Malaysia is the perfect destination for a beautiful journey filled with culture and nature. You’ll discover paradise islands, pristine jungles, intriguing culture, vibrant cities, and you can enjoy delicious food. Traveling through Malaysia is quite easy, but there are some things you should know before boarding the plane. With these 11 practical tips and handy facts, you’ll be well prepared for your trip and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Malaysia has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius (77 to 95 Fahrenheit) . Generally, the period from June to September is the best time to visit Malaysia, as these are the driest months. In many other months, the weather is usually fine, but there’s a higher chance of occasional tropical showers. The wettest months are from November to December, and it’s best to try to avoid these months. Additionally, the weather can vary significantly by season and region. If you want to know the best time to visit specific regions, you can read more about it below.
West Coast of Malaysia
Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Langkawi
The west coast of Malaysia is accessible throughout the year. Most of the rain falls from September to December, but it’s usually just a heavy shower once a day. You can still travel to the west coast of Malaysia during these months.
East Coast of Malaysia
The best time to visit the east coast of Malaysia is different from the west coast. During the monsoon season, there is a lot of rain here between mid-October and mid-March. Most hotels and restaurants on the Perhentian Islands are closed during these months. From mid-March to mid-October, everything is open, and you can travel to the Perhentian Islands. The best months to visit the Perhentian Islands are July and August.
Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands
It’s warm in Taman Negara year-round. Just like in all rainforests, the humidity is very high, making it feel even warmer. So, you’re guaranteed to sweat a lot when walking through the jungle. The dry season runs from March to September, and the rainy season is from November to early December.
Due to its high elevation, Cameron Highlands enjoys a cool climate with average temperatures ranging from around 18 to 25 degrees Celsius (64 to 77 Fahrenheit) . In the evening and at night, it can get quite chilly, so bring a sweater. It can rain year-round, with the most rain falling in Cameron Highlands in September and December.
In Malaysia, you’ll need a type G plug. The easiest solution is to purchase a universal travel adapter, which allows you to plug in various types of plugs and also includes multiple USB ports. This can be used worldwide and is very handy for your future trips.
In Malaysia, it’s customary to remove your shoes when entering a house, shop, temple, or mosque. You’ll see signs everywhere in Malaysia saying “please take your shoes off.” Taking off your shoes is a sign of respect and politeness. If you’re wearing flip-flops or sandals, it can be a good idea to carry a pair of socks in your bag. The tiles near a mosque or temple can be very hot on your bare feet due to the blazing sun.
Eating in Malaysia is a delightful experience and an essential part of your journey. The rich food culture is visible everywhere. You’ll find street food stalls on every street corner, and there are numerous food markets in cities. The majority of the population rarely cooks at home and prefers to eat out. Food not only fills the stomach but also brings people together.
The Malaysian cuisine is influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Thai flavors. In addition to these three cuisines, you can also find Japanese, Indonesian, and Western dishes in many places. One dish you can order everywhere is “nasi lemak,” which consists of rice cooked in coconut milk and served with fried chicken, cucumber, and nuts. “Roti canai” is another delicious dish, consisting of very thin pancakes served with curry.
If you plan to visit the charming city of Melaka, you must try Nyonya cuisine. Nyonya cuisine originated from the arrival of Chinese immigrants in the 15th century, who often married local women in Melaka. This created a completely new culture and cuisine. Characteristic of Nyonya cuisine is the use of coconut milk and special herbs like “limau purut” and lemongrass. Often, these are combined with typical Chinese ingredients like soy sauce and ginger. Try the dish “laksa,” a noodle soup with vegetables and fish. Finish with a typical Nyonya dessert like “cendol.” This dessert consists of frozen ice with coconut milk and a topping of green peas and red beans. It may not sound very appetizing, but I found it to be a tasty dessert!
Generally, in Malaysia, people eat with a spoon and fork or with chopsticks. In fancier restaurants, you might sometimes get a knife and fork, but this is more the exception than the rule. Don’t be surprised if you see people eating with their hands. Just like in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, Malaysians often eat with their hands. It’s very normal to eat a curry with rice using your right hand. However, never use your left hand for eating, as it is considered the hand used for toilet-related activities.
Despite being an Islamic country, alcohol is available in many places in Malaysia. Especially in restaurants, bars, and hotels frequented by travelers, it’s quite common to order a beer. The east side of Malaysia is more strictly Islamic than the west side, and less alcohol is served there. The Perhentian Islands are a good example of this, and even in Taman Negara, not every restaurant serves alcohol. However, it is still available in supermarkets or at bars in these places.
Just like many other countries in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is an incredibly safe travel destination. There is little crime, and the local population is friendly and very helpful. Of course, you should always use your common sense and be a bit more cautious in larger cities. However, the likelihood of something unpleasant happening is very small. Malaysia also has excellent infrastructure, making it easy and safe to travel from place to place using public transportation.
Malaysia is an Islamic country, with about 60% of the population being Muslim. Many local women dress modestly, covering their knees and shoulders, and some wear headscarves. Since Malaysia has a diverse population with various religions, you are not required to adhere to the same clothing rules. Modest clothing is usually only required when visiting mosques and temples. However, it is appropriate not to dress too scantily, similar to many other countries in Southeast Asia.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims during which they fast from sunrise to sunset. Many restaurants are closed during the day in Ramadan, and in the evening when everyone can eat again, the restaurants are crowded. Ramadan may not be the most ideal time for a trip to Malaysia. It’s possible to travel during Ramadan, but it can make things a bit more complicated. Ramadan falls on different dates each year, so be sure to check the exact dates for the year you plan to visit Malaysia.
In Malaysia, you use the Malaysian Ringgit for currency. When you want to withdraw money from an ATM, you usually pay a fixed fee of a few dollars for transaction costs. Therefore, it’s wise to always withdraw the maximum amount allowed. When withdrawing money, you’ll be asked whether you want to use your bank’s exchange rate or the bank’s exchange rate where you’re withdrawing money. Using your own bank’s exchange rate is usually more favorable. So, always click on “without conversion” when withdrawing money abroad.
Traveling in Malaysia is very easy to organize on your own without the need for a travel agency. Even if you have little or no travel experience, it’s enjoyable to plan your own trip. Malaysia is safe, transportation is well-organized, and you’ll find restaurants and hotels on every corner. Check out our Malaysia page and easily plan your trip with our tips. This way, you’ll save money, explore the most beautiful places in the country, and have the freedom to enjoy your journey to the fullest!