Travel tips: Malaysia

Malaysia city climate

This page houses some important travel tips which will help you navigate through your time in Malaysia. They are by no means exhaustive; with every traveller having their own individual experiences. So use this as a guide, and use your own discretion, when experiencing life in a new country.

AIRPORT SECURITY MEASURES 

Malaysia’s Immigration Department will soon install new security measures, including iris and facial recognition systems, at the country’s entry and exit points, according to a report by Malaysian Digest. The new security measures will be implemented to curb transnational crime such as human trafficking and drug smuggling.

This may be different to what you might experience in Australia, so please calmly follow the instructions of the immigration officer. There is a chance these systems are not operational yet and it may just be the normal process of a stamp in your passport. But do be aware new systems, including iris scans and finger printing, is a possibility.

CLIMATE

Alkthough Malaysia’s temperature only ranges from 20 to 33 degrees, the humidity and tropical environment makes it feel a lot hotter.

There are two monsoons that hit Peninsular Malaysia each year. During the time you will be in Malaysia, you may experience a monsoon that comes from the Northeast (from October to March) and hits places like Kuala Lumpur directly, bringing the most rainfall.

For most of the year, Kuala Lumpur is peppered with showers and occasional thunderstorms. The driest periods are usually between May and July, where there is a respite from the monsoon seasons. The wetter months are from September to December where it is common for there to be heavy rain mid afternoon. However, the storms when they do come are relatively short, and the rains actually bring a cooling atmosphere to the city. For tourists and visitors, this means that Kuala Lumpur is suitable for visits all-year-round, with no particular period or season to avoid.

CURRENCY

Money can be exchanged at banks or Money Changers found in major shopping centres. One Australian Dollar is approximately equal to 3.0 Malaysian Ringgit. Download XE Currency Converter app fpr the most current rate.

Most credit cards are accepted at all hotels, major department stores and restaurants. ATM’s are also readily available and, subject to your card, you can withdraw cash in local currency.

VISA

Visitors to Malaysia must be in possession of a valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months beyond the period of stay. Most nationalities do not require a visa for social or business visits if staying less than 60 days. Visit the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website or Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia website for stays above 60 days.

TIPPING

Although Malaysia doesn’t have a tipping culture (most hotels and restaurants levy a 10% service charge), you might want to offer a token of appreciation for the excellent service you receive. Malaysia also has a 6% Goods and Services Tax (GST).

WHAT TO WEAR

Light summer clothes are best to suit the warm, humid climate. Sandals or walking shoes are necessary for rain forest trails. When visiting mosques and places of worship, it is polite to cover your shoulders and knees.

FOOD

You can learn a great deal about a country and it’s people from the food they serve and eat. A diverse range of Malaysian curries, local fruits and vegetables are found in no other place. Most eateries operate until late at night. Western food is also readily available at resorts and many restaurants. The right hand is always used when eating with one’s hand or giving and receiving objects.

POLITENESS

Some tips to consider include the following:

  • Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling.
  • The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp.
  • It is polite to call before visiting a home.
  • Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.
  • Drinks are generally offered to guests. It is polite to accept.
  • Toasting is not a common practice in Malaysia. The country’s large Muslim population does not drink alcohol.
  • The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred usage.
  • Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for visitors. Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.

DATA PURCHASES

Students will need to get their own SIM card and it is best to arrange this at the airport. There are mobile stands both within the terminal before immigration and at the arrival hall. It is also best to do some research so you know what mobile pack you want. Most data plans last for a maximum of 30 days. There are often a variety of plans to choose from.

ELECTRICITY

240V and a UK flat 3 pin plug is used.

SHOPPING

Most retail outlets have a fixed price for their goods, however bargaining is most common and expected at night markets, stalls and at bazaars. Shopping centres operate mostly from 10am to 10pm.

LANGUAGE

While Malay is the local language, English is widely spoken. Before leaving for Malaysia, learn a few Malay words to break the ice, get a smile and have some fun!

Good Morning                      Selamat pagi
Good Afternoon                   Selamat tengah hari
Good Evening                       Selamat petang
Good bye                                 Selamat tinggal
Thank you                               Terima kasih     
How are you?                         Apa khabar?
Fine, thank you                     Khabar baik
Toilet                                        Tandas
Excuse me                               Maafkan saya
I’m sorry                                 Saya minta maaf
Can you help me?                 Bolehkah anda tolong saya?
What is this?                           Apa ini?
Wait                                           Tunggu

 

Adapted from malaysianholidays.com.au. 2016. Malaysian travel tips [ONLINE] Available at: http://malaysiaholidays.com.au/travel-tips/  [Accessed 28 October 16].

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