Getting there & away
There are no services connecting the peninsula with Malaysian Borneo.
The popular crossing between Georgetown (on Pulau Penang) and Medan has services most days of the week. The boats actually land in Belawan in Sumatra, and the journey to Medan is completed by bus (included in the price).
You can catch buses and taxis between Miri in Sarawak and Kuala Belait in Brunei. Kuala Belait has easy bus connections with Bandar Seri Begawan; you can also cross from Lawas to Bangar (in Brunei), and then head on to Limbang.
On the western side of Peninsular Malaysia, you can travel by bus from Alor Setar to the border crossing at Bukit Kayu Hitam. There are also two trains passing through Alor Setar to Padang Besar and then continuing north into Thailand; the first stops at Hat Yai, while the second terminates in Bangkok. Some visitors may not feel safe travelling through Hat Yai, which has been a hot spot for Muslim and Buddhist clashes in Thailand.
On the peninsula’s eastern side you can bus it from Kota Bharu to the border town of Rantau Panjang but at the time of writing this was not a safe place to cross due to violence in this area of southern Thailand.
The gateway to Peninsular Malaysia is the city of Kuala Lumpur, although Pulau Penang and Johor Bahru (JB) also have international connections. Singapore is a handy arrival/departure point, since it’s just a short trip across the Causeway from JB and has more international connections. Malaysia Airlines is the country’s main airline carrier although Air Asia and Firefly flights are much cheaper. Air Asia connects KL to Europe, Australia, India, Indonesia, Thailand and China.
The following are some airlines servicing Malaysia; numbers beginning with 03 are for Kuala Lumpur.
Aeroflot (code SU; 03-2161 0231; www.aeroflot.ru/eng)
Air Asia (code AK; 03-8775 4000; www.airasia.com)
Air India (code AI; 03-2142 0166; www.airindia.com)
British Airways (code BA; 1800 881 260; www.britishairways.com)
Cathay Pacific Airways (code CX; 03-2035 2788; www.cathaypacific.com)
China Airlines (code CI; 03-2142 7344; www.china-airlines.com)
Garuda Indonesian Airlines (code GA; 03-2162 2811; www.garuda-indonesia.com)
Japan Airlines (code JL; 03-2161 1722; www.jal.com)
Lufthansa (code LH; 03-2161 4666; www.lufthansa.com)
Malaysia Airlines (code MH; 1300 883 000, 03-2161 0555; www.malaysiaairlines.com)
Qantas (code QF; 1800 881 260; www.qantas.com)
Royal Brunei Airlines (code BI; 03-2070 7166; www.bruneiair.com)
Singapore Airlines (code SQ; 03-2692 3122; www.singaporeair.com)
Thai Airways International (THAI, code TG; 03-2031 2900; www.thaiairways.com)
Vietnam Airlines (code VN; www.vietnamairlines.com)
Virgin Atlantic (code VS; 03-2143 0322; www.virgin-atlantic.com)
It’s a short hop from Pulau Penang to Medan in Sumatra. To Java, the cheapest connections are from Singapore. There are also weekly flights between Kuching and Pontianak in Kalimantan (Indonesia), and between Tawau in Sabah and Tarakan in Kalimantan.