If you need helpful tips for travelling to Malaysia, you might know a bit about all that it has to offer, or you might just know it’s just south of Thailand a popular destination, so why not stop by for a few days and have an awesome Malaysia holiday?
Well, with all that Malaysia has to boast about, consider giving her more than a few days of your time. From pristine beaches known for their diving to stunning cities and national parks to colonial roots and tea plantations, Malaysia’s beauty is rich, deep, and diverse.
Helpful Tips and Tricks for Travelling to Malaysia
Diversity & Festivals to look out for in your Malaysia Travel
Starting out with the basics, Malaysia is diverse. With an ample Muslim population, all Muslim holidays are observed, including Ramadan, usually ending in June. There are major Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese influences as well that bring many festivals and traditions to Malaysia.
If you’re hoping to see a certain culture, make sure to plan a trip around their festival. So, if you’re hoping to experience that stellar celebration that comes at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, then come during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. With such a celebration happening, you will likely be welcomed into the party as a guest. Be prepared for this with modest clothes and a healthy appetite!
Chinese New Year will also be a great time to visit, where the cities come to life with festivals, parades, shows, and performances. Red is the colour of the new year, so come ready to celebrate. To experience the Buddhist influence, come during Vesak Day in May. This is when they honour the life, death, and enlightenment of Buddha. The temples will be decorated, and decadent vegetarian food will abound.
Our last two festivals are Hindu festivals: Deepavali and Thaipusam. Deepavali is commonly known as the Festival of Lights, and yes it lives up to its name. In the evenings, lanterns, lights, colours, and high energy abounds as Hindus celebrate the victory of light over darkness, which essentially means the triumph of good over evil.
Our last festival, Thaipusam, is more of a heads up so you know what you’re getting into if you travel in January. A tribute to a specific Hindu God, followers will be holding spiked alters that cut into their bodies. So, know beforehand if you want to attend this festival or take a beach day.
Basics & Safety for when you Visit Malaysia
Now that the culture has started to entice you to Malaysia, let’s talk quickly about the atmosphere. The main language is Malay, but most people speak decent English, so you should be able to go about your travels relatively easily.
While Malaysia is quite safe to travel in, pickpocketing and petty theft are still popular, as in many Southeast Asian countries. So, keep your travel documents and money safe and tucked away. Finally, stay away from the Eastern Sabah, on the island of Borneo. There has been a growing number of kidnaps in the region, so it’s better to steer clear.
Weather: The Best Time to Go on a Vacation in Malaysia
Malaysia is near the Equator, so humidity and high temperatures are a part of daily life, all year round. Seasons are not noticeable, however, there is a distinct rain and monsoon season from November through mid-February on the east coast. On the west coast, the rain starts in April and ends in October. So, if you like staying dry, plan accordingly.
Budgeting for your Malaysia Trip
Malaysia is definitely a less expensive destination then the Western destinations but depending on your travel style you can spend as much or as little as you want. Staying in hostel dorms can be as cheap as $3, while you can splurge on a luxurious hotel for over $50. There is, of course, all sorts of things in between.
Meals can also be as cheap – from street food starting at $1 and reaching up to $15 – $20 if you want sometimes spectacular. Alcohol has a large tax on the mainland, so most will range between $3 – $6. It is important to note that Malaysia has won the Guinness League of Excellence Award, meaning it will have the creamiest drink outside of the German Homeland.
Getting around can be cheap or a pain depending on what you choose. Taxis in Malaysia are known to be difficult and usually unmetered. This means they will charge you whatever they feel like, so make sure to agree on a fee beforehand. Local buses and trains are the most reliable best, ranging from just fifty cents to a few dollars depending on your destination.
What to See, Where to Go in Malaysia
Now that you’re ready with an understanding of culture and logistics, where should you go to the wonderful country of Malaysia? Let’s start in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The most iconic part of the skyline is the Petronas Twin Towers. Rising far above the city, they can boast the title of the tallest twin towers in the world. If you’re not hesitant about heights, walk on the sky bridge connecting the two or check out the view from the 86th floor.
While in the city, take advantage of the plethora of street food vendors. Try out some apam balik, a sweet, nutty pancake snack or satay. While you may have had meat on a stick before, it is something else when roasted to perfection all day outside. Take note that being a predominately Muslim country, pork will be a rare find. Lastly, make sure to try the laksa wherever you go. Using a brothy base with meat, veggies, and coconut milk, it will be a warming and homey dish to make you fall in love with the country just a little more.
Malaysia is known for its natural beauty, so make sure to get out and explore the Taman Negara National Park. You can backpack for miles, simply take a stroll through the rainforest, or have a picnic at an overlook. If you like canoeing or rock climbing, hire a guide and head off on a trek. If you’re fit enough for 272 steps uphill, make sure to go to the Batu Caves. Made of limestone, the three caves house a temple. A stunning sight where culture, nature, and tradition meet, it is one of the most beautiful and authentically Malaysian places to visit.
The beaches in Malaysia and islands off the coast are known for their stunning scenery and epic diving. Take a ride or a dip on any of them and enjoy soaking up the sun. If you’re hoping for a little more privacy, head out to one of the islands, such as Langkawi. The islands of Redang and Perhentian are known for their over thirty dive sights and shipwrecks. As the islands are more known as tourist destinations, the alcohol tax is lifted on many of the islands as there is a lesser Muslim population.
As you’re exploring nature all over Malaysia, make sure to stop and enjoy the small villages along the way. This is where you’ll get to know the people who get the privilege of calling Malaysia home. If you make your way to Penang, enjoy the street art that adorns nearly every corner of the city. It is spunky and unusual at times, but breathtaking.
So, I hope this has given you a glimpse into how to start planning your Malaysian trip. There is so much packed into this country, it is a must-see destination if you’re already heading to the Eastern part of the world. So, grab your rain jacket and your adventurous spirit and head on over!
Ella, Content Manager for trekbible, is a writer and content specialist with a predilection for learning and exploring new places and cultures around the world. With family scattered throughout the U.S. and South Korea, she loves to see cross-cultural influences around the world. Her favorite thing to do on her travels is to taste the local cuisine of each destination.