Welcome to Malaysia
A potpourri of cultures, Malaysia is a land of many wonders - vibrant cities, long sandy beaches, tropical rainforests and mouth-watering cuisines
Country Quick Facts
Located in Southeast Asia, the Federation of Malaysia is divided by the South China Sea into Peninsular (West) Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo (East). It’s comprised of thirteen states and three federal territories. Most of the Malaysian population is concentrated in Peninsular Malaysia whereas Malaysian Borneo is remote and undeveloped and has an abundance of natural resources. Malaysia shares its border with Thailand on the west and Brunei and Indonesia on the east
Area: 329,758 sq km
Population: 29.95 million, Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Malay, 52% of the total population, form the majority whereas Malaysia is also populated by 27% Chinese and 9% Indians. Remaining of the population is constituted of miscellaneous groups. Due to this diversity in population, Malaysia features a multicultural society. Malay is the national language of the country, and Islam its official religion. Other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism are freely practiced by different ethnic groups
The domestic currency of Malaysia is Malaysia ringgit, abbreviated as MYR or RM. The average exchange rate of the ringgit 3.9 per US dollar in 2018. One ringgit equals 100 sen. Notes are available in RM 1, RM 2, RM 5, RM 10, RM 50 and RM 100 while coins in use include 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and RM 1. Banking hours in states like Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu are Sundays to Thursdays from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. Most banks work half day on Saturdays whereas they remain closed on Fridays. ATMs are evenly distributed across the country. If you intend to withdraw money or use your credit card during your travel to Malaysia, make sure you inform your bank in advance.
Malaysia features a tropical monsoon weather. So, it remains hot and humid with a small amount of tropical rain throughout the year. The east coast remains wet between November and February. During this period, the west coast experiences a dry weather. On the other hand, the west coast remains wet between April and October while the east coast in these months has a dry and sunny weather. The temperature at sea level varies between 21°C and 32°C, and it reduces at higher altitudes. The country’s annual rainfall averages between 2,000mm and 2,500mm.
Time: Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.
Electricity: The standard voltage in Malaysia is 240V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets used in the country are of type G (3 pin). If the standard voltage in your country is between 220 and 240 V, you’ll be able to use your own electric appliances in Malaysia without any hassle.
Weight & Measurement: Malaysia adheres to the metric system of weight and measurement.
Telecommunications: Public phones are available to make local calls using coins or prepaid card. Malaysia’s international call facility is also great. Phone cards can be used to make international telephone calls. There are also Telekom offices where international call service can be availed.
Top cities of Malaysia
Malaysia has 14 places which have been granted the city status. Some of the most popular cities in the country are as follows.
Food & Drink
Malaysia’s food is a real treat for travellers. Culinary influences from China and India come together to create a wide range of delicacies, apart from Malay which has its own unique flavour. The toothsome seafood and the national dishes made from tropical produce offer an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Eating in Malaysia is entirely safe, as standards of hygiene are maintained everywhere - even at the street stalls which are present in good numbers.
A preparation of crushed telang flowers mixed into flour, soaked in spicy budu
Barbecued chicken with a nice spicy flavour, a popular Malaysian stall food
A preparation of rice and coconut milk, available in multiple varieties across the country
A type of sandwich with fillings of minced meat and egg, comes along with a confection of condiments
A curry dish made from beef, chicken or lamb, uses coconut milk and several spices
Easy to prepare, it's basically rice served with a variety of toppings, very popular across Malaysia
A staple cuisine, it's a spicy noodle soup, served in multiple variations, often liked with fish or prawn
Named after it's net-like shape, this net bread is often eaten with chicken curry, anytime of the day
A type of spring roll, makes for a good crispy snack, known and liked for its special regional flavour
Culture of Malaysia
Malaysia has a wonderfully diverse culture. Some people (outsiders) often use the term ‘Malay’ to refer to all things Malaysian. But ‘Malay’ is not the correct word to denote the kind of multi-ethnic culture that Malaysia represents. The natives of Malaysia refer to their culture as kebudayaan Malaysia.
Malaysia is simply a melting pot of different cultures including Malay culture, Chinese culture, Indian culture, Eurasian culture. Plus, the country’s culture is also influenced by its indigenous population of the peninsula and north Borneo. Broadly speaking, the country’s social structure can be categorized into Malay and non-Malay, Malay having a dominant presence in the country’s politics and other important affairs. Malay is the national language of Malaysia.
Malaysia’s diverse culture is manifest in its cuisines. Most of the cuisines in the country have rice and noodles in them. Malaysia is quite well-known for its spicy dishes, which are loved by everyone and come in delicious varieties. The wealthy class commonly has meat in their meals. The natives of Malaysia are very hospitable. They never fail to give their guests a warm welcome and offer them a range of delicacies. During holidays, people from different sections of the society and groups come together to display their friendship and goodwill for one another.
For travellers, Malaysia is always considered as a quite safe country. The people of Malaysia are honest in their dealings. Even the food vendors show their honesty by not charging anyone in excess. At the same time, Malaysians are outspoken too. If they have an opinion, they’ll not hesitate to share it.
Top Activities in Malaysia
Self Drive Travel in Malaysia
Exploring Malaysia at your own pace is a lot of fun. Hire a car and get ready to drive through the central highlands of the country. Plan out a few days of driving from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands and head towards Penang. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Georgetown and spend some quality time on the tropical island of Langkawi. Self driving in Malaysia offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy independent travel and have stops and rests at one’s own will.
Thanks to the North-South Expressway, travelling in Malaysia by car is easy and safe. Apart from this, the country has come up with many other modern highways which make self-driving a pleasurable experience. The road network connects towns and villages all over Malaysia. During a self driving journey, you’ll have the freedom to stop at villages and meet and interact with locals. Don’t forget to spend some time visiting roadside stalls where children sell a variety of seasonal fruits that come straight from family farms. Quality cars are easily available for hire. Just get an experienced driver and a roadmap for directions - and you’re ready.
Urban Adventures in Malaysia
Langkawi is a very popular travel destination in Malaysia, and it provides travellers with an array of adventure sports options. Even though it’s one of the most picturesque islands in the world, the atmosphere here is very secluded and serene. The island features wonderful jungles, idyllic beaches and excellent sightseeing. Famous beaches in Langkawi include Rhu Beach, Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Black Sand Beach, Pantai Kok, Datai Bay and Pasir Tengkorak. The island of Pulau Payar promises a great time for the lovers of diving. The island of Langkawi offers a number of other water sports that will give anyone an adrenaline rush.
Langkawi’s cable car ride, one of the most famous in the world, offers a genuine dose of adorable adventure. In a span of 15 minutes, the cable car takes riders to the top of Mt. Mat Cincang. The cable car ride covers a total distance of 2.1 km and offers heart-stirring views of surrounding mountains, valleys, waterfalls, islands - and sometimes even wildlife and a variety of birds. The ride offers a stopover once it scales a height of 650 m. Here, travellers can either decide to get off or proceed to the top station for the most fantastic views. Both at the base station and the upper stations, ample facilities and activities have been provided so that travellers can enjoy their time, eat delicious snacks and have fun.
Though Genting Highlands is basically regarded as a hill station, it’s packed with all kinds of luxurious modern-day comforts. Located at 2,000 m above sea level, the place offers something for every adventure lover. There are indoor and outdoor theme parks where a host of adventurous activities can be enjoyed. Abseiling and indoor rock climbing are quite popular with tourists. Genting Highlands is well-known for its vibrant nightlife. There are multiple casinos situated throughout the highlands, attracting travellers from all over Malaysia and outside. Accommodation in Genting Highlands is one of its kind; there are several properties - from three to five star - with opulent amenities, facilities and impeccable service.
While in Malaysia, a tour of Penang should never be missed. The city tour presents to travellers a wonderful combination of the old and the new. Penang is quite popular for its street food. Sweet and savoury treats along the streets of Penang never fail to tickle the taste buds of tourists. This is an excellent opportunity for everyone who wants to learn about the traditional Malaysian cuisine. The walking tour also provides a window into some interesting history - old city streets, well-preserved heritage sites and old Chinese and Muslim shops. A visit to the Penang market, packed with a variety of treats, further adds to a traveller’s overall experience.
Both the most popular and the most important in Malaysia, the Putrajaya Bridge is a must visit for all travellers. It spans over a length of 435 m and connects the Government Precinct with the Mixed Development Precinct. People visit this bridge for its unique architecture and design. Plus, the bridge offers a boulevard-like area on its upper deck which is a regular haunt for joggers and walkers. For photography lovers, the Putrajaya Bridge is a great place for capturing some of the most beautiful pictures. Honeymooners and couples are a common sight here. On the lower deck, which is the transportation route, there are multiple restaurants and cafes where some quality time can be spent. For adventure lovers, the man-made lake offers excellent options for boat riding and kayaking.