There are two monsoons that hit Peninsular Malaysia each year. The eastern side gets hit the hardest between early November and the end of March from the northeast monsoons with much rainfall and thunderstorms. A mountain range that cuts through the centre of the country provides a light shield to the eastern monsoon, but Kuala Lumpur and other cities on the west still receive much rainfall and storms during this time. From May to September, there is another monsoon that comes from the west and hits places like Kuala Lumpur directly, bringing the most rainfall to Kuala Lumpur.
This means that 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. 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.
Borneo has an equatorial climate.
Sarawak has a monsoon season between October and February while Sabah’s wettest period is November to February. Don’t be deterred! The rain may be heavy but intermittent – and it’s cooling.
It’s tropical – so be prepared for some rain anytime during your stay.
Daytime temperatures range between 22 and 32°C whilst in the Mount Kinabalu region the temperature drops to 15-22°C
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.
In Brunei the Brunei Dollar and Singapore Dollar (notes only) are readily accepted.
Travellers cheques and 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.
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.
Australians visiting Brunei can apply for a 72 hour visa on arrival at the Brunei Airport or at a border crossing at a cost of BND5. A multiple entry visa can be purchased for BND30. Only local currency or Singapore Dollars (notes only) are excepted – without exception.
It’s best to check with your travel agent on what may apply to you prior to departure.
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 apreciation for the excellent service you’ve received. Malaysia has a 6% GST
Light summer clothes are best to suit the warm, humid climate. Sandals or walking shoes are necessary for rainforest trails. When visiting mosques & places of worship it is polite to cover your shoulders and knees.
Try it all! 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 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.
Brunei is a ‘dry’ country – alcohol cannot be purchased, however you are allowed an alcohol allowance to be brought in for personal consumption in your hotel room.
Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling. A handshake should only be initiated by ladies. The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. The man offers both hands, lightly touches his friend’s outstretched hands, and then brings his hands to his chest to mean, “I greet you from my heart”. The visitor should reciprocate the salam.
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.
240V and a UK flat 3 pin plug is used.
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.
For a Tip Sheet on Shopping in KL, ask Reservations to email you the latest on where the best places are.
While Malay is their local language, English is widely spoken.
Why not learn a few Malay words to break the ice, get a smile and have some fun?
Good Morning Selamat pagi (Try it as, “Sell a mar parghi”)
Good Afternoon Selamat tengah hari
Good Evening Selamat petang
Goodbye Selamat tinggal
Thankyou Terima kasih (Try it as, “Tear up my car seat
How are you? Apa khabar
Fine, thankyou Khabar baik
Excuse me Maafkan saya
I’m sorry Saya minta maaf
Can you help me? Bolehkah anda tolong saya?
How do I get there? Bagaimana?
How far? Berapa harganya?
What is this? Apa ini?
…and for shoppers, the very important…
How much is this? Berapa harga ini?
Too much? Terlalu banyak!
So when you arrive at your hotel for breakfast, say to your host “Sell a mar parghi – arba cabar?”” (Good Morning – how are you?) …and see if you get a “Khabar baik” reply – and a smile!
Take a cheap poncho with you. You never know when a tropical afternoon thunderstorm may occur.
The Australian Government publishes travel advisories to most countries around the world.
Click HERE for their advisory concerning Malaysia …and Malaysia’s people can be some of the friendliest in South East Asia.
The sun is strong throughout the year in the country. Proper care against sunburn must be constantly taken. Dehydration and loss of salt through perspiration are two other common problems for the unprepared traveller. Drink plenty of fluids and replace your salt loss. Make sure you pack clothing suitable for a warm humid climate.
Due to the constant humid climate, mosquitoes tend to be present throughout the year. The three most significant diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are Malaria, Dengue Fever and Japanese B Encephalitis. To repel mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies and other arthropods, apply an insect repellent containing DEET to your skin or clothing.
The risk of malaria for most tourists visiting Peninsular Malaysia is extremely small. There is insignificant risk in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and other major cities. In East Malaysia, mainly off the coastal plains and towards the border areas, there is a slightly higher risk of malaria.
There is no risk of yellow fever in Malaysia. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa.
Generally, the level of food hygiene throughout the country is high. However, make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food from street vendors should be treated with care. Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles.
If possible, avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. Bring along iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available.
Also, wash your hands often with soap and water. As an extra precaution, bring along anti-diarrhoea medication and an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor to self-treat moderate to severe diarrhoea.
Recommended vaccines:Poliomyelitis (childhood booster), Tetanus (childhood booster), Typhoid (food & water borne diseases), Hepatitis A (food & water borne diseases).
For those venturing outside cities and towns, further recommended vaccines are Hepatitis B, Rabies, Japanese B Encephalitis, Tuberculosis and Meningitis. For those visiting Sabah and Sarawak, Malaria prophylaxis is recommended.
We suggest you contact your own physician or travel doctor for your own circumstances.
Content courtesy of Tourism Malaysia