Malaysia

For many people their first experience of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur with its amazing skyscrapers including the Petronas Towers which were the tallest in the world from 1998 to 2004.

Malaysia has so much more to offer though including incredible beaches, the stunning jungle and wildlife in the rainforests, the varied cultures and architecture, wonderful food and colourful festivals.

We have also looked at the current travel situation throughout South East Asia in our article South East Asia Travel, What are the Options?

Kuala Lumpur, home to a wonderful mix of traditional and modern, explore the many alleyways, modern and massive malls and the views from the Petronas Towers. Just outside of the city you can find the Batu Caves an incredible series of caves with one of the most photographed temples in Malaysia.

Penang – The Pearl of the Orient is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site with temples, the amazing Georgetown and beaches that will please everyone. Home to some of the best food in Malaysia is yet another reason to visit.

Malacca – a cultural paradise where you can witness the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial influence.

Langkawi – almost 100 islands make up this archipelago where you can explore the local paddy fields, jungle, incredible scuba diving when you are not relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches.

Sarawak – lying on the north west coast of Borneo with stunning rivers, jungles and wildlife

Sabah – the other Malaysian Borneo state is Sabah, with a welcoming climate all year and World Heritage site Kinabalu National Park as its main attraction.

Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Sarawak. Credit Pat Whelan on Unsplash
Penang Beach. Credit Moto Moto on Unsplash

When to Visit

The weather in Malaysia does vary depending on which side of the country you are.

The dry season, and best time to visit, the west coast is November to March. On the east coast we recommend April to October.

The rest of the year in each area is wet season. Don’t be alarmed though if your visit coincides with wet season. Most days remain dry and sunny with rainfall, some of it very heavy, occurring during the evening and overnight. Although in some coastal cities and islands on the east coast heavy winds and strong rains may make the area less suitable for tourists.

How to Get to Malaysia

Direct flights from the UK to Kuala Lumpur are available from London Heathrow by Malaysia Airlines and British Airways. Flight time is around 12.5 – 13 hours.

Kuala Lumpur offers excellent connections throughout the rest of Malaysia.

If you want to skip Kuala Lumpur or want to fly from elsewhere in the UK then you will be looking at an indirect flight. There are too many options for indirect flights to list here as there is plenty of choice out there including with the usual airlines operating in South East Asia.

Language and Currency

Malaysia has two official languages. Malay is spoken by around 80% of the population although Mandarin and Tamil are also spoken in regional areas. The second official language is English which is widely spoken especially in education, business and government as well as throughout the tourist industry.

The Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is the official currency and should be used throughout Malaysia and at the time of writing the exchange rate is just over 5 RM to the £. Bank notes are available in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 RM denominations.

There are plenty of places to change currency in Malaysia unless you head to the remote areas. If you are changing cash, Pounds Sterling and US Dollars are the most widely accepted currencies. ATM’s are also widely available but as always beware of extra charges that may be imposed by the ATM company, local bank or your bank on withdrawals.

Credit cards are accepted in most larger shops especially in tourist areas. Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted but you will also find some places that will accept American Express. However it is common for an additional fee of up to 4% being charged for the use of credit cards.

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Visa and Passports

Please note that this guidance is not currently valid due to COVID-19 restrictions. Malaysia has currently closed its borders to foreign travel.

British passport holders do not require a visa for visits up to 3 months however there must be at least 6 months remaining on your passport on the date of your departure.

Non British passport holders should check their countries individual requirements. Wikipedia do publish a list of visa free countries however this should be used with caution and only as a guide – we suggest you always check with your own countries advice or through the Malaysian Embassy.

Health and Vaccinations

Unless you are arriving from a Yellow Fever zone there are no compulsory vaccinations to enter Malaysia.

Travelers should ensure that they are up to date with routine vaccinations.

We recommend checking the latest information available for your country at least two months prior to departure.

Additional care should be taken if you have underlying health conditions or are planning on undertaking a number of higher risk activities, for example getting a tattoo, unprotected sexual intercourse with a new partner etc.

We recommend only drinking sealed bottled water and not tap water.

Food and Drink

Malaysia has a wonderful mix of cuisine due to the diverse heritage and culture. Malay, Chinese and Indian food is all common and excellent throughout the country. Major cities and tourist areas will also have a mix of world foods including, probably, your favourite fast food place.

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