The West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia primarily refers to the western seaboard of the Malaysian peninsula that faces the Straits of Malacca. This coast has historically been a vital maritime route, bustling with trade and cultural exchanges.
The West Coast encompasses several states including Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, and Johor. It stretches from the northern border with Thailand down to the southern tip near Singapore, boasting a diverse range of landscapes from paddy fields, mangroves, to urban cities.
Historically, the West Coast was a magnet for traders, explorers, and settlers because of its strategic location between the larger trading nations of China and India. The Straits of Malacca, which run alongside the West Coast, became one of the world’s most important shipping lanes. The coastal states, particularly Malacca and Penang, were pivotal ports in the spice trade, and their strategic value attracted colonial powers, including the Portuguese, Dutch, and British. This rich tapestry of influences has left a legacy of diverse cultures, traditions, and, of course, the unique Peranakan or Straits Chinese community.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Penang: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town with its colonial buildings, intricate temples, and street art. Savor the legendary Penang hawker food.
- Langkawi, Kedah: Relax on pristine beaches, take the cable car to Gunung Mat Cincang and walk on the Sky Bridge.
- Malacca (Melaka): Walk through the historic Dutch Square, visit A’Famosa fortress, and Jonker Street.
- Kuala Lumpur, Selangor: Marvel at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, explore the Batu Caves, and shop in Bukit Bintang.
- Ipoh, Perak: Discover cave temples, colonial architecture, and enjoy the famous white coffee.
How to Get In and Out
- By Air: The main international gateways are Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Penang International Airport. There are numerous domestic flights connecting the states along the West Coast.
- By Train: The Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line runs along the West Coast connecting major cities and towns, with the northernmost stop at Padang Besar in Perlis (on the border with Thailand) and the southernmost stop in Johor Bahru.
- By Road: The North-South Expressway (NSE) is the primary road artery, running the entire length of the West Coast from the Thai border to Johor Bahru. Buses and cars are popular means to traverse these routes.
- By Sea: There are ferry services connecting Penang with Langkawi and the mainland, and Malacca with Sumatra, Indonesia.
Travelers can easily combine different modes of transportation to explore the rich tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and experiences that the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia offers.