Travelling is all about the journey, so why not try some of these routes to break the monotony.
Federal Route 1 (FT1 Northbound from KL)
When driving either north or southbound, the popular choice for many would be the North-South Highway (PLUS which is a part of the Asian Highway 2) which is one of the best highway systems in the region with regular maintenance, smooth flowing roads with its improved R&R stops located every 60kms.
However, driving on the super efficient highway can cause massive boredom especially when driving southbound. Before the construction of the North-South Highway, the only road that connects the northern, central and southern region of the peninsular is the Federal Route 1 (FT1) or Laluan Persekutuan 1.
This very stretch of road has seen a lot since its inception in 1880, including intense battles between the British army and the Imperial Japanese Army stalling the latter from advancing into Singapore. You can still find clusters of old shop houses and schools of pre-independence Malaya still stand strong along FT1 along side modern buildings.
There’s plenty to see and experience through Malaysia’s oldest stretch of road crossing small and big towns between quaint villages, agricultural plantations, factories and forests. Refuelling is not an issue as well.
However, do bear in mind that when you travel through Malaysia’s first link, travel times can take quite a while which according to motorists who experienced travelling on this route would take up more than 11 hours from KL to Penang. But if it’s taking too much of your time, there are PLUS highway entries and exits located along FT1 as you’ll pass through major towns such as Rawang, Tanjung Malim, Ipoh, Taiping, Butterworth and Alor Setar.
Jalan Genting Peras (Heading towards Titi)
Jalan Genting Peras is one of the go-to roads for those who want to take a stroll and enjoy the cool and refreshing forest wind while passing through small villages and Durian stalls especially when in season. But, it’s not only cars that use this stretch of tarmac; avid cyclists train to climb this challenging hilly road, motorcyclists taking a scenic spirited ride through this stretch of ribbon, and light trucks carrying goods to town.
If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur, the entry to this road is by entering the Lebuhraya Sungai Besi via Jalan Istana or Pandan Indah. Get into Jalan Pandan Mewah and turn off at Jalan Taman Putra to find your way into Jalan Hulu Langat, which you will pass along the now defunct Ampang Lookout Point.
Drive straight all the way and you’ll find yourself at set of traffic lights with a mosque located on your right. Turn right and then turn left which you will head straight to Sememyih dam on Jalan Sungai Tekali (B116). Get on B19 at the junction and drive on B32, from here on, you can chart your way to Seremban or Melaka. This stretch of road crosses between Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
If you’re going to drive on this road, don’t miss out on the offerings that the historic Titi town has to offer, and if you’re an adventurous foodie, then you should be exploring this part of the country, as Titi’s culinary heritage is something not to be missed.
On this route you can get yourself to Broga, LEKAS highway, Semenyih, Seremban and you could head eastbound to Kuantan via Muadzam Shah.
Jalan Kuala Pilah (FT51) and Federal Route 9 (FT9)
If you find Jalan Genting Peras a little challenging to get to, you can also drive south via FT51 and FT9. To get to this picturesque stretch, you can either get there through Seremban town or LEKAS. On this road, you’ll drive over Malaysia’s second tallest bridge that stands at 48 metres tall at Bukit Putus. If you’re into hiking, pack up your hiking gear and exit at 361 as Gunung Angsi Trailhead is located a long this twisty road.
Basically, Jalan Kuala Pilah (FT51) runs through a valley with two hills serving as the backdrop, and the quaint kampung villages and paddy fields completing the road’s picturesque view, which sets the pace, slow, nice and easy to fully appreciate the true Malaysia. However, do keep in mind of motorists dropping by at roadside stalls selling smoked meat.
Go straight all the way and you’ll end up in Kuala Pilah and you’ll have the option to drive to Karak or Tampin. Turn right to head south and this part of FT9 is pretty scenic; here you’ll pass through villages, old factories and you’ll find the state’s oldest petrol station in Johol town.
The 80-year-old Shell station still stands strong and is run by the only Lim Chong Bo who was 70 at the time when Harian Metro interviewed him in 2010. Being the only petrol station located between Tampin and Kuala Pilah, this is the only reliable petrol station to town locals. This is the only glimpse of the past that still stands strong in this digital age.
The road ends at a junction connecting to FT1, which leads into Tampin town. From here you can either head back to Seremban or drive into Melaka town via Alor Gajah from here onwards.
Karak to Kuantan via Federal Route 2 (FT2)
This is one of the best alternative routes to the east coast and the most direct from Kuala Lumpur, but do bear in mind that the Lebuhraya Karak can be especially dangerous especially on the way back to KL after the Karak Tol, so do inspect your car’s brakes and coast downhill with the lowest possible gear engaged.
If there were absolutely not rush, taking the FT2 all the way would be the most adventurous routes you can take. The FT2 runs in parallel with the Karak highway, therefore there’s always an opportunity to skip the toll booths and take the scenic dual carriage way via highway exits at Exit 813B Karak, 816 Lanchang, 821 Chenor, 825 Maran, 827 Sri Jaya, and 830 Gambang.
To enter FT2, you can do so by exiting at 813B Karak, or by driving on Jalan Gombak (FT68), however the latter is frequent by cyclists, locals and truckers bypassing the toll road leading up to Genting Sempah. Also, this stretch of road tends to have landslides during the monsoon season. Once you get on FT2, its smooth sailing all the way through picturesque towns and villages.
That said, there are no lack of eateries, coffee shops and petrol stations lined up along this route. You still have the option to return to the highway by entering via the aforementioned exits.
Going through these scenic routes will not only take you places, but able enjoy the beautiful landscape Peninsular Malaysia has to offer over winding rhythmic roads reserved forests, quaint villages and towns which in a way one of the best ways to experience Malaysia outside of the bustling city.
Using the main toll highways have its conveniences, but lack the scenery, which makes travelling by road exciting in the first place. If you have all the time in the world and time is not a factor, take it easy and enjoy the scenery.
General things to bring with you: A Roadmap (Google Maps or Waze is just as good), power banks, plenty of drinking water, a hunger for culinary adventure, wanderlust and plenty of time to spend.