“Land of multi-faceted charm, color & contrast”
Malaysia is a country founded upon diversity and fusion. Promoting itself as ‘Malaysia truly Asia’, this unique country is where you can shop, admire high technology and explore modern buildings one day and unwind on the beach or trek in dense jungles the next.
The trendy capital, Kuala Lumpur, is dominated by the Petronas Towers, a glistening reminder of the nation’s modern developments. Glitzy shopping abounds here but things are more laid-back in other popular tourist centers like Malacca and Penang, where colonial architecture abounds.
Multiculturalism has not only made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise, it has also made Malaysia home to hundreds of colorful festivals.
One of the rising stars of South-East Asian tourism, Malaysia is one of the most pleasant, hassle-free countries to visit in Asia, a nation looking to the future while cherishing the ways of the past. Centuries of trade combined with a vibrant mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and tribal influence have created a mix of peoples and culture that make it a colorful and intriguing place to visit.
For the perfect holiday full of surprises, eclectic cultures and natural wonders, the time is now, the place is Malaysia.
When to Visit
It is best to avoid the heaviest rains which occur between November and January in East Malaysia but in general Malaysia can be visited at any time of the year as the climate is generally hot and sunny with showers almost every day. May to September is considered to be the best time to visit however this depends on what you want to do during your stay.
MALAYSIA’S PLACES OF INTEREST
KUALA LUMPUR - This vibrant capital of Malaysia has its origin as a tin mining outpost in th 1800’s. The hub of commerce, politics, culture and education. KL’s skyline is a striking contrast of ultra-modern structures and charming heritage buildings. The imposing Petronas Twin Towers, the world tallest twin structures, is a major draw for most visitors. KL’s fascinating sights, irresistible shopping, endless festival, exciting nightlife and gastronomic delights make it an exciting holiday destination.
PENANG – The “Pearl of the Orient” is famed for its lovely beaches, colorful history and rich potpourri of cultures. George town, the bustling state capital and port city, combines the best of East ansd West asn evident in its numerous heritage buildings. This food paradise tempts the palate with a mouth watering array of local cuisine. The island is connected to the mainland by vehicular ferry service and the magnificent Penang bridge.
LANGLAWI – Malaysia’s best-known holiday destination, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Pulau Langkawi with a population of about 65,000, the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba. Fringed with long, white beaches and with an interior of jungle covered hills and craggy mountain peaks, it’s easy to see why this is Malaysia’s most heavily promoted tourist hotspot.
MELAKA – Its long history makes Melaka a veritable treasure trove of the past and a cultural melting pot. Tourists are inevitably drawn to its historical precinct, containing the well-preserved 17th century Dutch Stadhuys and the remains of the Portuguese A’ Famosa. Of interest here are several museums, a replica of Melaka Sultanate Palace and the Independence Memorial Building. The Baba and Nyonya Heritage museum provides insights into this unique community. Nearby Ayer Keroh and A’ Famosa Water Park provide numerous sightseeing spots and recreational activities.
TERANGGANU – Blessed with captivating island retreats of soft white sun, crystal-clear waters and prolific marine life. The islands of Redang and Perhentian attract lovers of the sun and sea from around the world. Boat-building and traditional handicraft activities such as batik-painting and songket-weaving can be observed around Kuala Terangganu, the main town. Tasik Kenyir, the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia, is a haven for fre shwater fishing and eco-adventures.
PUTRAJAYA – Situated 25 kms south of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya is the furturistic administrative capital of the nation. Hailed as an Intelligent Grden City, this model township is a proud symbol of Malaysias aspiration to be a developed nation. The focal point here is the Putra Square, the stately Prime Ministers Office and the aesthetically-pleasing Putrajaya Mosque. Another impressive feature is the uniquely designed bridges that span the various points of the sprawling Putrajaya Lake.
SARAWAK – Situated on the northwestern coast of Borneo, the ‘Land of Hornbills’ beckons visitors with its pristine rainforest and diverse lifestyles of its indigenous people. The magnificent Mulu Caves, Sarawak Cultural Village and the state’s national parks rank among its major attractions. Go on a river cruise adventure to visit the numerous ethnic groups with their colorful customs and traditions.
KELANTAN – Literally means “Land of Lightning”, is an agrarian state with lush paddy fields, rustic fishing villages and casuarina-lined beaches. Located in the northeast corner of the peninsula, the charms of Kelantan are found in the vitality of its culture and its remote, unsullied beauty. Kelantan offers plenty of opportunities for tourists such as river cruises, river rafting, bird watching and jungle trekking.
TIOMAN ISLAND - A small island located off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. In the 1970s, Time Magazine selected Tioman as one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Tourists have surged to the island ever since, seeking a taste of paradises. The island is surrounded by numerous white coral reefs, making it a haven for scuba divers while the interior is densely forested.
NEGERI SEMBILAN – Literally means “Nine States”. It is so called because it comprises a federation of nine states. Located on the southwest corner of Peninsular Malaysia. Its flourishing capital Seremban has several interesting historical and cultural sites. The pervasive influence of Minangkabau is a district characteristic of the state Seri Menanti, a royal enclave, and home to Malaysia’s largest traditional timber palace. Port Dickson is a popular weekend retreat with its long coastline.
LABUAN – Located off the west coast of Sabah, Labuan is a paradise for wreck diving and international deep sea fishing. The annual Labuan International Sea Challenge is an exciting water sports event for enthusiasts. The island is the site of several World War II memorials.
TAMAN NEGARA – Literally means “national park” in Malay is one of the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. It features massive trees, waterfalls, jungle treks of various duration and the world’s longest canopy walkways. Several trails enable the visitor to explore the forest without a guide. Taman Negara is a haven for endangered species such as the Asian elephant, tigers, leopards and rhinos, but numbers are low and sightings are very rare.
PERLIS – The smallest state in Malaysia. The state is famous for its serene unspoilt beauty, rustic rural scenes and verdant paddy fields. The expanse of verdant paddy fields makes the landscape appear like a huge canvas of brilliant green or gold, depending on the season.his tiny northern state of Peninsular Malaysia shares borders with neighboring Thailand.
CAMERON HIGHLANDS - One of Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations, first developed by the British in the 1920s. It has a population of more than 34,000 people consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups. The Cameron Highlands is renowned for its trails. They lead visitors through the forest to waterfalls and other tranquil spots. Apart from its jungle walks, the sanctuary is also known for its tea plantations and visitors can book several “tea factory” tours.
SELANGOR – Selangor is the main gateway for visitors to the country. Attractions in the state include the unique Kampung Kuantan Fireflies Park, the magnificent Btu Caves, fabulous theme parks and great shopping. An annual sporting highlight is the action-packed Formula One race held at Sepang International Circuit. Shah Alam, the state capital, is the site of the splendid Blue Mosque with the tallest minarets in the world.
JOHOR- Peninsular Malaysia’s southern gateway state offers tropical island escapades, recreational forests, waterfalls, historic spots and superb golfing. The islands of Sibu, Rawa, Besar and Pemanggil in the South China Sea beckon with a range of water sports and under water attractions. Trek into the pristine Endau-Rompin National Park for a refreshing jungle adventure. Johor Bahru is a popular weekend shopping and recreational spot for neighboring Singapore. Another highlight is the lively and intriguing performances in the state.
SABAH – Sabah is a paradise for nature lovers. Major attractions here are Mount Kinabalu located in the Kinabalu National Park, a world heritage site. Its clusters of islands, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and Sipadan, a world-class diving destination, offer a wealth of eco-treasures. The state capital of Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Sabah’s many tourist spots. The 32 ethnic groups in the state, such as the KadazanDuzun, Murut and Bajau make up the colorful tapestry of Sabah’s culture.
MALAYSIA GENERAL INFORMATION
OFFICIAL NAME: Federation of Malaysia
The Federation of Malaysia comprises of Peninsular Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo.
CAPITAL: Kuala Lumpur
TIME ZONE: GMT +8
Malaysia is eight hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time), 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time and 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Daylight Saving Time is not applicable to the country.
(Bahasa Melayu) Malay is the national language in use, but English is widely spoken. The ethnic groups also converse in the various languages and dialects.
Islam is the official religion of the country, but other religions are widely practiced.
Malays make up about 57% of the population and are the predominant group are with Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups making up the rest.
Malaysia has a tropical climate and the weather is warm all year round. Temperature ranges from 21⁰Cto 32 ⁰ C and the annual rainfall varies from 2000mm to 2,500mm.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
Apart from the local Malays and the native groups, immigrant from China, India, Indonesia and other parts of the world have all contributed to the multiracial compositions of its population. Its interesting cultural diversity can be largely attributed to the country’s long and ongoing interaction with the outside world and colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. The evolution of the country into a colonial melting pot is evident in the unique blend of religions, socio-cultural activities, traditions, languages and food. The country achieved independence on August 31, 1957 as Federation of Malaysia and subsequently with the entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963, Malaysia was formed.
Situated between 2º and 7º to the North of the Equator line, Peninsular Malaysia is separated from Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. In the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia lies Thailand, and in the south, neighbouring Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares borders with Brunei.
329,758 square km
A parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislative system. The Head of State is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister.
Manufacturing constitutes the largest component of Malaysia’s economy while tourism and primary commodities such as petroleum, palm oil, natural rubber and timber are major contributors.
The monetary unit of the country is Ringgit Malaysia and is written as RM. The exchange rate is valued at USD1 = RM3.34. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and money changers.
Most states: Monday- Friday: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Saturday & Sunday: Closed (Some banks and its branches are opened Saturdays). Kelantan & Terengganu: Sunday -Wednesday :9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Thursday :9.30 am to 4.00 pm. Friday/Saturday*/Public holiday: Closed
Opening hours from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily, except for the first Saturdays of the month, Sundays, and public holidays when it is closed. In Kelantan and Terengganu the post office operates at the same time, but is closed on Fridays and public holidays.
ELECTRICITY AND VOLTAGE
Malaysia’s electric supply is on a 220-240-volt 50-cycle system. Visitors from countries using different electricity voltage systems are advised to bring their converters and adapters.
Water is generally safe to be consumed from the tap, though boiling prior to consumption is advisable.
MEASUREMENT & WEIGHT
Malaysia follows the metric system for weight and measurement.
Local calls can be made from public phones using coins or prepaid cards. International calls can also be made using card phones or at any Telecom office.
PASSPORT & VISA
Visitors must be in a possession of a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period.
Malaysian consulate and embassy, handles the task of issuing Visa to the visitors. Other entry procedures and visa requirements are given here:
- Citizens of Bangladesh, China, Bhutan, Cuba, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Nepal, Myanmar, Taiwan, Vietnam and all Certificate of Identity (CI) holders must get a visa prior to entering into Malaysia.
- Commonwealth Nationals (apart from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), British Protected Persons or Nationals of Ireland, Switzerland, Netherlands, San Marino and Liechtenstein, do not require a visa to enter Malaysia.
- For a Social and Business not beyond three months, the nationals of Norway, Sweden, Italy, United States of America, Albania, Austria, Algeria, Belgium, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Czech Republic, Republic of Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Bahrain, Jordan, North Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Tunisia, do not need a visa.
- For a Social and Business visit not beyond one month, the citizens of ASEAN countries do not need a visa to enter Malaysia.
- For a Social and Business visit not more than 14 days, the nationals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and South Yemen do not need a visa.
- For a Social and Business visit not beyond one week, the nationals of Bulgaria, Romania and Russia do not need a visa.
- For a Social and Business visit not beyond one month, the nationals of countries excluding those stated above (apart from Serbia Montenegro and Israel) are permissible to enter Malaysia without a visa.
- Any visitor, planning to visit whichever part of Malaysia, requires only one visa to travel straight from one part of the country to another.
Dutiable and Non-Dutiable Goods
Certain goods such as the following, imported by visitors are liable to duty: carpets, garments, clothing accessories, jewellery, chocolates, handbags, spirits, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and cigarettes. Visitors bringing in dutiable goods may have to pay a deposit for temporary importation, refundable on departure. The goods are to be presented at the time of departure at the point of exit together with the deposit receipts. Non-dutiable goods include cameras, watches, pens, lighters, perfumeries and cosmetics.
The main gateway is the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang in the state of Selangor, which is located approximately 50 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur. Other major international airports that serve as entry points are located in Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi and Johor. The main entry point by sea is at Port Klang, about 50 kilometers away from Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is also accessible by road and rail from Singapore and Thailand.
Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)
The budget carrier AirAsia operates from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal or LCCT situated 20km away from the Main Terminal Building. Visitors can get to the city via pre-paid taxis or scheduled coach services that ply between LCCT and KL Sentral Station. The coach servixes begins at 4:45am from LCCT and ends at 12:45am. From KL Sentral the coach services begins at 3:15am and operates until 10:30pm.
Malaysia has excellent domestic air links and a well-developed and efficient public transportation system served by buses, taxis as well as trains.
Malaysia has a wide range of accommodation with competitive rates. International standard, mid-range and budget hotels, youth hostels and timeshare apartments are among of the types of accommodation available.
For booking visit http://www.explorer-malaysia.com/hotel.php
New Years Day (January ) *
Federal Territory Day ( February ) **
Chinese New Year (February ) *
Labor Day ( May ) *
Wesak Day ( May ) *
King’s Birthday (June) *
Deepavali ( November) #
Hari Raya Aidilfitri (November) *
Note (*)National Holidays
(**)KL, Labuan & Putrajaya only
(#) Except Sarawak & Labuan
DO’S & DON’T
Malaysia is generally a laid back and relaxed place. However, we do have our own customs and visitors should try to observe these practices when they arrive. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:
- 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.
- The right hand is always used when eating with one’s hand or giving and receiving objects.
- 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 female visitors.
- Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.
- Toasting is not a common practice in Malaysia. The country’s large Muslim population does not drink alcohol.