8D7N Kyushu itinerary 九州

Our 8D7N Kyushu itinerary was the most challenging diy tour which I had planned thus far. We covered Northern Kyushu in 8D7N, which was barely enough. You will need two weeks to cover the whole of Kyushu.

*I can only add selection of photos in this blog. All our Kyushu photos have been uploaded to Facebook, links at the end of this post.

YouTube Video (8D7N Kyushu Itinerary)

This trip was meant as a Dad Son bonding trip. No2 Boon Kang is going to enlist very soon. Last minute planning, and we shortlisted Hokkaido, Tokyo, Osaka/Kyoto and Kyushu.

Kyushu or Osaka

Kyushu did not disappoint.

The no1 challenge for me was public transport planning. Trains, trams and buses in the big cities were easy and predictable. But countryside buses frequency can be every 45 to 60 minutes. Miss one bus and there goes your “ideal” itinerary :p

In addition point A to B might only be 30km, but it can take up to 2 hours ( including bus waiting time). Fortunately, we engaged a private tour on Day two Mount Aso, otherwise much time would be wasted on transport.

Refer to Google Map below for our 8D7N Kyushu Itinerary, clockwise direction. Public transport all the way, except day 2 Mount Aso private tour.

Diy 8D7N Kyushu itinerary

In summary.

1) On average, this is our Japan expenses average (not including hotels, airfare, and day Two private tour). All in, we spent about SGD 2500 for our 8D7N Kyushu itinerary.

-Average daily 15,000 Yen for two pax three meals and misc (not including JR pass)
-If add JR Pass (Kyushu North 5 days), our average daily would be 18,000 Yen
40 to 45% overall expenses on F&B
-15 to 20% overall spent on transport
-Balance on souvenirs, attractions entry tickets etc
-About 60% of my expenses were clocked on Youtrip card
-Did a 90,000 Yen withdrawal from Youtrip too

-2 nights Kumamoto (x1 near Mount Aso, x1 Downtown)
-2 nights Nagasaki
-3 nights Fukuoka

In hindsight, I would have opted for an extra night at Beppu or Oita and reduced Fukuoka to two nights.

3) Transport
Train and Bus for 90% of the itinerary. We booked a private tour of Mount Aso (Kumamoto).

My best experiences were around Mount Aso’s volcano landscapes. Cauldron and valleys, active volcanoes and lush pastures, dotted with horses and cows.

The second best experience could be Nagasaki Atomic Museum and Peace Park or Nagasaki Bio Park. Both are memorable for different reasons.

The cute Amaterasu Railway stole our hearts and let us relive our childhoods.

4)no1 tip for First timers in Japan :p

Automatic bidet is soothing. But first timers might stress about which button (flow) to activate… 

Day 1 Arrival at Fukuoka

We took a 20 minutes shuttle from International to Domestic airport. Subway will bring us to Hakata station (Heart of Fukuoka).

You will not go wrong with accommodations near Hakata or Tenjin stations. Amenities, shopping, F&B are clustered around these two stations.

Hakata and Tenjin stations are themselves multi-storey transport and lifestyle hubs. You might get lost in the shopping “maze”. There are plenty of food and supermarket options.

5) First order of the day was to pickup our JR Pass.

(JR stands for Japan Rail)
You may have to queue up to 30, 60 minutes to exchange your JR pass.

You can indicate activation date at the point of collection.
Example, we got a 5 day Northern Kyushu pass from Klook.
Once activated, the countdown will start. Even though we only use the pass for three days, it was still worthwhile for us.

Tips. Klook or KKDay JR pass might be cheaper than Japan direct. But you can only do “online seat reservation” if you buy JR pass direct from Japan e-shops. We always reserve our seats at the train stations (which might incur additional fees).

You may use JR Pass calculator to check whether JR Pass would be optimised for your trip. )Useful for budgeting purpose too)

JR Pass counter Hakata Station

Plenty of Train adventures await in Kyushu!

Below is iconic blue “Sonic”, which can bring you to Beppu and Oita.

*Train lovers should visit our Enoden experience at Kamakura.

Train to Beppu (Oita)

Original plan was to visit a few Hot springs (Hells), ropeway or maybe even Yufuin.
I underestimated public transport options in Beppu.

Public buses come every 45 to 60 minutes. This is not my first trip to Japan, yet I am always paranoid about taking the wrong bus!

We only know later there is a Beppu Tourist bus (Kamenoi) which will bring you to nearby attractions. We had to skip the ropeway (to see snow) as fog forecast had reduced visibility at the summit to zero.

Happy folks at Beppu Station

We enjoyed our hot tempura lunch (Bungo Chaya Beppu) and took another 2 hour train towards our hotel

6) master Google Map and public transport options

I underestimated public transport coverage in Kyushu.
You can plan 95% of transport on rail, but last 5% on bus will give you a shock!

Imagine. Train services are very accurate and available every 10, 30 minutes(for example). But bus frequency can be every 60 minutes!

Google Maps works for most big cities. But Google Maps failed us when we needed bus advice in Beppu and Kumamoto countryside.

Refer to screenshot below, the “modified schedule” could not predict or advise bus services for us. This is most stressful when you are rushing with two pieces of luggage.

Gmap, what is “Modified Schedule”?

This is why we recommend “Japan Official Travel App” for our friends and those who wish to diy their itinerary.

More precise train and bus inter-connectivity. You can even filter trains and buses by your JR-pass. We could easily estimate our transport fees (and more importantly routes) in advance.


Trains are never late. Eg below. If 0707 (am) Oita, this means the train will leave 0707 on the Spot, you better arrive 10 minutes earlier.

7)Sugoca card for Kyushu

JR Pass might cover the train mileage between prefectures. Sugoca card (also known as suica in other prefectures) will let you tap in and out of non JR trains, buses and trams. (You do not need to queue and buy your ticket everytime, or find the change or coins).

Every prefecture and city you go, download the transit maps and try to digest them. They will help you identify your most efficient routes.

8)When trains and buses do not suit your transfers, Taxis might be the only option left.

We faced this issue in Kumamoto when we wanted to transfer from hotel to Ferry Terminal. There were no trains, buses frequency was every 60 minutes.

We ended up taking a direct taxi from the hotel, cost about 3000 Yen.

*There was a free shuttle bus from city to Ferry, but we gave up after trying to get help from Ferry and hotel reception (too much risks, and miscommunications)

**Those who have tried taking public buses before might understand the stress factor.  Same “numbered” buses can appear, but leading to different venues. Buses timings are not as accurate as trains. We had to double confirm the bus and destination with the bus drivers! (who speaks limited English)

8a)By the way, Didi and Uber apps only work in bigger cities (Nagasaki and Fukuoka).

App was not available in Kumamoto and Oita!

day 1 evening – Mt Aso vicinity

Back to our itinerary. After 2 hour train ride, we reached Aso Station before 7pm. Waited for hotel pickup.

Took a photo of Usopp. You may be keen to find all 8 pieces in Kumamoto. I read somewhere that OnePiece creator wanted to create solidarity with Kumamoto after the earthquake.

Aso Plaza Hotel for one night. We chose this hotel because you can see Mt Aso mountain range from the pool! Unfortunately, the onsen pool is not so fantastic.

By the way, this is Boon Kang’s first onsen experience.

Image credit Aso Plaza Hotel

Onsen and Ryokan worshippers must visit Kurokawa Onsen town.
Some say this is the best Onsen experience in Kyushu.
Take note rooms sold out fast and one night can easily cost $SGD 300+

Kurokawa Onsen and Ryokan (image credit IG)

Day 2 Mount Aso 阿蘇山

The best highlights of our 8D7N Kyushu are from Mount Aso. Self drive is highly recommended, as the attractions are spread all over. No trains here, only buses, and frequency can be every 45 minutes.

(Kumamoto 熊本 has two main parts, near Mount Aso and Kumamoto downtown).

I had initially wanted to take public transport for Mount Aso attractions, but gave up. Bad idea if you have time constrains. Too tough to plan the “connecting train/bus”, and little room for mistakes.

We decided to engage agency Explore Kumamoto for a full day private trip. You will see their name when you google Kyushu attractions and tours. Helen (our guide) was friendly and highly knowledgeable.

Google Map below help me to plot our interests (Daikanbo, Kusasenri 草千里ケ浜, Takachiho Gorge, Amaterasu Railway)

Kyushu Mount Aso map

Day 2 was a cool winter 12 degrees instead of 8 degrees, making our walks very comfortable. From the top of Daikanbo, we look down at the valley below.

Imagine. We are on ground level. Previous volcanoes activities have sunken the grounds infront of us!

We all know Japanese are friendly. I saw this mini Honda S2000 (look alike) and requested permission to take a photo. The driver exited the car and gestured me to go ahead!

So embarrassing and I kept nodding and “Konichiwa and Arigato” to him.

Kumamoto is famous for horse and cow sashimi! We opt out 🙂
But we did try fried horse croquette at a famous store (Aso Torimiya).

My own opinion. So so, I might have enjoyed my potato croquette more :p

The highlight of our tours are always about volcanoes and cauldrons. 17 volcanos to be exact! Including the mini volcano (Komezuka) in photo below.

One of my favourite spot was at 草千里 Kusanseri. As you drive around, you will see grazing cows and horses on the dry brown pastures.
Imagine vast green pastures over the horizon during Spring.

The few photos of Kyushu Mount Aso attractions (in this post) do not do justice to the beautiful sceneries. Click on links (end of page) for the photo albums of each day.

Mount Aso attractions Kyushu

Everyone knows about mystical Takachiho Gorge, but I felt Amaterasu Railway experience was better! (These two attractions are near to each other.)

You can smell Ramen extract during the ride. Relive your childhood memories, take more photos of valleys and old mining tracks.

(Trains only run 8 or 10 trips per day, 30 minutes to and fro)

You will see more of Mount Aso and nearby attractions on our YouTube clip.

Next, we headed to the famous Takachiho Gorge. Take more photos, the waterfall and the natural wall sculptured by years of seismic activities.

During peak periods, car park space will be limited. You might even need to book your boats in advance. Take note rowing experience will set you back by 4100 Yen or 5100 Yen (about SGD 50 per boat).

I would prefer to spend the money on food.

We noticed many “stickers” on these mini shrines. It seems like Japanese folks will paste their stickers to indicate the shrines/shintos they have visited in Japan. (quest)

Tips. For waterfall fans, you can try these three spots in Kumamoto. Easy to drive there but tough to reach with public transport. (Nabegataki Falls, Koga Falls and Harajiri Falls)

We bid Zoro (OnePiece) and Mount Aso farewell.

Kumamoto is famous for their Garlic Ramen. We love Kokutei 黒亭!

Kumamon home town is in Kumamoto, and this bear is promoting Japanese tourism. There is a Kumamon museum (Square) too!

Day 3 Kumamoto city

Stayed one night at The New hotel, Kumamoto.
We have a short morning to explore Kumamoto city.

Trams are the main transport option for the city. Nostalgia for tourists.

Kumamoto suffered from a serious earthquake in 2016. Many sites are still rebuilding. We see Japanese resilience in every corner 💪🇯🇵
Kumamoto castle ruins and rebuilding

We walked around Kumamoto Castle (above photo), and noticed that many sections had crumbled during the 2016 earthquake.

Rebuilding is literally piece by piece and will take decades to complete. Gosh, the walls are high!

While researching for Kumamoto, I was impressed with citizen’s resilience post earthquake. Video below was taken a day after the earthquake!

Authorities were deciding whether to postpone the launch of Kyushu Shinkansen, but decided to went ahead. All the folks along the line (all volunteers) came out to cheer the line, and themselves! (加油!)

You can also admire Kumamoto Castle’s splendor from the 14th floor of Kumamoto City Hall (free entrance).

If time permits, I would have explored more of Kumamoto city, especially Suizenji park. But more things await across at Shimabara.

If time permits, tourists would normally stay near the castle.
Tip, you can visit two more OnePiece statues nearby, Monkey D. Luffy and Chopper. (Google Map walking directions)

9)Onwards to Shimabara (Nagasaki). By Ferry

Took a cab to catch our ferry (no trains and infrequent buses).
30 minutes ferry is the fastest way to reach Nagasaki Shimabara.

(Ferry schedules and ticket details here.)

If you only plan to visit Nagasaki downtown, you might consider taking train and loop North (about 3hr train ride)

Hungry seagulls greeted our Ferry ride from Kumamoto to Shimabara. I am not sure whether the seagulls are available throughout all seasons.
If you are taking the ferry, go outside and watch them fly alongside the ferry! You can buy feeds too. (Refer YouTube clip 8.30min for seagull feeding)
For those driving, you can roro from Kumamoto to Nagasaki too. Just ensure that you reach earlier (1 or 2 hours?) to onboard your car (and security checks).

10)Two cute attractions at Shimabara.

Try to get three Shibas to pop out of the holes! Unfortunately, they were snoozing when we dropped by. (Catch the three cute shibas on YouTube here)

Carps are swimming along some of the drains! Water must be so clear and clean. Shimabara area is a small suburb and we enjoyed exploring the neighbourhood. (More attractions listed on Google Map)

Shimabara Castle moat.

From Shimabara, we travel 1hr 45 minutes North then West towards Nagasaki station. If time permits, you might wish to grab a photo at a sea-facing station at “Omisaki Station“.

Day 3 evening – Our first capsule stay at Nagasaki downtown. First & Business Class (capsules) for two nights.

First Cabin Nagasaki. This is an upsized capsule hotel. You get a bit more headroom but width is the same. If you book online directly, you can choose “First Class” for more space.

Photo below, Kang got a normal “Business Class”. He does not look impressed.

Capsules are different from hostels. In Japan, guests are not supposed to make any noises inside the capsules or corridors. (What about alarms or snores?)

Guests are encouraged to mingle at the pantry area.


11)Let us talk about Food options and pricing in Japan

Most affordable food (and still delicious) are bentos and options from convenience stores. (7-11, FamilyMart, Lawson etc)

300 to 500 Yen Bento set

Craving for McDonald’s? 700 to 1000 Yen for a meal. In previous posts, I always mention that you should try pork burgers overseas 🙂

Cafes or restaurant meals (and cafes) will cost 1000 to 2000 Yen.

I love the quaint and friendly cafes in Japan. The staff and bosses are mostly friendly and accommodating (even when they are not proficient in English).

(photo below from cafe’平井)

Wagyu beef 4000++ Yen (Yakiniku pure)

Unagi 3000 to 5000 Yen. (魚荘)

Those indulging in Omakase can expect to foot 8000++ Yen for the experience.

Those visiting Fukuoka can try Yatai cuisine (street food). Tiny stores, packed with customers and yummy food. Take note it is not street food price, each meal can easily cost 2000++ Yen (not including liquor).

Day 4 Nagasaki city tour

Nagasaki Spectacles Bridge

I actually prefer Nagasaki to Fukuoka. It is not your usual traditional Japanese city. But you can definitely feel the lively vibes within the city.

In fact Nagasaki was one of the first cities to open to the world (trade and culture exchange through Meiji and Edo period).

I just cannot pinpoint why I prefer Nagasaki to Fukuoka. (Try to find the heart shaped stone at Spectacles Bridge).

I suspect there are too many temples, shrine and shintos in my itinerary 🙂

Those in Japan will notice these cute K cars zipping around. Maybe it is a lifestyle option, or perhaps Japan families have shrinked.

Each K car is worth 1,000,000 Yen about SGD 10,000) (Still not enough to cover SG COE, so sad)

You will hear Pork belly buns and Castella cakes are famous in Nagasaki. You can find Castella cake in most Kyushu souvenir shops too. (we got it from Fukusaya Main Store)

Coming from Singapore (or Malaysia), the pork belly is meh ( overated). Our 扣肉包 (kong4 bak4 bao1) is more juicy and fatty. Castella cake is like butter cake, but fluffier.

Our second onsen at Fuku no yu (稲佐山温泉). Imagine soaking and enjoying a night city view as you soak. (but the glass panel always mist up.)

Free shuttle buses are available to pick you up the hill.

Our Nagasaki photos are on our Facebook albums. Refer to the links at end of blog post.

Day 5 Atomic Museum and Peace Park(rated 4.5/5)

We stayed two nights in Nagasaki. On the last day, we covered Atomic Museum and Nagasaki Bio Park.

You can see how we travel North from Nagasaki towards Bio Park, Saga and towards Fukuoka on our Google Map link.

Somber experience at Peace Park, and Atomic museum. I spent three hours at the museum.
Below photo is hypocenter of the atomic bomb. The top of the “black pillar” was where the bomb detonated.

Peace statue. Conveying Nagasaki and Japan’s wish for Peace (and nuclear free) world. Those who study history would know Hiroshima was bombed, before Nagasaki.

The museum at Hiroshima is more crowded, but people who have been to both museums prefer Nagasaki museum’s intimate touch points.

You will see doves (symbolising peace) everywhere.

The valley of old Nagasaki where the bomb wrecked devastation. Everything within was flatted.

Replica (and cross section) of the Atomic bomb which fell on Nagasaki.

Visitors will see photos and documentation of devastation across the city.

I remembered one before/after photo of Nagasaki city.
The landscape was flattened after the bomb.

The stories of lost and torn families moved me to tears. Poems of remaining families…..

Day 5 Nagasaki Bio Park(rated 5/5)

If you love animals, Nagasaki Bio Park will keep you engaged for half a day. No need to visit any other pet cafes.
Location is a bit off if you do not drive. There is a free 20 minutes shuttle bus from Huis Ten Bosch station (reservation needed).
We were there for the adorable capybaras, who are supposed to have their own hot springs! Many enclosures allow for close interactions.
Photo below, we highly recommend you to buy ticket for Zoo + Paw 2,300 Yen (adult fee).

Super adorable capybaras! They really enjoy their onsen, and they have a  personalised heater too! (YouTube video link and Facebook photos)

Guests can feed the always-hungry capybaras. Each feed costs 500 Yen.

Cute capybaras Japan Zoos

For smaller kids, the PAW enclosure will be FUN!
Imagine touching and feeding endless guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs and many other small creatures!

After Nagasaki Bio Park, we headed towards Fukuoka for our last stop (city).

You will bypass Huis Ten Bosch theme park (next to station with same name). This is popular with families and famous for night illuminations.

12)For those who drives, refer below Google Map for attractions in Saga, Kurume and Yanagawa (boating and best Unagi).

I would strongly recommend Yūtoku Inari Shrine. This is one of the most iconic shintos in Japan. Refer our Google Map for more details.

*13) I would strongly recommend fruit picking near Kurume and Yanagawa. This Fruits picking link shares farms and fruits availability based on seasons.

Day 6 Fukuoka

Fukuoka 福岡 for 3 nights.

After checkin in, we walked to the famous Ichiran building. No queues outside, but expect the queues to go up to 4th or 5th storey inside!


Please pay and queue 45 mins for the Ramen.

Bought some Donki souvenirs. Some Donki branches are open 24 hours.

We stayed 3 nights at The Breakfast Hotel Nakasu(there are two Breakfast hotel in Fukuoka).
In between two hubs (Hakata and Tenjin stations), easy access to Nakasu neighbourhood. The other lifestyle hub would be at huge Canal City Hakata.

Compared to the other prefectures, Fukuoka exudes sophistication and offers plenty of shopping and experiences. Imagine, all the best food of Kyushu can be found in Fukuoka

day 7 Fukuoka breakfast

Our hotel is famous for their breakfast. You will see from the photos below. We enjoyed superb hospitality at the hotel too. Super friendly staff and a 7×24 complimentary pantry!

Complimentary Coffee or chocolate after a cold walk is always appreciated.

Simple yet elegant fare from our hotel. Using fresh produce from Fukuoka, you can try to follow the template for the perfect “plating”.

I enjoyed my breakfast, even though I could not understand most of the ingredients. Thank you.

On day 1, we landed in Fukuoka and went clockwise to Beppu, Mount Aso, Kumamoto, Shimabara, Nagasaki and back to Fukuoka (3 nights).

Many take day trips from Fukuoka to Beppu or Mount Aso. Kagoshima is 1hr 45 minutes by Shinkansen. Airport is only 15 minutes + away from Hakata station.

You would notice there are many Koreans in Fukuoka!
Busan is only 3 hours away by boat.

Day 7 DazaIfu

Woke up early and headed to Dazaifu (太宰府). There are too many Guan Yin and Buddha places of worship in Fukuoka. I chose Dazaifu as it was the most popular, and there is an interesting street food. (you might prefer the sleeping Buddha Nanzoin)

The old trees(centuries old) and red bridges are also attractive and instagramable.

Do take a 10 minutes detour to visit the glass facade of Kyushu National Museum. Love the green hilly reflections.

I mentioned street food. You will see an iconic Starbucks (queue too long). Try the Mochi red bean, and optional chicken burger.

Famous Starbucks Dazaifu Kyushu

You can spot more Dazaifu and Fukuoka photos in our Facebook albums (here and here).

Day 8 Fukuoka food food food shop shop

Tenjin station and mall

Fukuoka is the capital city of Kyushu. So naturally, every prefecture’s famous dishes are also represented in the city.

They even designate a whole fifth floor on Canal City Hakata for Ramen stores!

14)You would notice that every Fukuoka itinerary will have a Canal City stopover.

If you are clueless where to go, Canal City can keep you busy for half day easily. Shop, Eat, Experience.

Photo above is from Umaya (Canal City).
Below Sushi train is from  Kura Sushi (くら寿司 博多中洲店).

More cafes hopping. Muji 無印良品 was a surprise treat.

We visited a famous Tempura Hirao chain too. Fresh ingredients and delicious cuisine.

Google Yatai and you will see concentration along Nakasu(5 minutes walk from Canal City) and Tenjin station.

I have only listed 50% of our Fukuoka food hunt, everything else is in our Facebook albums 🙂

Below Gundam photo was from their regular fountain feature show.

Fukuoka sightseeing led me to the most happening manga and cosplay shop at MANDARAKE. Three storeys of toys, comics and weird costumes (LGBT too).

Japanese are very accustomed to all queer stuffs, but tourists will be very curious!

Those who visit Lalaport are there for the large Gundam statue! There are lifestyle shopping and cuisines too.

I did not visit Gundam Park due to time restrictions.( Gundam fans please do not repeat my mistake.)

Fukuoka is well designed for walking. Many attractions are close to each other.

Tochoji Temple looks grand and the wooden Buddha is imposing.

This mask at the entrance of the shrine (Kushida Jinja) is meant to welcome the new Spring.

Weather is too cold for me to cycle or jog. I did the next best thing, brisk walk to Fukuoka Castle ruins and Ohori park.

Fukuoka Castle is a popular site during the Sakura season. Ohori park is just a normal park, packed with joggers, cyclists and families.

*Best Sakura spots in Fukuoka.
–> https://www.facebook.com/reel/601913908179631

Additional Kyushu tips

15) (Updated Apr 2023 Japan will remove all Covid border measures on 08 May 2023)

Visit Japan Web – Covid and Customs online declaration. Please fill in this form before you arrive in Japan. (updated as Feb 2023)

16) Japan Official Travel App

16a)If taking public transport, download Japan Official Travel app. In countryside, GoogleMap might not be helpful (or accurate) for bus navigation.


*17) Additional Google Map tips and hacks

Plotting your own itinerary is fun and tiring. You can cluster nearby attractions together. Refer to our clockwise Kyushu Itinerary map here. (viewing experience is better on Desktop)

You may pop by our previous post about Google Map hacks here. https://sengkangbabies.com/holiday/google-map-hacks

18) YouTrip debit card (or Wise)
-Withdrawal from ATM (Master or Visa friendly). Admin fee applies.
-Take note different ATMs might have different withdrawal cap (some might limit to 50,000 Yen only)
-Just topup amount needed, YouTrip can do auto conversion for you

Payment (and withdrawal) with YouTrip card is generally cheaper than credit cards.

(Recommend to LOCK your Youtrip card when not in use)

19)eSims or wireless wifi

I used eSim from icard (icc) website. Cheap, easy to setup and I can reload for future trips. Only families and groups might still prefer wifi-router.(some countries eg Malaysia might cap at 2Gb per day only).

20)Weather forecast

Snow or storm, forecasts will help you plan your journey.
Accu Weather is useful for us, use the Radar function to estimate wind and rain directions.

Although we visited Kyushu during Winter, there were still patches of rains around the island.

Weather forecasts (and fog) might determine your ropeway and Ferry trips Go or NoGo too.

21)Japan Echo App for luggage

It is very inconvenient to lug your luggages wherever you go. Rolling down train stations (or trying to find the lifts) will take up a lot of time and efforts too.

The best option is to leave your luggage in a locker. But lockers (especially for big pieces of luggages) are always in short supply. Try Echo App to hunt for alternate luggage storage nearby.

Take note each luggage might cost 600 to 800 Yen per storage. This will add up substantially after a few stopovers.

Japan Echo App for luggage

*22)All our itinerary and points-of-interests have been added to our customised Google Map (Google Map link)

We hope to Hike or Cycle Kyushu in the near future.

Our 8D7N Kyushu Itinerary YouTube video

Click for More photos from our 8D7N Kyushu itinerary:

Day 1 Fukuoka to Aso
* Day 2 Mt Aso and Takachiho Gorge
Day 3 Kumamoto city, Shimabara Nagasaki
Day 4 Nagasaki and Atomic Museum
Day 4 pm Nagasaki Bio Park
Day 5-7 Fukuoka
More Fukuoka photos


Read our previous Japan itinerary here:
Kamakura Day trip (from Tokyo), and Enoshima Island
Gokart (Mario Kart) in Shibuya!
Sento (bath house)
Tokyo Itinerary

11D10N Malaysia Road Trip

We did a Malaysia road trip to Penang in Dec 2022.

The original plan was to do a round-island drive in Malaysia, which would have brought us to Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and back South.

Do check out our YouTube link.

I keep wondering why it took us so long to do a road trip in Malaysia. There are plenty of interesting attractions, and good food all around. And good exchange rates! We are looking forward to more road trips in the future.

All our Malaysia road trip photos have been uploaded to Facebook.
The links for the photos are at the end of this blog post.

We had to skip the “eastern side” of Malaysia  due to monsoon and flood concerns. Before this trip, the furthest we had driven was up to Ipoh.

Malaysia Road Trip

You can check out our hotel and pitstops in below Google Map links. Many other attractions are added as points-of-interest (POI).

Driving Malaysia Road trip (1) (SG to Penang)
Driving Malaysia Road trip (2) (Penang to JB)

We will only be sharing the summary of our 11D10N road trip in this post. It is a long post, and I might try to add more details in the daily trips/logs.

Day 1 JB to Klang

—Day Zero 0km, JB to Klang—

As the causeway jams are unpredictable, we decided to stay one night in Mount Austin (JB). It would be demoralising to start our Malaysia road trip with a three-hour jam at the causeway.

Breakfast was Prawn Noodle at Butterworth Boy Prawn noodle (rated 3.5/5). This has good umami broth, but might be too 重口味.  We did reach the real Butterworth when we exited Penang and drove towards Kedah.

Prawn Noodle Johor

—Day One, 150km Muar—

Brought them to visit two otak stalls, which are famous in Muar.
Daily Happy has a instagramable house in the back alley. We thought XiaoMei 小妹 would grill otak but both stalls only sold frozen otak. I heard only Otak-Otak Cheng Boi, 阿梅 pre-heats their otak.

By the way, Malaysias Otak and Singapore Otah refer to the same thing.

Landmark rickshaw at the boundary of Johor and Malacca states.

Muar rickshaw landmark

—260km Rembau Petronas

A near empty tank forced us to exit North south highway (before R&R) to a town surrounded by mountain views.

Rembau is misty and surreal! (nearer to Port Dickson).
Full tank 48l for RM186 (SG full tank would be SGD 160 to 180!)

—400km Klang Play! for one night—

First hostel stay for family. Had wanted to expose them to hostel dynamics, and perhaps some interactions with other guests.

Cosy setting for a good rest, nearby food and attractions were within 1 to 2km walking distance.

Klang Bak Ku Teh

Klang 巴生 is famous for Bak Ku Teh. I could easily count 30 to 40 stalls in Klang!

However, most will close by 3pm, we settled for Four eyes BKT (rated 3.5/5). Dry version is good, soup version too oily.

—Day 2, Klang to Setiawan 实兆远—

(Rated 4.5/5) Chong Kok kopitiam (中国)

Love the old-school coffeeshop, the humble nasi lemak  is the bomb (the chili!)

Traditional Malaysia Nasi Lemak

Before heading to the next stop, I pop by Guan Yin temple to seek some blessings.

Tabao Regent Pandan Layer cake(Rated 5/5).

Famous Pandan cake Klang

—Day 2, 480km Sekinchan—

Sekinchan for pit stop,  golden padi fields and mango awaits.
Many folks have not heard of beautiful Sekinchan yet, do read our previous reviews of Sekinchan in “2018“and bonus “Sky mirror“.

Sekinchan padi fields


We drove to Menara Condong Teluk Intan for the leaning tower (ODO 550km).

Famous Telok Intan tower Perak

Randomly ordered nasi kandar lunch at “Nasi Kandar Krishnan“.  Packaging and stall does not look appealing, but it was one of the best food experiences for me (during road trip).

Delightful gravy and meat lovers will love the grill/charred chicken and lamb. All under RM10. And Kids ordered Mcdonalds :p

Malaysia Nasi Kandar

Before reaching Sitiatown, we detour to a famous Tua Pek Kong temple.

Sitiawan Tua Pek Kong temple

—ODO 620km Checkin Apple Suites Hotel for second night—

The famous 光饼 “Sitiawan Cheong Cia Gong Pian” is just 150m away.
Ordered two big (onion and pork) and two small (onion only).

Delightful snack, pork fragrance. Resembles Taiwan Raohe’s 胡椒饼.

Sitiawan 光饼

Me and Mrs went for a quick massage, followed by pizza dinner. Sitiawan (实兆远) is a small town, normally bypassed for Taiping.

Sitiawan is also famous for 红糟面线 (red rice wine mee sua).
Our family gave it a miss, but you can try these two popular stalls, Seng Jee Chan Cafe and Nan Wah Kopitiam.

—Day 3 Sitiawan to Penang—

Trong Leisure Farm was an interesting detour for us. We get to cuddle and feed ducklings. You can peddle the duck boats, or choose to stay at the chalets too.

If turtles are your thing, do pop by Segari Turtle Sanctuary (hatchlings release not guarantee).

Duck farms Malaysia

—ODO 700km, reach Taiping 太平—

Taiping will be our lunch stop. We are only 100km from destination Penang Georgetown.

Taiping is famous for Taiping Lake Gardens, and reputed as a 雨城 (rain town!)

But we were fortunate to enjoy clear and windy weather, and scenic lakes. From a distance, clouds and mountains seem to surround Taiping town.

Beautiful Taiping Lake

So far, we had taken the roads less travelled. Most drivers on North South Highway (NSHW) will simply bypass these interesting towns and attractions.

Example, Perak is not only about Ipoh. State of Perak is not small and includes Kuala Kurau, Sitiawan, Taiping and Telok Intan. Cameron Highlands is near (but in Pahang state).

Back to Taiping, we found a food gem at “Pusat Makan Taman Tasik”  food court. Please order the pork soup noodle (comes with bitter gourd).

Pork Katsu don is nice too, and many tables ordered Bak Ku Teh.

From Taiping, we headed towards a scenic coastal drive near to Kuala Kurau. Kuala Kurau is famous for its old fishing village and settlement.

We were supposed to visit an old temple (蓝啅公) and old yellow pedestrian bridge, but had to skip due to time constraint.

—ODO 750km, towards Pantai Ban Pecah

Enjoy the coastal view and breeze as we cruised along (refer Youtube clip 4:26min)

We headed to Penang new bridge and braced the jams nearer to Georgetown. This winding bridge is 14km long!

Penang Bridge distance

Before checkin, we enjoyed some pancakes at Bean Sprout Café. Chill cafe decorations, kids love the waffle and me Flat White.

Penang Bean sprout Cafe pancake

—ODO 860km Checkin Granite Luxury Hotel for 3 nights—

In hindsight, we should have opted for 2 nights in Penang and extend more time to explore Kedah.

Anyway, Penang offers glorious food and attractions for a chill stay 🙂

Recommend Penang hotels

Look at the Hotel photo above, our car is somewhere up there (car lift), and there is an infinity swimming pool.

No1 reason why we chose this hotel is Location. We were within walking distance to attractions and F&B nearby. Refer our Google Map links (1) and (2)

Penang attractions

Be it street food, restaurants or attractions, if we spot anything with good Google Reviews or long queues, we will visit.

Penang Char Koay Teow

We actually prefer guilty street food over cafes. Char Kway Teow (photo above) paired with duck eggs, and we found the best oyster omelette at ‘Sih Jing San Coffeeshop’ (rated 5/5!)

We tried to avoid over-touristy streets as it would be crowded. (eg Gurney Drive). But for newbies, Gurney would have every good stuff under one “roof” 🙂

Penang street food

Oo White Coffee Cafe scored 5/5 for us too.
The coffee, toast bread and the Loo beef noodles (nested inside Oo)!

Lunch Chao Xuan teochew porridge (rated 4/5) . After so much street food, we needed something light, porridge. Ordered platter so we can taste a bit of everything.

We pop by Corgi & The Gang Pet Cafe (rated 4.5/5) to say hello to four legged friends.

First floor is for smaller dogs, and second floor houses 6 to 9 huskies.
Check out more doggie clips from our YouTube 5min40s.

Cover drink is required per entrance, there is a RM15 surcharge for those going to second floor. The money and experience is worth it.

Penang pet cafes

*Scroll down to the end of blogpost for the photo links (URL) for each day.

On a side note, we were using Grab to move around in Penang. Grab fees are cheap, we do not have to worry about finding parking spots.

However, we might have downloaded three different parking apps by the time we reach Ipoh! (There is No universal Malaysia parking app, yet)

Malaysia Parking apps

Penang Street Art, behaving like tourists 🙂
Kids are not so eager to pose anymore, so only parents need to model :p

Penang Street Art

Amazing beverage at Kopi Peng Famous Aunty. Low profile push-kart style, but the ice cold drinks are popular with locals.

Each huge packet can fill 2, 3 cups! (rated 5/5).

Durian Central (rated 4/5) for some desserts. You might hazard a guess why I grew an extra 2kg over the road trip to Malaysia. Too much good food.

Solid, creamy bitter sweet Musang Durians.

This is sinful. I woke up 0630 to grab Chowrasta pork porridge (fried pig innards + kopi+油条) before we left Penang. (rated 3.5/5, the others decline this fragrant dish)

Not many are accustomed to oily breakfast anymore 重口味. Bye memories!

Penang Pork porridge

—Day 6, Kedah then youturn to Ipoh—

“Tugu Sampan Tsunami Kuala Muda” captured the damage left by the 2004 Tsunami. The destroyed boats are stacked into a memorial.

Kedah is a huge agriculture state with plenty of padi fields.  But we have barely scratched the surface.

Langkawi, Alor Star (capital) would have more sights and attractions, including famous “菜脯魚” (cai4 po4 fish)

Kedah, Perlis and we will touch Thailand. This will be our bucket list 🙂
More green fields!

Kedah Padi Fields

Lunch at 大山脚芋饭专卖店. (rated 5/5)

The yummy yam rice is the main attraction, add some side dishes to make your meal fulfilling. This is comfort food for me.

Penang Yam rice

Fyi, 大山脚 is next to Butterworth. Both towns are underrated. Most folks would only know Georgetown (Penang).

Coffee break at Coffee Cottage (rated 5/5). This place is out of the way and not even on the main road. First chanced upon this cafe from a cycling YouTuber!
Besides the nice desserts, there are many Instagramable corners!

Coffee Cottage photos

We drove another 120km to reach our Ipoh hotel.

—ODO 1100km D eastern for 2 Nights—

Our hotel is located near to central location. Walking distance to nearby food and attractions (Octagon “home-stay” is nearer but sold out)

Visitors to Penang and Ipoh would identify the different languages used in both cities. Ipoh is Cantonese and Penang Hokkien (higher pitch).

Similar to Penang, there are plenty of good food to fill your breakfast, lunch and dinner. I suspect my weight gain (2 kg) came from these two venues.

White coffee (白咖啡) at Kedai Nam Heong and Sin Yoon Loong. Nam Heong’s coffee is slightly more bitter.

There are at least eight coffee shops along the same street, white coffee quality is above average.  However, tourists will only visit two coffee shops mentioned 🙂 (both rated 5/5 for novelty and good food)

Ipoh white coffee

Follow your nose to ‘Little Bee bakery’ (rated 5/5). This low-profile bakery enjoys a steady stream of customers. The freshly baked breads are both pretty and delicious. We went back twice.

For lunch, we indulged in Dim Sum (点心).

We chose Ming Court Hong Kong dim sum (rated 4.5/5) this round. There are three famous Dim Sum eateries along the street.

The Chee Cheong fun (fresh prawn ingredients) is the best.

Wash down your meals with cool refreshing soya bean beverages. The queues (humans and cars) at Funny Mountain never STOP! (rated 5/5)

While the Mrs went shopping (Ipoh Parade),  I went jogging to explore the older town area. I need to jog off excess calories too.

Kinta Riverwalk runs along the river. This spot will be a busy F&B hub in the evenings.

Jogging in Ipoh is also a good way to catch the mural arts.

Ipoh’s grand old KTM train station.

Love these old school shops, so nostalgic.

In Ipoh, we must try their chicken and juicy bean sprouts (豆芽 tau3 geh2).  There are at least three famous stalls side by side.  Rice balls are over-rated for us..

Famous Ipoh food

We left Ipoh with some goodies (土产).

After two nights, we headed to Cheras.

Stop by Sam Poh Tong temple for a prayer.

Google highlighted Slim River’s Chuan Fong coffee for good coffee. But we love the delightful Yong 3 Tau3 Foo3 (釀豆腐 simple dishes, qq noodles) . The coffee and toast are famous too.

We had to skip Batu caves due to non-stop rain. Rain was there on almost every day of our road trip! (monsoon season)

—Day 8 Odo 1370km, Cheras

Nearer to Cheras (KL Outskirt), jams were ready to welcome us. This town is actually quite near to Genting Highlands

We stayed one night at a friend’s house. Dinner 小炒 at nearby food street and coffeeshop.

Malaysia 小炒

Woke up to a cool breezy wet morning. The rain nearly postponed my hike to Sungai Long. (Pity Family decided to snooze in the cool weather.)

Earlier, I was searching for interesting areas nearby and hiking suits my itinerary. Trailhead to Sungai Long is (GPS 3.0557670, 101.8107269)

After days of rain, the 云海 view (sea of cloud) was amazing! (check out Youtube clip at 13:30min)

Hiking Sungai Long and Sea Clouds

After a short stay at Cheras, we headed towards Malacca.

—Day 9, towards Malacca, bypassing Temiang and Seremban—

Below photo is a popular highway which looks a bit like New Zealand. Pantai Temiang is popular for Instagram and cyclists (slopes beware).

Pantai Temiang photos

We would pass by Seremban (芙蓉) in 15km, before we reach Malacca. Seremban is the capital of Negeri Sembilan, but most will bypass this town along North South Highway.

If you are heading South from KL/Genting towards Johor/Singapore, you will keep seeing Seremban in the Green signboards.

Map below shows popular food in Seremban.

亚洲烧包 (Siew Pow Master) was supposed to be most popular in Malaysia. But I prefer JB’s 明安 (Ming2 An1).

Famous Seremban food

From Seremban, Malacca is only 90km from Seremban.


—ODO 1540kM Malacca for 1 night—

We touched Malacca when we were driving North. We are familiar with Malacca’s eating spots. One night at Jonker Boutique Hotel.

Location location Location! Jonker Walk is just downstairs and there is complimentary carpark.

(Regulars will appreciate the dedicated parking lots, it is very hard to find parking space in Jonker’s one-lane roads).

No1 Wei took a bus from Larkin to meet us in Malacca. Kids have all grown up and can do their own travel and navigation.

Load up more food and desserts before the next stop (JB).

The Daily Fix Cafe never disappoints. Nice egg benedict and delightful pandan pancake (cafe rated 4.5/5).

Malacca cafes Daily fix

Bibik House Chendol (rated 3.5/5) is one of the famous dessert stalls in Malacca. But the  “Gula Melaka” was too sweet for us.

Malacca Cendol

Breakfast at Bak Kut Teh Teo Chew (Rated 5/5).
If you can only afford one Bak Ku Teh in Malacca, this is the ONE!

If stall is close, you can try “山城肉骨茶 Shan Cheng Bak Kut Teh“.
We enjoyed the dishes during our last cycle trip (cycling 250km from Singapore to Malacca).

Malaysia Bak Ku Teh

Malacca downtown is suitable for walking, cafe hopping, or just people watching.

While the Mrs went souvenir shopping, my white coffee accompanied me.

—Day 10, Last night in Mount Austin —

Due to time and rain, we skipped Kluang and Pontian, and head directly towards JB.

But first, Tangkak beef noodle (rated 4/5)

Take note there are two stalls selling beef noodles in Tangkak, both have good reviews. Our beef noodle did not disappoint, tender with rich broth (no msg detected).

Tangkak Beef noodles

Only one complaint, there are a lot of flies.

—ODO 1760km Last night in Mount Austin —

We decided to rest one more night in JB, instead of braving the causeway jams. We are in our familiar Mount Austin neighbourhood again.

良晨 Chaya Kopi (rated 4/5) threw up a surprise for me. The dry mee siam was surprisingly good. Just take note of the spiciness.

Malaysia dry Mee Siam

With Mee siam, we ended our epic 11D10N road trip.
My weight increased 2kg for this trip!

-Additional tips for those considering Malaysia road trips-

1) Security is still the primary concern for many of us. Do not expose your valuables in your vehicles, and maybe add a tracker for your car.

We do have an Apple Airtag. Touchwood in case our car is hijacked (by non-Apple thief :p ), we might have a chance to trace our car (realtime).

We have shared additional protection measures in an old blog “Driving tips for Malaysia“.



2) In Malaysia, most infamous driving habits seem to be KL and Penang :p
Just nudge along in the jams, no need to horn. If you can survive Causeway jams and cuts, you should be ok :p

It is equally stressful to find carpark space near F&B hotspots 🙂
(but you can choose to Grab or cab)

3) Malaysia is much bigger than Singapore (472 times!). Besides navigation and logistic challenges, another concern would be rain. Especially Monsoon related floods.

The last thing you need is to be stuck in a trunk road due to floods. This will put your family’s safety at risk and jeopardise your itinerary.

It is very common to encounter passing showers along the highways.

3a) Follow MET (Malaysia), AccuWeather (use Radar) for latest forecasts.
We also follow “Publicinfobanjir” for latest flood warnings.
You will also notice that Google Map will add “flood warnings” along your route.

Malaysia flood warning
Malaysia rain forecast MET

4) Since MCO and Covid normalisation, it is getting harder to predict the best window to clear customs at SG and MY side. We are mentally prepared for 2 to 3 hours of jams.

We hope 2026’s RTS (transit) between Singapore and Malaysia will help to ease the jams.

4a)Meanwhile, you can try “Beat the Jam” app.  We can decide either Causeway or Tuas entry/exit based on estimated traffic buildup. Google Map is good for validation.

4b)Another helpful link (below) would help to monitor/visualise current road traffic conditions along main Malaysia highways.


5) We shared the Parking app earlier. You might need a separate app for Johor, Ipoh and Penang. We hope there will be an app to rule them all in the future.

6) All Google Map screenshots above are plotted from our Google Map here.
It helps you to understand relative distances, and helps consolidate your itinerary and wish-lists.

Road Trip Map 1

Road Trip Map 2

(The user experience is better from a notebook, instead of mobile phones)

6a) Those who diy own itinerary will understand the tough part is planning the itinerary.

-Too many attractions , too little time
-Where should we stay, central or outskirts? Hotel, Food and shop clusters?
-Shortlisting of accommodations. Hotel or homestays?
-Google Map research for popular F&B and attractions. Points of Interests?
-Distance between towns? Rest points? (We pitstop every 100 to 150km)
-Backup plans. Plan B, Plan C (if traffic jam or rain)… …
-Can we add some fun activities like hiking or cycling?

7) This might sound weird. But my own “Johor” cycling adventures accelerated my Malaysia road trip agenda. Cycling along kampong and trunk roads really exposed the countryside and less touristy corners of Malaysia.

We love the small laid-back towns compared to urban metropolises.

Refer to our 3D2N Malacca cycling post here. It was fellow cyclists who exposed small towns like Telok Intan, Taiping to me 🙂
“Coffee Cottage” is a classic example.

8) What is next for future Malaysia road trips?
– We would like to drive down East Coast (Peninsula Malaysia) from Kelantan South to Terengganu, and Pahang (Mersing) to Desaru.
– Maybe we will drive to Thailand first
– It would be cool to do a Road Trip Malaysia round-island (need 14 days leave)

9) All photos of our 11D10N Malaysia Road trip have already been uploaded on Facebook.  Click on the links below.

Day 1 Jb-Muar-Klang(1n)
Day 2 Klang-Sekinchan-TelokIntan-Sitiawan(1n)
Day 3 Sitiawan-Taiping-KualaKurau-Penang(3n)
Day 4-6 Penang (a), Penang more photos (b)
Day 7 Penang-Kedah-大三脚-Ipoh(2n)
Day 8 Ipoh
-Day 9 Ipoh-Cheras(1n)
Day 10 Cheras-Seremban-Malacca (1n)
-Day 10 Malacca
Day 11 Malacca-Jb

My previous cycling trip to Malacca
ps.. You might be interested in other road trip adventures:
Ipoh 2014
Cameron Highlands 2012
Sekinchan 2018
Malaysia driving tips (and keeping car secure)
New Zealand road trip 2019 (North Island). Drive, Hike, Cycle
Cycling 250km to Malacca 2022