Travel Advice Malaysia | Travel Tips|

What to wear, money matters and more Malaysia travel advice! At Pyala, we have gathered all the information, so you can read about all things practical.

Travel Tips Malaysia

Travel Advice Malaysia | Travel Tips Malaysia

Asking for Directions
A common source of misunderstanding many visitors experience is trying to tell the difference when a Malaysian is confident of an answer or simply trying to help. Malaysians are non-confrontational. This means that they rarely like to say ‘no’ when someone asks for help. An unusual side-effect of such an attitude is that directions will always be given – even if they are not sure where it is they are supposed to direct you to. You may even experience this with famous landmarks (possibly because that person knows the landmark by a different name – after all, we are a multi-lingual society with more languages than you have fingers!). We advise that you ask several people for directions as well as to regularly ask new people ‘along the way’ to re-confirm.

The local currency used throughout Malaysia is the Ringgit Malaysia (RM). It is rare to find retail merchants who accept currencies other than the Ringgit. RM1 roughly equals to 0,25 Euro or US{ITEM.text}.35. Malaysia has phased out usage of 1 sen coin (1 cent). Due to this, all receipts are rounded up/down to the nearest 5 sen. ATM machines are common in most cities and towns. Most hotels and major retail stores are able to accept credit cards; however, it is common for the machine to be ‘down’. Therefore, it is recommended to always have sufficient cash on hand or to confirm whether you can pay by card before ordering. ATM machines are rarely found on the small islands of Malaysia so be sure to bring enough cash before going to the islands.

Malaysia uses standard 3-pin square plugs & sockets, following a main voltage of AC 220-240. See photo to the right.

Forms of Respect
When visiting temples and mosques, long sleeves and long & loose pants or skirts are necessary as a show of respect. Additionally, you may be required to remove your shoes when visiting temples, mosques, or homes. For some beaches in Malaysia, a bikini is a rare sight. For other beaches, it is quite common. It really depends on the type of people that visit those beaches. For visiting women who might feel self-conscious, we would recommend to pack 2 sets: full and/or bikini. This way, they can just ‘go with the flow’. This is a country where some locals will be clad in bikinis, yet others will hop into the sea covered from neck to toe. It is discouraged from discussing controversial ethnic, religious or political issues. These can be highly sensitive subjects with vastly different perceptions due to the great number of different races and religions. ‘Saving face’ (portraying a good self-image) is also very important to Malaysians. It may be difficult to communicate with a Malaysian if they do not feel they have a good image.

Most accommodations provide bottled water in the rooms. The treated pipe water in Malaysia is general safe for washing and cleaning, but we recommend that visitors stick with sealed bottled water. Mosquitoes are common to Malaysia. We highly advise all guests to bring along some mosquito repellent. Dengue fever is a health concern in Malaysia spread by mosquito bites. Malaria is a present, but uncommon, disease. Please check with your doctor for any other vaccinations to consider. It might also be useful to note that Malaysia has many GP clinics around.

Unfortunately, petty theft (especially purse snatching and pick-pocketing) is a common crimes committed against foreigners, especially in major cities. The most common method of purse snatching is by 2 thieves on a motorcycle (one to drive, one to grab). Such an occurrence is very fast and very shocking. It is advisable to wear bags slung across your back or torso so that it is not easily pulled off. Additionally, some snatchers may even be bold enough to snatch easily visible (and easily grabbed) necklaces from passing women; therefore, we recommend to refrain from wearing expensive necklaces too visibly.


Malaysia follows the time zone of GMT+8 hours. Most shopping complexes are open from 10:00 until 22:00. Banks are generally open from 10:00 until 15:30. In terms of punctuality, most people in the tourism industry have learned to follow some kind of fixed schedule, however, in general, punctuality is not a common term to describe a Malaysian. The general rule of thumb is to make appointments as normal, but either party should expect the other to be late by as much as 15-30 minutes without a call. Another rule of thumb is that the further away you are from urban areas, the more ‘flexible’ time gets. Your Kuala Lumpur driver may be on time; your Cameron Highlands guide may be 15 minutes late; and your ferry to Pulau Tioman from the small town of Mersing may be 1 hour late. Fridays are holy days for Muslims with most Muslims taking a 2 hour lunch break for afternoon prayers. In certain predominantly Muslim states, the weekend fall on Friday & Saturday.

Almost every Malaysian is a foodie. One of the most amusing cultural quirks of Malaysia is that instead of greeting another person with ‘How are you?’ many Malaysians will instead begin the conversation with ‘Have you eaten yet?’ The country’s rich and diverse ethnic background has led to a wide array of foods that has been influence and enjoyed by each culture. ‘Must try’ foods include satay (meat on a stick, what’s not to like?), char kuey teow (a type of flat fried rice noodle dish), nasi lemak (a rice cooked in coconut milk and served with spicy sambal sauce), nasi goreng (fried rice), or roti canai (an Indian-style bread). Tropical fruits are a staple to most Malaysians. Rambutans, lychees, mangos and longans are sweet and refreshing. Durians are perhaps Malaysia’s most famous and favourite fruit with its rich stench (most foreigners cannot in close range of this fruit, let alone try to eat it). Most hotels do not allow guests to bring in durians (due to the smell) and mangosteens (their skins leave stains). Honestly, we can go on and on about food… it might be better for you to simply read it online: FOOD IN MALAYSIA

The best places to dive in Malaysia are in Borneo (Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Lankayan, Layang-Layang islands.) and Peninsula Malaysia (Perhentian, Redang and Tioman islands). Diving in Borneo is year-round. For Peninsula Malaysia (Perhentian, Redang and Tioman islands) the diving season is from February until October only. February is the reef cuttlefish mating season in Tioman. Whale sharks are known to pass by Lankayan island in April/May; whereas hammerhead sharks are spotted in March. Hammerhead sharks are also regularly spotted in Layang-Layang and Sipadan. Green turtles nest in July and August and hatch around September to November. For Peninsula Malaysia, April until September are the best diving months. For Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai, April to November are the best. For Layang-Layang, the sea is calmest from May to July.