“Prepare the umbrella before it rains.” ~ Malay Proverb
- Most nationals of other countries are given a 30 – 60 day Visa on Arrival, US nationals receive a 90-day. This is ideal for slow travelers, or those who do not mind making visa runs every few months.
- Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the primary means of entering the country. It is an excellent AirAsia hub, providing cheap flights throughout the region.
- There are numerous international airports from which to enter through: Check here for a full list.
- There are land border crossings with Singapore in the south and Thailand in the north on the peninsula and crossings with Indonesia and Brunei on the island of Borneo.
- Malaysia is an inexpensive country to get by and visit, with food, transportation, and accommodation costs relatively low compared to western nations.
- The Malaysian economy is currently booming and growing at unprecedented rates, which creates a good investment market. Malaysia currently offers very attractive retirement opportunities for Americans.
- Budget travelers will have no problem staying at a reasonable price for most ventures.
$1USD = 4 MYR
Local meals will rarely cost more than 10 MYR per person
3-course meals at a mid-range restaurant will cost 50 MYR per person
A 1 bed apartment in the city-center will cost $340 per month
- Malaysia has an equatorial climate, and maintains a hot and rainy climate year-round. The country is subject to the El Niño effect, and can exhibit a dry season during “winter” months.
- Due to it’s tropical rainforest climate, Malaysia has one of the highest bio-diversities in the world. This makes for excellent trekking and wildlife tourism.
- Mountain ranges run the length of the country, with the highest peak being Mount Kinabalu just outside of the tourist hub of Kota Kinabalu.
- Come prepared for torrential downpour at any moment, followed by intense sun.
Malaysia has evidence of human settlement dating back 40,000 years. Various small kingdoms existed until the rise of Srivijayan Kingdom from 7th to 13th century. During this time, Buddhism and Hinduism spread throughout. Islam became prominent in the 1400s.
In the 1500s the Dutch colonized Melaka, and the following centuries through to World War II saw British colonialism over the region as well. Immediately following WWII, Malaysia became an independent, communist country until 1960. Singapore was expelled in 1965 from the federation.
Today, Malaysia is a federal constitution elective monarchy, operating under theocratic rule. Much of the government structure is a holdover from British colonial rule. The nation is one of the founding member of ASEAN.
Need to Know
- Malaysia is an English speaking country. Bahsa is the other commonly spoken language. However, 137 languages are spoken across the nation.
- Malaysia is a Muslim country, however this means very little to the average tourist. Alcohol and non-Halal foods are still served, just not at Malay establishments.
- You do not need dress much differently than you normally would, but, the nation is still conservative and you should dress modestly especially when visiting religious sites.
- Malaysia has been a cross roads of trade for millennia and as such has a very diverse selection of food. You should have no problem finding any type of food that you desire. Penang is considered by some to be the food capital of the world. We recommend you try the mango sticky rice.
- Malaysia is divided into two main areas: peninsular Malaysia, bordering Singapore and Thailand; and Bornean Malaysia bordering Indonesia and Brunei.
- Public transportation can be spotty outside of the immediate city centers. However, Uber is widespread, very efficient, and cheap.
- In general, Malaysia is moderately safe. However, there are pockets of unrest throughout and the possibility of crime. It is well-advised to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- There is a small risk of extremist activity throughout the region. Use common sense, especially in high-density and frequently visited locations, if something feels off – leave.
- Be aware of bag-snatching from motorbikes. Keep a tight hold on bags and phones.
- Avoid all travel to the east coast of Sabah (Borneo). The region is experiencing high rates of unrest with risk of kidnapping and violent crime.
- Zika virus does exist, pregnant or soon to be pregnant women should be well-advised.
We recommend reviewing safety guidelines by various state departments: – we make no guarantees to your safety!
US State Department – Moderate to High bias, with moderate levels of broad information. We advise checking against other sources to confirm veracity of statements.
British State Department – Low bias, and very thorough information. We recommend checking with the FCO for tourist warnings.
Canada State Department – Low bias, with thorough information. We advise using as an additional resource for tourist warnings.
We spent 3 weeks in the town of Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in January 2016. In April 2016 we spent 1 week in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.