Essential Travel Information Malaysia
Last update March 2009
WHERE IS MALAYSIA?
Malaysia is in Asia and comprises almost 330,000 sq. km. of land mass, covering two primary geographic regions: peninsula Malaysia; and, East Malaysia. Peninsula Malaysia is part of the Asia mainland and is located immediately South of Thailand and immediately North of Singapore. East Malaysia occupies most of the northern coast and about 30% of the hinterland of the island of Borneo; it shares the island of Borneo with Indonesia, to the South, and the enclave of the Kingdom of Brunei, midway along the Borneo's North coast. The capitol city of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, located in peninsula Malaysia. Geo-politically, Malaysia is part of ASEAN.
WHAT ARE THE MALAYSIA ENTRY REGULATIONS?
For social visits (holidays and vacations) a passport valid for at least six months and an onward journey ticket for air or sea travel. Except for stateless persons, and those from countries with which the Malaysia has no diplomatic relations, all visitors may enter the country without obtaining visas in advance and may stay for 90 days. Visas and special permits may be obtained from Malaysian embassies and consulates in advance. More information can be found on the Immigration Department of Malaysia
WHAT IS THE LOCAL CURRENCY OF MALAYSIA?
Unit of currency: Ringit (RM/MYR) = 100 sen. Bank notes: RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50 and RM100; coins: 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s. On 1st March 2009 US$1.00 bought RM3.70
Money changers will exchange most major currencies near to market rates, at the airport, local banks and other authorized foreign exchange dealers in commercial establishments. Many ATMs in the major cities dispense local currency to holiday makers with international credit, debit and charge cards.
WHAT IS THE CLIMATE LIKE IN MALAYSIA ?
Much of peninsula Malaysia and East Malaysia is classically tropical with a mixture of sunshine and humidity, with the occasional tropical thunderstorm, especially in the late afternoons. During the period from November to May the climate is frequently a little cooler and drier, under the influence of the northeast monsoon. East Malaysia enjoys more of the northeast monsoon than does peninsula Malaysia. Daily maximum temperatures are in the range of 31-33deg C. and minimums in the range of 23-26deg C. Sunblock is usually available for sale at all holiday destinations in Malaysia.
WHAT LANGUAGES ARE SPOKEN IN MALAYSIA?
Bahasa Malaysia (formerly Bahasa Melayu - Malay) is the national language. English is frequently the alternate business language and is spoken widely in areas most visited by tourists. Chinese dialects and dialects from India are also spoken by significant portions of the population, highlighting the ethnic mix that Malaysia has embraced since pre-colonial times.
Most important words:
(Minta) tolong = Please Help (me)
Terima kasih = Thank You
Ya = Yes
Tidak = No
Want to learn more? Bahasa Malaysia free language courses online
WHAT TIMEZONE IS MALAYSIA IN?
GMT plus 8 hours. 12.00noon in London is 8.00pm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
WHAT ELECTRICITY VOLTAGE IS USED IN MALAYSIA?
240 VAC, 50 Hz, with British standard triple flat pin plugs
HOW SAFE IS THE WATER TO DRINK IN MALAYSIA?
Drinking water in Kuala Lumpur and in key cities and towns is considered potable and safe for drinking, however caution should be exercised when accepting drinks with ice unless the establishment can confirm that the source of the water is clean and filtered. Outside the key cities it is advisable to boil water for drinking or to purchase bottled water, which is readily available in almost all locales. Malaysia is actively expanding infrastructure to deliver safe, potable drinking water to all corners of the country.
WHAT ARE THE AIRPORT FACILITIES IN MALAYSIA?
International airport terminals have good or adequate travel facilities for holiday makers a vacations: tourist information & assistance counters, hotel & travel agency representatives, banks & ATMs, Internet access, postal service, telephone booths, and medical clinics, among others. Baggage carts and porter services are available.
The airports are mostly handicapped-friendly. Wheelchairs are available on request from the airline ground staff.
Domestic airports do not all have good facilities for holiday makers a vacations, so if you have special needs than contact your travel agent of or your airline in advance for information about specific locations.
HOW MUCH IS THE MALAYSIA AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX?
For most international flights from airports in Malaysia, the airport departure tax is RM45. For flights from Malaysia to some ASEAN destinations the airport departure tax is RM20. For domestic Malaysia flights the the airport departure tax is RM6. Airport departure tax can change without too much notice so it is always worth checking with the airline at the time of reconfirming of your onward or return journey.
WHAT ARE THE CUSTOMS RULES?
Holiday makers and those on vacations are advised to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before disembarking to facilitate Customs examination. Visitors can bring into Malaysia up to RM1,000 and any amount in foreign currency; when exiting the country the same RM1,000 limit applies and an amount of foreign currency not exceeding the amount brought into Malaysia.
WHAT ARE THE MODES OF TRANSPORT IN MALAYSIA?
Metered taxis and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide for holiday makers a those on vacation in Malaysia. Buses are inexpensive ways of getting around most places.
In Kuala Lumpur, a very efficient air-conditioned train service operates from the airport to the city and North of the Kuala Lumpur to Port Klang. A trans-national railway also services all stations between Malaysia's southern neighbour, Singapore, and Thailand to the North for holiday makers and those on vacation in Malaysia. In other cities, in addition to the selection of taxis and buses, it is quite acceptable to rent a car. To rent a car in Malaysia you need an international driver license and to remember that they drive on the correct side of the road, the left side.
ARE THERE HEALTH REGULATIONS/PRECAUTIONS RELEVANT TO MALAYSIA?
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for for holiday makers and those on vacation in Malaysia, coming from infected areas or you will be required to stay in quarantine for six days. Children less than one year old are exempted but may still be subject to isolation.
Malaria is a constant threat when travelling in the hinterland of Malaysia, especially during the wettest months of May through November. Kuala Lumpur, other major cities and large towns are free of Malaria. Take precautions against malaria while on holiday or vacation in Malaysia of the beaten track in Malaysia: use mosquito nets at night and insect repellent if out and about, especially during the hours of 4am-8am and from 4pm-9pm.
Don'rt mess with the chickens when on Holiday or vacation as Avian Influenza has affected rural Malaysia in the past year.
Hospitals and emergency centres are listed in the "Yellow Pages" of the local telephone directory. Health centers provide emergency medical attention in remote towns and cities.
WHAT ACCOMMODATIONS CAN I EXPECT IN MALAYSIA?
The full range of tourist accommodations are available in Malaysia for holiday makers and those on vacation in Malaysia, from first class luxury hotels to pension-type and hostels; beach resorts are available to suit all budgets.
WHAT ARE YOUR PUBLIC HOLIDAYS?
Chinese New Year Days 1 and 2
Thaipusam in February
Prophet Muhammad's Birthday somewhere March through May (3rd month of Muslim calendar)
Labour Day 1 May
Wesak Day in May
National Day 31st August
Hari Raya Puasa Days 1 and 2, usually n September
Deepavali Hindu Festival of Lights usually in October
Hari Raya Haj/Hari Raya Aidiladha usually end of November
Awal Muharram 1st day of of the Islamic calendar in December
Christmas Day 25th December
In addition, each state has its own holidays that may also celebrate various Muslim, Chinese, Indian, Christian festivals.
WHAT ARE BUSINESS AND BANKING HOURS IN MALAYSIA?
Private and government offices in the major cities are generally open for business from 8.00 a.m. To 5.30 p.m., working hours may be shortened in many rural areas where many offices will close at 4.30 p.m. Almost all offices are closed on Saturdays but some may open on Sundays; expect private and government offices to be closed for a long munch break on Fridays to facilitate Muslim prayer. Most commercial establishments are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Daily, except in popular tourist areas where hours vary depending on trade. Banks are generally open from 9:00 a.m. To 4.30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, for holiday makers and those on vacation in Malaysia, automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.
ARE CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED IN MALAYSIA?
In the cities and major tourist areas, international credit cards, such as Visa, Diners Club, Mastercard, and American Express, are accepted by most commercial establishments. Small shops and establishments away from the cities may be cash-only, although travellers cheques are frequently negotiable.
HOW IS DINING OUT IN MALAYSIA?
Food in Malaysia is a celebration of tastes, many spicy. A blend of Indian and Indonesian spices plus some influence from Thailand and China have created a feast to please the taste buds from morning to night. Start your day with roti canai with channa, and never stop discovering till nightfall. Expect fresh seafoods near the coast, prepared n a myriad of different styles and don't forget to use lashings of peanut sauce on your satay. Whether roadside or in a plush restaurant, Malaysia has much to offer the adventurous palate of the holiday maker and those on vacation in Malaysia.
HOW IS THE ENTERTAINMENT AND MALAYSIA CULTURE?
Malaysia is big on festivals and celebrations, where dressing up and dance feature heavily. Many festivals and dances are derived from themes that date back beyond the influence of Islam and colonialism and focus on folklore and myth. Unlike many other Asian cultures, the muslin influence removes much of the excesses derived from alcohol during celebrations but in many ways the entertainment is the better for it. Cinemas show a variety of English language and Malay language films, and cable television is prevalent with international sports and entertainment channels. In Kuala Lumpur there are theme bars, discotheques and kara-okay bars by the dozen.
The famous Genting highland casinos, in the mountains 50km from Kuala Lumpur, built for the Malaysian Chinese gamblers, are now open to the World, and there are other casinos dotted around the country. Also at Genting is a theme park with scores of fun rides and distractions.
In rural areas entertainment is less lavish but on a festival day the colour and spectacle make for some great photography.
Alcoholic beverages are available in most cities and tourist destinations, but at first-world prices, in part to discourage the exuberance of youth where it may conflict with Muslim teaching.
WHAT TO WEAR IN MALAYSIA?
Light, casual clothes are recommended for travel and most occasions. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions, such as the Genting Highlands or when trekking Mount Kinabalu . When visiting temples, churches and other places of worship, propriety dictates that shorts and scanty clothing be avoided. Formal occasions may require dinner jackets and tie for men; women have more flexibility and sarongs are usually acceptable but are generally expected to achieve the aim of covering well in formal settings.
At popular holiday destinations in Malaysia, beach wear is quite acceptable even when not on the beach. When travelling or trekking into less discovered places, it is wise for women especially to maintain a significant element of modesty in their dress. The police have the power to arrest those who dress immodestly, even holiday makers and those on vacation
HOW IS THE SHOPPING MALAYSIA?
Malaysia is a treasure chest of handicrafts in wood, pottery, pewter and fabric. The traditional dying of cloth using the batik method produces some of the most colourful shirts, wraps, gowns, headscarfs, T-shirts, skirts and swim wear you can find anywhere on Earth. Prices are very reasonable for home produced handicrafts. Imported international brands are relatively expensive in Malaysia unless they are illegal copies.
Kuala Lumpur is peppered with malls but it is so much more enjoyable for the holiday maker and those on vacation in Malaysia, to rummage through the market districts or to get out of the city and explore the native crafts from different towns and regions.
WHAT ARE THE RULES ON TIPPING IN MALAYSIA?
Tipping is expected in most tourist areas and establishments for many services, for the holiday maker and those on vacation in Malaysia. The standard offering is 10-15% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
ARE THERE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS IN MALAYSIA?
Most Malaysian daily newspapers are in English. There are national television stations, which broadcast in English and Malay. Cable TV is available in most tourist developed areas, except in the hinterland of East Malaysia. Internet is pervasive and wireless hot spots can be found in all cities and most towns; many beach resorts and island hotels offer Internet services (some for free, some paid).
WHAT ARE THE MAIN REASONS FOR VISITING MALAYSIA?
Malaysia offers a fascinating and very colourful mix of cultures for the holiday maker and those on vacation. East Malaysia has some of the best, unspoilt jungle habitats surviving in Asia, for those seeking rare animals, birds and plants to photograph. Mountain climbing and trekking opportunities abound, especially in East Malaysia. Scuba diving can be rewarding near the 99 islands of Langkawi off the northwest corner of peninsula Malaysia, near the smaller islands along the East coast of peninsula Malaysia, and along the coast of East Malaysia. Sailing is a major sport, with a royal patron in Malaysia. My favourite reason to visit is to enjoy the tastes of Malaysia.