Malaysia Travel Guide

Population: 30.2 million

Capital City: Kuala Lumpur

People: Bumiputera (consist of Malays and other Bumiputera), Chinese, Indians and others

Languages: Bahasa Melayu, English, Chinese and Tamil

Currency: Ringgit Malaysia (MYR)

Time Zone: UTC+8

International Dialing Code: +60

General Information

Passport and visa
Passports must be valid for six months beyond the date of departure. Visa is not required for United States passport holders to travel to Malaysia for tourism visit. Australian, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canadian, German passport holders are required to have a visa for a 90-day visit. However, you will have to provide a confirmed return or onward international ticket. Other nationals are advisable to check with Malaysian embassy for more details on visa requirements.

Currency
The official currency in Malaysia is Ringgit (MYR) which comes in 100, 50, 20 and 10 for notes and 50, 20, 10 and 5 for cents. Mastercard and Visa credit cards is widely accepted in urban areas except for Diners and American Express with limited usage. ATMs and licensed money changer can be easily found in the tourist areas.

However, be aware of the high incidence of credit card fraud in Malaysia. Your card may be automatically blocked unless you notify the bank first that you are travelling to Malaysia.

Phones & Internet service
Network coverage is reliable unless you travel to rural areas of Borneo and jungles in Peninsular. Also, SIM cards are available to purchase from any 7-eleven stores and tele-communication shops in malls. You are required to register with your mobile supplier for international roaming services. Also, Kindly note that your passport or some form of identification is required when purchasing a SIM card. You can also make local and international calls at public phones which take coins and phone cards.

Free Wi-Fi is widely available at selected cafes, public hotspot areas and selected hotels in urban area.

Traffic & Transportation
Bus is the most preferred local transport with its excellent system which offers great access to remote areas. Departures are frequent so you rarely have to wait around too long. Malaysia’s train service is relatively slow compared to the bus, but still reasonably cheap and comfortable public transport to get around.

Malaysian taxis are metered, but drivers often ask for a fixed fare for the entire car. Don’t hesitate to negotiate for a fairer and agreed price before you board the taxi. You may need to pay extra to charter the whole taxi.
Public Train Network known as LRT / Monorail is available in Kuala Lumpur, standard tickets can be purchased at LRT / Monorail stations.

Weather
Malaysia tropical climate consistently remains hot and humid with typical daytime temperatures of around +30°C and unexpected rain throughout the year. Rainy season vary greatly in different regions. The southwest monsoon brings heavy rain to the west coast of the Peninsular Malaysia between September and October. Bring a rain poncho or an umbrella with you.
The northeast monsoon affects the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, with heaviest rainfall from November to February. Most hotels/resorts in East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia will be close during Monsoon Season and for those operating, no sea activities due to rough sea.

Health and Safety

Health and well-being
Malaysia offers good medical and healthcare services. Public and private hospitals can be found in all main cities. Pharmacies is available in shopping centres for basic medicine. However, you expect to find the basic medical care in rural areas. You are strongly recommended to consult your doctor or country’s travel clinic for up-to-date information and discuss health requirement for your holiday.
Vaccinations
No inoculations are required for visiting Malaysia. However, it is advisable to visit doctor and check for an adequate protection against disease. Beware that there is Malaria risk in rural areas of Malaysia.

Travel insurance (recommended)
Buffalo Tours does everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some unavoidable risk. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. Please also make sure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip so you can enjoy peace of mind during your journey.

Culture & Customs

Etiquette and cultural differences
Do:

  • Remove your shoes at the front door when entering homes, restaurants and mosques
  • Cover your arms and legs when you visit certain places of worship

Don’t:

  • Use your left hand for giving and receiving things
  • Point with your index finger as it is considered as a rude gesture
  • Go nude bathing since it is considered as public indecency
  • Smoke in public transport and most indoor areas, commits an offence and shall on conviction to a fine not exceeding MYR 10,000 for smoking in prohibited places.

Food and drink
Due to the cultural diversity in Malaysia, you can expose seemingly endless range of cuisines. Flavor and cooking techniques from variety of ethical groups such as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and others have adopted to Malaysia cuisine. Hence, don’t hesitate to try street foods, which is often the best food in the country. There are plenty of options, including:

  • Nasi lemak (coconut milk rice with sambal sauce)
  • Portuguese Ikan bakar (Portuguese grilled fish)
  • Indian Banana leaf rice (rice with vegetarian curries)
  • Hokkien mee (Chinese style-fried yellow noodles)
  • Roti canai (fried flatbread)

Tap water is usually safe in larger cities; however, it is advisable to look for bottled water which is widely distributed to avoid potential contamination.

National Public Holidays

  • New Year Day: January 1
  • Prophet Muhammad’s birthday: the 12th day of the month of Rabiul Awal in the Islamic calendar
  • Thaipusam: the 1st full moon in January/February in the Tamil calendar.
  • Chinese New Year: the 1st day of 1st lunar month
  • Labour Day: May 1
  • Wesak: the 15th day of the 4th lunar month
  • Agong’s birthday: June 7
  • Hari Raya Puasa (Eid Al-Fitri): the 1st day of the 10th Islamic month 
  • National Day: August 31
  • Malaysia Day: September 16
  • Hari Raya Haji (Eid al-Adha): the 10th day of the last Islamic month
  • Awal Muharram: the beginning of Islamic New Year
  • Deepavali (Diwali): the 15th day of Kartika (October/November) in Hindu calendar
  • Christmas day: December 25

Helpful tips

Tipping
Tipping is not practiced in Malaysia. However, as tipping is a personal preference, we have included some suggestion for tipping:

  • Guides: between RM5 - RM10 per day, per person (depending on group size and performance)
  • Drivers: between RM2 – RM 5 per day, per person (depending on group size and performance)
  • Bellhops: RM 1 per bag
  • Restaurant: In luxurious restaurants, service charge is already included in the bill. In local restaurants, tips are not expected.

Price guide

  • Bottled water (1.5l): between RM 2 – RM 3 in convenience store
  • Beer (0.5l): between RM 6 – RM 8 (from a grocery store), from RM 10 & above (from a restaurant)
  • Fruit juice: from RM 5 & above
  • Coffee: from RM 5 & above
  • Street food: from RM 4 & above
  • Restaurant: from RM 15 & above/person (average restaurant), from RM 50 & above/person (high-end restaurant)
  • Sim card: from RM 25 & above

Pre-departure checklist

  • Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance
  • Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required)
  • All relevant tickets
  • Money, Credit Card and ATM Card
  • Money belt and small padlocks
  • Medication
  • First aid kit
  • Small daypack (for day and overnight trips)
  • Cool and light weight clothing (of cotton material)
  • Water repellent jacket
  • Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
  • Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
  • Umbrella
  • Electrical adapter plug
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Insect repellent

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