COUNTRY GUIDE

Malaysia

Malaysia encapsulates the essence of Asia in a package as varied as it is convenient. In addition to some of the world’s oldest rainforests, best beaches and most celebrated cuisine, Malaysia is also incredibly culturally diverse. It’s an off-beat traveller’s paradise fusing Asia’s best attributes with first-rate amenities and infrastructure.

Airlines

International: See below under Arrival in Malaysia

Domestic: 3 domestic airlines are currently operating in Malaysia: Air Asia (AK), Mas Wings (Malaysia Airlines Low Cost carrier) (MH), Firefly (FY), Malindo Air (OD), Cebu Pacific, Tiger Airways, Jetstar, Lion Air, Lucky Air

Airport Tax

There is no airport Tax on arrival or departure in Malaysia.

ARRIVAL IN MALAYSIA

BY AIR  

Consult your local travel agent for routings, fares and availability on flights to Malaysia. Discount websites and flight search engines may offer some good deals. Major airlines flying to Kuala Lumpur include: Malaysian Airlines (MH), British Airways (BA), Air China (CA), Etihad Airways (EY), Emirates  (EK). China Southern (CZ) Turkish Airlines (TK), Qatar airways (QR), Ethiopian Airways (ET), Cathay  Pacific, Singapore Airlines, KLM, Jet Airways. 

FLYING INTO SABAH AND SARAWAK FROM KUALA LUMPUR 

Flights between Kuala Lumpur and Borneo will take approx. 2hours to Kuching and 2 hours 40min to Kota Kinabalu. There are several flights daily making an easy connection between West Malaysia and Borneo Malaysia.  

BY LAND  

Malaysia shares a border with Thailand in the north. If you want to travel between Malaysia and Thailand using the train, then the Padang Besar Border is the best place to go to if you are heading to or from either Penang, Langkawi or Kuala Lumpur from or to Hat Yai in Thailand. At Pedang Besar the train line ends and you will need to change trains and pass through Immigration by foot.

ARRIVAL FORMALITIES

The majority of Western countries will receive permission of entry on arrival for 90 days travel (Single Entry). When travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah or Sarawak you will be required to go through immigration for your passport to receive an entry stamp.  

ATMs

ATMs for withdrawing Malaysian Ringgit are available in major airports, hotels, towns and capitals of provinces throughout Malaysia. Most ATMs have an English language version. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM. Malaysian ringgit is available in denominations of RM1,  RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, and RM100 notes. ATMs usually only dispense denominations of RM50  and RM100.

Clothing

Comfortable lightweight clothing that is breathable and quick drying in natural fabrics is most suitable for travelling in Malaysia as the climate is hot and humid all year around. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. You will also be passing through several Muslim Communities and may have a visit to a mosque where it is required to cover arms and legs.  

A lightweight raincoat is a necessity all year round as daily tropical showers is common throughout the year. An umbrella is also a good idea and can also offer useful shade from the sun. Sturdy shoes that have good soles for walking and are breathable and waterproof or quick drying are recommended.

Do

Explore jungle waterfalls, spot wildlife, stroll pristine white beaches and take in distinct cultural townscapes. Think you know Malaysia? Our custom private tours of Malaysia and Borneo break the mold and exceed your expectations, bringing you carefully crafted itineraries to highlight the country’s most fascinating destinations.

 
3 Days / 2 Nights
Borneo

.

  • Sun Bear Conservation Centre
  • Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Wildlife on lower Kinabatangan River
  • Local fishing village, Kampung Abai
  • Spot firefly colonies around mangroves
3 Days / 2 Nights
Malaysia

Back to Nature - Ulu Muda Escape

  • Discover untouched rainforests of Ulu Muda
  • Up close & personal with wildlife
  • Explore newly discovered limestone caves & saltlicks
  • Cruise down Lake Muda
  • Earth Lodge stay in the middle of dense rainforests
3 Days / 2 Nights
Borneo

Insider Access - Village Homestay in Sukau

  • Homestay with local Orang Sungei
  • Spot wildlife of Kintabagan River
  • Learn about local handicrafts
  • Savour a typical village lunch
  • Support forestry conservation efforts

CREDIT CARDS

Most credit cards are accepted in Malaysia. VISA and MASTERCARD are the most widely accepted. Not all hotels, commercial centers, shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Check with the cashier before making any purchases.  

Bear in mind that in some places a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases: this varies  depending on which credit card is used but is normally in the range between 2% – 4%. NOTE: Surcharges can change without prior notice. Check the percentage charged before you pay

ELECTRICITY

Malaysia mainly uses 220V-240V but in most areas. The 3-pin outlet is used throughout the country (The same plug as the UK). 

ENTERTAINMENT

There is plenty of entertainment options in Kuala Lumpur and Penang with many western restaurants and bars and nightclubs open until late at night. In Kota Kinabalu you can frequent the waterfront Area where you will find bars and restaurants open to early hours of the morning and will play sports and have live music. Most other places in Malaysia Bars will be limited. Alcohol will be difficult to find in predominate Muslim areas. Most hotels will serve Alcohol.
A wide variety of restaurants are on offer (Refer to Food).

ETHNIC GROUPS

Malaysia has many different ethnic groups living in the country. These include Malays, Chinese, Indians, and other indigenous Bumiputra groups. The demographic composition in the country are as follows: Over 50 percent are Malay; 23 percent Chinese; 7 percent Indian 11.8 percent Indigenous; 1 percent Other. This multicultural context makes Malaysia a highly rich society, with diverse religions, foods, culture, and customs.

FOOD

Malaysia is a country of diversity, and the food reflects that. Chinese, Indian, and local southeast Asian Malay flavors are the trio blend of ingredients and cooking techniques that have been adopted into Malaysian cuisine. Across the country, in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Malacca, you’ll find authentic Chinese food, Indian food exactly as it is found in India, and home-cooked Malay specialities.

Health

Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. It is always recommended to ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. 

Hours of Business

Business hours will usually be from 08:00/09:00 – 17:00/18:00. Shopping Malls may open at 10:00. On Fridays some business will shut between 12:15 – 14:45 to allow the Muslims to perform their prayers. Banks operate 5 days a week and most establishments will close for the weekend on  Saturday and Sunday.  

Internet

The majority of hotels will have access to wifi. Local restaurants and establishments will not have the internet and in remote areas it will be limited so should not be relied upon. It is also reasonable to buy a local sim card on arrival into Malaysia (for unlocked phones) and to buy an internet package. Digi, Maxis or Celcom are recommended. 

Language

The official language in Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu (simply called ‘Malaysian’ or informally ‘Bahasa’). When compared to some tonal Asian languages such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Mandarin, the Malaysian language is relatively easy for travelers to speak and learn. Bahasa Melayu doesn’t use tones, and the rules of pronunciation are very straightforward and predictable. Even more convenient, the English alphabet is used — travellers can read signs and menus a lot easier than when trying to decipher an unfamiliar script. Although the official language is Bahasa Melayu, a  majority of the population also speaks English due to the large mix of ethnic backgrounds. Business is often conducted in English with heavy doses of regional slang thrown in. English often serves as the working language at universities and in government offices.

Public Holidays

Generally, Malaysia has quite a number of public holidays both at National Level and State Level. During Malaysia’s Public Holidays, expect Government Offices to be closed, as well as some shops and restaurants, depending on the ethnicity of the owners of the shops and restaurants. Some privately owned tourist attractions such as museums may also be closed. The religious public holidays are the main holidays that may affect travel plans and tour programs. Ramadan — the Muslim holy month of fasting — is observed throughout Malaysia, as is Chinese New Year and Hari Merdeka, Malaysian independence day on August 31. The Rainforest World Music Festival held each summer in Sarawak, Borneo, is one of the largest music festivals in Asia. The three-day event is a celebration of indigenous culture and daily workshops followed by bands from around the world. Because of the sizable Indian population, some big Indian festivals such as Holi are observed in parts of Malaysia.

1 January
Fri
New Year Day
12 February
Fri
Chinese New Year
2 April
Fri
Good Friday
1 May
Sat
Labour Day
13 May
Thu
Hari Raya Aidilfitri
26 May
Wed
Wesak Day
30 May
Sun
Harvest Festival
31 August
Tue
National Day
16 September
Thu
Malaysia Day

Reading List

  • Land Below the Wind – Agnes Keith – This book was written during an era when Sabah was known as North Borneo, and when life was very much different from today. Reprinted many times, this classic, of Agnes Keith’s observations and reflections of the time, is a true-to-life record of society and culture then and of the captivating natural beauty of Sabah.
  • Merdeka! – Khong Kin Hoong – Merdeka! describes the explosive situation in Malaya between the end of the Second World War until the termination of direct British rule in 1957. The study fills in certain gaps in existing knowledge of this critical period in Malayan politics, with analysis of the conflicts between the British Military Administration and the Communists, the radical reaction to the Malayan Union proposals and the Federation of Malayan Agreement, and the agitation for constitutional democracy.
  • Espresso with the Headhunters – John Wassner – A Journey Through the Jungles of Borneo.
  • A White Headhunter in Borneo – Stephen Holley (2004). Kota Kinabalu: Natural History
    Publications
  • Wild Malaysia – Geoffrey Davison, Junaidi Payne and Melvin Gumal – The Wildlife, Scenery, and Biodiversity of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak. The Wildlife, Scenery, and Biodiversity of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak

Religion

The official religion in Malaysia is Islam. You will also find Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and traditional Chinese religions being practiced. Many other faiths are also practiced such as Animism, Folk Religion, Sikhism, Baha’i Faith and other belief systems.

See

Our city tours and day trips in Malaysia feature the finest experiences that epitomise the country’s popular tagline ‘Truly Asia’. Whether it’s perusing the heritage buildings of Old Kuala Lumpur, enjoying a private picnic at a tea plantation, or soaring over Mount Kinabalu by helicopter, our Malaysia travel specialists can make it happen for you.

Langkawi
Half Day

Langkawi Bird Watching

  • Enjoy observing Langkawi’s wild birds in their natural habitat
  • Immerse in Langkawi’s natural landscape and surroundings
  • For photographers, capture nice photographs of these birds and landscape
Ipoh
Half Day

Street Art & Treats in Old Town Ipoh

  • Explore the abundant street art and delicious eats in Ipoh
  • Stroll the laneways of Ipoh in search of 7 famous murals
  • Enjoy local snacks like popiah’s or famous caramel custard
Ipoh
Full Day

White Water Rafting and Caves in Gopeng EX. Ipoh

  • Go white water rafting down the Kampar River
  • Explore the longest limestone cave in peninsular Malaysia
  • Be mesmerised by the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites formations

Shopping

There is never a shortage of shopping malls in all cities. Local Markets selling souvenirs and fresh/dry products can be found in most large towns. You can find Batik and local crafts, woodwork, pottery when travelling through Malaysia but they maybe difficult to find so please ask your guide if you have something specific you are looking for and they can recommend to you where to find.

Stay

Malaysia features a compelling mix of Asian and European cultural influences that make it quite unique within Southeast Asia. Travelling is made more comfortable when staying at one of our preferred hotels. Whether beachfront resort or luxurious heritage house, we’ve curated the very best hotels in Malaysia to suit your needs.

Langkawi

The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa

Malaysia

Villa Samadhi

Malaysia

Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Time

Malaysia is GMT +8 and does not operate on a daylight-savings system.

Tipping

Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in Malaysia. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped a small amount for their troubles.

WATER

It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. All hotels provide a complimentary bottle of local mineral water per person in the room. Ice cubes in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.

Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of your usual anti-diarrhoea medicine.

Weather

Weather in Malaysia is hot and humid year-round. Because wet season occurs at different times of the year between the east and west coast, Malaysia has brilliant holiday weather year-round.

REGION
1 Jan
2 Feb
3 Mar
4 Apr
5 May
6 Jun
7 Jul
8 Aug
9 Sep
10 Oct
11 Nov
12 Dec
CONTINENT
BEACHES AND
ISLANDS OF THE
WEST COAST
BEACHES AND
ISLANDS OF THE
EAST COAST
BORNEO

Pleasant Weather, No Rain

High Heat and Humidity

Tropical Climate, Possible Intermittent Rain

Tropical Climate, High Chances of Rain

Possible Risk of Typhoons and Storms

Cool to Cold Temperature (At Night)