Malaysia has such a rich cultural background which makes it so unique. A combination of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and indigenous groups comprise the nation. These cultures contribute to the many different types of festivals, cuisine and architecture. Malaysia also has so much natural beauty to marvel at. You can find stunning beaches to some of the oldest rainforests in the world.
Yet, despite all this, Malaysia seems to be often overlooked and seldom talked. Compared to its’ neighbor Thailand, Malaysia isn’t nearly as over crowded with tourists but is still easily accessible. People would rave about other countries in Southeast Asia but rarely mentioned Malaysia.
I must admit that I didn’t have high expectations for Malaysia. I planned my visit for the sake of ticking off another country. But from the first day I set foot in Malaysia I fell head over heels for the country. I loved the merging of all the different cultures, religions and history. The celebration of each culture made for such beautiful architecture and temples. While its natural beauty left me awestruck.
Malaysia quickly became a stand out in my gap year. It seemed afterward everyone we meet that had been to Malaysia equally loved it. This unexpected gem is a must for anyone traveling Asia. My Malaysia Travel Guide is the perfect jumping off point to planning any trip to Malaysia.
Malaysia Travel Guide
Malaysia Official Language
The official language of Malaysia is Malay. English is widely spoken so it’s easy enough to get by without knowing how to speak Malay. I found no issues when I traveling and not speaking the local language. Below are basic phrase in Malay. It is handy to have google translate on your phone. This will help not only to communicate with locals but to translate menus.
Halo! – Hello!
Selamat pagi! – Good morning!
Terima kasih! – Thank you!
Selamat tinggal! – Good bye!
Tidak – no
Saya tidak boleh cakap bahasa melayu. – I don’t speak any Malayan.
Kamu boleh cakap … ? – Do you speak …?
Best Time to Visit Malaysia
The best time to visit Malaysia depends on where you want to go. Malaysia is a peninsula and the weather can be drastic from one region to another. Generally Malaysia stays hot and humid throughout the year. You will want to avoid northeast monsoon season. The monsoon season brings heavy rainfall between November to mid-February. The best time to travel Malaysia is generally between March and early October. Around this time is when you will avoid the intense rain and there’s less humidity.
Where to go in Malaysia
Malaysia is so diverse and has so many amazing regions to visit. Most visits will lead you into or out of Kuala Lumpur which is an amazing city to explore. To make sure you get the most out of your time in Malaysia I would travel to other regions. George town is a great city to get a feel for the history of Malaysia. Cameron Highlands is great for nature lovers. Those who are looking for a beach vacation and to dive should head to Pulau.
My Top Five Places to Visit in Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur – One of the world’s great multicultural metropolises. So many beautiful temples and yummy food to sample.
George Town – So a unique city filled with a lot of history and street art.
Cameron Highlands – Stunning nature, mystery and tea all make the highlands a must.
Taman Negara National Park – Home to some of the oldest rainforest where you can spot elephants in their natural habitat.
Perhentian Islands – Set at the entrance to the Thai Gulf these islands are a great launching pad to diving or sunbathing.
Getting Around in Malaysia
Most flights to Malaysia arrive in Kuala Lumpur – Peninsular Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu- East Malaysia or Penang – Penang Island. The majority of travelers will fly into Kuala Lumpur and I would recommend to make this your first stop. Once in Malaysia you can travel by taxi, bus, train and private hire. I traveled throughout Malaysia via bus and found it comfortable and very affordable. I purchased all my bus tickets online at RedBus and had no issues. In Cameron Highlands we missed our bus and we purchased new tickets on the spot for 9 USD. RedBus is great because the website is in english. You can often reserve which seat you have and choose the bus company on reviews. Once in town we used Grab to get around. Grab is Asia’s ride hailing service similar to uber but cheaper.
Malaysia Rough Budget
Where to Stay in Malaysia
We booked all our hotels in Malaysia on Agoda.com. They had by far the best prices and photos of the actual hotel. Every hotel we stayed in Malaysia we loved except our hotel in the Cameron Highlands which we didn’t book through agoda.com. If you are traveling as couple or with a friend staying in hotel rooms can sometimes be about the same as staying in a hostel and is private. If you are traveling solo staying in hostels is gonna be the best option to keep your costs low. Generally speaking hostels are the best places to meet other travelers. If you do not enjoy staying in hostels than you can join some Facebook groups to meet other travelers.
What to Pack for Malaysia
The most important thing to remember is Malaysia is a normally hot and humid. You are gonna want to pack comfy and light clothing. Keep in mind that to enter temples and mosques you will need to be dressed conservatively. Be sure to pack at least one outfit you can wear to temples and mosques. Don’t forget a light jacket for cold restaurants and buses, and umbrella or a rain jacket. If mosquitoes tend to like you pack some bug spray as well especially for the night time.
- rain jacket
- mosquito repellent
- temple outfit (knees/ankles + shoulders covered)
- day pack or crossbody bag
- apps (Google translate + Grab)
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Malaysia Travel Guide