The odd man out among Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia is often missed by travelers when looking for an ideal travel destination in the region. Incredibly underrated, this stunning and diverse country is actually home to pristine beaches, picturesque tropical rainforests, remarkable architecture, quaint towns, and vibrant cities, waiting for you to explore. Add Malaysia’s delectable cuisine, unique culture, and lovely people, there’s just simply no reason for you not to book your next vacation in Malaysia.
But, before you do, here are some important things you should know about the country to help you prepare properly. Keep these things in mind and follow them religiously, what you’ll have is a stress-free, enjoyable, and enriching travel experience in the ever-beautiful Malaysia.
Check if you need a visa.
Malaysia has a very lenient immigration process for travelers compared to its neighboring countries. Most nationalities can enter the country visa-free and stay from 14-90 days, depending on the applicable policy. To avoid any issues, you may want to check online or visit your Malaysian embassy or consulate for more accurate information. That way, you can plan your trip just in case you’ll be required to get a visa in advance.
Get the necessary vaccinations.
Same with visiting other countries in Southeast Asia, it’s important to get necessary vaccinations to minimize risks of getting sick when you travel to Malaysia. Don’t fret, though. The country has an excellent healthcare system, which means the nation is safe from most ailments and diseases.
Still, CDC recommends getting shots for Typhoid, Hepatitis, and ensuring that your other routine inoculations are up-to-date. The organization also advises having a rabies vaccine if you’re visiting rural areas or if you’re to engage in activities that will bring you closer to wild animals, such as camping or hiking.
There’s also a small risk of acquiring mosquito-borne diseases like Malaria, Yellow Fever, and Dengue Fever when visiting outside the cities, so it’s best to bring insect repellent or anti-malaria pills if prescribed by your doctor.
Be prepared for the tropical climate.
Malaysia has a tropical climate, so expect that it’s hot and humid year-round, with some places experiencing warmer or colder temperatures. Occasional rainfalls may also happen, especially if you’re visiting during the monsoon season from May to November. With that, be sure to pack lightweight and loose clothing (both long and short). Add your sandals, comfy shoes, sunglasses, and travel towels To protect yourself and your valuables from rain, throw in an umbrella, waterproof, and raincoat just in case.
English is widely spoken in the country.
Malaysia’s official language is Malay or Bahasa Malaysia. Yet, being a multicultural society that draws influence from various ethnicities, don’t be surprised to hear other languages, such as Tamil, and Mandarin. What’s great is that English is also a common tongue in the country. Ticket machines, signs, sands, and food menus have English translations, which means you’ll never have a hard time communicating, navigating, or ordering the right food.
With its diverse culture, Malaysia is also blessed with various scenic, cultural, and religious sights. However, before you visit such sites, be mindful you may be asked to take off your shoes, cover your shoulders and ness, or wear a headscarf (for female travelers), depending on the religion. As such, it’s always best to bring some conservative clothing so you have something to wear for the occasion. Wearing bikinis is also banned on some beaches, so remember not to dress down as you would in other countries when you’re in Malaysia.
Respect the local customs and laws.
Though vacations are meant for fun, it’s always crucial to follow local customers and laws to ensure that you won’t get into trouble. Remember, public display of affection and drugs are absolute no-nos. Pointing your finger is also deemed as rude, but you may use your thumb with the remaining fingers folded under. Meanwhile, leaving tips is not part of the culture and is not expected. Just in case you get frustrated for any reason, stay calm as the locals are not confrontational. Take a deep breath and recollect yourself. It will do you and everyone better.
Never drink tap water.
Tap water in Malaysia isn’t potable, even locals don’t drink unfiltered water. Before your trip, it’s best to pack a reusable bottle, as most guesthouses, hotels, and hostels now offer filtered water options. Alternatively, you may opt for bottled waters, which are available nearly anywhere at 2.25 RM ($0.50 USD). Nevertheless, having your own refillable tumbler is your best choice – you save up on your budget plus you get to help minimize waste in the environment.
Go for public transport.
While taking a taxi is usually the convenient and comfortable option when arriving and going around a country, it’s advisable to go for public transport instead as they are widely available, cheap, and very easy to use in Malaysia. You can take buses, trains, or monorails to take you to your intended destination. Planning your itinerary and route using Google Maps so you can also book tickets in advance. If you’re carrying heavy luggage or lines are taking too long in public transport, a good alternative is using the ride-sharing app, Grab, which is pretty more affordable. Should you end up going for a taxi, check if there’s a meter or negotiate about the price before making the trip to avoid getting ripped off.
Vehicles Drive on the Left.
Another important thing you must remember before beginning your adventure in Malaysia is that motorists drive on the left-hand side. That means you need to look left, right, and left again before crossing the streets. It can be strange and hard to adjust to, given that most countries drive on the right. However, you need to adapt quickly and exercise extra caution for your own safety.
Taste delicious Malaysian foods.
Part of any trip to any country is tasting their distinct cuisine. In Malaysia, you’ll never run out of delicious choices coming from Malay, Indian, and Chinese influences. Some of the first ones you should try include Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, Banana Leaf Rice, and Curry Laksa. List them down, so you won’t miss any. You can also visit hawker stops and street food stalls to taste their famous Satay, an incredibly tasty grilled, skewered meat, and Cendol, a refreshing dessert, to cool you off ahead of your day.
Malaysia is not just a city.
A common misconception about Malaysia is that it only offers urban attractions, but certainly not. Apart from Kuala Lumpur, its lively capital, the country offers lots of other stunning sites and locations to travelers.
If you’re looking for some great hikes, you can head to Cameron Highlands, renowned for its verdant hilltop, tea, and strawberry plantations. For some historical attractions, Malacca is your best bet. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the charming port city will seemingly transport you back in time with its iconic landmarks from the colonial era.
Meanwhile, you can go to the Perhentian Islands for white sandy beaches, lush green sceneries, and turquoise warm sea waters, also ideal for your whole family. Lastly, there is also Malaysian Borneo, where you can witness the incredible flora and fauna supported by the third-largest in the world.
Indeed, Malaysia has it all, from great food to rich culture, beautiful natural landscapes, and excellent opportunities for adventure. Whichever draws you in to visit the country, be sure to plan and prepare well jetting off from your location and you’ll surely get the best of what Malaysia has to offer.