Malaysia is like two countries in one, cut in half by the South China Sea. Influenced by China and India, the multicultural peninsula is a zenith of culture with dynamic urban metropolises while Borneo is where travellers go for respite on one of the many turquoise beaches or to explore its vast and ancient jungles. This Malaysia travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Malaysia Travel Guide: Fast Facts
- Malaysia power voltage is 230/240 V 50 Hz; Power sockets G.
- The Malaysian currency is the Malaysian Ringett (MYR) and is around 4 MYR to 1 USD.
- Malaysia is a multicultural but predominantly Islamic country.
- Water is generally safe to drink water straight from the tap. Bottled mineral water, however, is easily available in shops and supermarkets.
- For five consecutive years, Malaysia has won the coveted Guinness League of Excellence Award and bragging rights for brewing some of the best Guinness in the world.
- Visiting during Ramadan is not a problem as visitors and non-Muslim Malaysians aren't expected to abstain from eating, drinking or smoking in public during the month of fasting.
- Malaysia has one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the world, said to host some 20% of the world’s animal species. The Taman Negara in Malaysia is over 130 million years old and is considered the oldest forest in the world.
Top Packing Tips for Malaysia Travel
Malaysia is hot and humid with a typically tropical climate. Average temperatures lie between 21 C and 32 C. Humidity is high. Rain tends to occur between November to February on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, on western Sarawak, and north-eastern Sabah. On the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia the rainy season is April to May and October to November.
- Dress conservatively. Malaysia is a Muslim country, as a result women should be dressed conservatively (long pants, shirts with arms and shoulders covered) while men are recommended to keep their shoulders and legs covered. Many religious sites forbid shorts and sleeveless shirts for both sexes, so a light scarf is handy to wrap around the shoulders. Swimsuits are ok to wear at the beach or pool, but make sure to cover up before walking anywhere else.
- The protection basics – Travellers should stock up on the essentials: sun block, mosquito/insect repellant containing DEET or a pyrethroid insecticide, sunglasses and a hat.
- Pack for Humidity – for humid weather it is best to pack fabrics that breathe as much as possible and natural fabrics, like cotton, linen or rayon (avoiding silk, wool and polyester). Clothing should be loose and comfortable to encourage the flow of air and allow moisture to evaporate. Think: cool yet conservative
- Sarongs – From protecting yourself from the hot island sun, covering up at religious sites or keeping warm on a cool night, sarongs are a must-have.
Top Things to do in Malaysia
- Hike Mount Kinabalu – This 4095 metre mammoth is a 2-hour bus ride from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo’s northern province.
- Trek the Pinnacles of Gunung Mulu – a stone forest of white and grey limestone, jutting 45 metres out of the earth in razor sharp formations.
- Go on a Jungle Safari – Take a boat up the The Sungai (river) Kinabatangan right into the heart of the jungle of Borneo, and stay in a rustic camp for a few days with Uncle Tan Wildlife Adventures.
- Attend the Thaipusam Fesitval – It is the most fascinating festival you will ever witness. Thaipusam is a Hindu Festival that happens every January or February.
- Explore Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia’s intrinsic colourful contrasts climax in spectacular Kuala Lumpur.
- Enjoy Tea Time in Cameron Highlands – When travelling to Malaysia, one normally doesn’t think of tea plantations and mountain chalets. But when visiting the Cameron Highlands in the country’s interior, that is exactly what you will find.