Malaysia Travel Guide

Continent: Asia
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Malaysia Travel Essentials

Ideal Duration: 7-10 days for exploring Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi; 2 weeks for a more extensive visit covering Borneo and the east coast islands

Currency: Malaysian Ringgits (RM)

Best Time: March to October (Dry season for West Coast), May to September (Dry season for East Coast) Read More

Accommodation Cost (per night in USD):
Dorm bed: $5-15
Budget: $20-40
Mid-range: $60-100
Luxury: $120 and above

Budget for Food & Drinks (per day in USD): Budget: $5-15
Mid-range: $20-40

Visa Policy for Indians:
E-visa available or Visa on Arrival for short stays

Visa Policy for Other Nationals:
E-visa or Visa on Arrival for many countries for short stays

Getting In Malaysia:
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), Penang International Airport (PEN) Read More

Getting Around Malaysia:
Trains, buses, Grab (ride-hailing), rental cars Read More

"Truly Asia"

Malaysia Tourism

A potpourri of all things Asian, Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. An intriguing blend of diverse wildlife, idyllic islands, magnanimous mountains, rainforests, and rich culinary landscape makes it one of the most visited tourist places in Asia. 

The multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual country is divided into two regions by the South China Sea - Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Surrounding these territorial boundaries are stunning islands and an array of landscapes. Due to the immensity of beaches and vivid marine life, Malaysia also offers excellent scuba diving spots. Once a part of the Federation of Malaysia, Singapore is linked with a narrow causeway and bridge which makes it a popular destination to combine during a trip to Malaysia.

Malaysia, meaning the "Land of Malays", is a federation of 13 states and 3 federal territories divided into the two regions. It is the only country with territory on both the Asian mainland and Malaysia archipelago. The amalgamation of diverse inhabitants has led Malaysia to lead a varied lifestyle as well; from food and festivities to art and culture.

Lined with vibrant markets and fascinating museums, the land of the renowned Jimmy Choo also has a sophisticated shopping scene from street shopping to extravagant malls. Food in Malaysia is an inspiration of neighboring culinary, with recipes imported and modified from the other eclectic Asian countries. Having one of the most comprehensive road networks in Asia, whizzing around Malaysia is just a matter of minutes. Pulsating with a spectacular mix of people, cultures, and landscapes, Malaysia is waiting to be explored.

Best time to visit Malaysia

The best time to visit Malaysia is between March to early October. When one can avoid the worst of the rains, and there is comparatively less humidity during this period. The weather in Malaysia is said to be hot and humid throughout the year with short spells of rain. The temperature in Malaysia us... (Read More)

Holidify's opinion on Travel to Malaysia

What's Great about Travelling to Malaysia?

The Asian cuisine, the mesmerizing islands and the natural beauty of this place.

What's Not So Great about Travelling to Malaysia?

You would come across litterings and dirty corners or patches even in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the cities in Malaysia are also somewhat littered in parts.

Who should Travel to Malaysia?

People who want to dig into Asian cuisine. Beach lovers. Adventure seekers. Family vacationers.

Read More on Malaysia Travel

Exchanging Money in Malaysia

The local currency of Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit or MYR. Also abbreviated to RM, one Ringgit is divided into 100 sens. It is usually written as RM, followed by the denomination. Paper note denominations commonly used include RM 1, RM 5, RM 10, RM 20, RM 50, and RM 100. Coins are issued for five sen, ten sen, 20 sen, and 50 sen. 
  • Travellers can exchange currency at money changers, banks, select hotels and malls. However, remember that airports, hotels and banks charge high commission fees for the exchange.
  • Money changers are an excellent option for exchanging a large amount of currency.
  • All transactions beyond RM3000 require a valid ID proof. 
  • It is advisable to exchange MYR (Malaysian Ringgit) to either USD or EUR before departing from Malaysia as MYR is non-internationalised and it cannot be exchanged anywhere outside the country.
  • ATMs are widely available in Malaysia.
  • Credit Cards are accepted by most businesses.
Read more about Currency Exchange in Malaysia

Food in Malaysia - Eating Like a Local

Malaysia is a hungry traveller's dream destination. A multi-ethnic country, the food in the region is inspired and shaped over the centuries by Indian, Chinese, European, Indonesian and Muslim influences. The single culinary constant is undoubtedly the noodles! To have the best food in Malaysia, go for the humblest of the surroundings - the countless vendors serving deliciousness from stalls, shophouses and mobile carts. The hygiene standards in Malaysia is among the highest in Southeast Asia.

The local specialities of Malaysia include:
Asam Laksa - Penang's most famous dish, Asam Laksa is thick rice noodles served with a tart, fish and herb broth
Cendol - Fine strings of green bean dough in coconut milk, Cendol is sweetened with palm sugar and topped with shaved ice
Char Kway Teow - Silky rice noodles stir-fried with prawns, sausage, sprouts, eggs and a dash of chilli
Chicken Rice Ball - The unofficial national dish of Malaysia, Hokkien-style chicken and rice combine in form of a small ball
Tuak - Throughout Malaysia, you will find some places serving sugar-palm-based alcohol. Tuak is specially served in Sarawak which is a sticky rice-based booze

Eating Do's & Dont's
  • Wash hands before eating
  • Many Malay restaurants use water from the pot on the table for washing hands
  • Use the right hand for eating
  • Do not offer alcohol or pork to Muslims
  • Don't stick your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice as it symbolises death in Chinese culture
  • Do not refrain from visiting Malaysia during Ramadan month as the Indian and Chinese eateries remain open during the day 
Read more about Food of Malaysia

Shopping in Malaysia

Each region in Malaysia has its own persona when it comes to shopping. The capital city of Kuala Lumpur carries out the most extravagant of all, especially with the city's largest Berjaya Times Square which houses over a thousand stores spread across ten floors. The country also has an array of night markets (called pasar malam) such as Connaught Night Market, Bangsar Baru Night Market, Batu Ferringhi and Sri Petaling Night Market. Bargaining is quite prevalent in the night markets in Malaysia, besides casual haggling that takes place even in street shopping.

Duty-Free Shopping in Malaysia
The Malaysia government provides an incentive to travellers in the form of duty-free shopping. These goods are exempted from import duties and are available in some designated shopping zones. There are over 300 items listed as duty-free in Malaysia which are available nationwide.

Read more about Shopping in Malaysia

Festivals of Malaysia

The diverse nation of Malaysia hosts various religions and cultural festivities across the East and Peninsular Malaysia. There are a separate cultural and religious celebration. Some of the religious festivals include Diwali, Eid, Christmas and Chinese New Year. In contrast, cultural festivities hold a spectrum of events such as the Kaamatan Harvest Festival, Wesak Day, Gawai Harvest Festival and Mooncake Festival. The amalgam of numerous ethnicities has resulted in the endless flavours of the Malaysian melting pot. 

The most unique of all Malaysian celebrations is the Dragon Boat Festival. Besides cultural and religion-based events, Malaysia also observes the Independence day and the birthday of the Sultan.

Read more about Festivals in Malaysia

Hygiene in Malaysia

Though the sanitary conditions in Malaysia are not as flawless as Singapore, the country is still entirely above average when compared to surrounding regions. A good supply of medical needs, consumable tap water and clean street food is the standard hygiene benchmark in the country. However, Kuala Lumpur is relatively unclean. 

The disease rate in Malaysia, although quite minimal, is quite evident. Infections such as malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, food and water-borne diseases, Japanese encephalitis and Rabies are prevalent. It is advisable to take necessary vaccines for diseases like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Yellow Fever and Typhoid before planning a trip to Malaysia. 

  • Ensure to pack ORS and Imodium, just in the case of an emergency
  • Do not use mall washrooms unless there is no other option
  • Although government hospitals are less expensive and qualitatively good, they can be crowded most of the time. Whereas private hospitals are plainly expensive.
  • Cover yourself fully while heading out on a trek, hike or any other outdoor activity to protect yourself from parasites and other deadly insects.

Customs of Malaysia

When in Malaysia, it is vital to be accustomed to their ways of greeting. People of the same sex greet each other with a right-hand shake, whereas, people of the opposite sex greet each other with an acknowledging nod. Malaysians don't have a phrase for "Hello", instead they use "Apa Khabar" which mean "How are you". 

If you want to gift your new Malaysian friend, refrain from gifting or serving any forms of alcohol, pork or beef. Altogether avoid white paper to wrap your gifts as white is considered to be a symbol of death. The best tokens of appreciation or gratitude are chocolates, pastries and home-made food. It is a Malay custom not to open the gift in front of the giver, so don't be disappointed. 

If you happen to visit a Malay family, wait until the eldest sits around the dining as seating is hierarchical in Malaysia. Do not enter a house with your shoes on. Always eat and pass food with your right hand; the left hand is considered to be unclean. Do not leave any food on your plate; it is a sign of disrespect. Toothpicks are a common sight on a Malaysian dining table.

  • Avoid all forms of PDA in Malaysia
  • Do not wear shoes indoors
  • Malaysia expects and appreciates conservative dressing. So avoid revealing and inappropriate clothes.
  • Silence, in Malaysia, is acceptable, as it is quite expected in return for a question. 
  • If you are in Malaysia for an official purpose, it is always a good option to exchange business/visiting cards after your first encounter.
  • Give and receive gifts with both hands
  • Women are greeted first.
  • Malaysians do not possess a surname; instead, they add "bin" or "binti" meaning "son of" or "daughter of" respectively, along with the father's name to their own names.
  • Use the correct pronouns while addressing someone (Mr, Mrs, Ms)
  • It's polite to ask permission before photographing someone. Always ask before taking pictures in a temple or a mosque.

First Time in Malaysia - Tips, Scams and Need to Know

  • Never point out your forefinger, use your thumb instead.
  • Be careful while using credit cards, as there can be a possibility of frauds.
  • Carry an umbrella while heading out, as there are untimely showers.
  • Malaysia has quite a lot of road traffic. So be prepared while travelling within the country.
  • Bargaining is a common practice. Be smart while purchasing as vendors tend to hike up the prices for tourists. 
  • Cover yourself completely while going outdoors such as on hikes and treks as you may contract mosquito-borne illnesses or fever from other insects such as leaches.
  • Although nightlife in Kuala Lumpur is a pretty extravagant scene, it carries a poorer reputation due to the multiple show cancellations based on religious and cultural issues. 
  • Ensure to carry cash for taxis, street shopping and street eateries. 
  • Although the tap water here is drinkable, bottled water is always a better option concerning hygiene and taste. 
  • Do not touch the head of elders. It is considered to be rude.
  • Scams do occur, particularly in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Refrain from wandering alone after hours and in rundown areas of the city.
  • Thieves on motorbike some times target women and grab handbags.
  • Do not leave your belongings unattended on the beach or any public place.
  • Carry a small, sturdy padlock for locking up essentials in a bag.

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