Renting a Car in Malaysia in 2024: All you need to know Renting a Car in Malaysia in 2024: All you need to know

Malaysia
Travel Guide

A melting pot of faiths, landscapes, and flavors, Malaysia combines skyscrapers with desert-island beaches and fresh highlands.

Map of Malaysia

Map of Malaysia

Weather in Malaysia

Malaysia has tropical weather for most of the year, meaning high humidity. Although it has a monsoon season, this takes place in different areas at different times, so there’s always a dry time to visit. The southwest monsoon season is May-September and the Northeast November-March.

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Hello / Greetings:Selamat Pagi
Thank you: Terima Kasih
Excuse me: Maafkan Saya

The new and the old exist side by side in diverse Malaysia! Witness cutting-edge designs intertwined amongst heritage buildings and UNESCO-protected sites, with a sprinkling of street art and plenty of beautiful beaches and islands in between.

Malaysia is an affordable place to travel in Asia, with beautiful hotels costing around $30-80 per night. It’s also home to fantastic street food and local eateries, where you can pick up a delicious meal for anywhere between $2-5. Bargain!

Although drinking tap water in the major cities is considered safe, it is not recommended for more remote destinations in Malaysia. While traveling in rural areas, choose an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle with an in-built filter system or refill at hotels and restaurants with treated water.

Great news! Most tourists can enjoy a Malaysia adventure visa-free for up to 90 days. However, we recommend checking your country’s entry requirements well in advance, as some places are subject to stricter visa rules.

Malaysia is a melting pot of different cultures, meaning numerous languages are spoken, such as Chinese and Tamil. However, the primary language is Malay, also known as Bahasa Malaysia; it’s worth learning a few phrases to connect with locals as you travel. Don’t worry too much, though, as English is spoken widely in urban areas.

Travel insurance is your safety net for your adventures in Malaysia, protecting you against unexpected events, whether that’s a flight cancellation, lost luggage, or medical care. Hike up the mountain peak, go open-water diving, or sail the high seas worry-free!

Malaysia is generally a safe country to travel to, although some petty crime occurs, especially in bigger cities. Consider leaving valuables at home, keep your belongings close, and watch out for scams and distraction techniques. Keep up to date with travel advisories, particularly for the regions bordering Thailand which see ongoing violence.

Malaysia uses type G (the same as in the UK), a three-rectangular-pronged electrical plug. The general voltage is 230V, so consider bringing an adaptor if you use a different plug type or voltage.

Malaysia is loved by travelers for its cultural diversity, which creates a unique blend of influences seen in its varied cuisine, architecture, and landscapes. It’s an unforgettable vacation experience, stargazing on paradise islands in one moment and savoring cocktails from the iconic Petronas Towers in the next.

Traveling in Malaysia

A vacation in Malaysia is unforgettable; the country is home to incredible nature that survives even in urban areas. As such, travelers can be shopping at a bustling street market or sipping a drink at the top of a skyscraper and never be far from luscious jungles, forests, or tea plantations that are bursting with wildlife. 

How to Plan Your Trip to Malaysia

Follow our Malaysia travel guides to plan a perfect trip with a mix of all the cultural and regional highlights. Malaysia is an excellent destination for backpacking because of its lively cities and buzzing backpacker hostels. However, it’s also perfect for luxury vacations, particularly on islands like Langkawi, which often welcome honeymooners. Discover all the best places in Malaysia by following our complete 2-week Malaysia itinerary

Best Time to Visit Malaysia

Need to choose the best time for your Malaysia holiday? Find out about the climate in Malaysia with this seasonal information.

Hot Season (April-August): These hot and humid months in Malaysia can be a great time to visit the beaches and islands, especially on the east and south coast, for example, in places like Perhentian and Malacca. However, be aware that temperatures rise to over 30 °C during this time, so it’s not ideal for city sightseeing. Additionally, weather conditions may be hazy and air quality low because of forest fires from other neighboring countries.

Tip: The driest conditions are on the west coast from June to August.

Wet Season (March-November): Malaysia might see heavy rainfall and humidity during this time, but this is what makes the jungles so lush and green. Because of that, it’s the perfect season for trekking when waterfalls are at their most powerful and nature is thriving. Head for the Borneo Rainforest or up into the cooler climate of the Cameron Highlands. This is also a good time for backpacking in Malaysia as it’s the low season with fewer crowds and more affordable prices. 

Cool Season (December-February): The cool season is the best time to visit Malaysia, which means it is also the most popular time of year for tourism. Temperatures are a milder 25 – 35 °C, and humidity is lower, making it great for city sightseeing in places like Kuala Lumpur and Penang. It’s also an excellent time for outdoor activities and soaking up the sun on the beaches of islands like Langkawi. Please note that as it’s the highest season, accommodation and tours can be slightly more expensive, so make sure to book well in advance.

Coastlines and Beaches in Malaysia 

Malaysia boasts one of the most stunning coastlines in Asia, home to pristine beaches, with paradise islands lying just off the shore. These are some of the best places to visit in Malaysia and the perfect spot to enjoy white sand, crystal-clear waters, coconuts, and abundant marine life. Whether you want to enjoy the seafood delights of buzzing night markets in Georgetown, spot eagles above the mangroves in Langkawi, or simply relax in a luxurious island resort on the East Coast, there’s a sandy spot for every type of traveler.

Langkawi, in the north of Malaysia, is an archipelago made up of 99 islands, so there’s plenty to choose from! On the main island, find stunning resorts, sweeping bays, and rice paddies, perfect for exploring by motorbike. Although a little more built up than some other parts of the Malaysia coastline, Langkawi still offers perfectly preserved nature; here, you’ll find UNESCO-protected mangroves, which form an essential part of the ecosystem and are teeming with diverse and unusual wildlife. 

For true desert-island life, head to the remote islands off the east coast of Malaysia, such as the Perhentian islands, Tioman, or Redang. In these places, going without wifi and phone signal is normal, allowing travelers to completely switch off on their vacation in Malaysia. Spend your days here swinging in a hammock under palm trees that brush the soft white sand, or make the most of the Caribbean-like waters for diving and snorkeling; the marine life is fantastic!   

Wherever you choose, the endless coastline of Malaysia and the hundreds of islands nearby have proved to be the perfect environment for sea life and coral to flourish. Experience adrenaline adventures, ziplining through the coastal jungles, plunging into waterfall pools, or simply take it easy as you soak up the sun. Malaysia is not to be missed!

Food, Culture, and Religion in Malaysia 

With a long history of colonization and immigration, Malaysia has become a melting pot of different influences; it’s a harmonious place where different religions, cultures, and languages exist side by side, making Malaysia travel a truly fascinating experience. 

Religion: Although with a predominantly Islamic population, Malaysia is home to many religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. Because of this, travelers will see a diverse range of temples dotted throughout the cities and landscapes, from colorfully decorated Hindu temples to expansive domed mosques. The rich tapestry of religions in one place creates an incredible calendar of festivals from Ramadan to Chinese New Year.

Food: The varying influences in Malaysia have also contributed to delicious cuisine, with plates celebrating all faiths, cultures, and nationalities. Malaysian recipes mix Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Indonesian influences; some of the most famous dishes are the warm and comforting noodle soup, Laksa, delicious Roti flatbreads, and coconut rice dish, Nasi Lemak. All of these can be found in upscale restaurants, buzzing night markets, or hawker centers, where Malaysian families and friends come together to eat and catch up. Join them and dine on some of the nation’s favorite offerings — one of the best things to do in Malaysia

Tip: Make sure to try the somewhat strange dessert named Cendol, made from coconut milk, green jelly worms made from rice flour, and palm sugar, and often accompanied with a serving of red azuki beans. 

Culture: The culture in Malaysia is one of a kind, with so many languages, faiths, and nationalities living together in the same area. This creates a warm, hospitable nation where it isn’t strange to see a group of friends speaking various languages, whether it’s English, Chinese, or Tamil. With all this diversity, customs and traditions are respected and embraced by all, with festivals like Eid, Diwali, and Chinese New Year a vital part of the annual events calendar. It’s also a great place to witness traditional dance and theatre, like shadow puppetry, where silhouettes cut from leather are projected onto a screen to act out a performance (believed to be of Thai or Javanese influence). 

The intertwining of religion, culture, and gastronomical delights creates an enchanting atmosphere that’s hard to beat, making traveling in Malaysia a one-of-a-kind experience!

Why You Should Travel to Malaysia

It’s not often that a country offers such an incredible kaleidoscope of cultural and natural activities, creating exciting contrasts in everything from the landscapes to the architecture and food. With so much to explore (each region is fantastic in its own right), there’s always more to see on another vacation in Malaysia!

From the luscious rainforests of Borneo, teeming with wildlife — and home to the endangered orangutan — to tiny paradise islands off the east coast, there’s a remote and wild landscape for both adventurers and relaxed beach bums. For the city slickers, there are exciting metropolis’ dotted in between, such as Kuala Lumpur with the iconic Petronas Towers and Malacca with its Dutch, British, and Portuguese colonial architecture –  some of the best places to visit in Malaysia. This diversity is infectious, seen in places like the Cameron Highlands, where rolling tea plantations form the backdrop to old-fashioned English tea rooms and Victorian-style lodges. 

From mossy forest trails and wildlife spotting among the rainforest canopy to stargazing on uninhabited islands and cocktail tasting on skyscraper terraces, this infectious nation offers everything and more on your Malaysia holiday.

Safety and Travel Advice in Malaysia

Although Malaysia is generally very safe, travelers should take the necessary precautions to enjoy a safe trip. The following information helps visitors get the most out of their journey. 

Natural Disasters: Because of the heavy rains in the monsoon seasons throughout Malaysia, the country can be prone to natural disasters like flooding and landslides. Stay informed by registering with your embassy to receive emergency updates on your trip, and be particularly careful in low-lying, flatter areas where flooding can happen unexpectedly.

Crime and safety in Malaysia: While Malaysia is a safe place to travel, petty theft like pickpocketing can happen. Exercise caution by keeping valuables secure and leaving any important belongings at home. Like any destination, we recommend avoiding isolated areas at night, sticking to well-lit spots with more people, and being extra vigilant in crowded places and when withdrawing cash at ATMs. 

Learn more about travel safety

Traffic in Malaysia: While the infrastructure in Malaysia is very good, the roads can be chaotic and are often congested, especially in the cities and outer ring roads. Drivers can be erratic, and traffic rules are loosely followed, so remain cautious. For example, always wear a seatbelt (or a helmet for scooters), and don’t drive over the speed limit. During the rainy season, be aware of road conditions, as the tarmac can be slippery.

Cultural Sensitivity: Malaysia has an incredibly diverse range of faiths, and everyone lives harmoniously and respectfully. Adhere to their customs and traditions by covering up when visiting places of worship, removing shoes before entering, and asking permission to take photos of local people. Please note that public displays of affection are more frowned upon than in some other Asian destinations. 

Drugs and Drinking: Malaysia has very strict drug laws, which can see you imprisoned for small amounts of substance. Severe drug offenses can even lead to the death penalty. Always consume alcohol responsibly and look out for your travel buddies on nights out.

Travel Insurance: One of the most important things you need to do before your Malaysia holiday is purchase travel insurance. This gives you assurance for unexpected accidents – for example, an injury, canceled flight, or lost baggage. Check out these best travel insurances.