Why Travel To Malaysia

Malaysia describes itself as ‘truly Asia,’ eluding to the fact that in many ways, this is where all the countries and cultures of the continent converse. Malaysia’s impressive history has resulted in a fascinatingly mixed population that spans the entirety of Asia. From the Middle East comes Islam, which has contributed exponentially to the Malay identity, the ethnic majority. While the Chinese from East Asia and Indians from South Asia form a significant chunk of the urban populations.

Understanding the country’s ethnic mosaic is one of the highlights of a Malaysia vacation, from colourful Chinese shop houses in Penang to the scents and smells of Little India in Kuala Lumpur to the fascinating Malay history of Melaka. Unsurprisingly, the food is phenomenal and is a delicious reflection of this diversity. Malaysia’s natural gifts are also a true blessing ripe for relaxation and exploration: highlights include the paradise island of Langkawi, the rolling green hills found in the Cameron Highlands and the lofty heights of Kinabalu.

Ethnic diversity 

Striking ethnic diversity found across the country.

Abundant wildlife

Beautifully preserved nature and abundant wildlife.

Pristine islands

Pristine islands and white sand beaches.

Inspiring Trip Ideas

Recommended Places & Senses

Map

Malaysia Travel Guide

AT A GLANCE
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Population: 30.7 million
Languages: Malaysia
Currency: Ringgit (RM)
Time zone: GMT +8
Electricity: 220V
Dialing Code: +60
Malaysia is a beautiful and diverse nation located in southeast Asia, just north of the Equator, and bordered by Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei. It also shares maritime boundaries with Vietnam and the Philippines. The Federation of Malaysia includes Peninsular Malaysia, and the states of Sabah and Sarawak (on the island of Borneo) in East Malaysia. The South China Sea separates it from Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Both the Peninsula of Malaysia and East Malaysia share a similar landscape, with coastal plains and mountains. The coastal regions of the latter are divided by hills and valleys, as is the Peninsula where the heavily forested Titiwangsa Mountains divide the east and west coasts. Many islands lie around both areas, the largest of which is Labuan.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
  • During January and February, most of Malaysia will be bathed in sunshine, with very little rainfall expected, the only exception being the east coast and its islands.
  • March to May: It begins to brighten up on the east coast, and islands such as Tiomanstart to open up again. With great weather expected throughout, you have the pick of most areas. Visitor numbers continue to rise on the east coast, and with Penangand Langkawistill bathing in sunshine. April is a popular time to travel. Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands and Pangkor Lautare are subject to the odd shower at this time of year, but not enough to impact on your trip.
  • June – September: This is peak season on the east coast, and visitor numbers will be high due to it coinciding with the European school holidays. The east coast receives some of its best weather, while on the west coast the seas are choppy, winds are up, and you should expect the odd downpour.
  • October to December: The rains on the west coast have one last downpour before months of dry weather. There should be guaranteed sunshine on Penang and Langkawi towards the end of the month. The east coast, on the other hand, braces itself for high winds and heavy rains. This can be a good time to visit as visitor numbers will be lower.
PEOPLE, HISTORY AND CULTURE
Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other ethnic groups have lived together in Malaysia for generations. All these cultures have influenced each other, creating a truly Malaysian culture.
  1. Malay
Today, the Malays, Malaysia's largest ethnic group, make up more than 50% of the population, although this drops to less than 25% in East Malaysia. In Malaysia, the term Malay refers to a person who practices Islam and Malay traditions, speaks the Malay language and whose ancestors are Malays. Their conversion to Islam from Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism began in the 1400s, largely influenced by the decision of the royal court of Melaka. The Malays are known for their gentle mannerisms and rich arts heritage.
  1. Chinese
The second largest ethnic group, the Malaysian Chinese form about 25% of the population. Mostly descendants of Chinese immigrants during the 19th century, the Chinese are known for their diligence and keen business sense. The three sub-groups who speak a different dialect of Chinese are the Hokkien who live predominantly on the northern island of Penang; the Cantonese who live predominantly in the capital city Kuala Lumpur; and the Mandarin speaking group who live predominantly in the southern state of Johor.
  1. Indian
The smallest of the three main ethnic groups, Malaysian Indians form about 10% of the population. Most are descendants of Tamil speaking South Indian immigrants who came to the country during the British colonial rule. Lured by the prospect of breaking out of the Indian caste system, they came to Malaysia to build a better life. Predominantly Hindus, they brought with them their colourful culture such as ornate temples, spicy cuisine and exquisite sarees.  
GEOGRAPHY
Malaysia is located in central of South-East Asia, bordering Thailand in the north, with Singapore to the south and Indonesia to the south and west. It is composed of Peninsular Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north coast of the island of Borneo.
 
Peninsular Malaysia is an area of forested mountain ranges running north-south, on either side of which are low-lying coastal plains. The coastline extends some 1,900km (1,200 miles).
 
The major islands are Langkawi, Penang and Pangkor off the west coast; and Tioman, Redang, Kapas, Perhentian and Rawa off the east coast. In Malaysian Borneo, Sarawak has alluvial and, in places, swampy coastal plains with rivers penetrating the jungle covered hills and mountains of the interior. Sabah has a narrow coastal plain which gives way to mountains and jungle. Mount Kinabalu, at 4,094m (13,432ft), is the highest peak in Malaysia.
TRANSPORTATIONS
  1. Commuter Train, Monorail and LRT
Tickets are fairly cheap, and are charged for the distance traveled. Tickets can be bought from ticket booths or the machines at the station entrances. Frequent users may purchase cards which can be swiped at the ticket gates. Value can be added to these cards for later use.  
  1. By Water
Coastal ferries sail frequently between Penang and Butterworth and there is a scheduled passenger service linking Port Klang with Kuantan, Sarawak and Sabah. Ferries also run between Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah, Penang, Satun and Langkawi. Regular boat services connect Lumut to Pangkor Island and Tunjung Gemak or Mersing to Tioman Island. In Sabah, long boats connect Labuan to Menumbak. Small rivercraft often provide the most practical means of getting about in East Malaysia, even in the towns, and they are the only way to reach the more isolated settlements (unless one has access to a helicopter).  
  1. Domestic Flights
The following carriers operate within Malaysia:
  • AirAsia
  • Berjaya Air
  • Firefly
  • Flymojo
  • Malindo Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • MASwings
 
ACCOMMODATIONS
Malaysia’s cheapest hotels tend to cater for a local clientele and seldom need to be booked in advance, just go to the next place around the corner if your first choice is full. Rooms are usually divided from one another by thin partitions and contain a washbasin, table and ceiling fan, though never a mosquito net.
  1. Mid-Range Hotels, often the only alternative in smaller towns, are rarely better value than a well-kept budget place. The big difference is in the comfort of the mattress, nearly always sprung, and getting your own Western style, but cramped, bathroom.
  2. High-End Hotels are as comfortable as you might expect, and many have state-of-the-art facilities, including a swimming pool, spa and gym. Some may add a touch of class by incorporating kampung-style architecture, such as saddle-shaped roofs with woodcarving.
EATING AND DRINKING
Malaysians are very proud of their cooking and most towns or even villages have their own delicious specialties such as Penang Char Kway Teow, Kajang Satay, Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken, Sarawak Laksa, Kelantanese Nasi Dagang, Sabahan Hinava. Most of them rely on word of mouth for advertising and are frequently located in the most inconvenient, out-of-the-way places so you might want to try asking the locals for their personal recommendations.
SENSES'S PICKED DESTINATION
  • Cities
    1. Kuala Lumpur — the multi-cultural capital, home of the Petronas Towers.
    2. George Town — the cultural and cuisine capital of Penang,
    3. Ipoh — capital of Perak with its historic colonial old town.
    4. Johor Bahru — capital of Johor, and the gateway to Singapore.
    5. Kuantan - capital of Pahang, and commercial centre of the east coast.
    6. Kota Kinabalu — close to tropical islands, lush rain forest and Mount Kinabalu.
    7. Kuching — capital of Sarawak.
    8. Malacca (Melaka) — the historical city of Malaysia with colonial-style architecture.
    9. Miri — resort city of Sarawak and gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site Gunung Mulu National Park.
  • Other Destinations
    1. Cameron Highlands — famous for its tea plantations.
    2. Fraser's Hill — a time warp back to the colonial era.
    3. Kinabalu National Park — home of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia.
    4. Langkawi — an archipelago of 99 islands known for its beaches, rainforest, mountains, mangrove estuaries and unique nature. It's also a duty-free island.
    5. Penang (Pulau Pinang) — formerly known as the "Pearl of the Orient", now a bustling island with excellent cuisine which has retained more colonial heritage than anywhere else in the country.
HEALTH and SAFETY
Health
  1. Government and private hospitals charge for all services and private care is expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
  2. Mosquito borne diseases like Dengue Fever occur all year round. There has been an increase in the number of cases of Dengue Fever, including in Kuala Lumpur. You should take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
  3. From June to October, Malaysia can experience air pollution from forest fires in Indonesia.
Safety and security
Violent crime is very rare in Malaysia but you should take the usual precautions regarding street crime by:
  1. Taking care of your passport
  2. Leaving tickets and unneeded cash at your hotel
  3. Avoid taking valuables with you
  4. If using a car avoid leaving unattended valuables in the vehicle
FESTIVAL CALENDAR
  • 1 January- New Year's Day (except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu)
  • 8 February- Chinese New Year
  • 9 February- Chinese New Year 2nd Day
  • 1 May- Labour Day
  • 21 May- Wesak Day
  • 4 June- Agong’s Birthday
  • 6 July - Hari Raya Aidilfitri
  • 7 July- Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2nd Day
  • 31 August- National Day / Merdeka Day
  • 12 September- Hari Raya Haji
  • 16 September- Malaysia Day
  • 2 October-  Awal Muharram
  • 29 October- Deepavali (except Sarawak)
  • 12 December- Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
  • 25 December- Christmas
DOS & DON'TS
DOs
  1. Do smile when you greet people.
  2. Do dress neatly when entering places of worship.
  3. Do pay careful attention to your attire if you’re female.
  4. Do be wary that same-sex relationships are a taboo subject in Malaysia.
DON’Ts
  1. Don’t bring up the topic of ethnic relations in Malaysia or the political system.
  2. Don't eat while walking.
  3. Avoid using left hand. "Koran states the right hand is more honorable.”
  4. Public displays of affection between different sexes is frowned upon.
  5. Show respect towards elders.
  6. Don't cross your legs in front of an older people and don't step over someone with crossed legs who is sitting down.
  7. Don't pat someone on the head.
  8. Don't expose the soles of your feet. Never put your feet on a table.
Malaysia Journey Planner

I am from a small town in the middle of the Borneo Island. To me, that place is simply special and filled with great people. In the same way, I believe Malaysia is a beautiful country to visit, both Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia, it gives you the chance to meet, know and understand the Malaysian

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Asia Journey Planner

My motto is “Don’t be a tourist, be a traveler”. Ever since I graduated in Travel Administration, I’ve been working first as tour guide and then in the office planning tours logistics. After 12 years of working in the industry, I now realize that my passion for travelling will never end. For this reason I

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Our Journey Planers and Local Specialist know the destination inside out, they’ve either lived in or regularly visited the places they sell. Our excellent local relationships, built over 20 years of experience, enable us to enrich your experiences and negotiate many extras for your holiday, from free night discounts to free upgrades

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