Cycling has radically changed for the better! We are seeing a shift in spending on usual conventional leisure activities to something simpler and more solitary, cycling and even walking.
The blue lanes in Malaysia may have faded and the infrastructure, barely-there lanes and construction may have become a civilian obstruction. With plans to make KL a pedestrian-friendly city by 2025 and the River of Life slowly coming to fruition, cycling offers a chance for Malaysians to change their mindset and experience the intricacies of local urban culture.
Sometimes the parks don’t count as it is not as fun as climbing pure stretches of asphalt and stopping every now and then to cool with a sweet cup of ‘Teh Tarik’ and a plate of Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai. I have not even covered all the places in Malaysia, and as someone who is fairly new to bicycle touring and cycling, I will continue updating this list as we go along.
But for now, let me walk you through the uphill and downhill pursuits of cycling in a tropical country like Malaysia.
#1 Bukit Tunku
Amidst the concrete jungle in Malaysia, there are places to cycle in Kuala Lumpur even if that involves cycling in a posh neighbourhood, with large sprawling estates and green foliage in the backyard.
Bukit Tunku, also known as “The Beverly Hills of Kuala Lumpur” is a quick favourite for many urbanites in Malaysia and weekend cyclists to come together. We are used to the city heat and it comes as a blessing to be able to find green breaks in Kuala Lumpur. The ride to Bukit Tunku is not steep (average 3% gradient) and it gives you a taste of cycling in Malaysia.
This ascend gradually connects to Jalan Duta, Mont Kiara and Segambut as well as Dataran Merdeka, Bank Negara, Mont Kiara and Chow Kit. You can begin your route from Taman Tugu and at the turn off head to the KL Mayor’s residence for a sweeping view of KL’s stunning skyline. I like to stop here for a break and also enjoy the downhill rush on my descent!
On your way down, stop at the neighbourhood’s favourite cafes at Bukit Tunku’s new Stories of Taman Tunku. Besides Kenny Hills Bakers Cafe, there’s the new grocery store called Qra and a nice al-fresco cafe called Wolf & Turtle cafe.
#2 Perdana Botanical Gardens
It is one of my go-to places to cycle around in Klang Valley. You have got the Lake Gardens, the hibiscus garden and rounds near the Islamic Arts Museum as well as the National Mosque of Malaysia. It is scenic and easily a bike ride away from KL sentral. You could start from the Muzium Negara MRT (Gate B) exit and there’s an entrance to the park, from there on make your way towards Tun Abdul Razak memorial and complete a loop and head out further into Taman Tugu Negara.
There are plenty of gentle slopes, monkeys after 6.00pm and wonderful gazebos to idly lay around and do nothing, but just ride.
#3 Cycling in Lorong Travers – Bangsar – Federal Hill/ Lorong Travers – Galeria Sri Perdana
Behind the busy Jalan Travers is Lorong Travers and Jalan Bukit Travers, which are lined with old bungalows and lush greenery all the way up to Federal Hill there is plenty of time to enjoy the cool breeze in a hidden spot in KL. During the colonial times, this street was named after a doctor who restored hope and dignity to leprosy patients, and now these lush settings are home to the elite few of KL. Years ago, the Star newspaper even had a small office here.
The road is only a short stretch linking Jalan Bangsar, Jalan Damansara and Jalan Tun Sambanthan and you can cycle all the way to Jalan Jelutong, make a loop at Dunia Melayu and return to Federal Hill with a short detour to Galeria Sri Perdana. You can even venture and see our ex-Prime Minister’s house Tun Mahathir Mohamed at the Galeria Sri Perdana overlooking KL.
To cut into Bangsar, there’s a staircase just below Federal Hill that will take you to Jalan Maarof.
#4 Jalan Kerayong / Seputeh – Kampung Attap – Petaling Street
This is probably a scenic and creepy route for many since it passes through the Kwong Tong in Cemetery in Bukit Seputeh. However, riding and exploring through this route provides a ride through memory lane.
Follow the route to Glasshouse Seputeh and turn left into a long narrow road. Once you exit the graveyard, you’ll see some old Chinese temples and even come across Taman Dusun Bandar, an abandoned park that no one knows about. It is strange to see all these new places that have not been promoted much.
Going ahead, will take you to Puspataka before you come in at Jalan Maharajalela and it is time to cross the road with your bikes over the pedestrian pass.
#5 Cycling along River of Life
The River of Life project that breathes life into the areas near Sungai Gombak and Klang River in the city is one of the nice and easy gentle rides to do on the boardwalk. You can start from Seputeh, Brickfields or even Petaling Street. The passage can be quite narrow when making your way towards Brickfields but it expands further.
As you cycle along, you’ll notice the famed intricate mural depicting Klang River undergoing massive transformation.
#6 Cycling from KL to Klang on Federal Highway motorcycle lane
We all know about the famous Klang river, but we do not know much about the history about Klang and how it is known for its civil wars, tin mines and royal heritage. It was the former capital of Selangor city afterall. To cycle here, leave from KL Gateway-Universiti LRT station and head onto the motorcycle lane that will take you through Klang’s town directly. Due to speeding motorbikes, this route is best taken on the weekend or public holidays since the motorcycle lane is just 3-4mm wide.
Once you reach the mural, take a left onto the Kota Bridge that will take you directly to the oldtown and Klang railway station as well as pre-war shophouses. Some of the best things to do over here is take a walk down memory lane and see how the faded world of yesteryear comes alive. The town has recently started a Klang Walking / Heritage tour and even cycling lanes taking you to some of these hidden gems.
#7 Cycling in Parit to Bota and Manong Bridge
In a small town of roughly 2,000 people, Parit holds some of the most interesting architecture of Malaysia’s Rumah Kutai houses that are over 100 years old. It used to be once a convenient stop-over for Malaysians but due to increased urbanisation, small towns like Parit and Bota are often forgotten and people are seen thronging Ipoh and Penang instead.
Starting from Lanai Casuarina in Parit, we headed towards Bota Kanan and made a return journey to cycle towards Bota Kiri and Manong, Kuala Kangsar the next day. The entire ride takes you into the heart of the rural heartland where you’ll see artistically carved houses in vibrant pastel colours further displaying the rich heritage of our country. With the principles and culture of Malay heritage houses on the verge of dissappearance, it was nice for time to stand still and for us to reassess our version of nostalgia post lockdown.
#8 Fraser Hill
Situated in Pahang and once a colonial hill station by the former British colonial forces, Fraser Hill remains a highland resort for many Malaysians who want a taste of scones and British tea surrounded by greenary. It was discovered in the 1890s by the British who loved these lowlands and how it provided a welcome respite from the heat.
The cherry on the cake is the road that they built and turned it into a haven for cyclists. I visited Fraser Hill recently and went here on my birthday ride – it was one of the best rides that I had done. You can drive from Kuala Lumpur and park your car at KKB Curry House.
Starting off, you pass by Kuala Khubu dam and slowly ascent to a gradual 40km climb which snakes through Malaysia’s rainforest. The theory of slow travel is best applied here where you feel unhurried and take time to notice the critters, and monkeys climbing from one tree to another.
There’s no traffic on the roads and the path leading to Fraser Hill is a one-way road. The long arduous climb ends at The Gap before you take on another crazy grueling climb where the last 8km gradient is atleast 12%. I didn’t make it to the top but with enough breaks, it is absolutely doable to persevere and reach your final destination.