia are fairly new and modern. Depending on your itinerary or company, you have differently-sized vehicle options to choose from. If you’re traveling with just a few people, a small economical rental car is the perfect option to zoom across Malaysia with. However, if you’re looking for something a bit bigger, there are plenty of options to book. When picking up your rental car, there’s sometimes still room to negotiate. You don’t need a 4×4 vehicle when driving through Malaysia.
Where do I rent a car in Malaysia?
There are many good car rental companies in Malaysia to choose from. The best way to see all your options is to browse and book online in advance. Reserving in advance ensures that you get the car you want, possibly for a lower price.
If you haven’t booked online, then popular locations to rent a car from are Kuala Lumpur International Airport or several locations in downtown KL. However, it’s also not uncommon for your rental car to be dropped off and picked up from your hotel at no extra cost. One-way rentals in Malaysia are allowed and often free of charge as long as you’ve rented for at least three days. This is convenient if a complete round-trip wasn’t part of your Malaysia itinerary.